A Sermon Published on Thursday, February 4th, 1909,
Delivered by C.H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington,
On Lord’s-Day Evening, January 5th, 1873.
“This do in remembrance of me … This do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.’” — 1 Corinthians 11:24, 25.
IT is a wonderful proof of the deep depravity of human nature that men have made so much mischief out of the too symbolical ordinances which were instituted by the Lord Jesus Christ. You know how the ordinance of believers’ baptism has been perverted, twisted, and turned aside altogether from its pristine use; and the ordinance of the Lord’s supper has been quite as shamefully misrepresented. In neither case is there any excuse whatever for this perversion, for in each instance the regulations for its observance are perfectly simple and clear. In the institution of the Lord’s supper there was not a solitary word said about the new rite being a sacrifice nor so much, as a single syllable concerning an altar upon which it was to be offered. It was not instituted in the temple at Jerusalem, but in the upper room of a private house. It was not ordained at a great temple festival, but at the Passover supper, when Christ and his disciples were gathered around a table to feast together according to the ancient Jewish custom. There was nothing said by our Lord about any repetition of his one great sacrifice by the offering of the unbloody sacrifice of the mass of which the priests of Rome make so much. It is as simple and plain as it can possibly be: “This do in remembrance of me.” Those who stumble here, stumble, surely, in the light, and their eyes must be blinded, for there are no stumbling blocks in the ordinance itself.
Observe that Christ does not prescribe anything in the Lord’s supper by way of elaborate ceremonial. There is nothing at all resembling the various intricate rules that are laid down for the celebration of the mass in the Church of Rome, or even for the celebration of the communion in the Church of England. Nothing is here ordered to be done except the breaking of bread, and the eating of it, and the pouring out of wine, and the drinking of it; and these two things are to be done in remembrance of Christ. He has not even laid down any rule with regard to the posture that is to be assumed by communicants. I have no doubt whatever that the disciples were reclining around the supper-table in the usual Oriental manner, but Christ does not say that we are to recline, or kneel, or stand, or sit for the right observance of the ordinance. Nothing appears to be really essential to the right celebration of this supper by believers in the Lord Jesus Christ but just this: “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 remembrance of me.” How very little there is here of anything like a grand ceremony!
And yet, mark you, there is a certain rubric, with regard to the spiritual part of the Lord’s supper, which is not left to anybody’s choice. It is essential, it is the very soul and marrow of the ordinance that we should remember Christ in it: “This do in remembrance of me.” The external order may vary in certain respects, but the internal essence must be there, else you will have the mere dead carcase, and you will have lost the soul, the spirit, the very life of the whole ordinance. Again and again our Savior says, “This do in remembrance of me… This do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.” To remember Christ, then, is the main point in the right observance of this ordinance; — to let the memory look him in the face again, to put the finger once more into the print of the nails, and to thrust the hand again into his side; once again to adore the Savior whose head for us was crowned with thorns, but is now coroneted with glory; — to remember him, to recall him, that is our main business as we gather around his table. May God graciously grant to us the grace to attain to that which is the very essence, and soul, and life of the Lord’s supper, that, is, the remembrance of Christ!
I. And, first, let me remark, dear brethren and sisters in Christ, that, as we gather around the Lord’s table, OTHER MEMORIES WILL COME, BUT THEY MUST NOT BE ALLOWED TO CROWD OUT THE ONE MEMORY: “This do in remembrance of me.”
Other memories will come, — I am sure they will come to me, and I believe that they will come also to my Christian brethren and sisters here. You will remember well the time when you did not know Jesus. With deep regret, our memory will go back to the period when the little that we did know of Christ was misused; when we despised and rejected him, when we had ill words for his people, and hard words for everything that concerned him. It is a profitable exercise for us to look unto the rock whence we were hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence we were digged. That is not an ill memory with which to come to our Lord’s table, with our eyes full of the tears of repentance for our past sin, yet rejoicing that we are now washed and cleansed, although once we were defiled, and altogether unfit to occupy the children’s place.
