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Answer of our Catechism is to be understood ; that the Body and Blood of Christ are verily and indeed taken and received by the Faithful in the Lord's Supper: Words intended to fhew, that our Church as truly believes the Itrongest Affertions of Scripture concerning this Sacrament, as the Church of Rome doth; only takes more Care to understand them in the right Meaning: which is, that though, in one Sense, all Communicants equally partake of what Christ calls his Body and Blood, that is, the outward Signs of them; yet in a much more important Sense, the Faithful only, the pious and virtuous Receiver, eats his Flesh and drinks his Blood; shares in the Life and Strength derived to Men from his Incarnation and Death; and through Faith in Him, becomes, by a vital Union, one with Him; a Member, as St. Paul expresses it, of his Flesh and of his Bones" : certainly not in a literal Sense, which yet the Romanists might as well affert, as that we eat his Flesh in a literal Sense; but in a figurative and spiritual one. In Appearance, the Sacranient of Christ's Death is given to all alike : but verily and indeed, in its beneficial Effects, to none besides the Faithful. Even to the unworthy Communicant He is present, as He is wherever we meet together in his Name: but in a better and most gracious Sense, to the worthy Soul; becoming, by the inward Virtue of his Spirit, its Food and Sustenance.
This real Presence of Christ in the Sacrament, his Church hath always believed. But the monstrous Notion of his bodily Presence was started 700 Years after his Death: and arose chiefly from the Indiscretion of Preachers and Writers of warm Imaginations, who, instead of explaining judiciously the lofty Figures of Scripture-Language, heightened them, and went beyond them: till both it and they had their Meaning mistaken most astonishingly. And when once an Opinion had taken Root, that seemed to exalt the holy Sa
crament so much, it easily grew and spread; and the more for its wonderful Abiurdity, in those ignorant and superstitious Ages: till at Length, 500 Years ago, and 1200 Years after our Saviour's Birth, it was established for a Gospel-Truth by the pretended Authority of the Romish Church. And even this had been tolerable in Comparison, if they had not added idolatrous Practice to erroneous Belief: worshipping, on their Knees, a Bit of Bread for the Son of God. Nor are they content to do this themselves, but with most unchristian Cruelty, curse and murder those, who refuse it.
It is true, we also kneel at the Sacrament, as they do : but for a very different Purpose : not to ac, knowledge any corporal Presence of Christ's natural Flesta and Blood; as our Church, to prevent all Poflibility of Misconstruction, expressly declares ; adding, that bis Body is in Heaven, and not here: but to worship Him, who is every where present, the. invisible God. And this Pofture of kneeling we by no Means look upon, as in itself necessary : but as a very becoming Appointment; and very fit to accompany the Prayers and Praises, which we offer up at the Instant of receiving; and to express that inward Spirit of Piety and Humility, on which our partaking worthily of this Or dinance, and receiving Benefit from it, depend. But the Benefits of the holy Sacrament, and the Qualifications for it, thall, God willing, be the Subject of two other Discourses. In the mean time, consider what hath been said; and the Lord give you Understanding in all Things
? 2 Tim. ii. 79
LECTURE XXXVII. ,
Of the LORD's SUPPER.
HE Doctrine of our Catechism, concerning the
Lord's Supper, hath been already fo far explain. ed, as to thew you, that it was ordained, not for the Repetition, but the continual Remembrance, of the San crifice of Christ: that the outward Signs in it are Bread and Wine ; both which the Lord hath commanded to be received by all Christians : and both which are accordingly received, and not changed and tranfubftantiated into the real and natural Body and Blood of Chrif: which however the Faithful, and they only, do, under this Representation of it, verily and indeed receive into a most beneficial Union with themselves; that is, do verily and indeed, by a fpiritual Connection with their incarnate Redeemer and Head through Faith, partake, in this Ordinance, of that heavenly Favour and Grace, which by offering up his Body and Blood He hath procured for his true Disciples and Members.
