William Styles, A Guide To Church Fellowship (Complete)

Article 21 – The Lord’s Supper

Articles Of The Faith And Order Of A Primitive Or Strict And Particular Baptist Church Of The Lord Jesus Christ, Based On The Declaration Of Faith And Practice Of John Gill, D. D., 1720

XXI. The Lord’s Supper.

We believe that the Lord’s Supper is a symbolical repast, setting forth, by the breaking, taking, and eating of Bread, and the drinking from a Cap of the juice of the fruit of the vine, the method of our salvation through the death of our Lord; the ratification of the Covenant of Grace by the shedding of His blood; and our union and communion, both with Him and His people; and that it is to be observed till He comes again.


Matt 26:26-28; Mk 14:22-25; Lk 22:19-20; Acts 20:7; 1 Cor 1:10,16,17; 11:23-26


Note 1.—The Lord’s Supper is a “repast”—not a meal intended to satisfy hunger and nourish our physical frames.

It is a symbolical repast, representing and recalling by certain prescribed objects and actions, Divine and gracious acts and facts, in which we are eternally interested.

We are, in the main, in accord with the majority of Nonconformists as to the manner in which it should be observed, and the truths it expresses. Some of our convictions may, however, be stated.

Transubstantiation and Consubstantiation disclaimed.

Note 2.—We deny that it is a Sacrament, and generally necessary to salvation. Were this true, infants, and persons who never partook of it, must be eternally lost.[1]

As no special order of Christians should be styled and considered Priests, we deny that the administration of the Lord’s Supper is a sacerdotal or Priestly function, (page 137) or that men ordained to the ministerial office have authority or power to effect any change in the elements, or the bread and wine employed. These remain unaltered by their religious use. The bread is still bread, and the wine, wine; and no one is commissioned to effect a change in them.

We therefore repudiate the Popish doctrine of Tranaubstantiation—namely, that when the Priest pronounces the words of consecration, the bread and wine really become the body and blood of Christ, which are actually imparted to all who partake of thorn, on the ground of the benediction of tho Priest, irrespectively of hit moral character, and apart from their Faith.

Thus the Church of Rome holds that the consecrated elements used in the Eucharist (or rather, the bread or wafer only—the wine being reserved for Priests) are Divine, and should as such be worshipped. Hence the Pyx, or box containing the Host, or consecrated wafer, is held up in the sight of the congregation, who are required to kneel and do it homage, as to the Son of God.

This the Reformers hated. “Transubstantiation (or the change of the substance of the Bread and Wine) in the Supper of the Lord, cannot,” they said,“be proved by Holy Writ: but is repugnant to the plain words of Scripture, overthroweth the nature of a Sacrament, and hath given occasion to many superstitions.” (“Articles of Religion,” of the Church of England, No. xxviii.)

Luther perceived that Transubstantiation was an evil— lacking Scriptural authority, giving awful power to so-called Priests, solemnly perverting an Ordinance of Christ’s, gravely deluding men, and leading to gross superstition, and even a dangerous form of idolatry. He, therefore, repudiated it, and taught the tenet commonly called, Impanation or Conaubstantiation.

In this he denied that the substance of the bread and wine were changed; but insisted that after consecration the body and blood of Christ were really but spiritually present, together with the material substance of the bread and wine. He assigned no virtue or grace to the consecrated elements as such, and regarded the recipient’s personal Faith as essential to, and the instrumentality whereby, worshippers become partakers of inward and spiritual grace.

This is identical with the teaching of the Liturgy, which states that “the body of Christ is given, taken and eaten in the Supper, (but) only after an heavenly and spiritual manner,” (Article xxviii.) in which sense it is “verily and indeed taken and received by the faithful,” or those that believe—elsewhere styled “all that be religiously and devoutly disposed”—since “the mean,” or instrument, by which the Body of Christ is received and eaten in the Supper is Faith,” (Article xxviii.)