Will you not remember, too, the times when God’s Spirit first began to work upon you, and you hovered around the cross, and, in consequence, began also to hover around the communion table? Do you remember when you sat up in the gallery, and looked down on the people of God who were gathered to remember their Lord in the observance of this ordinance? Your mother was there, and perhaps your brothers and sisters were there, and mayhap a wife was there, or a husband was there, and you felt the separation from them very sorely, and the more because you feared that it might be the prelude to an eternal separation, when those who have been joined together by ties of blood must be separated from one another as far as heaven is from hell because they have never really been one in Christ Jesus. You remember the prayers that you used to put up, that you also might know Jesus as your Savior, and might then be able to make a profession of your faith, and come to his table with your loved ones to remember him. I recollect well those times in my own experience; and as I recall them, I bless the Lord that he answered my prayers, and set me also among his children.
Do you not also recollect the time when you first came to his table? With some of you, it was in the first flush of your youth. You had heard of Jesus, and believed on him, and straightway you said, “I will be his disciple, and I will take up his cross, and follow him.” You joined his Church; and then, when the hour came that you should, for the first time, enjoy the privilege of fellowship with him at his table, you reckoned on it with eager anticipation, and you came to your first communion service with much prayer and holy longing that you might meet your Lord there. It was a very precious season to you. Since then, you may have had better times than that, but probably none that you remember better, and none in which there was a greater freshness about your heart’s affection for your Lord. The bloom was on the peach then; the dew of the morning was still on the field that the Lord had blessed. Possibly, some of that dew and that bloom has been brushed away by contact with the world, but it was very fresh and beautiful then. It cannot be unprofitable for you to remember the love of your espousals; and if that remembrance should lead you to do your first works with your first love, that memory will not be out of place even at your Lord’s table.
And, brethren and sisters in Christ, as we are coming again to the communion table at the close of this service, there are hallowed memories that come to me, just now, of some who used to sit with us at this table, some officers of the church who sat on this platform, and many members of the church who sat down there, and there, and there, — good men and true, and holy women, and young saints who rejoiced in Christ, workers of different sorts, and sufferers of different kinds, persons of differing rank and degree, but “all one in Christ Jesus;” and now they are enjoying the higher fellowship in the kingdom of their Father above. They were ready “to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better,” and that is now their blessed portion. I am sure that such memories as these must come to many of you, for some of you are occupying the very seats upon which they used to sit, or else next to you there sits one who did not sit there this time last year. Well, I do not think these are unprofitable memories, because they link us to those who have gone in to see the King, and help us to remember the mighty hosts of the redeemed who have triumphed through his grace, and are now with him in his glory. They also help us to realize the unity of the one Church of Jesus Christ, of which we sometimes sing, —
“One family we dwell in him
One church above, beneath,
Though now divided by the stream,
The narrow stream of death.”
There also come to same of us the memories of dear ones who are not here, though their hearts are here, for sickness has detained them from the communion table these many days. Some of us who have experienced the bitterness of that deprivation, feel intense sympathy with other sufferers who are kept away from the sacred feast; and we pay the Master to send home to each of them a blessing that shall fill their souls with rejoicing, and their mouths with thanksgiving. As David ordained that those who tarried by the stuff should share equally with those who went down to the battle, so may those who are shut out from the public ministry, and the observance of the ordinance with us here, have a special portion direct from the Master’s own hand and heart.
And as we sit here, some of us think with great pleasure of those who are sitting with us. I regret that we are so often tempted to remember the fault of our fellow-Christians. Oh, may they be blotted from my memory for ever! Let us treasure the virtues and excellences of our fellow-members, and search for signs of the Spirit’s work in them; and, remembering our own imperfections and failures, let us not fix our eyes upon their defects. But there are many sitting with us here who are monuments of God’s grace; and as we look at them, we recollect what God has done for their souls. Some dear brethren and sisters here have been made very useful to others during the past year; and if they turn their eyes a little, they can see many of their spiritual children sitting around them. I know that it is a joyous memory to them that the past year was a fruitful one in their portion of the Lord’s vineyard; and I also bless God as I look many of you in the face, for I know that there is a love between us which many waters cannot quench, because in this place God first spoke to your souls by the ministry of his Word. These memories are profitable ones, and we do well to remember those who form a part of the one mystical body of Christ. Is it not a part of our communion that the members of Christ’s body should commune with their follow-members as well as with their glorious Head?
