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
Communion Seasons
Communion Tokens
Communion Sermons & Table Addresses

Sitting at the Table
Common Cup
Common Bread
Wine
Intinction

Whether Sacraments may be Administered Privately
Administration of the Sacraments in Extra-Ordinary Circumstances

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Order of Contents

On the Administration

Who Administers the Supper?
Administration of  5+
Consecration
.     Sacramental Consecration
.     Double Consecration
Sacramentally Significant Actions of the Supper  5+
.     Breaking of the Bread
.     Receiving the Supper by Hand & Not Simply the Mouth
.     Popish Elevation of the Bread
.     Bowing to the Table?
Impurities in the Administration & Fellowship Therein
Indifferent Circumstances of the First Supper

On the Elements

Bread & Wine are Images of Christ
Rome Taking the Cup Away from the People
Leftover Elements After the Administration


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Who is to Administer, & How Far?

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Who is to Administer the Lord’s Supper?  Pastors only, though elders and deacons may give some assistance in its distribution if need be

“But the priests were too few, so that they could not flay all the burnt offerings: wherefore their brethren, the Levites [who did not have that function by office], did help them, till the work was ended…

2 Chron. 29:34-35

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Quotes

Samuel Rutherford

The Due Right of Presbyteries (1644), pt. 1, pp. 454-455

“2.  There is no such moral necessity of the sacraments as there is of the ministry of the Word, and consequently of some use of the keys where a scandalous person may infect the Lord’s flock.  For where vision ceases the people perish, but it is never said, where baptism ceases the people perish; and therefore uncalled ministers in case of necessity, without ordination or calling from a presbytery, may preach and take on them the holy ministry and exercise power of jurisdiction, because the necessity of the souls of a congregation in a remote island requires so, but I hope no necessity in any [of] the most extraordinary case requires that a midwife may baptize, or that a private man remaining a private man may celebrate the Lord’s Supper to the Church without any calling from the Church.”

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Heinrich Heppe

Reformed Dogmatics  ed. Bizer & trans. Thomson  (1950; Wipf & Stock, 2007), ch. 26, p. 629

“4.  As regards the outward administration of the Supper it can only be dispensed by an orderly occupant of the preaching office, in company with whom, chiefly for distributing the cup, there may also be other servants of the Church, elders and deacons, at his side to help him.

Polan (VI, 56): ‘Ministers of the Church, and these include pastors, and presbyters or elders (seniores) added to the pastors for the government of the Church and deacons lawfully called, ought to preside at the administration of the Eucharist, no others.  If the pastors alone can carry through the administration, as in small gatherings, then the help of others is not required, as Tertullian writes (De corona 3): ‘We do not take the sacrament of the Eucharist from the hands of others than those presiding.’  But if the gatherings are large and the pastors are not sufficient to perform the administration of the Supper alone, they may co-opt elders and deacons to help them, especially in the distribution of the cup.’

Heidegger (XXV, 73): ‘The first to administer was the same as he who instituted it; those who followed them, the pastors and the rulers of the Church (rectores) did and do administer it.  No more than baptism or the preaching of God’s Word can it be administered by private persons or by any private person at a banquet.'”

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Article

French Reformed Churches – ‘Concerning the Lord’s Supper’  in 4th Synod at Lyons (1563), ch. 21, ‘Three Answers of the Pastors & Professors of Geneva, & of Some of the Ministers who were Deputed unto the National Synod…’  in John Quick, Synodicon  (London, 1692), p. 53

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Latin Article

Voetius, Gisbert – ‘1. Question: Who is Able to Administer the Supper?’ & ‘8. Question: Are Elders and Deacons Able to Assist the Minister in the Distribution?  in Ecclesiastical Politics, vol. 1, book 2, tract 2, section 4, ch. 3, pp. 746-50


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The Administration of the Supper

1600’s

Calderwood, David

pp. 777-78 of The Altar of Damascus…  (1623)  as quoted in George Sprott, ‘Introduction to the Book of Common Order’, pp. xxxix-xl  in Book of Common Order and Directory of the Church of Scotland  (1868)

Calderwood does not mention pouring out wine as a sacramental action.

‘An Epistle of a Christian Brother Exhorting an Other to Keep Himself Undefiled from the Present Corruptions brought in to the Ministration of the Lord’s Supper’  ([Amsterdam] 1624)

In 1618 the infamous and episcopal Articles of Perth had enjoined in Scotland kneeling at the Lord’s Supper.  This epistle is in response to that and masterfully argues for the full Biblical administration of the Supper.

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 (from Biblical warrant), 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.

Rutherford does not mention pouring out wine as a sacramental action.

Henderson, Alexander – 3. ‘The Order of Ministering the Communion, or, the Lord’s Supper’  in The Government & Order of the Church of Scotland  (1641), pp. 20-25

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

Henderson does not mention pouring out wine as a sacramental action.

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

Specifically with regard to a Common Cup and Sitting at the Table.  WCF 29.3 on the administration of the Supper, and the Westminster Directory for Public Worship, do not mention pouring out wine as a sacramental action.

