“Oh, look to his death for life!”
John ‘Rabbi’ Duncan
Frequency of the Lord’s Supper
Preparing for the Supper
The Administration of Including preparation before, the Common Cup, Wine,
. Common Bread, Sitting at the Table, Intinction, etc.
The Mass – Transubstantiation
All the Works of the Westminster Divines on the Lord’s Supper
Order of Contents
Books & Articles
. On Zwingli’s View
Qualifications to Partaking of the Supper
May All Adults who are Baptized Automatically Come to the Table? No
What Constitutes a Sufficient Profession of Faith to Come to the Table?
On Admitting Other Denominations to the Table
Nature & Necessity of the Supper
The Supper has a Higher Reverance Due to it than Simply the Preaching of
. the Word
Spiritual Grace Received in the Supper is the Same as that in Hearing &
. Receiving the Word Alone
Not a Converting Ordinance
The Supper is Not Necessary to the Essence of a Worship Service
The Supper is a Form of Covenant Renewal
On Communion with Others in the Supper
Barring from the Table
Ought I to take the Supper if Scandalous Persons Also do? Yes
Books & Articles
The Early Church
Ussher, James – ‘Of the Real Presence’ in Answers to a Jesuit: with other Tracts on Popery, pp. 41-73
Ussher (p. 41):
“…in the receiving of the blessed Sacrament we are to distinguish between the outward and the inward action of the communicant. In the outward, with our bodily mouth we receive really the visible elements of bread and wine;
in the inward, we do by faith really receive the body and blood of our Lord; that is to say, we are truly and indeed made partakers of Christ crucified, to the spiritual strengthening of our inward man.”
To this effect, and other points, Ussher quotes: Augustine, Tertullian, Basil, Athanasius, Origen, Fulgentius, Clement, Eusebius, Ambrose, Macarius, Prosper, the Gloss upon Gratian, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Cyprian, Theophilus, Tatianus, Acacius, Jerome, Chrysostom, Theodoret, Gelasius, Ephraemius, the Council of Constantinople of 754 and even the Romanists: Alexander of Hales, Bellarmine, Salmeron & Kellison.
Ussher also shows in extended detail how the more orthodox notions in the early church gradually, during the Middle Ages, came to develop into the carnal doctrine of Transubstantiation. The first rise of this transition, Ussher documents, stemmed from those who defended images of Christ at the Second Council of Nicea, 787.
The Middle Ages
Ratramnus – The Book of Bertram the Priest: Concerning the Body and Blood of Christ in the Sacrament † c. 868 96 pp.
Dr. R. Scott Clark:
“In the eighth century, Carolingian theologians at the Abbey of Corbie [France], Paschasius Radbertus (ca. 790-ca. 860) and Ratramnus (d. ca. 868) each wrote treatises on the Lord’s Supper. Both were titled ‘On the Body and Blood of the Lord’. They first debated what is ‘true’ and what is a ‘figure’ in the Lord’s Supper.
Radbertus argued that the sign becomes the thing signified. In response, Ratramnus argued that if the sign becomes the thing signified, then we have no sacrament since Christ is received by faith, not sight; we would have no need of faith. If we have no faith, we have no Christ and no salvation.
In the early sixteenth century, that debate was renewed by the Reformed and Lutheran theologians, with Lutherans republishing Radbertus and the Reformed, Ratramnus.” – ‘Foreward’, p. ix in Theodore Beza, A Clear & Simple Treatise on the Lord’s Supper (RHB, 2016)
Some other 9th century theologians who denied that Christ’s body and blood were materially eaten in the Eucharist during the Carolingian Eucharistic Controversy were: Gottschalk of Orbais, Alcuin of York & Florus Magister.
The same men were involved in a controversy over predestination. Generally speaking, the Carolingian theologians had a high view of predestination and took a spiritual view of the Lord’s Supper. Ratramnus took the central role in the Eucharistic controversy; Gottschalk took the central role in the predestinarian controversy.