One dark memory, however, crosses my mind, a I have no doubt it often crossed the minds of those who was with Christ that night when he said, “This do in remembrance of me,” and that was the remembrance of Judas. It was that sentence, “One of you shall betray me,” that made the night so sorrowful to the who were in that upper room, and Judas has had many successors in the Church. There have been those even high in official standing who, nevertheless, have bartered their Lord and Master for paltry silver. Alas! alas! alas! while we remember those who have done so, it will not be with the self-righteousness that makes us think we should never have done it, but with the sacred caution which enquires, “Lord, shall I also do this thing?” and with the holy prayerfulness that cries, “Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe.”
Now I think all these memories are natural, allowable, and profitable, but they must be kept in a secondary place, and they must never crowd out the remembrance of Christ. He did not say to his disciples, “This do ye in remembrance of one another,” or “in remembrance of your own conversion,” or “in remembrance of your former state of sin,” but he said, “This do in remembrance of me.” So, I claim the first place for remembrance of the Master, and I say to these other memories, “Stand back! Stand back, and let him fill the central position, let him occupy the throne. If ye will, ye may sit upon the steps of his grand throne; but upon that throne ye must not sit, that is for him who says to his disciples, ‘This do in remembrance of me.’”
II. Note, next, that THIS ORDINANCE IS VERY HELPFUL TO THAT ONE SACRED MEMORY, — the memory of Christ.
The emblems upon the table, — covered up from your sight at present, but to be visible soon, — the bread and wine remind us that Jesus Christ was truly man. When he came upon this earth, he was no phantom. Even after his resurrection, when his disciples supposed that they had seen a spirit, he said to them, “Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.” He took a piece of a broiled fish, and of a honeycomb, and did eat it before them. The apostle John says that they had seen him with their eyes and had handled him with their hands. He was really God manifest in the flesh; and we are thankful that, in this ordinance, there are two material emblems set before us to remind us that, although our holy religion is most deeply spiritual, yet it also touches the material for Christ was verily bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh, man of the substance of his mother, and as such he lived, and as such he really died.
These signs being laid upon a table are meant to show us, next, the familiarity of our blessed Lord with us. The bread is not elevated so as to be exhibited to you while you bow down before it as if it were your God, nor is the wine in the cup lifted up as an object of adoration and worship; but both these emblems are placed upon the table, the bread to be eaten, and the wine to be drunk. This is to remind us that the Word of God, incarnate, Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior, was familiar with the sons of men. “He came unto his own;” he was a man among men; he was with them at their feasts, and he wept with them at their funerals, he suffered hunger, and thirst, and weariness, and pain as we do, he spoke familiarly yet faithfully with the poor sinful woman at Sychar’s well, and he spoke in a similar style to the great multitude. He was no recluse, he was no Oriental potentate, guarded from the throng, but he was ever among the people, healing their sicknesses, and sympathizing with them in their sorrows.
This is a great blessing to us, because, while Jesus thus comes near to us, we are thereby invited to draw near to him. The bread is placed upon the table, but the table is not lifted up beyond our reach; and we are bidden to gather round it, and to eat the bread that is upon it, and so to have the most familiar acquaintance with that which is upon the table. So, to-day, Jesus invites the sinful and the sorrowful to come to him. “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” And as for his own people, he is so familiar with them that, if there were anything he had not told them, which was really for their good, he would tell them now He said to his disciples, concerning the many mansions in his Father’s house, “If it were not so, I would have told you;” and he also said to them, “Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.” Jesus Christ is not like Moses, whose glory repelled, but his glory attracts. He is the good Shepherd who delights to fold the lambs in his bosom. He is the Man among men who loves men, and loves to have men about him, for his delights still are, as they ever have been, with the sons of men.
