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THE LORD'S HOLY SUPPER.
You know, beloved sirs, friends and brethren, that every where much is written, preached and said concerning the Lord's Supper. But with what knowledge, with what faith, love, peace, unity, and after what manner and ordinance they celebrate it, is plainly evident. It is true, the Lord commanded, in the New Testament, the breaking of bread, or the last Supper, but not in the manner in which you celebrate it. Your Lord's Supper is common to all, no matter who, or what they are; to the avaricious, proud, gay, drunkards, haters, idolators, debauchees, adulterers, whoremongers, and rogues. It is also celebrated, as may be seen, with abominable pomp and splendor, with hypocrisy and idolatry; and besides, it is dispensed by such ministers who only seek worldly honor, ease and the satisfaction of the cravings of their flesh and bodies.
Since so many of you are so zealous about the Lord's Supper, but not according to the Scripture, as you shall hear; for your table may more properly be called the devil's table than the Lord's table, 1 Cor. 10:21, 40I desire for Jesus' sake, that you would in the true fear of God, reflect to whom, why and wherefore the Lord instituted, ordained and left, this his last Supper, to his church, so that it may prove to you a living and an affecting sign; that it might bring to your minds, and set forth the Lord's great and abundant kindness, true peace, the love and union of his church, the communion of his flesh and blood; and that you may die to unrighteousness, and every ungodly work; live to righteousness and godliness; renounce the devil's table; and that you may sit down at the Lord's holy table, in the church of Christ, with true faith, a pious, penitent and regenerated life, and with unfeigned, brotherly love.
Thus saith Paul, "I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus, 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 he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the New Testament in my blood, this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me." 1 Cor. 11:23‑25.
Here you have Paul's explanation of the words of the Holy Supper, instituted by Jesus Christ, Luke 22:19, 20, concerning which words, the learned have disputed much; and alas, some of them, through their idolatrous misunderstanding (if we may call it such, and not pride), have disputed at the expense of much innocent blood; and what holy Paul says concerning them is fulfilled, "Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools," Rom. 1:22. For they disputed most about the sign, which avails little, but the thing signified for which the sign was instituted, which avails, much, they touch not. In my opinion, they also pay little attention as to what the qualification of the guests or communicants should be, in order to sit with Christ at his table, and to celebrate this Holy Sacrament.
There is not a single word commanded in the Scriptures, that should give cause for dispute concerning the visible and tangible sign, or what it signifies. The spiritual, judge all things spiritually. For whatever that maybe in substance, it can be handled, seen and tasted. But this we should most consider, that we in our weakness ought to follow, and as much as possible conform ourselves to the signification, that is, that which is set forth, represented and taught by this sign to all true christian believers.
On this account, we will not trouble the well meaning and pious reader, with jarring, fruitless disputing, concerning the outward sign, as the learned do; but we only desire, by the help and grace of the Lord, by the power of the divine word, to point out correctly, for whom, and why Christ Jesus left and ordained this Supper; so that we may not esteem the visible sign above the reality, and depart from the truth to images.
To come to a right, profitable and christian understanding of the Lord's Holy Supper, what it is, to whom, why, and wherefore it was enjoined, four things in particular should be observed and well considered.
In the first place, we must take heed that we do not, as some, who make the visible, perishable bread and wine, the Lord's real flesh and blood. To believe this, is contrary to nature, reason and Scripture; yea, it is open blasphemy of the Son of God, abomination and idolatry. But as Israel had to hold the passover annually, at the appointed time according to the command of Moses, to commemorate that the Almighty God, the God of Abraham, of Isaac and Jacob, did graciously preserve his people from the punishment and plagues, when he slew the first born of the Egyptians; and by his strong hand and outstretched arm, so gloriously and wonderfully led them out, and redeemed them from the iron furnace of Egypt and the dread tyranny and dominion of Pharaoh, according to the word of his promise, and hence the paschal lamb is called the Lord's passah, that is, Passover; the sign for the reality; for the lamb was not the Passover although so called, but it only typified the Passover, as said. So in the Holy Supper, the bread is called the body, and the wine the blood of the Lord, Matt. 26:26‑28. I say the sign is put for the reality,1212Reality, the thing signified or typified. not that 41it actually is the real flesh and blood of Christ; for with that he ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of his Father, immortal, and unchangeable, in eternal majesty and glory; but it is an admonishing type and memorial that Jesus Christ the Son of God has redeemed us from the power of the devil, from the dominion of hell and eternal death, by offering up an immaculate sacrifice, his innocent flesh and blood, and has triumphantly led us into the kingdom of his grace, as he himself says, "This do in remembrance of me," Luke 22:19.
