By Jesse Mercer, 1833
Printed at the News Office
A Paraphrase on the Lord's Supper
1 Cor. 5:7, 8. Purge out therefore. The old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our Passover is sacrifice for us. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
It is agreed by all the Expositors, I have been able to examine, that the Apostle, by the feast in the text, meant the Lord's Supper. Then it must be clear to the slightest observer, that his design, in bringing it up in analogy with the paschal sacrifice, was to inforce [sic] and preserve purity by a reference to the order & restrictions of that divine ordinance.
The church at Corinth had corrupted herself by the toleration by the toleration of the grocest [sic] immoralities, and profaned the supper of the Lord by the admission of the most scandalous and unworthy persons. In order, not only to reprove & correct these errors at Corinth, but also to enforce on all the churches the chaste observance of this gospel feast, the Apostles in the text brought to bear on it, all the rites and restrictive requisitions of the feast of the Passover. Let us therefore, trace the analogy, and see what instructions it will afford us, on this very interesting and important rite.
1. The Passover is a divine Institute. Exodus 12:8, 10. And in verse 11, is enjoined under the imposing style of "The Lord's passover." In verve 24, it is commanded thus, "And ye shall observe this thing for an ordinance to thee and thy sons forever." And moreover, they were required to instruct their children to look at it as "the sacrifice of the Lord's passover."
So the Lord's supper is of divine appointment. Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ instituted it under very solemn and deeply interesting circumstances; and enjoined its observance on his disciples in a very tender and engaging manner. See Math. 26:26-28. Mark 14:22, 23. Luke 22:19, 20.
The Apostle in 1 Cor. 11:23-26, rehearses the whole matter and declares that "he received it of the Lord." Hence he calls it "the cup of the Lord -- the table of the Lord and the Lord's Supper." It therefore commands our most solemn regard and prompt attention.
2. The passover was instituted on that merciful scheme, which God devised for the salvation of his people in Egypt; wherein a lamb, of particular description, was slain, its blood used as a sign of mercy, and its flesh for a feast of joy. The command runs thus -- "And the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening. And they shall take the blood and strike it on the two side-posts, and on the upper door post of the houses wherein they shall eat it -- and when I see the blood I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt." Thus under the peaceful sign of the blood-stained door-posts they feasted in safety, on the flesh of the roasted lamb, while the ten-fold vengeance of God had fulfilled his wrath, in breaking the strength and humbling the pride and glory of Egypt.
So the Lord's Supper is founded on "Christ our Passover sacrificed for us; as the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world!" Though God has determined in awful justice, that "he will render to every soul of man that doeth evil (and all have sinned) indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish," in the day of Judgment; yet he has revealed a scheme of glorious grace, wherein, he has set forth his only begotten son, to be a propitiation, through faith in his blood, all that believe shall be redeemed and receive forgiveness of sins; and be saved from wrath through him. Thus, all the redeemed are safe and happy under the blood-stained banner, which waves in victorious triumph over them, while their enemies, and the enemies of their God, are perishing in fiery wrath and endless perdition!
3. The Passover was a commemorative Institution. It was enjoined on the children of Israel, by a perpetual ordinance, as a remembrancer of the kindness of God towards them in delivering them from Egyptian bondage, and to show his wonders to their children; that after generations might love and praise his name. Thus it is commanded Exo. 12:14. "And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep is a feast to the Lord throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance forever. Verse 25. And it shall come to pass, when ye be come into the land, which the Lord will give you, according as he hath promised, that ye shall keep his service. 26. And when your children shall say unto you, what mean by this service? 27. That ye shall say, it is the sacrifice of the Lord's passover, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when he smote the Egyptians and delivered their houses." And in 13:3, it is repeated -- "And Moses said unto the people, Remember this day, in which ye came out from Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand the Lord brought you out -- 5. And it shall be when the Lord shall bring thee into the land, which he sware unto thy fathers to give it thee, that thou shalt keep this service in this month. 8. And thou shalt shew they son in that day, saying this is done because of that which the Lord did unto me when I came forth out of Egypt. 9. And it shall be for a memorial in thy mouth, for with a strong hand hath the Lord brought thee out of Egypt. 10. Thou shalt therefore keep this ordinance in his season from year to year." Thus is was observed a perpetual memorial -- see Deut. 16:1-3. 2 Chron. 35:6, 12.