This truth ought to help us to remember our Lord, — that he is truly man, a man among us, near to us, to whom we are very dear, and who should be, and I trust is, very dear to us. He is our Brother, ay, he is nearer even than a brother, for he is a part of ourselves. Have I exaggerated in using that expression? No, for is he not our Head, and are we not “members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones,” and should we not therefore rejoice that we are reminded of this great fact by the homely tokens which set him forth so familiarly in this ordinance?
Then you will note, by-and-by, that the bread has to be broken and the wine poured forth, to show the sufferings of the Savior. The bread itself is a most impressive type of suffering. The corn is buried in the dark earth, pinched by many a frost when it peers above the ground, and exposed to many trials ere it comes to its full growth. When it is ripe, it is cut down with a sharp sickle, threshed with many a heavy blow, then ground in the mill, the flour kneaded into dough, pressed into the shape of loaves, thrust into a hot oven, and baked, and then in this last process broken. Our blessed Master seemed to be passing through all that experience in his lifetime on earth; he actually used some of the processes that I have described as pictures of himself, as in that notable instance when he said, “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth fruit.” Especially was that last part of the process the breaking of the bread as a type of his sufferings, — illustrated throughout his whole life. When did he not suffer? What sorrows were crowded into the three years of his public ministry! His life was one of constant suffering, and then at the last came the great climax of it all, and none of us can fully tell what was meant by Gethsemane and its bloody sweat, by Gabbatha and its terrible flagellation, and by Golgotha and its cruel and shameful death upon the accursed tree. There is, also, another most suggestive symbol of Christ’s sufferings in the various processes that result in “the fruit of the vine” in the cup on the communion table; both emblems impressively set forth our Savior’s sufferings.
But you have more than that, for you have Christ’s death set forth in the instructive symbol of the bread separated from the wine. To mix them in one cup would be to spoil the whole metaphorical teaching of the ordinance. The blood with the flesh is life, but the blood drained from the flesh is death. The blood is represented by the wine by itself in the cup, and the bread by itself represents the flesh; and the two emblems together set forth death, and a violent death, such a death as Jesus died. Did you not sing of it just now, —
“See from his head, his hands, his feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?”
Never forget that the punishment for sin is not simply suffering, but death. “The soul that sinneth it shall die;” and it was not until Christ died that the debt, which was due from, his people to the justice of God, was fully discharged. The two emblems in this ordinance, therefore, needed to be separate in order to set before us the death of our dear Lord and Savior, and so to help us to remember him.
Then, the eating of the bread and the drinking of the wine symbolize our reception of Christ into our innermost selves. After looking at the signs, they who communicate eat and drink thereof to show, as in a figure, how Christ is received into the soul. Faith must be the mouth of the soul, and into that mouth we must receive Christ himself, and live upon him. That new life, which God has created within us, must be fed and sustained by the grand truth of the atonement of Christ, the wondrous doctrine of his substitutionary sacrifice on behalf of all who believe in him. There is a very important point of instruction there, and I pray that none of you may ever miss it.
The thought also occurred to me that, when the feast is over, and the bread is eaten, and the wine is drunk, no one ever says, “Where shall we find the bread for another observance of the supper?” or “Whence shall we get wine that we may come again to celebrate this sacred feast?” No; for everybody knows that, practically, of bread there is no stint, and of wine there is no limit, so it seems as though, among other reasons, these two emblems were selected to teach us, by their plenteousness, the all-sufficiency of Christ. When we have spiritually fed upon him to-night, there is as much for us to feed upon to-morrow, and when we have been drinking with joy in remembrance of him, we may come and drink again and again, for this is a very sea of blessing of which we are bidden to drink. If you took a cupful of water from the sea, there would be so much the less the though none could tell the difference; but if you took an oceanful of love and joy out of the Redeemer, there would be none the less left in him. It is true of his grace that it is not diminished by all that his people receive of it, and it never can be exhausted. ‘Tis pleasant to gather fruit where there are many heavily-laden trees, and to receive money from a store in which there is much left after we have had all we need; and it is pleasant to come and feast at a table that is still richly laden after myriads have been fed at it, and that is still as full as over though ten thousand times ten thousand saints have here been feasted to the full.