Short Treatise on the Lord’s Supper (1541) in Tracts 2.163-198
“Joachim Westphal (1510-1574) represented the so-called true or Gnesio-Lutheran movement that attempted to preserve the purity of Luther’s thought against the alleged compromises of the Philippists, those who followed the lead of Philip Melancthon. As the superintendent of the state church in Hamburg, Westphal was well positioned to enter the fray of theological disputes…
For the Gnesio-Lutherans the issue of Christ’s physical presence in the Lord’s Supper was of paramount importance. The formula borrowed from Luther was that the body and blood of Christ are truly and substantially present ‘in, with and under’ the consecrated elements. Those who partake, believers and unbelievers alike, receive the true body and blood of Christ Himself… This so called [sacramental] union is often referred to as ‘consubstantiation’, although Luther did not use the term…
Calvin[‘s]… view [was] that although Christ is not present physically in the bread and in the wine, He is present spiritually. The sacrament would not, therefore, be an empty sign. Calvin followed Augustine closely… If, as the Lutherans believed, Christ is physically present… both believers and unbelievers who participate in the Eucharist partake of the body and blood of Christ… Calvin argued, by contrast, that only believers truly partake of the body and blood of the Lord. He posited this position in the Institutes as well as in his Petit traicte de la saincte cene (1541).” – ‘Introduction’ in Beza, Clear & Simple Treatise on the Lord’s Supper
Mutual Consent in Regard to the Sacraments Between the Ministers of the Church of Zurich and John Calvin (1554) in Tracts 2:199-244
Defense of the Sound & Orthodox Doctrine of the Sacraments (1555)
“Seizing on the publication of the Consensus [Tigurinus of Zurich and Geneva, 1549], Westphal began to criticize it publicly, which initiated the so-called second sacramental war between the Lutherans and the Reformed… Westphal initially composed three treatises [in 1552, 1553 & 1555] critical of the Consensus… Westphal spared no words in his attack on his ‘godless’ opponents and their ‘satanic blasphemies.’…
Calvin did not become aware of Westphal’s criticism until 1554, when Bullinger brought it to his attention. He was otherwise occupied with a host of issues including the Servetus affair, but he told Bullinger that he would respond. He did so in 1555, although he believed that Westphal’s Farrago was a ‘light-weight book’ and not worthy of a personal response…
But Calvin decided to take the matter upon himself in his Defense of the Sound and Orthodox Doctrine of the Sacraments… and the literary war was on… He did not mention Westphal by name, hoping for peace with the Lutherans, especially since he had garnered Melanchthon’s support.” – Ibid.
Second Defense of the Sacraments in Answer to the Calumnies of Joachim Westphal 1556 in Tracts 2:245-345
“Westphal responded [to Calvin’s Defense of the Sound and Orthodox Doctrine of the Sacraments, 1555] with his Just Defense Against the False Accusations of a Certain Sacramentarian… Calvin responded in 1556 with his Second Defense… This work was much more vituperative and personal than the first, and Calvin denied that he had made the sacrament an empty sign, saying that he was in agreement with the [Lutheran] Augsburg Confession [Article X, 1530]. Although he asserted his admiration of Zwingli, Calvin made it clear that there were significant distinctions between their views of Christ’s presence in the Lord’s Supper.” – Ibid.
Last Admonition to Joachim Westphal 1557 in Tracts 2:346
“Westphal in turn responded [to Calvin’s Second Defense…] in 1557 with his Confession of Faith on the Sacrament of the Eucharist… Calvin then answered in 1557 with The Last Admonition of John Calvin to Joachim Westphal Who if He Heeds It Not Must Henceforth Be Treated in the Way Which Paul Prescribed for Obstinate Heretics… Any real attempt at accord was lost when Calvin accused Westphal of stupidity and impudence. It would have to be left to Calvin’s colleagues, such as Beza, to attempt to repair the rupture.
In true form Westphal responded in 1558 with two works, including his Defense of the Lord’s Supper against the Errors and Calumnies of John Calvin. This is a lengthy volume covering a host of topics including infant baptism, private absolution, and festival days, but the Eucharist figures by far the most prominently…”
‘Clear Explanation of Sound Doctrine Concerning the True Partaking of the Flesh and Blood of Christ in the Holy Supper in Order to Disipate the Mists of Tileman Heshusius in Tracts 2:495-572 no date
Heshusius (1527-1588) was a prolific Lutheran professor.