But of what Benefits in particular the Faithful partake in this Sacrament, through the Grace and Favour of God,, our Catechism teaches in the fourth Answer, to which I now proceed: and which tells us it is, The strengthening and refreshing of our Souls by the Body and Blood of Christ, as our Bodies are by the Bread and Wine". Now both the Truth and the Manner of this Refreshment of our Souls will appear by considering the Nature
* Αλλα πασασθαι ανωχθ: θοης επι γευσιν Αχαιες
Hom. IL. T. v, 160, 161.
of the Sacrament, and the Declarations of Scripture concerning it.
Indeed the due Preparation for it, the Self-examination required in order to it, and the religious Exercises which that Examination will of Course point out to us, must previously be of great Service; as you will fee, when I come to that Head. And the actual Participation will add further Advantages of unspeakable Value.
Considered as an Act of Obedience to our Saviour's Command, Do this in Remembrance of me, it must be beneficial to us: for all Obedience will. Considered as Obedience to a Command, proceeding principally, if not solely, from his mere Will and Pleasure, it contributes to form us into a very needful, a submissive and implicitly dutiful, Temper of Mind. But further: it is the most eminent and distinguished A&t of Christian Worship: consisting of the devouteft Thankfulness to God for the greatest Blessing, which He ever bestowed on Man ; attended, as it naturally must, with earnest Prayers that the Gift may avail us, to our spiritual and eternal Good." And it is much more likely to affect us very strongly and usefully, for expressing his Bounty and our Sense of it, not as our daily Devotions do, in Words alone, but in the less common, and therefore more solemn Way, of visible Signs and Representations : setting forth evidently before our Eyes, to use St. Paul's
Language, Christ crucified amongst us b. This, of Necessity, unless we are ftrangely wanting to ourselves, must' raise the warmest Affections of Love, that our Hearts are capable of, to Him who hath given his Son, to Him who hath given Him elf, for us. And as Love is the noblest Principle of religious Behaviour, what tends so powerfully to animate our Love, must in Proportion tend to perfect us in every Branch of Duty, according to the juft Reatoning of the fame Apoftle: For the Love of Chrif constraincth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead; and He died for
Gal. iii. 1.
all, that they who live, mould not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him, which died for them, and rose again“. When our Saviour said to his Disciples, If ye love me, keep my Commandments d; He knew the Motive was no less engaging, than it is reasonable. And therefore He adds very soon after, if a Man love me, he will keep my Words
But this Institution carries in it a yet further Tye upon us; being, as our blessed Lord himself declared, the new Testament in his Blood': the Memorial and Acknowledgment of the second Covenant between God and Man, which was founded on his Death; and requires a fincere Faith and Obedience on our Part, as the Condition of Grace and Mercy on his. Every one that nameth the Name of Chrift, is bound to depart from Iniquity. But the Obligation is redoubled on them who come to his Table as Friends, and make a Covenant with Him, by partaking of his Sacrifice h. If these live wickedly, it is declaring with the boldest Contempt, that they consider Christ as the Minister of Sini; and count the Blood of the Covenant, wherewith they profess to be fanctified, an unholy Thing * Partaking therefore of this holy Ordinance is renewing, in the most awful Manner, our Engagements to the Service which we owe, as well as our Claims to the Favours, that God hath promised. It is our Sacrament, our Oath to be faithful Soldiers 1 under the great Captain of our Salvation": which surely we cannot take thus, without being efficaciously influenced to the religious Observance of it, in every Part of a Christian Life.
But there is one Part especially, and one of the utmost Importance, to which this Institution peculiarly binds us, that of universal Good-will and Charity. For commemorating, in so solemn an Action, the Love of Christ to us all, cannot but move us to that mutual Imi• 2 Cor. v. 15, 16. John xiv. 15.
f Luke xxii. 20. 2 Tim, ii. 19. 1 2 Tim. ii, 3, 4, m Heb. ii. 10.
b Psalm 1. 5.
e Ver. 23• Gal, ii. 17
k Heb. X. 29