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stitution of Christ, and to show the propriety and importance of it. Therefore, they who shall not be convinced that there is any promised connection between the faithfulness of parents in the covenant, as it respects their children, and the conveyance of saving blessings to the latter, will not find the evidence on which they believe and practise infant baptism, in any degree weakened; while they who believe that such a connection is evident from Scripture, will, by this view of the matter, be more confirmed in the reality, usefulness, and importance of this institution, and excited to improve it accordingly. It is presumed that this attempt has no tendency to prejudice any one against the practice of infant baptism, or to lead him to doubt whether it be a Christian institution; and that no one can have any reason to think that the belief of such a connection, and a practice agreeable to it, can tend, in any respect, to slur the institution, or to render it less important and useful to the Christian church, or be hurtful to any.
If what has been now offered on this subject shall in any degree awaken the attention of divines and Christians in general to this matter, and excite to a more careful and strict examination of it, which, it is thought, has not yet been thoroughly explored, but has been generally treated in too loose and indeterminate a manner; and if, in consequence of this, greater light on this point shall be obtained, and a more consistent and scriptural account of it shall be given than is here exhibited, the composing and reading of these pages will not be in vain.
THE LORD'S SUPPER.
The Lord's supper is also an institution of Christ, which he has commanded his followers to observe and attend upon, and has appointed it to be celebrated in his church to the end of the world.
The elements of this ordinance are bread and wine. The bread, consecrated and broken, represents the broken body of Christ in his death on the cross. The wine poured out represents his blood in his death, which was shed for the remission of sins. The professed followers of Christ, by eating the bread and drinking the wine, when consecrated and blessed by prayer and thanksgiving, and distributed to them by the officers of the church, do, by this transaction, profess cordially to receive Christ by faith, and to live upon him, loving him and trusting in him for pardon and complete redemption, consecrating themselves to his service. And by the ministers of the gospel consecrating those elements, and ordering them to be distributed to the communicants, Christ is exhibited as an all-sufficient Savior, and the promise of salvation is expressed and sealed to all his friends. This is, therefore, a covenant transaction, in which those who partake of the bread and wine express their faith in Christ, that they are his friends and devoted to his service, and their cordial compliance with the covenant of grace, and solemnly seal this covenant by partaking of these elements; and, at the same time, they are a token and seal of the covenant of grace on the part of Christ. All this is asserted by the apostle Paul, when speaking of this ordinance. “ 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?” (1 Cor. x. 16.) "For I have received of the Lord that which I also delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus, in the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread: and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat; this is my body which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood.” (1 Cor. xi. 23–25.) nd the church, by coming together and celebrating this holy supper, not only profess their love to Christ and union of heart to him, but that peculiar love and union to each other which takes place between the true disciples of Christ, and is essential to their character. This is expressed in the following words of the apostle Paul: "For we, being many, are one bread and one body : for we are all partakers of that one bread." (1 Cor. x. 17.)
The appointment, therefore, of this holy supper is an instance of the wisdom and goodness of Christ, as it is suited to be a repeated and continual exhibition of a crucified Savior, and hereby to excite the faith and love of Christians, and to lead them to renew their covenant with him, dedicating themselves to his service and honor; and is also adapted to the communicants' united expression of their mutual love and union of heart to each other, while they jointly partake of one common good, even all the benefits of Christ crucified.
That this is appointed by Christ to be a standing ordinance, to be observed by his church, and by every professed baptized believer in him, to the end of the world, is evident by the words and manner of the institution of it recorded by the evangelists Matthew, Mark, and Luke, and is further evident by the history we have of the observation of it by the churches in the days of the apostles. We are told that, on the first day of the week, the disciples at Troas came together to break bread, (Acts xx. 7,) that is, to celebrate the Lord's supper.
church at Corinth attended upon this ordinance from time to time, which appears from what the apostle Paul says to them respecting it, when he undertakes to correct their abuse of it. (1 Cor. xi.) And in order to reform them, he refers them to the original institution by Christ, and tells them particularly what it was, as he had received it from the Lord Jesus Christ himself; and adds the following words: “ For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till he come ;” which words strongly assert that this ordinance was to be observed to the end of the world, when Christ the Lord shall come the second time without sin unto salvation.
This ordinance, according to the nature, signification, and extent of it, is to be repeated by the same persons to the end of life, as it expresses the believer's living upon Christ, and the nourishment of his soul by faith in him, and is suited to excite renewed acts of Christian love and holiness. There is the same reason why a participation of it should be repeated, as there is that it should be once attended.
