THE Supper which our Lord instituted as a remembrancer of his great sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world, is striking in its appropriateness and its simplicity. The world's great men have always sought very different means of perpetuating their memories. In whatever way they would remind their followers of their merits and their greatness, it surely has not been by a reminder and commemoration of their death—especially if, as in our Lord's case, it was a death of ignominy and shame, a death as a malefactor and criminal. Another, more probably, would have left instructions for medals to be struck commemorating some of his mighty works; such, for instance, as the awakening of Lazarus, or the stilling of the tempest on the sea, or the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, while the multitude strewed the way with palm branches, and cried, Hosanna to the King, the heir of David!—
But our Lord chose as his remembrancer that which represented what was, in his and in God's estimation, his mightiest work—his sin-offering on our behalf; and that which his real followers, and they alone, would appreciate more than any other feature of his mission. True, his followers would have appreciated something commemorative of his wonderful words or works, but the worldly also could have appreciated those things. But not so the value of his death as our ransom-sacrifice, the basis of our reconciliation and atonement, which has never yet been fully apprehended by any but the consecrated little flock—the elect. And it was for these that the remembrancer was arranged and instituted. And tho a Judas was present, he was given a sop and went out from the others before the supper was ended; thus no doubt representing that in the close of this age, before the little flock will have finished their part of having fellowship with their Lord in his suffering, the sop of truth will have become so strong as to drive forth from the company and communion of the faithful all who do not rightly appreciate and value the ransom accomplished by the Lamb of God for the taking away of the sins of the world.—1 John 2:19.
The date of the Paschal Supper at which the Jews ate a lamb, commemorative of their deliverance from Egyptian bondage and of the sparing of their first-born at that time, was of course calculated by the Jewish method of reckoning time; viz., lunar time. (Exod. 12:2-14.) Instead of dividing the months as we do, they allowed the new moon to mark the beginning of a new month; and the difference between the sun time (solar time) and moon time (lunar time) was equalized every year by always beginning the new year with the appearing of the new moon about the Spring equinox. In celebrating their religious festivals the Jews still maintain this method of reckoning. And since our Lord, the apostles and the early church followed this same rule for determining the date for the annual celebration of our Lord's Last Supper, we also follow it.
The first moon after the vernal equinox counts March 23d in Hebrew almanacs—probably Jerusalem obs. At 6 P.M. on that day begins the first day of the Jewish month Nisan, the first month of the Jewish sacred year. Beginning with the 1st of Nisan the Hebrews counted, and on the tenth day the Paschal lamb was chosen or selected from the flock. On the [R2270 : page 68] fourteenth day (the full of the moon*) "between evenings" (at any time between 6 P.M. of the 13th and 6 P.M. of the 14th of Nisan) the lamb was to be killed and eaten. On the fifteenth day their Passover Feast began, lasting seven days, the first and the seventh days being observed as specially holy, as Sabbath days or "high" days. (Exod. 12:16.) On the sixteenth day the omer of the first-fruits of the barley harvest was offered to the Lord, and fifty days after (Pentecost Day) they offered before the Lord two wave loaves.—Lev. 23:17.
*As the Sun is a symbol of Christ's Kingdom, so the Moon symbolized Israel as a nation. (Rev. 12:1.) The 12 and sometimes 13 lunations symbolize the tribes of that nation. The moon was at its full at the time of Christ's crucifixion. There it immediately began to wane and waned for as long as it had previously increased. So Christ's death was the turning point between the two equal parts of Israel's history. See M. DAWN, VOL. II., p.218.
As those Jews who were unclean, and hence could not keep the Passover properly in its proper season, were permitted to do so on the 14th of the second month (at the full of the next moon—Num. 9:8-13), the lesson taught seems to be that all prevented (by ignorance) from accepting Messiah as their Redeemer, when offered to them, will have an opportunity of doing so when, in the times of restitution of all things, their nation (moon) shall again be full of blessings in the latter harvest.
These things done by the Jews every year were, as we have already seen, types of greater and grander occurrences. The choosing of the lamb on the tenth day typified how, if Israel would be blessed and recognized as first-born in the antitypical Passover, they must accept Jesus then, five days before that Passover Feast, and four days before his crucifixion. And it evidently was on that very date that our Lord offered himself finally to that nation—when, as their King, he rode into the city on the colt. (Compare John 12:1,12.) They, however, neglected to receive the Lamb of God, at once were rejected, and ceased from being the typical first-born.
