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Christ. When we attend the celebration of this ordinance, we are naturally carried back to him, who instituted it; and to the purposes he intended to accomplish by its observance. We find that it was Christ himself, who instituted this rite; and that he intended this as a mean of keeping in remembrance himself, his sufferings, and the blessings which are conferred in consequence of them. In the ordinance we behold the figure of the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world; the figure of the sacrifice, which was offered upon the cross; the figure of that blood, without the shedding of which there can be no remission. We fix our attention upon Jesus Christ, the Author and Finisher of faith; the Author of eternal salvation. This ordinance, then, not only serves to keep the Savior in remembrance, but it tends to excite in the heart love and gratitude to the Author of these inestimable blessings. It was enjoined by the Savior that this ordinance should be perpetuated in the Church till his second coming, the end of the world. He specified the object of this duty. He required that it should be done in remembrance of himself.
The apostle Paul, writing to the Corinthians respecting their irregular attendance upon this ordinance, attaches the highest importance to a right performance of this duty; and distinguished guilt to a violation of it. His language on this subject is strong and plain. "Whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. He that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body." There is no sin, blasphemy against the Holy Spirit excepted, for which greater punishment is threatened, or against which it is made more sure, than a profanation of the Lord's supper. There is no duty, which appears more solemn or interesting than this. It is solemn, because it brings to view the crucifixion of the Lord of glory; and because he grants his special presence on the
occasion. It is interesting, because without the sacrifice, which is represented by this ordinance, there can be no remission of sin. Christ himself hath said, "Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, there is no life in you." "Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life." Let it be remarked, and let it be remembered, that Christ established this positive institution, and that he made himself the object of this duty, "This do in remembrance of me."
It is generally, if not universally, admitted, that a celebration of the Lord's supper is a religious service. It is required in the same scriptures, and by the same authority, by which every duty is required. After the work of creation was completed, God set apart the seventh day, that his rational creatures might commemorate this important event, and observe it as a day of holy rest. This was undoubtedly a religious service, and directed to the Creator. When a more important event, the redemption of the world, took place, then the day on which it occurred, the day of the resurrection, was appointed for the commemoration of the work of redemption, and for divine service. The Lord's supper is an institution of divine appointment, no less than the Sabbath, or public worship.
When the members of a church attend rightly upon this ordinance, they bring to view what the Savior has done for them. They consider him the procuring cause of salvation. They look over the favors they have received, and those which are offered them; and they find none greater than the provision made and offered by Christ for their salvation. Was it a favor that they received natural life and support from the divine hand; it is no less a favor that they were redeemed from the second death, and enjoy spiritual support. Look over the whole catalogue of blessings which have come upon this world, and there are none greater than those conferred by Christ, and recognized in this ordinance. In attending upon this
rite the attention is fixed on Christ, on the benefits he has communicated, and those, which he offers. Love and gratitude are excited toward their Benefactor; and in the spirit of obedience, they do it in remembrance of Him. Here is a religious service, as solemn as devotional, as interesting as any which is required at their hands, and it is offered to Christ. It is done in remembrance of Him. It is done to the honor of his name; and a greater honor they do not give in any religious service whatever. Do we honor God by sanctifying the Sabbath, by waiting upon him in his court? We honor Christ no less by professing his name, and commemorating his death, his love, and his blessings.
Pagans had long given divine honors to distinguished men. Those, who were renowned in arms, or had done extraordinary things for their nation, were, after their decease, enrolled among the gods, and made the objects of honors, which were not due to created beings. This practice was displeasing in the divine sight. One object of Christ's coming into the world, was to expose the error of idolatry, and to establish the worship of the only living and true God. He knew the proneness of the human heart at that day, to have lords many, and gods many. He knew their eager disposition to catch at every thing, which would encourage them in the deification of departed men of uncommon character, and in the practice of idolatry. With these circumstances in view, suppose Christ was simply a created being, of pure intentions, and designing to establish a religion, which would give all glory to God alone, can it be supposed he would establish a religious rite for the purpose of exalting himself in the affections of mankind; of keeping himself in everlasting remembrance in the church; and denouncing the heaviest punishment, even condemnation upon those, who should not suitably observe his decree, and do honor to his name? Had he adopted this method, what more could his friends have desired to justify
themselves in placing his name among the gods, and of rendering him divine honors? The church generally, ever since the institution of this ordinance, have given divine honors to Christ in its celebration, and if they have, in this respect, fallen into idolatry, it appears that they have been led into this error, by the nature and design of this rite, and by the time and manner of its institution. It is strange indeed, if this holy ordinance, which was designed to be the central, the rallying point, of the church of God, should be the occasion of drawing it principally into idolatry. It is readily admitted, that the holiest things are perverted by the wicked to their destruction. But to suppose as intelligent and as pious part of the world as exists should generally, from the first institution of this ordinance, have given themselves up to idolatry, is a hypothesis too big with absurdity to be believed by those, who would solve every difficulty in our religion by the efforts of reason.
We are aware of the objection made against this sentiment; that the religious service, which is offered to Christ, is given ultimately to the Father; that the Son is an ambassador; that he is respected as such, but all the honor terminates in God. But this opinion appears very different from the language, which Christ used in the institution of the ordinance; "This do in remembrance of me." If he was only an ambassador, or an inferior agent, this language appears to be entirely inappropriate. It appears that it would be offensive to God. When Moses, at the rock, made an assumption of power, which detracted from the authority of the King of Israel, he felt his sore displeasure, and suffered for his rashness. Shall we offer religious service to Moses, because he was God's messenger to deliver the Hebrews from the land of bondage? Shall we offer religious service to the prophets and apostles, because they were messengers of God for the good of the world, and say, this religious honor terminates in him, who sent them? So
reason the heathen and the papists, when they bow down before beasts and images. But with the light of revelation in our eye, and the second command in our hand, is it possible that we can fall into this gross absurdity? Were there danger that we should love Christ too much, or that we should give him too much honor, would this ordinance have been instituted, which is calculated to excite the devoutest affections of our hearts toward our Redeemer, unless a caution were given to prevent us from holding him in too high estimation; and of rendering him too much of our service. Let us illustrate the case by an example: Suppose a king, whose subjects had been guilty of treason, and had exposed themselves to capital punishment, should select one of his people, who had not fallen into the common transgression, or one from another nation, to be an ambassador to treat with them on the terms of reconciliation between them and their sovereign. After every thing is done on his part to effect his benevolent purpose, the ambassador appoints a certain celebration to be observed from generation to generation, to keep himself in remembrance, for the services he had rendered them. Would he, by this method, give suitable honor to his king, and would not the subjects overlook the sovereign in the more pleasing and interesting view of his agent? Or, suppose the man, who was most prominent in the deliverance of our country from foreign oppression, should, at the declaration of independence, have appointed a day of festivity to be observed for ever, to keep himself in their remembrance, who would not perceive the incongruity? Who would not shudder at the thought that a sight of God should be lost in a view of the man?
When we argue that the honor attached to this ordinance should be given to the Son, we would not be misunderstood. We hold that the Father and Holy Spirit, participate with him the glory of man's redemption.