John & Charles Wesley's Hymns on the Lord's Supper, 1745 with parts of Daniel Brevint's Christian Sacrament, 1673; transcribed from the 1951 reprint of the selection issued in 1936 by the Methodist Sacramental Fellowship.
[ M.S.F. preface: ]
These Hymns, with Dr Brevint's Preface, were first published by John Wesley in 1745. Nine editions followed in his lifetime and they bore the imprint "Sold at Mr Wesley's Preaching-houses in Town and Country". They may therefore be considered as containing his authoritative doctrine on the Sacrament. After his death they were reprinted by the Methodist Bookroom in 1794 and 1825; and subsequently in the complete edition of the Poetical Works of John and Charles Wesley, edited by Dr Osborn (1869-72).
The author of the Preface - Daniel Brevint (1616-1695) - was a native of Jersey, who, after exile during the Commonwealth, when he ministered to Huguenot Churches, finally became Dean of Lincoln, from 1682 until his death.
[ Wesley's Title-page ]
[ Contents of John Wesley's extracts from Brevint ]
The Preface, as extracted "from Dr Brevint" (!) by John Wesley, consisted of eight Sections:
In Wesley's hymn-book there followed 166 hymns, arranged in six sections:
Brevint's Sections II, III and IV (only) are reproduced here.
[ Daniel Brevint: Section II ]
The Lord's Supper was chiefly ordained for a Sacrament. (1) To represent the sufferings of CHRIST which are past, whereof it is a memorial. (2) To convey the first-fruits of these sufferings, in present graces, whereof it is a means; and (3) to assure us of glory to come, whereof it is an infallible pledge.
2. As this Sacrament looks back, it is a memorial which our LORD hath left in His Church, of what He was pleased to suffer for her. For though these sufferings of His were both so dreadful and holy, as to make the heavens mourn, the earth quake, and all men tremble: yet because the greatest things are apt to be forgotten when they are gone, therefore He was pleased at His last Supper to ordain this, as a holy memorial and representation of what He was then about to suffer. So that when Christian posterity (like the young Israelites who had not seen the killing of the first Passover) should come to ask after the meaning of the bread broken, the wine poured out, and the partaking of both, this holy mystery might set forth both the martyrdom and the sacrifice of this crucified Saviour; giving up His Flesh, shedding His Blood, and pouring out His very soul, to atone for their sins.
3. Therefore, as at the Passover the late Jews could say, This is the lamb, these are the herbs, our fathers did eat in Egypt; because these latter feasts did so effectually represent the former: so at our Holy Communion, which sets before our eyes CHRIST our Passover who is sacrificed for us, our Saviour, says St Austin, doubted not to say, This is my Body, when He gave the disciples the figure of His Body: especially because this Sacrament, duly received, makes the thing which it represents, as really present for our use as if it were newly done. Eating this bread, and drinking this cup, ye do shew forth the Lord's death.
4. And surely, it is no common regard we ought to have for these venerable representations, which God Himself has set up in and for His Church. For these are far more than an ordinary figure. All sorts of signs and monuments are more or less venerable, according to the things which they represent. And these, besides their ordinary use, bear as it were on their face the glorious character of their Divine appointment, and the express design that God hath to revive thereby, and to expose to all our senses, His sufferings, as if they were present now.
5. Ought not then one who looks on these ordinances, and considers the great and dreadful passages which they set before him, to say in his heart, I observe on this Altar somewhat very like the Sacrifice of my Saviour! For thus the Bread of Life was broken: thus the Lamb of God was slain, and His blood shed. And when I look on the minister, who by special order from God distributes this bread and this wine, I conceive, that thus GOD Himself hath both given His Son to die, and gives us still the virtue of His death.
6. Ought he not also to reverence and adore, when he looks towards that good Hand which has appointed for the use of the Church the Memorial of these things? As the Israelites whenever they saw the cloud on the Temple, which GOD had hallowed to be the sign of His Presence, presently used to throw themselves on their faces, not to worship the cloud, but GOD: so whenever I see these better signs of the glorious mercies of GOD, I will not fail both to remember my LORD who appointed them, and to worship Him whom they represent.
7. To complete this worship, let us exercise such a faith as may answer the great end of this Sacrament. The main intention of CHRIST herein was not the bare remembrance of His Passion; but over and above, to invite us to His Sacrifice, not as done and gone many years since, but as to grace and mercy, still lasting, still new, still the same as when it was first offered for us. The Sacrifice of CHRIST being appointed by the Father for a propitiation that should continue to all ages; and withal being everlasting by the privilege of its own order, which is an unchangeable Priesthood; and by His worth who offered it, that is, the Blessed Son of God; and by the power of the Eternal Spirit, through whom it was offered: it must in all respects stand eternal, the same yesterday, today and for ever.