The 14th day (which this year will begin at 6 o'clock on the evening of Tuesday, April 5th, and last until 6 P.M. of the 6th) was the day in which the Paschal lamb was to be killed and eaten; and the Hebrew counting of time (doubtless divinely arranged for this very purpose) permitted the eating of the [R2271 : page 68] "Last Supper" upon the same day that the Lord was crucified. The Passover supper of lamb and herbs and unleavened bread (fulfilling the Law, which was not ended until the cross) was eaten shortly after 6 P.M. Then followed the institution of the Memorial Supper of bread and wine, representative of the body and blood of the antitypical lamb. This thereafter, as often as the occasion returned (yearly), was to be observed by his followers instead of the eating of the literal lamb—as the commemoration of the antitypical lamb and the greater passing over of the antitypical first-born which his blood effects.
The waving of the barley sheaf of first-fruits on the 16th of Nisan ("the morrow after the Sabbath" or Passover of the 15th—Lev. 23:5,6,11,15,16) typified the resurrection of Christ our Lord, as "the first fruits of them that slept."*—1 Cor. 15:20.
*Here is the strongest possible confirmation of the correctness of the position taken in MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOL. II.—that our Lord was not three full 24-hour days in the tomb, but only parts of the three days and nights; that he was crucified on the day corresponding to our Friday afternoon, and arose on what corresponded to our Sunday morning. The showing of this type that the Paschal lamb was to be killed sometime during the 14th of Nisan, and the wave offering of the sheaf of first-fruits was to occur on the 16th, should settle the matter for all. It agrees with the repeated statement (1 Cor. 15:4; Luke 24:46) that our Lord rose on "the third day, according to the Scriptures." This Scripture concerning the first-fruits is the only one which we recall as in any way pointing out the time of our Lord's resurrection. Then, too, the fact that history, as represented in the traditions and customs, points out Good Friday and Easter Sunday as celebrations of our Lord's death and resurrection, should have some weight on so trivial a matter, unless some motive or reason for misstating the dates can be assigned. The only Scripture seeming to oppose all these facts is the declaration that our Lord would be three days and three nights in the earth; and the only explanation that can be offered to this is, that the expression is used in a general and not in a specific manner, the nights being mentioned to preclude the idea of any cessation of death until the third day. Thus understood, the expression would signify that during portions of three days and nights our Lord would be in the tomb. At all events the evidence is overwhelming that he died on the 14th of Nisan and rose on the 16th—the third day after.
The two wave loaves offered on the fiftieth day, Pentecost, represented the presenting of the Church before God and its acceptance through the merit of the great High Priest, indicated by the anointing of the holy spirit at Pentecost. The Church really is but "one loaf" (1 Cor. 10:17), the two loaves representing the same thing as the two goats presented on the Day of Atonement. It indicated that, altho all presented were acceptable to God through Christ Jesus, he yet knew that all presented would not come up to the condition of faithfulness to the end. The two loaves represented, therefore, the two classes of the consecrated—the overcoming little flock and the "great company" of the consecrated servants of God who do not make the high calling theirs, by overcoming the world as they might and should do.
The method of calculating the date for Good Friday and Easter Sunday in vogue among Episcopalians and Roman Catholics differs from the foregoing in this: They celebrate as Easter Sunday the first Sunday following the first full moon after the Spring equinox, and the preceding Friday is recognized as Good Friday. This method of counting was instituted by the Council of Nice, A.D. 325, as instead of the Jewish method which we recognize. But the name "Passover" continued to be used (not Easter+ Sunday)—for a long time; it was after Papacy had become established in political influence, and the ignorant pagans began to flock to the system which enjoyed the favor [R2271 : page 69] of the government, that the name "Easter" was substituted for "Passover," because about the same time as the Passover the pagans had been in the habit of celebrating the festival of their goddess Easter (German Ostera)—Estera, goddess of the East. This was one of the many methods adopted by an ambitious "clergy" for gaining numbers and influence.
+The use of the word Easter in Acts 12:4 is a mistranslation; it should be rendered Passover.—See Revised Version.
