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Ereoted 1819; Enlarged 1839. THE WORTHY GUEST AT THE LORD'S TABLE.

A Biscourse, Delivered in Grove Chapel, Camberwell, Sunday Morning, Aug. 6, 1848,

BY THE REV. JOSEPH IRONS.

Wherefore, whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the

Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.

-1 Cor. xi. 27. A FORMAL professor is hardened at such a solemn warning as this, but many a trembling child of God is dismayed and alarmed at hearing it. How, then, shall I remove the alarm of the one? How, then, shall I pierce the coat of mail which the other has put on? How, then, shall I reserve that which is holy for the holy family? And how shall I, without alarming the children of God, deal with dogs as dogs deserve? This is one of the most solemn and one of the most difficult tasks which the minister of Jesus Christ has to perform? for very generally, while he is attempting to feed the babes with some sincere milk, or to set the bread of life before the family of God, the dogs, the hypocrites, and the wolves, those who are without, venture to intrude, to take, peradventure, as regards their carnal grasp, a very large portion of it themselves. On the contrary, while attempting to a warn every man," as well as to “teach every man,” that we may be perfectly exonerated and excused when we present every man before God, clear of the blood of all men, how common is it for the little ones to be dismayed, for the babes in Christ to be greatly harassed, and ready to exclaiın, under the powerful influence of the tempter, “ This is meant for me." In order to avoid these evils, I must have- oh! lift up your hearts with me for it— wisdom from above. I must have the Divine teaching imparted unto me, and the

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power, just as the prophet is commissioned to describe it, of separating the precious from the vile, and teaching God's people the difference between the clean and the unclean, to be as God's mouth unto you.

Many of us are anticipating an approach to the table of the Lord to-night; and I believe that many ought to anticipate it who have hitherto been prevented by the power of the tempter, and who, when they have met with such a portion of Scripture as this, and stumbled upon the word “unworthily," under a consciousness of their own depravity, their own unworthiness, their own ruin, guilt, and wanderings, and the ten thousand times ten thousand evils they have discovered within themselves, which none but God and their own souls know, are ready to exclaim, “Surely this must be meant for such a wretch as I ; and I had better for the present decline approaching the table of the Lord.” Now, I should find in almost every case, that these are the persons who, of all others, ought to come to the table. “What,” say you, “ unworthily?" No; but without any creatureworthiness, without any of that description of worthiness which such persons appear to suppose to be needful. And therefore the subject before us is :- First of all, a subject for self-examination; and we shall endeavour to look as closely as we can into the declaration of the text, to ascertain what is meant by unworthiness or worthiness in those who are about to approach the table of the Lord. Then we shall glance at the emblem, which has a peculiarly spiritual signification, the eating of the bread and the drinking of the cup of the Lord. Then, thirdly, we shall look at the evidence given of an interest in that salvation which is wholly of God; and consequently this will command that we should approach and partake of the passover.

I.-According to this order, as the Lord shall give us strength, I propose, first of all, to say a little about this subject of self-examination; for you will observe that the apostle immediately follows the declaration of my text, which is a strong doctrinal declaration, with the advice that a man should examine himself upon his worthiness. Now, what constitutes his worthiness? You will not find it in the person who can adopt the language of one who went up to the temple to pray. He thought himself a worthy character, and told God so in these words, “God, I thank thee that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust.” Other crimes are mentioned; and then, looking sneeringly at a poor broken-hearted sinner hard by, he says, or even as this publican. I fast twice a-week, I give tithes of all that I possess. He recounts all his excellencies, as he supposes them to be; but with all he could say of his worthiness he could not get hold of justification; he went down to his house without it, for he could not find justification on the ground of creature doings; he rejected it in the blood and righteousness of Christ; and therefore he was an unworthy character. Well, it is not to be found there. It is not to be found in the high-sounding pretensions of Pharisees, nor of idolators, nor of those who are buried in rites, and superstitions, and external ceremonies, without life or power in them. These are not worthy characters. It might, perhaps, be asked, “Why not?”—“Who can bring a charge against them? Are they not the most useful, the most amiable, the most active, and the most diligent, in every good work of any persons in our day? Who in the world would reject them?” Ah! they have no wedding garments. They have no business at the feast. Not all the excellencies of all the sages, all the philosophers, and all the Pharisees, who have ever lived upon earth, concentrated in one man, could make him a worthy character to come to the Lord's table. What will? I will tell you of a few things that shall manifest the contrast; and if you have them not, may the Holy Ghost fasten this solemn warning on your hearts—if you have them not, at least, in some measure, you will eat and drink “unworthily” if you come to the Lord's table.

