By Thomas Clarkson (1806)
Supper of the Lord—Two such suppers, one enjoined by
Moses, the other by Jesus Christ—The former called the Passover—Original manner
of its celebration—The use of bread and wine added to it—Those long in use when
Jews Christ celebrated it—Since his time, alterations made in this supper by
the Jews—But bread and wine still continued to be component parts of it, and
continue so to the present day—Modern manner of the celebration of it.
There are two suppers of the Lord recorded in the Scriptures; the first enjoined by Moses, and the second by Jesus Christ.
The first is called the Supper of the Lord, because it was the last supper which Jesus Christ participated with his disciples, or which the Lord and master celebrated with them in commemoration of the Passover. And it may not improperly be called the Supper of the Lord on another account, because it was the supper which the lord and master of every Jewish family celebrated, on the same festival, in his own house.
This supper was distinguished, at the time alluded to, by the name of the Passover Supper. The object of the institution of it was to commemorate the event of the Lord passing over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt, when he smote the Egyptians, and delivered the former from their hard and oppressive bondage.
The directions of Moses concerning this festival were short, but precise.
On the fourteenth day of the first month, called Nissan, the Jews were to kill a lamb in the evening. It was to be eaten in the same evening, roasted with fire, and the whole of it was to be eaten, or the remains of it to be consumed with fire before morning. They were to eat it with loins girded, with their shoes on their feet, and with their staves in their hands, and to eat it in haste. The bread which they were to eat, was to be unleavened, all of it, and for seven days. There was to be no leaven in their houses during that time. Bitter herbs also were to be used at this feast. And none who were uncircumcised were allowed to partake of it.
This was the simple manner in which the Passover, and the feast of unleavened bread, which was included in it, were first celebrated. But as the Passover, in the age following its institution, was not to be killed and eaten in any other place than where the Lord chose to fix his name, which was afterwards at Jerusalem, it was suspended for a time. The Jews, however, retained the festival of unleavened bread, wherever they dwelt. At this last feast, in process of time, they added the use of wine to the use of bread. The introduction of the wine was followed by the introduction of new customs. The Lord or master of the feast used to break the bread, and to bless it, saying, “Blessed be thou, O Lord, who givest us the fruits of the earth.” He used to take the cup, which contained the wine, and bless it also: “Blessed be thou, O Lord, who givest us the fruit of the vine.” The bread was twice blessed upon this occasion, and given once to every individual at the feast. But the cup was handed round three times to the guests. During the intervals between the blessing and the taking of the bread and of the wine, the company acknowledged the deliverance of their ancestors from the Egyptian bondage; they lamented their present state; they confessed their sense of the justice of God in their punishment; and they expressed their hope of his mercy from his former kind dealings and gracious promises.
In process of time, when the Jews were fixed at Jerusalem, they revived the celebration of the Passover, and as the feast of unleavened bread was connected with it, they added the customs of the latter, and blended the eating of the lamb and the use of the bread and wine, and several accompaniments of consecration, into one ceremony. The bread therefore and the wine had been long in use as constituent parts of the Passover-supper, and indeed of all the solemn feasts of the Jews, when Jesus Christ took upon himself, as master of his own family of disciples, to celebrate it. When he celebrated it, he did as the master of every Jewish family did at that time. He took bread, and blessed, and broke, and gave to his disciples. He took the cup of wine, and gave it to them also. But he conducted himself differently from others in one respect, for he compared the bread of the Passover to his own body, and the wine to his own blood, and led the attention of his disciples from the old object of the Passover, or deliverance from Egyptian bondage, to a new one, or deliverance from sin.
Since the time of our Savior, we find that the Jews, who have been dispersed in various parts of the world, have made alterations in this supper: but all of them have concurred in retaining the bread and wine as component parts of it. This will be seen by describing the manner in which it is celebrated at the present day.
On the fourteenth day of the month Nissan, the first-born son of every family fasts, because the first-born in Egypt were smitten on that night. A table is then set out, and covered with a cloth. On the middle of it is placed a large dish, which is covered with a napkin. A large Passover cake of unleavened bread, distinguished by marks, and denominated “Israelite,” is then laid upon this napkin. Another, with different marks, but denominated “Levite,” is laid upon the first: and a third, differently marked, and denominated “Priest,” is laid upon the second. Upon this again a large dish is placed, and in this dish is a shank bone of a shoulder of lamb, with a small matter of meat on it, which is burnt quite brown on the fire. This is instead of the lamb roasted with fire. Near this is an egg, roasted hard in hot ashes, that it may not be broken, to express the totality of the lamb. There is also placed on the table a small quantity of raw chervil instead of the bitter herbs ordered; also a cup with salt water, in remembrance of the sea crossed over after that repast; also a stick of horse radish with its green top to it, to represent the bitter labor that made the eyes of their ancestors water in slavery; and a couple of round balls, made of bitter almonds pounded with apples, to represent their labor in lime and brinks. The seat or couch of the master is prepared at the head of the table, and raised with pillows, to represent the masterly authority of which the Jews were deprived in bondage. The meanest of the servants are seated at the table for two nights with their masters, mistresses, and superiors, to denote that they were all equally slaves in Egypt, and that all ought to give the same ceremonial thanks for their redemption. Cups also are prepared for the wine, of which each person must drink four in the course of the ceremony. One cup extraordinary is set on the table for Elias, which is drank by the youngest in his stead.
