1 Corinthians 10:16
Is not the cup of blessing that we bless a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ?
Sermons
Communion with Christ and His PeopleCharles Hadden Spurgeon 1 Corinthians 10:16
The Communion of Souls in ChristR. Tuck 1 Corinthians 10:16
Wariness in Christian WalkE. Hurndall 1 Corinthians 10:14-22
Fellowship with Christ by Means of the CommunionC. Limpscomb 1 Corinthians 10:14-33
CommunionJ.R. Thomson 1 Corinthians 10:16, 17
Communion with ChristC. A, Bartol.1 Corinthians 10:16-17
Holy CommunionG. Culthrop, M.A.1 Corinthians 10:16-17
On Church CommunionT. Boston, D.D.1 Corinthians 10:16-17
Real Oneness Amidst Circumstantial DiversityD. Moore, M.A.1 Corinthians 10:16-17
The Communion of SaintsG. Clayton, M.A.1 Corinthians 10:16-17
The Communion of the Blood of ChristProf. Godet.1 Corinthians 10:16-17
The Holy EucharistCanon Evans.1 Corinthians 10:16-17
The Lord's SupperF. Wagstaff.1 Corinthians 10:16-17
The Lord's SupperC. Lee.1 Corinthians 10:16-17
The Lord's Supper IsC. Bradley, M.A.1 Corinthians 10:16-17
The Nature of the Lord's SupperD. Savile, M.A.1 Corinthians 10:16-17
The Sacramental SymbolsH. Bonar, D.D.1 Corinthians 10:16-17
This passage and another in the following chapter would in themselves suffice to prove the antiquity of the Lord's Supper. And as this Epistle is of undisputed genuineness, it may be taken as established that the Eucharist has been observed in an unbroken chain from its institution by the Founder of Christianity down to our own days. Important light is cast by these two verses upon the spiritual and social significance of the Supper of the Lord.

I. THE HOLY COMMUNION IS A DISTINCTIVE BADGE OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH. It is only by recognizing this fact that we understand the introduction of a reference to it in this place. St. Paul was anxious to dissuade the Corinthian Christians from participating in the idolatrous festivals of the heathen. And he brings forward, with this end in view, the distinction between heathenism and Christianity in their characteristic festivals and observances. The Jews had their Passover, the Greeks their eranoi, the early Christians their agapae. The peculiar and distinctive observance of the Christians was, however, the Eucharist. The Corinthians were justly reminded that they must take their stand, that they could not be upon both sides, that they must not at the same time frequent the idol feasts and sit down at the table of the Lord Christ. And this distinction still substantially holds good. And young people especially may justly be urged to take their stand upon the Lord's side and pledge themselves to Christian fidelity in the ordinance distinctive of the Church of Christ.

II. THE HOLY COMMUNION IS A MEANS BY WHICH CHRISTIANS COMMEMORATE THE DEATH OF CHRIST AND PARTAKE OF ITS SPIRITUAL BENEFITS.

1. Prominence is given to our Lord's death by the mention of his body and his blood. In the following chapter St. Paul expressly reminds his readers that in the sacrament they show (proclaim) his death - until he come.

2. But for his purpose the apostle, in this place, lays special stress upon communion in the Lord's body and blood. Amidst all the diversities of opinion and controversies which have arisen with regard to this sacrament, it may, perhaps, be affirmed that to spiritually minded Christians of all Churches, the observance of the Lord's Supper has been an act of obedience to Christ, and the means of spiritual union and fellowship with him. The true participation in the Lord's death is the privilege of the lowly, believing, reverent communicant. Necessary as are food and drink for the sustenance of the bodily life with its functions and activities, equally necessary is it for the spiritual health of the Christian that he should receive Divine nourishment - that he should feed by faith upon the Son of God.

III. THE HOLY COMMUNION IS A SIGN AND A MEANS OF CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP. This passage casts light, not only upon the work of Christ and upon the individual appropriation of the benefits of that work, but also upon the character, constitution, and purposes of the Church. It is observable that great stress is laid upon communion, i.e. upon the common interest in the one Saviour and the one salvation, and the mutual regard of interest, confidence, and brotherly love, which is the proper consequence of union to Jesus. The one cup, the one bread, of which all partake, are the symbol of a spiritual unity, Nay, Christians are actually denominated, in virtue of their unity with their Lord and with one another, "one bread, one body." The language must have been startling when first employed; it sounds very strong, even to us who are familiar with it. Yet it expresses the simple and literal truth. A unity which no power on earth could effect, and which no thinker could have conceived, is in course of realization, through the one Saviour and the one Spirit; and of this the Holy Communion is a divinely appointed and effectual witness. - T.