8. Here then faith must be as true a subsistence of those things past which we believe, as it is of the things yet to come which we hope for: by the help of which the believer, being prostrate at the Lord's Table, as at the very foot of His Cross, should with earnest sorrow confess and lament all his sins, which were the nails and spears that pierced his Saviour. We ourselves have crucified the Just One. Men and brethren, what shall we do? Let us fall amazed at that stroke of Divine Justice, that could not be satisfied but by the death of God! How dreadful is this place! How deep and holy is this Mystery! What thanks should we pay for those inconceivable mercies of GOD the Father, who so gave up His only Son? and for the mercies of GOD the Son, who thus gave Himself up for us!
9. My LORD and my God, I behold in this Bread, made of corn that was cut down, beaten, ground, and bruised by men, all the heavy blows and plagues and pains which Thou didst suffer from Thy murderers. I behold in this Bread, dried up and baked with fire, the fiery wrath which Thou didst suffer from above! My God, my GOD, why hast Thou forsaken Him? The violence of wicked men first hath made Him a Martyr; then the fire of heaven hath made Him a Burnt-Sacrifice; and lo, He has become to me the Bread of Life!
Let me go, then to take and eat it. For though the instruments that bruised Him be broken, and the flames that burnt Him be put out, yet this Bread continues new. The spears and swords that slew, and the burnings that completed the Sacrifice, are many years since scattered and spent. But the sweet smell of the Offering still remains, the Blood is still warm, the Wounds still fresh, and the Lamb still standing as slain. Any other sacrifice by time may lose its strength: but Thou, O Eternal Victim, offered up to GOD through the Eternal Spirit, remainest always the same. And as Thy years shall not fail, so they shall never abate anything of Thy saving strength and mercy. O help me, that they abate nothing of my faith! Help me to grieve for my sins and Thy pains, as they did who saw Thee suffer. Let my heart burn to follow Thee now, when this Bread is broken at this Table, as the hearts of Thy disciples did when Thou didst break it in Emmaus. O Rock of Israel, Rock of Salvation, Rock struck and cleft for me,
let those two streams of Blood and Water, which once gushed out of Thy side, bring down pardon and holiness into my soul. And let me thirst after them now, as if I stood upon the mountain whence sprung this Water; and near the cleft of that Rock, the wounds of my Lord, whence gushed this sacred Blood. All the distance of time and countries between Adam and me doth not keep his sin and punishment from reaching me, any more than if I had been born in his house. Adam descended from above, let Thy Blood reach as far, and come as freely to save and sanctify me as the blood of my first father did both to destroy and to defile me. Blessed JESU, strengthen my faith, prepare my heart, and then bless Thine Ordinance. If I but touch as I ought the hem of Thy garment - the garment of Thy Passion -- virtue will proceed out of Thee; it shall be done according to my faith, and my poor soul shall be made whole!
[ Daniel Brevint: Section III ]
As to the present graces that attend the due use of this Sacrament, it is (1) a figure whereby GOD represents; (2) an instrument whereby He conveys them.
First, it is a figure or sign thereof. It is the ordinary way of GOD, when He either promises or bestows on men any considerable blessing, to confirm His word and His gift with the addition of some sign. So the burning bush was a sign to Moses, and the cloud that went with them to the Israelites. And in like manner hath CHRIST ordained outward visible signs of His inward and spiritual grace, to assure every one who believes that he shall be cleansed from his sins as certainly as he sees that water, and that he shall be fed with the grace of God as certainly as he feeds on the bread and wine.
And as the water was fitly chosen for the outward sign in Baptism, because of the virtue it hath to cleanse and purify, so were bread and wine fitly chosen for the outward signs of what is represented in the LORD's Supper; viz., first, the sufferings of CHRIST; and second, the blessings which we receive thereby. First: the sufferings of CHRIST. This bread and wine do not sustain me, till the one has been cut down, ground, and baked with fire, and the other pressed and trodden under foot. Nor did the Son of God save me but by being bruised, and pressed, and consumed as it were by the fire of GOD's wrath. As the best corn is not bread while it stands in the field, so neither could JESUS, living, teaching, working miracles, be the Bread of Life: it must be JESUS suffering, JESUS crucified, JESUS dying. Nothing less than the Cross, than wounds and death, my LORD, my GOD, could of Thy dearest Son make my Saviour!
