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the appearance of bread and wine remain, there is only the appearance, and not the reality; what appears to be bread, is really the body of Christ, and what appears to be wine, is really the blood of Christ. This doctrine is called transubstantiation. It was once, previous to the Reformation, for a long time, almost universally received, by what was called the christian church. Volumes bare been written to explain and defend it. The elements have been worshipped in consequence. And many have suffered as martyrs, for daring to question the truth of this doctrine. It is founded on a literal understanding of the words of institution, " This is my body.” But it is evident there are many expressions in Scripture which must be understood figuratively. Thus Christ is called a stone, a rock, a corner-stone, a way, a door, a vine, and the like; but common sense teaches us that these are figurative expressions ; and it equally teaches us that the expression, “This is my body," is not to be understood literally, but figuratively. I need not spend time before this audience, in endeavouring to show the monstrous absurdity of this doctrine. It denies the testimony of our senses ; it contradicts reason and common sense, and involves the most palpable absurdities. And besides we may observe, that in our text, the apostle speaks of the bread and wine, after the consecration; * For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till he come."
After the commencement of the Reformation, another doctrine called consubstantiation, was broached on this subject by Martin Luther. He held and taught, that although the bread and wine are not, by the form of consecration, turned into the body and blood of Christ, nevertheless the body and blood of Christ are present in, with, and under the elements of bread and wine in this ordinance, and received with them. But this doctrine is liable to almost all the objections of the former, and is almost equally absurd. It occasioned much disputing among the Reformers, was a great hindrance to the progress of the Reformation, and finally caused a separation between the Lutheran and the Reformed churches.
In opposition to both these errors of travsubstantiation, and consubstantiation, we believe that Christ is not corporally present in this ordinance, nor received in a corporal manner, but nevertheless that he is spiritually present; and that the worthy receivers do by faith feed upon his body and blood, or receive and apply the benefits of his broken body and shed blood, for their spiritual nourishment and growth in grace.
We proceed to illustrate the design of this ordinance or the ends for which it was instituted.
1. It was instituted to be a memorial of Christ. This design of the institution we have contained in our text, in the following words, " Take, eat, this is my body which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. This cup is the New Testament in my blood : this do ye as oft as ye drink it in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till he come.” We have the same design of the institution, contained in the account which the evangelists have given us. This ordinance was instituted to be a standing evidence in the world, of Christ's sufferings and death until his second coming. And it has greatly tended to keep alive the memory of these events. And it was especially intended to recall to the memory of the people of Christ
, and impress their minds with a lively sense of his love, his sufferings, and his death. He knew how much we are affected, in our present state, by sensible objects; and how prone his disciples would be to forget him; and therefore he instituted this ordinance to recall his love, sufferings, and death, forcibly to their remembrance. And the signs which he chose, are aptly fitted to do this. The bread which has been threshed, ground, crushed beneath the millstone, and which is broken in the ordinance, affords a significant emblem of the bruising and breaking of his body for us ; and the wine, which has been violently pressed from the grape, and which is poured out into the cup, gives a lively representation of the shedding and pouring out of his blood.
2. This ordinance was instituted to be a seal of the covenant of grace. This design of the ordinance we are taught in the words of institution. “ This cup is the New Testament in my blood.” That is, it is a sign and seal of the New Testament, or covenant of grace founded in the blood of Christ. The Lord's Supper is a standing evidence of the reality of the covenant of grace ; and it seale to the worthy communicant, all the blessings of the covenant; and the communicant, by partaking of this ordinance, voluntarily engages and binds himself to perform all that this covenant requires. God on his part engages to the worthy receiver, and by this ordinance seals the engagement, that he will be bis God; tbat he will bestow upon him all the blessings of salvation which Christ purchased by his death ; that he hath for the sake of Christ forgiven all his sivs, and accepted him as righteous in his sight; that he will, through sanctification of the Spirit, make him meet for glory; that he will keep him by his mighty power through faith unto salvation; and that he will finally bestow upon him everlasting life. And the communicant, on his part, engages to be the Lord's. He publicly assents to the articles of the covenant, and binds himself to the performance of the duties therein required. He professes that the death of Christ is the foundation of all his hopes. He professes faith in him, and repentance of all bis sins. He declares that he has renounced, and that he forever will renounce, the service of sin and Satan. And he engages that he will deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Christ, and live devoted to bim, in the performance of all the duties which he bath required, and abstaining from the sins which he forbids. By coming to this ordinance he takes an oath of allegiance to the Lord Jesus Christ, as the Captain of his salvation. The proper meaning of the word sacrament is a military oath. The partaker of this ordinance does by this act swear allegiance to Christ, and solemnly binds himself to fight under bis banners, against the world, the flesh and the devil, and yield up his life rather than renounce his service.
