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Title: The Communion and Communicant
Author: Hoare, Edward N., 1842-
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Transcribed from the 1847 J. Hatchard edition by David Price, email
ccx074@pglaf.org.  Many thanks to Ramsgate Library for allowing their
copy to be used for this transcription.



                                   THE
                        COMMUNION AND COMMUNICANT.


                                * * * * *

                                  BY THE
                         REV. EDWARD HOARE, A.M.,
                  INCUMBENT OF CHRIST CHURCH, RAMSGATE.

                                * * * * *

                                 LONDON:
                  J. HATCHARD AND SON, 187, PICCADILLY,
                               MDCCCXLVII.

                                * * * * *



BY THE SAME AUTHOR.


THE SCRIPTURAL PRINCIPLES of our PROTESTANT CHURCH.  Second Edition.
Price 3_s._

THE TIME of the END; or, The World, the Visible Church, and the People of
God, at the Advent of the Lord.  Third Edition.  Price 1_s._ 6_d._

BAPTISM, as Taught in the Bible and the Prayer-Book.  No. 6.—Tracts for
Churchmen.  Second Edition.  Price 2½_d._



THE COMMUNION AND COMMUNICANT.


THERE is no institution more delightful to the Christian than the holy
sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.  It is a touching remembrance of a
Redeemer’s love—a refreshing means of grace to the soul—a happy communion
of the Lord’s believing family—and a gladdening foretaste of the marriage
supper of the Lamb.  With what heartfelt gratitude should believers
rejoice in such a feast!

But it is not to all a feast of joy.  Some neglect it from a total want
of inclination; some receive it in a careless, worldly spirit, and to
them it soon becomes an empty form, like a vessel in which is no water;
while others regard it as an awful mystery—as something too high for such
as they are, and, like the holy of holies in the temple, beyond the reach
of common men.

This sense of mysterious awe may be traced, in great measure, to the
startling words of St. Paul in 1 Cor. xi.. 29, “He that eateth and
drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not
discerning the Lord’s body.”  Nor can there be any question, that the
impression made by such strong and fearful language should be that of the
deepest possible solemnity.  St. Paul spoke by inspiration, and that man
must indeed be a bold transgressor, who does not feel awed and solemnized
when he reads such a caution from the Holy Ghost.  But yet the Christian
is not right if he lays aside the subject under the first sense of solemn
awe, or excludes himself from a delightful privilege, because he sees
solemnity in the ordinance, and apprehends some possible danger in its
misuse.  He ought rather to take the Word of God, and study it carefully,
in order to ascertain the real nature of the service, and the kind of
character to which the words refer.  This is the course for sensible and
right-minded men; and to assist such in this investigation, is the object
of the present tract.

There are five passages in the Bible distinctly referring to the Lord’s
Supper, as an appointed institution in the Church, namely, Matt. xxvi.
26–29; Mark xiv. 22–25; Luke xxii. 13–20; 1 Cor. x. 16–21; and xi. 18–34.
{4}  As the last of these is much the fullest, it may be well to adopt it
as the basis of our enquiry; and we shall be able to learn from it the
authority and nature of the Lord’s Supper, the danger of coming
unworthily, and the character of those who do so.

I.  The AUTHORITY.

It is not a scheme of man’s contrivance, or the result of merely human
wisdom, but was ordained by our blessed Lord himself, and enjoined on his
people by his twice repeated words.

The first occasion was on the night before his crucifixion, when he was
eating the Paschal Supper with his disciples.  He then gave them bread
and wine, and said, “This do in remembrance of me.”  Here, therefore, is
his own plain command—and one command from him is enough for the
Christian.

