by John Dick
How often the Lord's Supper should be celebrated, is a question which has undergone much discussion. Some contend that it should be administered every Sabbath; but in my opinion, the proof from Scripture completely fails. Nothing can be inferred from the words of Luke concerning the primitive disciples, that "they continued steadfastly in the Apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers,"† unless it should be said, that they ate the Lord's Supper as often as they prayed, which no man in his senses ever affirmed. The case of the disciples at Troas is as little to the purpose; for when we read, that "on the first day of the week, when they came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them,"‡ it would be a strange fancy to suppose, that to break bread was the uniform design of their meetings on the Sabbath. We should thus suppose, contrary to Scripture, and to the history of the primitive church, that this was the main object of all their religious assemblies, that for which their meetings were held, and to which the preaching of the gospel was secondary and subservient; whereas the narrative plainly imports that it was an occasional design, suggested by the incidental presence of the Apostle. From the words of Paul to the Corinthians, "ye come together not for the better, but for the worse," compared with what he afterwards says, "when ye come together, this is not to eat the Lord's Supper,"§ it has been concluded, that always when they came together they observed this ordinance; because, otherwise, there could be no force in the argument, that they came together for the worse, which refers to the disorders of which they were guilty in communicating. This is truly wonderful logic, which the initiated may understand, but to every other person it is unintelligible. All that the Apostle affirms is, that when the Corinthians celebrated the Lord's Supper in a riotous manner, they came together for the worse. He says not one word about the frequency or the rareness of their meetings. The stupidity of this criticism is almost equalled by that which is founded on the words, "As often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup," and represents our Lord as enjoining a frequent celebration of the Supper; whereas every person knows that we use the phrase, as often, in reference to an action which we perform only once a year, as well as to an action which we perform once a day. As often as I take a meal, I ask the Divine blessing upon it. This happens three or four times a day. As often as I go to Edinburgh, I go by a particular road. This happens once or twice a year. Both expressions are equally proper, and imply only, that when the one thing takes place, the other always accompanies it.
Were we to judge of the Eucharist by human commemorative institutions, we should suppose it to return at distant intervals; or, were we to judge of it by similar institutions of Divine appointment, as the Passover, Pentecost, and the Feast of Tabernacles, we should conclude that it was to be observed once a year. There is no precept of Scripture, no apostolical example, to regulate our practice. Churches are left at liberty to order their procedure according to their own views of expedience and utility. The sacred feast should not be treated as if it were of no value, and so rarely celebrated as to be almost forgotten; nor should it be magnified above other ordinances, and represented as of indispensable necessity on every occasion. And it is arrogance in any denomination of Christians to imagine that they excel other Christians, merely because this ordinance is more frequently dispensed among them.
From Lectures on Theology,