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SACRAMENT OF THE LORD'S SUPPER.
1 CORINTH. XI. 26.
For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this
cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come.
THE Church to which we belong has re
tained only two Sacraments, Baptism and the Lord's Supper; the latter of which I shall, in this discourse, fully and circumstantially consider: and, first, its name and cause, the circumstances which took place at its first institution, the intent of our Saviour by it, and the conduct of his Disciples, and of his Apostle St. Paul, in this respect.
Secondly, I shall trace its progressive history from the time of the Apostles, and shew
the corruptions it received from the Romish Clergy.
Thirdly, I shall attempt to account for some of the motives, which occasion even the members of the Church of England to absent themselves from it.
Fourthly, I shall endeavour to point out the unreasonableness of such conduct, and the benefit which all must undoubtedly receive from it, as men, as members of society, and as Christians.
The word sacrament is derived from a similar Latin one, which had several significations ; as, a pledge deposited for the issue of a law suit, a mystery, a military oath, by which the Roman soldiers bound themselves to be faithful to their commanders, and in this sense it is used by two of the best Latin authors.* The name of sacrament is, with the
* Livy, book 22.-Horace says,
. ... strictest
strictest propriety, applied by the fathers to the Lord's Supper, since it is a test whereby we openly profess ourselves Christ's faithful soldiers and servants, unto our lives' end.
The Mosaic law was extremely burthensome to the Jews; it was full of ceremonies, and sacrifices of the blood of bulls and of goats, with which God had frequently declared himself, by the mouth of his prophets, not satisfied, preferring mercy and goodness before them all. The Messiah, at his coming, abolished such rites, leaving in their stead these two sacraments only, Baptism and the Lord's Supper. By the first, our sponsors promise, that we shall be dedicated to God, and brought up in the Christian religion; by the second, we ourselves openly declare, that we have been so, and that we attest ourselves to be Christians before all the world. Our Saviour, who observed the Mosaic ordinances, (judging it becoming to ful
fil all righteousness, to comply with every religious ceremony, which had a tendency to promote that end), was extremely desirous to eat the Passover with his Disciples, before he suffered ; as soon as this had been done, he considered the law and the prophets as fulfilled, and introduced the new covenant to them. 66 Drink ye all of this, for this is my blood 66 of the New Testament, which is shed not 66 only for you, but for many, for the remis“ sion of their sins ;* which God will pass over and forgive, as his avenging Angel passed over and spared the lives of the Children of Israel in Egypt. “ This do in re“ membrance of me,”+ says St. Luke; that is, do this hereafter in your religious assemblies, in remembrance of me, your gracious Master, and of the benefits which arise to you, and to all mankind, by the sacrifice of my body and blood. Now remembrance un* Matthew xxvi. 27, 28, &c. . + Luke xxii. 19.
doubtedly implies continuation, since no one can think any ceremony necessary to remember a person present, but absent; and though there be no positive mention of its being taken by the Apostles, except in the 7th verse of the 20th chapter of the Acts, yet no doubt can be entertained of St. Paul's partaking of it; for he would scarcely refuse the sanction of his own example, to the advancement of the doctrine he delivered, and which, he positively asserts, he had received the divine command to press on the Corinthian Christians.
Secondly. The ancient fathers of the Chureh recommended the use, end, efficacy, and nature of this sacrament; that by it we should keep the Saviour of the World in constant remembrance, and acknowledge the redemption he has purchased for us by his blood. The first of these fathers whom I shall mention, is Polycarp, Bishop of Smyr