But He did not leave the subject there; for after his ascension to the
right hand of God, he was still mindful of his sacrament, and repeated
his command by express revelation to St. Paul.  He had already spoken
plainly, so that none could mistake him; and three evangelists had left
his words in writing, so that none could doubt as to his language: but
yet, as if to prevent the possibility either of forgetfulness or mistake,
when he called a new servant to his apostleship, he made to him a second
revelation of his will; for on turning to verse 23, we find that St. Paul
did not receive the doctrine of the sacrament from those who were
apostles before him, but from the Lord Jesus Christ himself.  “_I
received of the Lord_ that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord
Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread: and when he
had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat; this is my body which
is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.  After the same manner
also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the New
Testament in my blood: this do ye as oft as ye drink it in remembrance of
me.”

Now, to those who are anxious to know how they ought to act, these twice
repeated words of Jesus surely give a simple answer.  Some persons think
it safer to abstain and wait; but is it not the safest thing simply to
obey the commands of Jesus?  To follow your own judgment, and to give way
to doubts and fears, can never be so safe as to throw yourself like a
little child at the feet of your Saviour, and there say, “Speak, Lord,
for thy servant heareth.”   You wish to be Christ’s disciple, so begin at
once to do what Christ commands.

II.  The NATURE.

The sacrament of the Lord’s Supper is,

(1.) _An act of remembrance_.  When our Lord gave the bread and wine to
his disciples, he said, “Do this in remembrance of me:” and when they are
given to us, we receive them in remembrance of Christ.  We know in common
life what a value we put upon any token of affection, on a book, ring, or
picture, which has been given as a memorial by some dear departed friend.
It becomes sacred in proportion to our love for those who gave it, and
when that love is strong we care far more for it than for other things of
incomparably greater value.  This act is a memorial or remembrance of
Christ; an outward sign to show how much we love him.  He is in heaven at
the right hand of God, so that none can see him; but, while the world
rejects him, we remember him; and when we receive that bread and wine, we
set to our seal that he is our soul’s beloved, that we live on his grace,
and can never forget his mercy.

But we do not merely show our remembrance of his person and character;
the communion is especially a remembrance of his death.  It was appointed
on the very night before his crucifixion, and the broken bread represents
his body crucified, while the wine is a figure of his blood so freely
shed for our sins.  “As often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup,
ye do show the Lord’s _death_ until he come.”—Verse 26.  Now, there never
was an act so full of love as that; the world’s whole history contains
nothing like it; the Son of God endured the curse of rebel man.  Nor did
anything ever done so closely affect our deepest interests; our whole
hope of eternal life depends on what he then endured for us.  Had he not
suffered in our stead, we had all surely perished; but now, because he
has borne that curse which we deserve, believing in him we are no less
surely safe.  Never, therefore, must that death of Christ be forgotten or
disregarded by the Christian; it is our hope, our life, and only source
of peace; and that man must have known little of a Saviour’s grace who
does not desire to “bind it as a sign upon his hand,” and to let it be
“as frontlets between his eyes.”  Now, when we take the bread and wine we
express before the world our thankful remembrance of his grace; we
declare before men the deep fidelity of our grateful love.  We may show
our gratitude either by words or actions.  This is an action to denote
the deep affection of those who live by faith, a visible utterance of
their unseen and unceasing gratitude.

(2.)  It is _a means of spiritual food and sustenance_.  The soul
requires to be fed as well as the body, and without food the one will die
quite as quickly as the other, for neither soul nor body has life in
itself.  And as the body lives by outward food, so the believing soul
feeds on Christ.  He is the living bread which came down from heaven, the
heavenly manna provided for his people throughout the wilderness.  “I am
the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this
bread he shall live for ever.”  Now, the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper
is a divinely appointed means whereby believers feed on Christ.  We do
not mean that there is anything particular in the bread or in the wine,
anything remarkable or mysterious in the elements received which conveys
a blessing, for they are nothing more than plain simple bread and wine,
which nourish the body and that only.  But when with the lips we receive
those elements in faith, the Holy Ghost within the heart is graciously
pleased to pour life into the soul.  According to the language of the
28th Article, “The body of Christ is given, taken, and eaten, in the
supper, only after an heavenly and spiritual manner.  And the mean
whereby the body of Christ is received and eaten in the Supper, is
faith.”

