The Pulpit Commentary

1 Corinthians 11:17-34 (1 Corinthians 11:17-34)

Discreditable irregularities at the Eucharist and the agapae.

- The Pulpit Commentary

1 Corinthians 11:24 (1 Corinthians 11:24)

When he had given thanks. The same word is used in St. Luke εὐχαριστήσας ) , and is the origin of the name Eucharist. St. Mark and perhaps St. Matthew have "having blessed it" ( eulogesas ) . Hence the Eucharist is "this our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving." Take, eat. These words are omitted by all the best uncials, Which is broken for you. The word "broken" is of doubtful authenticity. Some manuscripts have "given," and one (D) a milder word for "broken," as though to avoid any contradiction of John 19:36 , where, however, the word is "shall not be crushed." Since the participle is omitted altogether by א , A, B, C, there can be no doubt that it is a gloss, and accordingly the Revised Version reads, "which is for you." The "broken" is nevertheless involved in the "he brake it," which was a part of the ceremony as originally illustrated. The breaking of the bread ought not, therefore, to be abandoned, as in the case when "wafers" are used. This do. St. Luke also has this clause, which is not found in St. Matthew or St. Mark. The variations show that it was the main fact which was essential, not the exact words spoken. In remembrance of me. The words may also be rendered, for a memorial of me , or to bring me to your remembrance.

- The Pulpit Commentary

1 Corinthians 11:23-34 (1 Corinthians 11:23-34)

The Lord's Supper.

"For I have received," etc. These verses give an account of what is called the Lord's Supper. This supper was instituted by Christ himself the night in which he was betrayed, while he was observing the Passover with his disciples. On that night he virtually directed the minds of men from all Jewish ritualism and centred them on himself. "Do this in remembrance of me." True religion now has to do with a Person, and that Person is Christ. In reading the words of the apostle here, there are four things which strike us with amazement.

I. THAT ANY SHOULD DOUBT THE GENUINENESS OF CHRISTIANITY . Here is an institution that was started the night previous to our Saviour's crucifixion, which was attended to by the Church at Jerusalem after the day of Pentecost, celebrated by various other apostolic Churches as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles, and which Paul says here he "received from the Lord." From the apostolic age down to this hour, through eighteen long centuries, it has been attended to by all the branches of the true Church. Since its origin hundreds of generations have passed away, many systems have risen and disappeared, nations have been organized, flourished, and broken up; but this ordinance continues; what for? To commemorate the great central fact of the gospel, viz. that Christ died. Is there any other fact in history sustained by evidence half so powerful as this?

II. THAT ANY SHOULD MISINTERPRET THE ORDINANCE . Here we are distinctly told that it is to "show the Lord's death." No language can more clearly show that it is purely commemorative. There are three abuses of this institution.

1. The gustatory. Some of the Corinthians thus used it. They introduced a love feast to immediately precede it, probably because a Jewish feast preceded its first celebration. This led to gluttony and other evils. The members of the Corinthian Church were converts from heathenism, and they had been accustomed in their heathen festivals to give way to gluttony and intemperance, Many of them, from the force of old habits, were tempted to use the Lord's Supper in this way.

2. The superstitious. There are some who believe that, after the words of consecration are pronounced by the priest over these elements, the elements become literally the "body and blood of the Lord." This is transubstantiation. Others who would not go thus far still superstitiously regard the ordinance as a mystic medium through which grace is poured into the soul of the recipient. Fearful abuse this!

3. The formalistic . There are those who partake of the bread and wine merely as a matter of form and ceremony. We evangelical Christians are not guilty of the first nor of the second, but we may be of the third. The text tells us it is to "show" or to teach; it is an educational ordinance.

III. THAT ANY SHOULD SAY THE INSTITUTION IS NOT PERMANENT IN ITS OBLIGATION . The apostle tells us distinctly that it was to "show the Lord's death till he come." When will that be? Not just yet. The human world seems to be only in its infancy, and Christianity only just beginning its work. The billows of a thousand ages may break on our shore before he comes. On to that distant point the obligation is binding. There are some professing Christians who think themselves too spiritual to observe such an ordinance. These very spiritual ones, to be consistent, should avoid all scientific studies, for science has to do with material forms; its principles are all embodied, are made palpable to the eye and ear. They should also avoid all Biblical studies, for Biblical truths are for the most part embodied in material facts and forms. Christ himself was "flesh and blood."