Dury, John – A Model of Church Government: or the Grounds of the Spiritual Frame & Government of the House of God. Showing what the Holy Scriptures have therein Delivered; what the best Reformed Churches do Practice; what the Tender Consciences may Rest in  (London, 1647)

Ch. 9, Certain Rules Concerning the Administration of the Lord’s Supper for the Decent Ordering of the Action, Offered to the Consideration of Those that Scruple at the Gesture of Sitting, pp. 36-55

Dury was a presbyterian and a Westminster divine.  These chapters are very good.

Ch. 10, The Practise of the Best Reformed Churches in the Administration of the Lord’s Supper

Dury does not mention pouring out of wine as a sacramental action, or even that of breaking bread (but the latter may be implied in Dury describing the minister repeating the words of consecration regarding the bread).

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1700’s

Logan, John – ‘A Complete Detail of the Service of a Communion Sunday According to the Usage of the Church of Scotland’  in Sermons by the Late Rev. John Logan…  vol. 1, p. 257 ff.  1822

Logan (1748-88) was a minister in Leith, Scotland, born of parents in the Burgher line of the Secession Church.

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1800’s

Milroy, William – A Scottish Communion  1882  240 pp.

A Scotch Communion Sunday  1873

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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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In Latin

Articles

Vitringa, Sr., Campegius – Vol. 8, ‘Of the Lord’s Supper’ of The Doctrine of the Christian Religion, Summarily Described through Aphorisms  d. 1722  See also the pages in-between the below sections.

‘Of the Rites of the Sacred Supper’, 131-32

‘Of the Administration of the Sacred Supper’, 327-46

Vitringa, Sr. (1659-1722) was a professor in Franeker and a Hebraist.  “…Vitringa…  maintained a fairly centrist Reformed position…  Vitringa and De Moor serve as codifiers and bibliographers of the earlier tradition, the former from a federalist, the latter from a nonfederalist perspective.” – Dr. Richard Muller


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On the Consecration of the Bread & Wine

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That there is a Sacramental Consecration & Not Simply an Ordinary Prayer of Thanks for Regular Food

Intro

James Jordan has argued that there is no act of consecration of the bread and wine “to ‘set apart the elements from common use.’” (Rite Reasons Newsletter, No. 42: ‘Doing the Lord’s Supper’, 1995).  Jordan is wrong.

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Article

Thysius, Antonius – pp. 193-5 & 209  of The Synopsis of Purer Theology…  (1625; Brill), Disputation 45, ‘On the Lord’s Supper’, theses 26 & 46


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On a Double Consecration

Intro

All the synoptic Gospels appear to record Jesus blessing through prayer the bread and wine separately (Luke’s account is not in chronological order).  John does not mention these details:

Mt. 26:26-27  “Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples…  And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them…”

Mk. 14:22-23  “Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it, and gave to them…  And He took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them…”

Lk. 22:17,19  “And He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said…  And He took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them…”

The common practice of the reformed in the post-Reformation era was to only have one prayer of consecration for both the bread and wine.  The Brownists (English separatists) in the late-1500’s and Independents arising in the mid-1600’s, as well as some Arminians, taught and practiced a double consecration for the elements.  James Jordan in modern times has also advocated for a double consecration (Rite Reasons Newsletter,
No. 42: ‘Doing the Lord’s Supper’, 1995).

While we have not yet found reasons given for the reformed practice, the practice would appear not to be an oversight, but deliberate.  The reasons must have been that the reformed did not consider a double consecration to be spiritually significant, and that it was sufficient if both elements were set apart through one prayer.

Note that Paul’s rehearsal of the institution of the Supper in 1 Cor. 11 is less distinct regarding a double consecration; so is the description in 1 Cor. 10:

1 Cor. 11:23-25  “…the Lord Jesus…  took bread:  And when He had given thanks, He brake it, and said…  After the same manner also He took the cup, when He had supped, saying…”

1 Cor. 10:16-17, 21  “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?  For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread…  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.”

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Quote

Robert Baillie

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), ch. 6, p. 121

“…they [Independents] have also learned from the Brownists a double and distinct consecration, one for every element apart.”

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On the Early Church

Article

Dix, Dom Gregory – ch. 4, pp. 48-50 ff.  in The Shape of the Liturgy  (London, Dacre Press, 1945)

Dix (1901-1952) was a a British monk and priest in an Anglican Benedictine community.  Dix asserts here that a single consecration was the universal practice of the early Church “without exception for 1,400 years”.

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The Sacramentally Significant Actions of the Supper

Articles

1500’s

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;

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1600’s

Calderwood, David – ch. 4, ‘Of the Words Uttered at the Delivery of the Elements’  in A Dispute upon Communicating at our Confused Communions  (Amsterdam, 1624), pp. 24-28

“The third innovation is that the word of promise, ‘This is my body,’ ‘This cup is the new testament, etc.’ is not uttered demonstratively when the elements are delivered to every communicant.  It is not enough that the words of the institution were rehearsed before by way of history narratively, or materially.  This sacrament is an imitation of Christ, not a recital of his words and actions; it is to do as He did, and not to report what He did, says Pierre du Moulin.”

