Thomas Smyth.

Complete works of Rev. Thomas Smyth, D. D online

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gave thanks, and blessed it, and gave it the disciples, and said,
Take, eat ; this is my body which is given for you ; this do in
remembrance of me. And after supper He took the cup, and
gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it ; for
this is the New Testament in my blood, which is shed for you
and for many, for the remission of sins." Matt. xxvi. ; Luke

Our Lord appointed bread and wine, which are the most
nutritious parts of our ordinary food, to represent His body
and blood, in order to show that his merits and death are as
needful for the life of the soul, as bread and wine are for the
life of the body. He commanded this bread to be broken, and
this wine to be poured out, to set forth the suflFerings He was
about to endure in His agony and* crucifixion; when "He was
poured out like water, when all His bones were out of joint, and

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596 THE lord's supper.

his heart in the midst of his body was even like mdtii^ wax."
Psalms xxii. 14. And the eating of this bread, and the drink-
ing of this wine, were intended to represent the spiritual feed-
ing upon the merits and death of Christ by faith, and the apply-
ing them to our own comfort and salvation.

This institution is called by various names. It is very usually
styled The Sacrament, the original meaning of which word is
an oath; because the military oath which the R(Mnan soldier
took when he swore fidelity to his general, was termed sacra-
mentum militare, a military sacrament. And this name is very
appropriate ; for in this ordinance, as well as in Baptism, we
are solemnly pledged "not to be ashamed of the faith of Christ
crucified, but manfully to fight under His banner against the
world, the flesh, and the devil ; and to continue Christ's faithful
soldiers and servants unto our lives* end." And our Saviour
has solemnly declared, in the words of prophecy, "Unto me
every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear." Isaiah
xlv. 23.

It is spoken of as The Communion, 1 Cor. x. 16. "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 com-
munion of the body of Christ ?" because we therein have com-
munion and fellowship with Christ our exalted head, and with
all the Church, as the n^embers of His mystical body.

It is further described as a Feast. "Christ our Passover is
sacrificed for us, therefore let us keep the feast ;" 1 Cor. v. 7,
for the body and blood of Christ are the richest banquet to the

It is named also The Eucharist, from a Greek word signify-
ing thanksgiving, because Christ, when He took the bread, gave
thanks ; and because therein we eminently "offer the sacrifice
of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips, giv-
ing thanks to His name." Heb. xiii. 15.

The Apostle Paul calls it lastly. The Lord's Table, The
Lord's Supper, I Cor. x. 21 ; xi. 20, because it was instituted
by Him as the Lord and Saviour of the Church, and because He
sends the invitation, makes the provision, gives the blessing,
and vouchsafes to sit down, as it were, Himself, as the master
of the entertainment, that He may "sup with us, and we with
Him." Rev. iii. 20.

Let us consider,

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THE lord's supper. 597

II. The Design of this Sacrament.

1. It is intended to be a standing memorial of the blessed
Redeemer amongst His disciples. "Do this," said our Lord, "in
remembrance of me." This ordinance is designed to remind
us of His love, His promises. His grace. His suflFerings, His
redemption. While He is absent from tis, as to His bodily
presence, this sacred supper serves to keep Him ever present in
our memories and hearts. A thankful, obedient, affectionate
remembrance of our Saviour, as our friend, and master, and
Lord, is one principal end of the Institution we are considering,

2. It is instituted to be a visible and affecting representation
of the sufferings of our divine Saviour. "This is my body,"
said our Lord, "which is given for you. This is the New
Testament in my blood, which is shed for you and for many."
The bread broken, and the wine poured out, are the most
lively emblems of the body of our Redeemer bruised and put
to grief by His heavenly Father, and of His blood which was
shed before the bar of Pilate, in the garden of Gethsemane, and
on the Cross, The Sacrament was intended to present before
our minds all the woe, and sorrow, and anguish of the Son of
God ; to recall to our memories the scourge, the spear, the nails,
the crown of thorns; to impress deeply on our hearts every
part of the imutterable scene.