IV. THAT ANY ACQUAINTED WITH THE BIOGRAPHY OF CHRIST SHOULD NEGLECT IT . Consider:

1. That it is to commemorate the world's greatest Benefactor. It is to keep Christ in the memory of man. Here is a Benefactor that has:

2. That it is enjoined by the world's greatest Benefactor. He himself has enjoined it: "Do this in remembrance of me."

- The Pulpit Commentary

1 Corinthians 11:17-34 (1 Corinthians 11:17-34)

Special consideration of the Lord's Supper; uses of self judgment.

And what is St. Paul's mood of mind now? "I declare unto you" (command you), and I praise you not, since I hear of "divisions" among you, and "I partly believe it." "Heresies [sects] must be among you," for in the present state of our nature there is no way to develop the good without the evil manifesting itself. The evil has its uses; the evil is not a cause but an occasion of good; the evil is overruled by the Holy Ghost and turned to the advantage of the Church; the evil does not change its character and become a good, but is instrumentally employed to, subserve other and very different purposes than itself contemplates. Thereby the genuine advocates of truth are made to appear, and truth itself is brought out in a more luminous aspect. The standpoint is that God is not only the Author of the institutions of the Church, but their Divine Guardian. The institutions are not left to themselves, nor are circumstances outside of them surrendered to their own operation, but God himself is in the workmanship of his hands, and presides over all external things, so that his providences are in behalf of a providence which has a supreme object and end. Now, the Lord's Supper is a holy sacrament, and St. Paul approaches the discussion of it in a very marked way. We understand him to claim a direct revelation from the Lord Jesus on this subject, and, by virtue thereof, to "declare," or command, as he states in the seventeenth verse. Truth is truth, whether mediately or immediately received. Yet we do know that there are circumstances under which truth affects us in a manner singularly personal. Only one such scene as that "near Damascus" is reported in the New Testament, and only one such unique individuality as that of St. Paul is recorded for our instruction. So that we are moving in the line of all the precedents of his career when we suppose that this account of the supper was communicated directly by the Lord Jesus to the apostle of the Gentiles. In a previous discussion ( 1 Corinthians 10:1-33 .) he had referred to a specific aspect of the supper as a communion or participation. Beyond this the argument then in hand did not require him to go. Now, however, he is full and explicit as to details—the time when it was instituted, the circumstances, the manner of the Lord Jesus, the formula employed; so that nothing might escape observation, but the utmost depth and solemnity of impression be secured. "In remembrance of me" is the heart of the holy ordinance—the "remembrance" of the broken body and the shed blood—the penalty of the violated Law endured, satisfaction offered to the Lawgiver, the sense of justice met in the human heart, the love of God expressing itself as the grace of God, and the means therewith provided for the sense of God's grace to be awakened and developed in the human heart. Memory is the power in man this holy institution addresses. "In remembrance of me." Now, looking at memory in its position among the mental faculties, we may perchance get some light on the words just quoted. Memory is a very early and energetic activity of the mind. It begins our development and is the chief stimulant of progressive development. It is the spinal column of the faculties. Sensation, per caption, imagination, associative and suggestive functions, reasoning and conclusions reached, are all very intimately identified with its operations. Memory is the first of the intellectual powers to attain perfection, as judgment is the last, and this law of rapid maturity would seem to indicate, by its exceptional character, that memory sustains a very near relation to the growth of our moral nature. It is clear that the Lord Jesus adopted the method of storing facts in the minds of the twelve apostles, and leaving them in latency, the truths in these facts being reserved for subsequent realization. And it is equally certain that one of the chief offices of the Holy Ghost, as the Executive of the Father and the Son, was "to bring all things" to their "remembrance." Naturally, indeed, a past was formed in the memories of the twelve, but it was made a spiritual past by the Divine agency of the Spirit as a Remembrancer. Furthermore, the apostles were to be witnesses, or testifiers: "Ye also shall bear witness;" but the importance of the Spirit as a Remembrancer exhibits itself in this, that, out of the miscellaneous mass of facts deposited in the memories of the twelve, selection was to be made, for, according to the fourth Gospel, there were "many other things which Jesus did" that were not "written," while those "written" were such as were adapted to Christian faith. It seems, then, that memory was inspired by the Holy Ghost in accordance with the principle contained in the words, "These are written"—only these—"that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his Name." Aside, however, from the apostles, is there not a principle here which is recognized by the Spirit in all its gracious administrations? Memory is ordinarily the starting point in religious life when that life becomes positive and decided. It enters largely into conviction for sin and into repentance. Further back than recollection extends, impressions of God's goodness and the need of Christ for pardon and peace were made on the soul, and there they lay like old deposits in the strata of the globe, till the Holy Ghost uncovered them to our consciousness, God