Thus I think I have shown you, and I pray the Holy Spirit to show you that, in this ordinance, there is much to help us to remember our Lord and Savior.
III. But now, beloved, in the third place, it may be useful to you if I call to your mind anew the fact THAT THE REMEMBRANCE OF CHRIST IS OF ITSELF MOST NEEDFUL FOR ALL BELIEVERS.
For, first, the remembrance of Christ is the prolongation of the act of faith. What is faith but the first look at Christ, and what is remembering him but continuing to look at him. At any rate, if it is not the same thing, the one act leads up to the other, for never did any soul truly remember Christ without its faith growing. Come then to the Lord’s table, all ye who are alive unto God through faith in Jesus Christ, and pray that here your faith may be greatly increased. You have believed on him, and he is made of God unto you “wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.” You have trusted in him, and you are pardoned, accepted, saved by him. Come then to his table, looking to him as your Savior, looking to him in whom you are accepted, looking to him through whom you hope to enter into heaven at the last. Let your remembrance be blessed to you as being the continuance of your first faith.
Then, next, the remembrance of Christ is a very blessed stimulus to our love. “Absence makes the heart grow fonder,” say some. That is a questionable proverb in relation to our earthly friends, but I am sure that it never was true, and never will be true with regard to Christ and his people. We must be with him really to love him; and the longer we are with him, the more we shall love him; and when we are with him for ever and for ever without a break, then shall we love him with all our heart, and soul, and strength, without coldness or chill for ever. Remembrance of Christ will bring him to you; it will hold up his portrait before your mind’s eye, and enable you to see his heart beating with love to you; it will make you feel that he still loves you although he reigns exalted high, and the your love will flow out to him more freely in return.
And, beloved, there will be another good thing which will come out of this remembrance of Christ, for it will be the suggestion to you of renewed hope. When a man remembers that Jesus Christ is really his, then he saith, “Have I such a Savior as this? Then, by-and-by, I shall be with him where he is, and I shall behold his glory, for that is his prayer concerning me. His arm is strong enough to keep me; his heart is warm enough to love me; his eyes are bright enough to see me; I know that I shall be eternally saved by him.”
It seems to me also that, coming to this communion table to remember Christ, if we really do remember him, is like a recall, as when you have heard the trumpet sound for the soldiers to come back to the standard. It is a recall from the world; it says to you, “Now forget your business, forget your pains, forget your family cares, forget everything but your Lord; come back, poor perplexed Martha, and become like Mary, and sit at Christ’s feet. This do in remembrance of him.” It is a recall from self. You have been saying, “I have not grown in grace as I hoped to do, my doubts are many, my sins innumerable, my spiritual state is not what I would fain have it;” then come back from all that to your Lord again, — from the filthiness to the cleansing fountain, from the leprosy to the healing, from prison to the great Liberator, from your poverty to his wealth, from your lost estate to him who is all your salvation, and all your desire, and who says to you, “This do in remembrance of me.” It calls you back from introspection, from looking within to looking away to your Lord, looking off unto Jesus.
And does not this remembrance call all of us back to our Lord from whatever we have been engaged in, even for his own name’s sake? Have we been engaged in controversy? Have we been fighting for liberty of worship, for the severance of Church and State, for Calvinistic doctrine, for some view of the Second Advent, or for any particular form of doctrine? Then I think I hear the voice of Jesus saying, “Come back, my child, from the battlefield on which thou hast been contending with a brave and true heart for the defense of my faith: come back to me, myself. I call thee now not to remember doctrine, but to remember me. “This do in remembrance of me.” So let us come together to his table though we differ from one another in many respects; we can remember him in unity here wherever else we may not be able to unite. And let us come back, too, from all our Christian labors. I would like to forget, at this table, everything that is faulty in my own work, or in the work of my brethren, or in their characters, everything that might, grieve, and vex, and annoy. We will try to put it all away from us, for just now our Lord’s command to us is, “This do in remembrance of me.”
