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ble kingdom, with power to open and shut it, it becomes them to examine persons, applying to be received to the Lord's Supper, to enable them to form a judgment whether they possess or not the requisite qualifications.
But it is not enough for those who approach the Lord's table, to be examined by the proper authority in the church, and to be judged by them qualified for this ordinance ; they ought also, carefully to examine themselves. Self-examination is at all times an important duty; but more especially as a preparative for the Lord's Supper. The exhortation of the apostle, “ examine yourselves, whether
ye be in the faith ; prove your own selves ;" 2 Cor. xiii. 5, is a duty which is daily binding, and which should daily be performed; but when we are about to approach the Lord's table, we are peculiarly called to this duty; and then our self-examination should be peculiarly strict, as the apostle exhorts in our text, “ Let a man examine himself and so let him eat of that bread and drink of that cup." In general, persons ought carefully to examine themselves. whether they are christians. To decide, in some good measure, with satisfaction to themselves, this all-important question, they ought carefully and impartially to compare their character with that of the true christian, as drawn in the word of God; and according as they agree or disagree, draw the conclusion respecting their own character.
The particular points on which they ought especially to examine themselves, we have enumerated in our Catechism, in the answer already cited. These points are, their knowledge to discern the Lord's body, their faith to feed upon him, their repentance, their love, and their new obedience. On each of these points, we ought in our preparation for the Lord's Supper, carefully to examine ourselves : because, they who have these graces are christians, and therefore are habitually prepared for the ordinance ; and also because these are the graces which ought more especially to be called into exercise in this ordinance. Let us for a few moments attend more particularly to each of these points.
1. We ought to examine ourselves as to our knowledge to discern the Lord's body. This was the great reason which the apostle gave, why the Corinthians were so
guilty in their celebration of the Lord's Supper; they did not discern the Lord's body. They were iguorant of the spiritual signification of the ordinance, and looking upon it as a common meal, they did not through the signifii ant elements of bread and wine, discern the Lord's body thereby signified. They were, neither doctrinally nor experimentally, acquainted with the nature of this ordinance. It becomes us therefore, previous to our coming to the Lord's Supper, to examine ourselves, as to our knowledge of the nature of the ordinance, and labour to obtain correct views on this subject, and to have these views clearly in our minds. In this knowledge we have reason to fear, many communicants are greatly deficient. And it is difficult to conceive, how persons, who are thus ignorant, can derive any benefit from the ordinance. Yea, coming to the ordinance, while totally ignorant of its nature, design and use, is a profanation of it, for which the Corinthians were severely reproved by the apostle. Examine yourselves therefore my brethren as to your knowledge to discern the Lord's bodyyour knowledge of the nature of the ordinance, the plan of salvation through Christ therein represented, and the manner in which he is to be received and fed upon; and further, examine yourselves, whether you approve of the truths taught in this ordinance. This latier is that experimental knowledge which is necessary to an experimental discernment of the Lord's body, without which, all doctrinal knowledge will be in vain.
2. We ought to examine ourselves as to our faith to feed upon Christ. The great use of this ordinance to the christian is, to increase and strengthen his graces. Christ in this ordinance is offered as the food of the soul. Now faith is that grace, by which the soul, in this ordinance, looks through the external signs, and contemplates the things signified, and receives and applies Christ and his benefits. We ought therefore to examine ourselves, whether we have a real, gospel faith ; for without this we cannot be christians, nor have any right to this ordinance; and without this we cannot feed spiritually upon Christ, nor receive any benefit in the ordinance. And we ought to examnine, not only whether we have a true faith, but al. so, whether this faith be in lively exercise ; and labour to have it in such exercise, that we may be enabled to
feed on Christ, to our spiritual nourishment and growth in grace.
3. We ought in coming to this ordinance, to examine ourselves as to our repentance. Repentance also is necessary to the christian character : For except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish;" Luk. xiii. 5. And repentance is a grace, in the exercise of which, the christian ought daily to live, because he daily comes short of his duty and commits sin. But more especially should this grace be exercised at the table of the Lord. For the scene which is here exhibited is intended to fill us with sorrow for sin, with humility under a sense of it, and with a hatred of it, and to excite and strengthen our resolutions against it. We ought therefore to come to the table of the Lord, in the exercise of repentance, and to examine ourselves that we may know, whether we have this essential grace of the cbristian, and whether it be in lively exercise, and to labour to have it in such exercise, that while by faith we look on him whom we have pierced, we may mourn.