Gillespie, George – ‘Part 4, Ch. 7’  6 pp.  in The English-Popish Ceremonies  (1637; 1844)

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

Leigh, Edward – p. 694 of ‘Of the Consecration of the Elements’  in Bk. 8, ch. 9, ‘The Lord’s Supper’  in A System or Body of Divinity  (London, 1654)

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1700’s

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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Quotes

1500’s

Johannes Alasco

“As far as the breaking of the bread and the pouring of wine in the Lord’s Supper, they signify to us through their symbol the passion of Christ’s body broken for us and the shedding of his blood in his death.  Thus, it is the breaking of bread and pouring of wine that represents, testifies, signifies, and announces to us visibly by their form that God is our Lord and the judge of us all.”

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Heidelberg Catechism, #75

“Q. How art thou admonished and assured in the Lord’s supper, that thou art a partaker of that one sacrifice of Christ, accomplished on the cross, and of all his benefits?

A. Thus, that Christ has commanded me, and all believers, to eat of this broken bread, and to drink of this cup, in remembrance of him; adding these promises, first, that his body was offered and broken on the cross for me, and his blood shed for me, as certainly as I see with my eyes the bread of the Lord broken for me, and the cup communicated to me: and further, that he feeds and nourishes my soul to everlasting life, with his crucified body and shed blood, as assuredly as I receive from the hands of the minister and taste with my mouth the bread and cup of the Lord, as certain signs of the body and blood of Christ.”

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Zacharias Ursinus

Commentary on the Heidelberg Catechism  (P&R), pp. 378 & 385

“This sacrament, therefore, consists in the rite and the promise annexed to it, or in the signs and the things signified. The rite, or signs are the bread which is broken and eaten, and the wine which is poured out, and drunk. The things signified are the broken body, and shed blood of Christ, which are eaten and drunk, or our union with Christ by faith, by which we are made partakers of Christ and all his benefits, so that we derive from him everlasting life, as the branches draw their life from the vine.”

“Christ then broke the bread not merely for the purpose of distributing it, but also to signify thereby, 1. The greatness of his sufferings, and the separation of his soul from his body. 2. The communion of many with his own body, and the bond of their union, and mutual love. ‘The bread which we break is it not the communion of the body of Christ; for we being many are one bread, and one body; for we are all partakers of that one bread.’ (1 Cor. 10:16.) The breaking of the bread is, therefore, a necessary ceremony both on account of its signification, and for the confirmation of our faith, and is to be retained in the celebration of the Supper:

1. Because of the command of Christ, ‘Do this.’

2. Because of the authority and example of the church in the times of the Apostles, which in view of this circumstance, termed the whole transaction, the breaking of bread.

3. For our comfort, that we may know that the body of Christ was broken for us, as certainly as we see the bread broken.

4. That the doctrine of transubstantiation and consubstantiation may be rejected, and abandoned.”

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1600’s

Willaim Pemble

Directions for Receiving the Sacrament  in Works (d. 1623), p. 494

“When thou seest the bread broken and wine poured forth, think on Christ torn and rent….”​

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Samuel Rutherford

The Divine Right of Church Government  (1646), pp. 49-50

“5. We know the Tabernacle and Temple were corporal things made with hands and that they are things different from the spiritual things that they signify, as the sign and the thing signified; as therefore the Lord is express in the elements and rites of the Supper of the Lord, because all of them, bread, wine, taking, eating, breaking, pouring out the wine, drinking, are teaching and edifying signs; and our Lord never left it to the wisdom of men to devise signes to teach themselves:

So in like manner, should the Lord expressly specify all the teaching and signifying signs in the Old Testament; and as Moses might devise none of his own, but was tied to follow the pattern which the Lord Himself showed to him in the mount: So are we now under the New Testament tied to the pattern of that same will revealed in the Word; and it is laid on us not to be wise above that which was written; and it is of perpetual equity:

The supreme Lawgiver never left it to the wisdom of angels, or men, or prophet, apostle or Church, to serve and worship God as they thought good: But He Himself particularly prescribed the way, signs, and means: And because God has not been pleased in the New Testament to specify types of Christ incarnate, and come in the flesh already; therefore are we obliged in conscience to believe, and practise no more, either in doctrinals, or teaching types, or positives of Church-policy, than our pattern in the mount, the Scripture has warranted to us, to be the will of God…”

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Edward Leigh

Body of Divinity  (1654), Second Commandment, p. 772

“The parts of it [worship], that is, each action of each kind, so receiving the Lord’s Supper is a kind of worship, the action of giving, taking, eating, drinking, with the things hereby represented, are parts.”

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1700’s

Wilhelmus a Brakel,

The Christian’s Reasonable Service  (RHB), vol. 2, pp. 474, 529 & 532

“There is also the interaction with the elements by the minister who sprinkles the water, breaks the bread, pours the wine, and passes around the poured wine and the broken bread; and likewise by the communicant, who receives, takes, eats, and drinks them.  These actions themselves also have their meaning and application.”