The first is, that all the welcome guests at the Lord's table are taught both their need and the nature of the atonement to some extent. They are taught their need of the atonement. There are thousands of persons who have never learned that lesson, who have no idea that they need the infinitely valuable precious blood of the Divine Substitute poured out for them, presented for them, and applied to them. They talk of a crucified Christ. They seem to subscribe to it, and say that they believe He was crucified, that He died, and was buried, and that the third day He rose again from the dead; but, after all, they never found out or felt their need of an atonement. In order to this, a man must be made deeply acquainted with his own innate depravity. He must come to discover the scriptural doctrine of his total ruin in Adam. He must see that his “ whole head is sick, and his whole heart is faint.” He must see and feel, and it is only by Divine teaching; that everything within him, that everything without him, that everything he has done, that everything he has said, and everything he has thought, is contaminated, polluted, filthy, and vile, in the sight of God. Now, the great bulk of mankind will not believe this. They seem to cherish an idea that these strong declarations of human depravity and guilt belong only to the most obnoxious of society, to persons who are a nuisance in the neighbourhood, who may be seen openly in the daring commission of almost every crime, who are more than half brutalized. And what will they say, or what will they not say, in the way of anger and revenge, if you set one of those very good sort of folks beside one oi those who are really a nuisance in the neighbourhood, and guilty of every open crime, and tell the former, “Now you have the seeds in your heart of everything that poor wretch is guilty of. These lie within your nature ; yea, tainting every drop of your blood, the seeds of the pollution, the corruption and depravity which is permitted to break out in that poor wretch, though it has been restrained in you.” Then, if he is left to himself, he will be exceedingly angry and displeased, and will even give vent to that very depravity with which we charge him at the very moment he is denying it. But if the Holy Ghost be his Teacher; if the Spirit of the Lord has begun His work in his soul, he will plead guilty to the whole charge, and his ery, as he lies before the footstool of Divine mercy, will be, “ Lord, I am vile.” It will then be in vain for any one to tell him of the efficacy of creature doings or of good works. Search as long as he will he can find none—no efficacy in either. He says, “I am undone, and if something is not done for me that I cannot do myself, I must perish." A sinner by nature, under the law condemned and accursed, shortly to leave this wilderness state, and appear before God, he begins to feel his need of an atonement, of a satisfaction, a sacrifice, a removal of his guilt, a Substitute, a Surety, a Friend that shall undertake his cause; and therefore he searches his Bible for it.

He finds out, by the Holy Spirit's teaching, that there is not a hope in himself, and that, if he does not get salvation from above, he must everlastingly perish. Then he is led on in the same first lesson to the discovery of the nature of that doctrine ; and when he has got so far I should bid him a hearty welcome to the Lord's table. When, therefore, he is so far advanced as to discover, under the Divine teaching, the nature of the atonement which God has Himself enacted, and accepted in the person and work of Christ, he will see that there is in it everything that is suitable, everything that is sovereign, everything that is sanctifying, everything that is saving; nothing that is contingent, nothing that is carnal, nothing that can possibly admit of a failure that is the nature of the atonement. It is “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world," whose blood is declared to be precious blood—the precious blood of Christ-of infinite value, of unabated efficacy, of everlasting power, which blood, when sprinkled on the book of the covenant, ratifies all its contents; when sprinkled upon the people, sets them apart unto God; when sprinkled upon the conscience, "cleanses from dead works to serve the living God.” That atonement, in its nature, is seen to be the sacrifice of a person infinitely glorious; and the infinite glory of His person stamps the infinite value of the sacrifice. The blood of bulls and of goats was not sufficient, save as emblems-never sufficient for sacrifice itself. “ Burnt-offerings and offerings for sin,” says Christ by the Psalmist, “thou wouldst not.” “ Then said I, Lo! I come." The infinite glory of His Godhead, coupled with the perfect purity of His manhood, imparted infinite value to the sufferings of that manhood when He was crucified, bled, and expired, and gave up the ghost on Mount Calvary. The blood of the man was but the blood of the man, and yet the man, being one with the Deity, it is called emphatically by the apostle, “ the blood of God.” “ Feed the Church of God, which He hath purchased with His own blood.” There, then, lies the nature of the atonement. Suited to the poor sinner's case, and being accepted, that sinner may come to the Lord's table as a worthy character, not worthy in Adam, but in Christ.

