The Lord’s Supper is a Sacrament, in which the Lord Jesus, in the bread gives us to eat his body, and in the wine gives us to drink his blood, in order that thereby the benefits of his sufferings and death might be applied to every individual, the promises of the Gospel sealed unto him and his faith strengthened.
662. Concerning this Sacrament we have to attend to the following particulars, viz to:
a. the name of the same; we find in scripture the following two:
1. the Lord’s Supper, 1 Cor. 11, 20. The reason for this is that the Lord, having instituted a meal or supper to be celebrated, held the same, for the first time, in company with his disciples on an evening, — in the evening on which he celebrated the Passover, Matth. 26, 26. ff. And we find St. Paul describing the circumstances of the instituting of the same, as follows: “the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread” etc. 1 Cor. 11, 23. And although, in our days, this Sacrament is celebrated invariably during day time, yet, with reference to the above mentioned circumstance, it is always called the Lord’s Supper.
663. 2. Another expression for the same thing is “the Lord’s table,” 1 Cor. 10, 21: “ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils.” This Sacrament is called the Lord’s table, because by the same the Lord is preparing unto us a table laden with heavenly gifts; which gifts we partake of, in accordance with’ his commands, to the honour of His name, and the salvation of our souls, of which He is the source. —
664. b. The nature of this Sacrament. With regard to this we find the following definition in the [lutheran] catechism. Thereby the real body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ are given to the Christians, to eat and drink them in the bread and wine, in accordance with the command of Christ himself. Which means: that the Lord’s Supper is a spiritual work, instituted and ordained by Christ himself, whereby, in the consecrated bread, he gives unto the believer his body to eat, and in the consecrated wine his blood to drink, in order thereby to apply unto every individual more especially all his Gospel promises, and sealing the same, strengthens his faith and gives him food unto everlasting life.
665. c. The types by which the Lord’s Supper has been prefigured, as by a prophety. Of these a great many might be mentioned; but we shall confine ourselves to the two principal ones.
i. The Passover. This was a supper which had been instituted by God and which, as a grateful remembrance of His having delivered them from the bondage of Egypt, the Jews were commanded to celebrate annually, by eating, on the eve of a certain day a lamb etc. Exod. 12, 3. if. In our Sacrament also we have a Supper prepared for our use and in the same offered unto us a lamb, John. 1,29, yea even a Passover 1 Cor. 5, 7; this we are commanded to eat in thankful remembrance of our having been delivered with power from the captivity of hell, Hosea 13, 14; Zach. 9, 11; Micha 2, 13; 1 Cor. 11, 25; Luk. 22, 19. And like as the children of Israel by putting the blood of the Passover upon the lintel and the two side posts of their houses, preserved them from the approach of the angel of death, Exod. 12, 23; even so are we delivered by the blood of Christ from the power of Satan, 1 John, 1, 7; Zach. 9, 11; Rom. 3, 25.
666. The manna, Exod. 16, 15. as also the water that sprang from the rock smitten by Moses, Exod. 17, 6. This manna the Lord Jesus Christ himself shows to have reference to his giving us to eat his body and his blood, John. 6, 48. ff.: “I am that bread of life; your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof and not die. I am the living bread, which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh” etc; — And St. Paul, in being about to speak of the Lord’s Supper makes first some premises with reference to the two types of the same. “Our fathers,” says he, “did all eat the same spiritual bread, and did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that Spiritual Rock: and that Rock was Christ… these things were our examples,” 1 Cor. 10, 3. 4. 6.
667. d. We have now to inquire: by whom the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper has been instituted? We have shown it to be requisite for every Sacrament to be instituted by God Himself; this holds good in every respect with regard to the Sacrament before us, and accordingly no one ought hold himself at liberty to change anything in the mode of its institution, or to add anything thereunto, — save God Himself. Now we know that Christ is the Son of the Father, whom we are commanded to obey, Matthr. 17, 5; and if he is the living God, and the messenger sent by God unto mankind, — then the latter are bound to consider his will and his mode of institution with regard to a Sacrament as a thing to be obeyed, and as one, to alter which no man can be said to have a right to. And if the Pope is making the attempt to alter anything in this testament of the Lord Jesus, then he proves by this that he is the Antichrist; because he changes and abolishes the Testament of the Lord Jesus, — a perfidy no honest man even would attempt with regard to his neighbour; “A testament is of force after men are dead,” Heb. 9, 17: “though it be but a man’s” covenant (testament, vide margin), yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth or addeth thereto,”- Gal. 3, 15.
668. e. The Individual who is called upon to dispense that Sacrament. In this respect we have to attend to the two following inquiries, viz:
i. To whom the dispensing of this Sacrament ought to be entrusted. We answer that, as the Lord Jesus Christ has ordained his Apostles to be “the stewards of the mysteries of God,” 1 Cor. 4, 1, it is evident that the dispensing of the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper forms part of the duty of the properly ordained ministers of the Church. And as, in the case of this Sacrament, no such cases of urgency can happen, as we have admitted sometimes to come to pass in the case of baptism, no other persons, than such as are ordained ought to be permitted to administer the Lord’s Supper. Nor do we anywhere find any command to this purpose, nor any instances of such a deviation from the rule ever having been permitted.
669. ii. Suppose a minister of the word to be the only officiating minister in a Sacrament, is such a one, if intending to communicate, to go to another clergyman in order to receive the Sacrament from his hand? Answer. It is most advisable for a minister with regard to the Lord’s Supper always to join his Congregation. For in preaching to his flock, does he not also thereby preach to himself? even so in dispensing the Communion, he may dispense the same to himself? For
1. we are nowhere commanded to receive the Sacraments from the hands of others. For though the Lord Jesus commands us: to take and eat, it is not necessary to take the elements from the hands of any other man. Thus we do not find, that the Manna of old had been put into the hands or the mouths of the children of Israel.
2. It is most probable that the Lord Jesus gave the bread and the wine into the hands of his disciples, who conveyed them to their mouths themselves. Such is also done in our days: for every one who receives the Sacrament in accordance with the institution of Christ, receives the same, as it were, from the hands of Christ; and
3. There is no reason why such a communion should not be permitted, or prove inefficacious.
670. iii. Whether a mode of Communion in which the minister dispenses the elements unto himself is also admissible in Churches where several ministers are officiating at the Sacrament? The Sacrament cannot lose anything either of its substance, its efficacy or its effects, be it that the minister dispenses the Sacrament to himself, or that it is given him by another. It is this accordingly an Adiaphoron, a question of little importance, and one left to the free disposal of every Church. If it is therefore the custom in any Church, for the minister to receive the Communion from the hands of his colleague in the office, like the rest of the congregation, — this may be retained as being in accordance with the mode of Christ’s institution. Nor is the opposite custom of a minister giving unto himself the elements to be rejected or abolished, wherever such a custom happens to exists.