In the second place, it is to be observed, that there is no greater evidence of love, than that one suffers death for another, as Christ says, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends," John 15:13. Since this holy sign is only a memorial of the Lord's death, and since death is the greatest evidence of love, as said, we are therefore reminded, when we are at the Lord's table, to eat his bread and to drink his cup, that we not only earnestly show forth and remember his death, but also all the glorious fruits of divine love, manifested towards us, in Christ; namely, that God, in the beginning, made man after his image, incorruptible, placed him in Paradise, and made all creatures subject to him. When he was beguiled of the serpent, he was cheered and comforted with the promise of a coming Conqueror and Savior, Jesus Christ. God sent Moses and the prophets, who sedulously practiced the law, and pointed to the promised Christ and his kingdom. Christ Jesus, according to the promise of the Scriptures, finally appeared in this world, a true man, born of the Virgin Mary, and in much misery, affliction and labor, preached the saving and gracious word to the house of Israel; sought the lost sheep, and brought them to their true Shepherd; appeased and reconciled us before the Father, through his painful death and precious blood, Rom. 8:3. As he himself says, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only, begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him, should not perish, but have everlasting life," John 3:16.
Oh, wonderful, unsearchable and incomprehensible love of God! He did not send into this unfriendly world an angel, a patriarch, or a prophet, but his eternal ALMIGHTY WORD, his ETERNAL WISDOM, the brightness of his glory, in the form of sinful flesh, and "made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him," 2 Cor. 5:21.
My good reader, do not understand this as if Christ had been a sinner; by no means. The Scriptures acquit him of all sin. He was the spotless lamb. He knew not sin, neither was guile found in his mouth. But Paul calls him sin, according to the Hebrew manner of expression; that is, an offering for sin, as the prophet says, "He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes were we healed, Isa. 53:5. He gave his life as an offering for sin.
Behold, worthy reader, all those who sincerely believe in this glorious love of God, this abundant, great blessing of grace in Christ Jesus, manifested toward us, are more and more renewed through such a faith; their hearts overflow with joy and peace; they break forth with joyful hearts, in all manner of thanksgiving; they praise and glorify God with all their hearts, because they, with a good conscience have received the Spirit; they believe and know that the Father loved us, so that he gave us poor, wretched sinners, his own and Eternal Son, with his merits, as a gift and an eternal ransom, as Paul says, The grace and love of God, our Savior, appeared not on account of the works of righteousness, which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost; which he shed on us abundantly, through Jesus Christ our Savior, "'That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life," Tit. 3:7.
Here it is proper to observe, how the Righteous died for the unrighteous, when we were yet sinners and enemies; how the spotless Lamb was prepared for us, in the fire of affliction, suffered upon the cross, and was offered an eternal propitiation for our sins; how the Creator of all things was bruised for our sakes, and he, who was above all the children of men, became the 42most unworthy, and was counted with evil doers; how the Innocent bore the sins of the whole world, blotted out all our transgressions, and redeemed us with his crimson blood, as the Scriptures declare, "I restored that which I took not away," Ps. 69:4. In short, how that Jesus Christ through his obedience, delivered Adam and all his seed from the consequences of disobedience, and by his painful death, again restored life.
The apostle Paul acknowledged this great and glorious work of divine love, broke forth and said, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword, as it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord," Rom. 8:35‑39.
And this is what John says, Let us love him for he first loved us. Nature teaches us to love those who love us. And this is the first fruit of the Holy Sacrament, if rightly celebrated.
In the third place we have to observe, that by the Lord's Supper we are reminded of, and admonished to christian unity, love, and peace, after which all true christians should seek and strive. " For we being many," says Paul, "are one bread, and one body; for we are all partakers of that one bread," 1 Cor. 10:1'7.
Like as natural bread is made of many grains, broken by the mill, and kneaded together with water, and baked by the heat of the fire; so is the church of Christ made up of many true believers, broken in their hearts, with the hammer of the divine word, and are baptized with the water of the Holy Ghost, and with the fire of pure, unfeigned love, into one body, 1 Cor. 12:13. And as the natural body is in harmony and peace with all its members, and as each member naturally discharges its duty to promote the good of the whole body; thus it also becomes the true and living members of the body of Christ, to be in harmony, of one heart, one mind and one soul; not quarrelsome and unpeaceable, not spiteful and envious, not cruel and hateful, not malicious, not obstinate or rancorous, one toward another, like the ambitious, covetous, and the proud of this world; but in all things, one toward another, be long suffering, friendly, peaceable, ever ready in true christian love to serve his neighbor in all things possible; by exhortation; by reproof, by comforting, by assisting, by counseling, with deed and with possessions, yea, with bitter and hard labor, with body and life. Ready to forgive one another, as Christ forgives and serves us with his word, life and death, as Paul says, "Put on, therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any; even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye; and above all things, put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness; and let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be thankful," Col. 3:1215.
