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sickness that so generally prevails, excite you to be more vigorous than ever in preparing for this solemn occasion, as perhaps it may be the last many of us may partake of O then let us prepare to keep the feast in due manner!
OF THE WORTHY RECEIVING OF THE LORD's SUPPER.
1 COR. xi. 28.-But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.
HESE words contain a mean for preventing of the great evil which men are apt to fall into with respect to the Lord's supper; and so for our purpose they offer two things to be considered.
1. An evil, a great evil, a heinous evil, which men must use means to prevent; that is, unworthy communicating. But let a man examine himself, &c. This looks back to the preceding verse, wherein the apostle had declared unworthy communicants to be guilty of Christ's body and blood.' But (says he, to prevent this, and that ye may worthily partake) let a man examine himself, &c.
2. The way to be taken to prevent unworthy communicating: Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, &c. A man, every man to whom the gospel comes, and who has access to this ordinance, must examine
may be useful on like occafions, which are not unfrequent, they shall be inferted at the end of this volume. And the propriety of giving them a place in this work will appear from this confideration, That while the serious reader is employed in perufing a difcourfe treating of the nature of the Lord's fupper, in which there is a lively reprefentation of the death of Chrift, our paffover facrificed for us, it will be a profitable exercise for him at the fame time to be thinking of his own death, and to be so numbering his days, that he may apply his heart unto wisdom.
himself, as a judge does a matter of fact, or goldsmiths metals by the touch-stone, to discern what is true and what counterfeit. And so let him cat; not, And then let him eat, whatever case his soul be in; but let him follow out this duty till he find his soul in some fitness for that ordinance, And so eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.
The text affords this doctrine, viz.
DocT. It is required of them that would worthily partake of the Lord's supper, that they examine themselves of their knowledge to discern the Lord's body, of their faith to feed upon him, of their repentance, love, and new obedience, lest coming unworthily, they eat and drink judgment to themselves.'
Here let us consider,
I. What worthiness to partake is.
II. The duty of self-examination necessary for worthy re ceiving of the Lord's supper.
III. The necessity of this self-examination.
I. Let us consider what worthiness to partake is. And, 1. What is meant by it.
2. Wherein it consists.
First, Let us consider what is meant by worthiness to partake.
1. Not a legal worthiness, as if we could deserve it at the hands of God; for when we have done all those things which are commanded us, we must say, We are unprofitable servants, we have done that which was our duty to do,' Luke xvii. 10. Those who are that way worthy in their own eyes, are altogether unworthy: for building their acceptance with the Lord in that ordinance upon their own good qualifications, they shall meet with Simon's entertainment, Acts viii. 20. Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money;' for they run quite cross to the end of that ordinance, declaring in effect the death of Christ to be in vain as to them, Gal. ii. ult. For if righteousness come by the law, then is Christ dead in vain.'
2. But it is a gospel-meetness and fitness for that ordinance as we are to bring forth fruits meet for repentance,' Matth. iii. 8. so one communicates worthily, when he is fit for receiving that sacrament according to the rules of the gospel, comes to it in such a manner as Christ bids and welcomes his guests. And much of that lies in coming with a deep sense of our utter vileness and emptiness, Isa. lv. 1.
Secondly, Wherein does this worthiness to partake consist? I answer, In two things.
1. In habitual meetness for it, in respect of a gracious state. The soul in the black state of nature is utterly unfit for this ordinance, Psal. v. 5. The foolish shall not stand in thy sight, thou hatest all workers of iniquity. Such a soul is a dead soul, dead in trespasses and sins,' Eph. ii. 1. And a dead man is not fit for a feast nor a dead soul for the Lord's table, but rather to be buried out of his sight. And from the Lord's table such a one may be expected to come away twice dead.
2. In actual meetness, in respect of a gracious frame. In our addresses to God not only life, but liveliness, is requisite, Psal. lxxx. 18. A sleeping man is not fit for a feast neither; and therefore even a true believer may communicate unworthily, as some in the church of Corinth did, 1 Cor. xi. 30, 32. So it is necessary that we not only have oil in our vessels, but have our lamps burning if we would be fit, Cant. i. 12.
