23 February 1766
Lecture 26
Question: Why was the Sacrament of the Lord’s supper ordained?
Answer: (b) [The strengthening and refreshing of our souls by the Body and Blood of Christ]
One design in the appointment of the Lord’s supper is to remind us of our dear Redeemer and his dying love. This we have considered. The other is to strengthen our faith and to refresh our spirits with a view of the benefits to which believers are entitled by his death. The character and sufferings of Christ might affect us with a regard to him, though we were not immediately concerned in them ourselves. But we are not invited as mere spectators. He suffered and died for us. All we have in hand or in hope we derive from him as having borne our sins in his own body upon the tree. By him we receive pardon, grace and eternal life, but I am to speak of these benefits chiefly as they are represented to us in the ordinance, by the participation of the bread and wine which the Lord has commanded to be received.
1. And first this ordinance is a token of our complete reconciliation with God – by nature we were in a state of enmity and distance. God was justly displeased with us, and we averse to him. But see the blessed change. We who were afar off are brought nigh; we are not only pardoned but are accepted in the Beloved. We are not sent like Absalom to our own house, [1] but admitted into the king’s presence and feasted at his own table. The Lord has made a feast of fat things, and we are the persons (vile and unworthy as we are) to whom he says, Eat, O friends, drink, yea drink abundantly O beloved. When David thus advanced Mephibosheth to eat and drink with himself, he cried out, What is thy servant that thou shouldst look upon such a dead dog as I am?  Much more should [we] be astonished at the grace and condescension of the King of kings, that he should admit us to this intimate communion. Oppose[counter] this, poor doubting soul, to all your fears and temptations; take a lesson from Haman, who formed great hopes, because he had been with the king at the banquet of wine, and was invited to come again. Indeed Haman’s expectations ended in disappointment, for he depended on a changeable man, but you have been entertained at his table, with whom there is no variableness neither shadow of turning. Surely if he had been pleased to kill you he would not have called you to this honour.
2. Herein we have an emblem of the intimate union that is formed between Christ and the believing soul. As what we eat and drink becomes not only present nourishment but is insensibly wrought into our very nature and becomes a part of ourselves, so Christ received into the heart by faith becomes one with the believer. We are members of his body, his flesh and his bones. This is a great mystery, but not the less true, because it is hard to be explained to the natural understanding. And the comforts arising from it are many. Christ is one with his people in law, his righteousness is theirs, as much so to all intents and purposes, as if they had obeyed and satisfied (could that have been possible) in their own persons. He is one with them in life, because he lives and so long as he lives they shall live also, for their life is hid with him in God. He is one with them in affection; are the members buffeted, tempted, tossed with tempests and not comforted?  The Head has a compassionate concern in all their sufferings. If Saul persecutes them upon earth, he complains to Saul from heaven, as if he had received the blow!  He is one with them and they with him in state. Is he the Son of God?  They are the children of God through him. Is he the great Heir?  They are joint heirs with him. Is he in heaven crowned with glory and honour?  He is determined that he will soon have his servants to be with him where he is. Is he set down Conqueror upon his throne?  He has promised to make them more than conquerors, and that they shall sit down upon thrones near to himself.
3. In this ordinance we have a representation how he maintains the life of faith in his people. Bread is the staff of life. Wine is a cordial for the spirits. Both are given here to teach us that Jesus is the strength and consolation of his people. Without strength how can we persevere?  Yet we have none in ourselves. But as the body is strengthened by bread, so is the soul by feeding upon Christ, by meditating on and believing in him, as having lived and died to save sinners. The contemplation of his wonderful love, and gracious promises is more reviving to the weary, fainting soul than the richest wine. This is to feed on his flesh and blood – his flesh may more peculiar signify his human nature, his blood, the sufferings he underwent in that nature. O think of a God manifest in the flesh, a God man hanging upon the cross, a Man (though more than a man) triumphing over sin and Satan, presenting a perfect obedience and satisfaction for sin before the throne, and claiming a kingdom for his near kinsmen and followers. May we not then lift up our hearts and say, Thanks be to God who always causeth us to triumph in Christ. [2] When these things are felt the soul takes courage and presses on and the ordinance of the Lord’s supper is often a happy means of pressing them more powerfully upon the mind.
4. By this ordinance we learn, how the blessing and power of God makes the means of his appointment effectual to ends and purposes far beyond what in themselves they are able to produce. How inconsiderable to an eye of sense is a small quantity of bread and wine – it seems as if it could do little for the body, much less for the soul. You may answer all difficulties about it, by resolving it into the power of him who said, Do this in remembrance of me. In this sense it is true likewise, Man liveth not by bread alone etc. [3] Understand the same of all other ordinances. What is preaching – how little it can do in itself, we have too many proofs even amongst ourselves. Too many of you who have long sat under the joyful sound, are little the better for it – but to some it is the power of God to salvation. Let none therefore undervalue the ordinance and say as Naaman of Jordan, what are the waters of Jordan more than the rivers of Damascus, [4] but yourselves to[do] everything great and small which the Lord has commanded. The bread and wine are but signs of greater blessings to be received by faith.
5. In this ordinance you see the manner in which you are [to] wait upon God, that is, empty-handed – you [do] not carry bread and wine with you to the table, but expect to receive it when you come there. If you could act thus simply in spiritual things you would do well – but instead of going to receive grace from the Lord, you are perhaps waiting till you have acquired a stock of your own to take with you, to assure you a welcome.
6. As often as we do this, we show forth the Lord’s death till he come. [5] It is therefore one end of the sacrament, to confirm our hope – that though Jesus is now absent he will ere long return to take his people to himself. He comes to each of them singly in the hour of death, to bear them safely through, and to keep the waters of that Jordan low while they are passing over. He will ere long come in the clouds and they shall all meet him in the air – then every eye shall see him – multitudes shall wail because of him – but it will be a joyful day to his people. Then no more fears, sins, complaints or temptations forever.
Let those then who love or seek the Lord Jesus admire his goodness, in providing such assistance to our weak faith. When the opportunity returns, remember you are called not to buy, but to beg – you are called not to an unmeaning ceremony, but to an enlivening ordinance – not to bread and wine only but to see Jesus, and to feed on him in your hearts by faith with thanksgiving. Let not the weary and heavy laden make any more excuses and delays. If you have this qualification you have all that is required. Nor will you ever have a better ground of hope in yourself than you have this minute. If you keep away a year, that year will give you so many new proofs of the desperate wickedness of your hearts that at the year’s end (if you have any grace in your hearts) you will think worse of yourselves than you do now. Nor can you have better ground of hope in Jesus than you have at present. His name, his righteousness, his promises, are set before you. And what else would you look for?  Pray therefore to him to enable you to be faithful to his Word and your consciences. Come as a poor sinner, and he will not cast you off. He will fill the hungry with good things when he sends the rich empty away. [6]

[1] 2 Samuel 14:24 And the king said, Let him turn to his own house, and let him not see my face. So Absalom returned to his own house, and saw not the king's face.
[2] 2 Corinthians 2:14 Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place.
[3] Matthew 4:4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
[4] 2 Kings 5:12 Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? may I not wash in them, and be clean? So he turned and went away in a rage.
[5] 1 Corinthians 11:26 For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come.
[6] Luke 1:53 He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.


Marylynn Rouse, 02/05/2020