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Another PDF book added to the blog: “The Lord’s Table” by Edward Bickersteth

April 17, 2016

I wanted to mention the book The Lord’s Table by the Rev. Edward Bickersteth, which can be accessed in PDF at the link – or if you prefer, one can also access it via this Google Books link.  Bickersteth was a priest in the Church of England who served as rector of Watton-at-Stone Church in Hertfordshire.  He was a staunch evangelical who was actually commended by J.C. Ryle in some of his writings.

What I find interesting about this book is that Bickersteth basically took each part of the BCP’s Holy Communion and wrote a meditation about it – from the Lord’s Prayer to the Collects to the Gospels, all the way to the conclusion of the service.  And the meditations are beautiful, in part because of the truly devout faith this man had, which is revealed in every word.  If you want some meditations to help you get ready in heart for the worship service, this text is as edifying as anything I have ever come across.  Here is a portion from his Introduction:

How it pleases God invisibly by His Spirit to work in us and nourish our souls with Christ’s body and blood, while we eat the bread and drink the wine, we know not. But our ignorance of the way in which God works, ought not for a moment to make us doubt the reality. We do not know the way in which He works in our hearts by His Spirit, when we are studying His holy Word or praying at the footstool of His throne. It is enough for us, that the grace given according to His promise is a blessed reality. So in the Lord’s Supper we believe, and the fact is realized in us. We do spiritually eat the flesh of Christ and drink His blood; we do dwell in Christ, and Christ in us; we are one with Christ, and Christ with us. Our souls are strengthened and refreshed by the body and blood of Christ, as our bodies are by the bread and wine. His body and blood are verily and indeed taken by the faithful in the Lord’s Supper, as the apostle bears witness when he says, ‘The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ.’

And thus in the simple obedience of faith we proceed to obey our Master’s command, ‘This do in remembrance of Me.’ The institution of the Lord’s Supper is recorded, and the acts are rehearsed in our hearing and before our eyes. ‘This do in remembrance of Me, that is, all that was done then. Bless the bread, break it, distribute it, eat it. When I am no longer with you these acts will make memory grow into realization of My presence in your midst. If the soft music of those words could reach us now, disentangled from the theological discords of intervening ages, surely they would come to us with some such significance. To those who first heard them they certainly must have implied, not that a physical presence was about to be perpetuated, but rather that there was now something for them which would in after ages console them for a physical absence.’ So in like manner is the wine poured forth, telling of His blood shed for the remission of sins. But His bodily absence only makes His spiritual presence in our hearts more precious and real to faith; for now the Beloved has brought us to His banqueting-house, and His banner over us is Love.

If you like this, give The Lord’s Table a try.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. April 17, 2016 2:35 pm

    A wonderful Resource Will thank you for enlightening us and sharing.

    Edward wrote the following Communion Hymn in 1861 which we use regularly with the tune “Petra” (Redhead No.76):

    “Till He come” O let the words
    Linger on the trembling chords,
    Let the “little while” between
    In their golden light be seen;
    Let us think how Heaven and home
    Lie beyond that, “Till He come.”

    When the weary ones we love
    Enter on their rest above,
    Seems the earth so poor and vast,
    All our life joy overcast?
    Hush, be every murmur dumb;
    It is only, “Till He come.”

    Clouds and conflicts round us press;
    Would we have one sorrow less?
    All the sharpness of the cross,
    All that tells the world is lost,
    Death and darkness, and the tomb,
    Only whisper, “Till He come.”

    See, the feast of love is spread,
    Drink the wine, and break the bread;
    Sweet memorials, till the Lord
    Calls us round His heavenly board;
    Some from earth, from glory some
    Severed only, “Till He come.”

    Here it is sung to the Tune “Wells”(Bortniansky):

    • April 17, 2016 2:54 pm

      I did not know Bickersteth wrote hymns! Those words are very much in the spirit of his books, too. Thanks for sharing them as well as that YouTube link. (I marvel sometimes at how much men like Bickersteth accomplished.)

      • April 17, 2016 3:14 pm

        Hymnwriter he was indeed Will. I don’t know about that side of “the pond” but in the United Kingdom we sing a number of his hymns viz.

        “Lead kindly light, amid the encircling gloom”
        “Nearer my God to Thee, nearer to Thee” (reportedly played by the band as Titanic went down on 15 April 1912)
        “Peace, perfect peace, in this dark world of sin”

        A most wonderful and Godly man he was.

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