That there is no actual change in the bread and wine is perfectly plain
from the single fact, that they are always called “bread” and “wine” in
Scripture _after_ their consecration in the sacrament.  In this and the
preceding chapter there are no less than four passages in which the food
which communicants receive, is called by the simple name of “bread.”

      x. 17.  “We are all partakers of that _bread_.”
     xi. 26.  “As often as ye eat this _bread_.”
         27.  “Whosoever shall eat this _bread_.”
         28.  “So let him eat of that _bread_.”

And so also with the wine.  Our Lord said of it, _after_ the
consecration, (Matt. xxvi. 29,) “I will not drink any more of this _fruit
of the vine_ until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s
kingdom.”  The bread, therefore, is still bread, and the wine still
wine—unchanged in all respects; the same in substance, and the same in
property, as before their consecration to the Lord’s service in the
sacrament.  They are set apart for a holy use, and therefore should be
treated reverently, like the house of God itself.  But they are no more
changed in nature than were the stones and woodwork of the building, when
it was solemnly consecrated to be a church for the Lord.

What, then, is the meaning of our Lord’s words, “This is my body,” and
“This is my blood?”  That they did not mean that the bread and wine were
changed into body and blood is evident, for such an interpretation would
contradict the plain language of the Bible: and that they do mean, that
the bread and wine were signs, emblems, or figures of his body and blood,
is equally plain from the language of our Lord; for in ver. 25, we read,
“This cup is the New Testament in my blood.”  Now these words must be
figurative, for none suppose that the cup was changed into the New
Testament; and their only possible meaning is, that the wine in the cup
was a figure or emblem of the blood of the covenant.  So, also, must it
be with the bread.  The words are quite as plain and positive in one case
as in the other.  “This is my body,”—“This is the New Testament;” and as
they were spoken by the same person, on the same occasion, to the same
company, and with the same object, it is clear that they mean the same
thing, namely, that the bread is a figure of the body, as the wine is a
figure of the blood.

If a person were showing a gallery of pictures, he might say, “This is
St. Paul,” “This is St. Peter,” and “This is St. John;” and he would mean
thereby, that those pictures on the canvass were representations of the
persons whose names they bore.  So, again, when our Lord said, “I am the
vine,” and “I am the door,” he did not mean that he was a real vine, or a
real door, but that the vine and door were figures and emblems of his
offices.  So also in the Lord’s Supper, when he said, “This is my body,”
and “This is my blood,” he did not mean that the bread and wine were
changed into real flesh or real blood, but that they were signs and
emblems of his blessed work, of his body broken, and his blood so freely
shed for man.

It is not, therefore, from any mystical property in the bread and wine
themselves that we expect a blessing, but from the act of receiving them
in obedience and faith.  In the way of his judgments, we then wait on
Christ, and trust to him to nourish our souls with grace.  We do not
expect to feed in any literal, carnal, or material manner, but we do
expect, that while with the body we receive the bread in faith, our souls
will receive Christ; and when with the lips we drink the wine, the heart
will be made by the Holy Ghost partaker of his blood.  Thus, to hungering
and thirsting souls, the communion becomes inestimably precious.  When we
feel our weakness, we rejoice to come before him that we may be
strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; when we know,
that without Christ we must perish, we count it our highest joy to wait
on his love as he has told us, that the fainting soul may feed on him by
faith.  And he does strengthen and refresh the souls of his people; he
meets and communes with them from the mercy-seat; he grants to each the
needful grace, and oftentimes sends them back rejoicing to their homes,
and saying, “It has been good for me that I have been there.”