To this we are also opposed; for Consubstantiation cannot be proved by Holy Writ. No text asserts that while the elements remain unaltered, with them or in them, in some unexplained way, the body and blood of Christ are mysteriously so conjoined as to be taken and received by those that believe.

The dogma also depends on the alleged supremacy and power of the officiating Minister, who acts at the Communion in the character and capacity of a Priest. Without ordination to this office, he could not, according to the Prayer Book, “dispense” this “holy Sacrament.” He, in every act which concerns the Eucharist, as such, is styled the Priest, the word occurring twenty-four times in the service. He places the bread and wine upon the table. He invites the people to “draw near with faith.” He pronounces the Absolution. He offers “the Prayer of Consecration.” He takes the paten (or plate) and breaks and lays his hand upon all the bread. He takes the cup, and lays his hand upon “every vessel in which there is wine to be oonseorated.” He delivers the bread and wine into the hands of the people, all meekly kneeling. All this is unscriptural and sacerdotal, not only in sentiment but in act; and as such to be repudiated.[3]

The Lord’s Supper—a Commemoration.

Note 3.—While denying Transubstantiation and Consubstantiation, we as Evangelical Dissenters, believe in the main with Ulric Zuingle, the Swiss Reformer, (1484—1531) that the Divine intention in the Lord’s Supper is not Communication but Commemoration; in other words, that no special blessing is conveyed to those who partake of it, either through any efficacy possessed by the actual elements when consecrated, or by some peculiar form of grace connected with them; but that it is designed to recall to remembrance, for our soul’s profit, what its symbols and ritual suggest. This forms the burden of many of our favourite hymns.[4]

Figurative Language.

Note 4.—When each word in a sentence occurs in its ordinary sense, we say that it is to be understood literally, as “Moses kept the flock of Jethro.” Ex. 3:1. “The mother of Jesus was there.” John 2:1. “Joseph went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus.” Matt 27:58.

A writer who wishes to explain the property of a thing, or the manner of an action, often does so by means of a direct comparison, introduced by the words “as” or “like,” or the comparative degree followed by “than.” This mode of expression is called a Simile: from simxlis, “like,” because it expresses resemblance between one object or action and another. Examples: “They sank as lead in the mighty waters.” Ex. 15:10. “As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you.” Isa. 64:13. “We were like them that dream.” Psa. 76:1. “They were swifter than eagles, they wero stronger than lions.” 2 Sam. 1:23. “The kingdom of heaven is like,” Matt. 13:31, etc. “He that wavereth (doubteth, R.V.) is like a wave (the surge, R.V.) of the sea.” James 1:6.

Very frequently, however, the words, “as” and “like,” are omitted; as the resemblance, though implied, is not stated. In this case the figure of speech called Metaphor is employed, and the phrase or sentence is not understood literally, but in a figurative sense. Examples.—“Unto Thee will I cry, O Lord, my rock,” Psa. 28:1. “Behold, O God our shield,” Psa. 84:9. “Our God is a consuming fire,” Heb. 12:29. “Ye are the salt of the earth,” Matt. 5:13. “[John] was a burning and a shining light [the lamp that burneth and shineth, R.V.l’’ John 5:35. “I am the light of the world,”—“the door”—“the good shepherd,” John 9:5; 10:9,14. “We, being many, are one [loaf of] bread,” 1 Cor. 10:17. “This is my body,”—“This cup is the new covenant,” 1 Cor. 11:24,25. 

“This Is My Body“: This Cup is the New Covenant.

Note 5.—“This is My Body.” On these words the figment of Transubstantiation is based. Popish divines interpret them literally, while Protestants understand them figuratively. These, though their interpretations may differ as to details, are agreed that the expression is a Metaphor, and simply expresses that there is a resemblance between the loaf and the Lord’s body.

“This cup is the new Covenant,” (R.V.) This also is a Metaphor. The cup symbolises the new Covenant. The material cup is not a Covenant, nor is it transmuted into one. It is an outward and visible emblem or sign of the blood by which the new Covenant was ratified or confirmed.[5]

A Repast Symbolising the Plan of Salvation.

