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25. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.
26. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come.
An old testament or covenant had been given to the Israelites by Moses. He set forth the will of God concerning them ; prescribed them laws and ordinances; and pronounced, that it should be “their righteousness, if they observed to do all these commandments before the Lord God, as he had commanded them.” A new testament or covenant is now established, of which this cup, this wine, is the emblem. For the wine is my blood: my blood shed for the remission of sins: and the covenant is, that whoever trusts in that blood, as shed for his sins, as being instead of his own blood, his sins and iniquities shall be remembered no more.
So that doing this—keeping this memorial—we show the Lord's death till he come. We show, or tell it forth; we celebrate it: praising God for the inestimable blessing, and at the same time bearing testimony before men of the faith we profess. The Lord's Supper is a perpetual memorial of what Christians believe, as well as of the fact on which that faith is grounded. When the Israelites passed over Jordan, the waters making way for them,” Joshua commanded that twelve stones should be taken from the bed of the river, and pitched in Gilgal. “And he spake unto the children of Israel, saying, When your children shall ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean ye by these stones? Then
* Deut. vi. 25. * Josh. iv. 20–24.
ye shall let your children know, saying, Israel came over this Jordan on dry land.” The Lord's Supper is a like memorial. And if any shall ask, What mean ye by this service? The answer is, We who observe it, are trusting for our eternal life to that death which we thus commemorate; trusting also, that He whom we worship, and whom his disciples saw taken up into heaven, shall so come “again in like manner,” “ and receive unto himself all them that have believed in his name." Thus we show the Lord's death till he come. But not as the passage of Jordan was shown, in one spot only, where the twelve stones had been first pitched. The communion of the body and blood of Christ is at once a perpetual and an universal memorial: celebrated in every age since Jesus died, and established in every country under heaven where a company of Christians is found. In the North and the South, in the East and in the West, amongst the most civilized and the least civilized of mankind, the same act of faith is performed and the same confession made: “O Lord and heavenly Father, we thy humble servants entirely desire thy fatherly goodness, mercifully to accept this our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving: most humbly beseeching thee to grant, that by the merits and death of thy Son Jesus Christ, and through faith in his blood, we and all thy whole church may obtain remission of our sins, and all other benefits of his passion.”
* Acts i. 11. " John xiv. 2, 3. 7 Communion Service.
27. Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink
this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.
28. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. 29. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth
and drinketh damnation' to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.
The Corinthians partook of what they called “the Supper of the Lord.” But as they celebrated it, it deserved no such name: it was a mere man's feast: and whoever should so unworthily eat this bread, and drink this cup, became guilty of the body and blood of their Lord : guilty of the charge of profaning it.
And so now—though no one could profane the table of the Lord in the same manner, they might attend it no less unworthily:-if without repentance; if without self-consecration; if without reliance on him whom the feast commemorates, they should come to that holy sacrament.
But let a man eramine himself; inquire of his own conscience, whether he is really showing the Lord's death, and so answering the purpose which the ordinance was intended to fulfil. He is not showing the Lord's death, if he communicates in compliance with custom, without thought or meaning: if the cup, of which he drinks, does not remind him, that it flows from that fountain in which he is to be cleansed from sin: if the bread which he eats does not remind him, that the body of Christ “is meat indeed,” “giving life to those who feed upon it inwardly, and apply it by faith to their souls. To communicate otherwise, is to eat and drink unworthily, not discerning the Lord's body: making no distinction between the bread which nourishes the outward man, and the spiritual “bread which came down from heaven,” that “a man may eat thereof, and live for ever.” So to eat, would “profit nothing:" rather, it would be so to eat and drink, as to bring down condemnation on ourselves. Nay, it had already brought its evil consequences on the Corinthians.
1 Condemnation, or judgment. The word damnation bore this sense, when the translation of the Scriptures was made.
30. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. 31. For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. 32. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world. 33. Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another. 34. And if any man hunger, let him eat at home; that Aye come not together unto condemnation. And the rest will I set in order when I come.
Here St. Paul discloses, in part, the course of God's dealings with his people. For this cause—because of the unworthy manner in which you have treated this holy ordinance, the evils which you suffer have come upon you. It is with you as with the Israelites of old : to whom God gave his promise, that if they kept his laws, the Lord would take from them all sickness, and put none of the evil diseases of Egypt upon them:* but if they rebelled and were disobedient, he would bring upon them all the diseases of Egypt, and they should cleave unto them." So now among the Corinthians; many, who might have been strong and in health, were weak and sickly; and many slept ; many had been taken prematurely to the grave. It was a reason, why every man should evamine himself. For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. If, like the inhabitants of Nineveh, we should “turn every one from his evil way;-who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?”" Still, if we are judged, it is in faithfulness. It is a sign that God is merciful, and has not cast us off. Sweet waters may flow from a bitter fountain. When we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world. For “whom the Lord loveth, he chasteneth.” “As many as he loves, he rebukes and chastens.” “Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth. For he maketh sore, and bindeth up; he woundeth, and his hands make whole.” “Surely it is meet to be said unto
* John vi. 55. * John vi. 58.