The Form of the Lord’s Supper in Scriptural Simplicity

Acts 2:46

And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): The ancient churches celebrated this ordinance every Lord’s day, if not every day when they assembled for worship.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): Breaking bread from house to house.”―Either administering the Lord’s supper in private houses, sometimes administering it at one house, sometimes at another; or because their number was so large that one house could not hold them, they divided themselves into lesser bodies, and some had the ordinance administered to them in one house, and some in another.

JOHN WESLEY (1703-1791): Continuing daily”―as did many Churches for some ages.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): Of his own age, Augustine testifies: “The sacrament of the unity of our Lord’s body is, in some places, provided daily, and in others at certain intervals, at the Lord’s table.”

AUGUSTINE (354-430): In some places, not a day intervenes on which it is not offered―in others, on the Lord’s day only.

JOHN GILL: As often as ye eat,’ 1 Corinthians 11:26. Though there is no set fixed time for the administration of this ordinance, yet this phrase seems to suggest that it should be often.

GEORGE MÜLLER (1805-1898): Although we have no express command respecting the frequency of its observance, yet the example of the apostles and of the first disciples would lead us to observe this ordinance every Lord’s day.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Shame on the Christian church that she should put it off to once a month, and mar the first day of the week by depriving it of its glory in the meeting together for fellowship and breaking of bread, and showing forth the death of Christ till He come.

JOHN CALVIN: The Lord’s Supper might be most properly administered, if it were set before the church very frequently, and at least once in every week in the following manner: The service should commence with public prayer; in the next place, a sermon should be delivered; then, the bread and wine being placed upon the table, the minister should recite the institution of the supper, should declare the promises which are left to us in it, and, at the same time, should excommunicate all those who are excluded from by the prohibition of the Lord; after this prayer should be offered―then either some psalms should be sung, or a portion of Scripture should be read, and believers, in a becoming order, should participate of the sacred banquet, the ministers breaking the bread and distributing it, and presenting the cup to the people.

C. H. SPURGEON: This leads on to the notion in some churches that only an ordained or recognized minister should preside at the Lord’s table. Small is our patience with this unmitigated Popery, and yet it is by no means uncommon―the friends like a “stated minister” to “administer the sacrament.” This may not always be the language employed, but it often is, and it is an unsanctified jargon, revealing the influence of priestcraft. Whence comes it? By what scripture can it be justified? “Breaking bread from house to house” does not read very like it―even now we know of churches which have dispensed with the Lord’s Supper week after week because the pastor was ill, there being, of course, no other brother in the whole community who had grace enough to preside at the table, or to “administer the sacrament,” as some of the brotherhood call it…We suppose that the idea of a deacon leading the communion would horrify a great many, but why? If the church should request a venerable brother to conduct the service, a brother of eminent grace and prayerfulness, would the ordinance be any the less instructive or consoling because he was not in the ministry?

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): That man has no right to preach, nor administer the sacraments of the Church of Christ, whom God has not sent; though the whole assembly of apostles had laid their hands on him.

C. H. SPURGEON: Who are we that our presence should render more valid, or more lawful, the remembrance of our Lord’s death until He come?

MATTHEW HENRY: Sacraments derive not their efficacy from those who administer them.

C. H. SPURGEON: Naturally enough the pastor, when there is one, leads the way by the respectful consent of all; but would fellowship with Jesus be more difficult, if he were out of the way, and an elder or deacon occupied his place? Our experience has never led us to bemoan, on the account of our people, that the communion was a maimed rite when a beloved deacon or elder has filled our chair. We love to have our brethren sitting with us at the table, breaking the bread as much as we do, and giving thanks aloud as we do, because we hope that by this visible sign men will see that “one is our Master, even Christ, and all we are brethren.”

ANDREW FULLER (1754-1815): I have long been of opinion that there was no scriptural authority for confining the administration of the Lord’s Supper to a minister. I had no doubt but that the primitive pastors did preside at the Lord’s table, as well as in the reception and exclusion of members, and in short in all the proceedings of the church; and that, where there was a pastor, it was proper that he should continue to do so. But that when a pastor died, or was removed, the church was not obliged to desist from commemorating the Lord’s death, any more than from receiving or excluding members. Neither do I recollect that any minister is said to have “administered” the Lord’s Supper, unless we consider our Saviour as sustaining that character at the time of its institution; and this silence of the Scriptures concerning the administration appears to me to prove that it was a matter of indifference

C. H. SPURGEON: All things are to be done decently and in order, but that order does not necessitate a church’s going without the Lord’s Supper because there is no pastor or regular minister to be had. At least we fail to see any support for such an idea, except in the traditions of the fathers, and the sooner these are consigned to oblivion the better. We confess we do not admire the Plymouth Brethren fashion of passing round a lump of bread for all to peck at, like so many crows, or the plan of hawking a slice from hand to hand, for each one to break on his own account, for it is not a clean or decorous practice; and as it never would be tolerated at our own tables, it certainly ill becomes the table of the Lord: but even these odd ways are better, or at least less harmful, than the practice of a “stated minister” administering the elements, for “stated minister” is little more than “priest writ large” in the idea of weaker brethren and the sooner it is put an end to the better…When matters have gone so far, it is surely time to speak out against such worship of men.

 

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