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This is wrong.
meeting of Christian friends will do much for the spiritual advancement of all who enjoy it. There is a lamentable indifference on this subject. Too much is thought of mere minister meetings; as if no others could be tolerated.
e have known societies go onward month after month, and year after year, holding their meetings without a stated pastor, exhorting one another, and praising God in prayers, “psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs,”
with one heart, and in one spirit of Christian love. They
They pros. pered, — they will continue to prosper, — for the
for the Lord will not forsake such a society as this. It is a glory in Zion; its " walls are salvation, and its gates praise ;” and those who behold it will be led to glorify the name of the Father in heaven.
Who can tell how many talented, worthy preachers of God's word, may be raised up in our denomination, from those who will date their first attempts at speaking in defence of the truth, back to the social, religious meeting held by a society destitute of a minister? Think of this, ye who are friends to the doctrine of the reconciliation, and who desire, that all the good means for its advancement among men, may be put in requisition. Remember, that great effects often spring from remote and little causes. Despise not the 6 day of small things.” If any reasonable step can be taken to give success to the cause of the Gospel, it is your duty to ask if
shall not encourage it.
THE LORD'S SUPPER.
I. THERE is nothing more simple or beautiful than the Lord's Supper, in its original form and design. It was instituted by our Lord himself. It has the high sanction, therefore, not merely of his observance of the rite, but of his having instituted it also, and administered it primarily to his disciples. It was a venerated custom of the Jews, to perpetuate the remembrance of any important event by a solemn festival, or feast, which, in its regular occurrence, would call the event to mind, excite gratitude for the blessing, and bear down the remembrance of it to future generations. This was the object of all the Jewish feasts. The passover, for instance, was designed to perpetuate the memory of God's goodness in delivering the Jews from Egyptian bondage, and in passing over and sparing their first-born, when the first-born of the Egyptians were slain. The feast of pentecost was instituted in remembrance of the giving of the law to Moses, fifty days after the departure from Egypt, from which circumstance, it bears the name pentecost. The feast of tabernacles was designed to perpetuate the history of the Jews dwelling in tents or tabernacles, on their journey from Egypt to Canaan ; and, during the celebration, they carried in their hands branches of palm, and other trees, with which they erected booths. See Neh. viii. 15. There were other solemn observances among the Jews, such as the feast of trumpets, so called from the blowing of trumpets upon the occasion ; the feast of expiation ; the feast of purim or lots, and the feast of dedication ; each of which had its distinct object in the commemoration of some important event.
It should be remembered, that the early Christians were Jews, well acquainted with the religious festivals of the nation, and in the habit of observing them continually. When, therefore, the Saviour instituted the festival of the Supper, he conformed to an immemorial custom of the nation.
The object of the Lord's Supper was very briefly stated by our Saviour himself, at the time of its institution. “ This do," said he, in remembrance of me.” Luke xxii.. 19. Such we understand to be the great and leading object of the ordinance, to perpetuate a remembrance of the life, sufferings, death, resurrec
tion, and doctrine of Jesus Christ. Paul declares, that in the observance of the ordinance, they did “ show forth the Lord's death." 1 Cor. xi. 26. It is not so much the nature of the ordinance itself, which is calculated to answer this end, as the fact; which is invariably and inseparably connected with the observance, that it was designed originally for this one object, and for none other, viz. to bear up the remembrance of Christ and his religion. Every time the Christian goes to the table, he knows he goes there solemnly to recognise the truth of the religion he professes ; to impress a sense of its reality upon his mind, and to assist in bearing down to future generations this standing proof, we mean the ordinance itself, of the truth of that religion. We see sufficient reasons for the continued observance of the ordinance in those benefits, which flow from it, even if there be no positive command to - that effect; and we confess, that we feel a strong desire, that the denomination of Universalists shall not be hasty to neglect a service in every way so important.