3. This ordinance was instituted to be an ordinance in which for the saints to hold communion together; and hence it is styled the communion. This design of the ordinance we have contained in the following declaration of the apostle to the Corinthians : “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ; the bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ ; and we being many are one bread and one body; for we are all partakers of that one bread.” In this view of the ordinance, it was designed to cultivate brotherly love ; to teach christians that they are one family, and that therefore they ought to be of one mind, and to live together as brethren.
Thus I have pointed out the design of the ordinance; and from the design we may learn its use.
It is of use to hold up to the view of the world, the death of Christ; and thus to leave those who neglect or despise the salvation which he purchased by his death, the more inexcusable. · It is of use to call forcilly and frequently to the remembrance of the people of Christ, his love, sufferings, and death ; and in a peculiarly lively manner to impress a sense of these upon their minds. And such a sense of these as this ordinance is calculated to produce, will have a tendency to warm our own souls with love to Christ; to raise our affections ; to enkindle our devotions ; to excite our gratitude to Christ ; to warm our zeal for the advancement of his cause and glory in the world ; to increase our hatred of sin, which was the cause of his death, and which is so offensive to him who has loved us so much; to humble us under a sense of our deserts; to fill us with self-denial, heavenly mindedness, patience, and submission to the will of God, of which, in his death we have such a bright example ; to increase our faith in him as a Saviour, having fully satisfied divine justice by his death; and to confirm our hope in the mercy of God through him. For he that spared not his own Son ; but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things.
As a badge of our christian profession, a seal of the covenant, and an oath of allegiance to Jesus Christ, it is of use to keep up the visible church of Christ, in the world, and keep his people separate from the world ; it is of use to strengthen their faith and hope in the promises of the cove enant, of which they have received the pledge and seal ; and thus greatly to increase their faith; and it is of use to place their duty frequently and more distinctly before them. It brings them under voluntary and public covenant-er:gagements, and frequently reminds them of these engagements, and thus has a natural tendency, to make those who come to it aright, more watchful, more prayerful, more penitent, more fearful of sin, more self-denying, more obedient, and in short, more holy in every respect; and thus is of great use, as a means in the hands of t’ie divine Spirit, to carry on the work of sanctification, and ripen the soul for glory. Again, as the communion of saints, this ordinance is
of use to promote a spirit of brotherly love; to keep down all angry passions; to teach and impress upon the mind the duty of forgiveness of injuries; and thus to prepare the soul for the communion of saints in heaven, where every angry and discordant passion shall be banished, and universal and perfect love prevail.
Thus in this ordinance, while the worthy communicant partakes of the external emblems of bread and wine, his soul may by faith be made a partaker of the body and blood of Christ, or of the benefits of his death, to his spiritual nourishment and growth in grace. I conclude this discourse with a few observations, suggested by what has been said. This discourse reproves those who neglect the ordinance of the Supper. Has the Son of God become incarnate, and did he suffer and die to purchase salvation for sinners ? and did he, just before he left the world, institute this ordinance to be a memorial of bis love and sufferings for us? What ingratitude to neglect it! and how criminal must such neglect be, after so much love! Does God in this ordinance present his covenant, sealed and ratified on his part, and call upon you to set your seal to it? How criminal to despise or neglect this covenant, or refuse to own it! Be assured that this ordinance will increase your condemnation, if you continue to neglect it.
Again, this discourse reproves those who come to this ordinance with improper tempers, or who live inconsistently with the covenant-engagements which they here make. Are there not some who come, not to remember Christ; but to answer some selfish ends? Are there not some who pretend to remember him, and yet do not love him? Are there not some who, by coming to this ordinance, call Christ master, and Judas-like say, hail master, and yet betray him by their walk and conversation? Are there not some who by coming to this ordinance take God's covenant into their mouths, and then go away and daily break it ? And are there not some who come to this communion of saints, who at the same time indulge themselves in anger, and malice, and evil-speaking, towards their professed brethren ?
And who even approach the table of the Lord unreconciled to some of their professed brethren, and entertaining an unforgiving temper towards them?
Our discourse solemnly reproves