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The Lord's Supper considered as a Feast on, B.) OR AFTER, A SACRIFICE.
That the Lord's Supper is a feast on, or after, a sacrifice, is an explication of it which has been adopted by the ablest and most learned men. Dr. CUDWORTH, a great and venerable name, first suggested it in this country; and it has been firmly supported by the ingenious arguments of succeeding Divines. They have, indeed, given additional confirmation to it; but the honour of the original idea should, I think, be assigned to CuDWORTH alone.
From a close and impartial attention to bis and their arguments, I am fully convinced, that the Eucharist is a feast upon a sacrifice ; a feast after the GREAT SACRIFICE of all, even Jesus Christ upon the Cross; in which all other sacrifices, however various in their kind and modes,
from the rising to the setting of the sun, were ordained to terminate...
But the Doctrine of the Sacrament, as a feast on, or after, a sacrifice, may not be obvious to the apprehension of the unlearned, who are no less deeply concerned in it tlian the best informed; and it should therefore be explained to them, in order to satisfy their minds, and facilitate its general adoption. ..
The death of Christ was a sacrifice for the sins of the whole world, a sacrifice that comprehended in it, not only the commemorative oblation of the Pascal Lamb, but the other Jewish sacrifices, the sin offering and the peace offering. Like them it was to have a feast on, or after, it, and that feast is the Lord's Supper. The Heathens, as well as the Jews, had a feast after their sacrifices, and the partakers of the feast, in both cases, were to be partakers of the benefits supposed to redound from the sacrifice. “ Are not “ they which eat of the sacrifice,” says Saint Paul, “ partakers of the altar ?" What then were the benefits of the Jewish sacrifices? of the sin offering, the benefit
was forgiveness of sins : of the peace offering, acceptance with God. The sacrifice of Christ on the Cross conveys, therefore, to those who partake in its benefits, by partaking of the feast instituted upon it, pardon of their sins and acceptance with God; which must include sanctification of their souls, or, as the Church expresses it, an inward and spiritual grace.
e. . i . I proceed to mention, in a cursory man, ner, sufficient for my purpose, the Pagan sacrifices. The rites of the Pagan theology were derived from the Jews, though corrupted and distorted, and their original purpose lost and forgotten in the lapse of time. But the Pagans retained the practice of feasting after a sacrifice, that is, of eating a part of the victim offered, in order to partake of the propitiation supposed to be effected by the sacrifice. · It would be tedious to recite passages from the ancient writers to confirm this assertion. The first book of Homer affords a proof of it. The fact is well known, even to school-boys, and wants not additional confirmation. • Here then are three kinds of sacrifices
at present under our view, the Jewish, the Gentile, and the Christian; not comparable indeed in their dignity, but parallel in the circumstance of a feast after each, and in the general purpose of propitiating the Deity. The eating of the oblation, after the Jewish and the Gentile sacrifice, rendered in the opinion of the sacrificers) the partakers of the repast partakers of the benefits of the sacrifice. The partaking of the feast, after the grand Christian sacrifice, is also a participation in it, and confers all its advantages. The Eucharist is this feast, this epulum sacrificiale; to be repeated, while the world endures, after the great sacrifice of Christ on the Cross; which itself is never to be repeated, but the benefits of which are to flow by means of the feast upon it, as from a perennial fountain, till time shall be no more.
It is very important that the Eucharist should be considered, as it appears really to be, a feast on, or after, a sacrifice ; for this idea coinprehends in it a right notion of our Saviour's death upon the Cross; that sacrifice which gave rise to the feast, without which, according to analogy, the
sacrifice sacrifice itself would be incomplete. It teaches this most important truth, that our Saviour himself declared his death to be a sacrifice. The sacrifice, however, is nothing to us till we partake in the feast upon it. We are but idle by-standers, or uninterested spectators, till we worTUILY eat of those symbols which are appointed to be in the place of the slaughtered victim, once offered; a view of the subject this; which should make every real Christian shudder at the idea of wilfully and entirely neglecting, through life, the Holy Communion.
The sacrifice of Christ, without participants in the feast on, or after it, is merely a violent death inflicted on the Holy Person commemorated; and ceases to be a complete sacrifice, or to confer any benefits at all, so far as the non-participants in the Feast are concerned. They can have no advantage from a Sacrifice, of which they do not partake; but must be saved, if saved at all, by the extraordinary interposition of Divine Mercy, acting independently of the Christian dispensation. .. Divines, it is true, have offered to the