keeps for us his witness in this faithful register of the past. Without being Platonists on the subject of reminiscence, or accepting all that Wordsworth teaches in the grand 'Ode on Intimations of Immortality from Early Recollections of Childhood,' we may well believe that memory is the master organ through which grace is imparted to men. A simple hymn of Dr. Watts's or Mrs. Barbauld's learned in childhood; the little prayer, "Now I lay me down to sleep;" and most of all, "Our Father which art in heaven," taught by a mother's lips; our first sight of death; our first walk in a graveyard;—come back to us in after years, and suddenly the hard grip of the world on our hearts is relaxed, and the "little child is set in the midst" of life's scenes, and we know that Jesus has set it there for our restoration to its long lost image. No wonder, then, that it should have pleased the Lord Jesus to make the Holy Supper an institution appealing to memory. There, in that upper room, a few hours on earth remaining to him, the past three years with his disciples were gathered in a few most solemn moments. The righteousness of his perfect life of obedience, all he had taught and done and suffered, had come into this final interview, and were going forward into his expiatory death. The motive and blessedness of the act in the celebration of the Eucharist are drawn from "In remembrance of me." Christ in all his fulness, Christ in his one personality as Son of God and Son of man, Christ in the entire compass of mediation, is in this "me." At the same time, the act shows forth the "Lord's death till he come," and accordingly is prospective. As a natural fact, memory is the great feeder of the imagination, and is ever exciting it to picture the future. Except for memory, the imagination could not exist, or, if existing, would be a very imperfect because torpid faculty. As a religious organ, the medium as we have seen of the Spirit, the memory stimulates the imagination and qualifies it to "show the Lord's death till he come." St. Paul mentions first the "remembrance" in connection with the broken body and again with the blood, and then comes the idea of showing, or proclaiming. Of course, the supper had to be a memorial before it could be an anticipation, but the order involves more than chronological sequence. It is an inner order of ideas, and it states, we think, with force and precision the relativity of these ideas. If this analysis be correct, then the determinative idea in the institution is its memorial character ( remembrance ) , and by this idea we are to judge its nature and influence. Yet not alone by this abstractly viewed, since memory is supplemented by imagination and its vivid sense of futurity. From this point of view we understand why St. Paul should protest so strongly against the shocking abuse of the Lord's Supper among the Corinthians. With this feast, instituted and consecrated by Christ himself, its purpose being to bring him back into their midst and to enable them to realize his coming again, the two ideas being closely joined,—with this tender remembrance and expectation they had associated sensual pleasures, eating and drinking to excess, separating themselves into classes, despising the Church of God, and bringing condemnation upon themselves. What of Christ was in all this? Instead of memories of his sacrificial death, instead of their personal recollections of his providence and grace in their behalf, instead of touching and humbling recallings of how he had dealt with each of them, what utter forgetfulness, what a closing up of every avenue of the past opening into the present, and what a concentration in the animal gratifications of the hour! Instead of anticipation and joyous hope, looking to the Lord's coming, what blindness to all but the transient festivities of the carnal senses! On this account (therefore) "many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep." The reference is not to the weakness and sickliness that follow the violations of natural laws, nor is the sleep the falling asleep in Jesus, but a punishment sent from God and executed under the directive agency of providence. Just in proportion as a man realizes Christ in the past will he realize him in the future. Just in the degree that he loses him from the past of his own heart, in that same degree will he vacate the future of his glorious image. The present is all, and it is all of the senses. And when God arises to judgment, as in the case of the Corinthians, what a sudden intensity surcharges the present, the blessedness of the old yesterdays and the awaiting tomorrows all extinguished, and the immediate moments, once so fugitive and so eager to glorify themselves by larger additions, lingering now and lengthening in the keener consciousness of pain and remorseful anguish! "Judge yourselves," O Corinthians! Examine your hearts; return to your memories and expectations; go to the cross of Christ and learn the lesson of its self sacrifice; condemn and punish yourselves for the guilty past; and make this discipline of self a chastening for future well being. But let no true and humble soul be tortured by the thought of eating and drinking "unworthily," and thereby incurring "condemnation." Whoever comes to the Lord's Supper after a close self examination aided by the Spirit, and brings to it a meek and trustful mind; whoever repairs to it after he has communed with his memories of Christ's goodness to him,—will be a worthy participant in the sacred rite, and may surely expect the seal of God's approbation. A Christian child may understand the essential idea and spirit of the institution. And yet it has connections that transcend all thought, and the soul of every devout communicant welcomes the mysterious glory with which it is invested. Charles Wesley sings for every believer when he says—