“The ceremonies associated with these signs are of express significance, and therefore are to be implemented as Christ has exemplified in the institution of it. Christ broke the bread, thereby signifying the breaking of his body, that is, his death. The apostle passes on to the congregation the ceremony of breaking; he refers to it as ‘the breaking of bread,’ and ‘the bread which we break’ (1 Cor. 10:16). The apostolic church did likewise, ‘…breaking bread’ (Acts 2:46); ‘…when the disciples came together to break bread’ (Acts 20:7).

Therefore today the minister also must break the bread and give it as such to the communicants. The Papists and the Lutherans do this in an entirely different manner by giving a wafer to everyone without breaking it.”

“These external signs conceal spiritual matters.  Christ has instituted bread as a sign and symbol of his body, and the breaking of it as a sign of the breaking of his body by suffering and death. ‘This is my body which is given for you’ (Luke 22:19); ‘…this is my body, which is broken for you’ (1 Cor. 11:24).”

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John Brown of Haddington

Questions & Answers on the Shorter Catechism  (RHB), pp. 320 & 322

“Q. What are the outward signs of this sacrament?

A. Sacramental elements and actions.

Q. What are the sacramental actions of the minister?

A. The taking, blessing, and breaking the bread, and giving it, with the wine, to the communicants.

Q. What is signified by the breaking of the bread?

A. God’s breaking and bruising Christ for our sin.”

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1800’s

James Bannerman

Church of Christ  (1869), 2.133

“The broken bread representing the broken and crucified body, — the wine poured out, the shed blood,–the eating and drinking of them, participation in Christ’s blessings to nourish the soul and make it glad…”

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Latin Article

Voet, Gisbert – ch. 2, ‘Of the Consecration of the Symbols [Elements]’ & pp. 803-812 of ch. 5, ‘Of the Rites of Breaking, Receiving, Genuflection & Elevation’  in Ecclesiastical Politics, vol. 1, book 2, tract 2, section 4


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That the Breaking of the Bread in the Supper is a Morally Necessary Action & is Not to be Omitted

See also quotes against cubing the bread before hand on our page, Common Bread in the Lord’s Supper.

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Quotes

1500’s

John Calvin

Institutes, III.17.3

“For if we duly consider what profit we have gained by the breaking of his sacred body, and the shedding of his blood, we shall clearly perceive that these properties of bread and wine, agreeably to this analogy, most appropriately represent it when they are communicated to us.”

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Zacharias Ursinus

On Heidelberg, Question #77

“Christ then broke the bread not merely for the purpose of distributing it, but also to signify thereby: 1. The greatness of his sufferings, and the separation of his soul from his body.  2. The communion of many with his own body, and the bond of their union, and mutual love.  “The bread which we break is it not the communion of the body of Christ; for we being many are one bread, and one body; for we are all partakers of that one bread.” (1 Cor. 10:16)

The breaking of the bread is, therefore, a necessary ceremony both on account of its signification, and for the confirmation of our faith, and is to be retained in the celebration of the Supper:

1. Because of the command of Christ, Do this.

2. Because of the authority and example of the church in the times of the Apostles, which in view of this circumstance, termed the whole transaction, the breaking of bread.

3. For our comfort, that we may know that the body of Christ was broken for us, as certainly as we see the bread broken.

4. That the doctrine of transubstantiation and consubstantiation may be rejected, and abandoned.”

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1600’s

William Perkins

A Reformed Catholic, The Eleventh Point

“That the very body of Christ is offered in the Lord’s Supper. For as we take the bread to be the body of Christ sacramentally by resemblance, and no otherwise, so the breaking of bread is sacramentally the sacrificing or offering of Christ upon the cross. And thus the fathers have termed the eucharist an immolation of Christ, because it is a commemoration of his sacrifice upon the cross. Augustine, Epistle 23, ‘Neither does he lie which says Christ was offered. For if sacraments had not the resemblance of things whereof they are sacraments, they should in no wise be sacraments. But from a resemblance, they often take their names.’”

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George Gillespie

Dispute against the English Popish Ceremonies  (Naphtali Press), pt. 4, p. 388

§2. The fourth position we draw from the same rule is,* that it is not indifferent for a minister to omit the breaking of the bread at the Lord’s table after the consecration and in the distribution of it, because he ought to follow the example of Christ, who, after He had blessed the bread, and when He was distributing it to them who were at table, brake it, breaking into pieces in his hands the bread he had taken,1 but had it not carved in small pieces before it was brought to the table.

Hence, G. J. Vossius2 does rightly condemn those who, though they break the bread in multas minutias [into many small pieces], yet they break it not in actu sacramentali [in sacramental act].  Such a breaking as this (he says well) is not mystica [related to mystery], but coquinaria [related to cooking]. EPC (2013), 403.

* We are bound to imitate Christ, and the commendable example of His apostles, in all things wherein it is not evident they had special reasons moving them thereto, which do not concern us.