3. It is meant to be a perpetual testimony to the merits,
atonement, and satisfaction of Christ. "This is my blood of
the New Testament, which is shed for many for the remission
of sins," are the words of our Lord. The Sacrament does
eminent honour to this fundamental doctrine of Christianity.
It sets forth the Lord's death, it bears witness to the Lamb of
God who was slain to take away the sins of the world. The
very circumstance of a solemn institution being appointed to
commemorate not the birth, not the resurrection, but the death
and sufferings of Jesus Christ, connected with the numerous
passages of Scripture which speak of the vicarious nature of
those sufferings, is such a strong and palpable testimony to the
proper atonement and satisfaction of Christ, that while the
Sacrament continues in the Church, no sophistry of the infidel
or heretic will be able to weaken the faith of humble christians
in that essential article of our religion.

4. It is instituted to afford us the most important instruction
as to the manner in which the merits and atonement of Christ
arc applied to our own benefit. "Take, eat ; this is my body ;

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698 THE lord's supper.

Drink ye all of this," was the command of Christ. As the
bread and wine represent the body and blood of our Saviour,
so the eating and drinking these elements are to point out that
act of faith by which we apply to our own benefit the merits of
Jesus Christ. In the 6th chapter of St. John, true faith in
Christ is repeatedly described as "eating the flesh and drinking
the blood of the Son of Man." And surely no image can be
more appropriate ; for as the most nutritious food can be of no
service to our natural bodies, unless we actually receive and
eat it, so the body and blood of Christ, offered up as a sacrifice
for sin, can be of no benefit to us personally, unless we apply
the blessings purchased by them to ourselves, receive them into
our hearts by faith, and thus, as it were, feed on the body and
blood of Christ, for the Hfe and nourishment of our souls.

5. It is designed to be a seal of the covenant of grace, "This
cup is the New Testament (or covenant) in my blood," said
our Saviour ; "This is my blood of the New Testament." As
circtuncision under the law was "a seal of the righteousness of
faith," Rom. iv. 11 ; so are the Sacraments of Baptism and the
Lord's Supper under the Gospel, they are seals on God's part
and on man's part On the part of God, the Lord's Supper is
an appointed' token and pledge of the pardon of sin, justifica-
tion, and every spiritual blessing; as well as a means of con-
veying those blessings to the heart. It gives, as it were, a sen-
sible evidence and assurance of the Divine favour ; it confirms
and ratifies all the promises of the Gospel, conveys the right to
them, and brings the sincere christian into the actual possession
and enjoyment of them. It is likewise a seal of the covenant
of grace on man's part, as an instituted mark and pledge of our
solemn and deliberate acceptance of that covenant. We set to
our seal that God is true ; we profess our wish to share all the
mercies of the Gospel, and to perform all its duties. Like the
spiritual converts in the Prophet, we there say. We are the
Lord's ; we call ourselves by the name of Jacob, we subscribe
with our hands unto the Lord, and surname ourselves by the
name of Israel. Isa. xliv. 5.

6. It is intended to he a solemn act of thanksgiving for the
Redeemer's victory over our spiritual enemies. It is our
Eucharist, our festival of praise and triumph. The Passover,
to which it succeeds, was a feast in grateful commemoration
of the redemption of the children of Israel from the bondage
of Egypt. The Lord's Supper is a thank^ving for our spirit-
ual redemption from the slavery of sin; it is a feast in memory

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of the triumphs of Christ. We are there called to a sacrifice
of prai$e for the victory which our Lord has obtained over all
our enemies, and for the high powers with which He is in con-
sequence invested; we celebrate His grace, as "having spoiled
principalities and powers, and made a show of them openly,
triumphing over them" on the cross. Col. ii. 16. One design
of this Sacrament is, that we should surround His table with
joyful hearts, and exult with grateful thanksgivings in God
our Saviour.

7. It is intended to be a distinguishing mark of our christian
profession. The Apostle teaches us, that, "as often as we eat
this bread and drink this cup, we do show the Lord's death
till he come." I Cor. xi. 26. The Sacrament is a solemn
declaration of our allegiance to Christ. We thereby publish
and proclaim to all around, that we belong to Him. Wherever
the religicm of Jesus Christ is professed, the continual showing
forth His death in the Sacrament is die badge of the profession.
No one, properly speaking, continues a menAer, even of the
visible body of Christ, who docs not habitually join in celebrat-
ing this holy mystery, which for eighteen hundred years has
been the distinguishing niark and bond of the christian church.