All things having been thus prepared, the guests wash their hands, and seat themselves at table. The master of the family, soon after this, takes his cup of wine in his right hand, and the rest at the table doing the same, he says, together with all the others, “Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who hast created the fruit of the vine.” This is followed by a. thanksgiving for the institution of the Passover. Then the cup of wine is drank by all. Afterwards the master of the family says, “Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who hast sanctified us with thy commandments, and commanded us to cleanse our hands.”
Then the master of the family desires the guests to partake of the chervil dipped in salt water, which he gives them with an appropriate blessing. He makes them touch also the dish, containing the egg and shank bone of the lamb, and repeat with him a formula of words suited to the subject. He then takes the second cup of wine, and uses words in conjunction with the rest, expressive of the great difference between this and any other night. After this, copious remarks follow on the institution of the Passover. Then follow queries and answers of the rabbis on this subject: then historical accounts of the Jews: then the fifteen acts of the goodness of God to the Jewish nation, which they make out thus:--He led the Jews out of Egypt: he punished the Egyptians: he executed judgment on their gods: he slew their first-born: he gave the Jews wealth: he divided the sea for them: he made them pass through it as on dry land: he drowned the Egyptians in the same: he gave food to the Jews for forty years in the wilderness; he fed them with manna: he gave them the Sabbath: he brought them to Mount Sinai: he gave them the law: he brought them to the Laud of Promise: he built the Temple.
When these acts of the goodness of God, with additional remarks on the Passover out of Rabbi Gamaliel, have been recited, all the guests touch the dish which contains the three cakes of bread before mentioned, and say: “This sort of unleavened bread, which we eat, is because there was not sufficient time for the dough of our ancestors to rise, until the blessed Lord, the King of Kings, did reveal himself to redeem them, as it is written. And they baked unleavened cakes of the dough, which they brought forth out of Egypt; for it was not leavened, because they were thrust out of Egypt, and could not tarry; neither had they prepared for themselves any victuals.” After this they touch the horse-radish and join in a narration on the subject of their bondage. Then they take their third cup of wine, and pronounce a formula of adoration and praise, accompanied with blessings and thanksgivings, in allusion to the historical part of the Passover. After this the master of the family washes his hands and says, “Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who hast sanctified us with thy Commandments, and commanded us to cleanse our hands.” He then breaks the uppermost cake of bread in the dish, and says, “Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who hast brought forth bread from the earth.” Then he takes half of another cake of bread, and breaks it, and says, “Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who hast sanctified us with thy commandments, and commanded us to eat the unleavened bread.” Then he gives every one at the table of each of the two cakes of bread that are broken, and every one repeats audibly the two last blessings. He then takes the green top from the horse-radish, and puts on the balls before mentioned, and pronounces a blessing. He then puts these into the hands of the guests, and they pronounce the same. After this, he cuts the bottom cake, and puts a piece of it upon a piece of horse-radish, and pronounces a formula of words, in allusion to an historical fact.
These ceremonies having been thus completed, the guests sup.
After supper, a long grace is said. Then the fourth cup is filled. A long prayer follows, on the subject of creation. This is again followed by a hymn, enumerating and specifying the twelve wonders which God did at midnight. Another hymn succeeds, specifying the fifteen great works which God did at different times, both on the night, and on the day, of the Passover. Then follows a prayer in praise of God, in which a desire is expressed, that they may again he brought to Jerusalem. Then follows a blessing on the fourth cup which is taken; after which another hymn is sung, in which the assistance of the Almighty is invoked for the rebuilding of the temple. This hymn is followed by thirteen canticles, enumerating thirteen remarkable things belonging to the Jews, soon after which the ceremony ends.
This is the manner, or nearly the manner, in which the Passover is now celebrated by the Jews. The bread is still continued to be blessed, and broken, and divided, and the cup to be blessed and handed round among the guests. And this is done, whether they live in Asia, or in Europe, or in any other part of the known world.
Second Supper is that enjoined by Jesus at
Capernaum—It consists of bread from Heaven—or of the flesh and blood of
Christ—But these not of a material nature, like the Passover-bread, or corporeal
part of Jesus—but wholly of a spiritual—Those who receive it, are spiritually
nourished by it, and may be said to sup with Christ—This supper supported the
Patriarchs—and must be taken by all Christians—Various ways in which this supper
may be enjoyed.