671. f. We have now to consider the Communicants, or those, who are called upon to receive the sacrament and to whom it is to be administered. In this respect we have to inquire:
1. Who it is, that in approaching the Lord’s Supper really receives the same. Two sorts of persons generally come to the table of the Lord, viz: such as are worthy to receive the same, and such as are unworthy. Now, although the Lord’s Supper has not been instituted that it might be received by such as are unworthy, and although it is not God who renders any one unworthy of the same, yet we read of such, who, though they have been unworthy have yet been admitted to circumcision and to the Passover, although without coming. to the enjoyment of the benefits which these ordinances were calculated to confer. In the same way such as have not examined themselves, do receive [under the New Testament dispensation] the bread and wine and thereby the body and the blood of Christ, — although they do so unto death and condemnation. This can be proved by the following facts:
i. The Lord Jesus knew the unworthy Judas to be among the number of his disciples, and yet said to all, without making any distinction: take and eat, this is my body etc., thereby giving his body not only to such as were worthy only, but also to the unworthy Judas. If any one should have some doubts of Judas’s having been really present on that occasion we refer him to what is to be read Matth. 26, 25; Mrk. 14, 21. 22. and especially Luk. 22, 19. 20. 21. For Luke, after having related the institution of the Lord’s Supper, adds the words the Lord himself had spoken: Behold, the hand of him that brayed me, is with me on the table.
673. ii. The unworthy do partake of the whole sacrament. Else the Sacrament would, in the first place, be made to depend on the faith of man and not from the will of him who instituted the same; and accordingly where there was no faith, there could not be a Sacrament. But this would stand in direct contradiction to the words of the Apostle Paul, Rom. 3, 3: “Shall their (men’s) unbelief make the faith of God without effect? God forbid.” Finally in such circumstances, the unworthy receives either nothing of all of the essentials of the Sacrament, or but part of the same. Which is altogether nonsense.
674. iii. The same is done in other religious acts. Thus the stiffnecked and the unworthy hear the word of God preached to them, quite as completely as the worthy; the unworthy receive baptism; they were admitted to circumcision and to the Passover, without anything being detained from them, Exod. 24, 8. — Why then should such as are unworthy, not be allowed to receive the Sacrament as a whole?
675. iv. The unworthy, like those who are worthy, eat of the bread which is the “communion of the body of Christ;” they “drink of the cup of blessing” which is, “communion of the body of Christ,” 1 Cor. 10, 16; ” Whosoever shall eat this bread and drink this cup of the Lord, etc. 1 Cor. 11, 27: “but let a man examine himself, and so let him eat” etc., ibid. v. 28, 29. — From this we conclude, that every one who eats of the bread which is the communion of the body of Christ, does thereby not only receive bread but also the body of Christ. Such bread is eaten by the unworthy, accordingly they must be said in the Sacrament to receive not only bread, but also the body of Christ.
676. v. The unworthy, in that they unworthily eat and drink make themselves guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord Jesus, because they do not discern the Lord’s lady; 1 Cor. 11, 27: “Whosoever shall eat this bread and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord;” v. 29: “for he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning tie Lord’s body.” Whosoever does not eat the body of Christ nor drink his blood cannot make himself guilty by eating and drinking the same, nor is he required to discern the Lord’s body. But as the unworthy do make themselves guilty by eating etc., and by not discerning, it follows that, in the Sacrament, the unworthy do receive the body and the blood of Christ.
677. 2. Again we have to inquire: to whom this Sacrament is to be administered. The Lord’s Supper has been ordained for the benefit of all men, because Christ has given his body and shed his blood for all without exception. Nevertheless a certain preparation is necessary, on the part of man, in order to receive the same worthily, unto life and not unto condemnation. Accordingly, before approaching the Lord’s table, every one is required to examine himself “whether he be in the faith” 2 Con 13, 5. and “to show the Lord’s death until he come,” 1 Cor. 11, 26. Every one who is putting this in practice, is at liberty to approach the Lord’s table. But of this preparation subsequently.
678. To the Sacrament are not to be admitted all those, who do not approach the same in a state of mind conformable to the ordinance of the Lord, — or such of whom it is known that they do not examine themselves. Some are therefore excluded from coming to the Lord’s Supper, either by natural causes, or by other obstacles.
The natural obstacles are twofold:
i. Want of the full enjoyment of reason, as is the case, for instance, with children, who cannot be expected to examine themselves or to show forth the Lord’s death; — or with those, who, although they have arrived at a proper age, have yet so weak and infirm an intellect, as not to admit their being properly taught to examine themselves and to show forth the Lord’s death.
679. ii. The dislike which some persons feel to drinking wine; this is sometimes the case, though not frequently. With some it is possible to overcome the dislike in so far, as to take the least drop of it, and this is to be considered sufficient for the purposes of the Sacrament. But if even this should be impossible for any man, then it ought to be evident to him, that he has been entirely excluded by nature from partaking the Sacrament. For let it be remembered that Christ as nowhere ordained in the Sacrament the bread alone to be taken; and accordingly nobody ought to feel himself at liberty, to celebrate the Sacrament with bread alone.— Nevertheless this defect is not to be considered as in any way detrimental to the salvation of him, who has been afflicted therewith. The spiritually eating and drinking of the body and the blood of Christ, we may rest assured, would be, in a case of this description, productive of eternal salvation, John. 6, 51. — Other obstacles of man’s not coming to the Lord’s table are:
680. Unbelief. For a man who has not faith, cannot examine himself as to whether he be in the faith? or to what purposes the Lord has died; or why he was to show forth the Lord’s death etc.; such a one would receive the Sacrament, unworthily and to his own condemnation, and is not be admitted to the Sacrament.
681. Erroneous doctrines. All that has been said concerning unbelief, holds also good with regard to erroneous doctrines. For thereby the faith is overthrown, 1 Tim. 1, 19; 4, 1; 2 Tim. 2, 18. And if we are sure of a man not having of a truth the saving faith, such a one cannot worthily receive the Sacrament. Much less could the Sacrament be to such a one a symbol and a token of the faith confessed in the church, since he himself is of a different opinion. Besides if, with reference to one who does not hold the right doctrine, we are bid not even to receive him into our house, nor to bid him God speed: how much less should such a one be permitted to partake with us of the Lord’s Supper?
682. Such sins as are publicly committed in spite of the warnings of conscience, and which a man is determined not to leave of, or to repent; Every one who is in such a state is not able to value the great merits of Christ, is earthly and carnally minded, and an enemy of the cross of Christ, Phil. 3, 18. 19. He is not examining himself because he cannot see his own sins; nor does he take his refuge in Christ, but on the contrary he crucifies him anew, Heb. 6, 6; 10, 29. — Such an Individual is even unworthy of our joining with him in some ordinary meal, 1 Cor. 5, 11: “If any man that is called a brother be a fornicator or covetous, or an idolater, or a traitor, or a drunkard, or an extortioner, with such an one (I have written unto you) not to eat.” Much less is such an unworthy guest to be admitted to the Lord’s table.
683. g. What it is, we are commanded to receive in the Lord’s Supper. Tis is of a twofold nature, namely earthly and heavenly.