And again; as in the natural body, the more honorable members, such as the eye, the ear, the mouth, &c., do not despise the less honorable members, on account of their inferiority; and as the inferior members do not envy the superior members, on account of their superiority, but as every member in its place, is peaceable, and contributes to the good of the whole body, be its functions high or low; so it is also in the church of the Lord. Paul says, Some he appointed apostles; some prophets; some evangelists; some pastors and teachers. Let every one be mindful that he boasts not of what he is, has, or possesses, for it is all the grace and gift of God. Let every one attend to his duty, "for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ; till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ," Eph. 4:12, 13.
This is also set forth in the Holy Supper; 43but how the world, calling themselves christians, live up to this, is shown by their fruits and actions.
In the fourth place, we have to observe, that the Holy Supper is the communion of the body and blood of Christ, as Paul says, "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. 10:16.
Since then it is a communion, as said, we would fraternally exhort all of you, that you would earnestly examine yourselves, whether you have been made partakers of Christ? Whether you are flesh of his flesh, and bone of his bone? Whether you are in Christ, and Christ in you? For all who would worthily eat of this bread, and drink of this cup, must be changed in the inner man, and converted and renewed in their minds, through the power of the divine word and the operation of faith; become new creatures, born of God, and translated from Adam into Christ; be of a christian disposition, long suffering, peaceable, merciful, affectionate, truly humble, and obedient to the word of the Lord. The proud, ambitious, selfish and carnal heart must be circumcised; the evil eye must be plucked out; the ear that delights to hear evil, must be dosed; the unprofitable, backbiting tongue must be bridled; the unclean, bloody hand must be cleansed; the impure, unchaste flesh must be restrained, &c.; they must lead a crusade against the world, the flesh and the devil; their loins must be girded about with truth; having on the breast‑plate of righteousness; their feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. They must be armed with the shield of faith; with the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit. They must be led by the Spirit of God, that they may become sincere christians; and strive with all their powers, that they, in their weakness, may be like‑minded with Christ Jesus, Rom. 8:14.
When Christ instituted and celebrated the Holy Supper with his beloved disciples, he said, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer. Then he took the bread, and brake it, and said, Take, eat this is my body which is broken for you. Likewise also the wine, This cup is the New Testament in my blood, &c.; this do in remembrance of me, 1 Cor. 11:24, 25, as if he had said, Behold, dear children, so far has that love which I have had for you and the whole human family, and ever shall have for you, constrained me, that I left the glory of my Father, came into this world of affliction, and am as a poor, miserable servant, to serve you, for I beheld that you all belonged to Satan, and there was none to redeem you; that you had all gone astray, like erring sheep, and there was none who cared for you; that you were a prey to devouring wolves, and there was none to ransom you; that you were wounded with death, and there was none that could heal you. Therefore, did I come from heaven, and became a poor, weak, and dying man, in all things like unto you, sin excepted. In my great love I zealously sought you, and I found you helpless, loathsome, and miserable, yea, half dead, the services of my love I have so cordially manifested toward you; your sores I bound up; your blood I wiped off; I poured wine and oil into your putrid wounds; set you free from the jaws of the bears and lions of the pit; I laid you upon my shoulders, and led you into the tabernacles of peace; your nakedness I covered; had compassion on you in your misery; I fulfilled the law for you; your sins I took away; I proclaimed to you the peace, the grace and favor of my Father; I made known to you his good will; I pointed out the way of truth; and I have powerfully testified to you, by my unheard‑of signs and great miracles, that I am the true Messiah, the promised Prince and Savior.
Behold, beloved children, so long have I been with you, taught my Father's word, admonished, reproved and comforted in his name; but now my hour is at hand; this night I shall be betrayed. All that the prophet said of me has come to an end. But since I can serve you no longer with my doctrine and life, I will, at last, serve you with my painful sufferings, body, blood, cross, and death.
And this is the reason why I called you to this Supper, so that I might institute a memorial for you in the use of bread and wine, that you might occasionally come to 44gether after my death, and commemorate the gracious favors of my ardent love, so abundantly manifested towards you; and especially, that I loved you so dearly, that I offered my body; and shed my blood for you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. I have by my death obtained for you everlasting reconciliation, grace, mercy, favor and peace with my Father, as I told you, namely, "Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many," Matt. 20:28.