"His presence makes the feast,

And now our bosoms feel

The glory not to be expressed,

The joy unspeakable."

- The Pulpit Commentary

1 Corinthians 11:23-26 (1 Corinthians 11:23-26)

The sacred feast.

Paul's description is singularly beautiful. His information apparently came directly from Christ ( Galatians 1:12 ). Additional importance attaches to the observance of the Lord's Supper, since an express revelation was made to the great apostle of the Gentiles. The supper was for the Gentile worm as well as the Jewish. Its institution was associated with the preaching of the gospel throughout the world.

I. ITS INSTITUTION . By the Lord Jesus ( 1 Corinthians 11:23 ).

1. Personally. Evidently important in his eyes. Specially precious to us because instituted personally by our Master. Appropriate; for he in his great redemptive work is set forth. Christ is "all in all" at his table. As Christ was present at the first celebration, he should be looked for at every celebration.

2. Under most affecting circumstances. "The same night in which he was betrayed;" whilst betrayal was proceeding—and this known to him.

II. ITS MODE .

1. Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving for the bread and wine. We should not "say grace" but really "give thanks." Perhaps to teach us that our thanksgivings should ascend for what the bread and wine typify.

2. Bread.

3. Wine. Symbolic of Christ's blood shed for the remission of sins. Partaken of to indicate the application of the blood of Christ to our hearts and consciences. The blood must not only be shed, it must be applied.

III. ITS SIGNIFICANCE .

1. Remembrance of Christ. Of his dying love specially; and of his life, lordship, etc.

2. Communion with Christ and with each other. (See 1 Corinthians 10:16 , 1 Corinthians 10:17 .)

3. A feast. We feed upon Christ spiritually. As bread and wine support the body, so he supports the soul. There is a physical symbol and a spiritual reality. Joy should be one element in the observance; it is a feast, not a funeral.

4. A covenant. We enter into covenant with God for pardon, peace, service, and the covenant is ratified by the blood of Christ typified by wine: "This cup is the new covenant in my blood." The Hebrews entered into covenant with God when the blood of the heifer was sprinkled upon them; they bound themselves to obedience, and God bound himself to bestow the promised blessings; so when we receive the cup, we commemorate the covenant which we have entered into with God through the shed blood of Christ and the covenant which he has entered into with us.

5. Proclamation of Christ's death. Christ's death is the great central fact shadowed forth. The cross is exalted. Not a new sacrifice offered, but the old yet ever new sacrifice of Calvary commemorated and shown forth.

