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ancient feasts upon sacrifices were generally understood: but, as this subject was but barely mentioned, and is of great importance to every communicant, I shall here consider it more extensively.
Dr. Cudworth, to whose excellent Discourse on the true nature of the Lord's supper, the preceding pages are not a little indebted, has, in his sixth chapter, some excellent observations on this head. That the eating of God's sacrifice was a fœderal rite between God and those who offered it, he considers as proved from the custom of the ancients, and especially of the orientals, who ate and drank together in order to ratify and confirm the covenants they had made.
Thus, when Isaac made a covenant with Abimelech, it is said, Gen. xxvi, He made him, and those who were with him, a FEAST; and they did eat and drink, and rose up betimes in the morning, and sWARE to one another. When Laban made a covenant with Jacob, Gen. xxxi, 44, it is said, They took stones and made a heap, and did EAT there upon the heap; on which text Rab. Moses Bar Nacham makes this sensible comment-" They did eat there a little upon the heap for a memorial; because it was the manner of those who enter into covenant, to eat both together of the same bread, as a symbol of love and friendship." And R. Isaac Abarbanel confirms this: "It was," says he, "an ancient custom among them, that they who did eat bread together, should ever after be accounted for faithful brethren."-In Josh. ix, 14, we are informed, that when the Gibeonites came to the men of Israel and desired them to make a league with them, The men of Israel took their victuals, and asked not counsel of the mouth of the Lord; which Rabbi Kimchi thus expounds: They took of their victuals, and ate with them, by way of covenant." The consequence was, as the context informs us, Joshua made peace with them.
Fœderal rites, thus ratified and confirmed, were in general so sacredly observed, that Celsus, in his controversy
with Origen, deems it an absolutely improbable thing, that Judas, who had eaten and drank with his Lord and Master, could possibly betray him; and therefore rejects the whole account: ori says he, ανθρωπω μεν ο κοινωνησας τραπεζης ουκ αν αυτω επιβουλεύσειεν, πολλω πλεον ο Θεω συνευωχηθείς ουκ αν αυτω επιβουλος εγινετο. "For if no man who has partook of the table of another, would ever lay snares for his friend; much less would he betray his God, who had been partaker with him." Origen, in his reply, is obliged to grant that this was a very uncommon case, yet that several instances had occurred in the histories both of the Greeks and barbarians. From these examples Dr. C. concludes, that the true origin of the word л berith, which signifies a COVENANT, or any fœderal communion, is the root n barah, he ate, because it was the constant custom of the Hebrews, and other oriental nations, to establish covenants by eating and drinking together.
Nor was this the case among these nations only; all heathen antiquity abounds with instances of the same kind. They not only feasted on their sacrifices, (see p. 79, &c,) but they concluded covenants and treaties of all sorts at these feasts: and as salt was the symbol of friendship, it was always used on such occasions, both among the Jews and among the heathens; hence God's command, Lev. ii, 13, Thou shalt not suffer the SALT OF THE COVENANT of thy God to be lacking; with all thine offerings thou shalt offer SALT. So among the Greeks, Axes xaι rear:2α, salt and table, were used proverbially to express friendship ; and Αλας και τραπεζαν παραCawew, to transgress the salt and table, signified to violate the most sacred league of friendship. From these premises, Dr. Cudworth concludes, "As the legal sacrifices, with the feasts on those sacrifices, were FŒDERAL RITES between God and men; in like manner, I say, the Lord's supper under the gospel must needs be a FŒDERAL BANQUET between God and man; where, by eating and drinking at God's own table, and of his meat, we are
taken into a sacred covenant, and inviolable league of friendship with him."
This is certainly true of every faithful communicant; and much consolation may be derived from a proper consideration of the subject. If the covenant have been made according to the divine appointment, (i. e. by lively faith in Christ, the real fœderal sacrifice,) on God's part it is ever inviolate. Let him, therefore, who has thus entered into the Lord's covenant, continue steadfast and immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord; then, "neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate him from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Amen.
London, Jan. 1, 1808.