The second supper recorded in the scriptures, in which bread, and the body, and blood of Christ, are mentioned, is that which was enjoined by Jesus, when he addressed the multitude at Capernaum. Of this supper, the following account may be given: “Labour not, says he to the multitude, for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of Man shall give unto you.”
A little farther on, in the same chapter, when the Jews required a sign from heaven, (such as when Moses gave their ancestors manna in the wilderness,) in order that they might believe on him, he addressed them thus: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven: but my father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he that cometh down from heaven, and giveth light unto the world.”
Then said they unto him, “Lord, evermore give us this bread.” And Jesus said unto them, “I am the bread of life. He that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth in me, shall never thirst.”
It appears, that in the course of these and other words that were spoken upon this occasion, the Jews took offence at Jesus Christ, because he said, he was the bread that came down from heaven; for they knew he was the son of Joseph, and they knew both his father and his mother. Jesus therefore directed to them the following observations:
“I am the bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof and not die. I am the living bread, which came down from heaven. If any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever. And the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” The Jews, therefore, strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat? Then Jesus said unto them, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whosoever eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living father hath sent me, and I live by the father, so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread that came down from heaven. Not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead. He that eateth of this bread, shall live forever.”
As the Jews were still unable to comprehend the meaning of his words, which they discovered by murmuring and pronouncing them to be hard sayings, Jesus Christ closes his address to them in the following words:
“It is the spirit that quickeneth. The flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.”
It appears from hence, according to the Quakers, that Jesus Christ, in mentioning the loaves, took occasion to spiritualize, as he did on all other fit occasions, and to direct the attention of his followers from natural to spiritual food, or from the food that perisheth, to that which giveth eternal life.
Jesus Christ calls himself upon this occasion the living bread. He says that this bread is his flesh, and that this flesh is meat indeed. The first conclusion which the Quakers deduce on this subject, is, that this bread, or this flesh and blood, or this meat, which he recommends to his followers, and which he also declares to be himself, is not of a material nature. It is not, as he himself says, like the ordinary meat that perisheth, nor like the outward manna, which the Jews ate in the wilderness for their bodily refreshment. It cannot therefore be common bread, nor such bread as the Jews ate at their Passover, nor any bread or meat ordered to be eaten on any public occasion.
Neither can this flesh or this bread be, as some have imagined, the material flesh or body of Jesus. For first, this latter body was born of the virgin Mary; whereas the other is described as having come down from heaven. Secondly, because, when the Jews said, “How can this man give us his flesh?” Jesus replied, “It is the spirit that quickeneth. The flesh profiteth nothing;” that is, material flesh and blood, such as mine is, cannot profit any thing in the way of quickening; or cannot so profit as to give life eternal. This is only the work of the spirit. And he adds, “the words I have spoken to you, they are spirit, and they are life.”
This bread then, or this body, is of a spiritual nature. It is of a spiritual nature, because it not only giveth life, but preserveth from death. Manna, on the other hand, supported the Israelites only for a time, and they died. Common bread and flesh nourish the body for a time, when it dies and perishes; but it is said of those who feed upon this food, that they shall never die. This bread, or body, must be spiritual again, because the bodies of men, according to their present organization, cannot be kept for ever alive; but their souls may. But the souls of men can receive no nourishment from ordinary meat and drink, that they should be kept alive, but from that which is spiritual only. It must be spiritual again, because Jesus Christ describes it as having come down from heaven.
The last conclusion which the Quakers draw from the words of our Savior on this occasion, is, that a spiritual participation of the body and blood of Christ is such an essential of Christianity, that no person who does not partake of them, can be considered to be a Christian; “for except a man eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, he has no life in him.”
The Quakers therefore believe, that this address of Jesus Christ to his followers near Capernaum, relates wholly to the necessity of the souls of men being fed and nourished by that food, which it is alone capable of receiving, namely, that which is of a spiritual nature, and which comes from above. This food is the spirit of God; or, in the language of the Quakers, it is Christ. It is that celestial principle, which gives life and light to as many as receive it and believe in it. It is that spiritual principle, which was in the beginning of the world, and which afterwards took flesh. And those who receive it, are spiritually nourished by it, and may be said to sup with Christ; for he himself says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”
This supper which Jesus Christ enjoins, is that heavenly manna on which the Patriarchs feasted, before his appearance in the flesh, and by which their inward man became nourished; so that some of them were said to have walked with God; for those, according to St. Paul, “did all eat the same spiritual meat, and did all drink the same spiritual drink; for they drank of that spiritual rock that followed them, and that rock was Christ.”
This supper is also that “daily bread,” since his appearance in the flesh; or, as the old Latin translation has it, it is that supersubstantial bread, which Christians are desired to pray for in the Lord’s prayer; that bread, which, according to good commentators, is above all substance, and above all created things. For this bread fills and satisfies. By extinguishing all carnal desires, it leaves neither hunger nor thirst after worldly things. It redeems from the pollutions of sin. It so quickens as to raise from death to life, and it gives therefore to man a sort of new and divine nature, so that he can dwell in Christ and Christ in him.