But I cannot dismiss this point without saying a word or two more about the value of the atonement. It is not, and cannot be, a promiscuous matter; it cannot be an uncertain matter; it cannot be a failure in any one instance. The multitude of God's elect Israel were stipulated for. The blood of the covenant is shed on their behalf, and is, and must be, applied to their consciences; so that the glorious Victim Himself, who died, and rose, and reigns, held Himself, and still holds Himself, responsible for all for whom His blood was shed. Oh! this precious glorious security is everything to the child of God and the poor awakened sinner. The Son of God holds Himself everlastingly responsible, and the Father holds Him so too, on behalf of the whole Church of God.

Under the responsibility of that atonement thousands of Old Testament saints went to glory before the atonement was actually made. Under that responsibility their sins were pardoned; and sinners, as black in crime as was David or Manasseh in their sins, were cleansed, washed, accepted, saved, and taken home to glory, when as yet not a drop of blood had been shed. That responsibility of Christ brought Him down to honour His bond, to give the full satisfaction on behalf of His whole Church, which satisfaction reached backward to Adam's day, and forward to the day of the final consummation of all things, when the last elect vessel of mercy shall be brought into everlasting glory. That is the nature of the atonement. Putting away sin for all the election of grace by the sacrifice of Himself, satisfying law and justice, and presenting to the sinner's view, under the Divine teaching, a salvation complete and entire in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. Now you who are taught thus far, come and “eat this bread and drink this cup of the Lord," and I am sure that the Master of the feast will never count you unworthy. And suppose the accuser of the brethren meets you in your pew, and brings to your charge, “Oh! look at yesterday's employment. See the number and greatness of your sins. Think of your neglect: when were you last in your closet alone, and intimate with God? What darkness! What worthlessness is yours!” Well, plead guilty to all this; but then, just listen to the whispers of the Holy Spirit

, '“The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin ;' and you may trust, rest, rely wholly upon it. Have you a heavenly life that can confide entirely in the precious work and person of Christ, having nothing else on which to rest? Come, then, you are the very persons who are a welcome guest to the table of the Lord.

Just let us look for a moment at the position in which the Church, under the type of Joshua, as described in the Book of Zechariah, seemed to stand. “And he showed me Joshua, the high priest, standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him." No doubt charging him with all his Adam-nature corruptions. But what said the Lord? “The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan! even the Lord that hath chosen Jerusalem, rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire? Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel. And he answered and spake unto those that stood before him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him." Satan is accusing him of having filthy garments. Take them away, then, and clothe him in garments white and clean. Now view the position in which a trembling soul may be found to-night in one of these pews. Satan addresses him, “ You have no business here. You are a hypocrite, and will be proved to be so. You are a vile sinner. You know that even your prayers are an abomination in the sight of God. You dare come to the Lord's table!” Now just listen a moment to the voice of the glorious Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He will not deny one of those charges, and do not you. He will whisper, “But I died, but I died, but I died.” Oh! may His voice thrill your souls with this one sentence until your heavenly life shall hang upon, rest upon, confide in Him, be satisfied with Him, and begin to plead His blood and righteousness, for acceptance before God. There is not a more worthy character in heaven, or a more worthy person coming to the Lord's table than you are, if this is the position in which the Holy Ghost has placed you. I have never known a poor sinner brought to this point but such as has been overcome with Omnipotent grace and love. And it is such whom I wish to meet at the Lord's table to-night.

Bear with me in lengthening this part of my discourse respecting worthiness. May it be said, when I have preached my last sermon, " He was always at the work which God had appointed him to per form, to search for my sheep, to seek them out, in these cloudy and

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