(3.) There is a third point of view in which the Lord’s Supper is
presented in the passage, viz., _as a foretaste of the marriage supper of
the Lamb_.  “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do
shew the Lord’s death _till he come_.”  The line of sacraments forms, as
it were, the long chain connecting the first and second advents, and each
celebration has a reference both to the present, past, and future; to the
present, for we cast the sins and burdens of the day before the footstool
of a present Advocate; to the past, for the heart is full with the
thankful recollection of his death; and to the future, for our present
delightful communion is a faint, but true image of the blessedness of
that glorious hour, when the whole company of God’s elect shall be
gathered in to the marriage supper of the Lamb.  The sacraments are very
peaceful, but they are not to last for ever; they are to be observed for
a given time, till the Lord come.  Then,

    “Faith will be sweetly lost in sight,
    And hope in full supreme delight
       And everlasting love.”

We now bow down to hold communion with Christ, but then we shall behold
him as he is, in all his love and all his majesty; we now meet with God’s
people in the affectionate sympathy of a common faith, but then we shall
reign with the vast multitude of God’s chosen saints in the triumphant
fellowship of a common glory.  And to those who long for the reality,
there is delightful encouragement in partaking of the figure.  They then
lay hold on the chain that reaches heaven; they take to themselves God’s
emblems, and receive them in faith as pledges and tokens of the final
fulfilment of his promises.

There is, therefore, every inducement to partake of this delightful
sacrament; and whether we regard its high authority, viz., the Lord’s
express command, or its sacred nature, as a service of remembrance, a
means of spiritual nourishment, and a foretaste of the marriage supper of
the Lamb, we may well wonder how any true believer can forego the
enjoyment of such a privilege.  But yet we must not suppose that the
simple act of coming to the Lord’s Supper can secure these blessings,
for, as we read in ver. 17, we may “come together, not for the better,
but for the worse.”  Nay, more, it is expressly declared, in ver. 29, “He
that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to
himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.”  These are solemn and most
important words; enough to startle inquirers, and to make all mere
professors tremble; nor can any man who fears God presume to read them
lightly.  They suggest two most important subjects of inquiry,—What do
they mean? and, To whom do they apply?

III.  WHAT DO THEY MEAN? OR, THE DANGER OF EATING AND DRINKING
UNWORTHILY.

In endeavouring to ascertain what the passage really means, our best
course will be to refer at once to the context; for, however valuable be
human explanations, there is no expositor of the Bible so good as the
Bible itself.  The word rendered “damnation” in the text, is translated
“judgment” in the margin of our Bibles, and for the following reason.
There are two sorts of judgments mentioned in the Scripture,—the
chastisement of God’s children, and the final punishment of the wicked.
Of these, the chastisement is laid on those whom God loves; “Whom the
Lord loveth he chasteneth” (Heb. xii. 6); but the final punishment is on
the unbelieving.  Chastisement is limited and proportioned to his
people’s strength, whereas the final punishment is an unmixed cup of
horror.  Chastisement is for the improvement and sanctification of those
who are to reign with Christ; the final punishment is for the vindication
of God’s righteous law.  And chastisement takes place here in the form of
sickness, suffering, and sorrow; whereas, the final punishment is in
eternal fire.  Now, it must be allowed that the word “damnation” conveys
the idea of this most awful and final punishment, and many minds have
been thereby unduly alarmed upon the subject.  But the context seems to
teach us that the leading idea in the apostle’s mind was chastisement for
he proceeds to say—“For this cause many are weak and sickly among you,
and many sleep.  For if we would judge ourselves we should not be judged.
But when we are judged we are chastened of the Lord that we should not be
condemned with the world.”  It is plain that he here speaks of
chastisement.  He says expressly, “we are chastened;” he describes it as
temporal affliction in this present life; and he teaches that it is sent
for the express purpose of saving us from final ruin, “that we should not
be condemned with the world.” {13}

This, then, we are bound to regard as the accurate and literal meaning of
the text; and, although there cannot be the slightest doubt that a man
may, by the repeated abuse of holy things, and by approaching the Lord’s
table in a worldly and carnal spirit, so sear and harden his conscience,
that he may be truly said to eat and drink his own damnation in the most
awful sense of the words, we venture to believe that such is not the
meaning of this present passage, but that it describes the chastening of
God’s children in this present life, not as the commencement of final
ruin, but as a correction sent in mercy to prevent their falling into the
irrecoverable condemnation of the wicked.