This supper, which consists of this manna, or bread, or of this flesh and blood, may be enjoyed by Christians in various ways. It may be enjoyed by them in pious meditations on the Divine Being, in which the soul of man may have communion with the spirit of God, so that every meditation may afford it a salutary supper, or a celestial feast. It may be enjoyed by them when they wait upon God in silence, or retire into the light of the Lord, and receive those divine impressions which quicken and spiritualize the internal man. It may be enjoyed by them in all their several acts of obedience to the words and doctrines of our Savior. Thus may men everyday, nay, every hour, keep a communion at the Lord’s table, or communicate, or sup, with Christ.
The question then is, whether Jesus Christ instituted
any new supper, distinct from that of the Passover, (and which was to render
null and void that enjoined at Capernaum) to be observed as a ceremonial by
Christians—Quakers say, that no such institution can be collected from the
accounts of Matthew, or of Mark, or of John—The silence of the latter peculiarly
impressive in the present case.
It appears then, that there are two suppers recorded in the scriptures, the one enjoined by Moses, and the other by Jesus Christ.
The first of these was of a ceremonial nature, and was confined exclusively to the Jews: for to Gentile converts who knew nothing of Moses, or whose ancestors were not concerned in the deliverance from Egyptian bondage, it could have had no meaning.
The latter was of a spiritual nature. It was not limited to any nation. It had been enjoyed by many of the Patriarchs. Many of the Gentiles had enjoyed it also. But it was essentially necessary for all Christians.
Now the question is, whether Jesus Christ, when he celebrated the Passover, instituted any new supper, distinct from that of the Passover, and which was to render null, and void, (as it is the tendency of ceremonies to do) that which he enjoined at Capernaum, to be observed as an ordinance by the Christian world.
The Quakers are of opinion that no institution of this kind can be collected from Matthew, Mark, or John. St. Matthew mentions the celebration of the Passover supper in the following manner: “And as they were eating, Jesus took bread and blessed it, and brake it, and gave to his disciples, and said, take, eat, this is my body.”
“And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, drink ye all of it.”
“For this is my blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.”
“But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of the fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my father’s kingdom.”
St. Mark gives an account so similar to the former, that it is unnecessary to transcribe it. Both mention the administration of the cup; both the breaking and giving of the bread; both the allusion of Jesus to his own body and blood; both the idea of his not drinking wine any more but in a new kingdom; but neither of them mention any command, nor even any insinuation by Jesus Christ to his disciples, that they should do as he did at the Passover supper.
St. John, who relates the circumstance of Jesus Christ washing the feet of his disciples on the Passover night, mentions nothing even of the breaking of bread, or of the drinking of the wine upon that occasion.
As far therefore as the Evangelists Matthew, Mark, and John, are concerned, it is obvious, in the opinion of the Quakers, that Christians have not the least pretence, either for the celebration of the Passover, or of that which they usually call the Lord’s Supper; for the command for such a supper is usually grounded on the words, “do this in remembrance of me.” But no such words occur in the accounts of any of the Evangelists now cited.
This silence with respect to any command for any new institution is considered by the Quakers as a proof, as far as these Evangelists are concerned, that none was ever intended. For if the sacrament of the supper was to be such a great and essential rite as Christians make it, they would have been deficient in their duty, if they had failed to record it. St. Matthew, who was at the supper, and St. Mark, who heard of what had passed there, both agree that Jesus used the ceremony of the bread and the wine, and also that he made an allusion from thence to his own body and blood; but it is clear, the Quakers say, whatever they might have heard as spoken by him, they did not understand him as enjoining a new thing. But the silence of John, upon this occasion, the Quakers consider as the most impressive in the present case. For St. John was the disciple, who leaned upon the bosom of Jesus at this festival, and who of course must have heard all that he said. He was the disciple again, whom Jesus loved, and who would have been anxious to have perpetuated all that he required to be done. He was the disciple again, who so particularly related the spiritual supper which Jesus enjoined at Capernaum, and in this strong language, that, “except a man eat his flesh, and drink his blood, he has no life in him.” Notwithstanding this, St. John does not even mention what took place on the Passover night, believing, as the Quakers suppose, that it was not necessary to record the particulars of a Jewish ceremony, which, being a type, was to end when its antitype was realized, and which he considered to be unnecessary for those of the Christian name.
Account of St. Luke examined—According to him Jesus
celebrated only the old Jewish Passover—Signified all future Passovers with him
were to be spiritual—Hence he turned the attention of those present from the
type to the antitype—He recommended them to take their meals occasionally
together in remembrance of their last supper with him; or if, as Jews, they
could not relinquish the Passover, to celebrate it with a new meaning.
St. Luke, who speaks of the transactions which took place at the Passover-supper, is the only one of the Evangelists who records the remarkable words, “do this in remembrance of me.” St. Luke, however, was not himself at this supper. Whatever he has related concerning it, was from the report of others.