3. This Sacrament, secondly, represents the blessings which we receive by His Passion. Now, as without bread and wine, or something answerable thereto, the strongest bodies soon decay, so without the virtue of the Body and Blood of CHRIST the holiest souls must soon perish. And as bread and wine keep up our natural life, so doth our LORD JESUS, by a continual supply of strength and grace, represented by the bread and wine, sustain that spiritual life which He hath procured by His Cross.
4. The first breath of spiritual life in our nostrils is the first purchase of CHRIST's Blood. But alas! how soon would this first life vanish away, were it not followed and supported by a second? Therefore the Sacrifice of CHRIST procures also grace to renew and preserve the life He hath given. As the Blood which He shed satisfied the Divine Justice, and removed our punishment, so the water washes and cleanses the pardoned soul; and both these blessings are inseparable, even as the Blood and Water were which flowed together out of His side.
5. There remains yet another life, which is an absolute redemption from death and our miseries. This, as to the right of it, is together with the other purchased by the same Sacrifice; but as to the possession, it is reserved for us in heaven till CHRIST become our full and final redemption. Now the giver of these lives is the preserver of them too; and to this end He sets up a table by His Altar, where He engages to feed our souls with the constant supply of His mercies, as really as He feeds our bodies with this Bread and Wine. In the deliverance from Egypt here is a people saved by the sacrifice of the Passover; and lest they should die in the wilderness, there you see an angel leading them with his light, keeping them cool under the shadow of his cloud, and feeding them with manna. JESUS is the Truth foreshewed by these figures. He was the true Passover when He died upon the Cross, and He feeds from heaven, by continually pouring out His blessings, the souls He redeemed by pouring out His Blood.
6. Thus the Sacrament alone represents at once both what our Lord suffered, and what He still doth for us. What we take and eat is made of a substance cut, bruised, and put to the fire; that shews my Saviour's Passion: and it was used thus that it might afford me food; that shews the benefit I receive from His Passion. In the Sacrament are represented both life and death; the life is mine, the death my Saviour's. O Blessed JESUS, my life comes out of Thy death, and the salvation which I hope for is purchased with all the pain and agonies which Thou didst suffer.
7. Author of my salvation, bestow on me these two blessings which this Sacrament shews together - mercy, and strength to keep mercy. Hosanna, O Son of David, save and preserve! Save me, that I may not fall by the hand of the destroyer; and preserve me, that after this salvation I may not fall by my own hand: but set forward in me, notwithstanding all my sins, the work of thy faithful mercies. Let me not increase my guilt by abusing what Thou givest. My Saviour, my Preserver, give me always what Thou givest once. Create in me a new heart; but keep what Thou createst, and increase more and more what Thou plantest. O Son of GOD, feed this tender branch, which without Thee cannot but wither; and strengthen Thou a bruised reed, which without Thee cannot but fall. Father of everlasting compassions, forsake not in the wilderness a feeble Israelite whom Thou hast brought a little way out of Egypt; and let not a poor soul whom Thou hast helped a while ever faint and fall from the right way. Thou art as able to perfect me with the blessings out of Thy throne as to redeem me by the Sacrifice on Thy Cross. O Thou who art the Truth of what Thou biddest me take, perform in me what Thou dost show. Give me eternal life by those Thy sufferings; for here is the Body broken: give also strength and nourishment for this life; for here is the Bread of heaven.
[ Daniel Brevint: Section IV ]
Hitherto we have considered this Holy Sacrament both as a memorial of the death of CHRIST, and as a sign of those graces wherewith He sustains and nourishes believing souls. But this is not all; for both the end of the Holy Communion, the wants and desires of those who receive it, and the strength of other places of the Scripture, require that much more be contained therein than a bare memorial or representation. (1) The end of the Holy Communion, which is to make us partakers of CHRIST in another manner than when we only hear His word. (2) The wants and desires of those who receive it, who seek not a bare representation or remembrance. I want and seek my Saviour Himself, and I haste to this Sacrament for the same purpose that SS. Peter and John hasted to His sepulchre - because I hope to find Him there. (3) The strength of other places of Scripture, which allow it a far greater virtue than that so representing only. The cup of blessing, which we bless, is it not the Communion of the Blood of Christ? A means of communicating the Blood there represented and remembered to every believing soul!
2. And that it doth convey grace and blessing to the true believer, is evident from its conveying a curse to the profane. Whosoever eateth unworthily, saith St. Paul, eateth damnation to himself. And how can we think that it is thus really hurtful when abused, but not really blissful in its right use; or that this Bread should be effectual to produce death, but not effectual to procure salvation? GOD forbid that the Body of CHRIST, who came to save, not destroy, should not shed as much of its savour of life to the devout soul, as it doth of its savour of death to the wicked and impenitent!
