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warmth, and comfort of his beams; so when the Apostle gays we have the communion of the body and blood of Christ, in the Lord's Supper, he shews that herein the benefits of his sacrifice are enjoyed by us. As certainly as the true believer takes the bread and wine, and feeds on them in remembrance of Christ's death, so assuredly do the spiritual blessings obtained by that sacrifice belong to bim; and the very ordinance is calculated to give him this happy assurance of faith. It has been well remarked, * “ Here we often, like Moses from Mount Pisgah, get extended views of the promised land. Here the mourning saints find joy, the weary rest, the dejected encouragement, and the strong increasing confidence. Here the spirit of faith applies the atonement, and the sense of reconciliation fills our souls with joy unspeakable, and full of glory. Christ intends his people should be comforted, should abound in all spiritual joy, and come to a feast, where gladness is sown for the upright in heart." In partaking of this feast our souls are strengthened and refreshed by new views of our interest in Christ, and a fresh and lively communion with him.t
It is, however, by no means intended to be stated that these comforts are invariably connected with the right reception of the Lord's Supper, or that the communicant has not acceptably received it, who has not felt this full assurance of hope ; (Heb. vi, 11.) all we intend is, that it is a blessing which the ordinance is
* See Haweis' Spiritual Communicant.
+ The subject of communion with Christ as one especial benefit of the Lord's Supper, demands distinct consideration, and will be noticed in a subsequent chapter.
designed and calculated to communicate, and which believers do in favoured seasons, experience. But where so full a blessing is not given, there are yet benefits which are more generally and more constantly obtained. Thus faith, which is the very root of an assured hope, and the spirit of holiness, which is the only certain or safe evidence that our hope is' well grounded, are here greatly nourished and strengthened. The grace
of faith, the root of all other graces, is specially assisted and INCREASED by a due partaking of the Lord's Supper; for this institution is not only the outward sign of the Christian's feeding on Christ through faith, but a most efficacious means to help us to grow in this vital principle of the Christian's life. We must have, indeed, the beginning of faith, (if I may use the expression,) before we go. But faith is a grace of different degrees of strength. There is a little, a weak, and a strong faith ; and the weak in faith must be received as a Christian brother, and in time his faith may become strong.
The whole service here is peculiarly calculated to strengthen our faith in Christ, the only Saviour. Bishop Taylor remarks, " Though we are to believe before we receive these symbols of Christ's death, yet, as by loving we love more, and by the acts of patience we increase in the spirit of mortification ; so, by believing, we believe more, and by publication of our confession, we are made confident." The ordinance leads us throughout, to fix our minds stedfastly and deliberately on Jesus Christ, and him crucified, the proper object of our faith; and all things tend to beget the füllest confidence in the grace of Christ, and the love of our Heavenly Father.
The Lord's Supper, also, tends to PROMOTE QUR SANCTIFICATION. This is a point of vast importance, and one to which all that are in the habit of attending regularly at its celebration, will cordially give testimony. What Christian has not found the blood of Christ, as here manifested and applied, purging the conscience from dead works to serve the living God; the death of Christ becoming the spring of love, gratitude, and holy obedience?. In a believing and vivid recollection of his atonement, the supply of the Spirit of Christ is largely given, both to subdue our corruptions and strengthen our graces.
Our separation from worldly vanities thus become more easy and more resolute, and our devotion to God more steady and more decided. It has been illustrated by the advantages of a lock on a canal, which raises the vessel, and enables it to begin a new course on a higher stream, and thus it is carried over what would otherwise obstruct its course.
The due attendance on this means of grace will-be accompanied by a manifest growth in humility, delighting in God, and doing good. Our spirit will become inore meek, and tender, and heavenly. Just as when a sick man, through taking a medicine exactly suited to his disease, begins to recover from his disorder, his appetite returns, his recently enervated limbs are renewed with fresh strength, his late pallid cheeks catch again the glow of health, he moves about afresh with freedom, and goes to his work with alacrity and vigour, feeling more than ever the blessings of health from having been confined to his habitation and his
So, when at the Lord's table, we receive " the healthful spirit of God's grace,” we hunger and thirst after righteousness, we are raised up to new
vigoor in the spiritual life, we walk again with God, and go to our daily duties with fresh zeal and devotion. In short, all those holy dispositions which mark the character of Christians, are here cherished by the most effective motives. Our sense of the evil of sin is quickened, our penitence is deepened, and our love to the Saviour, and those for whom he died, is enlivened.
Thus, in these various ways, it is an appointed means of obtaining a richer enjoyment of spiritual benefits, and a higher assurance that they belong to us, and when rightly used the blessing attends the means.
The blessings of which we have spoken are indeed communicated to believers in prayer, and reading and hearing the Holy Scriptures, and the like; and also in the exercise of grace without external and ordinary means: nor is God confined to any means; but let us ever remember that he has appointed this means also ; we cannot expect his blessing in any thing else, if we zeglect his appointments; and it is practically found by humble Christians, to be a most efficacious way of gaining spiritual blessings.
Christians have also here many SOCIAL ADVANTAGES. They have the benefit of communion with their fellow Christians. For we being many are one bread, for we are all partakers of that one bread.* The formation of the bread and of the wine illustrate the intimate union of Christians. As the loaf is formed of many once separate grains of wheat, so the people of Christ, however once distinct from each other, by the uniting bond of the Gospel, become connected together in the
The term eis aptos, rendered one bread, may be rendered one loaf, describing more strikingly the union of Christians.
most intimate and close union. As the wine in the cup is formed of the juice of many distinct grapes, which are all blended together, and thus the various juices become mingled and lost in one, so are the once distinct and varied minds and hearts of Christians united together in Christ Jesus; they have fellowship one with another..
The communion of saints is a cheering and delightful subject, tending, the more it is practically considered and experimentally felt, to draw the hearts of Christians nearer to each other. There is a relationship between man and man, effected by the Gospel of our Saviour, stronger than any merely earthly ties; there is a union, closer even than that which subsists in the members of the same body. As the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.--So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. The head of the body is Christ; and all his people, whether in heaven or in earth, are members of that body. At the Lord's table we enjoy this communion. The church is here seen as a compact body. We gather courage and strength from the sight of our fellow Christians. Our mutual intercourse, profession, and devotion, animate and stir up each
One holy sympathy of feeling pervades and runs through the whole company of devout communicants. We become interested in each other's
prayers; we sympathize in each other's sorrows; we partake of each other's joys; we are travelling the same road; we have the same enemies and friends; the same difficulties and comforts ; the same sorrows and joys. And when Christians thus meet in love, who will not