6. A pledge of the Lord's second coming. "Till he come." He will come, and it is not for us to any, "My Lord delayeth his coming." He will come not too soon and not too late. "Till he come" we must be watching.

IV. ITS INCUMBENCY . "This do in remembrance of me." A dying command. Some believers have many excuses for not coming to the Lord's table; they do not find one here: " This do." Last requests of loved ones are held precious: should not the request of this loved One be also? In this command our welfare is consulted as in all Divine commands laid upon us. We lose much if we refrain from doing this in remembrance of our Master—much spiritual joy, enlightenment, strengthening, and not a little usefulness. The Lord's table is the Elim of Christians; we act foolishly if we fail to embrace opportunities of resting beneath its palm trees and drinking from its many wells of living water.—H.

- The Pulpit Commentary

1 Corinthians 11:24 (1 Corinthians 11:24)

Remembering Christ.

The Lord's Supper is very specially a feast of remembrance. Is there in it a suggestion that we are very prone to forget Christ? This is, alas! our tendency, and here we are in strange contrast to our Lord. He needs nothing to keep us in his remembrance; he ever thinks of his people. In the institution of the Lord's Supper he thinks of our forgetfulness, of its perils, of its certain sorrows. He remembers that we are prone not to remember him. What should we remember concerning Christ?

I. HIS HOLY SPOTLESS LIFE . What a life that was! The greatest and best of human leaders have been marked by defects, but our Leader was "without blemish." In the lives of heroes there is always something which we should be glad to forget; but there is nothing in the life of Christ. Jealousy, hatred, malice, and all uncharitableness could find in him "no fault." Many great men have grown small, many holy men questionable in character, many honoured men dishonourable, under the ruthless criticism of modern times; but not Jesus of Nazareth. The fiercest light has been focussed upon his earthly course; the brains of sceptic and of scoffer have been racked in prolonged endeavour to discover the flaw; but it has not been discovered yet! The voices of all the centuries cry, "Without fault!" "Holy and undefiled!" "Separate from sinners!" Well may we remember that life.

II. HIS TEACHING . When compared with Christ, all the other teachers of the world seem to have nothing to teach upon matters of high moment. At best they guess, and often they guess folly. He teaches with the authority of knowledge; all other teachers seem hidden in the valley, imagining what the landscape may be. He alone has climbed the hill and beholds what he speaks about. We need to remember, more than we are accustomed to do, the utterances of the world's great Teacher. Seekers after knowledge should be careful lest after all they miss the richest mine of truth. Learned scoffings and atheistical ribaldries are naught but devil blinds to hide from our view the beautiful form of truth as it is in Christ. In him "are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" ( Colossians 2:3 ). When God broke the dread silence upon the Mount of Transfiguration it was to exclaim, "This is my beloved Son: hear him ." The Holy Ghost was promised as One who would "bring to remembrance" what Christ had declared. Through the Lord's Supper, as a means, the Divine Spirit works now for this end.

III. HIS MIRACLES . These speak eloquently of his power. Nature bows before her God. How weak the mightiest of the earth are compared with this mighty One! When the kingdom of Christ is about to be overwhelmed and shattered and generally annihilated by blatant wiseacre warriors, with their sceptical pea shooters and atheistical popguns, I laugh as I remember that it is the kingdom of Christ which is being assailed! We do well to bear in mind what Christ did when he was upon earth, and then to say quietly to ourselves, "The same yesterday, today, and forever." What he did, he can do; what he was, he is. His miracles illustrated his beneficence. They meant the supply of human need, the binding up of wounds, the restoration of the outcast, the arrest of sorrow, the wiping away of tears, the cheer of lonely hearts. We must remember his miracles; they show so truly what the Christ was. With all his omnipotence, how gentle and tender!