The Best Method of Obtaining Concord on the Sacraments in Tracts 2:573-579 no date
‘Of the Lord’s Supper and the Benefits Conferred by it’ being ch. 17 of The Institutes of the Christian Religion, book 4 1559 final edition
“…Calvin, who had clearly had his fill of Westphal after composing three rebuttals, decided not to continue the literary battle. Calvin did, however, strengthen his section on the sacraments in the revised editions of the Institutes as a result of his debates with Westphal.” – Ibid.
Knox, John – A Summary according to the Holy Scriptures of the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper 1550 in The Works of John Knox, ed. David Laing, 3:371-76
Ridley, Nicholas – A Determination Concerning the Sacrament, in Works of Nicholas Ridley, pp. 167-179
Vermigli, Peter Martyr – A Discourse or Tract Concerning the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper 1550 226 pp.
Beza, Theodore – A Clear & Simple Treatise on the Lord’s Supper Pre (1559, RHB, 2016)
“[The Lutheran] Westphal’s Defense of the Lord’s Supper served as the subject of Beza’s treatise. The responsibility fell upon Beza primarily because Calvin, who had clearly had his fill of Westphal after composing three rebuttals, decided not to continue the literary battle… Beza, whose predisposition was to soften the hostility between the two sides… Some of Beza’s biographers have argued that this work was less harsh in its attacks on Westphal than one might have expected… Beza… complained that Westphal had been far too personal in his attacks on Calvin, insinuating that he was a drunkard and a glutton and that his mother had been the mistress of a parish priest.
As one reads Beza’s treatise, several emphases are apparent.
First, Beza responded chapter and verse to specific arguments and chapters of Westphal’s work.
Second, Beza was tireless and unapologetic in defense of Calvin, especially in his assertion that the Lord’s Supper is not a bare symbol and that in it we have true communion with the risen Christ.
Third, Beza made great use of the concept of metonymy, or a figure of speech, in his interpretation of the words of institution. Scripture, he argued, was full of such expressions, such as when the lamb is called the Passover meal or when Christ called the cup the covenant in His blood. He asked how the wine can be wine and blood at the same time without a figure of speech.
Fourth, like Calvin, Beza referred extensively to the church fathers, especially Augustine, in defense of his position.
Finally, at the end of the treatise, Beza pled for some degree of accord between the two sides by showing all the areas they had in common compared to few topics of disagreement. Ultimately his attempt at reconciliation would fall short as the gap between the Lutheran and Reformed views of the Eucharist was simply too vast.” – Ibid.
Bruce, Robert – Sermons on the Sacrament 1617 318 pp. Being 5 sermons, with a biographical introduction by John Laidlaw. Both Bruce and Laidlaw were Scottish.
All the Works of the Westminster Divines on the Lord’s Supper
Mensa Mystica, or a Discourse Concerning the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper (1676) 504 pp.
Simon was an Arminian, Latitudinarian Anglican, but Joel Beeke has recommended these two works as ‘some of the best works on the Lord’s Supper’.
The Christian Sacrifice: a Treatise showing the Necessity, End & Manner of Receiving the Holy Communion (London, 1671)
Fleetwood, William – The Reasonable Communicant, or An Explanation of the Doctrine of the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper in all its Parts from the Communion Service, in a Discourse between a Minister & One of his Parishoners d. 1723 40 pp. in Works 3:1-40
Fleetwood was an Anglican. Joel Beeke included this in ‘some of the best works on the Lord’s Supper’.
Willison, John d. 1750
A Lecture on 1 Cor. 11:17 to the end concerning the Lord’s Supper in Works, 3:402-413
A Sacramental Catechism, or, a Familiar Instructor for Young Communicants, Plainly unfolding the nature of the Covenant of Grace, with the Two Seals thereof, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, wherein especially the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper is fully and distinctly handled 269 pp.