But whatever be the character of the judgments, the awakened conscience
must tremble at the thought of “eating and drinking unworthily.”  To be
“guilty of the body and blood of the Lord,” is a sin so grievous, that if
there were no judgment of any kind connected with it, the broken heart
must shudder at the possibility of its heinous guilt.  If there be any
love of Christ in our souls, we shall not require the fear of judgment to
awaken grief and horror at the most distant thoughts of such a sin.
Converted men think more of sins than punishments.

We must inquire, therefore,

IV.  TO WHAT CHARACTERS THE WORDS APPLY?

For the answer to this question we must again refer to the passage
itself, and we shall find that,

(1.) They apply to those who are living in _strife and schism_.  As
members of the Church of Christ, we are children in God’s family, and at
the Lord’s communion we meet as brethren around the Father’s table.  It
is plain, therefore, that love should reign there.  We should be knit to
each other in holy love, as each one is knit to Christ by faith; and
whoever breaks the bond of love dishonours Christ, and comes unworthily
to the communion.  Nor is this said on man’s authority, for this was one
of the very sins committed and condemned at Corinth.  “For first of all,”
says St. Paul, v. 18, “when ye come together in the church, I hear that
there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it.”  Of these
divisions it is important to remark that they were not such as led to any
outward and visible separation, for they came together to the same
church, and knelt together at the same table; but they did not love each
other; there was strife and party temper amongst them; an inward spirit
of unkindness combined with the outward act of love; and so they came
together not for the better but for the worse.  Here, therefore, we have
a simple answer for inquirers.  If they are living in strife or enmity,
harbouring the spirit of revenge, unable to forgive some offending
brother, or giving way to a party spirit, they will then eat and drink
unworthily, and they had better refrain till they can obey their master’s
precept—“First be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy
gift.”

(2.) A second character to which the words apply is the man who can
receive the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper _without regard to the sacred
nature of the service_.  Such characters are clearly described in v. 20,
21:—“When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat
the Lord’s Supper.  For in eating every one taketh before other his own
supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken.”  In the present day
it is quite impossible that any person should commit the actual sin here
described.  The mode in which the sacrament is administered and the laws
of society alike prevent all risk of such an outrage.  But the state of
heart which led to it is perfectly possible, and, rightly to understand
the meaning of the passage, we must consider not so much the outward
acts, which were peculiar to the Corinthians, as the inward motives and
dispositions, which by nature may be common to us all.  Now these are
described in ver. 29:—“Not discerning the Lord’s body.”  They ate and
drank without regarding the deep solemnity of the holy sacrifice which
the communion was appointed to commemorate; nor did they come there with
any desire, as hungering and thirsting souls, to feed upon their Saviour
by faith.  They lost sight of his grace and sufferings in the pursuit of
their own ends, and the gratification of their own appetites.  When,
therefore, persons come to the Lord’s table in a light, frivolous, or
careless spirit; either that they may not appear less religious than
their companions; or because it is the habit of the family, the wish of
their masters, or a becoming act in their rank and station; but without
any deep feeling of the love and work of Christ Jesus; there is too much
reason to fear that the text applies in all its awful force to them.

And this suggests the extreme caution with which individuals should be
urged to become communicants.  Masters will, sometimes, show great zeal
in persuading servants to attend the sacrament, and parents will bring
their children thither as a matter of course, on their attainment of a
certain age.  Yet such children or servants may be unconverted persons,
not discerning the Lord’s body; in danger, therefore, of coming
unworthily to the table.  Begin, therefore, at the right end, and strive
first for their conversion to Christ.