The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ?
I. THE CUP OF BLESSING WHICH WE BLESS, i.e., over which we apostles or ministers speak the word for good. When we mortals say may it be good, we pray that it may be good: when God says, Be it good, the good becomes, it takes effect. Man blesses God in words, God blesses man in deeds; for He speaks and it is done, His benedictions are benefactions. In the Holy Supper of bread and wine what is offered by us to God of His own earthly gifts, with the prayer that He bless the offering into a heavenly good, that is given back to us by God in the new form and substance of the supernatural good itself. But the cup of blessing, i.e, the cup of the benediction — of the benediction which the Lord Himself pronounced in His own institution of the sacrament — this cup — is it not — communion? the means of communion, asks the apostle — in the blood — here St. Paul pauses a moment and then dictates to his amanuensis — of the Christ? This word communion denotes the .fellowship of persons with persons in one and the same object common to all and sometimes whole to each. By way of illustration: when the sun shines upon a band of haymakers in a field, these do not, properly speaking, partake of the sun; there is no true participation; we cannot say that a portion of ten beams is assigned to A, of twelve to B, of twenty to C, rather the undivided sun is common to all the labourers and whole to each of them; they all have fellowship or a common interest in one and the same sun. Even so within the hallowed sphere of the sacramental communion the Sun of Righteousness shines upon His own, equal to all and total to each. Communion is not the same thing with union, but rather proceeds from it, growing out of our mystical union with Christ's humanity; by this mystical union we were made members of His body, bred of His flesh and of His bones. This mystical union is founded in baptism and is strengthened and consolidated in the Eucharist by means of mystical communion. And as the union itself is twofold, for thereby we are "members of Christ," and "members one of another," so is the communion twofold, for thereby we have fellowship with the Incarnate Son and fellowship with one another. The cup of the Lord's blessing and the chalice of His benediction is it not in the consecrated wine thereof — the medium of fellowship, fellowship of the members both with the Head and with each other — fellowship in what? In a nature common to all. Of this fellowship the blood is the medium. Of this inward communion with Christ and with all who have been baptized into His Divine human nature, the Divine human blood is the life-giving medium. For in baptism we put on Christ — just as a graft by insertion puts on a tree, and as a graft after insertion drinks the sap of the tree ("has in common with the root the fatness of the good olive,") so in the Eucharist we drink the blood of Christ more truly than the graft drinks the sap of the tree in which it has been inserted.

II. THE BREAD WHICH WE BREAK after consecration or benediction, is it not the medium of our communion with Christ and with one another in the body of Christ? As the material bread, God's earthborn gift, we all do eat together with the outward man, so "the spiritual food of Christ's most precious body," we receive together and manducate with the inward man; for the natural bread after consecration is not only the symbol but also the vehicle (in effect) of Christ's body (in essence). How often in Scripture is the natural consecrated to be the medium of the supernatural! And there is always a congruity and meetness of correspondence between the outward sign and the inner thing signified. The material rock gushing with streams in the desert was a vehicle of a spiritual rock, even Christ in effect. The sacred animal breath which our blessed Lord before His ascension breathed on His disciples was not only the meet emblem but true vehicle also of Holy Spirit; for He blew on them, He breathed strong and steadfast upon them and said Take Holy Spirit, and they, the disciples, received their Master's sensible breath, and with it an instalment of His own God-man's Spirit.

III. FOR WE BEING MANY ARE ONE BREAD AND ONE BODY. A better rendering and one that connects the argument is because there is one bread, one body are we the assembled many. The sense is: Because the bread of many parts, into which it is broken, is yet one bread, one body are the many we. Many fractions, one bread; many members, one body. The bread which we break, is it not communion with Christ and with one another in relation to the body — of Christ? We the many are one body — Body and body? The body proper of Christ — and the many we one body corporate? Clearly St. Paul here makes an easy transition from the body proper of Christ to the body corporate, His Church. This is most remarkable as tending to show that he identifies the two bodies in essence or substance. In accord with this interpretation, no wonder many ancient fathers held that while in baptism we obtain incorporation into Christ, in the Eucharist we obtain concorporeity if not consanguinity with Him. But this concorporeity we receive by degrees and rudimentally. The consubstantiation is now laid in its foundations, to be consummated at the Parousia. The Church, says , is one body, not only generally and mystically, but properly and corporeally, because all members are really, i.e., Substantially, united to Christ. Every one of us mortals is a twofold man; one called by St. Paul outward, the other inward. Every one of us is double by double creation, constituted in the first Adam we are reconstituted in the second, the outward or material man asks for earthborn food, bread and wine, lest physical death supervene; the inward or spiritual man asks for heavenly food, the Divine body and blood, lest the higher life of the new creation should pine and fade and dwindle and perish in the silting brightness of the advancing Pareusia.

(Canon Evans.)