But though the Quakers are aware of this circumstance, and that neither Matthew, Mark, nor John, give an account of such words, yet they do not question the authority of St. Luke concerning them. They admit them, on the other hand, to have been spoken; they believe however, on an examination of the whole of the narrative of St. Luke upon this occasion, that no new institution of a religious nature was intended. They believe that Jesus Christ did nothing more than celebrate the old Passover; that he intimated to his disciples, at the time he celebrated it, that it was to cease; that he advised them, however, to take their meals occasionally, in a friendly manner, together, in remembrance of him; or if, as Jews, they could not all at once relinquish the Passover, he permitted them to celebrate it with a new meaning.
In the first place St. Luke, and he is joined by all the other Evangelists, calls the feast now spoken of the Passover. Jesus Christ also gives it the same name; for he says, “with desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.”
Jesus Christ, according to St. Luke, took bread and broke it, and divided it among his disciples. He also took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it among them. But this, the Quakers say, is no more than what the master of every Jewish family did on the Passover night: nor, is it any more, as will have already appeared, than what the Jews of London, or of Paris, or of Amsterdam, or of any other place, where bread and wine are to be had, do on the same feast at the present day.
But though Jesus Christ conducted himself so far as other masters of families did, yet he departed from the formula of words that was generally used upon these occasions. For in the first place, he is described to have said to his disciples, that “he would no more eat of the Passover, until it should be fulfilled in the kingdom of God;” and a little farther on, that “he would not drink of the fruit of the vine, till the kingdom of God should come; or, as St. Matthew has it, till he should drink it new with them in his father’s kingdom.”
By these words the Quakers understand, that it was the intention of Jesus Christ to turn the attention of his disciples from the type to the antitype, or from the paschal lamb to the lamb of God, which was soon to be offered for them. He declared, that all his Passover suppers with them were in future to be spiritual. Such spiritual Passovers, the Quakers say, he afterwards ate with them on the day of Pentecost, when the spirit of God came upon them; when their minds were opened, and when they discovered, for the first time, the nature of his kingdom. And these spiritual Passovers he has since eaten, and continues to eat with all those whose minds, detached from worldly pursuits and connections, are so purified and spiritualized, as to be able to hold communion with God.
It is reported of him next, that “he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave to his disciples, saying, this is my body which is given for you.”
On these words the Quakers make the following observations:--The word “this” does not belong to the word “bread,” that is, it does not mean that this bread is my body. For the word “bread” in the original Greek is of the masculine, and the word “this” is of the neuter gender. But it alludes to the action of the breaking of the bread, from which the following new meaning will result. “This breaking of the bread, which you now see me perform, is a symbol or representation of the giving, or as St. Paul has it, of the breaking of my body for you.”
In the same manner, the Quakers say, that the giving of the wine in the cup is to be understood as a symbol or representation of the giving of his blood for them.
The Quakers therefore are of opinion, when they consider the meaning of the sayings of Jesus Christ both with respect to the bread and to the wine, that he endeavored again to turn the attention of his disciples from the type to the antitype; from the bread and wine to his own body and blood; from the paschal lamb that had been slain and eaten, to the lamb that was going to be sacrificed; and as the blood of the latter was, according to St. Matthew, for the remission of sins, to turn their attention from the ancient object of the celebration of the Passover, or salvation from Egyptian bondage, to a new object, or the salvation of themselves and others by this new sacrifice of himself.
It is reported of him again by St. Luke, after he had distributed the bread and said, “this is my body which is given for you,” that he added, “this do in remembrance of me.”
These words the Quakers believe to have no reference to any new institution; but they contain a recommendation to his disciples to meet in a friendly manner, and break their bread together, in remembrance of their last supper with him, or if as Jews, they could not all at once leave off the custom of the Passover, in which they had been born and educated as a religious ceremony, to celebrate it, as he had then modified and spiritualized it, with a new meaning.
If they relate to the breaking of their bread together, then they do not relate to any Passover or sacramental eating, but only to that of their common meals; for all the Passovers of Jesus Christ with his disciples were in future to be spiritual. And in this sense the primitive Christians seem to have understood the words in question. For in their religious zeal they sold all their goods, and, by means of the produce of their joint stock, they kept a common table, and lived together. But in process of time, as this custom from various causes declined, they met at each other’s houses, or at their appointed places, to break their bread together, in memorial of the Passover-supper. This custom, it is remarkable, was denominated the custom of breaking of bread. Nor could it have had any other name so proper, if the narration of St. Luke be true. For the words “do this in remembrance of me,” relate solely, as he has placed them, to the breaking of the bread. They were used after the distribution of the bread, but were not repeated after the giving of the cup.