1. Paræus in 1 Cor. 11:24. manibus comminuendo panem acceptum in partes. [Cf. Ad Corinthios priorem (1609), col. 743.]

2. De Symb. Cœnæ Dom., disp. 2, thes. 5. [Cf. Theses Theologicæ et Historicæ, 1658 ed., p. 275.]​

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David Dickson

Truth’s Victory over Error, ch. 29

“Christ commanded the element of bread to be broken, eaten, and distributed.”

“The bread which is the communion of the body of Christ is the bread which we break (1 Cor. 10:16).”

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Francis Turretin

Institutes  (P&R), vol. 3, 19th Topic, ‘The Sacraments’, section 3, p. 443.  The whole section is devoted to this issue, contra the Lutherans.

“II.  …This latter opinion [of Martin Luther] is followed by the Lutherans of our day.  They maintain that to break means nothing else than to distribute the bread and give it to another; although they do not deny that Christ properly broke the bread.  But this ceremony [of breaking the bread] is merely free and indifferent, lacking a command, which the church can at pleasure observe or omit…

III.  The [reformed] orthodox retain the breaking which was employed by the Lord…  They think it is not an accidental and indifferent ceremony, but according to the institution of Christ, no less necessary than taking it in the hand, delivering and communing.

Nor yet do they wish to contend so rigidly about it that no fellowship can be retained with those who omit it.  they think this want [lack] of a thing not unimportant should neither be left unnoticed, nor tolerated if it can be corrected.  Thus they are to be rebuked who hold this opinion, although they are not to be absolutely condemned.”

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Article

1600’s

Bucanus, William – ‘Is the Breaking or Cutting of Bread an Indifferent Ceremony?’  in Institutions of Christian Religion Framed out of God’s Word…  (London, 1606), 48th Common Place, ‘Of the Supper of the Lord’, pp. 760-61

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Latin Articles

Alsted, Johann Heinrich – VI. ‘Whether the breaking of bread may be necessary in the sacred Supper?  [Yes as far as what is obliged, but not as to the essence of the Supper]’  in Polemical Theology…  (Hanau, 1620; 1627), pt. 5, ‘An Examination of the Controversies which are now agitated in these times between Evangelicals, which are commonly called Lutherans and Calvinists’, Class 7, Controversies on the Holy Supper, p. 663

Alting, Henry – Question 2, ‘Whether the breaking of the bread is so an indifferent ceremony that it may be left off? [No]  Whether the Supper ought to be offered separately to the sick? [No]  And whether in place of wholesome bread, hosts (commonly so called) or circular wafers of bread are to be used? [No]’  in A Syllabus of Controversies with the Lutherans, pt 2, ‘Controversies About Ceremonies’  in A Logical & Theological Exegesis of the Augsburg Confession…  (Amsterdam, 1647), p. 265

Voet, Gisbert – ‘Of the Breaking of the Bread’  in ch. 5, ‘Of the Rites of Breaking, Receiving, Genuflection & Elevation’  in Ecclesiastical Politics, vol. 1, book 2, tract 2, section 4, pp. 804-8

Strimesius, Samuel – Annotation 6, ‘Of the Breaking of the Bread in the Supper’  in A Hexad of Annotations, Comprehending Controversies Between Protestants on the Person of Christ, God-Man, of Baptism, & of Rites which are Not Wholly Indifferent  (Frankfurt, 1706), pp. 61-72

The Lutherans in the Post-Reformation held that the breaking of the bread by Christ at the first Lord’s Supper was indifferent, and that the practice today is not only unnecessary, but even largely not good.  The reformed took the practice as spiritually significant to the Supper, and therefore necessary.  This created no little strife in churches and universities in Germany, where the ebb and flow of Lutheran and reformed dominance sometimes alternated.

Not only does one in this common place find the Scriptural issue argued, but also the issues of how bad certain smaller errors are (or are not) and how one can still have fellowship with those that err in such small points are explored as well.

Strimesius (1648-1730) was a reformed professor of philosophy, physics and theology at Frankfurt, Germany.


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On Receiving the Bread & Wine by Hand & Not Simply by the Mouth  as in Popery & Lutheranism

Article

Jeanes, Henry – pp. 48-51  of The Want of Church-Government…  (London, 1650)

Jeanes was an English presbyterian.  Besides the arguments he provides, he also provides references to Gillespie, Bowles, Burroughs, Gerhard, Lavater, the Zurich Church, Cajetan, Salmeron, Jansenius, Cassander, Suarez, Maldonate & Buxtorf Junior.

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Latin Article

Beza, Theodore – Letter 2  in Theological Epistles  (Geneva: E. Vignon, 1573), pp. 24-31


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On the Popish Elevation of the Bread

Quote, 1600’s

George Gillespie

English Popish Ceremonies (1637), pt. 3, ch. 2, p. 28

“5. The abuse of kneeling in the idolatrous action of elevation proceeds not from the nature of the action, but from the opinion of the agent, or rather from his will (for principium actionum humanarum [the principle of human actions], is not opinion, but will choosing that which opinion conceits to be chosen, or voluntas praeeunte luce intellectus).  It is the will of the agent only which both makes the action of elevation to be idolatrous, and likewise kneeling in this action to receive the contagion of idolatry.  For the elevation of the bread materialiter [materially], is not idolatrous (more than the lifting up of the bread among us by elders or deacons, when in taking it off the table, or setting it on, they lift it above the heads of the communicants), but formaliter [formally] only, as it is elevated with a will and intention to place it in state of worship.