Christ, though not corporally, is really and spiritually present in the sacrament of the Supper, and those happy aids and influences which that holy presence imparts are the benefits and the comforts with which true Christians are then favoured. And it is by these aids and these influences which the Saviour's presence conveys, that the Divine life in the soul is cherished and maintained. As vegetables and animals can live only by their connection with the earth or material system from which they spring, so a sense of piety and religion in the mind can be preserved and strengthened only by the support and agency of that Divine Being who gave it birth.

(D. Savile, M.A.)

But here the question rises: What is this principle of communion? The communion is commonly spoken of as something upon a table consisting in certain elements distributed to persons met under special conditions to receive them. All these are evidently, however, not the communion, but only the form of the communion. The communion is not a material but an invisible thing of the soul. Valuable emblems surely. If tokens and signals are valuable anywhere or for anything; if we will not strip life of all its beautiful symbols and affectionate associations, then these tokens, chief and head of all in the dignity and pathos and promise they intend, deserve our respect and solemn celebration. But still comes back the question, What do they intend? For when Christians are so absorbed in the external signs as to forget the thing signified, and look on the visible ordinance as the source of benefit, instead of its indication, then come in superstition and idolatry, exaggerated and foolish reverence for the mere shape and ritual of worship. What, then, is the intrinsic communion itself? It is being brought out of our individual interests and separations, and bound together by the holy and loving power we all acknowledge. Communion, so understood, is indeed the essence of Christianity; not a theory, but a life. This communion is the fulfilment of the Saviour's prayer for His disciples, that they all might be one in Him and His Father. It is the consciousness that we, who live and breathe in these several frames, are not mutually exclusive beings, but with a common care for the welfare of each other, and of our neighbour and of our fellow-man. This reality of communion we refer to Christ, because He first brought it in its fine and perfect pattern as an historic verity upon earth. He established it among men and made His Church by it. So, after Him, the Christian is a communicator. He does not shut up anything good in his own hand or his own bosom, but extends and diffuses it for a general blessing. Whatever he has he shares. The more precious it is, the more free and anxious he is to share it. Thus, too, it is very easy, by the same rule, to say who is not a Christian. He is one that does not communicate, who takes not communion, but competition for his spirit and law. He seeks his own, not another's. But this communion does not break down the sacred distinctions of men. To commune is not to be confounded together. We are individuals, each with a distinct nature, and free, accountable will. But the peculiarity is that in Christ we are individuals pledged to each other and to the race we are part of, and have a common nature with being "members one of another." This is the communion. A majestic principle, indeed, then is the communion. There is some grandeur in any way of living for others and consecration to common ends. The very meanest type of such an existence is nobler than the highest and most ostentatious one of self-seeking. The old Roman, when he felt he was part of Rome, freely to fight and bleed for her, as if his arms and veins were her own; the wild Northman jealous for his clan has a touch of sublimity about him absolutely glorious in comparison with the close temper of a man, in our modern Christendom, all taken up with hugging his gains or nursing his reputation heedless of others' success and forgetful of the common weal; while all the time Christianity thunders in his ears her meaning that we are not our own but public property, belonging to others in public spirit and love. In such communion there is power beyond the desultory efforts of individual men. As electric jars, touched one after another, yield each but a faint flash, but combined, pour out a sparkling stream before which flint melts and flows, so the exertions which, disunited and scattered, made but a feeble display of little execution when blended in the loving Church of Christ, reduce what is most refractory in the world. Moreover, in such communion alone is there any beauty. When we look out upon the bright evening sky, it is not some strange shooting star, appearing madly to leave its sphere and traverse the firmament on its own account, that attracts our admiration; but it is the moving harmony of the mutually related orbs of heaven. How affecting the permanency and inexhaustible supply of Christ's redeeming power! Nothing so spreads, nothing so lasts as the religious feeling, He above all others especially awakens. But the question we started with now opens into a further interrogation. Who and what is Christ, the object or medium of this communion? The same principle or essence of the gospel risen and meets us for an answer. Christ was and is a being in communion with God, communion perfect and entire, receiving the Spirit without measure. But, then, He is a being in communion with man too, and is the Son of man wearing a human nature mixed with the Divine. He alone possesses the wonderful property to fill up the whole space between God and man. His communion has two wings: one touching the heavenly throne, the other mortal abodes. On this principle of communion as the true expression of our religion, the pattern of supreme excellence set in God and Christ for man to copy, is not a correct outward morality, though that is indispensable, and will be a certain result. We do not feel that we adequately describe Christ in speaking of Him merely as of one that tells the truth and never violates His veracity. We are thus far only on the outside and at the fingers' ends of His excellence. We reach the heart of it only when through all true words and righteous deeds we penetrate to the warm, immense love of His communion with God and man. This communion it is, reverently be it said that makes Christ. This communion, too, alone can make the Christian Christ's follower. How wondrously too this idea transforms the outward figure and being of Jesus Himself! He is no longer simply an historic character of whom we read. Through this all-conquering, everywhere travelling power of love, He draws near. To our gaze He seems not, as to those men of Galilee, rising up to vanish in abysses of air, but rather approaching. He leaves His seat of glory on high, and descends upon us. Busily He works within, writing His own life on the fleshly tables, and forming Himself in us the hope of glory. This communion is no abstract and fruitless thing. If genuine, it will issue from us in every mode of gracious action. As Christ's nature was to impart, and virtue went out of Him from His tongue and hand and garment's hem; so, in His communion, virtue will go out of us. Our light and knowledge, our genius and power, or our worldly opportunities and means will be sacrifice. This Christian communion, in fine, makes us responsible, not only for ourselves but for all within the circle of our life. As some plants make the air wholesome, and others turn it to a deadly poison, so is it with our own atmosphere. Christ came and left in charge to His followers to sweeten the air of existence. Therefore, descended He from heaven; therefore His followers live on earth.