So is the Lord's Supper a commemorative Institution. It is obvious, when the Lord Jesus instituted this holy ordinance, he had all his sufferings full in view, with the glory that should follow: and from the symbols used, the circumstances of the occasion, and the declarations made, it is evident, he designed deeply to impress the minds of the disciples with their infinite importance, and to prolong their remembrance, in a perpetual memorial. The Evangelists (taken one with another) record the touching transaction and requirement thus; "And as they were eating (that is the passover) Jesus took bread, and gave thanks, and break, and gave it to his disciples, and said, take eat; this is my body, which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. And likewise, he took the cup, & gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, drink ye all of it: For this is my blood of the New Testament, which is shed for you, for the remission of sins." Math. 26:26, 27, 28. Compared with Luke 22:19, 20.
When the Lord commissioned his Ministers to go -- and to teach all nations; he also enjoined it on them, to instruct their disciples, "to observe all things whatsoever, he had commanded them." And that they did so, and that this was one of the all things, which they taught, is evident from the fact, that the first Churches were in the practice of coming together, to break bread, or to eat the Lord's supper. Acts 20:7. 1 Cor. 11:20-22.
That it was the mind and will of our Lord and Master that this feast of love should be observed in the churches, the fact, that it was given in charge to Paul, as one born out of due time, by special revelation, is in proof. 1 Cor. 11:23-26. "For 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 remembrace 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; This do in remembrance of me, as oft as ye drink it. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death, till he come." Here it is further shown that is was designed, not only to be a memorial of the agonizing sufferings and ignominious death of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and thus, always, to be done in remembrance of him, but also to make an open exhibition of these sufferings and that death, till his second coming. Thus Paul declares to the Galatians -- (a people, or province in lesser Asia, far removed from Jerusalem, who could not have witnessed, literally the crucifixion of Christ) Gal. 3:1. "O foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?" So every time this holy supper is administered, the participants communicate in the body and blood of Christ, crucified, and show his death to surrounding multitudes, as the only redeeming cause, and medium of salvation from impending ruin.
4. The Passover, at first, was eaten only in the houses of the Israelites, whose door-posts and lintels were stained by the blood of the paschal Lamb. And after their arrival in the promise land, in the place of the Lord should choose. The ordinance runs thus Exo. 12:7. "And they shall take the blood (of the slain Lamb) and strike it on the two side-posts, and on the upper door-post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it." V. 13. "And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt." V. 22. "And none of you shall go out at the door of the house until the morning." V. 46. "In one house shall it be eaten; thou shalt not carry forth aught of the flesh abroad out of the house." But it was further instituted in the perpetuation of this ordinance Duet. 16:2, 5, 6. "Thou shalt therefore sacrifice the passover unto the Lord thy God, in the place which the LORD shall choose to place his name there. And thou mayest not sacrifice the Passover within any of thy gates, which the LORD thy God giveth thee: But at the place which the LORD thy God shall choose to place his name in, there thou shalt sacrifice the passover at even, at the season that thou camest out of Egypt."
So the Lord's Supper is to be eaten only in the Churches of the Saints, while sitting together under the saving and peaceful sign of the blood of redemption. From what is recorded in scripture, it appears to be strictly a church-ordinance; and to have been celebrated only in the church, when assembled in one place, for that purpose. See the account given in the communion at Troas, Acts 20:7. And Paul's notice of the abuses of it, by the Corinthian church, 1 Cor. 11:20, 33, 34. This view is also strengthened from our analogy. The houses, with their blood-struck door-posts, well represent the Churches of God, redeemed by blood; and the Israelites, who feasted therein, the Saints of God, who sitting together in heavenly places, feast by faith on Christ, whose flesh is meet indeed, and whose blood is drink indeed, to their believing souls. The order, that the paschal Lamb should be entirely eaten, and that nothing of it should remain till morning, fitly shows that Christ must be wholly received by faith, or he will be no saviour. And thus he is set forth in the ordinance, by the symbols used, his body made an offering, and his blood shed, for the remission of sins; and thus he is be received by every guest -- Christ will be a whole Saviour, or no Saviour.