Note 6.—A Symbol is an object, unimportant in itself; but owing its interest and influence to what is past, distant, in­ visible, or difficult of apprehension, with which the mind naturally and involuntarily associates it.[6]

A Symbolical Act is one that has distinct relation to a Symbol as such. In the Lord’s Supper the bread and wine (if it should be wine)[7] are symbols; and taking and eating the bread, and drinking (of the contents of) the cup are symbolical aotions.

The ordinance is a repast, in which the worshippors eat and drink. Among the Orientals, doing this had a far higher import than with, ourselves, and expressed friendship and fellowship. No Arab will injure a man, or suffer him to be harmed by others, if he has partaken of his hospitality. Friendship is sealed by the act.

The Elements at the Lord’s Supper are Symbols, as they consist of food and drink, which being essential to physical life, naturally suggest Christ as the strength and sustenance of spiritual life. His “flesh is meat indeed,” is truly food, and His “blood is drink indeed,” is truly drink; that is, food and drink in the highest sense. John 6:48-58 do not, refer to the Lord’s supper, as what is therein recorded was spoken some time before the institution of the great Christian Feast—but the truths they teach are those which this suggests and enforces.

The propriety of regarding the elements as Symbols thus appears in the nature ot the bread and wine themselves. They are not merely arbitrary signs, but fraught with suggestive­ ness to the thoughtful and spiritual.

Bread, though unique in its life-sustaining value, is a universal food, essential to prince and peasant alike. It is wheat, grown in ordinary soil, and fostered by the common forces of Nature—light, air, and rain. To fit it for human use, it must be bruised, (ground) and subjected to the action of fire—the constant emblem of Divine wrath. In the Communion it must first be broken for the benefit of those that are to partake of it.

The truths taught are obvious. Bread is “the staff of life.” Christ is essential to all heaven-born men, (John 6:53.) “The Word was made flesh,” assuming by incarnation (though in sinless form, page 22) our common humanity—being made “in all things like unto His brethren,” and taking the “same” “flesh and blood” as those of all God’s children. (Heb. 4:15.) He became our Saviour, not by His incarnation only, but by suffering and death (Heb. 5:8,9) meekly borne under the wrath of God (Isa. 53:7,10.) This He did, not for the world, but for the elect “you,” (1 Cor. 11:24) who then represented those who constitute God’s family.

The Cup, considered in connection with its contents, is symbolical of that precious blood by which, not only was the New Covenant ratified, but which was “shed for many” unto [namely, with the purpose and intention of] the remission of [their] sins,”[8] R.V. Pages 49-52.

The Symbolism of the wine, as such, is also obvious and striking. The grapes must be crushed ere their juice can be obtained. So, through Christ’s broken heart, blessing comes to us. Wine not only quenches thirst, but is invigorating, especially to “those that are ready to perish.” (Prov. 31:6.) So Christ is not only like water to the thirsty, but is the highest, sweetest joy to those that have communion with Him.

Supper, the Rest-Meal.

Note 7.—The meals of the Orientals, both ancient and modern, may be compared to our dinner and supper. (Luke 14:12,) though the former might better be styled “breakfast,” as it is a light meal, taken early. The latter, the principal, is substantial, and is taken after the heat and labour of the day.

See the original. Aristao, “I take an early meal,” or “break my fast.” Luke 11:37, R.V., margin. John 21:12-15, R.V. The Ariston, was “an early meal” or “break­ fast.” Luke 14:12.—“dinner” conveying an inaccurate idea. Deipnon, “supper,” was the chief or evening meal.

Thus the Symbolism of the Lord’s Supper is suggestive. Rest of soul is a present blessing of the Gospel, Matt. 11:28-30; Heb. 4:3. Our legal strivings and penal apprehen­ sions are at an end. To this the Lord’s Supper—the holy Rest-meal of true Christians—bears silent but expressive testimony.

