« AnteriorContinuar »
and woman, who, after being brought when it is no ught matter to con-
do, the ministers of thy Gospel, receiv. And, finally, while you consider, ing one portion of truth after another, while you recognize the duty I have and one conviction after another, oh, set before you this day, my dear bre. God Almighty, keep them from this thren, consider your own souls. Who fearful, aggravated condemnation of among you has received the Lord stilling those convictions; keep them Jesus Christ as the salvation of your from going back after they have known souls? With whose spirit among you the ways of righteousness, or it would does the spirit of God bear witness have been better for them never to that you are members of Christ-that have known them. Keep them from you have fellowship with his suffer- falling away, keep them from stifling ings—that you are daily made con the honest convictions of their souls, formable unto his death—and that lest they should be hardened and beyou are willing that it should be so, lieve a lie, and so fall into eternal per. if, by any means, ye may attain unto dition ! the resurrection from the dead? Re Now is the time of mercy-now is member those solemn words which the day of grace—now is the accepted you heard read in our second lesson time—now then is the throne of mercy this morning : “Whoso shall save -judgment is not yet—but judgment his life, in this world, shall loose it ; is at hand. Now it is grace—now it but whosoever shall loose his life for is invitation. “Ho! every one that my sake and the Gospel's the same thirsteth ;” and “whosoever will, let shall find it. What is a man pro- him come;" and now it is, “come fitted if he gain the whole world and unto Jesus, all ye that labour and are loose his own soul; or, what shall heavy laden, and he will give you a man give in exchange for his soul.” rest." Now, oh gracious God, let Whosoever, therefore, mark the Lord's none of this people be cast into hell; application, my brethren, mark it and no, not one, but let all be saved let it sink into your very heart, in this with an everlasting salvation in Jesus evil day, when it is no light matter, Christ; that when the Lord of the honestly, to confess Jesus—Jesus the servants cometh we may be found an living God-Jesus the man of sorrows acceptable people in his name, and for -man of our nature-flesh of our flesh his sake. Amen. -seed of Abraham, and seed of David
DELIVERED BY THE REV. W. BUSFIELD,
AT ST. MICHAEL's, WOOD-STREET, ON SUNDAY MORNING, APRIL 4, 1830.
Corinthians, xi. 29.—“He that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh
damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.”
The near approach of those two most | that there are not a few conscientious sacred and solemn days in our Christian Christians who have been deterred calendar-Good Friday and Easter- from coming to the altar by a fear of day-naturally reminds us of the holy the consequences attached to an unrite which Jesus Christ himself did in- worthy participation of the sacrament. stitute on the eve of his sufferings and My brethren, in my anxiety to remove death. It was on the very same night all groundless apprehensions from your (we read) in which he was betrayed” minds, I have selected for my text the -at the last supper he ever shared strongest passage throughout the whole with his disciplesm" that Jesus took of the New Testament—“ He that
and when he had given thanks eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this and drinketh damnation to himself, is my body which is broken for you; not discerning the Lord's body.” Now, this do in remembrance of me.” After if I can show that there is nothing the same manner, also, he took the really intimidating in this passage, at cup when he had supped, saying, least when rightly considered—nothing “ This cup is the New Testament in which a well-disposed Christian has my blood; this do ye as oft as ye cause to dread-I trust that I shall drink it in remembrance of me. For then have obviated the only rational as oft as ye eat this bread, and drink objection you may have felt to appearthis cup, ye do show the Lord's death ing at the table of your Lord. ge till he come.”
Let me begin by setting you right It is unnecessary for me to explain as to the meaning of the expression, that this exhortation, though primarily “eating and drinking damnation to a addressed to his disciples, was by no man's self.” It is repeated also by the means limited to them, but extends to officiating minister at the communion Christians of every age, and class, and (as you may see by reference to your condition in life-in fact, to all who prayer-books) and the possibility of a call themselves after the name of mistake has often occurred to me while Christ.