Bannerman, James – The Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, in The Church of Christ 2:128-185
The Special Meaning of the Lord’s Supper; Christ’s Presence in the Ordinance to the Believer, in The Scripture Doctrine of the Church, p. 237-9
The Lord’s Supper; its Significance for the First Disciples; how Observed, in The Scripture Doctrine of the Church, p. 375-8
D. Bannerman was James Bannerman’s son.
Hodge, Charles – The Doctrine of the Reformed Church on the Lord’s Supper 1857 in Essays and Reviews, pp. 341-92, being a review of John Nevin’s The mystical Presence. A Vindication of the Reformed or Calvinistic Doctrine of the Holy Eucharist, 1846
Houston, Thomas – The Lord’s Supper: its Nature, Ends & Obligations, & Mode of Administration (1878) 380 pp.
Houston (1803-1882) was a Reformed Presbyterian.
Berkhof, Louis – ‘The Lord’s Supper’ (1950) 32 paragraphs, from his Systematic Theology
On the 1500’s
Carr, Kevin – Robert Bruce on the Nature of the Lord’s Supper, & Preparation for its Observance (2010) 42 pp.
Robert Bruce’s sermons on the Lord’s Supper, 1590, are a Scottish classic. Here is an article giving a bit of the life of Bruce, putting the sermons in their historical context, and summarizing their theology and significance.
On Zwingli’s View
Exposition of the Christian Faith tr. Charles Johnson
“We assert that the body of Christ is not so carnally and crassly chewed upon in the Supper as they claim; but we believe that the true body of Christ is eaten sacramentally and spiritually, with a religious, faithful, and holy mind, as Chrysostom also judged.”
Expositio fidei Christianae, p. 37.2
“Adserimus non sic carnaliter & crasse manducari corpus Christi in coena ut isti perhibent, sed verum Christi corpus credimus in coena sacramentaliter & spiritualiter edi, a religiosa, fideli, et sancta mente, quomodo & Chrysostomus sentit.”
Houston, Thomas – ‘Works on the Lord’s Supper’ (1878) 8 pp. being 40 works on the Supper from the Early Church to the 1800’s, in The Lord’s Supper: its Nature, Ends and Obligations & Mode of Administration, pp. 343-50
Qualifications to the Supper
May All Adults who are Baptized Automatically Come to the Table? No
‘II. Who Should be Admitted to the Lord’s Table? Second Conclusion’ in On the Baptism of the Children of Adherents, pp. 27-31 being ch. 12 of A Peaceable and Temperate Plea for Paul’s Presbytery in Scotland (1642)
Question 3, ‘Whether or no there be a true Church communion with ordinary hearers of the Word who cannot be admitted to the Lord’s Supper, and what union excommunicated persons who do hear the Word have with the visible Church? and how the preaching of the Gospel is an essential note of the visible Church?’ in pt. 1, ch. 9, section 9, pp. 268-288 of The Due Right of Presbyteries (1644)
Kennedy of Dingwall, John – pp. 131-54 of The Days of the Fathers in Ross-shire (1861), ch. 4, ‘The Religion of Ross-shire’
Voetius, Gisbert – Question 19 in Ecclesiastical Politics, vol. 1, Book 2, tract 3, section 3, ch. 2, p. 670 See also 1. Question in Book 2, tract 2, section 4, ch. 3, p. 751
What Constitutes a Sufficient Profession of Faith to Come to the Table?
Westminster Assembly – ‘On the Conditions for Partaking of the Lord’s Supper’ April 17, 1645
p. 28 of ‘On the Baptism of the Children of Adherents’ being ch. 12 of his A Peaceable and Temperate Plea for Paul’s Presbytery in Scotland… (1642)
“II. Who Should be Admitted to the Lord’s Table?
Second Conclusion: These only are to be admitted to the Supper of the Lord, whom in charity we judge, can and do try and examine themselves, rightly discern the Lord’s body, and who in faith can enunciate the Lord’s death unto his second coming again.
And therefore children, infants, ignorants, scandalously flagitious persons, and mad [mentally insane] persons are to be debarred.”
