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DELIVERED PREVIOUS TO THE CELEBRATION OF THE
I mean beloved, to fill up our present exercise, by taking into consideration, and drawing some suitable observations as pertinent to our present solemnity, from the 28th and 29th verses of the eleventh chapter of the first Epistle to the Corinthians :
“BUT LET A MAN EXAMINE HIMSELF, AND SO LET HIM
EAT OF THAT BREAD, AND DRINK OF THAT CUP.
FOR HE THAT EATETH AND
THILY, EATETH AND DRINKET! DAMNATION TO HIMSELF, NOT DISCERNING THE LORD'S BODY.”
The apostle having spoke concerning the evil of unworthy partaking of this ordinance, how that such are guilty of, vilify, and reproach the body and blood of Christ; passes on to inform them, that previous to a participation of it, a man should examine himself, seeing unworthy communicants bring condemnation upon themselves, not having spiritual judgment to discern the Lord's body in the ordinance.
In which words we have the following particulars :
Here is first a duty exhorted to, selfexamination. “ Let a man examine himself.”
Secondly, the punishment which falls upon an unworthy receiver: “ he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself :" which is not meant of eternal damnation, as is evident from the instances of the punishments recorded in the following verses, 30th, 31st, 32d, but temporal judgments; such as weakness, sickness, and death, for which see verse 30.
Thirdly, the sin of unworthy eating and drinking at the Lord's table pointed out, as consisting in “want of spiritual discernment to apprehend the Lord's body.” Of these things in their order.
It is observed by Dr. Owen, that as the apostle is here rectifying abuses about the administration of the Lord's Supper, so he applies particular directions to all their particular miscarriages, and he gathers up all directions into this one general rule : “let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.”
In which words we have an exhortation, backed and enforced strongly and solemnly.
The duty exhorted to is self-examination—“Let a man examine himself.”
You may remember that the apostle described the sin of unworthy receiving in the 27th verse; and here he points out the means of avoiding it in this 28th verse: from which it may be most safely pronounced, and most justly declared, that it is every man's duty, who comes to the table of the Lord, to examine himself, with respect to bis personal interest in Christ, and his right to this ordinance, before he comes to partake of it. By which also it clearly appears, that all persons who are incapable of this duty of self-examination, are not to be admitted, but stand excluded from this sacred feast. And that to the end we may rightly and worthily partake of the Lord's Supper, it
is incumbent on us to attend to this exercise, seeing Paul lays down this rule of examination before our approach, to preserve us from being guilty“ of the body and blood of the Lord.” I will endeavour to set before you
what self-examination is, and what it should be particularly exercised upon, as it respects the subject before ús.
Self-examination is a reflex act of the renewed mind and conscience, whereby a man, as far as assisted by the light of the Word, and Spirit of God, doth discern the spiritual good and evil which is in his own heart, and in each and every faculty, both severally, and jointly or to gether. By which means he gains an acquaintance with himself, his state, case, sins, corruptions, graces, declensions, and decays, and what real growth into Christ, and communion he bath with God.
This I conceive to be, and consider as self-examination, and it is this which is here urged upon us in these words, “Let a man examine himself.”
Which is thus to be performed : Be. lievers in Christ, looking up to the Holy Spirit for divine illumination, and to his written word as their rule, are to turn their thoughts and eyes inward, to reflect and consider the state and case of their own souls, as it respects both corruptions and graces : to the intent that from a proper view and knowledge of themselves, they may be disposed to pray most properly, and suitably, as their own, peculiar state, cases, and circumstances may require.
Self-examination, as preparatory to the Lord's table, should be diligently exercised concerning what our real views, apprehensions, and sense of sin are, what real sorrow for it, and hatred against it, are found in our souls, and how this is manifested.
What our besetting, constitutional corruptions are. How far they are mortified by spiritual views of Christ, and actual felowship with him in his death.
Also, it should be inquired into, what real communion we have, and do enjoy in our own souls, with the Father, and the Soy, through the Spirit, what state