(3.) So, also, it applies to those what are _living in presumptuous
sin_,—drunkards, fornicators, unclean persons, dishonest men in trade,
and such like.  By allowing themselves in such practices, they crucify to
themselves the Son of God afresh, and put Him to an open shame.  In
coming to his table they profess that they know him, but in the allowance
of their lust they by works deny him.  In coming, therefore, to the
Lord’s table, they do but dishonour his holy name; nor can we avoid the
sad conclusion that they come there unworthily, and according to the
language of the text, “are guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.”  We
dare not, therefore, advise such characters to become communicants, for
they cannot do so without imminent peril to their soul.  According to the
language of our Church, “If any of you be a blasphemer of God, an
hinderer or slanderer of his word, an adulterer, or be in malice, or
envy, or in any other grievous crime, repent you of your sins, or else
come not to that holy table.”

But we must not here leave the case of those unhappy men.  They cannot
come worthily to the communion.  For what, then, are they worthy?  To
pray? to die? to appear before the Lord at his coming?  How will that
angry temper, or that darling sin, appear before the heart-searching God
of Glory?  Will it be less deadly then than now?  If it now excludes you
from his communion, how will it then fare with you in his kingdom?  If ye
be now so in love with sin that ye cannot commemorate redemption, what
interest do ye suppose ye have in Christ’s atonement?  If ye know so
little of the cross of Christ, what can ye expect in his coming kingdom?
We do not say that none can be saved who do not attend the Sacrament of
the Lord’s Supper; but we do say, without the smallest hesitation, that
none will be saved who are found so wedded to their sins that they cannot
receive it worthily.

But there are many tender consciences in the Church of Christ, and many
hopeful persons who are apt to write hard things against themselves.
Such persons will sometimes so deeply feel the solemnity of the warning,
that they tremble at the thoughts of communion, and because they see in
themselves great defects, are afraid lest possibly they should come
unworthily to that sacred feast.  Such a conscientious spirit must be
respected greatly, and treated tenderly; it is much more hopeful than
when persons regard the thing without a fear.  It is, important, however,
to avoid a mistaken dread, and great care is needful lest such characters
should be debarred from that which is designed for their especial
benefit.  It may be well, therefore, to examine a few of those cases to
which the words are sometimes applied in practice, though not in
Scripture.

(1.) They do not apply to persons _actively engaged in the business of
life_.  It has pleased God to place us in a world in which we are
surrounded by various cares and duties.  Some are in business, and have
their minds constantly occupied by its management; some are servants, and
required to work hard throughout the week; and others have so much to do
in the maintenance and management of their families, that their hands are
completely full, and their thoughts engrossed by the necessary
engagements of the day.  In such cases persons often feel that they had
rather wait until they are more at leisure.  They have little time for
meditation; they find that their pursuits tend to make their minds
secular, causes of irritation frequently arise, and they are led, it may
be, into conduct which they fear might be unbecoming the communicant of
the Lord.  They, therefore, postpone the communion in the hope of greater
leisure; the usual result of which postponement is, that one delay
follows another till the whole desire becomes extinct within the soul.
The servant, for example, waits till she is settled; she then waits again
till she is less harassed with a small and increasing family; and then
she waits till freed from the cares of providing for their entrance into
life; till at length the infirmities of old age creep rapidly upon her,
and she goes to her grave having spent her whole life in waiting.  Now
all this waiting is founded on a wrong principle,—a principle often
strengthened by a misunderstanding of the words of St. Paul.  If it were
wrong to attend to life’s engagements, there would then be some force in
the objection.  But the Scripture says that diligence in business as a
duty, “Not slothful in business, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.”
It is plain, therefore, that attention to a lawful calling can form no
barrier to the means of grace.  Thus many of the holiest saints of God
have been engaged in active life.  Enoch had his family; Moses was the
leader of Israel; and David had the charge of a nation’s government.
There, is, we know, a tendency in the cares of this world and the
deceitfulness of riches to choke the word, that it becometh unfruitful.
But this should rather draw a man to the means of grace than keep him
from them.  If we are exposed to great temptation, then we need great
strength; and if harassed by the world’s influence, we need the more
peculiar help, that we may not be infected by its spirit.  The question,
therefore, comes to this, Do you intend to abandon yourself to the spirit
of the world?  If you do, by all means abstain from the communion.  But
if it is your heart’s desire, in the midst of the world, to walk with
God; then neglect no means of seeking him, but in the way of his
judgments wait on him, that he may give you grace to overcome, and by his
own mighty Spirit set you free from its snares.