If they relate, on the other hand, to the celebration of the Passover, as it had been modified and spiritualized with a new meaning, then the interpretation of them will stand thus: “As some of you, my disciples, for ye are all Jews, may not be able to get over all your prejudices at once, but may celebrate the Passover again, and as it is the last time that I shall celebrate it with you, as a ceremonial, I desire you to do it in remembrance, or as a memorial of me. I wish the celebration of it always to bring to your recollection this our last public meeting, the love I bear to you, and my sufferings and my death. I wish your minds to be turned from carnal to spiritual benefits, and to be raised to more important themes than the mere escape of your ancestors from Egyptian bondage. If it has been hitherto the object of the Passover to preserve in your memories the bodily salvation of your ancestors, let it be used in future, if you cannot forsake it, as a memorial of your own spiritual salvation; for my body, of which the bread is a representation, is to be broken, and my blood, of which the wine is an emblem, is to be shed for the remission of your sins.”
But in whatever sense the words “do this in remembrance of me” are to be taken, the Quakers are of opinion, as far as St. Luke states the circumstances, that they related solely to the disciples themselves. Jesus Christ recommends it to those who were present, and to those only, to do this in remembrance of him. But he no where tells them to order or cause it to be done by the whole Christian world, as he told them to “preach the Gospel to every creature.”
To sum up the whole of what has been said in this chapter:--If we consult St. Luke, and St. Luke only, all that we can collect on this subject will be, that the future Passover-suppers of Christ with his disciples were to be spiritual; that his disciples were desired to break their bread together in remembrance of him; or if, as Jews, they could not relinquish the Passover, to celebrate it with a new meaning; but that this permission extended to those only who were present on that occasion.
Account of St. Paul—He states that the words “do this in
remembrance of me” were used at the Passover-supper—That they contained a
permission for a custom, in which both the bread and the wine were included—That
this custom was the Passover, spiritualized by Jesus Christ—But that it was to
last but for a time—Some conjecture this time to be the destruction of
Jerusalem—But the Quakers, till the disciples had attained such a spiritual
growth, that they felt Christ’s kingdom substantially in their hearts—And as it
was thus limited to them, so it was limited to such Jewish converts as might
have adopted it in their times.
The last of the sacred writers, who mentions the celebration of the Passover-supper, is St. Paul, whose account is now to be examined.
St. Paul, in his first epistle to the Corinthians, reproves the latter for some irregularities committed by them in the course of their religious meetings. What these meetings were is uncertain. They might have been for the celebration of the Passover-supper, for there was a synagogue of Jews at Corinth, of whom some had been converted. Or they might have been for the celebration of the Passover as spiritualized by Jesus Christ, or for the breaking of bread, which customs both the Jewish and Gentile converts might have adopted. The custom, however, at which these irregularities took place, is called by St. Paul, the Lord’s Supper. And this title was not inapplicable to it in either of the cases supposed, because it must have been, in either of them, in commemoration of the last supper, which Jesus Christ, or the Lord and Master, ate with his disciples before he suffered.
But whichever ceremonial it was that St. Paul alluded to, the circumstances of the irregularities of the Corinthians, obliged him to advert to and explain what was said and done by Jesus on the night of the Passover-supper. This explanation of the Apostle has thrown new light upon the subject, and has induced the Quakers to believe, that no new institution was intended to take place as a ceremonial to be observed by the Christian world.
St. Paul, in his account of what occurred at the original Passover, reports that Jesus Christ made use of the words “this do in remembrance of me.” By this the Quakers understand that he permitted something to be done by those who were present at this supper.
He reports also, that Jesus Christ used these words, not only after the breaking of the bread, but after the giving of the cup: from whence they conclude, that St. Paul considered both the bread and the wine, as belonging to that which had been permitted.
St. Paul also says, “for as often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till he come.” By these words they believe they discover two things; first, the nature of the thing permitted; and, secondly, that the thing permitted, whatever it was, was to last but for a time.
The thing then, which was permitted to those who were present at the Passover-supper, was to show or declare his death. The words “show or declare,” prove, in the first place, the connection of the thing permitted with the Jewish Passover. For after certain ceremonies had been performed on the Passover night, “the showing forth or declaration,” as it was called, followed; or the object of the meeting was declared aloud to the persons present, or it was declared to them publicly in what particulars the Passover feast differed from all the other feasts of the Jews. Secondly, the word “death” proves the thing permitted to have been the Passover, as spiritualized by Jesus Christ; for by the new modification of it, his disciples, if they were unable to overcome their prejudices, were to turn their attention from the type to the antitype, or from the sacrifice of the paschal lamb to the sacrifice of himself, or to his own sufferings and death. In short, Jesus Christ always attempted to reform by spiritualizing. When the Jews followed him for the loaves, and mentioned manna, he tried to turn their attention from material to spiritual bread. When he sat upon Jacob’s well, and discoursed with the woman of Samaria, he directed her attention from ordinary, or elementary to spiritual and living water. So he did upon this occasion. He gave life to the dead letter of an old ceremony by a new meaning. His disciples were from henceforth to turn their attention, if they chose to celebrate the Passover, from the paschal lamb to himself, and from the deliverance of their ancestors out of Egyptian bondage to the deliverance of themselves and others, by the giving up of his own body and the shedding of his own blood for the remission of sins.
