The Administration of the Lord’s Supper

“This do in remembrance of Me.”

Luke 22:19

“Are not the sacramental elements, actions and words to be reckoned, all three together as the outward, sensible sign in this ordinance for exhibiting, sealing and applying Christ and his benefits to worthy communicants?
Yes.”

John Willison
A Sacramental Catechism, p. 67

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Subsections

Frequency of the Lord’s Supper
The Common Cup
Sitting at the Table
Communion Sermons and Table Addresses
Common Bread
Wine
Intinction
Communion Seasons

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Order of Contents

The Administration of the Supper  4
The Sacramentally Significant Actions of the Supper  5
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The Administration of the Supper

1600’s

Rutherford, Samuel – The Administration of the Lord’s Supper, 1642, 6 paragraphs, being Chapter 20, Article 6 of his A Peaceable and Temperate Plea for Paul’s Presbytery in Scotland

Rutherford describes the Biblically rich way the Church of Scotland practiced the Lord’s Supper during his day, with a preparatory sermon the day before, the singing of psalms, sitting at a table, using a common cup, with Table addresses by the minister, etc.

Henderson, Alexander – The Order of Ministering the Communion, or, the Lord’s Supper, 6 pages, being The Government and Order of the Church of Scotland, pp. 20-25

Henderson describes the practice of the Church of Scotland in his day, which corresponds to Rutherford’s description below.

The Westminster Standards on the Administration of the Lord’s Supper 

Specifically with regard to a Common Cup and Sitting at the Table.

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The History of

Isbell, Sherman – The Administration of the Lord’s Supper  2006  20 pp.

This historical essay describes the Biblically principled practice of the reformation Scottish Church’s administration of the Lord’s Supper.  Special attention is given to their communion seasons which were often held outdoors in fields, ministering to thousands, and included preparatory preaching, sitting at tables, and using common cups. 

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The Sacramentally Significant Actions of the Supper

Bruce, Robert

pp. 53-54 of ‘The Second Sermon’ in Sermons on the Sacrament  †1631  2 pp.

This is the most influential work on the Lord’s Supper in Scottish history.  Bruce here explains:

(1) the spiritual power conferred on the bread and wine arising from their consecration by the words of institution and prayer, and

(2) that this holiness remains till the end of the table service (a neglected point, which is sometimes answered wrongly).

pp. 54-56 of ‘the Second Sermon’ in Sermons on the Sacrament  †1631  3 pp.

Bruce teaches that essential, spiritually significant ceremonies in the Lord’s Supper include:

1. Breaking the bread;
2. Pouring out the wine;
3. The distribution and giving and eating of the elements;

Gillespie, George – ‘Part 4, Ch. 7’  1638  6 pp.  in The English-Popish Ceremonies

Gillespie argues that the following parts of the administration of the Lord’s Supper are not indifferent:

– the minister’s pronouncement of ‘This is my body’
– the breaking of the bread as a Sacramental act
– speaking in the plural, ‘take ye’, ‘eat ye’, etc.
– the prayer and blessing of the bread and wine

Boston, Thomas – ‘The Signifying Actions’ in ‘The Nature of the Lord’s Supper’  a sermon, in Works, vol. 2, pp. 484-7

Boston delineates several morally necessary, distinct actions to be done in the Lord’s Supper:

1. The minister taking the bread and the cup into which the wine has been poured, into his hand;
2. Consecrating the bread and wine by the words of institution and prayer;
3. Breaking the bread;
4. Giving the bread, and then the wine, to the people;
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5. The people taking the bread and wine in the hand;
6. and eating and drinking.

Willison, John – pp. 61-68 in A Sacramental Catechism  †1750   pp.

Willison delineates these actions as sacramentally significant in the Supper:

1. The minister taking bread;
2. Blessing the bread and wine;
3. Breaking the bread;
4. Giving the bread and wine to the disciples;
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5. The people taking the bread and wine into their hands;
6. Eating the bread and drinking the wine
7. Dividing the elements among themselves, and giving one to another;
8. Doing all of this in a feasting posture.

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Related Pages

The Sacraments

The Lord’s Supper