The Lords Supper is the central act of Christian worship. It is a prophecy, pledge, and prelude to that supper table of the Lamb, when we shall sit down with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of our Father.
I agree with you that the communion with the invisible saints must be more of a dream than a reality. But we have a right to dream dreams, if they are not contradicted by the evident laws of Gods word, or Gods world.
We should look to the Sacrament for a special revelation of Christ and His truth. The purpose of the communion service is to afford us an opportunity to take into our spiritual natures something from the outside.
A consciousness of guilt does not disqualify one. We come to the Lords table because we know that we are sinners trusting only in the death and work of Jesus Christ. No matter how great ones consciousness of guilt, if he is penitent and is seeking strength to live a Christian life, the Lords table is the very place for him.
The Lords Supper comes to us like a ring plucked off from Christs finger, or a bracelet from His arm; or rather like His picture from His breast, delivered to us with such words as these, As oft as you look on this, remember me.
Especially in acts of sacramental communion with his Lord does the Christian gather up and consecrate the powers of his life-long communion with heaven. Then it is that he has most vivid impressions of the nearness of God to his soul, a most comfortable assurance of strength for his need.
The Lords Supper has been greatly instrumental in keeping His cause alive. It is the voice of all believers preaching the Lords death till He come. He who believes that the Lord did come and die for us, and will come again and take us to Himself, will not hesitate to regard this last request of our Lord and Saviour.
We want to look at the Lords Supper as an ordinance of thanksgiving, that we may have greater desire and pleasure and profit in its celebration. God unfolds to us the different attributes of this beautiful ordinance, that we may be attracted to it. He means every attribute to be a persuasive argument enforcing obedience to the command: This do in remembrance of me.
We do not presume to come to this Thy table, O merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in Thy manifold and great mercies. We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under Thy table. But thou art the same Lord, Whose property is always to have mercy, etc.
It is a love feast, emphasizing Christs love for us, and ours to Him and to one another. Sin parts men, but in Christ we have brotherhood. We are to love the world, but in a different way our Christian brothers. This is My commandment, That ye love one another. It is a pledge of glory, a foretaste of the marriage supper of the Lamb. The glory is in heaven, and we must wait for it, but we are heirs of it.
Let us remember that the Lords Supper is an ordinance given to the friends of Jesus Christ who have entered upon the saved life, and intended to help them realize their privileges. The Lords Supper takes the most terrible facts of history and experience, and groups them with the grandest of realities in such a way that our souls break forth into hallelujahs.
Historians are unanimous in their testimony that from the beginning this sacrament was viewed as a great mystery, to which was attached profound doctrinal significance and the highest spiritual efficacy. With the visible elements, it was believed, were mystically the body and blood of the Lord. Those who in faith partook of this Supper enjoyed essential communion with Christ.
Indifference to the Sacrament casts contempt on an ordinance instituted by our Saviour Himself, and one that is full of holy meaning. An idolatrous reverence for it not only violates the Second Commandment, but dishonors Christ.
The Lords Supper may be made more profitable for us if we emphasize it as a bond of brotherhood. A communion with Christ, it is also a communion with each other, and not only among the few gathered within the walls of a single sanctuary; it is the fellowship of the ages. In the name of our common Christ, encompassed by so great a cloud of witnesses, we sit with them in heavenly places whenever we come to the Communion Table of our Lord.
Coming by faith, and thus truly partaking of the bread and the wine, we receive anew the assurance that we are pardoned sinners. We receive increased grace to confirm our Christian habits and to quicken them in their exercise. We receive the earnest of eternal bliss and joy. Most precious foretastes of the heavenly happiness are here bestowed upon a lively faith. A bunch of grapes from the heavenly Eshcol is pressed by the Lord into the sacramental cup. We have food to eat that the world knows not of.
It is certainly not desirable that improper persons should take the sacrament of the Lords Supper; but there are many who injure their spiritual characters and diminish their spiritual enjoyment by failing to obey the request of our dying Lord. About to die, He tenderly asked every man who believed that He was dying for the world to do this in remembrance of Him. It is a most simple request; the observance of it in a similar spirit would increase the joy and power of all who wish well the cause of Christianity.
This will appear as we notice what the Lords Supper signifies. (a) It is a memorial of Christs life and death. (b) It is a symbol of Christs work. (c) It represents the union of all Gods people; at the table of the Lord all human souls are on a level. (d) Again, it represents the souls constant dependence upon Christ for strength. Christ is the daily bread of life to the soul. (e) It represents the mystic union of Christ and His people; He lives in them and they in Him. (f) The Lords Supper is a special communion with Christ, when in a particular manner He reveals Himself to the believing heart.
Let us come, then, hungering and thirsting for the body and blood of the Lord. He will be present to satisfy the spiritual desires of which He is Himself the author. It would be no feast without Himself. Mere common bread, mere common wine, mere meeting with one another, would this sacrament be unless Jesus Himself were here. He must break the bread, if it is to nourish my soul. He must pour out the wine, if it is to refresh and gladden me. And we doubt not that He will do this. We come in obedience to His command, and we rely upon His promise. We will seek to commune under their influence, and then we will go away from the table joyfully and exultingly declaring: As the apple-tree among the trees of the wood, so is my Beloved among the sons. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste.
God, in giving us what we pray for because we pray, and in refusing to give what we fail to ask for, deals with us as a loving father. He cultivates that living sympathy and communion between our hearts and His own which is necessary to our happiness and growth in grace.
He walks in the presence of God that converses with Him in frequent prayer and communion; that runs to Him with all his necessities, that asks counsel of Him in all his doubtings, that opens all his wants to Him; weeps before Him for all his sins; and that asks remedy and support for all his weakness, that fears Him as a Judge, reverences Him as a Lord, and obeys Him as a Father.
If a friend is the one who summons us to our best, then is not Jesus Christ our best friend, and should we not think of the Communion as one of His chief appeals to us to be our best? The Lords Supper looks not back to our past with a critical eye, but to our future, with a hopeful one. The Master appeals from what we have been to what we may be. He bids us come, not because He sees we are better than we have been, but because He wants us to be. To stay away because our hearts are cold is to refuse to go to the fire till we are warm.
Ye do well to remember that habitual affectionate communion with God, asking Him for all good which is needed, praising Him for all that is received, and trusting Him for future supplies, prevents anxious cares, inspires peace, calmness and composure, and furnishes a delight surpassing all finite comprehension.