So likewise kneeling to the bread, materialiter [materially], is not idolatry (else a man were a idolater who should be against his will thrust down and holden by violence kneeling on his knees when the bread is elevated), but formaliter [formally], as it proceeds from a will and intention in men to give to the bread-elevated a state in that worship, and out of that respect to kneel before it.”

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Bowing to the Table

Article

Crofton, Zachary – Altar-Worship, or Bowing to the Communion Table Considered as to the Novelty, Vanity, Iniquity, Malignity Charged upon it.  In an Antithesis to the Determination of Dr. Eleazar Duncon…  (1661)

Crofton (1626-1672) was reformed, a presbyterian and a puritan.  He was born in Ireland, where he was raised, and came over to England in 1646.  He was ejected from the Anglican Church at the Restoration.


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On Impurities in Worship & yet Fellowship in the Valid Ordinances of Christ

Quotes

John Calvin

Commentary on 1 Cor. 11, verse 20

“Paul says [in 1 Cor. 11:20] that in this way it is not the Lord’s supper that is partaken of — not that a single abuse altogether set aside the sacred institution of Christ, and reduced it to nothing, but that they polluted the sacrament by observing it in a wrong way.  For we are accustomed to say, in common conversation, that a thing is not done at all, if it is not done aright.  Now this was no trivial abuse, as we shall afterwards see.

If you understand the words is not as meaning, is not allowable, the meaning will amount to the same thing…  he condemns that profane admixture, which had nothing in it akin to the Lord’s Supper.”

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William Attersoll

The Badges of Christianity. Or, A Treatise of the Sacraments…  (London, 1606), Ch. 5, ‘Of the third outward part of baptism’, pp. 146-7

“Again, hereby all Popish corruptions and mixtures brought into this sacrament [of baptism] are confuted and condemned, as their cream, their tapers [candles], their crosses, their censers, their salt, their spittle, their holy-water, their exorcisings and conjurations, having also an opinion of salvation and worship annexed unto them…

True it is, if all the other parts and actions be observed, these inventions and additions, which are so many abuses make not baptism void, neither bring a nullity therof…”

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Samuel Rutherford

The Due Right of Presbyteries…  (London, 1644), pt. 1, ch. 8, section 8, p. 187

“See that variations may be in a sacrament, and yet such as make not the sacrament invalid, in Scotus (4th distinction, 1st question 1, article 8), Suarez (3rd part, disputation 2, section 5), Vasquez (3rd part, Theological Disputation 239), Joan. de Lugo (Of the Sacred, disputation 2, section 6, n. 104-5), Scotus (4th [part,] disputation 3, question 2).”

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The Presbyterian, Provincial Assembly of London

Jus divinum ministerii evangelici. Or the Divine Right of the Gospel-Ministry…  (London, 1654), pt. 2, ch. 2, pp. 30-1

“Mr. [John] Ball (no friend to episcopal government) in his answer to Mr. Can [a Separatist], has these words:  In every true Church where the Word of God is entirely preached and received, and the sacraments for substance rightly administred, there is a true ministry and a true calling to the ministry, though in some things maimed and faulty.”

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Francis Turretin

Institutes  (P&R), vol. 3, 19th Topic, ‘The Sacraments’, section 3, p. 443

“II.  …This latter opinion [of Martin Luther] is followed by the Lutherans of our day.  They maintain that to break means nothing else than to distribute the bread and give it to another; although they do not deny that Christ properly broke the bread.  But this ceremony [of breaking the bread] is merely free and indifferent, lacking a command, which the church can at pleasure observe or omit…

III.  The [reformed] orthodox retain the breaking which was employed by the Lord…  They think it is not an accidental and indifferent ceremony, but according to the institution of Christ, no less necessary than taking it in the hand, delivering and communing.

Nor yet do they wish to contend so rigidly about it that no fellowship can be retained with those who omit it.  they think this want [lack] of a thing not unimportant should neither be left unnoticed, nor tolerated if it can be corrected.  Thus they are to be rebuked who hold this opinion, although they are not to be absolutely condemned.”

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Articles

1500’s

Beza, Theodore – pp. 21-22 & 24 (1538)  of The Life of John Calvin…  trans. Henry Beveridge  (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1909)

John Sprint:  “In Geneva about wafer-bread in the Lord’s Supper: This Church in the reformation thereof used common bread in the Lord’s Supper, and had abolished the use of the wafer-cake, as also their fonts to be baptized in, and all their holy days except the Lord’s day: Now it fell out that the Church of Bern assembling a synod required a restoring of these things unto the Churches of Geneva, Calvin, Coraldus and Farell refusing to consent unto them, or to administer the sacrament in such manner, they were banished thereupon the city of Geneva, and within three days after their refusal, were deprived of the use of their ministry in that place, the great part commanding over the better.

