« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
this ordinance, he adds the consideration, that the Apostles and primitive Christians, on the return of every Lord's day, engaged in this holy solemnity.
That all the important ends designed to be answered by this institution may be realized among us, is my
ardent desire at the throne of God!
Qualifications for the supper-Assent to the doctrines
of the church, one of the terms of communion Nature of an acceptable approach to the table of the Lord.
The Apostle Paul, in speaking of the sacrament of the supper, has given the following direction :* * But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.'
This direction plainly implies, that certain qualifications are necessary, to render our approach to the table of the Lord, acceptable to him, and profitable to ourselves. We propose, therefore, in this letter, to enquire, what these qualifications are ? and to make some additional remarks, immediately cottnected with the subject.
* 1 Cor. xi. 28
The doctrine of preparation for the holy solennity of the communion is certainly of great importance; and ought to be better understood, than it appears to be, even by the body of professors.
The disposition to cleave to self-righteousness, and depend on our own goodness, is natural to us all; and displays itself, in no instance, perhaps, more fully than in relation to the ordinance of which we are speaking. We wish to discover our right to the table of the Lord in ourselves, instead of finding it in Christ! and we look to our own doings, instead of depending on his righteousness, to secure to us a gracious reception at the sacred feast.
This is all wrong-entirely wrong; and directly contrary to the genius of the gospel. The gospel offers heaven itself “ without money, and without price ;” and surely it does not require us to purchase, by our personal merits, a place at the Redeemer's table. The gospel proposes every thing to the sinner, through the mediation of the Lord Jesus—and considers no title to any favour or blessing valid, unless derived from Christ. An interest in the merits of the Son of God, delivers us from condemnation; secures to us the approbation of heaven ; confers on us a valid title to the glories of eternity : And this, and this alone, can give us a right to the ordinance of the supper.
To be acceptable guests åt the marriage-supper, we must appear there in the righteousness of Christ, dis our wedding-gærment ;* and prove ourselves to be
* Mat. xxii. 11, 12,
the “ true circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh."* The remark of Calvint is excellent:
“ Needy, and destitute of every good, defiled with the pollution of sin, and half dead, how could we worthily eat the Lord's body? We shall rather consider, that we come as paupers to the liberal Benefactor, as patients to the Physician-as sinners to the Author of righteousness-as persons dead to the Fountain of life : That the worthiness which is required of God, consists principally in faith, which attributes every thing to Christ, and places no dependence on ourselves; and, secondly, in charity, even that charity which it is enough for us to present to God in an imperfect. state, that he may increase and improve it; for we cannot produce it in a state of perfection."
Union to the Lord Jesus Christ, interesting us in his righteousness and grace, is the grand qualification for an acceptable, and profitable approach to the table of the Lord. An examination into our prevailing dispositions and practice is necessary, not to find in them our right to the ordinance ; but to discover in them evidence of the fact, that we belong to Christ--that we are the adopted children of God; and therefore have a right to the children's bread.
The 'points, on which we are particularly to examine oŭrselves, in order to judge correctly of our qualifications for the ordinance under consideration, we conceive to be the following ; viz.
* Phil. üi. .
+ Inst. vol. iii. p. 4483
1. We are to examine ourselves on the subject of Christian knowledge, whether our minds have been enlightened by the word and Spirit of God. Such as are grossly ignorant, either in consequence of natural imbecility of mind, or a wilful neglect of the means of instruction, are certainly not prepared 10 take a seat at the Redeemer's table: They are utterly unable to “discern the Lord's body;" and by partaking become 's guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.”
Knowledge is necessary to the exercise of every grace, and the right performance of every duty. We must serve God with the understanding, as well as with the heart. And to approach the table of the Lord acceptably, we must be acquainted, in some good degree, with ourselves, our guilt, our impotence, our wants, and our misery; with the covenant of grace, its free and ample provisions, its precious promises, and its unalterable stability, ordered in all things, and sure ;*-with the person, offices, and work of the Mediator of the Covenant, who is, in one person, very God, and very man; who is the Prophet, Priest, and King of the Church; and who having, by his obedience unto death, made atonement for the sins of his people, now reigns for their benefit, and in fulfilment of eternal stipulations, demands their salvation :t-with the nature, use, and design of the sacrament of the supper, so as to be able to * 2 Sam, xxüü.5.
Jo. xvii. 24.
* discern the Lord's body” in that holy ordinance : And finally, with the interest, which faith humbly claims in God, as the God of the covenant, and all the abundance of that goodness which Christ has purchased for his people; as well as the unreserved consecration which faith makes at the Redeemer's table, to be the Lord's entirely and forever.
2. The second qualification we mention is faith, precious faith. “Without faith," the Scriptures tell us," it is impossible to please God."'* The direction of the Apostle is, “ Examine yourselves whether ye be in the faith.”+ The unbeliever cannot acceptably approach the table of communion; he has not an interest in the righteousness of Christ, which alone can constitute us welcome guests Neither can the ordinance prove profitable to such an one; because he is utterly unable, in the act of communicating, to pass through the elements, and feed upon the crucified body and shed blood of the Redeemer, for the nourishment of his soul.
It is this grace, which gives the soul a holy liberty, and an indescribable delight, in the commemoration of the Saviour's death. In its proper exercise, it receives the Redeemer in all the discoveries made of him in his word, and feeds upon all that fulness of spiritual good exhibited in the promises : And in its appropriating act, it exclaims, with holy triumph, “My beloved is mine, and I am his!" "Who loved me, and gave himself for me !" * Heb. xi. 6.
† 2 Cor. xiii. 5. | Cant. ii. 10
$ Gal. ii. 20.