Taking the Lord’s Supper—a Symbolical Act.

Note 8.—On page 185 Symbolic Actions are defined. That our partaking of the Communion is such is clear from 1 Cor. 11:26, “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye proclaim the Lord’s death till He come,” R.V. The Lord’s Supper is thus an acted discourse—a silent sermon.

Our posture is significant. We neither kneel to implore mercy, nor stand as if hoping to obtain it. At the institution of the Lord’s Supper both the Master and His disciples reclined. We, therefore, sit, as those to whom toil is over, and who con­ sciously and joyously “receive the end of our faith, even the salvation of our souls.” 1 Pet. 1:9. We rest in His finished work. How appropriate is this to the guests at the Lord’s Best-meal![9]

Every act is significant. “Taking,” points to Faith’s reception of Jesus Chnst as her own Saviour. (Col. 2:6.) “Eating” indicates the benefits flowing from the breaking of His body— pardon, peace, and joy—of which we as really partake, as we masticate the bread. “Drinking,” (as all are to)—to our delight in the blood by which He has ratified the Covenant of redemption and grace, and conveyed its blessings to us. While apostates “count the blood of the covenant an unholy (or better, “a common”) thing,” (Heb. 10:29); to us (as we here declare) it is incomparable in its preciousness.

Thus, by all our acts combined, we proclaim His death, and make known our belief that He will come again. The Lord’s Supper is His “Forget ME not.” Our response is:—“According to Thy gracious word, in meek humility, This will I do, my dying Lord, I will remember Thee.”

Fellowship and Communion.

Note 9.—The subject of Fellowship with God is discussed in the Author’s Manual, page 279.

Here it suffices to observe that the terms “fellowship” and “communion” represent but one word, koindnia, in the Greek Testament. It means joint possession; common ownership; the participation by many in one object, or privilege—all concerned having their due share. In 1 Cor. 10:16 (twice); 2 Cor. 6:14, and 13:14,[10] it is translated “communion.” In Acts 2:42; 1 Cor. 1:9; 2 Cor. 8:4; Gal. 2:9; Eph. 3:9; Phil. 1:5; 2:1, and 3:10; 1 John 1:3 (twice,) 6, 7, it is rendered “fellow­ship.” As employed by inspired writers, it stands for either an objective reality or for a subjective realisation; or for a fact, and the knowledge and enjoyment of it.

God has originated gracious facts in which His people have an equal right and a common share. (Psa. 149:9.) This common share would be expressed by koindnia, in its objective sense, in which it appears in Phil. 1:5: “Your fellowship in (the blessings of) the Gospel.” This accorded with Divine and sovereign arrangement, and was a gracious fact, independently of their cognisance or faith.

The apprehension and appreciation of these facts by us, in common with others similarly favoured, would also be expressed by koindnia, but in its subjective sense. Phil. 3:10: “That I may know tho fellowship (participation, Alford,) of His sufferings,”—namely that I may have gracious sympathy with Him who suffered for me.

Judging from the usage of approved writers on theology, koindnia should be rendered “fellowship,” when employed in an objective sense, and “communion,” when occurring in a subjective one.

It sets forth our Union and Communion with Him.

Note 10.—As a fact, we have Fellowship with Christ, and hence are called His fellows, (Psa. 45:7.) It is a Fellowship of relationship, for His God and Father is also ours. (John 20:17; Heb. 2:11,12.) A Fellowship of nature, He having assumed ours, (Heb. 2:14) in which He suffered, and in which He exists in glory. A Fellowship in His acquired possessions, (Rom. 8:17; 1 Cor. 3:21.) A Fellowship in His atoning work, for all believers have an equal interest in His cross, (2 Cor. 5:14,15.) A Fellowship in His covenant engagements as the Surety and Saviour of His people. And a Fellowship or joint participation in the benefits which flow from His present offices as our ever-living Priest, Advocate, and Shepherd.