I said that this remembrance was like a recall, to summon the soldiers back to the standard; but it also seems to me like the morning bugle sounding clearly throughout the camp to wake the soldiers. “This do in remembrance of me.” Christ has gone up into his glory, away from the damps and mists of earth. Think, beloved, of the glory and brightness that abound where he standeth, and of which he is the central sun; and from that glory, clear and shrill, as though it were the first notes from the archangel’s trumpet, I hear the message sounding again and again, “Remember me! Remember me! Remember me in my glory as well as in my shame; remember me in my triumph as well as in my warfare. ‘This do in remembrance of me.’” If we have really believed in Jesus, let us come to his table as though our communion here were the first course of that everlasting supper to which we shall sit down with him above; or, to change the figure, and make it more correct, let this sad feast be, as one of the martyrs called it, the breakfast, wherein we break the long fast of this world, and feed on heaven’s bread with Christ, knowing that we shall soon be at the great marriage supper of the Lamb, which shall know no end, and where we shall feast for ever in his sight.
Is it not true, then, that in this remembrance there is much that is precious, and valuable, and really needful to all who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ?
IV. But now I must close by reminding you that THIS SYMBOLIC FESTIVAL IS HIGHLY BENEFICIAL IN REFRESHING OUR MEMORIES.
I am sure we need this supper, though it be but a material feast, because we are yet in the body. There are some people who, if they had the power, would be presumptuous enough to do away with baptism and the Lord’s supper because they have been so grossly misused; but if they could blot them out, it would be an irreparable loss to the Church of Christ. These ordinances are the only link between the spirituality of our faith and materialism; but we must remember that God has not flung away materialism as a thing that cannot be bettered. He did curse the earth once, and it still brings forth thorns and thistles, but he does not mean it to remain under the curse always. There will come a time when there shall be a new heaven and a new earth literally; and here, where sin has triumphed grace shall reign. Believers are still here in the body, but Paul’s words are as true to-day as when he wrote them, “Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you?” These very bodies of ours shall rise again from the grave, they may sleep in the dust for a while, but they shall come again from the land of their captivity, and in our flesh shall we see God, and our body as well as our spirit shall enjoy an eternity of bliss with our Savior in his body as well as in his spirit in his great triumph. Of course, it will not be such flesh as it now is, for flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, but, still, it will be the same body, though it will have undergone a wonderful change. So I thank God for the two ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s supper, because they teach me that nothing is common or unclean. They sanctify the rivers to me, they sanctify my daily bread to me, they make me feel, not as if I lived, like a Brahmin, in a world where everything might pollute me, but like a Christian, in a world where Christ has lived, and in a position in which everything may be to me “holiness unto the Lord” If my heart is right before him.
Not only is this symbolic festival beneficial to us because materialism still appertains to our bodies, but it is specially so because Jesus appointed it. He would never have appointed a needless ceremony, and he was no lover of useless ceremonial. He never wrote a Directorium (is not that the name of it?) giving instructions as to how to celebrate various ecclesiastical ceremonies. So, as he has ordained this memorial he must have known that we needed it because of our forgetfulness; and we may be quite sure that, as he has ordained it, he will make it answer the ends for which he instituted it.
Besides, experience has taught many of us how valuable this ordinance is. I can bear my own witness that, many and many a Sabbath, when I have found but little food for my own soul elsewhere, I have found it at the communion table. You know that sometimes, we who preach the gospel are not ourselves fed by it even when those who hear us may be feasting upon it; but the Master still presides at his own table, and he sees that the minister is fed as well as the rest of the communicants. I have been in a foreign land, where there was no congregation to meet for public worship, but the two or three believers who were there have always broken bread together each Sabbath day, and it has been to us quite a full service, most strengthening to the soul, when we have gathered around the table of our Lord to do “this” in remembrance of him.
