Sunday, September 19, 2010

Arminius on the Lord's Supper

Arminius' commentary on the Lord's Supper is reflective of most Reformed positions regarding this sacrament.


1. As in the preceding disputation, we have treated on baptism, the sacrament of initiation, it follows that we now discuss the Lord's supper, which is the sacrament of confirmation.

2. We define it thus: The Lord's supper is a sacrament of the New Testament immediately instituted by Christ for the use of the church to the end of time, in which, by the legitimate external distribution, taking, and enjoyment of bread and wine, the Lord's death is announced, and the inward receiving and enjoyment of the body and blood of Christ are signified; and that most intimate and close union or fellowship, by which we are joined to Christ our Head, is sealed and confirmed on account of the institution of Christ, and the analogical relation of the sign to the thing signified. But by this, believers profess their gratitude and obligation to God, communion among themselves, and a marked difference from all other persons.

3. We constitute Christ the author of this sacrament; for he alone is constituted, by the Father, the Lord and Head of the church, possessing the right of instituting sacraments, and of efficaciously performing this very thing which is signified and sealed by the sacraments.

4. The matter is, bread and wine; which, with regard to their essence, are not changed, but remain what they previously were; neither are they, with regard to place, joined together with the body or blood, so that the body is either in, under, or with the bread, etc.; nor in the use of the Lord's Supper can the bread and wine be separated, that, when the bread is held out to the laity, the cup be not denied to them.

5. We lay down the form in the relation and the most strict union, which exist between the signs and the thing signified, and the reference of both to those believers who communicate, and by which they are made by analogy and similitude something united. From this conjunction of relation, arises a two-fold use of signs in this sacrament of the Lord's supper — the first, that these signs are representative — the second, that, while representing, they seal Christ to us with his benefits.

6. The end is two-fold: The first is, that our faith should be more and more strengthened towards the promise of grace which has been given by God, and concerning the truth and certainty of our being engrafted into Christ.

The second is,

(1.) that believers may, by the remembrance of the death of Christ, testify their gratitude and obligation to God;

(2.) that they may cultivate charity among themselves; and

(3.) that by this mark they may be distinguished from unbelievers.