« הקודםהמשך »
feed upon it. It is a lively representation of the death of Christ for the sins of mankind; and therefore the soul must possess a just sense of the sufferings of Christ and his love to mankind, and also an humble and lively faith, and hope in his merits. It is an office of praise and thanksgiving for the greatest blessings; redemption from eternal death; restoration to the favour of God, and a title to everlasting life: to celebrate it aright, therefore, we must come prepared with a due sense both of the extreme misery of our condition without a Redeemer, and also of the blessings and benefits to which we are entitled through Christ. It is also a memorial of our deliverance from the power of sin, and is the means by which we become partakers of the spirit of God: we should therefore bring with us to this ordinance not only a willingness, but a desire for deliverance from the power of our sins, and for the assistance of God's holy Spirit to subdue them, with firm resolutions to improve his grace. In this holy sacrament we behold the supreme claim which Christ has to our homage and obedience, since he bought us with the price of his own blood; and therefore we cannot partake of this ordinance aright, without a just sense of our obligations to serve and obey him as our Lord and Master, and without resigning ourselves to his will. The holy sacrament, under the most impressive and affecting emblems, sets before us the covenant of mercy and pardon, to which God is pleased to admit mankind, on condition of their repentance and amendment; and hence arises the indispensable necessity of repenting of our past sins, and entering into resolutions of obedience for the future. In this holy supper we hold communion with our fellow Christians, as brethren, and members of the same body under Christ our head; and hence it follows, that love and unity must be necessary qualifications for a right participation of this sacred ordinance.
There are some persons who are deterred from this holy supper by the apprehension of the peril of unworthy receiving.* The danger indeed is great to those who will presume to eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, rashly and unadvisedly. But their guilt is not less, nor their situation less hazardous, who persist in disobedience to the last and dying command of their dearest Saviour, and reject his invitation to partake of so many great and spiritual blessings, upon pretence of that danger, which it is in their own power to avoid. Our safety, therefore, consists in resolving to do the duty required, and to take the best care so to prepare ourselves, that the performance may be accepted by God.*
* The peril of receiving the Lord's Supper unworthily is heightened, in the apprehensions of some persons, by the declaration of St. Paul, (1 Cor. xi. 29.) He that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself. But it is to be observed, that the word damnation does not signify eternal condemnation, but (as it is translated in the margin of the Bible) temporal judgment. And the unworthy receiving, for which the Corinthians were afflicted with temporal judgments, such as sickness and death, (ver. 30.) consisted in their making no distinction between the Lord's Supper and a common meal. They did not discern the Lord's body, (ver. 29.), * They abused and profaned this solemn institution by gluttony and drunkenness, (ver. 21, 22.) and by contentious and factious behaviour, (ver. 18.) Christians, in the present day, therefore, unless they, in the same way with the Corinthians, contemn and profane the Lord's Supper, cannot be guilty of that unworthy receiving mentioned by St. Paul, for which the Corinthians sustained not eternal condemnation, but temporal judgment.
The first duty required of those who come to the Lord's Supper, is to repent them truly of their former sins. We should exainine our lives and conversations by the rule of God's commandments;t and whereinsoever we shall perceive ourselves to have offended, either by will, word, or deed, there we must bewail our own sinfulness,f and confess our guilt to Almighty God.
Having examined our lives and confessed our transgressions, and humbled ourselves under the sense of our natural depravity and actual guilt, we should then turn our thoughts upon the only means by which we can be redeemed from our sin and reconciled to God. The means of our deliverance from sin, and restoration to the divine favour, are provided in the plan of salvation through Jesus Christ. In him we have redemption, even the forgiveness of our sins, (Col. i. 14.) Him hath God set forth to be the propitiation for our sins, (Rom. iii. 25.) He is the Mediator be
* But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread and drink of that cup. 1 Cor. xi. 28.
Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the Lord. Lum. iii. 40.
# Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance. For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation, not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. 2 Cor. vii. 9, 10.
For I acknowledge my transgressions; and my sin is ever before me. Psalm li. 3.
tween God and man. He
He gave himself a ransom for all, (1 Tim. ii. 5, 6.) He is our Advocate with the Father, (1 John ii. 1.) By his death we are reconciled to God, (Rom. y. io.) He has made our peace with the Father through the blood of his cross, (Col. i. 20.)
It is a comfort to us, under the burden of our sins, to consider, not only that we have a Saviour and Redeemer, but that he has given humble and penitent sinners the most gracious invitations and encouragements to come to him for pardon and salvation. Come unto me, says the blessed Jesus, (Mat. xi. 28.) all ye
that labour, and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. He that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out, (John vi. 37.) And he tenderly declares, (Luke v. 32.) that he came into the world on purpose to call sinners to repentance ; and to seek and to save that which was lost, (Luke xix. 10.)
The consideration of these gracious declarations, and of our own vileness and misery, will prepare us to come to Christ with a true and lively faith ; neither trusting to our own merits, nor distrusting the mercies of God, but casting ourselves wholly upon the merits of Jesus Christ ; in a steadfast reliance that through his blood we shall receive the remission of our sins and shall have peace with God.
But then we must remember that the redemption of Christ consists in his delivering us not only from the guilt of our past transgressions, but also from the power and dominion of sin. Christ gave himself for us, not only that he might redeem us from all iniquity, but likewise that he might purify us unto himself a peculiar people zealous of good works, (Heb. ix. 14.) He was manifested, not only to take away our sins, but also by his blood to purge our consciences from dead works, to serve the living God, (Titus ii. 14.) No persons then must hope for any benefit from the death of Christ, but they who will take the redemption which he wrought, whole and entire; and receive him as a Saviour, not only from the guilt but from the dominion of sin. No one must hope for the pardon of his sins, but he who sincerely desires to be delivered from their dominion.
And therefore having begun the work of repentance, in the confession of our transgressions and the humiliation of our souls, we must continue and perfect it, by solemnly professing, in the presence of God, our earnest desires to be delivered from the power of sin, and our resolutions, through the assistance of his grace, to forsake ungodliness and wordly lusts, (Titus ii. 11, 12.) and to live soberly, righteously, and godly, while he shall please to continue us in this world.
When, upon examination, we can humbly trust that we truly and earnestly repent of our sins, and are in love and charity with our neighbours, and intend to lead a new life, following the commandments of God, and walking in his holy ways, we must then draw