(C. A..Bartol.)

I. THE CUP. It may have been of gold, or silver, or brass, or wood; it matters not.

1. Its name. "The cup of blessing which we bless." All blessing is in Scripture connected with Messiah, His person, and His work. Hence that vessel which so specially points to Him receives this name. It contains the blessing, the long-promised, long-looked-for blessing. The wine in that cup is impregnated with blessing.

2. Its meaning. "Is it not the communion of the blood of Christ?" or, "is it not communion with the blood of Christ?" That wine is then the symbol of the blood; the blood of the new covenant, the everlasting covenant. That blood is the life; and that life is the payment of the sinner's penalty. In that cup there is both the death of the Surety and the life flowing out of that death; our death flowing into Him so that He dies; His life flowing into us, so that we live. Thus the cup is the cup of blessing for the sinner, because it contains both the death and the life. The word "communion" is properly "partnership" — "partnership in the blood of Christ"; all that the blood contains for the soul becoming ours. All its blessings — the paid ransom, the cancelled penalty, the forgiveness, the life, the joy — all becoming ours. He, then, that takes the cup is committed to all that it symbolises, he is counted as one with it, the possessor of its contents, the partaker of its fulness.

II. THE BREAD. The word more properly signifies "the loaf" or "cake," intimating its original oneness or completeness. It is necessary to keep this in mind, as the point of the apostle's argument turns on this. Let us consider —

1. What the bread signifies. It is bread — the common passover loaf, unleavened bread — made of the corn of earth, grown in our fields, cut down, gathered in, winnowed, ground, and formed into a loaf for the passover table. Such was Christ's body, our very flesh; born, growing up, ripening, cut down, prepared for our food.

2. What the breaking of the bread signifies. It points us to the Cross, it speaks of a crucified Christ. His body unbroken is no food for us. It is no nourishment for the soul of the sinner. It would not satisfy our appetite nor prove wholesome food. Incarnation without crucifixion does not satisfy the soul. Bethlehem without Golgotha would be mockery.

3. What our partaking of it signifies. This act of eating, then, has a twofold signification or reference.(1) A reference to Christ. It is "communion with the body of Christ," partnership with that body; so that all that is in it of virtue, health, strength, or excellence becomes ours. We reckon ourselves one with it, and God reckons us one with it. As he who eats of the idols' bread in a heathen temple is responsible for the whole idolatry of the place, and is so dealt with by God, so he who eats this broken bread in faith is identified with a crucified Christ and all His fulness. Partnership with the body of Christ, how much that implies!(2) A reference to ourselves. It realizes to us the perfect oneness between the members of Christ's body. As the loaf is made up of many parts or crumbs, and yet is but one loaf — nay, gets its true oneness from the union of these many parts — so is it with the members of the body of Christ. All that He has is ours — His life, our life; His light, our light; His fulness, our fulness: His strength, our strength; His righteousness, our righteousness; His inheritance, our inheritance; for we are heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ. If these things be so —(a) What a blessed place should the communion table be to us! A Peniel where we prevail with God and receive the blessing in full.(b) What manner of persons ought we to be. Nothing is lacking to those who have this heavenly communion, this Divine partnership.(c) What love and unity should prevail against us.(d) What longing for the time when we shall see Him face to face.

(H. Bonar, D.D.)

I. THIS ORDINANCE IS A PROFESSION OF FAITH.

1. It was an acknowledgment of sin. Wherefore did Christ die. That He might save sinners.

2. It has an expression of faith in the good news of mercy.

3. It is also an expression of attachment to the Saviour. It is an open and bold declaration of that attachment.

4. It is an expression of earnest desire that others may share with us the purchase of His death.

II. THIS ORDINANCE IS A SOLEMN COVENANT. We renew this covenant with each other "as often as we do it."

1. We renew our covenant to accept Christ as our common Lord.

2. It is a covenant to fulfil the duties of discipleship.

3. It is a covenant of self-denial for the sake of others.

III. THIS ORDINANCE IS AN ACT OF SPIRITUAL COMMUNION WITH CHRIST. Here, if possible, more truly than anywhere, we feel that "we have fellowship with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ."