Our Fellowship with Christ in these facts is sot forth at His Table. We are not asked to admire the Unitarian’s Christ, the perfect Man, the great Exemplar, the Model Teacher, the supreme Witness for God (though we honour Him in all these characters); but as the Lord who was crucified, (1 Cor. 11:24,26), who, by dying for us, and ever living and pleading for us, has emancipated us, and so dignified us as to invite us to sup with Him. (Rev. 3:20.)

The Lord’s Supper, however, does more than witness to these facts. It should bring us, in a special way, into living and loving Communion with Himself. The memory of His betrayal should quicken holy fear lest we should prove false to Him. The broken bread portrays His broken body, and the thought melts the heart. The world diverts our thoughts from Him; this brings our truant spirits back to Him. The whole simple ritual tends to minister to Communion with Him in His sufferings; to impart a tender, contrite and grateful sense of His sorrows. His personal feelings in relation to His cross and passion must, in their fulness, be unknown to any. Favoured saints, however, share them in measure as they sympathise with Him.

“A faithful friend of grief partakes; but union can be none, 

Betwixt a heart like melting wax and hearts as hard as stone; 

Betwixt a Head diffusing blood and members sound and whole; 

Betwixt an agonising God and an unfeeling soul.”

The Lord’s Supper symbolises Church Fellowship.

Note 11.—As a fact, all Christians have Fellowship with each other, all having joint and equal participation, through Christ, in the blessings of the New Covenant. This is especially true of the members of the same Church.

We have the same Father, (John 20:17); the same Saviour, (1 Cor. 1:2); the same Divine Comforter. We are members of one “Body,” and one “family,” (Eph. 1:22,23, and 3:15.) As all the members of the human frame have their own functions, and are essential to its welfare, so all Christians have their allotted spheres of service, (1 Cor. 12:12-27.)

These facts the Lord’s Supper recalls to the spiritual mind. We gather at the family table. We partake of the same food. The act of eating together is significant, (page 185.) The world is full of social distinctions. The rich are esteemed for their wealth; the learned, for their knowledge; the influential, for their power. Here “the rich and poor meet together.” We assemble as brethren, Matt. 23:8,9. All should be honoured and loved alike.

Seldom, alas, is this Fellowship realised in actual Communion. We talk, sing, and pray about it; but how few feel it, yet how desirable that we should! John never refers to the “breaking of bread,” but 1 John 1:3,7, expresses this aspect of its holy influence. “Our desire is that ye also may have Communion (or conscious fellowship) with us; and truly our fellowship rises to living communion with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.” If we say that we have (conscious fellowship or) communion with Him, and (live in sin or) walk in the darkness, we lie, and do not (practise) the truth: but if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we enjoy Communion one with another, etc.—that mutual interchange of thought and feeling to which John desired they might attain.[11] To aid this “consummation” so “devoutly to be wished” is one purpose which the Lord’s Supper is designed to effect.

In social life persons are invited to eat together, that friend­ ship may be formed or increased. So Christ invites us to His Supper that our Fellowship with each other may be grasped, and living and loving Communion realised.

The sin of the Corinthians consisted not only in making the holy season an occasion of revelry, but of overlooking the equality in Christ of all that were present. In their pride and ostentation, the rich put the poor to shame, by bringing their own costly provisions with them; aud commencing to eat before their humbler brethren were present. (1 Cor. 11:20,21,22, R.V.) It was not possible that the Lord’s Supper could be truly taken in this way.

All, therefore, are to partake of the Cup. “Drink ye all of it,” (Matt. 26:27.) This does not mean (as ordinary Bibles have led some to suppose) that its whole contents are to be there and then drunk; but that, since all that love and are loyal to Christ, have an interest in His covenant love, all present, whatever their light or experience, are to share in what the Cup contains.

The Lord’s Supper—an Experience.