The earthly matter we receive in the Sacrament is bread and wine. — In the words of the institution we read that the Lord Jesus took bread and blessed it etc. It was this unleavened bread, because the Jews were at that time celebrating the Passover, and accordingly not permitted to have any leaven about them, Exod. 12, 18. ff. On account of this [accidental] circumstance the Enemy has succeeded in bringing about divers contentions in the church, which induces us to make the following observations with regard to the bread.
i. Every thing that, by being prepared from flour and water, is entitled to be called bread, is admissible to the purposes of the Sacrament. It makes no difference, whether such bread be leavened or not; whether it be composed of wheat or any other grain; whether if be so large, that many could receive of the same piece, or so small that every communicant had to receive a whole one for himself etc. For all these things are accidental, and do not by any means bring about any change in the substance of the bread itself.
684. We [the lutherans] employ in the Sacrament in our church thin cakes or wavers, and are convinced that thereby no prejudice is done to that Sacrament. Nor does it concern us in the least if we are told by some, that thereby we do not conform to the commands of Christ.
685. ii. Every thing that, in the common way of speaking, could not be called bread, is not to be used in the Sacrament. For that which has been baked of roots, barks, or the ashes of trees, could not properly be called bread. If therefore any one should intend to use for the Sacraments a production of the above mentioned materials, such an one would thereby, at least break the express command of the Lord; nor could he be quite sure, whether the substance he used had been really bread, and whether he had not profaned” the Lord’s Supper, by using a substance which he had not been commanded to use.
686. With regard to the wine used in the Sacrament, we have to observe, that it must have been a substance of that description which the Lord made use of in the institution of the Sacrament, since we do not read of any other fluid except the wine having been used on that occasion; Matth. 26, 28. 29: “This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say unto you, I will not eat of the fruit of the vine until” etc. — Nor has the fact of the Lord’s having used wine on that occasion ever been questioned. In the Sacrament it is therefore not to permitted to mix the wine with any other substance, much less to substitute any other fluid in its place.
687. The Romish Church, professedly in order to give to the Sacrament a greater perfection, has made it a law to have the wine that is used to this purpose mixed up with water. But this is nothing but a human tradition, and contradicts the ordinance of Christ. It is true that the wine, in that state in which we receive the same, might have been already mixed up with water. But as the wine still remains wine, the 1st mentioned circumstance can in no way whatever prejudice the efficacy of the Sacrament. For as no man is able to convince himself that the wine contained no water whatsoever, every Individual almost would have to despair of his ever having rightly and properly received the Sacrament. But this fact is in no way giving any support to the superstition maintained by the Romish Church, that the wine ought to be mixed with water. — We just take the wine as good and as pure as we are able to get it, without giving us any farther concern.
688. In the case of wine not being able to be got, or of some one using any other fluid, as beer, brandy etc. — it is not to be imagined, that thereby the Sacrament had been performed in conformity with the will of Christ, who when instituting the same, used the fruit of the vine; his command would have thereby been trespassed, and no Sacrament at all celebrated.
689. The heavenly part we receive in the Sacrament is the body of the Lord Jesus Christ, which is given us to eat in and with the bread, and his blood, which is given us to drink in and with the wine. That this is really the case, can be proved from the following reasons:
690. 1. The Lord Jesus in the act of the instituting the Sacrament has commanded his disciples to eat and to drink his body and his blood in these words: “take eat; this is my body that has been given unto you: drink ye all of it; for this is my blood of the New testament which is shed for you,” Matth. 14, 22. 24; Luk. 22, 19. 20; 1 Cor. 11, 24. 25. — From this it is easy to perceive that Christ in giving to the disciples the bread, has also given them thereby his body; and in giving them the wine he gave them also his blood. Thus we are able to draw the following conclusions: that whatever Christ did name in the act of giving the bread, the same he has really given, as it is also the case in every day life, that whatever you name you are really understood to be giving. If anybody in offering you a cup should say to you: drink, this is wine, you will certainly expect to have given to you the cup along with the wine contained in the same. If a medical man is offering you a vessel, saying: take this, it contains a healthy draught, you will in taking the same, look for nothing else but the beneficial draught.
691. The same principle is carried through in Scripture, and in the Church in general. If, for instance, we are told in Scripture concerning Christ, that “the word became flesh, John. 1, 14, we find this explained by St. Paul Colos. 2, 9. in the following sentence: “in him dwelleth the fulness of the Godhead bodily.”
692. Now in offering the bread, the Lord Jesus expressly named and commanded his body to be eaten, and in offering the wine his blood to be drunk; we conclude therefore that he has given his body to be eaten and his blood to be drunk.
693. We ought not to be misled by the fact that other people have given to this word different explanations, maintaining that the words “this is my body” have a different meaning from what their plain sense is. Thus they assert that the particle “this” in the beginning of the sentence has reference to the bread [as if it was intended to say: that bread is my body]; that the word “is” means as much as “signifies,” as if Christ had intended to say “the bread signifies my body.” Others again affirm the term “body” in this passage to imply as much as: “that is a token of my body;” thereby paraphrasing the whole sentence as follows: “this bread is a token of my body.”
But all these explanations are to be looked upon as human inventions, which it would be easy for vain reason to multiply. But as long as we keep close to the word, and to its simple meaning, it is almost impossible for us to be led into error; whilst explanations that have their source only in our own brains, have too little security, as that our consciences should be able to find peace through the same.
695. Besides this way of speaking it quite unusual in all languages, as well as in scripture. What could induce Christ to employ such a new way of expressing himself? Especially on the occasion of his making his testament, in the act of which every other testator usually is most solicitous of employing the plainest terms, and the most easily understood expressions, in order to prevent any contentions arising between his heirs in consequence of dark and unintelligible expressions. That such has been intended by the Lord, no godly heart will be induced to affirm.
696. 2. The Lord Jesus has commanded that his body should be eaten and his blood drunk by our bodily mouth. From which we conclude: that whatever in the Lord’s Supper we are commanded to eat and to drink with our mouth, must be essentially present in the same, and must constitute a material part of the spiritual Supper. We are commanded in the Lord’s Supper to eat the body and drink the blood of the Lord Jesus, which makes it necessary for the body and the blood of the Lord Jesus to be really present in the Lord’s Supper, constituting a material part of the spiritual Supper.
697. 3. The bread in the Lord’s Supper is the communion of the body of Christ, and the wine the communion of the blood of Christ; 1 Cor. 10, 15, 16: “I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say: 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?” By which we have evidenced:
aa. that the terms “body” and “blood” intend to signify nothing else than Christ’s essential body and his essential blood; and
bb. that by the term “cup” the wine is implied that is contained in the same.
This leads us to the following conclusion: either the bread in the Lord’s Supper is a spiritual communion by which all the benefits of Christ are applied unto us; — or it is such a sacramental communion by which the body of the Lord Jesus is given unto, and accepted by, us with the bread.
