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in itself is sufficient security; but guilt is a fountain of fears; and we are guiley, and therefore fearful souls. And therefore, that it may be more sure to us, he has appended this seal. It is meet then, 1. That they be in the covenant who partake. 2. That we take the sacrament as a seal of God's covenant to us. 8. That we believe more firmly
i. They are unworthy communicants who are not in covenant with God, and yet come to his table. It is a profaning of God's seal to set it to a blank. It is a feast for friends, not for enemies, Cant. v. 1; and if ye come in a state of enmity, ye can expect no kind entertainment ; • For can two walk together except they be agreed ? A. mos iii. 3; yea, ye will get a sad welcome, such as the man got who wanted the wedding-garment, Matth. xxii. 11, 12. If there be not a mutual consent, it is no marriage: and if there be no marriage, ye have nothing ado with the marriage-feast.
2. They that use it as a seal of their covenant with God, and not of God's covenant with them. Surely the sacrament is an obligatory ordinance to obedience; but this is not the principal end of it, but rather to be a seal of God's covenant with us. The reason why so many afterwards appear to have been unworthy communicants, is, that they go to that ordinance rather to oblige themselves to obedia ence, than to get a full covenant sealed to them for obedience. All our strength lies in Christ ; and worthy communicants go to Christ in the sacrament to get influences of grace secured to them under his own seal, that they may in time of need afterwards know what quarter to betake themselves to for supply:
3. They whose faith of the benefits of the covenant is not more confirmed. This is to sit down at the table, but not to taste of the meat that is set thereon. Why does the Lord give us such encouragement, and yet we grow never a whit stronger in faith; and though he give us new confirmations, yet we have never a whit more confidence in him ? Would not a man think himself affronted to be thus treated ?
Sixthly, Consider this ordinance is appointed for strength. ening of our souls, for the nourishing of the Lord's people,
The Danger of Unworthy Communicating. and their growth in grace. It is a supper, a feast where Christ is both maker and matter, whose flesh is meat indeed, and whose 'blood is drink indeed. The Lord's people must needs have food to nourish the new man, and grace will decay unless it be recruited. If this be so, then it is meet, 1. That communicants be spiritually alive. 2. That they actually feed spiritually at this holy table.
i. Graceless souls must needs communicate unworthily, Where there is no grace there can be no strengthening of it. There can be no communion betwixt a holy God and an unholy sinner, Prov. xv. 8. God will not make Nebuchadnezzar's image of mystical Christ. We must be born from above ere we can be capable to feed on Heaven's dainties. It was the custom of Egypt, not of Ca. naan, to bring dead men to feasts. They are rather to be buried out of God's sight. An unregenerate soul at the Lord's table is a monster that hath not a hand to take his meat, nor a mouth to eat it, nor a stomach to digest it, Heb. xi. 6; and all that can be expected, is, that he will come away twice dead. Therefore, .examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves : know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?' 2 Cor. xiii. 5.
2. They that do not actually feed at this table; for which cause grace in exercise is necessary. He is an unworthy guest that does not eat his meat. It is dangerous to be in a spiritual sleep at the Lord's table; therefore the church prays, Psal. lxxx. 18.
Quicken us, and we will call upon thy name'. Now, the food set before us there is Christ's body and blood, John vi. 55. ; that is, Christ himself as crucified for our sins. By faith we feed upon him; faith realiseth the sufferings of Christ ; it looks upon Christ as the common treasury of all grace, as the principle of life, and root of holiness. It eyes the promise for the conveyance of grace into our souls ; looks on the sacrament as the golden pipes conveying the golden oil; and thus applies Christ, his merits and benefits to the soul, getting into his wounds, the clefts of that rock that was smitten to give nourishment.
Seventhly, It is appointed for the remembrance of Christ. Christ is gone to heaven ; and his people are apt to forget
him. This ordinance is a memorial of his death, and herein he is to be remembered. If so, then it is meat, 1. That they who sit down at his table know him ; for there can be no remembering without knowledge of and acquaint, ance with him. 2. That he be remembered gratefully.
1. Those partake unworthily who are ignorant persons, and are unacquainted with Christ. Those that have been always blind, cannot remember the light. Ignorant souls will, as blind men, deal blows at the Lord's table, making themselves guilty of the body and blood of Christ. It is not only necessary that we have the knowledge of the princi. ples of religion, but that we be taught the same by the Spirit, and in conversion be acquainted with the Master of this feast. Ignorant people cannot discern the Lord's body.