reading that portion of our service. If the earnest and affectionate in- Attend, then, my brethren, I beseech vitation of their Divine Master is neg- you, to one very necessary observalected by so many of his professed fol- tion. The original word, which is lowers (and that it is, the church translated in the text damnation,” where I am speaking affords a lament- signifies no more than "judgment or able proof) I cannot attribute such neg. punishment,” in general; and so it is lect to an ignorance of the obligation given by all the best marginal Bibles. laid down; I rather ascribe it to some The utmost, therefore, that can be descruples respecting the due perform duced from it is, that “they who eat ance of this holy rite : and I imagine and drink unworthily,” are obnoxious
to the judgment of God for so doing; | morate Christ's death,) to furnish forth as, indeed, all persons are who either a common banquet, where no man pray, or hear, or perform any other might appropriate to himself what he duty otherwise than they ought to per- | brought, but was to eat in common form it. And what kind of judgment with the rest ; this charitable custom the Apostle here means, he himself the Corinthians wholly perverted. The plainly declares in the words imme- richest among them ate and drank too diately following our text : “For this much, whilst the poor had nothing to cause,” says he, ‘many are weak and eat and drink. Hence, the Apostle's sickly among you, and many sleep”- complaint-" these were hungry, and all which are temporal judgments that the other drunken.” And they who God is often pleased to inflict for other eat this bread, and drink this cup (he sins as well as this, and are so far from proceeds to tell us), after such an un. eternal damnation, that they frequently becoming fashion, are guilty of the prove the very means of preventing it. body and blood of Christ; that is,
Having thus explained away a term they violate and profane the Lord's which we have reason to believe has mystical body and blood, and so are been a stumbling-block to many well. guilty in a manner of the same sin as disposed Christians, we may enter on the Jews were in crucifying and de. the important question, what it is riding him. They “trampled upon to “ eat and drink unworthily.” And the Son of God, and accounted the here it will be necessary that we take blood of the covenant an unholy thing," a general survey of the context. and behaved themselves accordingly in
St. Paul had been speaking of the receiving it. That this is the true great disorders which he heard of sense of receiving unworthily, is renamong the Corinthians in their Chris- dered still more apparent from the final tian assemblies; that there were divi- clause of our text: “He that eateth sions among them even at those sacred and drinketh unworthily, eateth and times; and that, though they intended drinketh damnation (or more proto receive the sacrament, they did not perly judgment), to himself, not disin reality do it. “When ye come to. cerning the Lord's body.” The latter gether, therefore,” says he, "into one words are as explicit as we could wish place, this is not to eat the Lord's or require, for by them the Apostle supper; for in eating, every one taketh shows wherefore they who eat and before other his own supper; and one drink unworthily, eat and drink judgis hurgry and another is drunken. ment to themselves; it is because they What, have ye not houses to eat and discern not the Lord's body ; that is, drink in? Or, despise ye the church they do not discern or discriminate of God, and shame them that have Christ's body from ordinary food, by not?” From which expostulation it taking it with that veneration which is is evident, that the sin which St. Paul its peculiar due. here rebukes in the Corinthians was, Such is the exposition, and I think that they ate the Lord's supper as if it the only exposition, which these had been ordinary food, without ex words of our Apostle will justly pressing any regard or reverence to bear. They were applied in the Christ's mystical body and blood. first instance to the Corinthian conThey carried themselves at the Lord's verts, and, in a literal sense, to the table, as if they had been at their own. Corinthians alone are they applicable. And whereas there was a custom, No judgment could be too greator (when they came together to comme sharp to vindicate our blessed Saviour's
holy institution from the contempt to
man who is otherwise desirous of bewhich, by their gluttony and intem coming a communicant. In a strict perance, the Christians of Corinth had sense we are none of us worthy of so reduced it. Those scandalous irregu- great a favour and privilege as being larities and excesses are here called admitted to this sacrament, and de. “eating and drinking unworthily,” riving the inestimable benefits which it which were heard of only in the first confers upon us. After all our careages of the church, when the sacra after all our preparation to make ourment was always accompanied with selves fit, we must still acknowledge charitable banquets or love-feasts, that we are unworthy even to pick which were, therefore, in process of up the crumbs that fall from our time, wholly abrogated; and to pre- Master's table,” much more to sit and vent that intemperance and abuse they feast at it. If, then, we are not to had introduced, it very generally pre
receive this sacrament until we can vailed, to receive the sacrament fasting account ourselves worthy, the very best My brethren, I have entered into this of men must go away sorrowful; nay, short historical account, with a view the humbler and the holier they are, to justify the opinion I now freely give the less inclined would they be to you. Whatever faults may be found enter upon their duty.
