John Angell James
My dear friends, I propose in this address to make some remarks on the Lord’s Supper, and to lay down some rules for the right observance of this solemn and affecting ordinance. You cannot fail to be struck with the truly spiritual nature of the Christian religion, and the contrast to Judaism, which, in this view of it, is presented to the careful observer. Speaking of the law of Moses, the apostle says, “They are only a matter of food and drink and various ceremonial washings–external regulations applying until the time of the new order.” Hebrews 9:10. Hence also the terms of depreciation in which he speaks of the ceremonial law, calling it the “flesh,” “the elements of this world,” “beggarly elements,” “the letter,” and other designations of similar import, 2 Cor. 3; Gal. 4:5. These rites and ceremonies, with all the visible pomp and splendor of the legal worship, were solemnly obligatory upon the Jews, because enjoined by God, and were proper for the church at that time, for it was then in a state of infancy and childhood, Gal. 4:1-3, and was not prepared for the full and clear revelation of unveiled truth it was taught by these shadows—as by a kind of hieroglyphic Bible in the hands of a schoolmaster.
But when Christ came, who was the substance of this shadowy system, truth was no longer to be principally taught by ceremony—but by doctrine; not by rites, which, however gorgeous, were still obscure—but by explicit and plain declaration. This is the true distinction between Judaism and Christianity; the truths taught are the same in both—but the manner of teaching is essentially different. This is the meaning of the expression, “The law was given by Moses—but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ,” John 1:17. The word, “truth,” here stands opposed, not to falsehood—but to shadow. So again, our Lord in his discourse with the woman of Samaria, tells her that the hour was coming when ‘sanctity of place’, as the seat of Divine worship, would be abolished—and men would every where worship God, who is a Spirit, “in Spirit and in truth,” John 4:23, 24; that is, he would be worshiped not only in sincerity with the heart, for such worship God required under the law—but with spiritual offerings of truth, instead of ceremonial and shadowy ones. Continue reading