698. That the bread in not merely such a spiritual communion can be proved as follows:
i. This spiritual communion exists also without this sacrament, whilst by the latter a communion is spoken of which is to be the effect of the Sacrament and of nothing else.
ii. If such a spiritual communion was intended, then the sacrifices of the old Testament must also have been the communion of the body and of the blood of Christ, because they were intended as types of the things to come, Col. 2, 17.
iii. In the spiritual communion the benefits of Christ are laid hold of by us, without any distinct reference to his body or his blood. But in the Sacrament, the bread is to be the communion not of the blood, but the body of Christ, — and the wine not of body, but of the blood of Christ. Which proves that the Lord’s Supper is not intended, to be a spiritual, but a sacramental communion, in which the real body of the Lord Jesus is to be given and received. It has been proved, that the bread is not such a spiritual communion; and accordingly it must be a sacramental communion, in which the real body of Christ is offered and received with the bread.
699. 4. The distinction between the Sacrament of the old and that of the new Testament consists in the fact, that in the first the Lord Jesus has been merely prefigured, whilst in the other he is bodily present. Thus, for instance, St. Paul writes concerning the worship of the Jews, that it was: “a shadow of things to come, but the body is of Christ,” Col. 2, 17; Heb. 8, 5. 6. “Who (the levitical Priests) serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things. But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant;” ibid. 9, 9. ff.: ” Which (the first tabernacle) was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience, which stood only in meats and drinks and divers washings, and carnal ordinances imposed on them until the time of reformation. But Christ being come an High Priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands; neither by the blood of bulls and goats, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us;” ibid. 10, 1: “the law has the shadow of good things to come, and not the substance.”
700. From this Ave conclude: that peculiarity by which the sacraments of the Old and New Testament are distinguished from each other, cannot be common to both. But this distinction consists in the fact that the Sacraments of the Old testament were only types, shadows and figures of the Christ that was to come; whilst this is not the case with those of the New testament, which can therefore not be said to be but figures and types. There are only these two ways: the sacraments of the New testament have either Christ, in his substance and nature, present with them, or only in figure. That the latter cannot be the case has been proved just now, and accordingly, we come to the conclusion, that they have really Christ in his substance and nature present with them.
701. h. The ceremonial of this Sacrament. The Sacrament being an holy action, it is necessary when celebrating the same, in every respect to conform to the commands of Christ. Three different parties we find engaged in this solemn proceeding, viz: the officiating minister, the Lord Jesus and the communicants.
702. The duty of the minister consists:
In the first place, in the consecrating, thanksgiving or blessing of the bread and wine. The Lord Jesus, we are told, in being about to institute this Sacrament, took bread and blessed it, Matth. 26, 26; in conformity to which St. Paul calls the cup “the cup of blessing which we bless,” 1 Cor. 10, 16. The exact words which the Lord Jesus and subsequently the primitive Church, employed for the purpose of this blessing, are entirely unknown to us. We [the lutherans] in blessing the bread, make use of the Lord’s Prayer and of the words of the institution. This thanksgiving and blessing is not merely intended to serve as an historical relation of the institution, whereby, and by the crossing of the same, the bread and wine are to be changed into the body and blood of the Lord Jesus. They are done for no other purpose than to signify that this solemn act is now about to be performed, that the bread and wine have been withdrawn from common use, and set apart to this special purpose. Moreover, in reading the words of the institution, the Lord Jesus is, as it were, to be reminded of the promises given at the occasion of the institution, in conjunction with the prayer that it might please him at this time also, to give to the communicants his body and his blood; finally that the Lord’s death might be shown forth on that occasion.
703. Another duty of the minister is the distribution of the Sacrament. This is necessary to enable great numbers to attend the Sacrament, and yet to have every thing done orderly and with decorum. And if this distribution is brought about in such a way that every communicant is able to receive the consecrated wine and bread with befitting reverence, then this part of the Sacrament has been done justice to. It is in either case not to be looked upon as an error, if the communicant had the bread and the wine given him into his hands, as has been done most probably by the Lord Jesus, or if it had been put into his mouth. — But this whole act is made void by the mass, in which the Priest alone is permitted to take the bread and the wine, without distributing the same to the congregation.
704. There are some, who are of opinion that to the above mentioned duties of the minister, two others are to be added, the first of which of the breaking of the bread; because the Lord Jesus and professedly also the members of the primitive church, are said to have broken bread on the occasion of the Sacrament. But this has been done for the following reason. At the time that the Lord instituted the Sacrament, he was just eating the Passover with his disciples; on which occasion also, because of the feast, the unleavened bread was used. And being about to distribute the bread he was most naturally compelled to break the same, since this bread never was baked in so small a size as would have rendered unnecessary the breaking of the same. For this and no other reason he brake the bread, which breaking has been imitated for the same reasons by the primitive Church. The necessity of distributing from a large lump of consecrated bread made the breaking of the same unavoidable. And wherever the bread used is of so small a size that the breaking of the same does not appear requisite — either of which is left to the free option of the church — then, of course; the breaking of the bread is not called for, and may be omitted — provided always that (in both cases) it be done without any mixture of superstition.
705. But if it should be objected that the breaking of the bread is requisite because of its being a type of the body of the Lord Jesus having been broken upon the cross, — then we have a twofold answer;
1. Whosoever teaches the same to be requisite for the Sacrament, is obliged to evidence the necessity of the same. We deny that the Lord Jesus, in adding to the words of his institution the expression: “this do” had any intention of commanding anything of the kind. For it is evident that he desired nothing more than to command his disciples, henceforward to do the same thing he was just about to do, viz: to eat and to drink.
706. 2. We do not believe the breaking of the bread, as a reference to the broken body of the Lord Jesus, to be requisite in the Sacrament. For neither the Evangelists, nor St. Paul make any allusion to this end, whereupon this assertion might be rested. On the same principle we would have to shed the wine, in order to remember Christ’s having shed his blood for us. And as little as the latter will be said to be necessary, so will it be also with the bread. The types and shadows that were to prefigure Christ have been made an end of in that Christ came, who is the substance of these shadows. But in making the bread a type of Christ’s broken body, we would have again types and figures, which would be contrary to the very spirit of the New Testament. Besides it ought to be remembered that the Passover which had to be killed, and the blood of which had to be sprinkled over the door of the house, would have been a much more intelligible type of Christ’s crucifixion, than the mere breaking of the bread in the Sacrament. And, accordingly, if Christ bad really intended to ordain some figure of his death being used in the Sacrament, in abolishing the Passover and introducing the breaking of the bread he would have abolished the intelligible type, in order to substitute for the same something less intelligible. But an assertion of this kind will not be allowed to be admissible.
707. Another duty of the officiating minister (cf. #. 704) some maintain to be the celebration of the Mass. In the Romish Church the Lord’s Supper is made to be a sacrifice. They maintain that immediately after the Priest had performed certain ceremonies over the bread and wine, said several prayers and read the words of the institution, the bread and wine are changed into the body and the blood of the Lord Jesus. Upon which this body and this blood of our Lord Jesus Christ are, by the Priest, offered as a sacrifice for the washing away and the forgiveness of our sins, not only of living man, but also of the dead, whose souls are retained in purgatory. — But the Lord’s Supper cannot be changed into such a sacrifice, from the following reasons:
708. 1. The Sacrament has not been ordained for this purpose by the Lord Jesus. The Sacraments are not sacrifices; for in the Sacrament it is God that gives unto man, whilst in the sacrifice it is man that gives unto God. Now in the Lord’s Supper it is God that gives unto man, namely bread and wine, and thereby the body and blood of His Son, whilst we on our part (in conformity with the plain commands of the Institution), give nothing unto God, — the spiritual offerings of our heart, our prayer, our praise and thanksgiving always excepted, which have no reference to the case before us. This proves that the Lord’s Supper was intended to be a Sacrament and not a sacrifice.
