the Lord’s Supper. A perspective from history


I read some great thoughts tonight on the communion of the Lord’s church around the table.  I will preface the remarks by saying this; the author, Benjamin Lyon Smith, was writing for a Christian newspaper in the 1830’s, called the Millennial Harbinger in 1837.  I haven’t read enough of his stuff to know – or honestly, to care – where he fell on other stuff.  But in this short essay, he was writing in comment about a trend that seemed to be “gaining popularity” in many small churches – a spiratic observance of the Supper as instituted by Christ.  While my position is that most likely the early church did observe the Supper on a weekly basis, I also feel from archaeology and other textual evidence that the early saints may have taken the Supper together on special occasions NOT on the first day of the week also.  In any case, note these great comments by Smith below.  Good stuff!

 “The weekly meeting of the family of God, without any Lord’s table or Lord’s supper, is one of the poorest and most meagre things in creation. Miserably poor is that family, which, when assembled on some important occasion, has nothing to eat–not even a table in the house. Yet so poor is the family of God, if the numerous sects in our land give a fair representation of it. We cannot believe it. The disciples of Jesus always assembled on the Lord’s day to commemorate the Lord’s death and resurrection so long as the Christian religion continued pure and uncontaminated. It was shown that spiritual health, like physical health, requires not only wholesome food, but at proper and regular intervals. Therefore, a person may as reasonably say that he can enjoy good animal health on one meal in four days, as that he can be healthy in the Lord on one Lord’s supper in four weeks. And if it be so, that “frequent communion,” as it is called, diminishes its value or solemnity, then the seldomer, the better. Once in a lifetime, on that principle, is enough. Where there is no law there is no transgression. Where there is no precedent there is no error; and if it be left to every man’s own sense of propriety, there can be no fault in only commemorating the Lord’s death once in a lifetime. But if it be said that it is left to our own sense of propriety, then unless it can be shown that a whole church has one and the same sense of propriety, there can be no communion; for if it should seem fit to ninety in the hundred to commune monthly or quarterly, and not to ten, then there is a schism in the church, or no communion. The first disciples met on the first day of the week to break bread, as Paul argues.”  Millennial Harbinger, 1837.

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