All churches must indeed have some kind of a ceremony for the admission of the young among the communicants of the church. And there certainly is no more befitting, beautiful and touching ceremony than confirmation, as described above and practiced in the Lutheran Church.
THE LORD’S SUPPER—PRELIMINARY OBSERVATIONS.
Our catechumen has now been confirmed. The pastor has given him, in the name of the congregation, the right hand of fellowship, and also publicly authorized him to join with the congregation in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. For the first time, then, the young Christian is to partake of this holy sacrament, in order that thereby he may be still further strengthened and confirmed in the true faith.
This sacred institution, also, is a part of God’s Way of Salvation. It is one of the means of Grace appointed and ordained by Christ. It “hath been instituted for the special comfort and strengthening of those who humbly confess their sins and who hunger and thirst after righteousness.”
It is true that multitudes do not regard it as a means or channel of Grace. To them it is only an ancient rite or ceremony, having no special significance or blessing connected with it. It is at most a symbol, a sign, or representation of something, entirely absent and in no way connected with it. If there is any blessing at all attached to it, it consists in the pious thoughts, the holy emotions and sacred memories, which the communicant tries to bring to it and which are in some way deepened by it. At best, it is a memorial of an absent Saviour, and in some form a representation of His sufferings and death.
Now if this were all that we could see in the Lord’s Supper, we would not regard it as a part of God’s Way of Salvation. But our Church sees much more in it. With her it is indeed an essential and integral part of that Way. And since this is another of the few points on which the Lutheran Church differs materially from many others, it will be well for us to devote some space and time to its study.
Much has been written on this important subject. We may not have anything new to add, but it is well often to recall and re-study the old truths, so easily forgotten. Before we consider the nature of this sacrament, we will make a few preliminary observations that will help us to guard against false views, and to arrive at correct conclusions.
We observe first, the importance of bearing in mind the source from which this institution has come. Who is its author? What is the nature or character of its origin? Our views of any institution are generally more or less influenced by thus considering its origin. Whence then did the Church get this ordinance which she has ever so conscientiously kept and devoutly celebrated? Did it emanate from the wisdom of man? Did some zealous mystic or hermit invent it, because forsooth