Again in the Lord’s Supper it is intended, that we should show forth the Lord’s death, — whilst the mass is performed inaudibly and in an unknown tongue. The Lord’s Supper has been instituted but for the living, and by no means for the dead; — the mass is performed for the dead as well as for the living. — Finally the Sacrament has been instituted for the purpose of Christ’s merciful works being applied unto us, and our faith strengthened; — whilst the mass is performed for the benefit of a variety of things, such as, travels, voyages, successful wars etc., — circumstances which, in themselves, have no connection whatsoever with the Lord’s Supper.
709. 2. The sacrifice which the Lord Jesus has made of his body, has abolished every other expiatory sacrifice. For
i. We are frequently told in the New testament that Christ, having been once offered to bear the sins of many, has thereby fulfilled all that which has been typified by the sacrifices of old, Hebr. 9, 28:”Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many,” ibid. 10, 10: “by the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all;” v. 14: “for by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified;” Rom. 6, 10: “in that he died, he died unto sin once,” 1. Pet. 3, 18: “Christ has once suffered for sins.” — From this we conclude, that: whatever has been done once for all, need and ought not to be repeated again; and as we learn the sacrifice for the sin of man to nave been offered once for all, it follows that it need and ought not to be done over and over again.
710. ii. We find it stated to be the distinguishing mark between the Lord Jesus Christ and the priests of the Old Testament, that the latter had to make every day sacrifices for the sins of the people, whilst the Lord Jesus had accomplished the same thing once for all by his men sacrifice. 1. Heb. 7, 26. 27: “For such an High Priest became us,” who needed not daily as those High Priests, to offer up sacrifice first for his own sins, and then for the people; for this he did once, when he offered up himself;” ibid. Chap. 9, 12: “Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he (Christ) entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us;” V, 25, 26: “Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands… nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the High Priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; for then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world has he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself;” Chapt, 10, 11. 12; “Every High Priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sin; but this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins, for ever sat down on the right hand of God.” — From all this we conclude: that, as the priests of the Old Testament are distinguished from the Lord Jesus by the circumstance that they had to repeat the sacrifice for the same thing, yea to offer every day sacrifices for the sins of many, and that the High Priest was permitted only once in the year to enter the Most Holy — whilst we are expressly told that Christ has effected all this once for all by his one sacrifice: it is evident that Christ cannot now be said daily to offer that same sacrifice whenever the Mass is read, — but that on the contrary, such a sacrifice stands in direct opposition to the sacrifice made once for all.
711. iii. If it was really necessary for the sacrifice of Christ to be daily repeated, we would have to conclude, that his sacrifice on the cross has not been complete. Under the old Testament dispensation is was necessary to offer often times the same sacrifices, because they were imperfect, Heb, 10, 1. ff.: “For the law… can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect, for then would they not have ceased to be offered; because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sin;… for it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins;” ibid. v. 11: “every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes which can never take away sins.” And v. 18 we find the following put down as a rule: “Where remission of sins is, there is no more offering for sin,” From this we are able to make the following deduction: forgiveness of sins is brought about by the sacrifice made by Christ once for all; and consequently by this sacrifice every other sacrifice for sins, accordingly also the sacrifice of the mass has been abolished. If we do not admit this, we must reason thus: After Christ’s sacrifice there remains still a sacrifice to be brought for sin, consequently in Christ’s sacrifice there is not forgiveness of sins.
712. 3. In the sacrifice of the Mass no blood is shed. But in the Epistle to the Hebrews we are told (Chap. 9, 22): “without shedding of blood is no remission.” Consequently in every sacrifice for sin blood is to be shed. But in the mass there is no shedding of blood, nor has the same ever been affirmed to be a bloody sacrifice; therefore the mass is no sacrifice for sins.
Nor is it anything against us, if it is affirmed that in the Mass there is the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. For even supposing this to be true, there is yet no shedding of blood in it; but this shedding we know to be indispensably necessary. For those who brought oxen and calves in order to sacrifice them unto the Lord, did not derive any benefit from the blood contained in these animals, unless it was shed. Thus, though the mass did contain blood it could yet not purify us, unless it be shed; but as this is not the case, the mass can never be looked upon as a propitiatory offering.
713. As another [essential part] in the Lord’s Supper (#. 701), we have to consider the Lord Jesus and the works he performs by means of the same, of which the most important is: the Sacramental union of his body with the consecrated bread, and of his blood with consecrated cup. We have seen already that, in the opinion of the Apostle Paul, the consecrated bread is the communion of the body, and the consecrated cup the communion of the blood of Christ. Where there is such a communion, there must also be a union, and the bread must therefore be united with the body and the cup with the blood of Christ. The manner in which this union is brought about, we have no other means of learning than by the words of Christ, when he says: eat, this is my body; drink this is my blood. Whereby we understand that the two are united together in such a way, that, with the bread, we eat the body, and, with the wine, we drink the blood of Christ. The attempt to enter more deeply into this mystery is as useless as it is unprofitable, since not more is revealed unto us concerning this matter. — The reader’s attention is requested to the two following considerations.
714. A. That the bread and wine are not essentially changed into the body and blood of Christ; so that as it were these materials did not remain either bread and wine, but only retained the outward appearance of the same. That this is not the case can be proved from the facts:
i. That there is no indication of such a change to be found in scripture, — from whence alone a doctrine like this could draw its support. For although the Lord Jesus, when instituting the Sacrament said: “This is my body,” yet did he thereby not intend to signify any material change in the bread, as we shall prove immediately. In order to testify the union of the two natures it is said concerning the Lord Jesus that: “the word was made flesh,” John. 1, 14; yet is it thereby not intended to indicate that the Word had been essentially changed into flesh; and exactly so the expression “this is my body” signifies nothing more than the union of the bread with the body, but not that the one has been essentially changed into the other.
715. ii. St. Paul writes concerning the consecrated bread, that it is, the communion of the body of Christ,” 1. Cor. 10, 16. — Now it is well known that two distinct parties are required wherever there is to be an union. That which was the communion must be different from that which is the communion; and accordingly the bread which has the communion of Christ’s body, must be different from that body of Christ, whose communion is called bread.
716. iii. St. Paul, in speaking of the Sacramental act treats the bread used in the same as bread and as nothing else, 1. Cor. 11, 26. 27. 28: “As often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till he come; wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily shall be guilty, of the body find the blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread” etc. Now if the bread, after having been consecrated, had been essentially changed into the body of Christ, Paul could not have spoken of it as bread that was to be eaten.
717. iv. It is impossible for the body which had taken its flesh from the virgin Mary, to be created again by a change in the bread. For if this was possible then the Lord Jesus must have two bodies, one which he took from his mother, and another which he takes from the bread.