1. We have fellowship with His sufferings; being reminded of His pains on the Cross.

2. We have fellowship with His love; entering into somewhat of the spirit that led Him to lay down His life a ransom for sinners.

3. We have fellowship with His joys; rejoicing with Him in the progress of His kingdom and the prosperity of His cause.

4. By anticipation we have fellowship with His glory since they who suffer with Him shalt also be glorified in His presence.

(F. Wagstaff.)

By the term κοινωνία, does the apostle mean to designate a material participation in the blood of Christ, or a moral participation in its salutary efficacy for the expiation of sins? In the former case we must hold that, as the instantaneous effect of the consecration, a physical act is wrought, either in the form of a transubstantiation, which makes wine the very blood of Christ, or in that of the conjunction of the blood with the wine. But if the real blood of Christ was in one of these two forms offered to the communicant, this so essential element of the rite would certainly be wanting at its institution; for Christ's blood, not yet shed, could not be communicated to the apostles. The reference, therefore, could only be to the blood of His glorified body. But Paul expressly teaches that blood, as a corruptible principle, does not enter as an element into the glorified body (1 Corinthians 15:50). The two theories, Catholic and Lutheran, seem to be overturned by this simple observation. On the other hand, the apostle's words cannot merely denote the profession of faith made by the communicant in the expiatory virtue of Christ's blood, and the thanksgiving with which he accompanies this profession. What does Paul wish to prove by appealing here to the analogy of the Holy Supper? He wishes to demonstrate, by the salutary influence which the communion exercises over the believer's heart, that demons exercise a pernicious one over him who takes part in the sacrificial heathen feasts. The Holy Supper is not, therefore, a simple act of profession and thanksgiving on the believer's part. It is at the same time a real partaking of the grace purchased by Christ, and which He communicates to the devout recipient.

(Prof. Godet.)

I. THE SUBJECTS of this communion.

1. The designation "saints" is often applied, in modern usage, as a term of reproach.

2. The term applies to sincere believers only — those who, whatever may have been their former characters, are washed and sanctified. They are partakers of a "holy faith," they are called with a "holy calling," and they are distinguished by a "holy conversation": in a word, they are wholly set apart for God.

3. These, and these only, are the capable subjects of this sacred communion. All communion springs out of union. It arises out of certain sympathies which we have in common one with another. You cannot have communion with plants, with minerals, etc., etc. Hence there can be no communion without spiritual affinity. "What fellowship hath light with darkness?" etc. There must, in order to this fellowship, be a Christian state of mind, in order that we may hold converse with Christians as such. As none but these are capable subjects of this fellowship, so all these have a right to participate in this communion, in despite of minor differences and distinctions.

II. ITS NATURE. It embraces within its sphere —

1. All the holy and happy intelligences in the heavenly world.(1) The Father, in the purposes of His grace, the provisions of His mercy, the communications of His love; the Son, in the nature He assumed, the obedience He rendered, the sufferings He endured, the blessings He procured; the Holy Ghost, in His light, purity, and consolations.(2) Unfallen angels. We come, in the exercises of this communion, to the "innumerable company of angels."(3) The disembodied spirits of "the just made perfect."

2. All the disciples, followers, and friends of Christ, who are now living in the present world. They have communion with each other —(1) In the belief of the same truth (2 John).(2) In the participation of the same spiritual privileges: justification, adoption, regeneration, hope, consolation, joy.(3) In the pursuit of the same objects: the glory of God, the advancement of Christ's kingdom, and the happiness of the whole human family.(4) In the celebration of the same ordinances: reading, singing, praying, preaching, and sacramental commemoration. This ordinance of the Supper, referred to in the text, is at once the badge, the seal, and expression of this fellowship.

III. THE VALUE AND BLESSEDNESS OF THIS COMMUNION. Consider —

1. How it has been purchased. It became necessary to this end, that "one man should die for the people;" that He might "gather together in one the children of God" — "I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me."

2. How it is produced. The Holy Spirit visits the heart to purify it, and thereby lay a foundation for the existence and interchange of this charitable fellowship.

3. How malignantly it is grudged and envied by apostate spirits. The great design of Satanic policy is to divide the people of God, and to interrupt their communion.

4. How inexpressibly sweet and refreshing it is, and how helpful and strengthening.

5. What it foreshows and prognosticates.Conclusion:

1. Let us be thankful if we know anything of this subject.

2. You who are strangers to this bliss, come and enjoy it.

(G. Clayton, M.A.)