And as the flesh of the Lamb was in no wise to be carried out of the house, whose blood-stained door-posts were the only signal of safety -- and as, after their arrival in Canaan, they were not to sacrifice the Passover in any other gates (or private dwellings) it strongly shows that the supper of the Lord should not be carried out of the church. Indeed, individual, or private communion is not only without any shadow of ground in scripture, but is inconsistent and absurd in itself, because it naturally implies a number of persons, having common interests and mutual enjoyments, participating together in this feast of love.
5. The feast of the Passover was restricted to the house of Israel, as embodied under the bloody seal of circumcision. This was the external badge, or outward sign, which gave the right of participation at this feast, as well as all other privileges pertaining to them as the people of God; from which were emphatically styled the circumcision. The statute stands thus, Exo. 12:43, 49. "And the LORD said unto Moses and Aaron, this is the ordinance of the Passover; there shall no stranger eat thereof: But every man's servant that is bought for money, when thou hast circumcised him, then shall he eat thereof. A foreigner, and a hired servant shall not eat thereof. All the congregation of Israel shall keep it. And when a stranger shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one that is born in the land; for no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof. One law shall be to him that is home-born, and to the stranger that sojourned among you."
So the Lord's Supper is restricted to the household of faith, who have followed Christ in the regeneration, and therefore are properly termed "the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit and rejoice in Christ Jesus and have no confidence in the flesh." Phil. 3:3. The scripture, both in the old and new Testament, makes circumcision a figure of that state of heart which alone renders acceptable to God, and fits for any devout service. Paul declares expressly in Rom. 2:28, 29. That "he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly: neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God." And in Col. 2:11-13, speaking of their standing in Christ, he says "In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses." In these passages it is indisputably plain, that circumcision is used for regeneration, of which baptism is the appropriate outward sign, as well as, the form of profession of faith in the death and resurrection of Christ, and of the future death and resurrection of all those who are risen in Christ through the faith of the operation of God. It too being the rite by which believers put on Christ; Gal. 3:27, and are brought into one body, 1 Cor. 12:13. Therefore, no unbaptized person should be permitted to partake of the Lord's Supper. The Apostle in 1 Cor. 10:17, makes the one loaf, used in the administration of this ordinance , an emblem of the communing body: he says, "For we being many, are one bread (or loaf) and one body represented by the one loaf, cemented and mixt into one? And what is meant by that lump being "unleavened," but the church refined by a Godly discipline? And the admonition in the text irrefragably proves that no unregenerate, or ungodly person should be admitted to approach the table of the Lord.
6. No unclean person might celebrate the offering of the Lord's passover.
In the ceremonial law it is declared that "the soul that shall touch any unclean thing, as the uncleaness of man, or any unclean beast, or any abominable unclean thing, and eat of the flesh of the sacrifice of peace-offerings, which pertain unto the LORD, even that soul shall be cut off from his people." Lev. 6:21. That this law regarded the offering of the Passover, as one of the peace-offerings, which pertained unto the LORD, is certain from Num. 9:1-12. When in the wilderness of Sinai the second passover was kept, "there were certain men, who were defiled by the dead body of a man," came to Moses and Aaron and enquired of them what they should do. And Moses laid their case before the LORD; and he commanded that all such, among them and their positerity, and such, -- as were otherwise disabled "to keep the passover at his appointed season," should keep it on "the fourteenth day of the second month --according to all the ordinances thereof they should keep it:" evidently giving time for their purification. By comparing the above with 2 Chron. 30:15-19. John 18:28, it will fully appear that no unclean person could legally partake of the passover.
So all wicked, or unworthy professors should not be permitted to approach the table of the Lord.
The text is full in point here. The old leaven, evidently means that wickedness, which the church had suffered long to operate a most mischievous influence on her purity, not by putting away froom among them that wicked person; or wicked persons themselves: which shews that wicked persons are to the church, in regard to the Lord's supper, what leaven was to the Israelites in the passover; and must be purged out, that she may be a new, unleavened lump in celebrating this holy feast.
The denunciations of those, who should dare to eat the bread, and drink the cup of the Lord, UNWORTHILY, have thrown around the table of the Lord, such solemnity, as should deter all from an attempt to approach, who do not possess, in their own consciences, a full persuasion of their spiritual knowledge and love of Christ; and a pure desire to remember and set him forth as the Lamb of God, sacrificed for their sins, and the only hope of dying multitudes around them.