A Dissuasive from the Errors of the Time, wherein the Tenets of the Principal Sects, Especially of the Independents, are Drawn Together in One Map (1645), p. 105
“…yet in formal terms, they [the congregationalists] do deny the most gracious of their brethren to live beside them in New-England in the presbyterial way of the old non-conformists: yea, in print they avow that whoever refuses their tenet of Independency, were they otherwise never so orthodox and pious, they ought not to be admitted to the sacraments, nor enjoy any church priviledges: as people who cannot be wholly, but at most are in part only converted: Yea, as such who must be taken for antichristian spirits, for enemies to Christ and his kingdom:
Neither have I heard that any of them now for many years have either celebrated to others or received themselves the sacraments in any English church.”
Voetius, Gisbert – 5. Question in Ecclesiastical Politics, vol. 1, book 2, tract 2, section 4, ch. 3, pp. 756-7
On Admitting Persons of Other Denominations to the Table
French Reformed Churches
2nd Synod of Charenton (1631), ch. 22, ‘An Act in Favor of the Lutheran Brethren’, p. 297
“4. The province of Burgundy demanding, Whether the faithful of the [Lutheran] Augustane [Augsburg] Confession might be permitted to contract marriages in our churches, and to present children in our churches unto baptism, without a precedaneous abjuration of those opinions held by them, contrary to the Belief of our churches?
This synod declares that inasmuch as the churches of the confession of Augsburg do agree with the other Reformed churches in the principal and fundamental points of the True Religion, and that there is neither superstition nor idolatry in their worship, the faithful of the said confession, who with a spirit of love and peaceableness do join themselves to the communion of our churches in this kingdom, may be, without any abjuration at all made by them, admitted unto the Lord’s Table with us; and as sureties may present children unto baptism, they promising the consistory [local session], that they will never solicit them, either directly or indirectly, to transgress the doctrine believed and professed in our churches, but will be content to instruct and educate them in those points and articles which are in common between us and them, and wherein both the Lutherans and we are unanimously agreed.”
What About the Mentally Handicapped?
The Discipline of the Reformed Churches of France – Ch. 12, ‘Of the Lord’s Supper’, Canon VI (1559) in ed. John Quick, Synodicon in Gallia Reformata (London, 1692), vol. 1, p. xlviii
William Steuart of Pardovan – bk. 2, Title 4, ‘Of the Lord’s Supper’, section 2, p. 97 in Collections & Observations Concerning the Worship, Discipline & Government of the Church of Scotland… (Edinburgh, 1770)
p. 28 of ‘On the Baptism of the Children of Adherents’ 1642 being ch. 12 of his A Peaceable and Temperate Plea for Paul’s Presbytery in Scotland
“II. Who Should be Admitted to the Lord’s Table?
These only are to be admitted to the Supper of the Lord, whom in charity we judge, can and do try and examine themselves, rightly discern the Lord’s body, and who in faith can enunciate the Lord’s death unto his second coming again. And therefore children, infants, ignorants, scandalously flagitious persons, and mad [mentally insane] persons are to be debarred.”
Voet, Gisbert – 8. Question in Ecclesiastical Politics, vol. 1, book 2, tract 2, section 4, ch. 3, p. 767-71
On the Nature & Necessity of the Supper
Why the Supper has a Higher Reverence Due to it than Simply the Preaching of the Word
English Popish Ceremonies (1637), 3rd Part, ‘Against the Lawfulness of the Ceremonies’, ch. 4, ‘That the Ceremonies are Idols among Formalists themselves; and that kneeling in the Lord’s Supper before the Bread and Wine in the act of receiving them is formally Idolatry’, pp. 62-63
“Those who speak out more plainly than bishop [David] Lindsay [d. 1641], do here (section 14) object to us that reverence is due to the sacrament, and that we ourselves do reverence it when we sit uncovered at the receiving of it.
But Didoclavius [a pseudonym for the Scottish presbyterian, David Calderwood] does well distinguish betwixt veneration and adoration (Altare Damascenum, 1623, p. 809), because in civility we use[d] to be uncovered, even to inferiors and equals for the regard which we bear to them, yet do we not worship them, as we worship the king on our knees. As, then, in civility there is a respect and reverence different from adoration, so it is in religion also. Yea [Cardinal Robert] Bellarmine himself [a papal apologist] distinguishes the reverence which is due to holy things from adoration. Paybody and Dr. Burgesse [Formalists] will by no means admit this distinction betwixt veneration and adoration. But since neither of them has alleged any reason against it, I hope they will be weighed down by the authority of the [Romanist] Archbishop of Spalato [d. 1624], and the bishop of Edinburgh [David Lindsay], both of which agree to this distinction.
