by Archibald Alexander Hodge
HEAR the words of the institution of this holy Supper of our Lord, as given by revelation to his apostle Paul, and recorded in the eleventh chapter of the First Epistle to the Corinthians:
For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread: and when he had given thanks he brake it and said, Take, eat, this is my body which is broken for you; this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also, he took the cup when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood; this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till he come.
It is my solemn duty to warn the profane (which includes the thoroughly worldly), the ignorant (those who for lack of instruction or of intelligence are unable to practically understand the plan of salvation), the scandalous and those that secretly indulge themselves in any known sin, not to approach the holy table.
On the other hand, it is my high privilege to invite, in the name of the Lord Jesus, to his holy table all such as, sensible of their lost and helpless state of sin, depend upon the atonement of Christ for pardon and acceptance with God; such as, being instructed in the gospel doctrine, have a competent knowledge to discern the Lord’s body; and all such as desire to renounce their sins and are determined to lead a holy and godly life.
Especially all who, professing allegiance to our common Redeemer, are members in good standing in evangelical churches are cordially welcomed by us to a seat at out Master’s table. For we being many are one bread and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread. 1 Cor. 10:17.
[The congregation shall then sing an appropriate sacramental hymn, such as “O bread to pilgrims given,” or “My God, and is thy table spread,” or “According to thy gracious word.”
[Then the minister shall offer a solemn prayer of Invocation, Consecration (“setting the elements apart”), Confession and Supplication for the indwelling and communion of the Father and the Son through the Spirit.]
ADMINISTRATION OF THE BREAD
The bread and wine being thus set apart by prayer and thanksgiving, the minister is to take the bread and break it* in the view of the people, saying: Our Lord Jesus Christ, on the same night in which he was betrayed, having taken bread and blessed it, and broken it, gave it to his disciples; as I, ministering in his name, give this bread unto you, saying [here the bread is to be distributed], Take, eat: this is my body which is broken for you; this do in remembrance of me.
[If for any reason it be thought inexpedient to leave the communicants to their own silent meditations through the whole time occupied by the distribution of the elements, the minister should read slowly such of our Lord’s own words as the following:]
The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? (1 Cor. 10:16.) This is that bread which came down from heaven. He that eateth of this bread shall live for ever. John 6:58.
He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment, and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he hath done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed; he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. Isa. 53.
Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Matt 11:28.
For God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16.
For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost. Luke 19:10
Look unto me and be ye saved, all ye ends of the earth. Isa. 45:22.
All that the Father giveth me shall come to me, and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. John 6:37.
Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. John 15:16.
Therefore, I say unto you, What things soever ye desire when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. Mark 11:24.
According to your faith be it unto you. Matt. 9:29.
Write: Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage-supper of the Lamb. Rev. 19:9.
For the Bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven and giveth life unto the world.… I am that Bread of life. He that cometh to me shall never hunger, and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. John 6:33–35.
Whoso eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath eternal life. John 6:54.
It is the Spirit that quickeneth, the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. John 6:63.
He that hath an ear let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches: To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna. Rev. 2:17.
He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. Rev. 3:5.
THE ADMINISTRATION OF THE WINE
The minister shall say: After the same manner our Saviour also took the cup; and having given thanks, as hath been done in his name, he gave it to his disciples, saying [while the minister is repeating these words let him give the cup]: This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for many for the remission of sins: drink ye all of it.
[If deemed desirable, the minister during the distribution of the cup may slowly read the Lord’s words, as follows:]
The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? 1 Cor. 10:11.
I acknowledge my transgressions; and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest. Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence, and take not thy Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joys of thy salvation; and uphold me by thy free spirit. Ps. 51:3–12.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. The blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleanseth us from all sin. 1 John 1:7–9.
So when they had dined, Jesus said to Simon Peter: Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things, thou knowest that I love thee. John 21:15–17.
Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth; but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. John 15:15.
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13.
Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Luke 12:32.
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. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. Rev 3:20–22.