Note 12.—Peculiar blessing often attends the “breaking of bread.” This all Christians admit, and many long-loved hymns attest. Christians, however, differ as to its cause—whether it arises solely from the nature of the servioe and the unique character of the Assembly; or proceeds from some special form of grace inseparable from the bread and the wine, and their reception by those who thus wait on the Lord.

1. Those who, with Zuingle, page 185, regard the Lord’s Supper as a Memorial, and believe that its great object is Commemoration, not Communication, (page 183.) explain the fact on psychological grounds,[12] or on the recognised laws and prin­ciples which, regulate the passions and actions of the human mind. Cowper was stirred to deep feeling by his mother’s picture, many years after her death. Objects, once belonging to deceased children, have moved their parents to tears. A withered flower, a marked passage in a book, a lock of hair; often bring the past vividly back. So the emblems of our Lord’s body and blood have a subtle power to call Him, whom our soul loveth, to mind.

Again, when long-sundered friends meet, hearts grow tender as memory reviews the past, and Love joys in re-union. So Christians must rejoice in the company of their “best friends and kindred” at this solemn Assembly.

The interest and value of a Memorial necessarily depend upon what it commemorates. This, though only a Memorial, is associated with objects and actions which heaven-born men hold most sacred and dear, and hence possesses unparallelod power, with the Spirit’s blessing, to stimulate the soul to trust, assurance, and ecstacy.

The promised presence of the Master whon and where “two or three are gathered together in His name,” and the assurance that “in keeping His commandments there is great reward, (Matt. 18:20; Psa. 19:11) likewise ensure His special sanction and smile.

2. Others,[13] though repudiating the priesthood of Christian ministers, and denying Transubstantiation and Consubstantiation, explain the blessing attending the Lord’s Supper, by the alleged fact that “in it” “Christ communicates to the Church whatever is represented by the bread and the wine.”—Dale’s Manual, page 142.

They thus hark back to the “Westminster Assembly’s Confession,” (1647) and the “Declaration of Faith and Order issued by the Savoy Conference of Congregational Elders and Messengers,” (1658.)

“Worthy receivers, outwardly partaking of the visible elements of this Sacrament, do then also inwardly by Faith, really and indeed, yet not carnally and corporally, but spiritually, receive and feed upon Christ crucified, and all the benefits of His death; the Body and Blood of Christ being then, not carnally or corporally in, with or under the bread and wine, (in denial of Consubstantiation,) yet as really but spiritually present to the Faith of believers, as the elements themselves are to their outward senses in this Ordinance,” Confession of Faith, xxix. 7. The Savoy Declaration, and the Baptist Confession of Faith, Article 30, are almost verbally the same.

The proof-text relied on by Dr. Dale is 1 Cor. 10:16, “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a communion of [or participation in] the Body of Christ: the bread which we break, is it not a communion of [or participation in] the Body of Christ?”

“So, when Christ gives us bread, and says, ‘This is My Body,’ it is not a mere dramatic ceremony, deriving all its worth from its ‘didactic’ meaning, or its ‘impressive’ power. His Body is actually given.”

If this is true, Christ’s flesh and blood are communicated to, and partaken by, His people at His Table, in a way, or to an extent in which they are not and cannot be, elsewhere. There is an indivisible connection between the elements and what they signify, and partaking of the former is essential to participating in the latter; while the physical act, if performed in Faith, secures this peculiar form of grace and blessing. Thus our Brethren account for the ecstacy experienced by believers at the Ordinance.

To this we object, that religious emotion of the most joyous character is often experienced by Christians apart from the Lord’s Supper.

If it were true, Christians who have not the opportunity to attend the Holy Supper, would be debarred from the fulness of joy which John desired for his brethren, Paul enjoined on the Philippians, and the Master referred to in His intercessory prayer (1 John 1:4; 1 Thess. 5:16; John 17:13.)

It makes a high Spiritual privilege depend on an act of ritual. It dangerously resembles Sacramentalism—any approach to which should be earnestly resisted. It convicts those who deny the Lord’s Supper to any consistent Believer, of spiritual unkindness of a most serious character.