The Jews will celebrate as a "feast" the Passover week, beginning April 7th (at 6 o'clock P.M. April 6th), the 15th of Nisan. We in the Memorial Supper do not celebrate the feast-week but the day previous, the 14th of Nisan, beginning on the evening of the 13th (April 5th, '98) which is the anniversary of the proper date for killing and eating the Paschal lamb—the anniversary of the death of our Lord Jesus; the true Lamb of God, because of whose sacrifice we the "Church of the first-born" are passed over from death unto life—already by faith or reckonedly, by and by actually in "the first resurrection." The antitype of the Passover Feast week is found in the rejoicing of heart of all the first born of true Israel—the seven days signifying the perfection or completeness of the joy and the salvation.
We have given the details as to the counting as a general answer to many questions on this subject, and not because of any weighty importance or bondage attaching to the exact anniversary day. We recognize no such bondage upon those made free by Christ. For tho desirous of observing the Memorial Supper properly, upon its proper anniversary, as intended by our Lord when he said, "This do ye [every time you celebrate this yearly memorial] in remembrance [lit., for commemoration] of me," we esteem it more as a privilege than as a duty; and if we should err in the matter of selecting the day, through ignorance or misunderstanding, we believe the Lord would accept our good intentions, and forgive the error and grant his blessing. Indeed, we believe that the Lord owns and accepts the good intentions of many of his children who, because of erroneous teachings and human traditions, select various other times and seasons for celebrating this memorial of his death, instead of its anniversary which he designated. Similarly we would sympathize with the patriotic intentions of the man who should "celebrate" the independence of the United States three, four, or fifty times a year, forgetful of the date, or ignorant of the fact that the Fourth of July is the anniversary of the event, and was appointed as the appropriate date for celebrating it.
This like other truths long buried under the rubbish of the dark ages, God is now making clear to his people. And all who are truly his people are anxious for the truth and the right upon this, as upon all other subjects revealed in God's Word.
"For I received from the Lord, what I also delivered to you—That the Lord on the night in which he was delivered up took a loaf, and having given thanks, broke it and said, 'This is that body of mine, which is broken on your behalf; this do ye in my remembrance.' In like manner also, the cup, after the supper, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in my blood; this do ye, as often as ye may drink, for my remembrance.' For as often as you may eat this bread or drink this cup you declare the death of the Lord till he come."—1 Cor. 11:24-26.
There is no necessity for discussing with honest minds what is and what is not meant by the expression—the Lord's death. Some, in an anxiety to get away from the doctrine of the ransom, or, rather, in their anxiety to get away from the logical deductions associated with the doctrine of the ransom, are claiming, regardless of all Scripture to the contrary, that our Lord Jesus had two deaths, one when he came into the world, and the other at Calvary; and that the death of the "man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all," at Calvary, was of small importance as compared with the other. They seem willingly ignorant of the fact that the Scriptures declare, "In that he died, he died unto sin once;" and that that one death, and the only one ever referred to by our Lord or his apostles, was the death at Calvary.
The apostles declare that he spoke of the death which he should accomplish at Jerusalem. This one and only death of our Redeemer is what is symbolized by this Remembrancer,—his body, his flesh broken for us, and of its merits and life all who would have life everlasting must partake. "Let no man deceive you by any means," on this important question.
But as water baptism is not the important baptism, but only the symbol representing the real, so partaking of the emblematic bread and wine is only the symbol of the more important feast—our appropriation of the merit of Christ, which secures to us eternal life through his broken body and shed blood. Thus by faith accepting his finished sacrifice, and by similar faith, as instructed by him, appropriating to ourselves all the merits and perfections and rights which the man Christ Jesus possessed and laid down in death for us, we really feed our hearts upon the bread of everlasting life, the bread which God sent to us from heaven. This is the true bread of which if men will eat they will never die—the flesh which he gave for [R2271 : page 70] the life of the world, that all the dead and dying race may have life. This is, primarily, what the literal bread symbolizes and signifies to all who partake of it rightly and intelligently. It is a memorial of the ransom of Adam and his family from the bondage of sin and death.
Another thought: the bread was unleavened. Leaven is corruption, an element of decay, hence a type of sin, and the decay and death which sin works in mankind. So, then, this symbol declares that our Lord Jesus was free from sin, a lamb without spot or blemish, "holy, harmless, undefiled." Had he been of [R2272 : page 70] Adamic stock, had he received his life in the usual way from any earthly father, he, too, would have been leavened with Adamic sin, as are all other men; but his life came unblemished from a higher, heavenly nature, changed to earthly conditions; hence he is called "the bread from heaven." (John 6:41.) Let us then appreciate the pure, unleavened, undefiled bread which God has provided, and so let us eat of him—by eating and digesting the truth, and especially his truth—appropriating to ourselves, by faith, his righteousness; and let us recognize him as both the way and the life.
