‘It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.’ John 6:63
Suggested Further Reading: 1 Corinthians 11:23–26
Do not men receive the body and blood of Christ in the Lord’s Supper? Yes, spiritual men do, in a real and spiritual sense, but not in a carnal way—not so as to crush it with their teeth, or taste it with their palate, or digest it by the gastric juice; but they receive the Lord Jesus, as incarnate and crucified, into their spirits, as they believe in him, love him, and are comforted by thoughts of him. ‘But how is that a real reception of him?’ cries one. Alas, this question reveals at once the world’s thoughts; you think the carnal alone real, and that the spiritual is unreal. If you can touch and taste, you think it real, but if you can only meditate and love, you dream it to be unreal. How impossible it is for the carnal mind to enter into spiritual things! Yet, hearken once again, I receive the body and blood of Christ when my soul believes in his incarnation, when my heart relies upon the merit of his death, when the bread and wine so refresh my memory that thoughts of Jesus Christ and his agonies melt me to penitence, cheer me to confidence, and purify me from sin. It is not my body which receives Jesus, but my spirit; I believe in him, casting myself upon him alone; trusting him, I feel joy and peace, love and zeal, hatred of sin and love of holiness, and so as to my spiritual nature I am fed upon him. My spiritual nature feeds upon truth, love, grace, promise, pardon, covenant, atonement, acceptance, all of which I find, and much more, in the person of the Lord Jesus. Up to the extent in which my spirit has communion with the Lord Jesus, the ordinance of breaking of bread is living and acceptable.
For meditation: There are great spiritual blessings in sharing the Lord’s Supper with his people (1 Corinthians 10:16–17), but it is not the Lord’s Supper at all when it is eaten unworthily, without discernment and without self-examination (1 Corinthians 11:20,27–29).
N.B. Puseyism was a variety of ritualism within the Church of England that followed many Roman Catholic practices.
Sermon no. 653
8 October (1865)