And as the thing permitted was the Passover, spiritualized in this manner, so it was only permitted for a time, or “until he come.”
By the words “until he come,” it is usually understood, until Christ come. But though Christians have agreed upon this, they have disagreed as to the length of time which the words may mean. Some have understood that Jesus Christ intended this spiritualized Passover to continue for ever as an ordinance of his church, for that “till he come” must refer to his coming to judge the world. But it has been replied to these, that in this case no limitation had been necessary, or it would have been said at once, that it was to be a perpetual ordinance, or expressed in plainer terms, than in the words in question.
Others have understood the words to mean the end of the typical world, which happened on the destruction of Jerusalem, when the Jews were dispersed, and their church, as a national one, done away. For the coming of Christ and the end of the world have been considered as taking place at the same time. Thus the early Christians believed, that Jesus Christ, even after his death and resurrection, would come again, even in their own life time, and that the end of the world would then be. These events they coupled in their minds; “for they asked him privately, saying, tell us when these things shall be, and what shall be the sign of thy coming and of the end of the world?” Jesus told them in reply, that the end of the world and his coming would be, when there were wars, and rumors of wars, and earthquakes, and famine, and pestilence, and tribulations on the earth; and that these calamities would happen even before the generation, then alive, would pass away. Now all these things actually happened in the same generation; for they happened at the destruction of Jerusalem. Jesus Christ therefore meant by the end of the world, the end of the Jewish world, or of the world of types, figures, and ordinances: and he coupled naturally his own coming with this event, because he could not come fully into the hearts of any, till these externals were done away. He alluded, in short, to the end of the Jewish dispensation and the beginning of his own spiritual kingdom, or to the end of the ceremonial and the beginning of the Gospel world.
Those therefore who interpret the words “till he come” to mean the end of the typical world, are of opinion that the Passover, as spiritualized by Jesus Christ, was allowed to the disciples, while they lived among a people, so wedded to religious ceremonies as the Jews, with whom it would have been a stumbling block in the way of their conversion, if they had seen the Apostles, who were their countrymen, rejecting it all at once; but that it was permitted, them, till the destruction of Jerusalem, after which event the Jews being annihilated as a nation, and being dispersed and mixed among the infinitely greater body of the Gentiles, the custom was to be laid aside, as the disuse of it could not be then prejudicial to the propagation of the Gospel among the community at large.
The Quakers, however, understand the words “till he come,” to mean simply the coming of Christ substantially in the heart. Giving the words this meaning, they limit the duration of the spiritualized Passover, but do not specify the time. It might have ceased with some of them, they say, on the day of Pentecost, when they began to discover the nature of Christ’s kingdom; and they think it probable, that it ceased with all of them, when they found this kingdom realized in their hearts. For it is remarkable that those, who became Gospel writers, and it is to be presumed that they had attained great spiritual growth when they wrote their respective works, give no instructions to others, whether Jews or Gentiles, to observe the ceremonial permitted to the disciples by Jesus, as any ordinance of the Christian church. And in the same manner as the Quakers conceive the duration of the spiritualized Passover to have been limited to the disciples, they conceive it to have been limited to all other Jewish converts, who might have adopted it in those times, that is, till they should find by the substantial enjoyment of Christ in their hearts, that ceremonial ordinances belonged to the old, but that they were not constituent parts of the new kingdom.
Quakers believe, from the preceding evidence, that
Jesus Christ intended no ceremonial for the Christian church—for if the custom
enjoined was the Passover spiritualized, it was more suitable for Jews than
Gentiles—If intended as a ceremonial, it would have been commanded by Jesus to
others besides his disciples, and by these to the Christian world—and its
duration would not have been limited—Quakers believe St. Paul thought it no
Christian ordinance—three reasons taken from his own writings on this subject.
The Quakers then, on an examination of the preceding evidence, are of opinion that Jesus Christ, at the Passover-supper, never intended to institute any new supper, distinct from that of the Passover, or from that enjoined at Capernaum, to be observed as a ceremonial by Christians.
For, in the first place, St. Matthew, who was at the supper, makes no mention of the words “do this in remembrance of me.”
Neither are these words, nor any of a similar import, recorded by St. Mark. It is true indeed that St. Mark was not at this supper. But it is clear he never understood from those who were, either that they were spoken, or that they bore this meaning, or he would have inserted them in his Gospel.
Nor is any mention made of such words by St. John. This was the beloved disciple who was more intimate with Jesus, and who knew more of the mind of his master, than any of the others. This was he who leaned upon his bosom at the Passover-supper, and who must have been so near him as to have heard all that passed there. And. yet this disciple did not think it worth his while, except manuscripts have been mutilated, to mention even the bread and wine that were used upon this occasion.