The Apostle, by divine revelation, communicates to us a further meaning in this remembrancer. He shows that not only did the loaf represent our Lord Jesus, individually, but that after we have thus partaken of him (after we have been justified by appropriating his righteousness), we, by consecration, become associated with him as part of the one broken loaf—food for the world. (1 Cor. 10:16.) This suggests the thought of our privilege as justified believers to share now in the sufferings and death of Christ, the condition upon which we may become joint-heirs with him of future glories, and associates in the great work of blessing and giving life to all the families of the earth.
This same thought is expressed by the Apostle repeatedly and under various figures, but none of them more forceful than this, that the Church, as a whole, is the "one loaf" now being broken. It is a striking illustration of our union and fellowship with our Head.
We quote: "Because there is one loaf, we, the many [persons] are one body; for we all partake of the one loaf." "The loaf which we break, is it not the participation of the body of the anointed one?"—1 Cor. 10:16,17.—Diaglott.
The "fruit of the vine" represents the sacrificed life given by our Lord. "This is my blood [symbol of life given up in death] of the new covenant, shed for many, FOR THE REMISSION of sins." "Drink ye all of it."—Matt. 26:27,28.
It was by the giving up of his life as a ransom for the life of the Adamic race, which sin had forfeited, that a right to LIFE may come to men through faith and obedience under the New Covenant. (Rom. 5:18,19.) The shed blood was the "ransom [price] for ALL," which was paid for all by our Redeemer himself; but his act of handing the cup to the disciples, and asking them to drink of it, was an invitation to them to become partakers of his sufferings, or, as Paul expresses it, to "fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ." (Col. 1:24.) It was the offer to us that if we, after being justified by faith, voluntarily partake of the sufferings of Christ, by espousing his cause, it will be reckoned to us as tho we had part in his sacrifice. "The cup of blessing, for which we bless God, is it not a participation of the blood [shed blood—death] of the Anointed one?" (1 Cor. 10:16—Diaglott.) Would that we all might realize the value of the "cup," and could bless God for an opportunity of sharing with Christ his "cup" of sufferings and shame: all such may be assured that they will be glorified together with him.—Rom. 8:17.
Our Lord also attached this significance to the "cup," indicating that it signified our participation in his dishonor, our share in his sacrifice—the death of our humanity. For instance, when asked by two of his disciples for a promise of future glory in his throne, he answered them: "Ye know not what ye ask; are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of?" On their hearty avowal he answered, "Ye shall indeed drink of my cup." The juice of the grape not only speaks of the crushing of the grape till blood comes forth, but it also speaks of an after refreshment; and so we who now share the "sufferings of Christ" shall shortly share also his glories, honors and immortality—when we drink the new wine with him in the Kingdom.
Since our Lord who instituted the Memorial Supper placed no limit upon its observance, this expression by the Apostle is not to be understood as limiting the length of time in which it will be appropriate to commemorate the death of our Lord Jesus, our ransom sacrifice, and our consecration with him to sacrifice. Rather, he is showing that it was not to be considered a limited arrangement, for a few years, but was to be continually observed until the Lord's second coming. Looking down to and speaking of the second coming of our Lord, the Apostle includes in his expression the gathering and exaltation with Christ of his Church or Kingdom to rule and bless the world. This is even yet a common and proper way of speaking of matters so closely identified and so dependent one upon the other. The Christ, Head and body, is coming to rule [R2272 : page 71] the world in power and great glory. The presence of the Lord or Head is necessary first; then commences the change of the sleeping members of his body, the sifting of the living members, and their gradual gathering together unto him.
Even tho the Kingdom may be considered as begun from the time the King began the exercise of his great power (Rev. 11:17) in 1878, it will not be "set up," in the full sense of the word, until the last member of the Kingdom has been changed or glorified—until the breaking of the "loaf," the Church, Head and body, is completed. While one member suffers the body suffers; while one member is unglorified the Kingdom is not fully come into power and dominion.
