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municants, who are, by the same appointment, to take, and eat the bread, and to drink the wine, in thankful remembrance, that the body of Christ was broken and given, and his blood shed for them.
QUEST. CLXX. How do they that worthily communicate in the Lord's supper, feed upon the body and blood of Christ
ANSW. As the body and blood of Christ are not corporally or carnally present in, with, or under the bread and wine in the Lord's supper, and yet are spiritually present to the faith of the receiver, no less truly and really than the elements themselves are to their outward senses; so they that worthily communicate in the sacrament of the Lord's supper, do therein feed upon the body and blood of Christ, not after a corporal, or carnal, but in a spiritual manner, yet truly and really, while by faith they receive and apply unto themselves Christ crucified, and all the benefits of his death.
HERE are several things contained in these answers, viz. I. The general description of this ordinance, as it is called a sacrament of the New Testament; in which we shall be led to speak concerning the person by whom it was instituted in common with other ordinances; and that is our Lord Jesus Christ.
II. We shall consider the persons by whom it is to be administered, namely, the ministers, or pastors of particular churches; inasmuch as it is an ordinance given only to those who are in church-communion.
III. We have an account of the matter thereof, or the outward elements, to wit, bread and wine,
IV. We shall consider the ministers act, antecedent to the church's partaking of this ordinance, in setting apart the elements from a common to a sacred use; which is to be done by the word and prayer, joined with thanksgiving.
V. We have an account of the actions, both of the minister and people; the one breaks the bread, and pours out the wine, in order to their being distributed among those who are to receive them; the other, to wit, the communicants, partake of them, and join with him in eating the bread, and drinking the wine.
VI. We are to consider what is signified hereby, namely, the body and blood of Christ; which are not supposed to be corporally and carnally, but spiritually present to the faith of the receivers, upon which account they may be said to feed
upon the body and blood of Christ, and apply the benefits of his death to themselves.
VII. We have an account of the persons who hope to enjoy these privileges, and partake of the Lord's supper in a right manner; these are said worthily to communicate; as also the ends which they ought to have in view, namely, their spiritual nourishment, and growth in grace, their enjoying communion with Christ; and that love that they are obliged to express to each other, as members of the same mystical body.
I. It is an ordinance of the New Testament, instituted by our Saviour. That it is an ordinance, is evident, in that it is founded on a divine command; as appears from the words of institution, in Matt. xxvi. 26, 27. Take eat, this is my body; and he took the cup, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it, &c. And this is also intimated by the apostle, when, speaking particularly concerning it, as also the manner in which it is to be performed, he says, I have received of the Lord, that which also I delivered unto you, 1 Cor. xi. 23. Moreover, there is a blessing annexed to our partaking of it in a right manner; which may plainly be inferred from the apostle's distinguishing those who receive it worthily, from others that receive it unworthily, or in an unbecoming manner; of whom the former are said to come together for the better, the latter for the worse, ver. 17. and to partake of the Lord's supper for the better, is to partake of it for our spiritual advantage, which supposes, that there are some blessings annexed to it, which render it not only a duty, but an ordinance, or means of grace. And, that it is a gospel-ordinance of the New Testament, appears from the tinie of its being instituted by our Saviour, as well as the end and design thereof. It is particularly intimated, that Christ instituted this ordinance immediately before his last sufferings, as a memorial of his dying love. Thus the apostle says, The same night in which he was betrayed, he took bread, ver. 23. And that it was designed to continue as a standing ordinance in the church throughout all ages, appears from what he farther adds, is often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do chewn the Lord's death, till he come, ver. 26.
The contrary to this is maintained by some modern enthusiasts, who deny it to be an ordinance, as they also do baptism; concluding that no ceremony, or significant sign, is consistent with the gospel-dispensation. And as for what the apostle says concerning our shewing forth the Lord's death till he come, they suppose, that hereby is meant, till he comes by the ef fusion of the Spirit; and therefore, if it was an ordinance at first, it ceased to be a when the Spirit was poured forth of
the church, in the beginning of the gospel-dispensation. To this it may be replied,
1. That ceremonial institutions are not inconsistent with the gospel-dispensation, inasmuch as they may not be designed to signify some benefits to be procured by Christ, as they did, which were instituted under the ceremonial law; but they may be considered as rememorative signs of the work of redemption, which has been brought to perfection by him.
2. When the apostle, in the scripture but now mentioned, says, that we shew the Lord's death till he come, it cannot be meant concerning his coming in the plentiful effusion of the Spirit; inasmuch as this privilege was conferred on the church in the apostle's days, at the same time, when he speaks of their shewing forth his death. Therefore, doubtless, he intends thereby Christ's second coming, when this, and all other ordinances, which are now observed in the church, as adapted to the present imperfect state thereof, shall cease; we must therefore conclude from hence, that it was designed to be continued in the church in all ages, as it is at this day.
II. We are to consider the persons by whom this ordinance is to be administered; and these are only such as are lawfully called, and set apart to the pastoral office, whose work is to feed the church, not only by the preaching of the word, but by the administration of the sacraments, which are ordinances for their faith, in which they are said to receive, and spiritually feed upon Christ and his benefits; upon which account God promises to give his people pastors according to his own heart, who should feed them with knowledge and understanding, Jer. iii. 15. Now that none but these are appointed to administer this ordinance, is evident in that they, who partake of it, are said to have communion with him, and with one another therein, for their mutual edification and spiritual advantage; therefore it doth not belong to mankind in general, but the church in particular. And, to prevent confusion therein, Christ has appointed one, or more proper officers in his churches, to whom the management of this work is committed; who are called hereunto, by the providence of God, and the consent and desire of the church, to whom they are to minister.