Neither does St. Luke, who mentions the words “do this in remembrance of me,” establish any thing, in the opinion of the Quakers, material on this point. For it appears from him that Jesus, to make the most of his words, only spiritualized the old Passover for his disciples, all of whom were Jews, but that he gave no command with respect to the observance of it by others. Neither does St. Luke himself enjoin or call upon others to observe it.
St. Paul speaks nearly the same language as St. Luke, but with this difference, that the supper, as thus spiritualized by Jesus, was to last but for a time.
Now the Quakers are of opinion, that they have not sufficient ground to believe from these authorities, that Jesus intended to establish any ceremonial as an universal ordinance for the Christian church. For if the custom enjoined was the spiritualized Passover, it was better calculated for Jews than for Gentiles, who were neither interested in the motives nor acquainted with the customs of that feast. But it is of little importance, they contend, whether it was the spiritualized Passover or not; for if Jesus Christ had intended it, whatever it was, as an essential of his new religion, he would have commanded his disciples to enjoin it as a Christian duty, and the disciples themselves would have handed it down to their several converts in the same light. But no injunction to this effect, either of Jesus to others, or of themselves to others, is to be found in any of their writings. Add to this, that the limitation of its duration for a time, seems a sufficient argument against it as a Christian ordinance, because whatever is once, most be for ever, an essential in the Christian church.
The Quakers believe, as a farther argument in their favor, that there is reason to presume that St. Paul never looked upon the spiritualized Passover as any permanent and essential rite, which Christians were enjoined to follow. For nothing can be more clear than that, when speaking of the guilt and hazard of judging one another by meats and drinks, he states it as a general and fundamental doctrine of Christianity, that “the kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.”
It seems also by the mode of reasoning which the Apostle adopts in his epistle to the Corinthians on this subject, that he had no other idea of the observance of this rite, than he had of the observance of particular days, namely, that if men thought they were bound in conscience to keep them, they ought to keep them religiously. “He that regardeth a day, says the Apostle, regardeth it to the Lord.” That is, “as he that esteemed a day, says Barclay, and placed conscience in keeping it, was to regard it to the Lord, (and so it was to him, in so far as he regarded it to the Lord, the Lord’s day,) he was to do it worthily: and if he were to do it unworthily, he would be guilty of the Lord’s day, and so keep it to his own condemnation.” Just in the same manner St. Paul tells the Corinthian Jews, that if they observed the ceremonial of the Passover, or rather, “as often as they observed it,” they were to observe it worthily, and make it a religious act. They were not then come together to make merry on the anniversary of the deliverance of their ancestors from Egyptian bondage, but to meet in memorial of Christ’s sufferings and death. And therefore, if they ate and drank the Passover, under its new and high allusions, unworthily, they profaned the ceremony, and were guilty of the body and blood of Christ.
It appears also from the Syrian, and other oriental versions of the New Testament, such as the Arabic and Ethiopic, as if he only permitted the celebration of the spiritualized Passover for a time in condescension to the weakness of some of his converts, who were probably from the Jewish synagogue at Corinth. For in the seventeenth verse of the eleventh chapter of his first epistle to the Corinthians, the Syrian runs thus: “As to that, concerning which I am now instructing you, I commend you not, because you have not gone forward, but you have gone down into matters of less importance.” “It appears from hence, says Barclay, that, the Apostle was grieved, that such was their condition that he was forced to give them instruction concerning these outward things, and doting upon which they showed that they were not gone forward in the life of Christianity, but rather sticking in the beggarly elements; and therefore the twentieth verse of the same version has it thus: ’When then ye meet together, ye do not do it as it is just ye should in the day of the Lord; ye eat and drink.’ Therefore showing to them, that to meet together to eat and drink outward bread and wine, was not the labor and work of that day of the Lord.”
Upon the whole, in whatever light the Quakers view the subject before us, they cannot persuade themselves that Jesus Christ intended to establish any new ceremonial, distinct from the Passover-supper, or which should render null and void, (as it would be the tendency of all ceremonials to do) the supper which he had before commanded at Capernaum. The only supper which he ever enjoined to Christians, was the latter. This spiritual supper was to be eternal and universal. For he was always to be present with those “who would let him in, and they were to sup with him, and he with them.” It was also to be obligatory, or an essential, with all Christians. “For except a man were to eat his flesh, and to drink his blood, he was to have no life in him.” The supper, on the other hand, which our Savior is supposed to have instituted on the celebration of the Passover, was not enjoined by him to any but the disciples present. And it was, according to the confession of St. Paul, to last only for a time. This time is universally agreed upon to be that of the coming of Christ. That is, the duration of the spiritualized Passover was to be only till those to whom it had been recommended, had arrived at a state of religious manhood, or till they could enjoy the supper which Jesus Christ had commanded at Capernaum; after which repast, the Quakers believe they would consider all others as empty, and as not having the proper life and nourishment in them, and as of a kind not to harmonize with the spiritual nature of the Christian religion.
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