It is the coming of Christ as including the full exaltation of his Church or Kingdom that the Apostle evidently meant when he said, "As often as you may eat this [Passover] bread and drink this cup, you declare the death of the Lord [as your hope and confidence] till he come. The same thought of the Kingdom glory being the end of the symbol may be gathered from our Lord's own words on the occasion of the institution of the memorial—"I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's Kingdom."—Matt. 26:29.
And surely if it were ever proper and expedient for those who believe that our Lord's death was the ransom-price for sinners to confess it—to show it forth as the basis of all their hopes—it is now, when this foundation doctrine of God's Word is being traduced and misrepresented.
Let all who hold fast the confidence of faith in his precious blood [his sacrificed life] as the propitiation [satisfaction] for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world, be more zealous and fervent than ever before in confessing this great truth; "for even Christ our Passover [sacrifice] is slain; therefore, let us keep the feast." None of the nominal first-born shall be passed over, and become members of the Church of the first-born in glory, except those who, during this night, abide under the blood, and partake of the merits of the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world,—just as in the type.—Exod. 12:7,8,13.
The Lord's Supper is not for the world, nor for merely nominal believers, but only for those who, (1) accepting of Christ as their Redeemer and sin-bearer, are (2) consecrated to him and his service. But it is not for us—nor for any man or set of men—to decide who may and who may not partake. It is our duty to point out from the Word of the Lord what are the proper qualifications for participation in the "cup" and in the "loaf," and then to say as did the Apostle, Let every man examine himself, and then, if he think proper, let him partake.—1 Cor. 11:28.
Now that God's people are emerging from the errors of the dark ages, when this Memorial can be more clearly understood, the judging or examining of one's self can be more thorough than ever before. Let each ask himself;—
(3) Do I believe he gave himself—his flesh and blood, his humanity—as my ransom-price, pouring out his soul unto death, making his soul a sin-offering (Isa. 53:10,12) on this behalf?
(5) Do I see that the rights under the Law, which he secured by obedience to it (the right of lasting life and the dominion of earth), were what he through that same sacrifice bequeathed to the fallen, dying race—to as many as shall accept the blessings under the conditions of the New Covenant?
(7) Do I see that the partaking of the bread and wine symbols of his flesh and blood signifies my acceptance of those favors and blessings which the flesh and blood of my Lord bought for me and for all?
(8) And if I do thus heartily accept of the ransom thus memorialized, do I consecrate my entire being—my flesh and blood, justified through that ransom—to the Lord, to be broken with him, to suffer with him, to be dead with him?
Those, however, that deny that a ransom for sin and sinners was required and given, who feel that they need not to partake of Christ's merit, who deny that the merit of one can be imputed to another, who have cast off the wedding garment of Christ's righteousness, who feel "happier" and "freer" in the filthy rags of their own righteousness, and who now consider the precious blood wherewith they were once sanctified a [R2273 : page 72] not-holy or an ordinary thing—such we advise to stay away from memorializing that in which they no longer believe; for they would merely be adding hypocrisy to unbelief. For such to partake, is to add condemnation to themselves and their no-ransom theories.
But, better still, let us advise all who have merely been entrapped into this error, by the sophistries promulgated through various channels by the great Adversary, to reject all vain human philosophies and to receive again the simple Word of God, the truths therein set forth;—that all are fallen, and that the only way open for our reconciliation and restitution consistent with the divine law and sentence was the giving of the full and exact corresponding price or ransom for our sins;—that in no other way could he be just and yet justify sinners. Let them recognize the fact that our Lord Jesus, as the Lamb of God, bore the full penalty for our sins in his own body on the tree—that he gave full ransom for all.
The philosophy is very plain, but if such cannot grasp it, at least let such grasp the fact that God declares it to be so, and let them return unto the Lord and he will abundantly pardon. Let them ask for the guidance of the spirit and the anointing of the eyes, that they may be able to comprehend, with all saints, this, the foundation of all the grace of our God in Christ. Thus in true acceptance of the broken body and the shed blood—realizing that the sacrifice was for their sins and that the blood shed [life given] seals the New Covenant for all—let them commemorate the greatest event of history, the shedding of the precious blood, the sacrifice of the precious life of God's dear Son for our sins. Nevertheless we know from God's Word that these words or any words will not succeed in turning back to the way, the truth and the life those who have wilfully and knowingly gone out from under the blood of sprinkling. There will be no pass-over for them. "It is impossible to renew them again unto repentance." (Heb. 6:4-10 and 10:26-30.) We well know that even these words of loving admonition and these faithful references to the words of inspiration will be attributed to hatred, malice, envy and every wicked feeling on our part, instead of to the real motive—a desire to serve the Lord and the truth, and any brethren or sisters unwittingly stumbling.
