Judson on Weekly Communion

I recently came across Edward Judson’s book, The Institutional Church: A Primer in Pastoral Theology(New York: Lentilhon, 1899; link is to a reprint) and found an interesting discussion of communion. Judson was the son of Adoniram Judson and had been born on the mission field. He served as pastor of Memorial Baptist Church in New York City from 1881 to 1914.

I found this interesting in his affirmation of weekly communion and the importance of joy and simplicity in the observance.

“We have found it very helpful to observe the Communion every Sunday morning. This seems to accord with the primitive custom of the church, the early Christians meeting on the first day of the week to break bread. Besides, the members of a down-town church are so widely scattered, and their attendance upon public worship is necessarily so desultory, that it is peculiarly wholesome and comfortable for them, whenever they come to church of a Sunday morning, to find awaiting them the simple repast that so vividly and pathetically symbolizes Christ’s sufferings and death on their behalf, and their deep mystical union with Him through faith and love. Otherwise, a long period might elapse without their sharing in this social rite, which constitutes the very essence of their membership in the visible and local church. … Let the Communion be brief. In the very nature of the case, sign language is most vivid when first presented to the eye, and loses rather than gains in impressiveness, when too long continued. Communion should not be a doleful repast, but suffused with solemn joy. The prayers should be short, like grace at meat.” (57-58)

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