(2.) The words of St. Paul do not apply to _young and inexperienced
believers_.  There is sometimes a tendency in devoted persons to
discourage beginners, and hold them back from the communion until they
reach a certain point in spiritual attainment; until, for example, they
are able to recognise a full and experimental knowledge of the great
principles of the Gospel.  So young Christians of a tender spirit are
often ready to fall in with such advice; and because they know they would
come, to a certain extent, ignorantly, they fear they might therefore
come unworthily to the sacrament.  What, then, is the most scriptural
course for such persons to pursue?  Our Lord’s command says plainly,
“Come;” and we must not allow his supreme authority to be checked or
impeded by any artificial standard of our own creation.  Especially in
this instance, when we have his example to illustrate his command.  For
consider those to whom he himself administered the first communion.
There was not in the whole company one advanced believer.  Peter was then
so ignorant of the Gospel, that he had just dissuaded him from the cross,
and so weak a follower, that that same night he denied him thrice.
Thomas knew so little, that he could not believe the resurrection, even
when he saw his risen Lord; and the other apostles were still so far from
what they afterwards became, that, without one single exception, they all
forsook him and fled.  Do not these facts prove clearly that he did not
intend his sacrament for advanced believers _only_? and that none must
check the first yearnings after better things?  It is milk for babes as
well as strong meat for those who are of full age; and by deterring
beginners, we may rob them of the portion which God has provided for
their growth in grace.  If we do not perceive a full knowledge of the
Gospel, let us at least rejoice in the desire to do the Saviour’s will;
and let us never forget that the desired knowledge is more likely to be
gained in obedience than neglect.  And if there be any poor and
uninstructed person, who is no scholar, and has little knowledge even of
the things of God, who has still the desire to act as Christ appointed,
let not such an one be for a moment discouraged by his ignorance; the
feast is for him; the invitation to him; and the welcome sure when he
kneels as a guest at the Father’s table.

(3.) Still less do the words apply to the person of _tender conscience_,
_who knows and mourns the burden of his sin_.  There are those in the
Church of Christ whose earnest desire it is to be God’s servants, but who
are so conscious of deep corruption, that they can scarcely hope they
have an interest in their Saviour, and can therefore scarcely venture on
the enjoyment of his sacrament.  They have felt their sin, but their
sorrow is that they have not felt it more; they hope they believe, but
are obliged to confess their unbelief; they have known something of
repentance, but yet it has been so feeble, that they can scarcely think
it real; and the longing of their soul has been fixed upon their Lord;
but still there has been such apathy and coldness, that they cannot
presume to call that longing by the holy name of love.  Now, how should
such persons act?  Should they wait till their repentance has become
deeper, their faith stronger, and their love more worthy of a Saviour’s
grace? or should they come at once as poor, guilty, helpless creatures,
and so cast themselves for a full and free salvation before the Lamb of
God?  The question involves the whole doctrine of Christ’s Gospel.  If he
had required preparatory fitness before the sinner could be pardoned
through his blood, then we must have answered, “Wait till you are
better.”  But since, on the other hand, he grants a pardon first, and
then adds holiness as its consequence; since the pardon promised under
the Gospel is immediate and free, granted because Christ Jesus was the
sinner’s perfect substitute upon the cross, and because the work he then
wrought was perfect, it follows thence as the sure and certain
consequence, that the broken-hearted sinner must not wait till he is
better; but as he is, and without a moment’s delay, must throw himself
before an All-sufficient Saviour, and cry, “Heal me, O Lord, and I shall
be healed; save me, and I shall be saved: for thou art my praise.”

