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rived from the observation of the Lord's supper. Let the Christian deeply reflect on them, and consider how strong a motive they suggest for complying with our Lord's command. Let him recollect that this institution is an appointed mean of strengthening his faith, animating his love, and increasing his holiness; and that by neglecting it, he provokes God to withhold from him that divine influence, without which he can do nothing. To expect spiritual blessings while we neglect the use of the means which God has appointed for procuring them, is gross presumption. If we wish to grow in grace, let us not forget to eat bread and drink wine in remembrance of Christ.
To this illustration of the motives which urge us to compliance with our Lord's command in the text, it may not be without its use to subjoin a brief notice and exposure of the excuses, palliations, and even defences, which professors of Christianity, who live in the habitual neglect of the Lord's supper, make for their conduct, in so directly opposing the authority of Christ.
One of the most common of these excuses is, a want of due preparation for this solemn service. It is much to be feared that many participate in the Lord's supper unprepared, and of consequence derive no advantage from the observation of this ordinance ; but it is not to be forgotten, that want of preparation is itself a sin, and surely one crime cannot be sustained as an excuse for another. In order to ascertain whether any regard is to be paid to this excuse, it is necessary to consider what is requisite to prepare us for the Lord's supper.
That man is habitually prepared for the Lord's supper, who is a believer in Christ Jesus, and a partaker of his Spirit. If these characters do not belong to you, then are you indeed unprepared, and it is ha
zardous for you to engage in this sacred institution. But in this case, you are not only unfit for the Lord's table, you are unfit for death; and should you leave the world in your present circumstances, you are une done for ever.
Were you properly affected with a sense of your situation, instead of coolly urging it as an excuse for not eating the Lord's supper, you would feel it as an irresistible motive to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, that you may be saved. This is your first duty ;-and having believed, then hasten to his table, “take the cup of salvation, and call on the name of the Lord.”
There are, however, many true saints, who, under the influence of mistaken notions on this subject, occasionally abstain from eating the Lord's supper for wantof preparation. If they have wilfully neglected the appointed preparatory services, they are no doubt much to blame, and ought penitently to acknowledge their sin. Yet even in this case, one omission of duty cannot surely sanction or render necessary
proper another. But by want of prej aration, these good people mean something quite distinct from this. They are not in a good frame. Their faith is weak, their hope is dead, their affections are languid; and for these reasons, they deem it warrantable and reasonable to neglect communicating. This is just as rational conduct as it would be in a fatigueď traveller to refuse a cordial because he was faint, or in a person perishing for want to refuse bread because he was hungry.
There are others who urge, that they are terrified lest they eat and drink unworthily, and thus seal their own condemnation. In order fully to shew the futility of this objection, it would be necessary to enter more at large than your time at present admits, into an examination of the meaning of the passage of scripture, on a mistaken view of which it is found ..
intend to take an early opportunity of illustrating that subject at large * Suffice it at present to observe, that on the same principle on which they profess to be afraid of the Lord's supper, they ought to refrain from all religious exercises, and even the ordinary business of life, for “the prayer of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord,” and even “ his plowing is sin.”
Another reason which has been offered for neglecting the dying command of Christ, is the fear of that increased guilt which will be incurred by sins after communicating. There is no doubt that sins after communicating have peculiar aggravations. But these crimes, though very foul, are not unpardonable. “ If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Fa. ther, Jesus Christ the righteous ;—and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth from all sin.” Besides, if we fear sin, we ought carefully to employ the means God has appointed for the mortification of sin. Frequent communicating is one of these means.
We must * wait on the Lord,” if we would “renew our strength.” He who acts on the principle we have been exposing, is like the man who will not take nourishing food, lest, if attacked by a fever, he should suffer more than if his constitution were less robust.
It has been urged sometimes as a reason for not observing the Lord's supper, that no denomination of Christians are to be met with, so conformed to the primitive standard, as to make it safe to hold communion with them. The objector certainly does not see where this principle leads him. It is an implied denial that Christ has now a church upon arth,--an implied assertion that the faithful and true Witness has failed to perform his promise. The divided state of the Church
• Vide Disc. III.
is deeply to be lamented ; and the accurate observer will find many faults in every body of professors of Christianity. To look for a perfect church on earth, is a foolish and unwarranted expectation. Let such persons reflect, that our Lord, in his command to observe the Lord's supper, has made no provision for this supposed case ; and that if there is a danger of being unscripturally lax, there is also a danger of being unscripturally rigid. Those men have certainly learned their religion somewhere else than in the New Testament, who, in the great variety of denominations of Christians, can find none to whom they can conscientiously attach themselves. Let them beware lest they mistake humour for conscience, and be found at last guilty of “making the commandment of God of none effect through their traditions.”
Custom is pled by others as an excuse for neglecto ing this ordinance. Many omit this duty, and why may not we? Custom cannot make that right, which is in itself wrong
The sins of others will form no ex. cuse for ours before the tribunal of God. They who follow the multitude to sin, must follow them to punishment. If this ordinance is neglected, there is the greater necessity of our being nobly singular. Let us never forget our Lord's declaration; “Whosoever shall confess me before men, him will I also confess before my Father who is in heaven; but whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father who is in heaven.” To mention only one excuse more.
that they do not refuse, they only delay, compliance with this command of the Saviour. But do they no know, that to refuse immediate compliance with an injunction which requires it, is disobedience? Procrastination is the thief of time, and the murderer of souls. “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might.” Neglect not the present opportunity. It may be the last afforded thee of manifesting thy regard for the Saviour's authority, and thy gratitude for his goodness.
What now remains, but that we, with united hearts, supplicate “the God and Father of our Lord and Savi. our Jesus Christ,” that he would graciously render these views of the Lord's supper useful for preparing us for engaging in this solemn observance, “opening our understandings to understand the scriptures," and
opening our hearts, that we may receive the love of the truth, that we may be saved." Amen.