III. We are now to consider the matter, or the outward elements to be used in the Lord's supper; and these are bread and wine. Thus it is said, Jesus took bread, Matt. xxvi. 26. and he also took the cup; which, by a metonymy, is put for the wine: For, our Saviour referring to this action, speaks of his drinking the fruit of the vine, ver. 29. As for the bread that is to be used in this ordinance, there was a very warm debate between the Latin and Greek church concerning it; the former, as the Papists do at this day, concluding it absolutely ne
cessary, that it should be unleavened bread, inasmuch as that kind of bread was used by our Lord, when he first instituted it, which was at the time of the passover, when no leaven was to be found in their houses. And they make it also a significant sign of the sincerity and truth with which the Lord's supper ought to be eaten; for which, they refer to what the apostle says, in 1 Cor. v. 8. Let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. But this seems only to be an allusion to the use of unleavened bread in the passover; which, it may be, might have a typical reference to that sincerity and truth with which all the ordinances of God are to be engaged in; but it does not sufficiently appear that he intends hereby that the bread used in the Lord's supper should be of this kind, or, that it was designed to signify the frame of spirit with which this ordinance is to be celebrated.
On the other hand, the Greek church thought that the bread ought to be leavened, according to our common practice at this day, it being the same that was used at other times. And this seems most eligible, as it puts a just difference between the bread used in the passover, which was a part of the ceremoni. al law, and a gospel-institution, that is distinct from it. But, I think, there is no need to debate either side of the question with too much warmth, it being a matter of no great importance. As for the wine that is to be used in this ordinance, it is a necessary part thereof; and therefore the Papists are guilty of sacrilege in withholding the cup from the common people *.
IV. We are now to consider what the minister is to do, antecedent to the church's partaking of the Lord's supper: He is to set apart the outward elements of bread and wine from a common, to this particular holy use. Upon which account it may be said to be sanctified by the word of God and prayer, 1 Tim. iv. 5. The words of institution contain an intimation that these elements are to be used in this ordinance, by Christ's appointment; without which, no significant sign could be used in any religious matters. And, as for prayer, this is agreeable to Christ's practice; for, he took bread and blessed it, or prayd for a blessing on it; and as the apostle expresses it; this was accompanied with thanksgiving, as he says; When he had given thanks he brake it, Matt. xxvi. 26. 1 Cor. xi. 24. which
agreeable to the nature and design of the ordinance, as herein we pray for the best of blessings, and express our thankfulness to him for the benefits of Christ's redemption.
Here I cannot but observe how the Papists pervert this or
This was done by the council at Constance, A. D, 1415. before which time there xere, indiced, several disputes about the matter or form of the cup, in which the wine 'contained; but it nás never taken away from the common people till then.
dinance in the manner of consecrating the bread, which the priest does only by repeating these words in Latin; This is my body and from thence they take occasion to advance the absurd doctrine of transubstantiation; and suppose, that, by these words pronounced, the bread is changed into the body and blood of Christ; which they assert, contrary to all sense and reason, as well as the end and design of the ordinance; and from hence it will follow, that man has a power to make the body and blood of Christ; and another consequence thereof, will be, that the human nature of Christ is omnipresent, which is inconsistent with a finite nature, and those properties that belong to it as such; from whence it is to be concluded, that it is no where else but in heaven; and it involves in it the greatest contradiction to suppose that it is bread, and having all the qualities thereof; and yet our senses must be so far imposed on, as that we must believe that it is not so, but Christ's body. It also supposes, that Christ has as many bodies as there are wafers in the world; which is a monstrous absurdity. It likewise confounds the sign with the thing signified, and is very opposite to the sense of those words of scripture, This is my body; which implies no more, than that the bread, which is the same in itself, after the words of consecration, as it was before, is an external symbol of Christ's body, that is, of the sufferings which he endured therein for his people.
V. We are now to consider the actions both of the minister and the church, when engaged in this ordinance, viz. breaking, distributing, eating the bread, pouring forth, and drinking the wine, for the ends appointed by Christ, in instituting this ordinance. Whether our Saviour gave the bread and wine to every one of the disciples in particular, is not sufficiently determined by the words of institution: For, though Matthew and Mark say, He gave the bread and the cup to the disciples, Matt. xxvi. 26, 27. and Mark xiv. 22, 23. Yet Luke speaking either concerning the cup used in the passover, or that in the Lord's supper, represents our Saviour as saying to his disciples, Take this and divide it among yourselves, Luke xxii. 17. which seems to intimate that he distributed it to one or more of them, to be conveyed to the rest, that they might divide it among themselves; which is agreeable to the practice of se veral of the reformed churches in our day, and seems most expedient in case the number of the communicants is very great, and the elements cannot be so conveniently given by the pastor into the hand of every one.
Here I may observe how the Papists pervert this part of the Lord's supper; inasmuch as they will not permit the common people to touch the bread with their hands, lest they should defile it; but the priest puts it into their mouths; for which