LORD'S SUPPER, THE (lord's siip'pEr).
Four distinct accounts are given in the New Testament of our Lord's institution of the Holy Communion. Three of the Gospels contain the narrative in nearly the same terms, while the Apostle Paul, in the first Epistle to the Cor inthians, adds his detailed account, dcrived, as he emphatically tells us, not from the testimony of eyewitnesses, but from a special revelation made to him. It would seem as if there were little room for any controversy to arise as to the nature of this sacrament, when its original establishment has been so fully described. Nevertheless, the Lord's Supper, designed to be the conservator of peace and harmony, has been made a battle field of polemics.
In studying these accounts, the reader is first of all struck by the singular simplicity of the Lord's Supper. Nothing could be in more com plete contrast to the gorgeous ceremonial with which a later and less pure Christianity invested this memorial rite. Not in a splendid sanctuary, but in the upper chamber of a private house in Jerusalem. was the Communion first celebrated. Christ gave to his disciples no "manual of devo tion,' no elaborate directions as to postures, and no instructions how to handle the bread and hold the chalice.
It is supposable that some unusual things, dif ficult to obtain, might have been made the em blems of our Lord's sacrifice. On the contrary, he chose as symbols of his atoning oblation of himself bread and wine, both of which were elements of the Passover, and therefore at the moment on the table at which he gathered his friends. It was an anticipation of St. Paul's lan guage, "Whether therefore, ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." It was a simple meal in commemoration of the death of Christ. There is not even a word to indicate that a minister was necessary to its cele bration.
The language used by the Savior in the insti tution of this sacrament was such as makes it clearly, in its primary significance, a commemora tive act. He broke the bread, and gave it to them with the words, "Take, eat, this is my body." Now, setting aside for the present the Romish theory of a miraculous change by which the bread was altered in substance into the literal body of Christ, what could he have meant by such an expression? A simple illustratiOn affords the clearest an swer. Passing through a great gallery of art, some one points to a statue, and says, "That is Washington." Or standing before a portrait lie says, "That is Lincoln." The language, accord ing to all the ordinary usages of speech, would be perfectly accurate, and no one of intelligence could mistake its significance. The marble or bronze on the one hand, and the canvas and color on the other, represent the two great statesmen. In that upper chamber in Jerusalem, with' his human body visible to their eyes and tangible to their hands, Christ takes a piece of bread, and says, "This is my body." What possible meaning could those words have had to the disciples, ex cept this, that the bread broken represented his body so soon to be broken on the cross? Such a view of the Supper of the Lord in no way interferes with its efficacy as a means of grace. True, there is no incomprehensible "mys tery" about it. The Evangelical Christian does not approach the Lord's table as if it were some magic charm in which he is to find spiritual help, as the Romanist expects to find it in touching a relic of the saints, or the wood of "the true cross." Its philosophy is as clear as the noonday. For
what can rekindle the glow of love in the heart like the stirring of the memory? More than once during our Civil War a man drafted for the army was saved by a voluntary substitute, who took his place and died on the field of battle. Could that conscript, thus redeemed from death, ever behold the memento stained with the heart's blood of his substitute and not have his gratitude and love revived? With that memorial idea another is coupled. The Lord's Supper is a visible Gospel. We can not see these emblems of the Christ's death with out their preaching of his atonement. Perhaps, then, the question might be asked if we do not sat isfy all that the sacrament demands when we have looked upon the consecrated symbols of his dying love. NVhy eat the bread ? NVhy drink the wine? Is not the pictorial representation of our Lord's suffering all that is needed? The answer is that our bodily life is an emblem of our spiritual life. As we sustain bodily existence by eating and drinking, so by faith do we feed upon Christ. Even the Old Testament foreshadowed this prin ciple when the prophet, turning from Nlosaic rites, cried from the watchtower of vision, "The just shall live by faith." Christ echoed that truth when, long before the night in which he was betrayed, he solemnly declared, "Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you." That Ile did not here refer to Com nninion is clear. He thus spoke at least a year before he instituted the Lord's Supper. He was speak ing to an assembly of Jews, who could by no pos sibility know anything of the ordinance to be established in the future. Aloreover, when Ile found that they gave to his words a gross and unspiritual meaning, he corrected their misap prehension by telling them that in his body he was to ascend to heaven, and that his figurative allusion to his body and blood was only the teaching that the spirit is the support of all spiritual life, as food is the support of physical existence. "What and if ye shall behold the Son of man ascend up where Ile was before? It is the spirit which quickeneth. The flesh profiteth nothing. The words that I speak unto you, they arc spirit and they are life. ' Nothing seems plainer than that the Communion was instituted to keep ever in mind the fact that partaking of food is not more necessary to the physical than simple faith is to the spiritual existence.
In thus entering into fellowship with his suf fering NIaster, the believer also becomes a mem ber of the vast brotherhood, whatever be the name they bear, who partake of Christ by faith, "the blessed company of all faithful people." By faith in Christ "they all eat the saine spiritual meat and drink the same spiritual drink." That loving fellowship they symbolize and picture forth by this visible gathering around the same table, and exhibit their common luve and common in terest in each other by calling their memorial feast "the Communion.' C. E. C.
(For Lutheran View, see page 1757.) (15 rp'ha-mah),(Hcb.7177.171 lo-roo-khaw-maw', not pitied, not favored), a symbolical name given to the daughter of Hosea the prophet (Hos. 1:6, 8). It was to indicate that the Lord would not continue to show compassion toward the rebellious nation, as he hitherto had done under Jeroboam II (2 Kings xiii: 23). It is rendered in Hos. ii:23 "her that had not obtained mercy." When God restored his favor to the peo ple her name was changed to RUHAN1A11 (which see).