Samuel Rutherford on the Administration of the Lord’s Supper



A Peaceable and Temperate Plea for Paul’s Presbytery in Scotland, Chapter 20, 1642

6th Article – The Lord’s Supper

These only are admitted to the Lord’s Supper, who in the judgment of charity have tried and examined themselves (1 Cor. 11:28).  The profane and scandalous are debarred from this table (as Matt 7:6; Ps. 50:16,17), this sacrament requiring a self-examination going before (1 Cor. 11:28).  Therefore a sermon of preparation is preached the day before, even as Christ prepared and dieted his guests with heavenly sermons preceding the action (as is clear, Luke 22:14,15; Mark 14:18-20; Matt 26:21-23; John 13:13-16). 

A table is covered, not an altar erected (as is Luke 22:21; John 13:28).  A sermon for the purpose in hand is preached before, as Christ does (John 13:18-20; Matt 26:22,23), as a sermon goes before baptism (Acts 8:35,39; Acts 19:4-6).  The banqueters sit down at table, even as Jesus sat down with the twelve disciples (as is Matt 26:20,28; Mark 14:18,22), the Lord honoring them with table-honor with Himself (as is clear, Luke 22:21; John 13:24,28). 

The pastor takes the bread, and before he break it, he gives thanks, and prays for the blessing of the elements, to the end and use appointed by Christ, even as Christ did (Matt 26:26) and thereafter takes the bread, rehearses the words of the institution, and breaks the bread, and gives to the banqueters, and they divide it amongst them, at Christ’s commandment, as also he takes the cup, and says, ‘Drink ye all of this, this is the New Testament’, etc., as Christ did (Matt 26:26,27; Mark 14:22,23; Luke 22:17,19,20).

In the mean time, while the people are eating and drinking, the pastor is speaking of Christ’s love in dying for man, of the Lord’s death, of faith required in annuntiating [announcing] the Lord’s death till he come again, even as Christ all the while entertained his guests with heavenly sermons (as is clear, Matt 26:28,29; Mark 14:25; Luke 22:21,22; John 13), and having done, they sing a Psalm, as Christ and his disciples did (Matt 6:28; Mark 14:26), all the while elders in reverend and decent manner attend the service of the table as the banquet requires.  

For that some serve at that Supper is gathered from Matt 26:19; Mark 14:15, where mention is made of a large upper room furnished and prepared, which is a clear warrant for a large table, a clean and fair tablecloth, basins, cups, and vessels decent and comely for that service, and from Christ his girding Himself with a towel, and washing their feet, and standing as a servant (John 13:4-6; Luke 22:27). 

The nature of the sacrament requires thanksgiving, and therefore in the afternoon a sermon of thanksgiving is preached, which is also warranted from Matt 26:30.




Related Pages

Rutherford – A Defense of the Government of the Church of Scotland

The Lord’s Supper

The Administration of the Lord’s Supper

The Common Cup

Sitting at the Table

Table Addresses