April 26: School & Family Catechist, WSC Q. 96

THE SCHOOL & FAMILY CATECHIST
by Rev. William Smith (1834)

The Westminster Shorter Catechism
Q. 96. What is the Lord’s supper?

A. The Lord’s supper is a sacrament, wherein by giving and receiving bread and wine, according to Christ’s appointment, his death is shewed forth, and the worthy receivers are, not after a corporal and carnal manner, but by faith, made partakers of his body and blood, with all his benefits, to their spiritual nourishment and growth in grace.

EXPLICATION.

The Lord’s supper. –It is so called because it was appointed by Christ, immediately after eating the Passover, which was always at night.

Giving bread and wine. –This denotes God’s giving Christ, and Christ also giving himself to those who receive the Lord’s supper in a proper and worthy manner, as the bread represents Christ’s body, and the wine his blood.

Receiving bread and wine. –This signifies that the communicants, or those who partake of this holy ordinance, receive or accept of Christ with pleasure, as he is offered in the Gospel, and that they, by believing in him as the only Saviour, feed upon him, and all his benefits, to their spiritual nourishment.

His death is shewed forth. –That is, by this ordinance Christ’s death is held up to the view of the mind, and is thus kept in remembrance.

Worthy receivers. –Those who, being properly prepared, receive the Lord’s supper in a right manner.

Not after a corporal manner. –Not in a bodily sense. That is, the bread is not changed into the body of Christ; but is merely a symbol, or figurative representation of it.

Not in a carnal manner. –Not in a fleshy sense. This is intended to show, that as the bread is not transformed into the real body of Christ, nor the wine changed into his blood, so it is not in this gross and bodily sense, but by faith, or believing on him, that any one can feed upon him.

Made partakers of his body and blood. –Become united to Christ, and allowed to share in the blessings procured for his people by his death.

Spiritual nourishment and growth in grace. –The soul’s increasing or improving in holiness. This is known by the believer’s feelings more enlarged desires after “the sincere milk of the word,” more inward opposition to every sin, a greater tenderness of conscience, and more anxiety to fulfil faithfully all the duties of his station in life.

ANALYSIS.

The information here received respecting the Lord’s supper, may be divided into five particulars:

1. We are first told, that the Lord’s supper is a sacrament, in which the outward signs are bread and wine. –Luke xxii. 19, 20. He (Christ) took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you:  –likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the New Testament in my blood, which is shed for you.

2. That in this sacrament there is both a giving and a receiving of these signs. –See the proof of the last particular.

3. That by thus giving and receiving bread and wine, according to Christ’s appointment, his death is shewed forth.  –1 Cor. xi. 26. For as often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup, ye do shew forth the Lord’s death till he come.

4. That the worthy receivers of the Lord’s supper are, not after a corporal and carnal manner, but by faith, made partakers of Christ’s body and blood. –1 Cor. x. 16. 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?

5. That all Christ’s benefits are thus received by them to their spiritual nourishment and growth in grace. –John vi. 54, 55. Whoso eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life, –for my flesh is meat indeed and my blood is drink indeed. 1 Cor. xii. 13. We have been all made to drink into one Spirit.

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