The Apostle argues from the mystic consequence of wicked connections, either in carnal pleasures or idolatrous festivity to the moral impossibility of participating in both; for the one would palpably disqualify for the other, so as to render it an absolute absurdity. He thus affirms 1 Cor. 10:20, 21. "I would not that ye (in eating things offered to idols) should have fellowship with devils. Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils; ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table, and the table of devils." (Compare this with Chap. 6:15, 16, 17.) Of the symbols indeed the same persons may partake, but in the things signified they cannot; for by indulgence in the former, the latter becomes a perversion, and ceases to be what it was originally designed to be, and instead of being a celebration of praise to God, is a provocation of his wrath. Thus the Apostle speaks of the church, as coming together, obviously for the ostensible purpose of eating the Lord's supper; yet he affirms in Chap. 11:22. "it was not to eat the Lord's Supper." Because by their licentious abuses of it, it ceased to be the Lord's, and became their ownsupper. And of consequence they came together only for condemnation! Hence in verse 29, he declares, "He, that eateth and drinketh unworthily; eateth and drinketh damnation (or condemnation, or judgment, or correction) to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. Here the want of a spiritual discernment of Christ's body, made a sacrifice for sins, is stated to be the unworthy cause: But this is the notorious cause of all causes. It evidently involves the want of both faith in, and love to Christ, without which it is impossible to please God, honour the Savious, or save the soul from being guilty of the body and blood of the Lord, in the act.
7. No person in Israel, ceremonially qualified, might neglect to keep the Passover, in its proper time with impunity.
It is laid down in Num. 9:13. "The man that is clean, and is not in a journey, and forbeareth to keep the Passover, even the same soul shall be cut off from among his people: because he brought not the offering of the Lord in his appointed season, that man shall bear his sin." Thus it will be perceived, the punctual observance of this sacred service was enjoined under very awful sanctions.
So no orderly member of the church of Christ, can neglect to participate in the Lord's supper, whenever celebrated, but under the most solemn responsibility.
If the abuse of this holy ordinance were corrected by severe judgments, as it was, see 1 Cor. 11:30. The neglect of it must be alike offensive to Christ, and subject the offender to those corrections, which lie against all other disobedience. If "whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth:" It must be that they, who (not having rendered themselves unworthily by moral pollution) neglect to obey this command of love, expose themselves to the chastenings of their heavenly Father.
The tender manner in which this feast was instituted commands the most devout respect; nay it is imperative on the observance of all who love and adore the Saviour as their Lord and Master. He says, "Take eat -- this do in remembrance of me." And as it were exclaims --
Thus it is evidently not to be viewed as a mere privilege, but as a sacred act of religious worship, and to be performed under the most solemn obligation of a divine command. When the Apostle says 1 Cor. 11:28. "But let a man (or member of the church) examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup;" he has in view the weight of obligation which lies upon him to commemorate the sufferings of his Lord, contrasted with the dread consequences of doing it unworthily. It seems in some measure, to be resolved into the conscientiousness of each member; but it is clear that none can indulge in a continued neglect with impunity. For as the defiled men, who were kept back from the offering of the Lord's passover, were by divine order, to keep it in the second month (evidently giving time for their cleansing) according to all the ordinances, and under all the sanctions of the regular Passover; so all members, whose consciences, or characters, are so defiled that they cannot partake of the supper worthily, ought to take steps to remove the causes, and be ready to meet the next administration; lest they offend their neglected Lord, and render themselves obnoxious to his correcting rod. It is very apparent that our blessed Lord's design in this institution, by the revelation made to Paul 1 Cor. 11:23-26, was not only to commemorate his sufferings and death, but to shew them forth till his second coming, by the repetition of this solemn feast. This gives additional importance to this sacred rite, and increases the obligation to observe it with punctuality and Godly fear.
8. The feast of the passover, with other holy feasts and things, was put in charge of the Priests & people of Israel, who were made responsible for their holy keeping.
