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thus ignorant, they were reckoned among the saints, and enjoyed communion with the church of God, It is not their ignorance, therefore, which the Apostle makes the ground of his complaint against them, and of the warning contained in the text ; but their sinning against God, by the neglect or abuse of the light, however small, already in their possession. Ignorance, however, if it result from the neglect of those means of instruction which God has afforded us, is most highly criminal ; and, if obstinately persisted in, without repentance and without reformation, renders a man, without doubt, an unworthy partaker of the Supper of the Lord.
Thirdly, Remains of sin in the heart are not inconsistent with a worthy approach to the Lord's table. On this head, few words are necessary,
if we recal to mind the language of the beloved disciple :-" If we say, that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us ; "--words approved by the confession of every Christian in this life, however great may be the degree of his attainment in holiness. Perfection lies not on this side the grave. The best men have many internal corruptions to struggle with, from which nothing but death will free them : and how many of those corruptious may lurk in the heart which has been touched by Divine Grace, it is impossible for man to determine. The remains of sin, therefore, in the breast of him who sincerely grieves for its past influence, and faithfully prays and strives against its future dominion over him, are no obstacle to his worthily partaking of the Lord's Supper.
I proceed now to consider, more directly, in what an unworthy participation of the Lord's Supper consists. ** First, It consists in using this ordinance with an entire ignorance of its proper spirit and meaning. Its grand design is to recal to our remembrance the sufferings, and death of our Saviour, as a propitiatory sacrifice for the sins of the world. The bread broken, and the wine poured out, are symbols very significant of his' body broken, and his blood shed, for our redemption from the curse of the law. Indeed, the celebration of this ordinance speaks a language most impressive and affecting-a language which ought to confound and overwhelm those who deny the doctrine of the propitiatory atonement of Christ, and who rely upon their own merits for acceptance with God. What shall we say to declarations like the following ? " Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us"_" Christ hath loved us, and given himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God, for a sweet smelling savour"_" He died for our sins"_“In whom we have redemption, through his blood, the forgiveness of sins”—“ The blood of Christ cleanseth us from all sin." Thus speaks the church, whenever in faith she draws nigh to the table of her Lord. And what, on the other hand, says her spiritual Head ? “ Take, eat ; this is my body, which is broken for you. This do in remembrance of me. This is my blood of the New Testament, which is shed for you and for many for the remission of sins. Drink ye all of it.
This do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me."
With such plain declarations sounding in his ears, he who can approach and receive the testimonials of our Saviour's dying love, entirely ignorant of their true spirit and meaning, or, as is sometimes the case, wilfully perverting them—such an one, I say, assuredly eateth and drinketh unworthily, not discerning the Lord's body.
Secondly, He also eateth and drinketh unworthily, who approaches this sacred ordinance with an impenitent or unforgiving spirit. The very
celebration of this ordinance is a confession of sin : for it shews forth the Lord's death; and all who engage in it do by their conduct declare, that their past transgressions have exposed them to the just displeasure of God, and that in Christ alone they have “ redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.”.
Now, what can be thought of the piety, nay, even of the sincerity, of that man who dares to make this confession of his guilt, and yet repents not of all his transgressions ? He touches with his unballowed hand the sacred symbols of the Lord's death; he receives them into his polluted lips; he makes an outward show of sorrow and contrition of heart for all his past offer.ces; yet, he cherishes in his breast some secret and easily besetting sin; makes a compromise with the inward compunctions of conscience, or entirely silences them; and raises not even a sigh to God for deliverance from this
miserable and dangerous bondage. As he repents not of his own trespasses, neither does he forgive those of his fellow-men. He indulges some lurking hatred some coldness towards a friend, or some enmity to a rival--while he professes to cast himself upon the mere mercy of God, through Jesus Christ. What impiety ! what insincerity ! Surely such an one eateth and drinketh unworthily, not discerning the Lord's body.
Thirdly, he also eateth and drinketh unworthily, who approaches this ordinance without a cordial faith in Christ. If this ordinance significantly shadows forth the sufferings and death of Christ ; if the great Master of assemblies invites all to this feast of love with the solemn declaration, “ This is my body, which is broken for you-This is iny blood, which is shed for you and for many,
for the remission of sins ;" if those who surround the table of their dying Lord do, by this act, publicly and solemnly profess themselves to be his disciples ; if they thus express their entire reliance
his merits alone for acceptance with God ; if they thus renew their covenant with the Great Head of the church, and pledge themselves more faithfully in future to espouse his cause, and obey his precepts : if such be the true import of this sacred transaction, then who can take a part in it without a cordial faith in Jesus Christ, and yet be guiltless ? Who that cherishes not some humble hope of bis acceptance in the beloved, although this hope may be clouded with occasional doubts and fears ; who
that relies at all on his own merits, for the pardoning mercy of God, and trusts not, entirely and without reserve, to the all-sufficient righteousness of Christ ; who that cannot say with some good degree of sincerity, “Lord, in thee I believe, help thou mine unbelief :" who that is thus faithless can eat the Gospel passover, and not be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord ?
II. Having thus attempted to ascertain the nature of the offence against which we are cautioned in the text, let us, in the second place, consider what will be the awful consequence of this offence : “ For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself."
Here it is necessary to observe, that the word in the original Greek, which our translators have rendered “ damnation," does not in itself convey the idea of future and eternal punishment. It means punishment simply, or some judgment of God inflicted upon an offender, leaving it still indeterminate, whether the punishment is to take place in this life or in the next. The true import of this word, then, must always be determined by attending to the circumstances under which it is used. And what were the circumstances under which Paul addressed the Corinthian Christians ? They had most grossly profaned the celebration of the Lord's Supper. Their wickedness had drawn down upon them the judgments of God. He had taken from them the influences of his sanctifying Spirit. He