8. It is meant to be a token of christian unity and love.
"The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion
of the blood of Christ?" saith the Apostle. "The bread which
we break, is it; not the communion of the body of Christ? For
we being many are one bread, and cme body ; for we are all par-
takers of that one bread." I Cor. x. 16, 17. In this Sacra-
ment, we profess our love to all the members of the church, we
engage ourselves to mutual forgiveness and charity, we bind
each other to keep "the unity of the Spirit in the bond of
peace." We practically observe the New Commandment, to
love one another : by which all men are to know that we are
Christ's disciples. Especially do we pledge ourselves to culti-
vate the peace and seek the welfare of that part of the pure and
apostolical Church of Christ to which we belong. This duty
of unity and love is one of no small moment, as it formed a
part of the last intercessory prayer of our Lord, that His dis-
ciples might all be one, "as thou. Father, art in me, and I in
thee, that they may be one in us : that the world may bdieve
that thou hast sent me." John xvii. 21.

9. It is designed to ensure us of the continued protection and
mercy of Christ to the Church till he come to judgment. "Ye
do show forth the Lord's death till he come," said the Apostle ;

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600 THE lord's supper.

implying that this Sacrament would afford the servants of
Christ, however at times afflicted and despised, an assurance of
His present help and guidance, until He should *'come to receive
them to Himsdf," that "where He was, there they might be
also." Their "life is now hid with Christ in God," but their
Saviour has left them a Sacrament to be ever preserved in the
Church, as a pledge of His second coming; as a means of
strengthening their faith in His power, faithfulness, and love,
during their militant state ; as an ordinance to remind them of
that hope which is laid up for them in heaven : a pledge of that
crown of glory which awaits all who love His 2q)pearing.

10. It is intended to be a foretaste of the happiness and joy
of heaven. When our Lord had instituted the Sacrament, He
added, "But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this
fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you
in my Father's kingdom," Matt. xxvi. 29; which teaches us,
that in the realms of glory we shall receive that perfect con-
summation of bliss of which this sacramental feast is the
earnest. The communion of saints in this world is a prepara-
tion for the same communion in a future and better one. We
in some measure resemble, at the Supper of our Saviour, the
adoration, the unity, and the joys of Heaven, in the object of
our worship, in our sense of obligation to divine mercy, and
our love to each other. And we are to regard our Sacraments
as representations and' foretastes of that heavenly Supper of
the Lamb, Rev. xix. 9, which is reserved for the blessed in the
kingdom of God.

We are now to explain,

HL The Qualifications of those who receive the Lord's Supper


This is a most important part of the subject. May God by
his blessed ^irit assist us in considering it.

1. You must have an adequate knowledge of the nature and
design of this Holy Commission. The Apostle speaks of those
who do not "discern the Lord's body," and declares that they
"eat and drink unworthily." It is necessary, then, for a young
person to consider the subject of the Lord's Supper seriously,
to read with attenticMi the parts of Scripture where it is ^x>ken
of or referred to, (Matt. xxvi. 26-30. Mark xiv. 22-26. Luke
xxii. 15-20. John vi. 32-58. Acts ii. 46 ; xx 7, 1 Cor. x. 16-
18; xi. 17-34.) and to reflect frequently on the end and design
of the institution ; so that he may have a competent knowledge

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THE lord's supper. 601

of the solemn act in which he is to be engaged, and may offer
unto God a reasonable service. An ignorant communicant must
be an unfit one.

2, There must be a genuine and unaffected humiliation
before God on account of sin. We must "look on Him whom
we have pierced, and mourn as one moumeth for his only son,
and be in bitterness as one that is in bitterness for his first-
bom." Zech. xii. 10. The foundation of all religion is deep
conviction of sin. Till we see our own character, guilt, misery,
unworthiness, and danger, we never can deeply value the Sacra-
ment which seals our redemption. We must pray, then, that
our language and feelings may resemble those of the ancient
penitents; of Abraham, Gren. xvii. 27; of Jacob, Gen. xxxii.
10 ; of Job xl. 4, 6, and xli. 6, 6 ; of the Psalmist, Ps. xxxviii.,
li., Ixxvii., cxxx. ; of Isaiah, vi. 6 ; of the Centurion, Matt. viii.
8, 9. ; of the repenting prodigal, Luke xv. 21 ; of the Publican,
Luke xviii. 13 ; of the Apostle of the Gentiles, I Cor. xv. 9, 19.
1 Tom. i. 12-16. We shall find it, indeed, the most difficult of
duties to abase ourselves in the manner we ought ; but we must
implore of God His special grace, to enlighten, soften, and hum-
ble our hearts, to "take away the heart of stone, and to give an
heart of flesh ;" to bestow upon us a practical view of our fallen
condition, of the holiness of God's law, of the evil of sin, of
the greatness and excellency of the God whom we have
offended; of the unspeakable sufferings of Christ, of our
innumerable personal transgressions, of the utter imp>ossibility
of doing anything to restore ourselves to the favour of God.
Some feeling of these truths is indispensably necessary to a
humble participation of the Lord's Supper. Pride is the most
hateful of all vices in the preparation for such a duty.