718. If the consecrated bread and wine should happen to be put by and preserved for future use, in the course of time the wine will turn sour and the bread mouldy; — but it could not be imagined by any one, without incurring the charge of blasphemy, that such would be the case, if these substances had been changed into the body and blood of Christ.
719. B. This sacramental union takes place between nothing else than the bread and the body of Christ, and between the wine and the blood of Christ. We have therefore to reject the opinion, that in the Lord’s Supper we receive, along with the body of the Lord Jesus, also his divine nature. For of this we read nothing in the words of the institution, and consequently nobody is entitled to affirm that the divine nature is united with the bread, — although in spite of this, the union between the body of Christ and his Godhead remains inviolate. In the same way it is an error to affirm, that with the bread we receive, along with the body, also the blood of Christ. For although it is by nature impossible to separate the body from the blood, or the reverse, — yet it is different in the case of the Sacrament. For Christ has commanded us with the bread, to eat his body (and not his blood), and with the wine to drink his blood (and not to eat his body). It is consequently a contradiction to Christ’s institution, if it is said, that the blood of Christ is received with the bread or his body with the wine;. and thus we know that in the Sacrament no union takes place between the bread and the blood, and between the wine and the body of Christ, although we are not able to get a, clearer insight into the nature of this mystery.
720. It now remains for us to mention the last party (#. 701) that is concerned in the Sacrament, and that is the Communicant himself. In the words of the institution he is bid “to take,” “to eat” and “to drink.”
In the first place Christ bids the communicant “to take” etc. This may be done either with the hands or with the mouth. As long as the bread is taken, it is to no purpose and not profitable to contend for any particular one of these two modes of doing the same thing. It is most probable that Judas had given the bread into his mouth which the Lord had dipped for him. — As to the mode of taking it, every believer is to be left to his own option, and the laying down of a rule to be avoided, which might tend to superstitions practices.
721. Again the communicant is bade “to eat.” Christ in instituting the Sacrament commanded his disciples to eat that which he gave unto them; which was the bread, and therewith according to his own words, his body. In this respect again it is not only necessary for us to understand, — but also to believe. — It is our duty attentively to consider the words of his commands, and to remember that this sacramental eating (and drinking) is not merely a spiritual eating, which is done by faith.
722. For although the Lord’s Supper is a spiritual feast, yet has it not been instituted for the mere nourishing of our bodies for the life on earth, but on the contrary for the preparing of our bodies and souls for the spiritual life that is to come. But essentially different from this is the view, according to which “the spiritually eating the body of Christ,” and “the spiritually drinking the blood of Christ” are said to denote the being made partakers of his merciful works; and it is, accordingly, erroneous in this sense to call the Lord’s Supper a spiritual meal. Such a spiritual meal of the latter description is spoken of by the Lord Jesus, John. 6, 35: “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger, and he that believeth in me shall never thirst.” — That such a spiritually “eating” has not been intended in the Lord’s Supper, is evident from the following reasons.
723. A sacramental eating cannot be performed without the Sacrament; whilst a spiritual eating may take place without any sacrament, inasmuch as Christ’s benefits may be laid hold of also by faith. — The sacramental eating is peculiar to the New Testament dispensation; whilst the spiritual eating we know to have been done by all believers since the creation of the world. — In the sacramental eating the believer does not only not receive the bread without the body of Christ, nor the body without the bread, but he receives the bread together with the body of Christ; whilst, when spiritually eating the Sacrament he would receive merely the body of Christ, — but not the bread. — The sacramental eating is performed by the good as well as by the evil; the spiritual eating only by the believers. — The sacramental eating is done by some unto life and salvation, and by others unto condemnation; the spiritual eating always unto salvation and never unto condemnation. — The sacramental eating is made to differ from the sacramental drinking; this difference is abolished in the spiritual reception, since, to eat Christ’s body would be made, according to this opinion, to denote: “to believe,” as also the drinking of Christ’s blood: “to believe,” — The sacramental eating we find commanded with the term “eat,” in addition to which the spiritual eating is spoken of “this do in remembrance of me;” consequently the sacramental eating is essentially necessary for the Lord’s Supper, but the spiritual eating for the effectual and blessed use of the same.
724. By the sacramental eating of the consecrated bread, the believer receives the body of Christ. This remains to be explained.
i. It is to be remembered that human reason never can arrive at a clear perception of the nature of this change, but that man ought to give glory unto Christ Jesus, believing that he is “able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think.” Ephes. 3, 20.
725. ii. This eating is done by the bodily mouth. For:
1. Either we are commanded an eating with the bodily mouth, which, of course, is done by the mouth, or a spiritual, one which is done by faith. That the latter is not the case has been proved just now; and it follows, that an eating with the mouth has been intended.
2. We are bid to eat bread, which can be done only with the bodily mouth; and consequently an eating with the bodily mouth must have been intended.
3. The eating ordained in the Sacrament has been obeyed by the Apostles, in that they ate with their bodily mouths. There is not in scripture the least indication of their having added to the eating of the mouth also a spiritual eating, such as is effected by faith.
4. St. Paul, in the passages already adduced, says, that the consecrated bread is the communion, of the body of Christ. But if, in the Sacrament, we really did only eat the bread with our bodily mouths, and also not the body of Christ, there could be said to exist no such communion between the bread and the body of Christ. For such a communion it is indispensably necessary, that, in the Sacrament, the bread along with the body of Christ should be eaten by us with our mouths. Besides the minister gives, and the communicant receives the sacrament entire and undivided, and accordingly with the bread also the body of Christ; and not is the bread given with the body of Christ, to the faith of the receiver.
726. iii. Nevertheless we are not to conclude that, as Christ’s body is eaten by our bodily mouth, this is effected in the same way as other food is eaten. For such a mode of reasoning is not applicable to the mysteries of God. — At the time the Holy Ghost descended upon Christ in the likeness of a dove, Matth. 3, 16. it was a natural dove that was seen descending; of the Holy Ghost this cannot be said, since he filleth all in all, and he can therefore not be considered moving from one place to the other. — The Holy Ghost, on the occasion of his having descended upon the Apostles, is said, Acts. 2, 3, to have sat upon each of them, while yet the Holy Ghost cannot be said to sitting or standing. — After the virgin Mary had conceived the Son of God, Luk. 1, 35. 42, the divine nature could not be said in a natural way to be enclosed within her womb. — At the time God was moving before his people in a pillar of cloud, this pillar of cloud, as they proceed, was seen moving from place to place, yet this moving cannot be reasonably ascribed to God, Exod .13, 21.
Exactly so we ought to consider the Lord’s Supper; and if we are told that the body of Christ is eaten by us with our bodily mouth, we ought not to conclude that we eat the same, in the way we do other food. And like as we believe the Holy Ghost to have descended, although to him there exists no space, so also ought we to believe that in the Lord’s Supper the body of the Lord Jesus is eaten by us, with our bodily mouth, though we are unable to comprehend how this is effected; being convinced that, at all events it is not done in the way we eat other food.