Such unamongst our communicants of the pre- worthiness, however, which all must sent day, they cannot be charged with confess to, is no bar or hinderance to those mentioned in the chapter before our receiving the sacrament. We are
The worst of modern Christians, not, indeed, worthy of the smallest if they communicate at all, do it with mercy, either temporal or spiritual, greater reverence than did the Corin- | which we enjoy, but shall we therethians of old. So that neither the fore starve ourselves or go naked, befault here reproved, nor the judg cause undeserving of food or raiment ? ment here denounced, hath place We are not worthy so much as to cast up amongst us now. What reason, then, our eyes towards heaven, the habitaI seriously ask, what reason that this tion of God's holiness; but what then? text of Scripture, whether read in our
Shall we never make our humble adBibles or repeated in our prayer-books, dresses to the throne of grace, because should frighten any from the sacra we are not worthy to ask and have our ment, since there is neither the same petitions heard and granted? Shall we fault committed now, nor the same refuse any favours which the kindness punishment inflicted.
of heaven may bestow, because they But it is not enough, my fellow are beyond our merits, or more than Christians, that I have endeavoured to we could challenge or expect? It is put the words of my text in a clear not said in the text, “He that is unand distinct point of view. As long worthy to eat and drink of this sacraas the plea of unworthiness is insisted ment, by doing so eateth and drinketh on for not attending the sacrament, his own damnation,” (for then might and as long as that plea remains un all of us be justly afraid of approachanswered and unrefuted—I speak it ing the Lord's table), but “he that with concern-our labour as ministers eateth and drinketh unworthily.” is in vain. Grant me, then, your con
There is a wide difference between the tinued attention, while, with a plain- two-between a man's being unworthy ness of speech suitable to the subject, to receive the sacrament, and his reI enquire how far the danger of receiving the same unworthily—a differceiving unworthily ought to prevent a ence which I shall thus illustrate.
Suppose, for example, that a man appointed, and for whose benefit it was hath grossly wronged, maliciously instituted. Were we not all sinners, slandered, or without any provoca- we had no need of such means of tion of mine, evil entreated me; he is, grace, such instruments of religion as you will allow, utterly unworthy of the sacramental ordinances. “ I came any kindness or favour from me. not,” says Jesus, “ to call the righteStill, if notwithstanding this unwor- ous, but sinners to repentance. They thiness, I do him some considerable that are whole need not a physician, kindness, or offer him some signal but they that are sick.” What folly favour, his unworthiness is no hin- for a man to be afraid to receive alms, derance to his receiving it. And if he because he is miserably poor; to be accepts it with a due sense and a grate- loath to take physic, because he is ful mind; and by it is moved to lay dangerously sick. Equal folly does it aside his former enmity, repent him of betray in us to shun the altar for the his former ill-will, and seek only how very reason that we should hasten to requite the present favour ; it is thither. Just in proportion to our felt clear that, though he were unworthy unworthiness, do we stand in need of of the favour, yet he has now received this holy sacrament; that good resoit worthily, and that it has produced lutions may be raised, or strengthened, upon him the desired effect.
and confirmed in us; that sufficient In like manner, my brethren, we grace may be communicated to enable are all unworthy to partake of this us by degrees to subdue our darling holy feast; but, being invited and ad- passions, and resist our prevailing mitted, we may conduct ourselves as temptations; and that by often rebecomes us in such a presence, and at ceiving, we may become every time such a solemnity. And if therein we less unworthy to receive the sacred thankfully commemorate the death of elements. our Saviour Christ, forsake our former It has been a subject of dispute sins, renounce our evil ways, vow to among divines, whether the sacrament him a holier obedience, and be touched of the Lord's supper be (like prayer with a devouter sense of his love ; then, and preaching) a converting ordinance though unworthy of so great a favour, or not. I confess, for my part, I see yet we have worthily—that is after a no reason why this sacrament may right manner as to God's acceptance not (as well as prayer or any other received this blessed sacrament. But duties of religion) be a means of beif, in addition to our acknowledged getting true repentance in a sinnner, unworthiness, we also receive it un- of turning him from sin to righteousworthily, neither regarding the end, ness, and from the power of Satan nor design, nor use of it, without any unto God. And my argument is simply repentance for past sins, any resolu- this. If the death of Jesus Christ, tions of future amendment, or any his bitter passion and mortal agony, gratitude for the self-sacrificing love was, among other reasons, designed by of our Redeemer, then indeed do we God to convince us of the heinousness most highly provoke the Omnipotent of sin, to withdraw us from an attachGod, and must justly incur his dis- ment to it, and engage us in a new pleasure. But I proceed another step, and better life, surely the consideration and I affirm that those who are un. of the same things represented to us in worthy, and truly sensible of their the sacrament. the commemoration of own unworthiness, are the very per- his death and passion there made, may sons for whom this sacrament was contribute to promote the same beneficial