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Bible Dictionaries

Charles Buck Theological Dictionary

Lord's Supper

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Is an ordinance which our Saviour instituted as a commemoration of his death and sufferings.

1. It is called a sacrament, that it, a sign and an oath. An outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace; an oath, by which we bind our souls with a bond unto the Lord. Some, however, reject this term as not being scriptural; as likewise the idea of swearing or vowing to the Lord.

See VOW.

2. It is called the Lord's Supper, because it was first instituted in the evening, and at the close of the Passover supper; and because we therein feed upon Christ, the bread of life, Romans 3:20 . 1 Corinthians 11:1-34 :

3. It is called the communion, as here in we have communion with Christ, and with his people, 1 Corinthians 12:13 ; 1 Corinthians 10:17 .

4. It is called the eucharist, a thanksgiving, because Christ, in the institution of it, gave thanks, 1 Corinthians 12:24 , and because we, in the participation of it, must give thanks likewise.

5. It is called a feast, and by some a feast upon a sacrifice (though not a sacrifice itself, ) in allusion to the custom of the Jews feasting upon their sacrifices, 1 Corinthians 10:18 . As to the nature of this ordinance, we may observe, that, in participating of the bread and wine, we do not consider it as expiatory, but,

1. As a commemorating ordinance. We are here to remember the person, love, and death of Christ, 1 Corinthians 11:24 .

2. A confessing ordinance. We hereby profess our esteem for Christ, and dependence upon him.

3. A communicating ordinance: blessings of grace are here commuicated to us.

4. A covenanting ordinance. God, in and by this ordinance, as it were, declares that he is ours, and we by it declare to be his.

5. A standing ordinance, for it is to be observed to the end of time, 1 Corinthians 11:26 . It seems to be quite an indifferent thing, what bread is used in this ordinance, or what coloured wine, for Christ took that which was readiest. The eating of the bread and drinking of the wine being always connected in Christ's example, they ought never to be separated: wherever one is given, the other should not be withheld. This bread and wine are not changed into the real body and blood of Christ, but are only emblems thereof.

See TRANSUBSTANTIATION. The subjects of this ordinance should be such as make a credible profession of the Gospel: the ignorant, and those whose lives are immoral, have no right to it; nor should it ever be administered as a test of civil obedience, for this is perverting the design of it.

None but true believers can approach it with profit; yet we cannot exclude any who make a credible profession, for God only is the judge of the heart, while we can only act according to outward appearances. Much has been said respecting, the time of administering it. Some plead for the morning, others the afternoon, and some for the evening; which latter, indeed, was the time of the first celebration of it, and is most suitable to a supper. How often it is to be observed, cannot be precisely ascertained from Scripture. Some have been for keeping it every day in the week; others four times a week; some every Lord's day, which many think is nearest the apostolic practice, Acts 20:7 . Others have kept it three times a year, and some one a year; but the most common is once a month. It evidently appears, however, both from Scripture, 1 Corinthians 11:26 . and from the nature of the ordinance, that it ought to be frequent. As to the posture: Dr. Doddridge justly observes, that it is greatly to be lamented that Christians have perverted an ordinance, intended as a pledge and means of their mutual union, into an occasion of discord and contention, by laying such a disproportionate stress on the manner in which it is to be administered, and the posture in which it is to be received.

As to the latter, a table posture seems most eligible, as having been used by Christ and his apostles, and being peculiarly suitable to the notion of a sacred feast; and kneeling, which was never introduced into the church till transubstantiation was received, may prove an occasion of superstition. Nevertheless, provided it be not absolutely imposed as a term of communion, it will be the part of Christian candour to acquiesce in the use of it in others by whom it is preferred. It appears that standing was at least frequently used in the Christian church, viz. always on the Lord's day, and between Easter and Whitsuntide. The manner in which this ordinance is administered, both in the church of England, and among Protestant Dissenters, is so well known, that we need say nothing of it here. We will only subjoin a few directions in what frame of mind we should attend upon this ordinance.

It should be with sorrow for our past sins, and easiness and calmness of affection, free from the disorders and ruffles of passion; with a holy awe and reverence of the Divine Majesty, yet with a gracious confidence and earnest desires toward God; with raised expectations; prayer, joy, and thanksgiving, and love to all men. When coming from it, we should admire the condescensions of divine grace; watch against the snares of Satan, and the allurements of the world; rejoice in the finished work of Christ, depend upon the gracious influence of the Spirit, that we may keep up a sense of the divine favour, and be longing for heaven, where we hope at last to join the general assembly of the first-born. The advantages arising from the participation of the Lord's supper are numerous.

1. It is a mean of strengthening our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

2. It affords great consolation and joy.

3. It increases love.

4. It has a tendency to enlighten our minds in the mystery of godliness.

5. It gives us an utter aversion to all kinds of sin, and occasions a hearty grief for it.

6. It has a tendency to excite and strengthen all holy desires in us.

7. It renews our obligations to our Lord and Master.

8. It binds the souls of Christians one to another.

See Cast's Sermons, ser. 7; and Henry Earle, Doolittle, Grove, and Robertson, on the Lord's Supper; Dr. Owen's, Charnock's Dr. Cudworth's, Mr. Willet's, Dr. Worthington's, Dr. Watts's, Bishop Warburton's, Bishop Cleaver's, and Dr. Bell's Pieces on the Subject. A variety of other treatises, explanatory of the nature and design of the Lord's supper, may be seen in almost any catalogue.


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Bibliography Information
Buck, Charles. Entry for 'Lord's Supper'. Charles Buck Theological Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/cbd/l/lords-supper.html. 1802.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, October 19th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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