So, then, we give no adoration at all to the sacrament, because neither by any outward nor inward action do we perform any worship for the honor of the same. Burgesse himself has noted to us that the first Nicene Council exhorts that men should not be humiliter intenti [basely stretched out] to the things before them. We neither submit our minds nor humble our bodies to the sacrament, yet do we render to it veneration, for as much as we esteem highly of it as a most holy thing, and meddle reverently with it, without all contempt or unworthy usage. Res profecto inanimatae [Surely inanimate things], says the Archbishop of Spalato, sint sacrae quantum placet, alium honorem a nobis non merentur, nisi in sensu negativo [may be sacred so far as it may be fitting, not being deserving of another honor from us except in a negative sense], as that they be not contemned, nor unworthily handled.
If it be said that we ought not to contemn the Word, yet has it not that respect given to it which the Sacrament has, at which we are uncovered, so that this veneration given to the sacrament must be somewhat more then non prophanatio [a non-profanation]; I answer: as honor in the positive sense, so also in the negative, has various degrees: and according to the more or less immediate manifestation of divine ordinances to us, so ought the degrees of our veneration to be intended or remitted; which is not so to be understood as if one part of God’s sacred worship were to be less contemned then another (for none of God’s most holy ordinances may be in any sort contemned), but that for the greater regard of those things which are more immediately divine, we are not in the usage of them to take to ourselves so much scope and liberty as otherwise we may lawfully allow to ourselves in meddling with such things as are not merely, but mixedly divine, and which are not from God so immediately as the other, but more by the intervention of means.
And thus a higher degree of veneration is due to the sacrament than to the Word preached, not by taking ought from the Word, but by adding more respect to the sacrament than the Word has. The reason hereof is given to be this, because when we come to the sacrament, nihil hic humanum, sed Divina omnia [nothing of this is of man, but is all divine], for Christ’s own Words are, or at least should be, spoken to us when we receive the sacrament, and the elements also are by Christ’s own institution holy symbols of his blessed body and blood. Whereas the Word preached to us is but mixedly and mediately divine, and because of this intervention of the ministry of men, and mixture of their conceptions with the holy Scriptures of God, we are bidden try the spirits [1 Jn. 4:1] and are required after the example of the Bereans to search the Scriptures daily whether these things which we hear preached be so or not.
Now we are not in like sort to try the elements and the words of the institution, whether they be of God or not, because this is sure to all who know out of Scripture the first principles of the oracles of God. The consideration hereof warns us that the sacrament given according to Christ’s institution is more merely and immediately divine than is the Word preached.”
The Divine Right of Church Government… (1646), p. 84
“…yea, reverencing of the ordinances of God, as the delighting in or trembling at the Word, are not properly acts of adoring God.”
“The statement of the question is not: (1) whether proper reverence and honor are due to the bread and the cup, the symbols of the Lord’s body and blood, both on account of the majesty of the author and the divinity of the things they seal and the excellent and singular use they have in religion, such as is legitimately exhibited to baptism and other rites and signs of religion.
However, we, although not denying that a proper reverence should be paid to the sacred symbol, do deny that the adoration which is due to the supreme God (usually designated by the Romanists as the worship of latria) should be paid to them. And although in one and the same celebration of the sacrament, they are made once and at the same time, still we think that they ought to be distinct the one from the other and unconfounded that we may not receive the signs for the things themselves; but may pay reverence to the signs indeed, but adoration to Christ alone. As in baptism of adults, the adoration of Christ (into whom they are initiated) and the reverence towards the water (the sacred symbol of the mystery) remain widely distinct… But we deny that on this account the sacrament itself should be adored; nay, we reject this worship as a most foul and detestable idolatry and bread-worship (artolatreian).”