6 As often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till he come.” (1 Cor. xi. 26.) There is a difference between this ordinance and that of baptism, in this respect: as the latter is the initiating ordinance and seal by which persons are visibly introduced into the church and kingdom of Christ; and this being once done, the end of it is answered, and there can be no reason or propriety in repeating it by applying it more than once to the same person.
The infant children of believers are as capable subjects of baptism, and of all that is signified by it, as adults are, as has been shown. But, as they are not capable of that which is signified by partaking of the Lord's supper till they arrive to years of understanding, this is not to be administered to them before that time, when they shall be able to “discern the Lord's body, and examine themselves.” There is no evidence that the circumcised children in Israel were admitted to the passover, and to partake of the paschal lamb, until they were able to understand the reason and end of that institution, The Jews say, children did not partake of the passover till they arrived to the age of twelve years. This seems to be confirmed by the history we have of the parents of Jesus taking him with them to the feast of the passover at Jerusalem when he was twelve years old, which plainly implies that they did not do it before. “ Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem, after the custom of the feast.” (Luke ii. 41, 42.) This may be considered as a guide to Christian churches in admitting baptized children to the Lord's supper.
This ordinance, according to the nature and design of it, is to be administered and attended upon publicly by every particular church, and is not designed to be administered privately to one single person. Of this we have no example in Scripture; but the disciples, the whole church, came together to break bread, and eat the Lord's supper. "And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread." (Acts xx. 7.) “When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord's supper. Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another. And if any man hunger, let him eat at home; that ye come not together unto condemnation.” (1 Cor. xi. 20, 33, 34.)
As to the frequency of administering this ordinance in a church, this does not appear to be fixed by any precept or example in Scripture, and, therefore, seems to be left to the discretion of the church to determine how often they will attend upon it, and have it administered to them, according to their circumstances, and as they shall think it to be most convenient to them, and most for the honor of Christ and their edification. It has been often said that Christians, in the first ages of the church, celebrated the Lord's supper at least every Lord's day. But it may be asked by what authentic history this can be made evident? what author has produced this evidence? and if it were certain that some churches did attend upon it every Lord's day, and oftener, this would not prove that this was commanded by Christ, or his apostles. Some have thought it evident that this ordinance was attended by the first Christian church, which was formed by the apostles at Jerusalem, at least every first day of the week, — if not every time they met for public worship, which they must have done by the direction of the apostles, - and is, therefore, as binding on all Christian churches, to the end of the world, as if there were an express precept to attend upon it in the same manner and so often. But the words on which this conclusion is grounded do not appear sufficient to support it when carefully examined. They are these: " And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart." (Acts ii. 42, 46.) “ They continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine;" that is, they attended constantly on the instructions and preaching of the apostles, and steadfastly adhered to the truths delivered by them. “ And in fellowship;" that is, in communicating and making collections and distribution to supply the bodily necessities of those who stood VOL. II.
in need of assistance and support. This is the meaning of the word, xoiwvia, which is here translated fellowship. "And in breaking of bread :" this probably means their partaking of the Lord's supper. “ And in prayers;" that is, joining in public prayers, and in singing psalms, which is included in prayer; which were constantly performed when they attended the other parts of public worship. Here, then, every part of their public worship is mentioned, viz., public teaching; distribution to the necessities of the poor saints; attendance on the Lord's supper; and prayer; including psalmody, which is devotion, and a particular manner of prayer. But it does not follow, from this enumeration of the different parts of their public worship, that every part was attended upon every time they met for prayer or preaching; or that they made a contribution for the poor, or broke bread, every time they met together for public worship; but that these were performed as often as was convenient and proper. Breaking bread from house to house, and eating their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, (verse 46,) does not appear to mean their eating the Lord's supper from house to house, but their partaking of their common food, and eating together; exercising liberality and friendship one towards another, in eating their common meals. But if breaking bread does here mean the Lord's supper, and it were certain that believers at Jerusalem did, in their then peculiar and extraordinary circumstances, administer and partake of this ordinance whenever a number of them met in a particular house, it would not hence follow that the disciples of Christ are by this bound in all ages of the world to attend the 'Lord's supper in the same manner, or thus frequently.
When it is said, “ And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread,” (Acts xx. 7,) it does not import that breaking bread was the only or chief thing for which they came together on that day, for this was not true, as appears by the relation; nor does it follow from those words, that they always came together on the first day of the week to break bread: it is only said that on that first day they did so. They might, consistently with this, come together on many other first days of the week, not to break bread, but to attend on other parts of public worship, without partaking of the Lord's supper.