We have already seen that the children of Israel were commanded to keep this feast to the Lord throughout their generations, by an ordinance forever. Exo. 12:14, 17. It is enjoined on the Priests, Lev. 22:2, "That they separate themselves from the holy things of the children of Israel, and that they profane not my holy name, in those things, which they hallow unto me: I am the LORD." And it is further declared that "They shall therefore keep mine ordinance, lest they bear sin for it, and die therefore, if they profane it: I the LORD do sanctify them." V. 9. That the holy things here mentioned comprehended the passover, read the next chapter V. 4-8. It will be seen that the people of Israel had corrupted themselves in the days of their Kings; when Josiah (a famous reformer) "commanded all people, saying, keep the passover unto the LORD your God, as it is written in the book of this covenant." And it is remarked that "such a passover had not been holden, from the day of the Judges." 2 Kings 23:21, 23. This fact will be more fully seen by examining 2 Chron. 30:1-20 -- the prophet Ezekiel, as from the mouth of God; denounces the people of Israel, as the bloody city, and charges her thus, "Thou hast despised my holy things, and hast profaned my Sabbaths." And again, "Her Priests have violated my law, and have profaned my holy things, they have put no difference between the holy and profane, neither have they shewed difference between the unclean and the clean, and I am profaned in the midst of them." This is placed, by the same prophet, among her veriest abominations. "Thus saith the LORD GOD; O ye house of Israel, let it suffice you of all your abominations; In that ye have brought into my sanctuary strangers, uncircumcised in heart, and uncircumcised in flesh, to be in my sanctuary, to polute it, even my house, when ye offer my bread, the fat and the blood, and they have broken my covenant because of your abominations. And ye have not kept the charge of my holy things: but ye have set keepers of my charge in my sanctuary for yourselves." Ez. 22:8, 26-44; 6, 7, 8. Hence the solemn affirmation in Amos 5:21, "I hate, I despise your feast-days, and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies." Against this state of things the Lord expostulates, Isa. 48:18. "O that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments! Then had thy peace been as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea."
So the Lord's supper was given in charge to the Apostles, to be delivered to the churches, for safe and holy keeping; and they are made responsible for its purity and perpetuity, under divine authority.
This position is fully sustained by our Lord's enjoinment on his Apostles, connected with the practice of the first churches. Christ, as the great Head of his church, commissioned his Apostles, saying, "go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptized them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:" Then continues he "Teaching them (so baptized) to observe ALL THINGS WHATSOEVER I have commanded you." Under the solemn, yet pleasing sanction of "lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen."
The first churches, were instructed into the nature and use of this holy feast, and kept it accordingly. Paul's testimony is in point here. He says, 1 Cor. 11:23. "For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you." And his making them the subjects of praise and blame in regard to the ordinances delivered to their care (as he does in verse 1. and 17-32) proves their responsibility.
This truth is fully and solemnly taught in the epistles from Jesus Christ to the seven churches of Asia. The commendations of their integrity -- the reproofs of their negligence and corruption -- the threats of destruction to their impenitence -- the commands to hold fast what they had received; together with Christ's design in the whole, "That all the churches might know that I am he who searcheth the reins and hearts; and I will give unto every one of you according to your works;" and the reiterated command, "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the spirit saith to the churches," would all be palpable absurdities if the churches were not under positive obligation to observe the commandments of Christ, her Head and King.
The Apostle, by the injunction in the text and context, inculcates the authority, as well as urges the duty of the church, to exercise disciplinary power in the exclusion of the incestuous man, "whose crime might well be compared to sour leaven, and be called old because of his long continuance in it. The allusion is to the strict and close search the Jews made, just before their passover, after leaven, to purge their houses of it, that none of it might remain when their feast began; which they made by the light of a lamp in every secret place, hole and corner of the house," Gill, in loco. It was required that no leaven should be used in the feast of the passover (as well as of unleaven bread) nor even found in their dwellings on pain of being cut off from the Congregation of Israel. See Exo. 12:15, 19.
As whosoever ate any thing leavened was by the order of God, to be cut off from the house of Israel, so that the congregation of the Lord might be ceremonially fit, to participate in the feast of the Lordís passover; the Apostle, following up his beautiful simile, required all wicked members of the church to be disciplined, and if not reclaimed, cut off from among them (the only way that the leaven of malice and wickedness can be purged out) that they might be what they ought to be a new unleavened lump -- "one new man -- one body and one loaf."