It forms the very essence of the Gospel; that as “they that are whole
need not a physician, but they that are sick,” so Christ “came not to
call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”  As sinners, therefore,
we trust his grace, and as sinners come to his communion, longing for
holiness, but yet not waiting till we gain it; striving to love him
better, and therefore not standing distant from his mercy-seat, but
rather keeping close to it, that we may gain a fuller knowledge of his
love; earnestly praying for a greater fulness and strength of faith; but
meanwhile commemorating his work with what we have, in the earnest and
humble hope that he may perfect that which is lacking, and fulfil the
work of faith with power.

There is a great difference between coming unworthily and being unworthy
to come.  The pharisee and publican were both unworthy; but the pharisee
alone went unworthily to the temple.  The halt and the lame and the
blind, who were gathered out from the streets of the city, were all
unworthy of the marriage supper; but the man without the wedding garment
was the only one who sat down unworthily.  So the noblest saint that ever
joined in heaven’s happy hymn, was utterly unworthy of the blessed feast
of his Redeemer’s love, and could best appreciate the heart-stirring
language of our Liturgy,—“We are not worthy so much as to gather up the
crumbs under thy table;” but the careless man, who knows nothing of the
broken heart, who is living in strife, and does not discern the Lord’s
body, he is the person that comes unworthily.  If this be your character,
stay not to the communion, but go home and repent.  But if, on the other
hand, you know your sin, and hate it; if you know your Saviour, and long
to love him; if you are looking to him as your only hope of life eternal;
then, as a guilty sinner redeemed by blood, remain, believe, rejoice,
obey; and may the God of all grace fill your heart with overflowing
peace!

                                * * * * *

   Just as I am—without one plea,
   But that thy blood was shed for me,
   And that thou bid’st me come to thee,
      O Lamb of God, I come!

   Just as I am—and waiting not
   To rid my soul of one dark blot,
   To thee, whose blood can cleanse each spot,
      O Lamb of God, I come!

   Just as I am—though tossed about
   With many a conflict—many a doubt;
   “Fightings within, and fears without,”
      O Lamb of God, I come!

   Just as I am—poor, wretched, blind,
   Sight, riches, healing of the mind,
   Yea, all I need in thee to find,
      O Lamb of God, I come!

   Just as I am—thou wilt receive,
   Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve,
   Because thy promise I believe,
      O Lamb of God, I come!

   Just as I am—thy love unknown
   Has broken every barrier down;
   Now to be thine, yea, thine alone,
      O Lamb of God, I come!

                                * * * * *

              Macintosh, Printer, Great New-street, London.



FOOTNOTES


{4}  The sixth chapter of St. John is not mentioned in the list, because,
although it contains a description of the inward and spiritual grace, of
which the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper is a sign and mean, it cannot
refer to the sacrament itself; for that was not appointed when the words
were spoken; and the persons our Lord was addressing were unconverted and
unbaptized Jews, who were following him simply for the loaves and fishes.
It would, indeed, have been unintelligible, had he said to such
characters, at such a time, “Except ye receive the sacrament, ye have no
life in you.”  The passage refers, therefore, to the spiritual grace, and
not to the outward sign—to the feeding upon our blessed Lord by faith,
and not to the act of communion in the sacrament.

{13}  This is yet more evident in the Greek than in the English.  The
word for chastisement is κρῖμα, that for final judgment κατάκριμα.  But
the word in ver. 29 is κρῖμα, and the only verse in which κατάκριμα, or
its equivalent verb occurs, is the latter part of the 32d.





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