Beloved reader, take notice of the word of the Lord and this institution. For where this Holy Supper is celebrated with such faith, love, devotion, peace, harmony, and so much sincerity of heart, there Jesus Christ is present with his grace, Spirit, and promise, and with the merits of his sufferings, misery, flesh, blood, cross and death; as he himself says, "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them;" Matt. 18:20. But where the pure knowledge of Christ, living faith, the new life, christian love, peace and harmony do not exist, there is not the Lord's Supper, but a despising and mocking of the blood and death of Christ, a consolation of the impenitent, a seducing hypocrisy, and open blasphemy and idolatry; as, alas! we know and see by the world.
Oh! delightful assembly and christian banquet, commanded and ordained of the Lord himself, where there are no carnal pleasures to gratify the flesh and appetites, but where are set forth, sought for, and desired by all true christian believers, the glorious and holy mysteries, by the visible signs of bread and wine.
Oh! delightful assembly and christian banquet, where there is no unseasonable, slanderous mockery, and where no trivial songs are sung; but where the pious christian life, peace, and harmony among all the brethren; besides the joyful word of divine grace, his gracious kindness, favor, love, service, tears, prayers, cross and death are set forth, and taught with cordial thanksgiving and devout joy.
Oh! delightful assembly and christian banquet, to which the impenitent and proud despisers, according to Scripture, are not invited; such as whore‑mongers, rogues, adulterers, debauchees, the giddy, robbers, liars, defrauders, tyrants, shedders of blood, idolators, slanderers, &c., for such are not the people of the Lord; but those, who are born of God, the true christians, who have buried their sins, and walk with Christ in a new and godly life; those who crucify their flesh; who are led by the Holy Spirit; who sincerely believe in God; who seek, fear, and love him, and in their weakness, willingly serve and obey him; such are members of his body; flesh of his flesh, and bone of his bone.
Oh! delightful assembly and christian banquet, where neither gluttonous eating and drinking is practiced, nor the impious vanity of piping and drumming is heard; but where the hungry consciences are filled with the heavenly bread of the divine word, and with the wine of the Holy Ghost; and where the peaceful, joyful souls are singing melodies before the Lord.
Awaken, O you, who sit in darkness and walk in the region and shadow of death. Awaken, I say, and observe that the supper, which you have held to the present, is not the supper of Christ, but of antichrist; not the table of the Lord, but the table of the devil. For it is generally dispensed only by open deceivers, and worshippers of idols; and received by a people who are as yet entirely obstinate and carnally minded, disbelieving and rebellious against the word of God. And moreover, they believe it to be the real body and blood of the Lord, and celebrate it with such unbecoming, heathenish pomp and splendor. O! abomination and idolatry!!
Beloved reader, I bear witness to the truth in Christ and lie not, that the Holy Supper of Christ is not to be dispensed by a deceiver, nor to be received by an impenitent and obstinate sinner. It does not require such a gorgeous and splendid array, as that in which the world is wont to celebrate it; neither golden vessels, nor hypocritical semblance of confessions, absolution, bowing, and smiting upon the breast, &c., but it must be celebrated with a broken heart, true penitence, a humble mind, with unfeigned, ardent love, with peace and joy in the Holy 45Ghost. Again I say, awaken, and reflect upon what I write. God's work is not imitating a dead letter; it is not trifling; nor is it the sounding of many bells and organs, and of singing; but it is a heavenly power, a living, moving of the Holy Ghost, which warms the heart and mind of the believers; pervades, comforts, anoints, encourages, awakens and enlivens them; makes them joyful and happy in God. For this is the true nature and power of the Lord's word, if it be rightly preached, and of his Holy Sacraments, if rightly used.
It is, therefore, high time, to take heed to the word of the Lord; for all who are earthly and carnally minded, are not born of God and his word; are obstinately averse to the Lord's word; love not their neighbors, nor are ready to help them; and are not in the communion of God, therefore they cannot be members of his body, or guests at his table. For Paul says, To be carnally minded, is death. Christ says, Those who are not born from above, cannot see the kingdom of God. Samuel says, Disobedience is as iniquity and idolatry. John says, He that loveth not his brother (neighbor), abideth in death. Again, He that loveth not, knows not God, for God is love. In short, without love, all preaching, all faith, baptizing, celebrating the Lord's Supper, prophesying and suffering are vain.
