The Lord's Table

J. N. Darby.

< 53330E>p446 [E Dennett]

My dear brother,

There are two quite distinct truths or objects of thought brought before us in the Lord's supper: the death of the blessed Lord, and His remembrance now He is gone: and the unity of the body as partaking of one loaf. We have to avoid at the same time any breaking away from scriptural truth on the one side, and harshness and narrowness of feeling on the other. If love to all the saints is not present in my spirit, I break the unity of the Spirit, while keeping it up in form rightly according to scripture in outward practice. On the other hand, I cannot deny in practice what scripture teaches, and especially in that which is given as a sign of the scriptural truth. The words, Table of the Lord, are used to signify that identification with Him in confession which was found in the priests partaking of the altar, and the heathens eating of what had been offered to idols. I do not therefore object to use "the Lord's table" as an expression significant of this. Hence it necessarily embraces in principle all that are His, if not excluded by just discipline.

Now, as the various denominations either let in anybody, or meet professedly as such denomination, though they may allow, being such, a stranger to partake of it, the unity of the body and Christ's presence in the assembly is lost to faith, and they are still the church. But pious persons going to the communion at one of these places can enjoy, according to their piety, the remembrance of Christ, and of His dying love. I believe they lose by it, and certainly do, the present sense of the unity of Christ's body as a present thing on earth, for their faith does not embrace it; and in a measure the sense of Christ's presence - that is, as there in the assembly, though they may realise it by the Holy Ghost for their own souls. I do not attach importance to words; but I could not own, with the light I have as to the unity of the body, that these denominational ordinances are the Lord's table; but I am quite ready to believe that souls may go there with a deeper sense than myself of the Lord's love personally. I do exceedingly enjoy the sense of His love there; but more than that, I own, as associated in heart with Him, the unity of the body, of those He gave Himself to gather together into one,* and own it scripturally according to His will in practice in that in which He has given expression to it; and denominationalism by being such does the contrary. But if I walk with my feet in the narrow path, from which I dare not stray, and find blessing in it, I desire to have my heart large enough to embrace all God's children walking before Him; and I lose in spirit the very blessing I am speaking of if I do not. "Your love," says the apostle, "to all the saints," "to comprehend with all saints." We cannot properly realise the love of Christ in communion without taking in in its place all He loves as His. "Fellowship one with another" is one of the three elements of the christian state, its import far larger than we are apt to think; and if hindered in its manifestation by others, it ought only to be stronger within in our hearts in grace, and thinking of them with the Lord Himself "Everyone that loveth him that begat, loveth him also that is begotten of him." But then, if it is love for His sake, this will be in obedience. Hereby we know that we love the children of God, if we love God, and keep his commandments. I cannot go out of the path He has marked out, to be with those I yet love. It would not be true love to them, not the love of God, to be disobedient, and set them at ease in what was wrong, treating it as no matter.


{*This is more as Christian than in the sense of the body, the church - still as all one.}