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Westminster Shorter Catechism Project

The Shorter Catechism

John Whitecross

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 showed forth; and the worthy receivers are, not after a corporal and carnal manner, but by faith, made par-takers of His body and blood, with all His benefits, to their spiritual nourishment, and growth in grace.

1. John Beck, one of the Moravian missionaries, on one occasion, with much fervour and energy described the agonies and death of Jesus; and exhorted the Greenlanders to think seriously how much it had cost the Saviour to redeem man, and entreated them not to withhold from Him their hearts, which He had so dearly earned; for He had been wounded, shed His blood, and died to purchase them. He read, at the same time, from the New Testament, the history of our Saviour's agony in the garden, and insisted upon that anguish of soul that made Him sweat great drops of blood. Kaiarnack, their first convert, being much impressed by the discourse, stepped forward and said, in an earnest and affecting tone, 'How was that? tell me that once more, for I would fain be saved too.' 'These words,' said Beck, in relating them, 'the like of which I had never heard from a Greenlander before, thrilled through my inmost soul, and kindled such an ardour, that I gave a general account of our Saviour's life and death, and the whole counsel of God for our salvation, while the tears ran down my cheeks.'

2. 'A more devout communicant at the table of the Lord,' says Dr Philip Doddridge, in his Life of Colonel James Gardiner, 'has perhaps seldom been any where known. Often have I had the pleasure to see that manly countenance softened into all the marks of humiliation and contrition on this occasion; and to discern, in spite of all his efforts to conceal them, streams of tears flowing down from his eyes, while he has been directing them to those memorials of his Redeemer's love. And some who have conversed intimately with him, after he came from that ordinance, have observed a visible abstraction from surrounding objects, by which there seemed reason to imagine that his soul was wrapt in holy contemplation. And I particularly remember, that when we had once spent a great part of the following Monday in riding together, he made an apology to me for being so absent as he seemed, by telling me that his heart was flown upwards before he was aware, to Him whom having not seen he loved: and that he was rejoicing in Him with such unspeakable joy, that he could not hold it down to creature converse.'

3. William Warburton and Josiah Tucker were contemporary bishop and dean of the same (Gloucester) cathedral. Both were eminent but very different in the line of their studies. For many years they were not even on speaking terms. It was on a Good Friday, not long before Warburton's death, they were at the holy table together. Before he gave the cup to the dean, he stooped down, and said in tremulous emotion—'Dear Tucker, let this cup be the cup of reconciliation between us." It had the intended effect; they were friends again to their mutual satisfaction.

4. Afoofoo, an interesting Malay youth, who resided for some months in Greenock, till he met with a premature death by drowning, was once present at the dispensation of the Lord's Supper. A clerical friend, who met him coming out, asked, 'What have you seen in church to-day?' He answered, 'I see people take bread and wine.' 'And what does that mean?' 'The body and blood of Jesus Christ.' 'Is it really the body and blood of Jesus Christ?' 'O no,' said he, 'not all same—it keep in mind His body and blood. He die for sinners.'

5. 'Supposing,' says Archbishop Tillotson, 'the doctrine of transubstantiation had been delivered in Scripture in the very same words that it is decreed in the Council of Trent, by what clearer evidence could any man prove to me that such words were in the Bible, than I can prove to him that bread and wine after consecration are bread and wine still? He could but appeal to my eyes to prove such words to be in the Bible; and with the same reason and justice might I appeal to several of his senses, to prove to him that the bread and wine, after consecration, are bread and wine still.'

6. One Sabbath morning, during the reign of James II of England, as a captain with a party of soldiers went out to hunt down the Protestants, as they termed it, they met a young woman, a servant-maid, running along the road early in the morning, without either shoes or stockings. The captain of the band asked her where she was going so early in the morning, and what was the urgency of the business that made her run so fast. She told him that she had learned that her elder brother was dead, and she was going to receive her share of the riches he had bequeathed to her, as well as to her other brothers and sisters; and she was afraid she should be too late. The commander was so well pleased with her answer, that he gave her half-a-crown to buy a pair of shoes, and also wished her success; but if he had known the real business she was going on, which was to a sacrament, he would most probably have prevented her from going that day to the place where she hoped to receive 'durable riches.'

7. One of the converted Greenlanders, who had taken a seal, rather than be absent from the missionary settlement when the Lord's Supper was to be administered, rowed the whole night in his kayak with the animal in tow, and when his exertion was mentioned—'How could I,' said he, 'stay where I was? My soul hungers and thirsts after the Lord and His communion.'

This material is taken from THE SHORTER CATECHISM ILLUSTRATED by John Whitecross revised and republished by the Banner of Truth Trust edition 1968 and reproduced with their permission.

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