The Lord’s Supper

Chapter IX.

The Lord’s Supper.

I.There is nothing more simple or beautiful than the Lord’s Supper, in its original form and design. It was instituted by our Lord himself. It has the high sanction, therefore, not merely of his observance of [318] the rite, but of his having instituted it also, and administered it primarily to his disciples. It was a venderated custom of the Jews, to perpectuate the remembrance of any important event by a solemn festival, or feast, which, in its regular occurance, would call the event to mind, excite gratitude for the blessing, and bear down the remembrance of it to future generations. This was the object of all the Jewish feasts. The passover, for instance, was designed to perpetuate the memory of God’s goodness in delivering the Jews from Egyptian bondage, and in passing over and sparing their first-born, when the first-born of the Egyptians were slain. The feast of pentecost was instituted in remembrance of the giving of the law to Moses, fifty days after the departure from Egypt, from which circumstance, it bears the name pentecost. The feast of tabernacles was designed to perpetuate the history of the Jews’ dwelling in tents or tabernacles, on their journey from Egypt to Canaan; and, during the celebration, they carried in their hands branches of palm, and other trees, with which they erected booths. See Neh. viii. 15. There were other solemn observances among the Jews, such as the feast of trumpets, so called from the blowing of trumpets upon the occasion; the feast of expiation; the feast of purim or lots, and the feast of dedication; each of which had its distinct object in the commemoration of some important event.

It should be remembered, that the early Christians were Jews, well acquainted with the religious festivals of the nation, and in the habit of observing them continually. When, therefore, the Saviour instituted the festival of the Supper, he conformed to an immemorial custom of the nation.

The object of the Lord’s Supper was very briefly stated by our Saviour himself, at the time of its institution, “This do,” said he, “in remembrance of me.” Luke xxii. 19. Such we understand to be the great and leading object of the ordinance, to perpetuate a remembrance of the life, sufferings, death, resurrection, [319] and doctrine of Jesus Christ. Paul declares, that in the observance of the ordinance, they did “show forth the Lord’s death.” 1 Cor. xi. 26. It is not so much the nature of the ordinance itself, which is calculated to answer this end, as the fact, which is invariably and inseparably connected with the observance, that it was designed originally for this one object, and for none other, viz. to bear up the remembrance of Christ and his religion. Every time the Christian goes to the table, he knows he goes there solemnly to recognize the truth of the religion he professes; to impress a sense of its reality upon his mind, and to assist in bearing down to future generations this standing proof, — we mean the ordinance itself, — of the truth of that religion. We see sufficient reasons for the continued observance of the ordinance in those benefits, which flow from it, even if there be no positive command to that effect; and we confess, that we feel a strong desire, that the denomination of Universalists shall not be hasty to neglect a service in every way so important.