I. A THANKSGIVING FOR OUR LORD'S DEATH, more than a grateful remembrance of it.

1. "The cup of blessing which we bless." Paul does not mean a cup full of blessings; but alludes to a custom at the passover. The master of the house took a passover cake, and blessed God for it; and, breaking it, distributed it among the persons present. The feast then went on. At the conclusion of it, he took a cup of wine and did likewise. Our Lord did this when He kept His last passover. And hence this ordinance is called "the eucharist," or the giving of thanks.

2. See, then, in what frame of mind we ought to attend this ordinance; most humbly and sorrowfully doubtless, for it was our sin that brought on Christ all the sufferings we are commemorating. But we must not so mourn over the evil as to forget the glorious deliverance. A broken heart is a good thing at the Lord's table, but a thankful and rejoicing heart becomes us as well there.

II. A SYMBOL OF OUR SPIRITUAL RECEPTION OF CHRIST. The ordinance which shadows forth to us Christ's death, He takes care shall shadow forth also our need of a personal interest in it. He commands us, therefore, not to stand gazing on the bread and wine, but to eat and drink them. Thus this ordinance is "the communion of the body and blood of Christ," i.e., a taking together. And faith does partake of Christ here; of His blood to cleanse us, His righteousness to cover us, His Spirit to purify us, His wisdom to guide us, His power to keep us, His love to solace us, His peace to quiet us, His joy to elevate and delight us.

III. AN OPEN AVOWAL BY US OF OUR BEING THE DISCIPLES OF THE LORD.

1. After offering sacrifices to their deities, the Corinthians used to make a feast of those sacrifices, and these feasts were generally scenes of riot and excess. And so much under the influence of early habits were some Christians that they continued to frequent these unhallowed feasts. St. Paul reproves them for this by a reference to the Lord's feast, which involves a profession of faith in Him. "How then can you partake of that sacrament, and then go to the feasts of your old heathen deities? It is idolatry; and being such, it is a turning of your back on Christ. The two things are altogether opposed, and you must give up one of them."

2. And this reasoning fully bears out the view of attendance on the Lord's Supper as a profession of faith in Christ and allegiance to Him. It is more so than baptism. That is done once and over, but this is continually recurring. This sacrament must have been, in the early Church, a trial of the Christian's faith. "There," says Christ, "I leave you a memorial, not of My power and greatness, but of My humiliation, My Cross. Now can you own Me in My shame?" And hence it was that this ordinance soon began to be designated by the word "sacrament" — the oath which the Roman soldiers took to be faithful to their general. It represents us at the table of the Lord, as so many soldiers of Christ, binding ourselves in the most solemn manner to be faithful to Him even unto death.

IV. AN EMBLEM OF OUR UNION ONE WITH ANOTHER IN CHRIST. Men who voluntarily feast together may be supposed to be men of one mind. If they are heathens and feast together in honour of any idol, they may be regarded as united to one another by their common attachment to him. The apostle takes up this idea (ver. 17). And this seems to have been much in our Lord's mind when He instituted His Supper (John 14:17).

(C. Bradley, M.A.)

I. THIS ORDINANCE PERTAINS PECULIARLY TO BELIEVERS IN CHRIST IN EVERY AGE.

1. The doctrine of the Scriptures is that it pertains to believers only. The instructions here given as to the state of mind in which communicants should partake, show that this ordinance is intended exclusively for them (1 Corinthians 5:7, 8; 1 Corinthians 11:27-30). Few but the self-righteous and pharisaical appear to be in error here: for wicked persons confess frankly that none but the godly are qualified to partake of it.

2. The observance is enjoined by Christ on all His disciples (Luke 22:19; Matthew 26:27). There are two classes of persons to whom these remarks are more particularly applicable: young disciples of Christ; and those whose faith is but weak and wavering. In religion assistance comes not in the way of abstaining from, but of compliance with, the will of your Lord. Wait on the Lord, then, and He will renew your strength.

II. ITS CHIEF OBJECT. To bring the souls of the communicants into fellowship with the body and blood of Christ.

1. For this object the ordinance is commemorative of Christ. The broken bread which we here eat brings to our wandering and forgetful minds the remembrance of that precious body. The wine poured out brings to our remembrance that precious blood which was shed on the Cross. In this ordinance the Saviour has thus recorded His name for ever, and this is His memorial throughout all generations.

2. It is an ordinance in which we are warranted to expect the special presence of Christ. Wherever but two or three are met in His name, at His ordinance, and in dependence on the fulfilment of His promise, there is He in the midst of them.

III. THE STATE OF MIND IN WHICH BELIEVERS SHOULD JOIN IN IT. This as taught in the text is a spirit of thankfulness. "The cup of blessing which we bless."