3. You must earnestly desire to partake of the blessings of
Christ's atonement, A leading design of the Eucharist is to
represent the blood of Christ, which was "shed for many for
the remission of sins." Your state of mind cannot be a right
one, unless you desire entirely to renounce all dependence on
yourself, and are solicitous to trust entirely to the merits and
death of Jesus Christ. You must constantly pray to be "found
in Christ, not having your own righteousness, which is of the
law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, even the
righteousness which is of God by faith." Phil. iii. 9. When
you partake of the consecrated memorials of the body and
blood of your Saviour, you must pray that your souls may be

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602 THE lord's supper.

supported and blest by a participation of His merits and atone-
ment, as your body is refreshed by the bread and wine.

4. You must be prepared to renew your solemn and hearty
acceptance of the covenant of grace. The Sacrament is the
seal of the "New Testament in Christ's blood." It requires
from those who partake of it a serious and devout dedication
of themselves to God in Jesus Christ, according to the tenor of
that covenant with which it is connected. You must, then,
consider the account given in Scripture of the covenant of
works by which you are condemned, and the covenant of grace
which must be your only hope. Rom. iii. 9-20, and 27 ; iv. 4,
5 ; vii. 4-6. Gal. iii. 10-13 ; iv. 21-31. Heb. viii. 6-13. You
must understand the doctrine of salvation by grace, through
faith in Christ Jesus, Eph. ii. 8-10 ; you must be d-esirous of
becoming a party in that covenant of mercy, Isa. Iv. 3; you
must be willing to devote all you have and are, to the service
of God, as being no longer your own, but bought with a price,
1 Cor. vi. 20 : you must be resolved to walk in- a course of uni-
form, humble, and cheerful obedience. And, when you come
to the Lord's Table, yxni must come to seal this covenant, to
renew the engagements of it, to receive the assurance of its
blessings, and to partake of the comfort, pardon, and strength,
which the Sacrament is the appointed means of conveying.

5. You must seriously renounce and forsake the service of
sin. This you were pledged to do by the vow of your Baptism.
You then engaged to "renounce the devil and all his works, the
pomps and vanities of this wicked world, and all the sinful
lusts of the flesh." This engagement you are to renew and
confirm whenever you receive the Holy Communion. It is
essential to a right participation of it. The love of sin is
incompatible with the love of Christ "You cannot serve God
and Mammon." "He that nameth the name of Christ must
depart from iniquity," and therefore much more he that
approaches the most solemn part of a christian's worship. A
determination to mortify the whole body of sin, to separate
from the sinful pleasures of the world, and to renounce the
service of Satan : a desire to grow in all holiness of heart and
life; a resolution to be diligent in the employment of every
means for promoting real solid godliness ; a penitent confession
before God of our many failings and imperfections ; a constant
reliance on divine grace for future obedience; in a word, a
"forgetting the things which are behind, a reaching forth unto
those things which are before, and a pressing towards the mark

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THE lord's supper. 603

for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." Phil,
iii. 13, 14, combine to form that state of mind which a christian
will desire to cultivate in celebrating his Saviour's institution.

