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For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged: but when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world. The Corinthians, perhaps, might attribute their sicknesses, and the deaths happening among them, to various natural causes; but an inspired Apostle tells them that these were sent upon them for their profanation of the Lord's Supper. Nay, we must go farther, and say, , that supposing a person to continue to receive unworthily, instead of gaining any benefit, his heart will only become more hardened, and his soul in danger of eternal ruin. Indeed, however justly we may soften the words eateth and drinketh damnation into judginent or condemnation, there is still quite enough in them to deter the careless and presumptuous from heedlessly coming to this table.
But some may ask, How shall I avoid this danger? We add the following directions. Receive not IGNORANTLY.
The Corinthians partook of the elements without discerning the Lord's body. Those err in a similar way, who do not consider the great end designed in the Lord's Supper, and do not look through the sign to the thing signified ; as do those also who do not regard the sacrifice of the death of Christ, but go in a self-righteous spirit, as if they were performing a meritorious duty. Do you then seek to understand the design of this ordinance, and to have right views of the atonement of Christ.
Receive not IRREVERENTLY. We are not indeed in danger now, of those tumultuous and irregular practices which prevailed at Corinth ; but is there not, in the minds of some, a want of reverence and holy awe? Do we not sometimes come in a light and careless
frame of mind, if not with an impenitent heart! As there is danger on one side of an access of fear destroying the love and freedom of the child, so there is on the other of failing in that due reverence, which is so suited to the state of sinful and dependent creatures, in all their dealings with their great Creator.*
Receive not UNCHARITABLY. The rich Corinthians did not impart of their provisions to their poorer brethren, and thus were evidently deficient in Christian love. If we also entertain a haughty, injurious, and unforgiving spirit towards any human being, and especially towards any of our Christian brethren, we have a temper directly contrary to the spirit of this ordinance, we shall receive in an unsuitable way. See that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently.
Receive not WITH A CARNAL MIND. The Corinthians made their meeting together an occasion for excess and intemperance. Modern habits preclude this. Yet we may also receive with a carnal mind: many worldly passions may be at work; such as looking to see who is there; observing their dress and appearance, and forming worldly designs, when we ought to be engaged in the solemnity. The same carnal mind leads us to look only at the outward service, receiving
* The author cannot here but notice the awful irreverence, not to say the great impiety of those who come merely to qualify for an office, without any suitable disposition, or any desire to observe an institution of Christ, and to remember his death. If any such persons should read this, let them be assured they have fearfully profaned this institution, and trodden under foot, as it were, the blood of the covenant, making it a matter of worldly advantage. Let them, then, without delay, repent, and come hereafter in another mind to it, to gain spiritual blessings, and not a mere temporal situation.
without spirituality of mind, and without looking to, or confiding in Christ the Lord.
By giving these directions, it is not implied that any uvallowed or lamented ignorance, irreverence, want of charity, or of spirituality, constitute the sin of unworthy receiving; but if these things are habitual and allowed, undoubtedly we have reason to fear that we have, in some measure, imbibed the spirit of that sin for which the Apostle reproved the Corinthians, and should, without delay, seek for pardoning mercy, and come afresh and in a better spirit, to the Lord's table. Even these Corinthians, though so justly and severely reproved by the Apostle for their former profane manner of communicating, yet so far from being dissuaded from coming again, must be supposed to be individually addressed in those words,-Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For, though there be danger of unworthy receiving, there is a yet greater danger in wilfully neglecting this ordinance. It is always better to discharge a duty, even though it be done defectively, than to neglect it altogether. We find Hezekiah, when there were many of the people of Israel who eat the passover otherwise than it was written, not being able, from the pressure of the time, to cleanse themselves, (2 Chron. xxx, 18.) confidently pleading in their behalf. It was the saying of a truly pious woman, “ She had rather spoil ten duties, than omit one." Let no threatenings, against the mingling of sin with the discharge of your duty, lead you to neglect that duty, but rather lead you to a more conscientious and faithful discharge of the will of God.
On Preparation for the Lord's Supper. It is very desirable not to enter on any spiritual service, with a careless and heedless mind; and the more solemn the duty is, the more needful and desirable is a due preparation for it. The common decencies of life, teach men that, when invited to the table of a monarch, or to associate with princes and their earthly superiors, they should appear with suitable marks of respect, and so behave as may best please and honour those who have invited them. Much more when invited to the nearest communion with the King of kings, should Christianş seek so to act as may please him. If David under the Legal Dispensation, attending the sacrifice of a slain beast only, felt it right to say, I will wash mine hands in innocency, and so will I compass thine altar, O Lord; surely we, in commemorating the actual sacrifice of the Son of God, should make similar preparation. These general considerations are much strengthened, when we remember the danger of unworthy receiving, and the benefits of a due reception. We need not, however, merely infer the duty on these general grounds. There is an express direction of the Apostle— Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.
Preparation may be considered in two respects; that which is requisite before our first reception of the
Lord's Supper, and that which it is desirable to make whenever we afterwards receive. We will consider the first in this chapter, and the other in the second part of this Treatise.
The time of first communicating is a critical period in a man's life, that may much affect his future communions, as well as his whole future life. If we then duly receive, it may be a blessing to us ever after.
With respect to the PERSONS who ought to communicate, we may notice that to be a right partaker of the Lord's Supper, a man must be a SINCERE CHRISTIAN: one who is sensible that he is a fallen, sinful creature; feels the guilt and corruption of his own heart; has repented of his sins; knows that there is only one way of salvation, by faith in Christ; is looking to him for that salvation, and desires above all things to win Christ, and be found in him.
Bishop Taylor justly remarks, “ He that is not freed from the dominion of sin, he that is not really a subject of the kingdom of grace, he ia whose mortal body sin does reign, and the Spirit of God does not reign, must at no land present himself before the holy table of the Lord -He is God's enemy, and therefore cannot receive his holy Son." The Lord's Supper is designed “ for the strengthening and refreshing of the soul," and not for the first communication of spiritual life.
But as this is a point of some difficulty, and one which is generally left to each individual to decide for himself, it may be well to enter more into particulars.
As to OPEN SINNERS, the case is perfectly clear; every Christian concurs with the exhortation of our Church: “ Therefore if any of you be a blasphemer of God, an hinderer or slanderer of his word, an adulterer, or be in malice, or envy, or in any other grievous crimes,