We do, therefore, admonish all those desiring to celebrate this Supper, that they would rightly learn to know what the true Supper is, what it signifies, how and wherefore it is to be used, and who are to be partakers of it. And then also to examine themselves well, as Paul teaches, before they eat of this bread and drink of this cup; that they do not comfort themselves with the visible sign, and err in regard to the reality represented by the signs; for they who know not Christ and his righteousness, believe not him and his word, and walk not according thereto; but according to the superstitious doctrines and commands of men, and partake of the Lord's table, eat and drink damnation to themselves.
All who have received the word of the Lord through faith, acknowledged it to be true, and have again transgressed it, and have not continued to walk in the acknowledged truth, but are walking again in the broad way, have returned to the love of the world, and are rejecting Christ and his word, and depending upon the seducing doctrines, the interpretations and false promises of the learned; such have no part at the Lord's table, for they are without God, as John says, "Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God," 2 John 1:9.
All who walk in the pride of their hearts, despise their neighbor on account of poverty, distress and affliction, and know not that they themselves are poor mortals, seed of Adam, food for worms, and a wilting flower; yea, dust and earth, whether they are emperor, king, rich, or learned, and all who thus sit at the Lord's table with a proud heart, eat and drink damnation themselves.
All who boast of the Lord's Spirit, name, covenant, word, knowledge, merits, grace, blood and death, yet reject his holy counsel, doctrine, command, ordinance and his unblamable example, despise and grieve his Holy Spirit, hate, defraud and speak falsely against their neighbor, and sit at the Lord's table, eat and drink damnation to themselves.
All who love houses, lands, possessions, friends, children, the world, favor, ease of the body, honor and this life, more than they do Christ and his word, and attend the Lord's table, eat and drink damnation to themselves. Christ says, He that loveth any thing more than me, is not worthy of me, and cannot be my disciple, Matt. 10:37; Luke 14:26.
And this is the sum of the whole matter, that all those who would sit at the Lord's table, with the disciples and guests of Christ, whether rich or poor, high or low, must be sound in the faith, and unblamable in conduct and life. None are excepted; neither emperor nor king, prince nor earl, knight or nobleman. Yea, as long as they err in doctrine and faith, and are in their lives carnal and blamable, they are by no means to be permitted, with the pious to partake of the communion of the Holy Supper; for they are not in Christ, and therefore must remain without, till they are truly converted to Christ; walk in the ways of the Lord, are 46of one spirit and one faith with Christ and his church. For the Lord's Supper is a communion of the flesh and blood of Christ, which is not to be given to the ungodly and obdurate, but to the sincere, penitent, christian believers, as a pledge of reconciliation.
If any one has a good appearance before men, and is inwardly proud, avaricious, carnal and without the Spirit of God, he is not judged of the church, but of the Lord himself, the Searcher and Trier of men's hearts and reins, as the Scripture says. We do, therefore, admonish all those who would go to the Lord's table; to examine themselves before they partake of it; for all who eat unworthily of this bread, and drink of this wine, eat and drink damnation to themselves, 1 Cor. 11:29.
Thus, beloved sirs, friends and brethren, does the Holy Supper instruct and admonish us: First, The bread, as the body of Christ, which he offered for us, and the cup, the blood of Christ which he shed in great love, for the remission of our sins.
In the second place, we are admonished to union, love, and peace, which must be among all true christians, according to the spirit, doctrine and example of Christ; for Paul says, "We being many are one bread, and one body," fisc. &c.
In the third place, we are admonished to a pious and unblamable life, to true regeneration, which is of God; to all righteousness, thanksgiving, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost. For it is a communion of the blood and body of Christ, of which no one is a partaker, nor can be, unless he becomes a humble, peaceable, pious christian, dead unto sin, and born of God according to his word; one who is in Christ, and Christ in him; flesh of his flesh, and bone of his bone, is a true partaker of the body and blood of Christ; as Paul says, "We are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end," Heb. 3:14.
Behold, beloved readers, here you have the true instructions concerning the Lord's Holy Supper, with its significations, fruit, power, nature, and the guests, as the mouth of the Lord has ordained, and the holy apostles have left and taught us; and with what knowledge, faith, love, unity, peace, piety, and according to what usage and ordinance it should be celebrated in the church of God.
Herewith compare the supper of the world, and you will learn to know which is the true one; what an abomination anti‑christ has made of it, what enchantments he practiced with it, and how we poor sinners, with all our forefathers, have, as idolatrous Israel of old, for hundreds of years, offered incense unto the brazen serpent, and danced before the golden calf. O! My faithful reader, fear God, with sincerity examine the Scriptures, and believe the truth.
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