‘Of Humiliation Days Before & Thanksgiving Days After the Administration of the Lord’s Supper’, pp. 302-305 in Vindiciae Cantus Dominici… (Philadelphia, 1800)
“The Lord’s Supper is justly considered as peculiarly solemn. All the ordinances of God are holy, as they have a holy God for their author, are to be observed in a holy manner, and are appointed means of promoting holiness.
Yet an ordinance may be said to be more solemn in respect of the more sensible manifestation which God makes therein of his glory, in respect of the peculiarly awful warning which He gives against a rash and inconsiderate manner of intermeddling with it, in respect of the variety of holy exercises which concur in the right observation of it, and, lastly, in respect of the more full and public representation of the communion which the people of God have with his whole Church.
That the Lord’s Supper has a greater solemnity in these respects than some other ordinances, seems to have been hitherto the sense of the whole New Testament Church. This is expressed by the judicious Mr. Durham, in the first of his communion sermons [The Unsearchable Riches of Christ (1685), A Preparation Sermon, pp. 4-5], where, speaking of the words of institution, he says:
‘Every circumstance speaks out a solemnity in this ordinance, as the night in which it was instituted, the same night in which He was betrayed, and his jealousy of and threatening for the abuse of this ordinance. The Lord’s Supper seems dignified with an eminence above all other gospel ordinances:
1st, in reference to what it exhibits. They all set forth love, but this sets forth love in an eminent degree, for it sets forth the Lord’s death, wherein the most eminent degree of his love shines. It sets forth the great masterpiece of his love, his actual dying.
2ndly, in respect of the excellent benefits communicated in it. It is true there is no other thing, on the matter, communicated in it, than in the Word and baptism; yet if ye look to the words, ‘Take, eat, this is my body’, they hold forth Christ Jesus not so much giving any particular gift, as actually conferring Himself in his death and suffering.
3rdly, in respect of the manner in which our Lord Jesus makes over Himself: For there is herein not only a most clear view of the slain Savior, and of covenanting with God, but also a clear glance of heaven upon earth, Jesus Christ and his people mixing (so to speak) and being familiar together; He condescending not only to keep company with them, but to be their food and refreshment, and giving not only the Word to their faith, but Himself (as it were) to their sense! Insofar as the mean, whereby He communicates Himself, is more sensible; it is by his Spirit that the mean is made effectual. There is not only a fixedness of faith on our part, but a sort of divineness in the ordinance itself, as it were, to the very senses of the believer. ‘I say unto you,’ says our Lord, ‘I will not drink henceforth of the fruit of the vine, until the day when I shall drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom,’ where He seems to point out, that in this ordinance, He has a more special way of keeping communion with his people, bearing a resemblance to that which He will have with them in Heaven.’
That there is a peculliar solemnity in the partaking of the Lord’s Supper, appears from the concurrence of duties requisite to the right performance of it. ‘If it be a great and difficult work,’ adds the same eminent divine:
‘to carry rightly on an ordinary Sabbath, or in prayer, or in meditation, how difficult must communicating be, in which we ought to have all these joined together/’
If all religious duties were equally solemn, then they would all alike require preparation. An ejaculatory prayer, for example, would require another duty to prepare for it; and that duty would require another, and so on without end. The Old Testament Church had more solemn days, such as that on which the children of Israel stood before the Lord in Horeb. And there were to be such days under the New Testament dispensation also. Hence, in the vision, which we have in the latter part of the prophecy of Ezekiel, and which judicious interpreters allow to be an emblematical representation of the New Testament Church, we have an account of the observation of such solemnities as the Passover and the Feast of Tabernacles, Eze. 45:21,25. And surely sacramental occasions may be said to be such times. A person that duly consideres these things, will not be easily persuaded, that there ought to be no more solemnity in the breaking of the sacramental bread, than in asking a blessing at our ordinary meals.”
[See also the footnote on p. 305, and the following pages on preparation.]