Now in their absence sundry godly persons were so offended, with this change from common bread to the wafer-cake, as that they thought best for them to abstain from the Lord’s Supper, and to separate from their ministry, rather than use the same with the said wafer-bread: Whereupon Calvin…  seriously admonished them that they would not raise contention about this indifferent matter, which is set down in his Epistle 17, fol. 37-40, so (says Beza) the use of the wafer-bread took place and was established; about the which, Calvin after he was restored to his ministry again…  did not think it meet to contend, yet not dissembling his mind what otherwise he did mean to approve.”  Cassander Anglicanus (1618), p. 159

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1600’s

Ley, John – A Case of Conscience Concerning the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper when Either the Bread or Wine is Wanting, or When There is a Desire, yet with an Antipathy to Them, or Disability to Receive Them  (London, 1641)  21 pp.  Ley was a Westminster divine.

Durham, James – Pt. 2, ch. 14, ‘Clearing Whether the Ordinances of Christ be Any Way Polluted by Corrupt Fellow-Worshippers’  in The Dying Man’s Testament…  (1659)

“3.  An ordinance may be said to be polluted upon this extrinsic consideration, to wit, when by some circumstance in it, or miscarriage of those that are about it, it is made common-like, and so wants that luster and honorableness that it ought to have; by such a fault the ordinance is made obnoxious to contempt and is despised by others, contrary to the Lord’s allowance.  Thus the priests of old made the offerings of the Lord vile and contemptible, which was not by corrupting them in essentials, nor making them cease to be Ordinances, but by their miscarriages and corrupt irreverent way of going about them, they did lay that stumbling-block before others, to make them account these ordinances contemptible.  This may be diverse ways fallen into…  they do pollute that admonition, yet still these ordinances are ordinances, and that admonition an admonition.” – pp. 148-9

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Latin Article

Voet, Gisbert – 4th Question, ‘Whether the words by which the minister either summarily propounds or briefly exposits the administration, the command and the promise of Christ before the administration, and even in the administration itself, are preaching [concionatoria] words, or rather are the form of the eucharist, and are efficaciously and directly operative, or creating?’  in ch. 2, ‘Of the Consecration of the Symbols [Elements]’  in Ecclesiastical Politics, vol. 1, book 2, tract 2, section 4, p. 744

“I respond: the papists deny the former and affirm the latter.”

See also question 1 on pp. 741-2 where Voet says that the words of institution, etc. only establish for the elements a sacred, mystical and religious sign, which signifies, commemorates, certifies and seals according to the command and promise of Christ.  That is, an analogy is established between the thing and the thing-signified, which is the essence of the sacrament, as many of the reformed argued.

This is all in contrast to the Medieval, Romanist discussions that if a word of the words of institution are left out, then it is not a sacrament.


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On the Indifferent Circumstances of the First Supper

See also our section:
‘On Believing that Holding the Lord’s Supper in the Evening is Necessary’

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London Presbyterian Ministers

The Divine Right of Church Government  (London, 1645; 1654; NY, 1844), pt. 1, ch. 4, ‘Of a Divine Right by obligatory Scripture Examples’

“4. Some [of Christ’s actions were] accidental, occasional, incidental, or circumstantial, as in the case of his celebrating his Supper, that it was at night, not in the morning; after supper, not before; with none but men, none but ministers; with unleavened, not with leavened bread, etc.; these circumstantials were accidentally occasioned by the passover, nature of his family, etc….

To imitate Him in his circumstantial acts from necessity, were to make accidentals necessary, and happily to border upon superstition; for, to urge any thing above what is appointed, as absolutely necessary, is to urge superstition; and to yield to any thing above what is appointed, as simply necessary, were to yield to superstition.”

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Samuel Rutherford

The Divine Right of Chuch Government  (London, 1646)

Introduction, pp. 1-2

“The Church-Government of which I here speak [and argue for], is a Church-government in its morals: To exclude those things that are merely physical and human in this government, as a pulpit of this or that matter, stone or timber, or of this timber, or of any other kind; a communion-table of this, or that form; a cup of wood, or of metal, as silver, tin, etc….  but what sort of river the water of baptism be, is merely physical, not moral.”

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ch. 2, Question 1, ‘Whether kneeling or sitting be the most convenient and lawful gesture in the act of receiving the sacrament of Christ’s body and blood?’, p. 193

Some object: Christ chose an upper chamber, not the Temple, twelve persons, not ten, not twenty, at night, for He might have celebrated it at dinner, but we are not holden to imitate Christ in these; Therefore, neither in sitting [at the Lord’s Table].