727. Again the communicant in taking the Lord’s Supper, is bid “to drink.” With reference to this we have to inquire.
i. What is intended by the term “to drink?” Thereby the act of drinking with the bodily mouth has been intended, as has been proved to be the case with the eating of the body of Christ.
ii. What is to be drunk? — Wine and with the same the blood of Christ.
iii. Who is commanded to drink? Concerning this question there ought never to have existed any doubt among Christians. — Nevertheless there have been raised controversies with reference to the same, and it has been asked: Whether the priest alone, or also the rest of the laity are entitled to receive the cup? We now proceed to answer this question, and say: that there is no reason whatsoever for the cup being withheld from the laity; which assertion we prove as follows:
728. 1. Christ, in instituting the sacrament has expressly commanded that “all” should drink of it, Matth. 26, 27. And that such has been done by the disciples can be proved from Mark. 14, 23, where we are expressly told that “they all drank of it.” And if it is objected that the disciples, to whom Christ’s words had been addressed, had been all priests, we maintain that Christ gave them this command not only for their own persons, but in their persons also to all Christendom. For in the same way as he previously said to the Apostles “eat” etc. [which is not denied to be binding also for every Christian], so now he adds “drink ye all of it,” thereby also including every believer.
729. 2. In the primitive church all christians have received the wine, this is testified by St. Paul himself, 1 Cor. 10, 21: “ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of devil;” ibid. Chap. 11, 26: “as often as ye drink this cup,” etc. v. 27: “Whosoever… shall drink this cup unworthily shall be guilty of the body and blood of Christ.” In short the Apostle knows no difference, every one whom he bids to eat, he bids also to drink; let it be remembered, this Epistle is not written to the priests only but to the saints, or the congregation of the Lord, 1 Cor. 1, 2. From this we learn that Paul admonishes the whole congregation not to receive the blood of Christ unworthily. And whatever the members of the church of Corinth had a right to, cannot be denied to the rest of the Christians.
730. 3. There cannot he produced any reason whatsoever for denying the wine to the laity, and why in denying the same to them the Lord’s Testament and will should be infringed and made void. And consequently we persevere in our conviction that in the Lord’s Supper the laity are entitled to receive the wine as well as the bread; and that such as do not receive the wine in Sacrament, must be considered as not having received the sacrament in accordance to the will of Christ.
Up to this, we have been considering the nature of the Lord’s Supper, and the outward ceremonial prescribed for the dispensing of the same.
731. But the Sacrament is made void of the aforementioned characteristics when it is affirmed by the Romish Church, that the consecrated bread might and ought to be locked away, preserved, carried about and adored. This doctrine has its origin in the erroneous doctrine we have already disproved, viz: that the bread be essentially changed into the body of Christ. But for the particulars:
A. The inclosing and preserving of the consecrated bread. In the Romish church it is customary for the Priest, to consecrate the bread and after having done so to preserve it, that, in the case of a sick man desiring to have the Sacrament administered,” they might have the consecrated bread in readiness. But this is contrary to
i. The institution of the Lord Jesus. For in the same, Christ is putting together the breaking, taking and eating of the bread, in such a way, that there cannot be a sacrament, whenever any of these actions are performed separately. Thus, in the case of the Passover, the killing, roasting and eating the same always went together; this Sacrament was not to be considered as perfect whenever one of these acts had been omitted. Every one, therefore, who desires to celebrate the Lord’s Supper, has not only to bless the bread, but also to eat of it, and give also others to eat of it. Such cannot be done, if after having been consecrated, the bread was preserved for future occasions.
733. ii. It is also contrary to the unanimous custom, of the primitive Church. For we do not find it anywhere stated, that the Lord Jesus, having consecrated the bread, preserved it for a future use, without giving his disciples to eat of it, or that the Apostle Paul commanded some of the consecrated bread to be preserved. On the contrary we read of all them having eaten of the bread and drunk of the cup, 1. Cor. 11, 26. Nor did this scriptural view of the matter ever lose its authority, until a new custom had been introduced by unauthorised men.
734. iii. This looking away of the bread contradicts the very nature of a Sacrament. For a Sacrament is an action whereby the visible sign is applied unto the receiver. Thus in circumcision there is the taking away of the foreskin; in the Sacrament of the Passover the eating of the same, in baptism the sprinkling with water, — and in the Lord’s Supper the eating and drinking. Accordingly as without the taking away of the foreskin there can be no circumcision, without the eating no Passover, and without sprinkling, no baptism, — so without eating and drinking there can be no Lord’s Supper. And eating and drinking cannot take place as soon as the consecrated bread is preserved for future use.
735. B. The carrying about of the consecrated bread. This custom exists also in the Romish Church,and takes place when in the consecrated bread is carried with great procession from the church to the house of the sick or dying, — or when, on the festival of the holy Body (which is the Thursday after the feast of the Holy Trinity), the bread is carried round the fields in order to improve their fertility. This latter proceeding is in every respect an useless one. For it has not been instituted by Christ, but has been entirely unknown to the primitive Church until 1264, in which year it was instituted by the Pope Urban IV. Besides, by this act the Sacrament is applied for an external purpose, whilst it has yet only been instituted for spiritual purposes.
736. C. The adoration of the consecrated bread. In the case of the consecrated bread being carried about, every one who meets the same (as also during the performance of mass) is bound [by the laws of the Romish Church] to kneel down and to worship the consecrated bread. Concerning this there is to observe:
i. It is true, that every one, who desires to receive the Sacrament worthily, ought to approach the same with a devout and humble mind.
ii. Christ is everywhere, consequently also in the Sacrament, to be worshipped as God and man. For of such a service nothing in the world is exempted 1 Timot. 2, 8: “I will therefore that men pray everywhere.” — Nevertheless
iii. is that worship not to be offered directly to the bread. For we remember that God was not even pleased to be adored under the image of the golden calf, Exod. 32, 5. 7. although he yet desired to be worshipped on that same spot. In the same way Christ also desires to be worshipped wherever there is the Sacrament; but that we should worship him in the bread, this we are neither commanded, nor have we any precedent whatsoever whereby to be guided. The worshipping of the bread, therefore, is to be looked upon as an institution of man, and a worship that is done in vain, Matth. 15, 9.
iv. It is therefore erroneous, for any one to address himself with his prayer to any thing that constitutes part of the Sacrament. For as it has been proved in the preceding that the bread is not substantially changed into the body of Christ, it follows, that every one who worships the bread is thereby committing an act of idolatry.
737. D. (cf. #. 662) The effects and consequences of the Lord’s Supper. They are twofold. Some refer to the Lord Jesus; for we are desired to render ourselves obedient to his will, to show forth his death; and to be grateful for the unspeakable benefits he has conferred upon us.