The exhortation, "to keep the feast with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth," presses on the Corinthians such a pious and Godly use of discipline as would bring them to a state exactly the reverse of what is intended by being leavened. And as this was a being mixed up with "that wicked person," and his, and other wickedness; so he would have them to be unmixed with all such persons; lest they should be corrupted from the simplicity, which was in Christ. Sincerity signifies, when applied to individuals, unity of design and purity of purpose; but when it refers to the church (as it appears to do here) it is intended to represent her as a well disciplined body, in gospel order. The adjective, from which the original word comes, signifies any thing so pure, that holding it up to the clear rays of the sun could detect no mixture; 'any thing without spot or blemish.' Paul uses these very epithets in reference to the church in Eph. 5:27. Truth is expressive of here entireness, being in reality what she is required to be in truth and righteousness, both in regard to herself as a body, and each member of that body: And so prepared for every good word and work, and consequently to sit in unity and love at the Lord's supper, as one body and one bread; feasting together on the love of Christ as sacrificed for them.
Remarks. 1. If what has been said in running this analogy, be true; then it behoves every professor of the religion of Jesus Christ, most closely, and most carefully to examine himself, in regard to his christian fitness to approach the table of the Lord. His faith and views of Christ crucified must be tested by the word of truth -- his love to him by the keeping of his commandments -- his union and fellowship with the church, by his standing in the body, in accordance with the use of a Godly discipline. All must be done in faith and a good conscience to the glory of God and our saviour Jesus Christ. Let all remember the awful sanctions, which guard the table of the Lord; and fear the rod, which he has lifted up against him, who should dare to eat and drink the symbols of the body and blood of the dying Jesus, unworthily. Whosoever is of the following characters may not approach the table of the Lord.
1. He, who has no knowledge of Christ, or discernment of his body broken for him, may not approach -- because he cannot partake in a memorial of him, he does not know. Luke 22:19. I Cor. 11:29.
2. He may not approach, who has no saving faith; because he, without faith, cannot please God -- whatsoever, is not done with faith, is sin. Rom. 14:23. Heb. 11:6.
3. He, who does not love the Lord Jesus Christ, may not approach, because he is devoted to a curse, at the coming of the Lord. I Cor. 16:22.
4. He may not approach, who is not in union and fellowship with his church, because he is not one body and one bread, or a member in particular with those, among whom he would commune. I Cor. 10:16, 17. Rom. 12:5. Eph. 4:24, 25.
He, who is defiled in his own conscience, may not approach, because he is condemned in himself. I Cor. 11:28. Tit. 1:15. I John 3:20, 24.
But should any professor be in any of these cases of disability, or labor under any other hindering cause, we have seen it to be his imperious duty to adopt the first and best means in his power, to remove them out of his way; so that with joy and freedom, he might approach and with his brethren participate in the memorials of the dying love of his loving, bleeding Lord.
2. If what has appeared in this essay be correct -- then any member, in good standing in his church, & undefiled is his own conscience ought to see well to it, how he neglects to participate, with his brethren, in celebrating the feast of the Lord's supper. If the clean Israelite who forbore to keep the passover, an offering to the Lord in the appointed season, was to be cut off from his people; should not a christian professor, who neglects to partake of the memorials of his Lordís love unto death, both fear the judgments of the divine rod, and be made the subject of disciplinary stricture? Surely he should! The feast is a banquet of love. He is called on in a very touching and imperative manner. His Lord and Saviour invites him, and the vows of his God are upon him. How can he -- how dare he refuse? The christian, who turns away from the symbols of his Redeemer's death, virtually says, "I know not the man" -- I do not love him. Why should I keep a memorial in remembrance of him, I neither know nor love! What is it to me that Jesus died? His sufferings and death are nothing to me! I care not that they should be proclaimed and perpetuated among men! What is it to men that Jesus Christ "hung on a cross of wood and died!" But O my soul! Can any christian argue thus?
Although Paul says "Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup," thereby making a case of conscience, yet it cannot remain there. The causes of repeated neglect, ought to be carefully and tenderly sought for and removed.
