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SERMONS ON THE GOSPELS.
FIRST SERMON FOR THE DAY OF THE
THE HOLY SACRAMENT.
1 Cor. 11. 23-26. For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus, the same night in which He was betrayed, took bread : and when He had given thanks, He brake it, and said, Take, eat; this is my body, which is broken for you : this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also He took the cup, when He had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood : this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembranco
For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till He come.
ccording to a time-honored usage, more people come to the Lord's Table at this season than at any other time during the year. This fact, together with the urgent necessity that on a stated day the doctrine of the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper be plainly taught the people from the pulpit, prompts us to consider now the words of St. Paul, which you have heard read in our text. From these words we learn that this Sacrament was in no wise instituted or introduced by men, but by Christ Himself. In the night in which He was betrayed He instituted it for His disciples, yea for all Christians, that it might be unto them His Testament, His parting gift, full of great comfort and blessing.
We Christians should therefore cherish this Testament as a treasure of the highest value, should love it dearly, and should make use of it cheerfully
and frequently, deriving from it much joy and consolation, thus fulfilling the will of our dying Lord and Saviour. His command in this regard is plain; He enjoins upon us the use of this Sacrament. True Christians will never disregard this command, but will readily and often find comfort in its fulfillment, even until that day when the Lord, who Himself gave us such a Testament, shall again come from heaven to judge the quick and the dead.
While the Pope yet held us in his sway we were frightened by the words of St. Paul: “He that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself;" for no one taught us aright what these words really mean. Hence the Holy Sacrament was dishonored; the people shunned it as death-bringing, and instead of regarding it as food unto life, they thought it dangerous and pernicious. The lying priests brought this about, though we richly deserved it by our own base ingratitude. Christ meant it so well with us, but we were careless and ungrateful; no wonder therefore that our joy was changed into sorrow, our happiness into weeping, and our blessing into a curse. We ourselves were to blame in this; we shamefully neglected the great and sacred treasure.
A similar calamity is now threatened by the Sacramentarians, who bring dangerous controversies into the churches by their false doctrines concerning the Sacrament; for they teach the people that in it we have naught but bread and wine, thus depriving the Christians again of the comfortable assurance of
grace, which Christ has connected with this Sacrament and given to His Church. We must therefore avoid these false teachers, else they will
drag us once more into the bitter woe which we endured under the Pope, when it had become customary to preach of this Sacrament in such a manner as to produce but fear and trembling, so that people refused to participate in it, and lost all the gladness and grace which this holy food can bring.
We were told that we must first confess all our sins, and do penance for them, ere we could approach the Table of the Lord. To do this was, however, an impossibility. We were conscious of our sinfulness and feared to partake of this food, judging ourselves unworthy of it, so that no one could commune with a cheerful heart. Every one mistrusted this benign institution, fearing it to be a source of death, or a means of “eating damnation to himself," as St. Paul expresses it. Surely that was a most lamentable state of affairs, when the people became averse to the most blessed Sacrament.
But the Pope made the evil worse by inconsiderately compelling the terrified and trembling souls to come to the Lord's Supper at least once a year. He excommunicated every one who did not annually come to the Sacrament; and yet he only distributed it under one form, as it is called, in direct contradiction to the command of our Lord, who so instituted His Testament that His body and blood should be received not only by eating of the bread, but also by partaking of the cup. This form of the institution of the Sacrament the Pope trampled under foot, and he even yet condemns as a heresy the distribution of the Lord's Supper under a twofold forin, even though Christ Himself thus instituted and ordered it. What a terrible abomination
they made of the Sacrament, causing people to be afraid of it, and then forcing them to receive it; and what was worse than all, changing the form of the institution, in plain opposition to the command of Christ.
Imagine for yourself what pleasure you would have in such a compulsory eating and drinking. You would have as little relish for it as the sick man has for the wine whose very smell he abhors, but which he is forced to swallow. It was a necessary consequence that the Holy Sacrament proved ineffectual with the people in the papacy; for they could but receive it with the conviction of their own impurity and unworthiness, and yet through fear of excommunication they partook of it. No wonder that it was to them void of consolation and happiness.
But the Pope still further abused the Holy Supper and the Testament of our Lord, when by the assistance of his priests he made it a matter of merchandize in behalf of the dead, so that the mass was celebrated without devotion, merely for money and revenue. Methinks this was, beyond all dispute, a most sacrilegious abuse of the Sacrament; and I have not the least doubt, if popery had remained in its glory, if the blessed Gospel had not been brought to light again, the living would finally have been entirely deprived of the Holy Supper, and it would have been applied only to the dead. Those of us more advanced in years can well recollect the pomp and ostentation with which mass for the departed was everywhere celebrated.
I mention these things in this connection to show how God punished an ungrateful world by permit