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The Breaking of the Bread

The Breaking of the Bread

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Published by GLENN DALE PEASE
BY THOMAS ARNOLD, D.D.


Acts, ii. 42.

And they continued stedfastly in the apostle's doctrine and
fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.
BY THOMAS ARNOLD, D.D.


Acts, ii. 42.

And they continued stedfastly in the apostle's doctrine and
fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Oct 04, 2013
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THE BREAKIG OF THE BREADBY THOMAS AROLD, D.D.Acts, ii. 42.And they continued stedfastly in the apostle's doctrine andfellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.In speaking of Christian faith, I mentioned thatthere were three principal means of acquiring it :namely, reading the Scriptures, prayer, and a par-taking of the Lord's supper. I have spoken of the two first of these, and I now propose to speak of the third ; to which I may the better ask foryour attention, as the communion is so soon to behere administered. Would that you might feelthat communion to be as great a blessing as itreally is; that you might, like the first Christiansspoken of in the text, continue " stedfast in theapostle's doctrine and fellowship, and in breakingof bread, and in prayers."" The breaking of bread," here spoken of, wasthe Lord's supper, which is often mentioned underthis name in different parts of the ew Testament.It appears to have been celebrated as a realsupper, as a sort of Christian feast ; which we32 SERMO IV.may perceive from St. Paul's language to theCorinthians, where he charges them with profan-ing it, by not only making it like a common feast,but dishonouring it by actual riot and intempe-rance, such as would be sinful even at the com-monest feast. But it is clear, from the very faults
 
into which the early Christians fell with respectto the Lord's supper, that they were in the habitof celebrating it very often ; and though in somecases, as at Corinth, it was celebrated very unwor-thily, yet we must not suppose that this was soalways. Those Philippians and Thessalonians, of whom St. Paul speaks so highly, were likely toreceive the communion of the Lord's supper notless often than the Corinthians; but in a verydifferent manner, and with very different effects.To them, as to the first disciples at Jerusalem,mentioned in my text, it was a true remembranceof Christ's death ; the bread which they brake, thecup which they drank, were a true partaking of Christ's body and blood. To them, in short, thecommunion was a powerful means of grace, andhelped, under God's blessing, to increase theirfaith.May it be so to us also ; and it will be, if thefault is not our own. It will be a means of grace:I beg attention to the words ; for this is a pointvery necessary to be understood, in order to avoida superstition as foolish as it is mischievous. " ItSERMO IV. 'Sois the spirit that quickenetli ; the flesh profitethnothing :" that is, it is not the consecrated breadand wine that have any virtue in themselves, forthat would be to make them like a charm ; butit is the state of mind which the preparation forand partaking in this ordinance implies, and is sowell fitted to produce, which is so highly to bedesired, and which tends to strengthen and con-firm our faith. When, therefore, persons whonever or very seldom receive the communion inhealth, are anxious to partake of it before they
 
die, I am afraid that this desire is very often amere deceiving superstition. They do not go toit as a means of grace ; but as a means of gainingthem pardon without grace, as a means by whichthey may be saved without having in their livesheartily turned to God. And this is to make thecommunion a gross superstition ; it is in fact toregard it as if it were a charm. In life and healthit will assuredly make us better, if we habituallyattend it ; but who Mill dare to say that it canmake us better on our death-beds, when we haveneither the time nor the power of mind to com-plete so mighty a work as that of repentance, ora change of heart and desires from evil to good ?The rain and the sunshine are the appointedmeans by which the fruits of the earth are ri-pened ; but, in order to do their work, they mufilbe sent in their proper season. They will makevol. ii. D34 SERMO IV.the seed spring up, they will encourage its growth,and ripen it for the harvest ; but of what use arethey where the seed has never been sown at all,or where the soil has been so light or so foul thatit has never been able to spring up, or to reachits full growth ? Even so, the communion of theLord's supper is as useless as the rain and sun-shine upon the desert or the sea, where thereare no good principles within us which it maystrengthen and increase, or where the time is soshort that its power can never sufficiently developeitself.But this is not the case with you : with you itis yet the spring time, not yet too late for therain and warmth of heaven to produce on the

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