IV. HIS DEATH . This was the grand culmination of his life; it gave to him the great title of Saviour; to it the Lord's Supper specially points. We must remember him as the One who laid down his life for us, who bore our griefs and carried our sorrows, who was wounded for our trangressions and bruised for our iniquities, who died the just for the unjust that he might bring us to God. The Lord's Supper leads us to Calvary—through the motley crowd, past the weeping Marys, beyond the penitent thief, to the central figure in the Judaean tragedy, and there we see salvation! "Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other" ( Psalms 85:10 ). Remembrance of Christ's death will mean remembrance of our sinfulness. And when we remember that "he endured the cross, despising the shame," we may ask ourselves the suggestive question, "What would be our present condition and prospect if he had not done so?"

V. HIS RESURRECTION AND ASCENSION . The Lord's Supper was for the remembrance of Christ both after he had died and after he had risen from the dead. We must not forget the dying Christ; but neither must we forget the triumphing Christ. The resurrection of Christ is the counterpart of the cross; one is not without the other, The Lord died, but the Lord is risen indeed. He came to this world in abasement; he lived so, he died so, but he did not depart so. He rose from the dead, and ever liveth. We remember the dying Christ, but we remember also the living Christ, exalted at God's right hand, our Advocate, preparing our heavenly home, looking down upon us, present with us by his Spirit. We remember the reigning Christ, the One who has completed his glorious redemptive work, who has triumphed openly, and we remember him thus "till he come."

VI. HIS MARVELLOUS LOVE . Shown in every incident and every instant of his course. In his coming; in his words, deeds, spirit; and pre-eminently in his sufferings and death. God is love; Christ is God; Christ is love.

VII. HIS PERSONALITY . Not only what he said and what he did, but what he was. All his acts and words of beneficence and love were only expressions of himself. They were but manifestations of what dwells in perpetual fulness in his heart. Remember him. "This do in remembrance of me ." This is a dying request. Are we observing it? The dying request of him who "gave himself" for us.—H.

- The Pulpit Commentary

1 Corinthians 11:23-26 (1 Corinthians 11:23-26)

"The Lord's Supper."

St. Paul had not been an eyewitness of the sacred incident that he here relates. Nor had he gained his knowledge of it by the report of others. He had "received it of the Lord." At what time and in what way this took place we know not, We may, perhaps, best attribute it to that remarkable transition period immediately after his conversion, the "three years" that he spent in Arabia and Damascus before he went up to Jerusalem and began his apostolic ministry ( Galatians 1:17 , Galatians 1:18 ). We can well believe that it was during that time of lonely, silent contemplation that the grand verities of the gospel message were divinely unveiled to him; and this may have been among the things that he then "received of the Lord." The simplicity of the way in which he describes the institution of this sacred rite is in perfect harmony with the simplicity of the gospel record. One can only wonder how it can have been possible for such an incident to be turned, as it has been, into a weapon of sacerdotal pretence and spiritual oppression. The too prevalent neglect of the observance has, no doubt, to a great extent been the natural and inevitable result of this abuse. The false or exaggerated use of anything always provokes to the opposite extreme. We may urge its claims on the Christian conscience and heart by looking at it in three different aspects—as a memorial, as a symbol, and as a means of spiritual edification.

I. A MEMORIAL . "This do in remembrance of me." "As often as ye eat this bread, and drink the cup, ye proclaim the Lord's death till he come." Christ's own words set it forth as an act of personal remembrance, Paul's as a time long witness to the great sacrifice. Taking the two together, it appears as a memorial of "Christ and him crucified"—of himself in all the truth and meaning of his earthly manifestation, of his death as the issue in which the fulness of that meaning was gathered up and consummated. We may regard this memorial in its relation both to those who observe it and to those who observe it not; as a method of keeping the fact of Christ's self surrender vividly before the minds of those who believe in him and love him, and as a testimony that appeals with silent eloquence to a thoughtless, careless world. In this respect it resembles other Scripture memorials ( Genesis 22:14 ; Genesis 28:18 , Genesis 28:19 ; Exodus 12:24-27 ; Joshua 4:20-24 ; 1 Samuel 7:12 ). And when we think how easily things the most important fade away from our memories while trifles linger there, and sacred impressions are obliterated by meaner influences, we may well recognize with devout thankfulness the wisdom and love which ordained such a mode of perpetuating the remembrance of the most momentous of all events in human history, while, in spite of all its perversions, the simple fact of the continuance of such a sacred usage of the Church is a proof that it rests on a Divine foundation.