2. Who do not remember him affectionately. To remember his dying love is our great work; to remember how seasonably he undertook the work of saving sinners, Psal. xl. 7; how faithfully he performed all, how willingly and constantly he obeyed and suffered. What do men sit down at the Lord's table for, if they neglect this ? And this cannot be done aright, but the soul will be suitably affected.
Lastly, It is appointed to be a sign and token of the communion of saints, to signify, not only our communion with Christ, but with one another; not only our union with Christ by faith, but with one another by love, 1 Cor. X. 17. It is meet, then, that we sit down at this table in love.
They partake, then, unworthily who sit down at this table with malice and envy in their hearts against others, Matth. v. 24, 25. If we forgive not others their injuries to us, God will not forgive us. This leaven must be purged out, if we would be a holy lump. Some will make a fashion of reconciliation before the sacrament; and when that is over, they are just as they were before: but God will not be mocked.
II. The next general head is to shew, what judgments unworthy communicating exposes people to.
It exposes them,
İ. To bodily strokes, as the Corinthians felt, i Corsi 30. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. One falls into a decay of strength, another takes sickness after a communion, another slips off the stage. Some give one reason for it, and some another. But, O! unworthy communicating is often the procuring cause of all. What a dreadful distemper seized Belshaz zar when he was abusing the vessels of the temple! Dan, y; but the sin of unworthy communicating is more dreadful.
2. To spiritual strokes, strokes upon the soul, blindness of mind, hardness of heart, searedness of conscience, &c, The Lord will not hold him guilt ness that taketh his name in vain ; he will let guilt lie on him. Hence some after communions are let fall into scandalous sins; some meet with greater darkness and deadness than ever before, and some with sharp desertions.
3. To eternal strokes. As to such as are out of Christ, unworthy communicating will damn them, as well as gross sins in the life and outward conversation, and no doubt will make a hotter hell than that of Pagans. Murder is a erying sin, but the murder of the Son of God is most dreadful, and the Mediator's vengeance is most terrible. · And they are said to eat and drink judgment to themselves; which I conceive, imports,
1. That the hurt which comes by unworthy communi. cating comes upon the person himself, not on Christ, whose body and blood he is guilty of; for themselves has a rela. tion not to others, but to Christ. They may eat judgment to ministers and fellow communicants, if they have a sinful hand in bringing them to the table. Only, though the slight is given to Christ, yet it rebounds upon the man himself, and lies heavy on him with its consequences. They do interpretatively murder Christ, in so far as they abuse the symbols of his broken body and shed blood, but they can do him no harm ; they kịck against the pricks, which run into their bodies and souls.
2. That they themselves are the authors of their own ruin. They take their death with their own hand, like a man that wilfully drinks of a cup of poison, and so murder their own souls. And what a dreadful thing is this for a man to perish by his own hands !
3. That they shall be as sure of judgment upon them for their sin, if repentance prevent it not, and cut the thread, as they are of the sacramental bread they eat, and the wine they drink. Death is in the cup to them, and it will go down with the elements into their bowels.
Use. Beware then of unworthy communicating. Profane not the holy things of God by your rash approaches to this ordinance. If the love of the Lord Jesus will not al. lure you to a conscientious performance of this duty in a holy manner, let the terror of God affright you. Behold life and death is set before you. Venture not on the swordpoint of vengeance, even the vengeance of his temple. O sinner! hold thy hand. Do not wound the Lord of glory, and bring innocent blood on thy head. Owound not your own souls with the wound of an enemy! Provoke not God to give you blood to drink.
Object. 1. We had better bide aback than run such a risk. Ans. If you cannot think on parting with
your lusts, but you must either communicate keeping them still, or not at all, then assure yourselves, God will avenge this con. tempt of himself and his son upon you, and ye shall fall into the hands of the living God through eternity, Luke xix. 27. If ye think of being better disposed afterwards, ye deceive yourselves ; for the longer ye keep your sins, it will be the harder to part with them. And who knows if ever your eyes may see another such occasion ? But if
ye mind to part with your sins now, and be in earnest for com- . munion with God in that ordinance, then ye will make conscience of, and sincerely endeavour worthy communicating, which will be accepted; for it is a gospel, not a legal fitness, that we urge.
Object. 2. But that terror confounds me when I think of approaching the Lord's table, lest he be provoked to strike me dead on the spot, or I get my damnation sealed. Ans. Satan labours either to make us feed without fear, or else to fear so as we cannot feed. But look ye to God through the vail of the flesh of Christ, and so you will see an atoned and pacified God. If such fear seize thee, then