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had afflicted them with disease and death. This was the damnation, or punishment, which they were actually suffering, when Paul wrote to them. He wished to shew them the connexion between the punishment and their guilt, and to make them tremble lest a perseverance in wickedness should expose them to the more severe and awful rebukes of Heaven. Hence he writes—" For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation (or punishment) to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. For this cause, many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep” (or die). As if he had said “ Your guilt, o Corinthians ! in the profanation of the Lord's Supper, is the cause of your suffering. Be persuaded, by the terrors of the Lord, to return unto him with sincere and hearty repentance, lest he chastise you with more terrible temporal judgments ; lest he withdraw from you, for ever, the restraint of his grace, and thus abandon you to the necessary and just consequences of your guilt, eternal and irremediable destruction."
From all this we may gather, that an unworthy participation of the Lord's Supper does not, like the unpardonable sin against the Holy Ghost, inev. itably expose men to eternal perdition. If speedily and sincerely repented of—if washed out by the application of faith at the Throne of Grace, through the atoning blood of Christ-it will be forgiven. Still it is a crime of the deepest dye ; and he who commits it will call down upon himself the anger
of an offended God. Such was its character and consequences among the Corinthian Christians, and such they will always be. He that eateth and drinketh unworthily at the Lord's Supper, and persisteth in his guilt, may not, perhaps, suffer any immediate temporal calamity. He may be “ in great power, spreading himself like a green bay tree," and flourishing in the sunshine of worldly prosperity. But his punishment is not the less awful, because it is hid from the human eye. He is imitating him who supped with his Lord, and then treacherously betrayed him. He is hardening his own heart by the vilest insincerity. He is destroying the efficacy upon his soul of one of the most instructive, and soothing, and animating ordinances of religion. He is virtually denying Christ, while he professes to serve him ; and by thus crucifying the Son of God afresh, and putting him to an open shame, he is in constant hazard of falling into that state from which it is impossible to be renewed again unto repentance.
Thus it appears that an unworthy participation of the Lord's Supper, if it do not at first expose men to inevitable and eternal perdition, will, if persisted in, hasten on, and be finally followed by, this awful consequence. Our text, therefore, although it ought not, when rightly understood, to fill the weak and timid, yet believing, disciple of Christ, with needless scruple and alarm, still, on the other hand, bolds forth a most solemn warning to the hypocritical professor of religion; and to that Christian,
also, wbo so far declines from the service of his Divine Master, as to approach the memorials of his dying love with an ignorance of their proper and important meaning, with sin that is not repented of, with an unforgiving spirit, or with a selfrighteous and unbelieving heart.
Lest this should be our unhappy case, it becomes us, my brethren, to institute a strict inquiry into the state of our own souls, and to implore Almighty God, that he would " search us, and know our hearts ;" that he would " try us, and know our thoughts, and see if there be any wicked way in us, and lead us in the way everlasting.” It becomes us ever to bear in mind the solemn warning of our text; to remember the awful declension and suffering condition of the Corinthian Christians; and to fear lest we“ fall after the same example of unbelief.” “God is just who taketh vengeance.” He hath said unto the wicked, “ What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth ?” He hath said that the “hope of the hypocrite.... shall be cut off,” and that his trust shall be " a spider's web." Let us, then, examine ourselves, lest, eating and drinking unworthily, we become “ guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.” Are we ignorant of, or do we pervert, the true spirit and meaning of the Lord's Supper? Do we approach this sacred ordinance with an impenitent or unforgiving spirit ? Do
we receive the testimonials of our Saviour's dying love, without a cordial faith in him, and an entire reliance upon his merits alone, for acceptance with God ?- These are questions which conscience alone can answer. If its testimony be against us, it behoves us to remember from whence we are fallen, and to repent ; to turn unto the Lord with all the heart, with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning ; and to supplicate the aids of his grace, that we may be delivered from the condemnation of such as profane his holy ordinances.
If, on the other hand, the testimony of our conscience is, that “in simplicity and godly sincerity ; with some humble hope of having been renewed in the temper of our minds; with some spiritual understanding of what is signified by the symbols of the Lord's Supper, we desire to approach its affecting solemnities as an expression of attachment to their Author, and of entire reliance on his merits; then let us feel encouragement and consolation. We may have occasional doubts and fears ; our views of the doctrines of religion may be imperfect : we may discover remains of sin in our hearts; but these alone are not obstacles in the way of a worthy participation of the Lord's Supper. They prove, indeed, our lukewarmness and our guilt ; they call for sincere and hearty repentance; they should teach us to be humble before God. But if thus penitent and humble, we need not hesitate to celebrate the dying love of Him who is the