ÎI. This institution, that was so beautiful in its primitive simplicity, became corrupted soon after the death of the Lord Jesus. It will not be unprofitable to take a rapid review of the corruptions, as the church tolerated them.
The first alteration, or rather addition, made to the original notion of the Lord's Supper was, that of its being a sacrament, or an oath to be true to a leader. The word sacrament signifies an oath. It is not found in the Scriptures. This was only a small deviation ; but it serves to mark the commencement of the corruptions. The greatest injury of it might consist in preventing Christians, who were opposed to oaths, from attending to the Supper.
Another corruption soon added, and one of much more injury, was the considering of it a mystery.” Christians began very early to call it one of the " mysteries” of our holy religion. The term “mystery
signifies something secret. In the worship of the heathen there were many secrets, to which people, supposed to be pure and holy, were initiated. And it seems reasonable, that when the heathen were 'converted to Christianity, they carried with them their love of mystery and pomp; they wished to have something of this nature in the Christian religion. Christians soon began to exclude all those who did not partake of the ordinance, from being present at the celebration of it. Whether they authoritatively excluded the nonparticipants from the house, or whether such went out voluntarily, we cannot now say ; but one thing is certain, it was thought wicked to permit them to see the manner in which the communion was administered. The council of Alexandria, in allusion to this, said ; " that which is holy, should not be cast to the dogs, nor pearls before swine.” Soon Christians began to call the institution, a “tremendous mystery," a "dreadful solemnity,” and “terrible to angels."
We shall pass over many corruptions less worthy of notice, that we may reduce the subject to proper limits. The Lord's Supper soon began to be considered as necessary to salvation, and to the obtaining of the favor of God, And we also find, quite early, some advances toward the absurd doctrine of transubstantiation. Christians began to consider the bread and wine to be changed, after prayers were offered. Something divine had then entered into them. And we may say the same of the cloth, which covered the table, and the table itself, and the utensils. They were thought to be holy, and in time people began to worship them. They were supposed to possess sense and sanctity. inquired, whether the bread might not in some sense, be the real body, and the wine, the real blood of Christ
. It was thought wrong to commit the blood of Christ to so frail a thing as glass. Jerome reproaches a bishop with this, as he was a rich man, and able to get better. Churches sent portions of bread to _neighbouring churches, as a token of communion. But, what was much worse than this, the bread was thought to be useful in a medicinal point of view. It was believed to be a means of preserving people when absent from home, in journeys, and upon voyages. And the priests used to keep a quantity of the consecrated element to distribute occasionally, as it might be wanted. It was given to the sick ; and the Christian fathers mention many cases of particular. diseases, to which this remedy was applied. This was done solely on account of the virtue which was communicated to the bread by the prayer of the priest. The ancient Christians sometimes buried it with the dead ; thinking, no doubt, that it would be of great use to them during their
long journey, which they were supposed to take. Thus did the church go on in the work of corrupting this ordinance. People's notions were advancing rapidly toward the doctrine of transubstantiation. They began to use spoons in eating the bread, that they might not drop the crumbs. They thought, too, that they must eat it with the body in a particular position. And, among other superstitious customs, we find that they were in the habit of mixing some of the wine with ink, to sign writings of a peculiarly solemn nature. “Thus pope Theodore, in the seventh century, signed the condemnation and deposition of Pyrrhus, the Monothelite ; it was used at the condemnation of Photius, by the fathers of the Council of Constantinople, in 869; and Charles the Bald, and Bernard, count of Barcelona, also signed a treaty with the sacramental wine, in 844.” The practice of the Supper was enveloped in so much mystery and formal solemnity, that the people were afraid to participate in it, and absented themselves from the table; and, at one time, the priests only partook of the elements, the people looking on, and joining in the prayers alone.
But we have now almost come to the height of superstition, with respect to this rite. Paschasius Radbert, a monk of Corbie, in France, was the first, we think, boldly to assert one of the most absurd doctrines