Many in the past have partaken of the emblems of the Lord's body and blood without fully appreciating the philosophy of the ransom, who nevertheless did so with reverent appreciation of the fact that the death of our Redeemer had purged us from our guilt and relieved us from its penalty. Such discerned the real significance of the Memorial, though, because of gross errors associated with the truth, they did not discern its simple philosophy as many of us may now do.
No, we have not forgotten baptism. We agree with you that the baptism is necessary—that the Memorial Supper is only for the Church; and that baptism is necessary before one can belong to the Church. But we differ with you as to what the Church is. We hold that the Baptist church is not the Church. Like all other churches organized and governed by fallen men, the Baptist church contains "tares" as well as "wheat;" but the Church contains wheat only. Surely no one will claim for any sect of Christendom that his sect contains all the "wheat" and no "tares." But the Church, "whose names are written in heaven," includes all the "wheat" and has not a "tare" on its roll. This is the one Church which our Lord established, and of which all the elect must become members—the Church Passed-over—"The Church of the First-born ones, whose names are written in heaven."—Heb. 12:23.
Nor can we admit your claim with reference to baptism. The Scriptural view is still more exclusive than yours. You have in the membership of the Baptist church some who would be far from acceptable as members of the "Church of the First-borns." They passed your test of water-baptism, but they have not passed the test of the greater baptism which is required of all members of the Church whose names are written in heaven. The real baptism is a baptism into Christ's body—the Church—by a baptism or immersion into Christ's death, and a resurrection therefrom in his likeness. Water immersion is a beautiful symbol of the real immersion of the human will into the will of Christ, a beautiful illustration of a full sacrifice even unto death; but it is only an illustration or symbol—just as the bread and wine of the Supper are not the real life-giving elements of our Lord's sacrifice of which we are to eat, but merely their symbols.
We agree, therefore, that none but the Church, the immersed, should partake of the Supper; but we recognize as really immersed all whose wills are dead and buried in the will of Christ, and who, as new creatures in him, are risen to walk in newness of life, while waiting for the consummation of their course in literal death and their awakening as actual new beings in the first resurrection. All such, whoever and wherever they may be, are the real members of Christ's body, the Church, whether they have performed the enjoined water symbol or not. Of course, when such consecrated ones, dead to their own wills and alive only to the will of Christ, come to see that our Lord's commands [R2273 : page 73] include the symbol of water immersion or burial, as well as the burial of their wills, they will be glad to follow and to obey their Head and Lord in all things—especially when as infants they were not "believers" and that a drop of water could not in any degree symbolize burial and resurrection. Such as see the value and beauty of this injunction of God's Word should, if possible, be buried in water also (as our Lord and his apostles showed us) before partaking of the Memorial Supper. See TOWER for June 15th, 93,—article headed "Baptism and its Import."
Of course, we cannot hope that only true "wheat" will present themselves at the Lord's table; we expect that some "tares" will come also, as Judas was present at the first gathering. But since we cannot judge the heart nor separate the "wheat" from the "tares," we fulfil the whole duty when we "declare the whole counsel of God" as revealed in his Word on this subject, and should leave the decision as to whether or not he partake to each individual who professes faith in the atoning blood and consecration to the Redeemer.
If there are in your neighborhood others of God's consecrated people besides yourself, you should know it. Your faithful love for them and for the truth should have led you to seek them out to bless them with the truth shortly after you yourself received it. If there are such with whom you can have communion and fellowship invite them to join you in the Memorial; but not if you know them to be deniers of the ransom, lest you assist in bringing additional condemnation upon them.
Meet with few or many, as circumstances will permit, but better far with a few who can enter with you into the spirit of the Memorial, than with a throng devoid of that spirit of fellowship and union in Christ.