4. We ought to examine ourselves as to our love, both to God and the brethren. For love in both these senses, is essential to the christian character, and is a grace which must be exercised in the right reception of this ordinance. The Lord's Supper is a memorial of Christ, and he ought to be remembered with sincere and supreme love. Let us therefore examine ourselves, whether we do truly love Christ; and whether our love be warm, or languid; and labour to have it in lively exercise that we may remember him with raised affections. Further the Lord's Supper is the communion of saints, and is intended to promote brotherly love. We ought therefore to examine ourselves as to our love to the brethren ; for without this we cannot be christians, as we read,he that loveth not his brother, whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen ?" 1. John iy. 20. And if we have that brotherly love, which is essential to the christian character, we will be ready to forgive injuries : for Christ hath told us, expressly, “ If ye forgive not men their tresspasses, neither will your father forgive your tresspasses ;' Mat. vi. 15. And further, without this brotherly love and spirit of forgiveness, we cannot be fit for the communion of saints.
5. We ought to examine ourselves as to our new obedience, “ If ye love me (said Christ) keep my commandments. If a man love me he will keep my words;" John xiv. 15, 23. “ Follow holiness (said an Apostle) without which no man shall see the Lord ;" Heb. xi. 14. New obedience is an essential trait of the christian character. Let us therefore examine ourselves, whether we walk habitually in the ways of Christ's commandments ; let us be humbled that we live no more to his glory; and let us come to his table resolved to live more entirely devoted to his service.
Thus, I have briefly pointed out, wherein we should examine ourselves previous to our approaching the table of the Lord.
This duty of self-examination is enforced in our text, by most solemn considerations, viz. the guilt and danger of unworthily partaking. The guilt we have in the first verse of our text. “ Whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.” Such persons, as it were, crucify Christ afresh, and are chargeable with a guilt, similar to that of those, who broke his body and shed his blood upon the cross.
The danger of unworthily communicating is pointed out in the last verse of our text, in language sufficient to make us examine diligently, and be exceedingly careful how we approach this holy ordinance. 66 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself.” Let us here briefly examine the import of this part of our text. The word here translated damnation, signifies judgment and condemnation. It is the same word in the original, in this verse, as in the last verse of this chapter, where it is rendered condemnation. The word therefore signifies nothing more than the judgment or condemnation merited by every sin, and which may be averted by repentance. It does not import, as some tender consciences have supposed, that the siu of unworthily communicating is unpardonable, and that persons thereby seal their damnation. For we know that some of those who were guilty of the murder of Christ were afterwards pardoned ; and most assuredly the sin of being guilty of the body and blood of Christ in the ordinance, cannot be greater, nor so great, as the sin of shedding his real blood. Besides by the damnation or judgment of which the apostle here spake, we have reason to believe he meant temporal judgments : for be immediately added, “ for this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep;" which is generally understood to mean that the Lord had sent sickness and mortality among the Corinthians for their profanations of the Lord's Supper. And further in a following verse we read, “ When we are judged we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be rondemned with the world." By which is evidently meant, that these temporal judgments were sent upon them by the Lord, to bring them to repentance, that they might not be finally condemned, but saved.
But still, although the sin of unworthily receiving the Lord's Supper is not unpardonable, it is a great sin, and will issue in our final and aggravated condemnation and destruction, unless repented of. We ought therefore most carefully to examine ourselves, that we may not be guilty of this sin, or come under this condemnation. And I would further observe that this solemn declaration was not placed here, to deter from this ordinance, the humble soul, who, filled with a sense of his unworthiness, and trembling, lest he may approach in an improper manner, sCircely dare come; but it was intended to deter the sumptuous and profane, and excite all to a careful selfexamination.
You have heard, my brethren, who have a right to come to the ordinance of the Lord's Supper, viz. the christian after a careful self-examination. evidences that you are christians, and have you been endeavouring by a careful self-examination to satisfy yourselves on this subject, and to call forth your graces into lively exercise ? Come then to the Supper of the Lord. Have you knowledge to discern the Lorl's body? Do you understand the nature of this ordinance ? Have you an approving knowledge of its spiritual signification ? Have you faith to feed upon Christ? Have you repented of all your sins ? Do you love Christ, sincerely and supremely? Do you love the brethren? Do you not entertain enmity in your hearts against any ? Have you from your hearts forgiven all who have injured you? Are you walking in new obedience ? Have you been engaged in endeavouring to