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would all, like Judas, betray me, and my cause, when they meet with a suitable temptation; to make men hope that I may be deceived, and pleased with an outward profession, with a formal visit to my house, or coming to my table as a friend, when, at the same time, they neither respect my person, nor obey my commands.
Now, that this is what our Lord may justly say, nay, what He will say, to all those Christians who do not live answerable to the means of grace His goodness affords them, is very plain from His own words: “Then shall ye begin to say, Luke 13. We have eaten and drunk in Thy presence. But He shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence you are ; depart from me, ye workers of iniquity. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out.”
VII. This is the account of Judas, and of those that imitate him, and this their portion.
Let us cast our eyes upon that Master whom he so unworthily betrayed. And this Master was the LORD JESUS Christ, who came down from heaven, to teach men how to please God, and how to be for ever happy. And though He was the Son of God, yet He took upon Him the nature of man, that He might more freely converse with men, and convince them of the mere vanity of this world, when compared with that happiness, which, by the favour of God, they might attain in the next. He first convinced His own disciples, that He came from God, by miracles which none but God can do ; then He shewed them in what true blessedness consisted. He gave them rules of holy living; how to walk so as to please God; and by His own blessed example, He shewed them what was true piety, and to what a pitch of virtue men might attain, assisted by the grace of God.
And now, it being decreed from eternity, that man, having sinned, should not be pardoned and restored to God's favour, but by a sacrifice worthy of God, Jesus Christ (such was His love for men) was willing to become this sacrifice. But before His death, (that this instance of his love might never be forgotten,) He appointed that ordinance which we call the Lord's Supper, to which none, at their peril, should come, but such
SERM. as were, and sincerely purposed to continue, His faithful
Judas was the first example of profaning that holy ordi[1 Cor. 11. nance, and very dreadful was his punishment. St. Paul tells 30.]
us, that the Corinthians, many of them, smarted for the same fault. And I have made choice of these awakening words of Christ, “Behold the hand of him that betrayeth Me is with Me on the table,” to deter all such as would come to the Lord's Table merely out of custom, without examining themselves; as St. Paul directs all Christians to do, who would not draw down God's judgments upon their heads.
And this may be done, and acceptably too, by the most unlearned Christian; otherwise it would not be a duty.
Every Christian knows, for example, where he has done amiss; and he knows too, whether he has taken pains to reform. Every Christian, upon due examination, can tell, whether he has kept the vows he made when he was last at the Lord's Table; and he knows that if he has not, there
will now be need of a better preparation. (1 Cor. 11. By this ordinance we do shew the Lora's death till He come ; 26.]
that is, till He come to judgment.
Now, every Christian can tell whether he orders his life so as to have reasonable hopes of mercy at that great day ; otherwise the Lord's Supper must needs be an occasion of sorrow, as well as guilt. And a man must go with a sad heart to that table, where he must make those vows which he knows he does not design to keep. Lastly; every Christian knows, that when we go to the Lord's Table, our duty is, to give up ourselves to God, as we did at our baptism, to resolve to live so as becomes the Gospel of Christ, and to call ourselves to an account whether we do so or not. He that does not do this goes rashly and unworthily to the Lord's Table, and has reason to fear the consequence; since he abuses that means, which, of all others, was designed to secure us in the fear of God, and in His favour.
VIII. I have not, good Christians, set this history before you to affright you, or to drive you from the Lord's Table,
but to persuade you to come, as Christians ought to do. (Luke 22. First, in obedience to the command of Christ, “Do this in 19.]
remembrance of Me."
Secondly, out of a sense of your own wants, and to obtain those graces which are necessary to your salvation.
Thirdly, with full purposes of amending where you have done amiss.
And, fourthly, resolving to shew your thankfulness for God's mercies to you, by walking more warily for the time to come; striving against those sins which you are most apt to fall into, avoiding those temptations which have formerly overpowered you, and praying daily for grace to overcome them.
And therefore, I tell you again, that if you hope to avoid the danger of receiving unworthily, by forbearing to go to the Lord's Table, you will be miserably mistaken. For whatever it is which indeed ought to hinder you from going to the Lord's Table, the same will keep you also out of heaven.
And pray consider, how careful parents are, to have their children baptized, that they may have a real title to the favour of God, and an interest in the covenant of grace.