1. You should here bless God for the gift of His Son to be our Saviour.

2. You should here bless Christ for giving Himself.

3. You should here bless the Holy Spirit for applying the merits of Christ to your souls.

(C. Lee.)

For we being many are one bread and one body
I. THE VISIBLE DIVERSITIES AMONG TRUE BELIEVERS.

1. The differences observable in God's people according to the dispensation under which they live. As in the natural world, both the opening dawn and the bright meridian acknowledge the same source of light, so in the spiritual world it is the same "Sun of Righteousness," whether it is flinging its dim rays over the dawn of patriarchal promise or lighting up the gospel times with glory. Hence we are to conclude that the apparent diversity between Jewish and Christian forms of worship or religious experience is merely a difference arising from the progressive character of the Divine disclosures and the advancing capacities of the human mind.

2. The inequalities of our several stations in life. God "would have all men to be saved." Hence rich and poor, young and old, may be "all partakers of that one bread," and yet all vary in their manifestations of religious character. This should enhance to us the law of Christian charity, which reminds us that men who seem "not to follow with us," may yet in spirit be truly of us and with us.

3. The diversities among good men which arise out of education, temperament, and intellectual endowments. Christianity has no war with the refinements of life; but it would be folly to assert that it may not exist without them. There are many rugged tempers which in the main are right towards God; and many gentle spirits who please everybody while they are displeasing God. The retaining of original characteristics may consist with a converted state. Where could we find two more opposite characters than Peter and John? And yet both had drunk into the same spirit; both had been "partakers of the one bread."

4. The diversities occasioned by the progressive character of religion itself. The "babe in Christ," from the moment he is made "partaker of the Divine nature," is as much a Christian as if he had arrived at "the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ." In all its elementary properties the spark is the same as the flame; the green blade as the full-grown ear.

II. WHEREIN THEY OUGHT AND ARE SEEN TO AGREE. "For we, being many, are" still "one bread and one body." The diversities of Christian character lie upon the surface; the uniformities are internal, and often discoverable only by the eye of God. And this was what was to be expected. The empire of Christ has more especial reference to the affections. There with unseen food He supports our fainting life, and makes us partaker of that "meat which the world knows not of." But since this meat is the same to all, and since we "all drink of the same spiritual drink," there must be some corresponding uniformity in the manifestations of spiritual life. We note in all good men —

1. A deep abasement, forced upon them by a consciousness of their own vileness and of their Maker's holiness. Difference of dispensation makes no difference in this respect.

2. The joys and hopes of Christian life. Their personal experience of these feelings may be little or much; but in their nature and tendency they must be the same.

3. An endeavour after increased sanctification; a desire to be more assimilated to the likeness of God.Conclusion:

1. Learn that however much the trees of the Lord's vineyard may differ in size, strength, age, and natural form, yet that every tree of the Lord's planting bears the same kind of fruit.

2. Wherefore, "if these things be in you and abound," happy are ye.

(D. Moore, M.A.)

I. THE NATURE OF THE COMMUNION OF SAINTS AS ONE BODY.

1. Who are the members of this communion?(1) Some in show only. The openly wicked of course are excluded (Galatians 5:19-21). But hypocrites are seeming visible members of it (Galatians 2:4; 1 John 2:19).(2) There are three sorts of real members.

(a)Real members in God's design, but not yet formed.

(b)Real members already perfected — the saints triumphant (Hebrews 12:22, 23).

(c)Real members formed, but not perfected yet — all saints on earth, whatever visible Church they belong to (1 Corinthians 12:12). These are they whom our text speaks of.

II. WHEREIN THIS COMMUNION CONSISTS, or how they are one body.

1. They have all one Head (Ephesians 1:22, 23; Colossians 2:19).

2. They are all animated by one Spirit (Romans 8:9; 1 Corinthians 12:13).

3. One grace of faith wrought by the self-same Spirit in them all (Colossians 2:12) terminates in and knits them to one head, the Lord Jesus (Ephesians 3:17).

4. They have all one heart and one mind in respect of fundamentals (Ephesians 4:5).

5. They are united to one another in love (Colossians 3:14; Ephesians 4:16).

6. They have a communion in one another's gifts and graces, as the case stands in the natural body (Ephesians 4:16).

III. THE PROPERTIES OF THIS COMMUNION.

1. It is a most honourable communion, for it is a communion with the Holy Trinity (1 John 1:3).(1) The Father is the Head and Father of the communion (Ephesians 4:6; 1 Corinthians 11:3).(2) The centre of this communion is the Son, the blessed Mediator. In Him all meet (1 Corinthians 11:3).(3) The Holy Spirit is the internal original bond knitting all the members to Christ and among themselves (Ephesians 4:4).