The View of Strict Baptists.

Note 13.—The books of the Articles of the Faith of numerous Strict and Particular Baptist Churches (in the writer’s possession) when examined, attest that our view of the Lord’s Supper is practically identical with the first, given above, neither stating that grace is conveyed by means of the bread and the wine.

One of the clearest of these asserts that, “We believe that the Lord’s Supper is a Gospel Ordinance, instituted by Christ, to be kept up in His churches till His second coming—as a remembrance and representation of His body broken, and His blood shed for the remission of sin—together with our Communion with Him, and our Fellowship with each other.”

This accords with Scripture and spiritual experience, and accounts for the rich pleasure the sacred Feast imparts.

Its Practical Influence.

Note 14.—In 1 Cor. 10:20,21, the Apostle insists that the Lord’s Table should not only be regarded as a source of joy at the time, but should lead to holiness and unworldliness. On the ground that the Corinthians had sat around it, Paul insists that joining with heathens in their acts of worship would be a solecism and a sin of the most solemn character. In verse 21, read “the Cup” and “the Table of Demons.”[14]

Unworthy Receiving

Note 15.—Privilege and responsibility go together, and the latter is often connected with peril. It is dangerous to approach the Lord’s Table in a thoughtless and undevout spirit. For which see 1 Cor. 11:27,34.

“Wherefore, whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.” “Wherefore,” since the body and blood of Christ are symbolised by the bread and wine, and our partaking of these signifies our personal relation to Him, as saved sinners through His death: “Whosoever shall eat this bread and drink this cup of the Lord unworthily referring, not to the character of the Communicants, or the unworthiness which they may feel and deplore, but to the unseemly way in which the elements may be received—for instance, in a porfunctory manner, in forgetfulness of Jesus and His love, and with the heart fondly clinging to the Christ-hating world,—“shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord”—will, by his callous and apathetic unmindfulness of the Master, and the death which he should now proclaim with a sorrowful yet grateful heart, be guilty of profaning the holy emblems, and sharing, in measure at least, the sin of those who crucified that body and shed that blood.

But let a [each] man examine [prove] himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. Worthy partaking is here contrasted with unworthy. Let each person examine, prove or test himself—enquire into the reality of his conversion, recall his recent experience, and review his conduct. This may make him sick of self, but it will endear his Master. Observe, it is not said, “let him test himself and stop away;” but humbled and heart-broken though he may be, “so,”—in that suitable frame of mind—“let him eat.”

“For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation [judgment] to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.” Unworthy communicating is further explained. Some of the Corinthians had sunk so low in their religious life, so dim and defiled had their spiritual sight become, that they failed to discern or discriminate between common food at an ordinary meal, and the bread which, by the Lord’s appointment, symbolised His body, and should therefore be taken and eaten with reverence and godly fear. Their sin was grave, and would incur, not eternal damnation, but Divine and parental judgment, as in 1 Pet. 4:17.

“For this oause, many among you are weak and sickly, and many [not a few] sleep.” “For this cause”—unworthy eating, specially that mentioned in verses 21, 22—“many” among you are in feeble health, some absolutely sick, while, not a few—in number more than the others mentioned— have died.

“For if we judged [discerned—the word is the same as in verse 29] ourselves, we should not be judged: but when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.” The “if” here denotes supposition or hypothesis—not a condition. Self-examination is not a meritorious act, affecting the present or future conduct of God. As a fact, the Christian who im­ partially tries to estimate his life and conduct by God’s Word, and regulates his actions accordingly, avoids solemn Parental judgment. But lest the Corinthians should over-press this teaching, for their relief and comfort, the Apostle adds, “When we are judged,” and wince under the heavy blows of our Father’s hand, He is not treating us penalty. “Whom He loveth He chasteneth,” and the pain and sorrow He inflicts are a sign and an assurance that we shall not be consigned to Hell on the last day, as men of the world will be.

The remainder of the passage calls for no comment.