Answer: Occasional, properly, is that which has a reason, not from the nature of the thing itself, but from such occasional occurrences of providence, as God will not alter, and its that which has no moral, nor sacred conveniency with the nature of worship, but has only a conveniency for such a time and place, as Christ’s preaching in a ship, when He is at the seaside, and a multitude are to hear Him, the ship has no agreement with the nature of preaching more than an house has; time, place, and persons are clearly such as agreed with that Supper, as first [of all the Lord’s Suppers], not as a sacred worship, and therefore [those circumstances] were merely occasional, and so not imitable; and though Christ might have altered them, yet had they been occasional, and they have no sacred conveniency with this Supper, as this Supper; and if Christ had altered these [circumstances] for mere will, upon no reasons that concern all [secular] suppers, they had not been occasional, but positive points of worship, and so had obliged us; yea, the upper chamber, and these twelve persons by no possibility can concern all suppers, to the end of the world, but sitting agreeth kindly [in kind] and natively to all suppers in general, as kneeling to all praying indefinitely.

Christ might have changed bread and wine, in flesh, and milk, or water, will it hence follow, we are not to imitate Christ in bread and wine?  And that bread and wine are occasional?  Lastly, Pauls practice in passing from an upper chamber, and from twelve men, to a church full of men and women, 1 Cor. 11:23, 17-18, 22, warrants us to pass from these; we have not the like reason to warrant us to pass from sitting.

2. That gesture which Christ chose, and that refusing all others, even kneeling, having the same religious reasons at the first Supper as now, that must be most convenient and lawful.  But sit∣ting is such; Therefore…


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The Supper’s Bread & Wine are Images of Christ

1600’s

Council of Hieria  A.D. 754

The Seven Ecumenical Councils of the Undivided Church, trans. H. R. Percival, in Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, 2nd Series, ed. P. Schaff & H. Wace, (rep. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1955), vol. 14, p. 544  at ‘Epitome of the Definition of the Iconoclastic Council Held in Constantinople, A.D. 754’ at Medieval Sourcebook at Internet History Sourcebooks Project at Fordham University

“The only admissible figure of the humanity of Christ, however, is bread and wine in the holy Supper.  This and no other form, this and no other type, has He chosen to represent his incarnation.”

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Samuel Rutherford

The Divine Right of Church Government...  (1646), p. 85

“…the elements of bread and wine, which are lawful images of Christ…”

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On Rome Taking the Cup Away from the People

1600’s

Articles

Davenant, John – Question 50, ‘The Roman Church has Unjustly Taken Away the Cup from the Laity’  in The Determinations, or Resolutions of Certain Theological Questions, Publicly Discussed in the University of Cambridge  trans. Josiah Allport  (1634; 1846), pp. 508-36  bound at the end of John Davenant, A Treatise on Justification, or the Disputatio de Justitia...  trans. Josiah Allport  (1631; London, 1846), vol. 2

Ley, John – A Comparison of the Parliamentary Protestation with the Late Canonical Oath & the Difference Between Them, as also the Opposition between the Doctrine of the Church of England & that of Rome, so Cleared that they who made scruple of the oath may cheerfully and without doubt address themselves to take the protestation, as also a further discussion of the case of conscience touching receiving the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper when either bread or wine is wanting [lacking] or when by antipathy or impotence the party that desires it cannot take it, wherein the impiety, injury and absurdity of the popish half-communion is more fully declared and confuted  (1641)  59 pp.  Westminster divine

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Book

Featley, Daniel – The Grand Sacrilege of the Church of Rome in taking away the sacred cup from the laity at the Lord’s Table: detected and convinced by the evidence of holy Scripture and testimonies of all ages successively from the first propagation of the catholic Christian faith to this present, together with two conferences: the former at Paris with D. Smith, now styled by the Romanists B of Calcedon; the later at London with M Euerard, priest  (1630)  306 pp.  Westminster divine.


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On the Leftover Elements After the Administration

Quote

1600’s

George Gillespie

English-Popish Ceremnoies  (1637), pt. 3, ch. 2, p. 32

“…extra usum Sacramenti [apart from the use of the sacrament] the bread cannot be called a sacrament…”

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Article

1500’s

Willet, Andrew – 3rd Question, ‘Whether the Eucharist being once consecrated, be a Sacrament, though it be neither eaten nor drunk?’  in Synopsis Papismi…  (London, 1592), Controversies Concerning the Church Triumphant, 13th Controversy, ‘Of the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper or Eucharist’, 1st pt., ‘Of the Sacrament of the Eucharist’, pp. 459-61

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Latin Article

Voet, Gisbert – ch. 2, ‘Of the Consecration of the Symbols [Elements]’  in Ecclesiastical Politics, vol. 1, book 2, tract 2, section 4

2nd Question, ‘In what does the consecration consist, whether in the words pronounced alone, with the intention of the priest, or rather in the words and deeds, or in the aggregate of all the actions which are required unto the legitimate use of the Supper?’, pp. 743-44

“I respond: the Papists affirm the prior in the Council of Trent, session 13…  We deny, with Calvin [Institutes], bk. 4, ch. 18, Chamier in Panstratia, ‘On the Sacraments in General’, chs. 15 & 16.”

3rd Question, ‘Whether therefore the bread outside of that use is holy and consecrated, and so yet a sacrament?’, p. 755  “This absurdity is in no color able to be considered…”

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Related Pages

The Sacraments

The Lord’s Supper