II. Let us consider the duty of self-examination necessary for worthy receiving of the Lord's supper. And here, 1. The rule or touchstone by which we must examine. 2. The matter we are to examine ourselves about. First, Let us consider the rule or touchstone by which we must examine.
1. Beware of false ones. (1.) The common guise of the world. It is not enough that ye are like neighbour and other, aye and better than many, like the Pharisee, Luke xviii. 11. Though an ape be liker a man than a dog is, yet the one is no more a man than the other. Though mere moralists and formalists are liker true Christians than openly profane ones are, yet the one are no more true
Christians than the others. (2.) One's being better than sometime before, 2 Cor. x. 12. One may be like Saul, who got another heart, but not the new heart, 1 Sam. x. 9. (3.) The letter of the law. So did the Pharisee, Luke xviii. 11; and Paul before his conversion, Rom. vii. 9. (4.) The seen practice of the godly, which is but their outside, and so is but an unsafe rule, in regard you cannot see the principle, motives, and ends of their actions, which are great characteristics, whereby the sincere are distinguished from hypocrites.
2. The only true rule or touchstone in this case is the word of God, Isa. viii. 20. To the law and to the testimony,' &c. The Spirit of the Lord speaking in the scriptures is the supreme Judge of all questions in religion, whether relating to faith or practice; and the word itself is the rule by which the decision is made. God hath given us marks in the word, by which one may know whether he be in Christ or not, 2 Cor. v. 17; whether born of God or not, 1 John iii. 9; and the like.
Secondly, Let us consider the matter we are to examine ourselves about. The great thing to be inquired into and examined here, is the state of our souls before the Lord whether we be in Christ or not, regenerate or not, have true grace or not, 2 Cor. xiii. 5. This we should examine at all times with respect to death and eternity, because our eternal state depends on our being in a state of grace here, And this is to be examined in respect of the sacrament.
The reason is, This sacrament is not a converting, but a confirming ordinance, as baptism also is, Rom. iv. 11. It is a seal of the covenant, and so supposes the covenant entered into before by the party. It is appointed for nourishment, which presupposes life. And if it was not so, what need of self-examination? so let him come, not otherwise. It is the word that is the converting ordinance, not the sacrament, Rom. x. 17; and the nature of excommunication evinces this, 1 Cor. v. 13.
But more particularly, because there are some graces, namely, knowledge, faith, repentance, love, and new obe dience, which in a particular manner are sacramental graces, these are to be examined. And,
FIRST, Our knowledge is to be examined, 1 Cor. xi. 29.
And here let us consider,
1. What is to be examined concerning our knowledge.
2. How this may be known.
3. The necessity of this.
First, What is to be examined concerning our know. ledge.
1. The measure of it, whether competent or not, Hos, iv. 6. The nature of this ordinance is such, that it cannot be managed to spiritual advantage, but loss, without a competent measure of knowledge. And this not only ministers should inquire into, but people themselves, after all examination by ministers.
2. The quality of it, whether saving or not, 1 Cor. xiii. 1. There is a notional, idle, inefficacious knowledge of spiritual things, which leaves men still in their natural darkness, as to any saving uptaking of spiritual things: and therefore it cannot be sufficient to fit men for this ordinance.
Secondly, How may this be known?
1. Competency of knowledge. There may be an igno, rance of several not fundamental points of religion, where yet there is a competency of knowledge for this ordinance, But there are two things necessary to it. (1.) An understanding in some measure of the fundamentals of region, the nature of God, the persons of the Trinity, the fall of man, with the sinfulness and misery of our natural state, the natures and person of Christ, and the way of redemption and salvation by him, our need of him, and of faith as the way how we come to be interested in him. There must be some sensible knowledge of these things, that men be not like parrots, who may be taught to say the creed, without understanding a word of what they say. (2.) An understanding of the nature, use, and ends of this ordinance in particular. Without such a knowledge, there can be no discerning of the Lord's body; for what spiritual thing can one perceive in the ordinance, the nature of which he is ignorant of?
2. Saving knowledge may be discerned by these two marks. (1.) When, by an inward teaching, one is made so to see the truth of man's lost state, and his absolute need of Christ, as to be brought out of himself to Jesus Christ wholly for his whole salvation, John vi. 45; It is written