2. It is a most rich communion. There are companies joining stocks together to advance worldly wealth; but the richest of them have nothing but trifles in comparison with the company of saints.(1) They have communion with Christ, a common interest with Him who is Heir of all things.(2) They have communion with God (Psalm 144:15), and with Him all things, since all is His, and He is theirs (1 Corinthians 3:21-23).

3. It is a most extensive communion. It extends —(1) Over the earth; and so is called the Catholic Church (1 Corinthians 1:2).(2) To the heavens (Hebrews 12:22, 23).

4. It is a holy communion. It is a fellowship of saints (Ephesians 2:19).Conclusion: One's partaking of the sacrament is a declaring himself to be of that communion.

1. It is a sign and badge of the commumion of saints. "We are one bread" — the one bread signifying that we are one body.

2. It is a seal of the communion of saints, and seals it effectually to all those that do sincerely take hold of the covenant (Romans 4:11; 1 Corinthians 12:13).

3. It is an engagement to the duties of this communion of saints (Ephesians 4:1-5).

(T. Boston, D.D.)

(John 14:15; Matthew 26:26, 27; and text): —

I. CONSIDER THE THREE TEXTS IN ORDER.

1. From the first we learn that the test of love to the Saviour is obedience to His will and keeping of His commandments. Now when Christ says, "Keep My commandments," does He mean that we are to choose amongst them? Certainly not. He means, of course, keep all My commandments.

2. The second belongs to a very solemn occasion, and has the power of a dying request. It was the very last that the disciples were likely to neglect.

3. In the third, as well as in all other records of the history of the early Church, we find that the whole body of believers were communicants, and that it was a strange, indeed almost an unheard-of thing for any adult to be an habitual absentee from the table of the Lord. What, then, is to be thought of a man's pretension to love the Saviour when he lives in wilful and systematic violation of one of the Saviour's most important commandments?

II. THERE ARE TWO MISTAKES OFTEN MADE ABOUT THE HOLY COMMUNION.

1. That of scrupulosity. The majority of those who absent themselves from the Lord's table do so from the secret conviction that they have not given their hearts to Christ. To come to church they think commits them to nothing. But attendance at the communion does commit them, and they dare not, whilst they feel that they are living for the world and not for Christ, they dare not approach the Lord's table. No one, of course, can blame them. The only wonder is that, knowing they are in a wrong state, they can be contented to remain in it. Look at the excuses that are made.(1) Some say, "Many frequent the Lord's table regularly, who are yet not a bit better than others. What is the good of communicating, then? I will have nothing to do with it whilst these people go there." Now, what sort of reasoning is this? When Peter asked Christ a merely inquisitive question, the Lord said, "What is that to thee? Follow thou Me." May not the same be said to these singular reasoners? The question is about my duty, not about the manner in which another man fulfils, or fails to fulfil, his.(2) Others say, "Oh, a man sets himself up to be so much better than others if he becomes a communicant." Now that is precisely what the man does not do. In fact, his coming forward to the holy table is a virtual confession of his unworthiness and weakness.(3) Another says, "It is such an awful thing to fall into sin after receiving the holy communion." Now that means really, "I am bound to lead a strictly Christian life if I attend the communion; but I am not so bound if I continue to absent myself from it." Is not this a fallacy, and a very ruinous one? Those of you who are non-communicants are as much bound to live a holy life as the communicants are. The difference between you and them is that they are taking the right means to do it and you are not.(4) Another says, "But if I come to the holy communion, people will set up a higher standard for me, and watch my conduct; and should I fall into any inconsistency they will speak reproachfully of me." Well, what else does the New Testament lead you to expect, if you would be a follower of Christ, but that you will become a marked man? The city set on a hill cannot be hid. And Christ warns His followers that they are to expect the world to even "hate" them. What right, then, have we to claim exemption from the usual consequences of Christian discipleship?(5) Others say they are "not good enough to be communicants." But we do not come because we are good, but because we want to be made better. The question, then, is not, Are we holy? but, Have we given our hearts to Christ?

2. That of superstition: and this is more fatal than the other. It is taught that in the act of consecration some mysterious change passes over the elements; so that a man receiving the bread and wine receives something — it is difficult to say what — quite irrespective of his state of mind and of his relation to Jesus Christ. Now this is simply untrue. Life is necessary for the reception and assimilation of food. So, spiritual life — that being, of course, inseparably associated with true faith — is essential to the right use and enjoyment of the privilege of holy communion. And whenever you give the bread and wine to a man who is destitute of a true and living faith in the Saviour, you are simply putting food into the mouth of a corpse! Whilst keeping yourselves from that miserable fetichism which attributes to the sacrament a magical efficacy, regard the holy communion as the chiefest of the means of grace which God has appointed for your edification and comfort, and for your growth in the Divine life.

(G. Culthrop, M.A.)

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