Some Christians, of little faith and tender consciences, mistaking the Apostle's meaning in the use of unworthily, fear to approach from unworthy feelings in themselves, not considering that without these they could not be humble and penitent in coming to the table, nor be in a right frame of mind to appreciate the worth of the death of Christ, or to participate in the memorials of his grief with joy and love. Let none therefore, who have gospel views of the death of Christ; who by faaith discern his body made a sacrifice for sin; and his mystical body, the church; united to him by faith, and being knit together in love, as one body and one bread, hesitate on account of these unworthy, yet humbling feelings; but rather most cheerfully, though meekly, crowd to their seats at the table, at the gracious invitation of the master of the feast: "Eat O friends; drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved."
3. If the analogies drawn in this essay be sound then the churches of Jesus Christ are charged with the faithful and holy keeping of his ordinances; and made responsible for their purity and perpetuity. They are instructed who to receive into their union, and how to right order them for their communion. For the discharge of the duties of this, and every other ecclesiastical obligation, they have received power from on high. This is sustained by the apostolic requisitions, reprehension, and approvals of the churches; connected with the repentance and reformation, which followed in the Corinthian Church. See 2 Cor. 2:9-7:11. Compared with text and context. The appeal to the church 1 Cor. 5:12, in regard to her judicial power, and the requisition made thereon, put the subject at rest. Paul asks "Do not ye judge them that are within?" and then adds "therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person." Here the Apostles asserts the power to govern and requires its use in purging out the old and corrupting leaven, in order to a pure and holy communion. If then, the church, in her judicial capacity, is charged with the holy keeping of the feast of the Lord's supper, of consequence it must be restricted to those who are under her power: As without controversy it would be arbitrary and oppressive to charge her beyond her power, or right of control.
4. In the last place; from the foregoing it is palpable that open, unrestricted communion has no place in scripture; has not the least shadow of propriety, and is perfectly untenable. It is truly to be regretted, that so much should have been said on a subject, on which the scripture is entirely silent; and therefore can only distract the weak and wavering, instead of edifying and confirming their souls in the right ways of the Lord. The plea, on which open communionists rest their arguments, is "christian Liberality;" a cause for which, we are nowhere in scripture, required to commune. If then we commune together, at the Lord's table, to show our chrisitian love to one another, we pervert the ordinance of the Lord, and subject ourselves to the keen rebuke of "who hath required this at your hands!" Though church members to hold a pure communion, must be in christian fellowship, formed into a new unleavened lump in sincerity and truth, yet they are no where required to commune to show their union, love and affection to each other; but to their Lord -- to keep in holy memorial of his sufferings, and to show his death till he come.
Christian love, or liberality, is a fundamental prerequisite, without the manifestation of which, no body of believers can be in that state of union and fellowship which will authorize them to commune at the Lord's table. This love is every where, in scripture, required to be manifested, by believers in Christ, one towards another; not indeed, by any ceremony, but by practically abounding in the works of benevolence, brotherly kindness and charity; when therefore, any body of Christians have gained gospel union and fellowship one with another, by the manifestations of fervent love towards each other, then, and not till then, are they prepared to give an expression of their love and effection [sic] to Christ, in a participation of the memorials of his sufferings and death. No set of believers can be practically brought to this state of Christian unity and fellowship, without the pious use of a godly discipline, and therefore, none can sit together, with gospel propriety, at the table of the Lord, but those who are subject to its controls: For if discipline guards the table of the Lord, then none can gospelly sit around it, but those, who are under its banner.
All which is submitted to the candid perusal, as it is designed for the edification, of all, who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity AMEN.
The word artos here used, is elsewhere rendered by loaf and loaves. See Mat. xiv. 17. Mark viii, 14 and Luke ix. 13, 16, and I think should have been so rendered here, to preserve the Apostleís design fully. In confirmation of this sentiment I refer to the following authorities. Parkhurst, in his Greek and English Lexicon, defines it thus -- "Bread, properly so called Mat. xvi. 11, 12. A loaf, or rather, according to the Jewish method of making their bread, which still prevails in the eastern countries, a thin, flat cake." Macknight on the Epistles, renders the text thus. "The loaf which we break, is it not the participation of the body of Christ? Because there is one loaf, we the many are one body; for we all participate of that one loaf. The Greek word artos, especially when joined with words of number (as it is here) always signifies a loaf, and is so translated [sic] in our bibles."