6. You must from your hearts forgive every one his brother
their trespasses. Matt, xviii. 34. "If we bring our gift to
the altar, and there remember that our brother hath aught
against us, we must leave there our gift before the altar, and
go our way, and first be reconciled to our brother, and then
come and offer our gift." Matt. v. 20-M. The petition in
the Lord's prayer, "Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive
them that trespass against us," strongly inculcates the same
duty. Indeed, it is impossible for us to come to the Sacrament
widi a heart deeply affected with a sense of our sins, and
earnestly desirous to obtain an undeserved pardon, through
the sufferings and death of our divine Saviour, without being
disposed at the same time to forgive the small and inconsider-
able offences which a fellow-creature may have committed
against us. It is one main qualification, then, of a spiritual
communicant, to forgive from his heart every one that has
injured him, to root out envy, hatred, malice, revenge, so far
as he can, from his breast, to imitate the merciful conduct of
God his Saviour, "who doeth good to the unthankful and to the
evil." But besides this,

7. You must endeavor to be "in perfect charity with all
men/' not merely forgiving those who have injured you, but
loving them in return, and exercising a spirit of christian
benevolence, for God's sake, towards all the members of
Christ's cathoHc church, and to the whole race of maiJcind. A
leading object of the Lord's Supper is, to maintain and increase
that communion of faith, that intercourse of love, that fellow-
ship of the Spirit, that common interest of christians with each
other, which is the great effect and ornament of the gospel of
Christ. We must seek, then, the grace of God's blessed Spirit
to form us to so heavenly a temper, to enable us, after the
example of our Saviour's unmerited love to us, to love others,
and especially our brethren, for His sake. Thus, like the vari-
ous members of the natural body, christians will be united in
one bond of natural affection. "We being many, shall appear
to be one bread, being all partakers of that one bread." 1 Cor.
X. 17.

8. You must examine yourselves. "Let a man," saith the
Apostle, "examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread and
drink of that cup." 1 Cor. xi. 28. This is so solemnly and

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604 THE lord's supper.

expressly enjoined, that it forms a very important branch of
our present inquiry. Our examination of ourselves should.
First, relate to our general state and condition before God.
We should ask ourselves, what we are, whither we are going,
what is our state in the sight of God, what are our evidences of
salvation. We should examine whether we are "in Christ" by
a living faith, united to Him, interested in Him ; whether we
are renewed and sanctified by the Holy Spirit, made new
creatures by His grace, and gradually improving in a holy tem-
per and conduct ; and whether we are walking in the ways of
God's commandments from a principle of gratitude and love,
repenting of our continual imperfections, and aiming at
increased measures of obedience. Secondly, We should inquire
as to our views of the sacred fec^st which we are about to cele-
brate. We must ask ourselves, whether "we discern the Lord's
body ;" whether we have a right idea of the nature of the insti-
tution, of the design for which it was appointed, of the qualifi-
cations of those wlio receive it aright, of the blessings to be
expected from it, of the course of life to which it binds us.
Thirdly, Our examination should be directed to the especial
graces and duties which the Lord's Supper is intended to pro-
mote. Here we must inquire whether we contemplate with
holy admiration the condescension and love of Christ in becom-
ing incarnate for our sakes ; whether we view with some real
penitence the unparalleled suffering of Immanual ; the contra-
diction, ignominy, privation, and reproach, which attended Him
through His ministry, and His unspeakable sorrows in the bitter
scenes of His agony and crucifixion. We should ask ourselves
if we rightly understand the cause of all His woe ; namely, the
wrath of His heavenly Father on account of our sins : if we
believe that He was "wounded for our transgressions, and
bruised for our iniquities ;" that He was "made sin for us who
knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God
in Him ?" We should inquire if we feel any genuine grief for
our numerous transgressions, which were, in their measure,
the occasion of such agony to the Son of God. We should
ask if we are in any just degree abased and confounded for
our sins, and heartily sorry for them, desirous to confess them
to God in all their guilt, and to forsake them with unfeigned
abhorrence, breaking our covenant with Satan, and returning
to our allegiance to Christ. We should endeavour to ascertain
whether we truly desire to devote our bodies and souls to the
service of our Redeemer, as those who are "alive from the

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dead," that we may live to His praise, follow His command-
ments, and obey His will. We should further endeavour to
discover what are cur special temptations, what our trials,
what our duties, what our imperfections, what our besetting
sins, what our master passions ; that we may, in partaking of
the Holy Sacrament, implore grace according to our peculiar
necessities. We should anxiously learn whether we forgive
all who have injured us, whether we love our enemies, and

Online LibraryThomas SmythComplete works of Rev. Thomas Smyth, D. D → online text (page 56 of 68)