Provide for the occasion, if possible, unleavened bread (or crackers), such as the Lord used, and such as Hebrews now use; because the pure, sweet, unleavened bread best symbolizes the sinless flesh of the Lamb of God, who knew no sin [of which leaven is a symbol], who was holy, harmless, undefiled and separate from the race of sinners. Provide some drink from "the fruit of the vine," as the Lord directed. Undoubtedly he and the disciples used light wines, and we regard wine as unquestionably the more appropriate symbol; but since our Lord did not stipulate wine, but merely the "fruit of the vine," we can conceive of no objection that can be urged against the strained juice of boiled raisins, which are dried grapes. And surely this would be "the fruit of the vine" as really as wine is. We do not urge this raisin-liquor upon any who feel a conscientious desire to use wine; we merely remind all that our circumstances, climate, habits, etc., differ greatly from those of the early Church, and we very much doubt if our Lord would have us symbolize his blood with many of the intoxicating wines of our day—especially in view of the fact that some of the saints may have an inherited weakness of the flesh, which one taste might reenkindle into a great temptation. "Let each judge not to cast a stumbling-block before his brother." If wine is conscientiously preferred, choose a light wine, or mix a little wine with the raisin-juice.
The memorial service should be very simple—it is chiefly a season of communion. Have a table in the midst of the assembly for the bread and wine. After [R2274 : page 73] the singing of a hymn one of the brethren should, in a few chosen words, express the object of the service and read a few verses from the Scriptures on the subject; another might then give thanks for the bread of life, the broken body of our Lord; after which the unleavened bread (or soda biscuit if more convenient) should be passed to all the communicants. An opportunity for remarks on the bread of life might here be given. Then a prayer of thanks for the cup, and for the precious blood symbolized in it, should be offered, and the cup of "fruit of the vine" passed. Here an opportunity might be given for remarks on the precious blood. But avoid discussions at this meeting. However appropriate to contend earnestly for the faith on other occasions, this is not such an occasion. This is a meeting for fellowship and communion with the Lord, our Redeemer and present King. If any seem contentious, let him have his say, and let the others refrain from discussion, that the holy moments of special communion with himself, which the Master appointed for our blessing, be not marred.
Those who celebrate the Memorial with guileless, earnest hearts receive a great and refreshing blessing, and for this it is well to have seasons of quiet in the midst of the service, when no one will be speaking audibly and when the hearts of all can come very close to the Master in communion—in realization of his love, past and present, in renewing the pledge made to be his faithful followers even unto death, in considering how that pledge has been kept or violated during the year preceding, and in resolving afresh to run with patience the race for the prize of joint-heirship with our Lord, to which we are invited.
A beautifully appropriate hymn for closing the Memorial is No. 276 in our hymn-book. And it will surely add to our joy to realize that some of like precious faith in all parts of the world are celebrating the same great sacrifice, thinking of the same gracious Lord, being comforted and encouraged by the same exceeding great and precious promises, resolving by [R2274 : page 74] the grace of the same gracious King to do greater service and to make greater sacrifices in his service and in the service of his people thenceforth, and closing with the same song of praise and worship.
Of the first Supper it is written: "They sang a hymn and went out." Let us do the same. Let each go to his home with his heart full. We suggest the omission on this occasion of the usual, general and proper after-meeting greetings, and all commonplace remarks and thoughts, thus we may prolong our communion and fellowship with the Master. Keep within sight of him throughout the next day. Hear the clamor of the people against the guileless one; see them incited by the clergy of Jerusalem; see him before Herod and his soldiers; see him arrayed in robes of mock-royalty and crowned with thorns, then buffeted and spat upon.
See him crucified as a criminal, and taunted with the very gracious deeds which he had performed—"He saved others, himself he cannot save." Remember that he could have saved himself; that he could have asked for, and would have received, "more than twelve legions of angels" to deliver and protect him; that he could have destroyed his enemies and villifiers, instead of dying for them; and that our hope of a resurrection and everlasting life depended upon his willing offering of himself as our ransom-price. Considering his love for us and for all it will surely strengthen us as his followers to endure more and more hardness as good soldiers of the cross. Aye, let us consider him who endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest we become weary and faint in our minds under the light afflictions now permitted for our trial and discipline, which, if faithfully endured, will work out for each a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.
As usual the Church at this place will celebrate Christ our Passover slain for us. The service will be in Bible House Chapel, No. 56 Arch street, at 7.30 P.M., on Tuesday, April 5th. We no longer hold general Bible Study Conventions in connection with this Memorial; for it is at a usually inclement season. And, furthermore, we found that as only the few could attend from other places, their coming detracted from the interest in the home celebrations. Our advice, therefore, is that each little gathering seek to make these occasions of special interest at home. Nevertheless we shall be most glad to welcome all who may find it convenient to attend the Allegheny meeting.