That the Spiritual Grace Received in the Supper is the Same as that in Hearing & Receiving the Word Alone
English-Popish Ceremonies… (Edinburgh, 1637), 3rd Part, ch. 4, pp. 61-2
“…in hearing the Gospel? for therein we receive spiritually the body and blood of Christ, and that as truly and really as in the sacrament. Whereupon the Archbishop of Armagh [James Ussher] shows that the spiritual and inward feeding upon the body and blood of Christ is to be found out of the Sacrament, and that diverse of the Fathers do apply the sixth [chapter] of John to the hearing of the Word also, as Clemens Alexandrinus, Origen, Eusebius Caesariensis and others. Basilius Magnus likewise teaches plainly that we eat the flesh of Christ in his Word and Doctrine. This I am sure no man dare deny.”
The Lord’s Supper is Not a Converting Ordinance
Gillespie, George – Aaron’s Rod Blossoming… (Edinburgh: 1844), bk. 3
ch. 12, ‘Whether the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper be a Converting or Regenerating Ordinance?’
ch. 13, ‘Twenty Arguments to Prove that the Lord’s Supper is Not a Converting Ordinance’
ch. 14, ‘Mr. Prynne’s Twelve Arguments, brought to Prove that the Lord’s Supper is a Converting Ordinance, Discussed & Answered’ 8 pp.
That the Lord’s Supper is Not Necessary to the Essence of a Worship Service
Old Scottish Communion Plate (Edinburgh, 1892), pp. 16-17
“…for the [Scottish] Church [in the late-1500’s], as we have seen, was extremely poor, and poverty had frequently been urged as an excuse for the non-observance of the sacred feast.”
The Supper is a Form of Covenant Renewal in a certain respect, though not in other respects
“Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.'”
The Due Right of Presbyteries… (London, 1644), pt. 1, p. 85
“2nd Distinction: There is a covenant of baptism, made by all, and a covenant virtual and implicit renewed when we are to receive the Lord’s Supper…”
On Communion with Others in the Supper
On Barring from the Table, or Lesser Excommunication
Gillespie, George – Aaron’s Rod Blossoming… (1646; Edinburgh: 1844), bk. 3
ch. 7, ‘That 1 Cor. 5 proves excommunication and (by a necessary consequence, even from the Erastian interpretation) suspension from the sacrament of a person unexcommunicated’ 6 pp.
ch. 10, ‘That if it could be proved that Judas received the Lord’s Supper, it makes nothing against the suspension of known wicked persons from the sacrament’ 4 pp.
ch. 11, ‘Whether it be a full discharge of duty to [only] admonish a scandalous person of the danger of unworthy communicating; and whether a minister, in giving him the sacrament, after such admonition [and not barring him from the Table], be in no way guilty?’ 6 pp.
ch. 15, ‘Whether the admission of scandalous and notorious sinners to the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper be a pollution and profanation of that holy ordinance? And in what respects it may be so called.’ 6 pp.
ch. 16, ‘An argument of Erastus (drawn from the baptism of John), against the excluding of scandalous sinners from the Lord’s Supper, examined.’ 1 page
ch. 17, ‘The Antiquity for the suspension of all scandalous persons from the sacrament, even such as were admitted to other public ordinances’ 8 pp.
Palmer, Herbert – A Full Answer to a Printed Paper Entitled, ‘Four Serious Questions Concerning Excommunication & Suspension from the Sacrament, etc.’, Wherein the Several Arguments & Texts of Scripture Produced are Particularly & Distinctly Discussed: & the Debarring of Ignorant & Scandalous Persons from the Sacrament is Vindicated (London, 1645) 30 pp.
Palmer was a presbyterian minister and a Westminster divine.
Ought I to take the Supper if Scandalous Persons Also Do? Yes
The Due Right of Presbyteries... (1644), pt. 2, ch. 4, section 5, pp. 193-4
“This toleration of drunkards and swearers in the Lord’s Church and at his Table infects and is apt to leaven all with their evil conversation, but does not leaven the worship to the fellow-worshippers, nor is the sin of private persons, yea nor of our ministers, who have not power to help it (but it is the fault of the Church), except you make no separation from a Church where a scandalous person is tolerated (for suffering more or fewer does not vary the species) to be a sin publicly to be repented, before any can be members of your Church, which is prodigious to us.”
Jeanes, Henry – pp. 66-67 of The Want of Church Government… (London, 1650)
Jeanes was an English presbyterian.