738. Others again have more special reference to man. For by the Sacrament man has
i. strengthened his faith. For the Christian’s faith is to consist in the sure confidence, that Christ is his Saviour, that he has died and shed his blood for him. Now in the Sacrament Christ testifies to the believer that his body has been, given and his blood shed for him, that they might also be to him a pledge of the benefits he is entitled to enjoy. Which proves that by the Lord’s Supper, Christ is strengthening the faith of the communicant. If this comes to pass, then
ii. Christ also applies unto him the promises of the Gospel. Such as, that he does not desire the death of a sinner, but rather that he be converted; that none should perish, but that all should come to salvation etc. For we may be sure that for whom Christ has given himself, him God also desires to be saved. And as Christ testifies in the Sacrament, that he has given himself for every communicant and shed his blood for all, he thereby testifies to every one individually that God desires him to be saved.
iii. The Sacrament is to the communicants a pledge of their Salvation. God desires them to be saved because Christ has died for them; this is preached to them in the word, and testified in the Sacrament. And thereby God promises, as it were, on his part to leave nothing undone that might tend to promote their salvation; and if men are doing their part to this end, they may rest assured that, as sure as God is true and cannot lie, and as Christ is the truth himself — they shall have eternal salvation.
iv. It may not be unprofitable, in this place to mention the divers practical effects of the Lord’s Supper, as pointed out by the Fathers of the Church.
1. In publicly partaking of the Lord’s Supper, we confess ourselves to be of the same faith with that congregation, in the midst of which we partake the same;
2. we are engrafted into the spiritual olive tree, which is the Lord Jesus.
3. By means of that act, Christ’s promise is fulfilled: “If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him,” John. 14, 23. And
4. We thereby receive an assurance of our resurrection from the dead. For Christ, in giving us his body to eat, gives us the assurance that, although our bodies are frail, yet they shall be made like unto his glorious body, Phil. 3, 21.
739. E. The preparations for worthily receiving of the Lord’s Supper. This is a very important point; for not all, who receive the Lord’s Supper, are to partake of the benefits it is calculated to effect, but only those who receive the same worthily. For we are told 1. Cor. 11, 27 ff.: “Whosoever shad eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.”
740. Such a preparation appears, after what we have just read, to be indispensably necessary. But this preparation is not to be brought about by outward observances (which otherwise are not to be depreciated); or by abstaining from the taking of other food, previous to going to the Sacrament (for the Apostles themselves received the same immediately after having eaten the Passover); — it is only brought about by man’s inwardly examining himself. — This is done:
i. By the law. Man has to examine himself, whether he has been living in sin, and thereby drawn dawn upon him the wrath of God; whether there is still alive in him a desire and a longing after sin, and whether he is determined, from this time forward to persevere in his career of sin, or whether he is actually feeling remorse and repentance on account of this sin. This being done, the one will find himself to be little heeding his sinful state, rather inclined in favour of the same; and accordingly that he has not yet a right perception of the fierceness of God’s judgement, or of His hatred against sin, nor that he had ever troubled himself much concerning the wrath of God, nay, that he perhaps does not even believe in the existence of God. Such a person, how could be worthily approach the Lord’s Table? — Another again, feels an awful fear of appearing before God, whose wrath and judgement he fears on account of his manyfold sins, which latter he yet earnestly repents, not only because of the punishments which they draw down upon him, but because he had not exerted himself to prevent his offending so kind and merciful a Father. Henceforth he determines to take heed to sin no more. Such an one has properly examined himself by the law, and is, in this respect, not to be excluded as an unworthy guest from the Lord’s table.
741. ii. Man again is to examine himself by the Gospel. He is to examine himself, whether he knows and believes, that it is God’s will, that all men, who have sinned should not perish but that all should come to everlasting life; that, for the accomplishment of this design, he has sent His Son, who has by his death propitiated for their sins, and satisfied the demands, divine justice had upon them; — whether he believes that this merciful purpose of God, and this merit of Christ has special reference individually to himself, that God has loved him, and that Christ has shed his blood for him; — whether there is no doubt in his mind, that through Christ all his sins have been forgiven unto him, and whether he is convinced, that as a pledge of this forgiveness, Christ is giving him, in the Lord’s Supper, to eat and to drink, his body and his blood, by the bread and wine. If he is unable satisfactorily to answer any one of these questions, he may be sure to be unworthy of approaching the Lord’s table. But if on the other hand he feels himself firmly convinced of these facts, (although in the weakness of the flesh he may now and then be tempted to question the one or the other), he may rest assured, that he is about to approach the Lord’s table worthily, and to receive the Lord’s Supper unto eternal life.
742. F. Other circumstances that accompany the dispensing of the Lord’s Supper. As most of them have been treated of already, there remain only three to be mentioned, viz:
i. the time in which it ought to be celebrated. The Lord Jesus instituted the same on an evening, from whence the meal is called the Lord’s Supper. If we look nearer into these and other circumstances, we find:
1. That this has been left to the option of every Individual. No body is bound to take the Supper upon a certain day of the year, or upon a certain Sunday or Holiday, or in the morning or afternoon of the day etc.; this liberty ought not to be limited.
2. Nor has the primitive Church ever considered itself bound, in this respect, to any particular time. The Apostles continued, we are told, “daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house,” Acts. 2, 46. At Troada they had the custom of celebrating the same on the Sabbath days, Acts. 20, 7.
743. Concerning the place, where it ought to be celebrated. In this respect we have to answer two questions, viz:
ii. Whether the celebration of this act is to be performed only in places of public worship, or whether it may also be done in private houses in case of people being sick. Every thing that constitutes part of the worship of God, ought by right to be done in the public assemblies; yet if there be a special occasion and consideration it may also be done in private houses. Thus Christ celebrated the first Lord’s Supper in the upper room of an inn, — nor have there been given any peculiar directions concerning this. The Apostles and other Christians, we read, were “breaking bread from house to house,” Acts. 2, 46; and as we have the express promise, that where two or three are gathered together in Christ’s name, there he will be in the midst of them, Matth. 18, 20. thereby as it were, forming the family of the house into a Christian communion, there is no reason why in the case of any one being prevented by sickness from joining the congregation, the Lord s Supper should not be administered unto him in his private dwelling.
744. Whether the Lord’s Supper is to be administered on tables or upon an altar. An altar, according to the levitical law, is a place upon which the sacrifices are deposited and, as it were, given unto God. In the Romish Church that part of the edifice is called the altar, on and by which they celebrate the so called sacrifice of the mass. We [the lutherans] have in this sense of the word neither a levitical nor a romish altar. And as these tables within our churches have retained, from the times of Popery, the designation of “altar,” and as it is of no importance to us, whether it be called a table or an altar or any thing, else, — we do not hesitate to say: that the Lord’s Supper is to be celebrated on the altar.
745. iii. The repetition of this Sacrament. The reason why baptism is not to be repeated has been stated already. This is different with the sacrament before us, which must necessarily be repeated frequently. The reasons for which are:
1. the Apostle Paul quotes the words of the Lord as follows: “This do ye as often as ye drink it in remembrance of me;” V. 26: “as often as ye eat that bread” etc.
2. We read of its having been frequently celebrated by the members of the primitive Church, and that they went breaking bread from house to house, Acts. 2, 46. And
3. We know that the Passover had to be eaten every year, — a Sacrament which has been a type of this very Lord’s Supper. —
As to the question how often a Christian is to go to the Lord’s table, this must be entirely left to his own option and to the state of his own mind and godliness. Nevertheless it would be profitable for the Christian frequently to examine himself, that thereby he might grow in godliness and have his faith strengthened.