[1] “A Saerament is an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace, given unto us…as a means whereby we reoeive the same, and a pledge to assure us thereof.”— Church Catechism. “Generally necessary to salvation,” does not mean “in most instances,” but in all cases, without restriction or limitation, page 152.

[2] Impanation (im, “ in,” and panis “ bread,” was the favourite term of Luther and his followers, to describe their view that “the body and blood of Christ are verily and indeed taken and received by the faithful in the Lord’s Supper.”

[3] Administering the Lord’s Supper, as most Dissenters phrase it, is neither the act of a Priest nor of a Pastor as suck, but the fraternal act of a brother towards his brethren. No thought of an officiating Minister is found in tho New Testament. Christ has not delegated His high position as Lord of the feast to any. The disciples came together to break bread,” Acts. 20:7,8. The cup that we bless—the bread that we break.” 1 Cor. 10:16.

[4] D. Sedgwick, the hymnologist, complained that Dr. Watts’s hymn, “How condescending and how kind,” prepared for the Lord’s Supper, was altered by some early Editor to suit the taste of Arminians, and that verse 5 should road:—“Well lets remembers Calvary, nor lets His saints forget.”

[5] See pages 25 to 32 and Note, pages 26 and 27.

[6] A Symbol differs from a Type, the latter being a prophetical emblem—a figure of what is to come.

[7] “If it should be wine.” The New Testament in no place calls the liquid contained in the cup, “wine.” Matthew and Mark both style it “this,” or “the fruit of the vine,” (Matt 26:29; Mark 14:25)—while Luke and Paul simply speak of the cup, without specifying its contents, whether fermented grape-juice or not, though the word, oinos, “wine,” was in common use. Both Abstainers and Non-abstainers are, therefore, at liberty to carry out their convictions, provided that they do not make the question a cause of discussion and dissension, and so destroy the unity, peace, and concord of the church. (Rom. 16:17,18; 1 Cor. 2:10; 11:18, etc.)

[8] Thus both Baptism and the Lord’s Supper attest to the Forgiveness of sins. The former, however, refers to the full and free pardon granted to sinners when they first believe:—

“The sinner that truly believes, 

And trusts in his crucified God,

His justification receives,

Redemption in full through His blood.”

The latter reminds us of God’s continuous acts of pardon. (1 John 1:9.)

“’Tis He, my soul, that sent His Son

To die for crimes which thou hast done; 

He owns the ransom, and forgives

The hourly follies of our lives.”

[9] The Established Church in requiring her Communicants to rise and kneel before the Communion rails, not only acts unscripturally, but destroys much of the designed beauty of the symbolism.

[10] “Fellowship” here stands for metoche, participation. In Eph. 3:9, read “dispensation,” or “stewardship,” (R.V.)

[11] So Alford—though some regard it as meaning communion between our souls and the Saviour.

[12] Our authority for these statements is a Sermon, “The Lord’s Supper, a Commemoration,” by J. Guinness Sogers, B.A., D.D. Christian World Pulpit, No. 1409. Nov. 2nd, 1898.

[13] Prominent among whom was E.W. Dale, LL.D., from whose Manual of Congregational Principles, (pages 148, 157,) and Ecclesia, First Series; Article on The Doctrine of the Beal Presence and of the Lord’s Supper—much of the above is taken.

[14] Many think that the term Demons stood for the disembodied spirits of men who had died in sin, and were at that very time doomed and damned. None who partake of the Lord’s Supper should attend spiritualistic seances. This is giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines (toachings) of Demons,” (1 Tim. 4:1), a sin specially predicted of the last days.

William Styles (1842-1914) was a Strict and Particular Baptist preacher. He is the author of several works, including “A Guide To Church Fellowship As Maintained By Primitive Or Strict And Particular Baptists” and “A Manual Of Faith And Practice”.

William Styles, A Guide To Church Fellowship (Complete)
William Styles, A Memoir of John Hazelton (Complete)