II. A SYMBOL . It represents visibly that which in the nature of things is invisible. Not merely is bread a fitting emblem of the Saviour's body and wine of his blood, and the breaking of the one and the pouring out of the other of the manner of his death; but the service itself symbolizes the personal union of the soul with him, the method alike of its origin and its support. It bears witness, as in a figure, to the deeper reality of the life of faith. It sets forth, in the form of a significant deed, what our Lord set forth in the form of metaphoric words when he said, "Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man," etc. ( John 6:53-58 ). And in both cases "it is the Spirit which quickeneth." Mysticism has thrown its false halo, its bewitching glamour, around these Divine words; and the sacred ordinance that would otherwise have made its simple appeal to the insight of the Christian understanding and the tenderness of the Christian heart has become mere food for superstition. But there is no Scripture warrant whatever for this. From the gross materialism of the Romish "Mass" to the subtler refinement of thought that regards the Lord's spiritual presence as being in some mystic sense inherent in the bread and wine, speaking of the sacrament being "administered," as though it had some occult virtue in it, a kind of spiritual medicament conferred by priestly hands, and "taken" by the faithful for their souls' healing,—all these shades of opinion alike substitute a physical mystery for a spiritual truth, and engender a superstitious faith that fixes its attention on the material emblems and something that is supposed to be true of them; rather than the intelligent faith that discerns the unseen Saviour through them, very much as we look through our window upon the golden glory of the setting sun without thinking of the transparent medium through which we behold it .

III. A MEANS OF SPIRITUAL EDIFICATION . Here lies the Divine reason of the memorial and the symbol. It is more than a "transparent medium" through which the soul may gaze upon the crucified Christ; it is a channel of spiritual influence by means of which the soul's fellowship with him may be deepened and strengthened. It accomplishes this end, not by any magic power that it may wield over us, but by virtue simply of the influence it is naturally fitted to exert on mind and conscience and heart, and by the grace of that good Spirit whose office it is to testify of Christ. We may be fully alive to the dangers that lurk in the use of all symbolic religious rites, the danger especially of attributing to the sign an efficacy that lies only in that which is signified. And we may see in this the reason why the rites of Christianity are so few. But what Christian heart can be insensible to the high spiritual value of an observance such as this? Moreover, the obligation is plain. "Do this," says our dying Lord, "in remembrance of me." May not such an appeal be expected to draw forth a ready response from any soul that has ever "tasted that he is gracious"? Its being the behest of love rather than the stern requirement of law, makes it doubly imperative, while the simplicity of the deed it enjoins makes it doubly efficacious as a bond of affection and a vehicle of moral power. We all know what a charm there is in even the most trivial memento of those whom we have loved and lost, especially if it be some object with which the personal memory is most closely associated by familiar daily use, some little thing that tender hands we can no longer grasp and a loving voice that is now forever still have bequeathed to us. With what a glow of grateful affection will the sight of it sometimes suffuse our hearts! How near does it bring the departed to us again! How closely does it draw us into sympathy and fellowship with their personal life! And shall not this be expected to be pre-eminently true of these simple memorials of our loving, suffering, dying Lord? The realization of this, however, must always depend on something in ourselves. The influence we receive from the outward observance will depend on what we are prepared to receive, i.e. on what we bring to it in the conditions of our own inward thought and feeling. It will never of itself create right feeling. Come to it with a worldly spirit, with a divided heart—cold, careless, carnal, frivolous, prayerless, or in any way out of harmony with the Divine realities it represents—and you can expect to find no uplifting and inspiring power in it. You are not likely to "discern the Lord's body." Christ is never further from us than when we desecrate sacred scenes and services by our discordant mental and moral conditions. But come with your soul yearning after him, and he will unveil to you his glory and fill you with the joy of his love. "Let a man prove himself, and so let him eat of the bread, and drink of the cup."—W.

- The Pulpit Commentary