If these approved critics, in the Greek language, be correct, then it should seem that only one loaf, or cake of bread, should be had at the Lord's supper.
This may more fully appear from a consideration of the facts -- First, That the bread broken in the ordinance, is by the Apostle made a type of the body of Christ, broken for sins, which one loaf broken, best represents. And,
Second. That he also uses it as a figure of the unity of the church, in order to show what she ought to be, to hold a meat communion, one body; which can be represented properly by one loaf or cake.
The reader is refered [sic], for further information on this subject, to our most approved expositors. Dr. Gill on the text says, "As bread consists of many grains of corn, which have been ground and kneeded together, and made up into one loaf, so believers, thought they are many, yet are one body, of which Christ, is the head; one in union with him and one another, and one in their communion together at the Lord's table. And so the Syriac, Arabic and Ethiopic versions read, as therefore, the bread is one, so we all are one body, having communion with Christ and one another: for we are all partakers of that one bread, in the supper, which is all of the same nature and kind, and is a symbol of the body of Christ and our fellowship with him and each other." Dr. Scott quotes from Whitby, to the same purpose. "The bread which we break, the loaf, or bread is one, we all partake of one loaf, and therefore are one body." Mr. Henry on the same place, is pretty much in point. "Thus to partake at the Lordís table is to profess ourselves his guests, and covenant people; because the bread is one, we being many are one body, for we are made partakers of that bread or loaf; which I think," says he, "is thus more truly rendered; 'By partaking of one broken loaf, the emblem of our Saviour's broken body, we coalesce in one body, become members of him and one another.'"
From all which, I would respectfully suggest to all the churches, the propriety of henceforth, having at all our communions, only one loaf or cake, as the more appropriate figure of the body of Christ, broken for our sins, and also of the unity and fellowship of the church, when in communing order.
Another question, somewhat a kin to the above, has been asked with some earnestness. That is, whether the bread, used in the celebration of the Lord's supper, should not be unleavened? To support the positive side of this question it has been urged, that as the bread used by our Lord in the institution, was unquestionably unleavened; and as we are bound to follow him, in all things as our great exemplar, the bread which we break ought also to be unleavened. Again leaven is used mostly as a figure of evil qualities or things; and therefore unleavened bread would be the more appropriate figure of the simplicity and purity of the church, among whom it is to be broken.
I am however, notwithstanding, inclined to think there is nothing in scripture which renders it obligatory; but rather, that it should be considered indifferent. The quality of the bread to be used as the Lord's supper, is nowhere suggested; and indeed, that for which it is the appointed figure, does not seem to require it. The body of Christ, broken for sins; and the unity of the church, about to commemorate the sufferings of their dying Lord, are all intended to be represented by it; and which will be fully secured by one whole loaf, to be broken, irrespective of quality.
The genius, too, of our dispensation does not appear to justify it. Paul's declaration, that every creature of God is good, and to be received with thanksgiving, would seem to equalize every kind of bread, as suitable and proper to be received in the Lord's supper. The Apostle argues from the unleavened bread of the passover, not to the quality of the bread used in the celebration of the Lord's supper, but to the quality of the body of communicants themselves. He urges their simplicity from their being unleavened, and their entire purity from their being a new lump; and exhorts them to exclude the malicious and wicked from among them, that they might keep the feast, not with malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened quality (as Macknight renders it) of sincerity and truth -- or in a chastened state, by a Godly use of discipline, fitted to celebrate the feast of the Lord's supper.
But though I do not see any thing which makes the quality of the bread material; yet I would not be understood that we should be wholly indifferent to it. Christ used such as he found, & we should use such as is in common, decent use, avoiding extremes. I think it very uncomely to have bread presented on the table of the Lord, as tough as whitleather, causes a kind of penance, both to the breaker and the eater; and on the other hand, I think pound-cake served up, would argue an arrogance and pride of spirit, very unbecoming those, who would devote themselves to their Lord and Saviour, in this holy communion of his body and blood, as sinners, only saved by grace.
The following injunctions may cover the whole case, Only let your conversation (general conduct) be as it becometh the gospel of Christ. See then, that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise. Let all things be done decently and in order.
[A 24 page booklet published by Jesse Mercer at Washington, GA, 1833. From Mercer University, Traver Library, Special Collections. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]