3. I come then to GOD's Altar, with a full persuasion that these words, This is my Body, promise me more than a figure; that this holy Banquet is not a bare memorial only, but may actually convey as many blessings to me, as it brings curses on the profane receiver. Indeed, in what manner this is done, I know not; it is enough for me to admire. One thing I know (as said the blind man of our Lord), He laid clay upon mine eyes, and behold I see. He hath blessed, and given me this Bread, and my soul receiveth comfort. I know that clay hath nothing in itself, which could have wrought such a miracle. And I know that this Bread hath nothing in itself, which can impart grace, holiness, and salvation. But I know also, that it is the ordinary way of GOD to produce His greatest works at the presence, though not by the power, of the most useless instruments. At the very stroke of a rod He divided the sea. At the blowing some trumpets He threw down massive walls. At the washing in Jordan He cured Naaman of a plague that was naturally incurable. And when but a shadow went by, or some oil was dropped, or clothes were touched by those that were sick, presently virtue went out; not of rods, or trumpets, or shadows, or clothes - but of Himself.
4. It was the right hand of the LORD which of old time brought these mighty things to pass, either when the Red Sea opened a way for Israel to march, or when the rock poured out rivers to refresh them. And so now it is CHRIST Himself, with His Body and Blood, once offered to GOD upon the Cross, and ever since standing before Him as slain, who fills His Church with the perfumes of His Sacrifice, whence faithful communicants return home with the first fruits of salvation. Bread and wine can contribute no more to it than the rod of Moses or the oil of the apostles. But yet since it pleaseth CHRIST to work thereby, O my God, whensoever Thou shalt bid me go and wash in Jordan, I will go; amd will no more doubt of being made clean from my sins, than if I had bathed in Thy Blood. And when Thou sayest, Go, take and eat this Bread which I have blessed, I will doubt no more of being fed with the Bread of Life, than if I were eating Thy very Flesh.
5. This Victim having been offered up in the fulness of times, and in the midst of the world, which is CHRIST's great temple, and having been thence carried up to heaven, which is His sactuary; from thence spreads salvation all around, as the burnt offering did its smoke. And thus His Body and Blood have everywhere, but especially at this Sacrament, a true and real presence. When He offered Himself upon earth, the vapour of His Atonement went up and darkened the very sun; and, by rending the great veil, it clearly showed He had made a way into heaven. And, since He is gone up, He sends down to earth the graces that spring continually both from His everlasting Sacrifice and from the continual intercession that attends it. So that we need not say, Who will go up to heaven? since, without either ascending or descending, this sacred Body of JESUS fills with atonement and blessing the remotest part of this temple.
6. Of these blessings CHRIST from above is pleased to bestow sometimes more, sometimes less, in the several ordinances of His Church, which, as the stars in heaven, differ from each other in glory. Fasting, prayer, hearing His word, are all good vessels to draw water from this well of salvation; but they are not all equal. The Holy Communion, when well used, exceeds as much in blessing as it exceeds in danger of a curse, when wickedly and irreverently taken.
7. This great and holy Mystery communicates to us the death of our Blessed LORD, both as offering Himself to God, and as giving Himself to man. As He offered Himself to God, it enters me into that mystical body for which He died, and which is dead with CHRIST: yea, it sets me on the very shoulders of that Eternal Priest, while He offers up Himself, and intercedes for His spiritual Israel. And by this means it conveys to me the communion of His Sufferings, which leads to a communion in all His graces and glories. As He offers Himself to man, the Holy Sacrament is, after the sacrifice for sin, the true sacrifice of peace-offerings, and the table purposely set to receive those mercies that are sent down from His Altar. Take and eat; this is My Body, which was broken for you; and this is my Blood, which was shed for you.
8. Here then I wait at the Lord's Table, which both shews me what an Apostle, who had heaven for his school, had the greatest mind to see and learn, and offers me the richest gift which a saint can receive on earth, the Lord Jesus crucified.
Amen, my LORD and my GOD! Gove me all which Thou shewest, and grant that I may faithfully keep all Thou givest. Bless Thine Ordinance, and make it an effectual means of Thy grace, then bless and sanctify my heart also. O my Father, here I offer up to Thee my soul; and Thou offerest to me Thy Son. What I offer is indeed an unclean habitation to receive the Holy One of Israel. Come in, nevertheless, Thou Eternal Priest; but cleanse my house at Thy coming. I am a poor, sinful, lost creature; but, such as I am sinful and lost, I wait for Thy salvation. Come in, O LORD, with Thy salvation, to a dying man, and make me whole; to a sinner bound hand and foot, and release me. Come as Thou didst to the publican. Oh, let this day salvation come to this house.
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