I am the Vine, ye are the branches: he that abideth in me and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit; for without me, ye can do nothing. John 15:5.
The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? 1 Cor. 10:16.
Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. John 6:53.
It is God that justifieth: who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Rom. 8:33–39.
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.
Father, I will that they also whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory which thou hast given me; for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. John 17:24.
They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more, neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb, which is in the midst of the throne, shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters; and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes. Rev. 7:16, 17.
He which testifieth these things saith, Surely, I come quickly: Amen; even so, come Lord Jesus. Rev. 22:20.
[After the Communion the minister shall say:]
Beloved, since the Lord hath now fed our souls at his table, let us jointly praise his holy name with thanksgiving, every one saying in his heart thus:
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me bless his holy name; bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.
Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with loving-kindnesses and tender mercies.
The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and plenteous in mercy. He hath not dealt with us after our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him.
He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? God commendeth his love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more being reconciled we shall be saved by his life. Therefore shall my mouth and heart show forth the praise of the Lord from this time forth for evermore. AMEN.*
[Then the minister shall offer a solemn prayer: Of Thanksgiving, of Consecration, of Intercession for absent Communicants, for Baptized Children and for the Church Universal.
[Then the congregation shall sing an appropriate hymn such as “All hail the power of Jesus’ name.”]
Now the God of peace that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do his will; working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. AMEN.
“As the body and blood of Christ are not corporally or carnally present in, with, or under the bread and wine in the Lord’s Supper; and yet are spiritually present to the faith of the receivers, no less truly and really than the elements themselves are to their outward senses; so they that worthily communicate in the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, do therein feed upon the body and blood of Christ, not after a corporal or carnal, but in a spiritual manner; yet truly and really, while by faith they receive and apply unto themselves Christ crucified, and all the benefits of his death.” Larger Catechism, Q. 170.
“One who doubteth of his being in Christ, or of his due preparation to the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, may have true interest in Christ, though he be not yet assured thereof; and in God’s account hath it, if he be duly affected with the apprehension of the want of it, and unfeignedly desires to be found in Christ and to depart from all iniquity.” Larger Catechism, Q. 172.
“Such as are found to be ignorant or scandalous, notwithstanding their profession of the faith, and desire to come to the Lord’s Supper, may and ought to be kept from that sacrament by the power which Christ hath left in his Church, until they receive instruction, and manifest their reformation.” Larger Catechism, Q. 173.
It is especially to be remembered that since the “sacraments are seals of the covenant of grace,” formed between Christ and his people, and since in the Lord’s Supper “the worthy receivers really and truly receive and apply unto themselves Christ and him crucified,” each believer being made “a priest unto God” (1 Pet. 2:5 and Rev. 1:6), “having liberty to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus” (Heb. 10:19), it necessarily follows that in this sacrament the communicants are to act immediately and personally in their covenanting with the Lord. The minister, therefore, ought not to throw them into a passive attitude as the recipients of his instructions or exhortations. All such didactic and hortatory exercises being assigned to the preparatory services and to the sermon before communion, the minister should abstain from addressing, and confine himself to leading the communicants in the act of communion by means of acts of direct worship, such as suitable prayers and hymns. And all the prayers and hymns associated with this holy ordinance should be specifically appropriate to it, and not of a mere general religious character.
“The standards of the Presbyterian Church are clear in their teaching, that the Lord’s Supper is not to be received by any one alone, yet in cases of protracted sickness or approaching death, when the desire is strongly urged by a member of the Church (whether previously so, or by recent confession and baptism) to enjoy the administration of the Lord’s Supper, a pastor, with one or more of his Session and such communicants as may appropriately be admitted may proceed to administer this sacrament—a minute of every such act to be entered on the records of Session.” General Assembly, O. S. 1863, Moore’s Digest, p. 668.
Hodge, A. A. (1920). Manual of forms: for baptism, admission to the communion, administration of the lord’s supper, marriage and funerals, ordination of elders and deacons, etc. (pp. 28–42). Philadelphia: Presbyterian Board of Publication and Sabbath-school Work.