But why all this care, if you do not oblige them, when they come of age, to undertake themselves what you promised for them? If you do not set them an example of religion, and bring them to the Lord's Table, there to renew their vows, and to claim a right to the grace of God promised to all worthy receivers of that holy ordinance ? Alas! if you do not do this, you only breed them up in a mistake, that a Christian name, without a Christian life, may be of some use to them; a mistake which too many are apt to run into, though the Apostle assures us, “that without holiness no (Heb. 12. man shall see the Lord.”
14.] I shall now conclude, after I have recommended a few things to be seriously considered and remembered by you.
As, first, you see how careful people should be, when either they make or renew their vows, not to do it rashly, but upon due consideration. God, who sees the heart, is, no doubt of it, well pleased to see people come before Him with honest purposes of doing what they can to please Him; and He will certainly reward such with grace necessary to their present condition. But if you come merely out of custom, or to comply with the laws of the Church, without minding what you are about to do, why then God, who sees the inward dis
SERM. position of your heart as plainly as we do your outward beLXVII.
haviour, will not give you His Spirit, nor His blessing.
It is true, when we were infants, God received us into (Gen. 17.7; favour and covenant, by virtue of that promise, “I will be a Rom. 9. 8.]
God to thee and to thy seed.” We were then made members of the Church of Christ, children of God, and heirs of the kingdom of heaven.
Now, because Christians are too apt to fall into a carnal security, they are often called upon, to try whether their faith and lives be answerable to their profession; and if they have not been so, to take up better purposes for the time to come, and to be very earnest with God for grace to enable them to perform the vows they make of better obedience. To this end, some are called upon to take upon themselves their baptismal vow; others to renew that vow at the Lord's Table. If you do this in the sincerity of your hearts, God will certainly bless you with more light to know your duty, and more ability to perform it; if you do not, you will find to your cost, that you have received the grace of God, given at your baptism, in vain.
Secondly; you see by this sad instance of Judas, that one may go to the table of the Lord, without being a friend of Christ,—without being a true Christian,-without receiving any benefit from that holy ordinance. And, therefore, as you value your souls, do not depend upon that without a life answerable to your profession.
Our Lord Himself has told us what His answer will be to such as shall plead this privilege, Have we not eat and drank
at Thy Table? when, in the mean time, they dishonoured (Luke 13. Him by their ungodly lives : “Depart from Me, ye workers 27.]
of iniquity, I know you not;" that is, I will not own you for My friends or disciples. If this is all we shall have to plead, Judas could say the same; and yet how dreadful was his punishment! And the more so, because he abused so many opportunities of securing his Lord's grace and favours, being so often a guest at His Table.
Well then, if ye would avoid the sin of Judas, by all means go to the Lord's Table now YE ARE SOLEMNLY INVITED; but do not go with a wicked heart. If you are not in charity with all men; if you are conscious that you have done any wrong, and are not willing, and resolved as soon as possible, to make amends; if you do not, to the best of your power, follow that rule of your Lord, “ To do to others, as you would (Matt. 7.
12.) they should do to you;" if you live in any known sin, such as covetousness, (which you know was Judas's peculiar vice,) or drunkenness, or profaning the Lord's Day or His holy Name; if you live in a careless neglect of yourselves and of your families, never calling upon God for a blessing upon your labours, or upon your children, or giving Him thanks for the blessings you every day receive at His hands; why then, you have no business to go to His Table, unless you solemnly resolve to amend where you have done amiss, and so resolve as to begin a reformation even before you go to the Lord's Supper. Otherwise, never expect either benefit or comfort from that holy ordinance.
And pray remember, that when you go to the Lord's Table, it is one part of your business there, to shew the Lord's death till He come; that is, till He come to judgment.
Now, this thought should put us all upon considering how our accounts stand? Whether we have reason, according to the terms of the Gospel, to hope for mercy at that day? If we have not, it concerns us very much to think of a new life.
Lastly; that which made the sin of Judas so intolerable a burden, when his eyes were open, was, that he saw his Lord, who had been so kind to him, so unworthily treated, and that by his means.
Now, should not this put Christians upon thinking what contempt and reproach they bring upon Christ and His doctrine, when they go, as friends, to His Table; and yet no sooner come from thence, but join with His bitterest enemies to make the Table of the Lord contemptible? So that weak (Mal. 1. 7.] or wicked people cry, what should we go to the Lord's Supper for? Those that go are no better than those that stay away. Where is the power, where is the grace, that attends it? They say, that by this ordinance they are one with Christ, and that Christ is their head. Would they have us to judge of Christ by His members ?
Thus we betray, thus they crucify Him.