One other thing I will mention, and that is, how often has Christ set his seal to this supper by blessing it, not only to those who were doing it in remembrance of him, but even to those who were only spectators. It is an encouraging thought to us that the Spirit of God, while he has been hovering over the assembly of believers in Jesus, has turned his eyes of pity upon those who were but observers, looking on at the ordinance, and has made the symbols to be a sermon, and the communion service to be a most impressive discourse; and many there are, now in heaven, who were led there through holy thoughts that were first implanted in their minds and hearts at the communion feast; and many others are on their way to glory whose feet were first guided into the right road while they were watching others who had met together thus to remember their dear Lord and Savior. So prize this ordinance much, beloved, because it is so highly beneficial to you in refreshing your memories, and also because, incidentally, it may be made a means of blessing to others.
I close by saying that it is clear, from our Lord’s command, that attendance at this ordinance is binding upon all Christians. “This do” — not, “This look at” — but, “This do in remembrance of me.” All who truly love their Lord should hear him say to them, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” Some believers neglect this ordinance. If any such are in this congregation now, I would say to them, — Beloved friends, you are losing a great blessing, and you are disobedient to your Lord. Think what would happen if all other believers were to do as you are doing. If they did (and they have as much right to do it as you have), then the Lord’s supper would cease to be celebrated, and this showing forth of Christ’s death, which is to go on “till he come,” would necessarily cease. Your abstaining from church-membership and your neglect of the two ordinances appointed by Christ is an example which it would be disastrous for all others to follow. Do not imagine that this neglect on your part can be right, but end it at the first convenient opportunity. The observance of this ordinance will not save you; and if you are not already saved, you have no right to partake of it; but if you are saved, if you have really believed in Jesus, he says to you, “This do in remembrance of me.”
Remember, too, that this ordinance is to be often observed by all Christians. Our Lord said to his disciples, “This do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.” I will not say that Christ actually laid down the rule that it should be observed often, but it seems to me that his words imply that it should be; and as often as it is observed, it should be in remembrance of him. Do not live month after month without remembering Christ by means of these outward signs which he has himself appointed as his special memorial. Remember him often. Pray that memory may ever bear his image on its very front, but do not neglect the helpful ordinance which the Lord himself instituted for you.
And then, last of all, never come to this table except it be with the solemn determination that you will remember him. You mock Christ if you regard this communion as anything other than the remembrance of him. What is there in that bread, what is there in that wine? There is nothing whatsoever there but bread and wine after we have invoked a blessing upon them just as there was before. We pay these emblems no reverence of any kind, nor could we do so without being guilty of idolatry. There is nothing in the whole ordinance but a help to our memory, and I have tried to explain to you how it does help the memory; but if you do not remember Jesus, if you have no faith in him, if you do not love him, if you do not cast yourselves wholly upon him, what business have you at his table? You have no part nor lot in this matter. Faith in Christ first, then baptism, then the Lord’s supper; but neither of these ordinances is for unbelievers, and whosoever dares to observe them as an unbeliever, or to get others who believe not in Christ to observe them, is a profaner of the ordinances, a thief and a robber who is doing incalculable mischief to the souls of men. Come to Jesus first, believe in him, and you shall be saved. Go to the foot of the cross, confessing your sin, and trusting in him who hung there; and then, after that, we are told to bid you remember all things that he has commanded you, and to tell you that he has promised to be with us even to the end of the age. Observe ye, then, these things in their right order; faith in Jesus first, and then obedience to Jesus and the remembrance of Jesus in his own appointed way. If you miss the all-important matter of faith in Jesus, you have gained the chaff, but lost the wheat; you have gained the salt, but it hath no savor; you have a name to live, but you have not life eternal. God grant that none of us may be found thus lacking the one thing needful, for Jesus Christ’s sake! Amen.