deceased benefactor, it leaves the receiv. ers as it found them : not one body, but many separate professors of one common faith. .

The Apostle having thus shewn the Last Supper to be of the nature of a feast upon the sacrifice; for the truth of which he appeals to their own conceptions of it6 the cup of blessing is it not the communion ? &c.; the bread, which we break, is it not the communion ?"~; he then endeavours to convince them of the impiety of their behaviour, from the nature of these feasts, as they were understood both by Jews and Gentiles; who equally held that they who eat of the sacrifices were partakers of the Altar. But what had either of these eaters of the sacrifices to do with the partakers of the bread and wine in the Last Supper, if the Last Supper was not a feast of the same kind with their feasts? But especially, if the three feasts, Jewish, Pagan, and Christian, had not one common nature, how could the Apostle have inferred that this intercommunity was absolutely inconsistent ? “ Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of

devils, devils, &c.” For though there might be impiety in the promiscuous use of Pagan and Christian Rites; yet the inconsistency arises from their having a common nature; and so, consequently, (as they had opposite originals) from their destroying one another's effects, in the very celebration. The reasoning stands thus: Those who eat of the sacrifices were partakers of the Altar. A sacrifice at the altar was a federal Rite: consequently, the feast upon that sacrifice became a federal Rite likewise. The Lord's Table, and the Table of devils, therefore, being both federal Rites, the same man could not be partaker of both. This is the Apostle's argument to the wise men here appealed to: and we see it turns altogether on this postulatum, that the Last Supper is of the nature of a feast upon the sacrifice. Suppose it now a general commemoration only of a dead benefactor, and all this reasoning vanishes : for though a man cannot execute two federal Rites which destroy one another; yet a federal Rite, and a bare remembrance, in two contrary religions, have none of this opposition ; but


may be celebrated, if not without impiety, yet without any of that inconsistency which the learned Apostle here charges upon his licentious Corinthians.

But this was not the only abuse they committed in the celebration of the Lord's Supper; nor this the only place in the Epistle declarative of the nature of that holy Rite. These Corinthians, as appears by the next chapter, had been guilty of celebrating the Lord's Supper in a very indecent manner, by confounding it with their ordinary repasts, or with convivial doings of their own invention, where charity and sobriety were too commonly violated. Now this indiscriminate celebration, the Apostle calls, the being guilty of the body and blood of the Lord ; a charge surely much aggravated, were the Lord's Supper instituted only to commemorate a dead benefactor. The Corinthians did not make a due distinction between their more ordinary food and the eating and drinking in memory of a deceased friend.

This doubtless was a high ingratitude. · Yet to rank these criminals with the murderers of the Lord of Life is a severity in

which we can hardly see the justice. But let us only suppose, that St. Paul considered the Last Supper as a feast upon a sacrifice, that is, as a Rite in which the benefits of Christ's death and passion were conveyed, and at the same time slighted, and all becomes easy and natural. The profanation of such a Rite, by rendering his death ineffectual, was indeed aiding the purpose of his murderers; and therefore might be fitly compared, and justly equalled, to the prodigious enormity of that crime.

Such then, I presume, is the true nature of the Lord's Supper. And was the ad. justing a precise idea of it, as it referred to a religious custom of antiquity, a matter only of curiosity and speculation, I might perhaps have left it to the ecclesiastical historian. But it appears to me to have important consequences with regard both to our faith and worship. For, if the Last Supper be of the nature of a feast after a sacrifice, then is it a declaration of Jesus himself, that his death upon the Cross was a real sacrifice. For figurative expression (as some are apt to deem the Gospel representation of Christ's Sacrifice and atonement) could never produce a religious Rite of Divine appointment, arising from, and dependant on a real specific action. I say, of Divine appointment, because many of human original have been thus produced. Yet then only (which is a farther support to the preceding observation) when the figure had been mistaken for a substance.


If the Last Supper be of the nature of a feast after a sacrifice, then is it productive of great and special benefits to the partakers. For the partakers of the Jewish and Gentile feasts after a sacrifice did, or were supposed to communicate of the benefits of the sacrifice.

However, a very learned writer, whose principles of reasoning, and method in deducing and conducting them, may serve for a model to the fair inquirer, hath lately endeavoured to prove, in a “ Plain account of the nature and end of the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper," " that it was “ institúted merely in remembrance of “ Christ; that the bread to be taken and

“ eaten

« ForrigeFortsett »