Dr. Chauncy's FIVE SERMONS.


"Breaking of Bread," in remembrance of the dying Love of Christ, a Gospel institution. FIVE SERMONS.

In which the institution is explained; a general obser­vance of it recommended and enforced; objections answered; and such Difficulties, Doubts, and Fears, relative to it, particularly mentioned, and removed, which have too commonly discouraged some from an attendance at it, and proved to others a source of dis­comfort, in the regard they have endeavoured to pay to it.




"Breaking of Bread," in remem­brance of CHRIST, a Gospel-duty.

Acts. II. 42.

And they continued stedfastly—in breaking of Bread.

THE preceeding verses contain an account of the sermon, which the apostle Peter preached to a great au­ditory of Jews, by descent, or pro­selitism, collected at Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost. By means of this sermon, multi­tudes had awakened in them such a sense of sin [Page 6] and guilt, as, in good earnest, to make that inquiry "men and brethren what shall we do"? Upon which, the apostle Peter directed them to "repent, and be baptised every one of them in the name of Jesus Christ for the re­mission of sins." We are then told, that no less than "three thousand persons gladly re­ceived the word, were baptised, and added to the number of disciples". It follows, in the words of my text, that they "continued sted­fastly—in breaking of bread."

THE "bread" which they are said to "break" undoubtedly means the sacramental bread, that bread which is an instituted sign or symbol, of the "body of Christ which was broken for us." Some indeed seem to think it was only common bread; but to me it ap­pears strange, they should give it this sense. It is true, "the bread" these christians are spo­ken of, ver. 46, as "daily breaking from house to house," may mean common bread; for it is joined with their "eating meat" for their bodi­ly refreshment. And, if it is natural, from the things con-joined in this verse, to understand by the "bread they brake," common bread; it is equally natural, in the verse we are upon, to understand the same phrase in a different sense; not as meaning common, but sacramental bread. [Page 7] For the other actions here mentioned are sacred ones. And as this of "breaking bread" is join­ed with a "continuance in the apostle's doc­trine and prayers," which are instances of com­munion in "things pertaining to the kingdom of God, and of Jesus Christ," it would be un­reasonable to interpret it as signifying, in this place, nothing more than that "breaking of bread" which is common and ordinary: Espe­cially if it be remembered, that "breaking of bread," meaning hereby celebrating the Lord's-Supper, was a religious exercise, in which christians, in apostolic times, joined to­gether every Lord's day, with like steadiness as in their attendance on the word preached, or prayer.

IT is accordingly not only said, in my text, that they "break bread"; but that they "sted­fastly continued" to do so. The meaning is, it was a constant part of their public worship, one of their stated religious exercises, a duty which they went on in the practice of; perse­vering therein with the same steadiness with which they observed the other instituted ser­vices of piety. *

[Page 8]From the words, as they have been explain­ed, I am obviously led to urge upon christian professors the duty of "breaking bread" at the Lord's table; and this I shall the more readily engage in, as it is a duty, to whatever cause it [Page 9] may be owing, that is greatly neglected in these days. Multitudes of those who call themselves christians, instead of celebrating the sacramental supper, go from it as though they had no con­cern in it, or as if it were a trifling institution, not worth their regard. The neglect of "eating bread, and drinking wine," in remembrance of him who died for our sins, is indeed grown a general fault, and justly chargeable upon bap­tised [Page 10] persons arrived at maturity of age and understanding. It is a shame it should be thus, a reproach upon christians, a dishonour to the religion they profess, and an open and scanda­lous affront to him whom they own to be their Master and Lord. How different is the prac­tice of disciples now from what it was in the days of the apostles! An attendance at the sacramental table was then UNIVERSAL among those who professed faith in Jesus Christ. A­mong the three thousand persons, spoken of, in the context, as admitted to baptism, there was not one that did not communicate also at the Lord's-Supper; and it was their constant practice to do so. This noble example of the pri­mitive christians, recorded to their honor by an in­spired pen, may, with all reason, be esteemed a solemn rebuke of that negligence, in regard of the Lord's-Supper, which is now become almost universal. And I may properly, and not unseasonably, take occasion from it to re­present to all that "name the name of Christ" the sinfulness of such neglect, by opening to their view, in the plainest and strongest manner I am able, the solemn bonds they are under to attend as guests at the sacramental table.

THEY are obliged to this by the positive command of Jesus Christ, the founder of our [Page 11] religion, and the author of salvation. He has solemnly enjoined it on all, who own them­selves his disciples, to "break bread" in honor to him. THIS DO IN REMEMBRANCE OF ME, are the words of his command: Nor could he have expressed his pleasure upon this head in terms more plain and explicit. They lie level to the lowest capacity, and may readily be un­derstood by all that do not shut their eyes against the light.

SHOULD it be said here, the mind of Christ, tis true, was plainly enough signified to his apostles, making it their duty to "break bread and eat it, to pour out wine and drink it in re­membrance of him"; but it is not so evident, that this command to them was, in the design of Christ, an obligation upon disciples in gen­eral.

IT is readily acknowledged, the words of institution were originally spoken to the twelve apostles only; for which reason, it cannot be certainly argued, from the words themselves simply considered, that christians in general are obliged to celebrate this memorial of Christ's death. The apostles might be applied to in their proper character as such, or as dis­ciples only; and whether it was in the former, or latter of these senses, cannot be determined [Page 12] by the meer force of our Lord's words, as they were delivered by him. But this notwith­standing, it is not, in any degree, uncertain, whether our Savior intended, by the words he spake to his apostles, to oblige christians in common, as well as his apostles in particular, to attend at the sacramental supper. For it is to be remembered, the apostles were infallible interpreters of our Lord's words; insomuch that we may, with intire confidence, depend on the truth they construe them in. And nothing in all the bible is more clearly and indubitably evident than this, that they ac­counted the Lord's-Supper an established rite of gospel-worship, an institution of Christ, that all his professed disciples were as truly obliged to observe as they themselves. Why else was it the practice of christians in their day, and by their order, to join in partaking of the symbols of Christ's death? Three thousand persons, upon being baptised by the apostles, were, in one day, admitted to sit down with them at the Lord's-Supper; and they "continued" to do so, wherever this ordinance was administred; as we read in my text and context. And it is beyond all dispute evident, not only that christians in common met together every Lord's-Day to join in prayer, and an attendance [Page 13] on the word preached; but in "breaking of bread" also, a phrase that means the same thing precisely with their celebration of the sacramental supper. And they did this under the eye of the apostles, with them at their head, and as acting under their guidance and direction. Surely, they would not have thus put chri­stians upon partaking of the Lord's-Supper, and have joined with them in it, had they not known the mind of their master upon this head. It was unquestionably his intention, in the appointment of the supper, to oblige all the professors of his religion to an observance of it: Otherwise, this conduct of the apostles, who were constituted by him infallible guides and teachers, will be absolutely unaccountable. Besides, it may be worthy of remark, when the apostle Paul found the christians at Corinth in the use of this act of religious worship, he does not forbid their going on in it, as being a duty proper to apostles only. It is true, he blames them for the irregularities they had mixed with their use of this ordinance; but not for their use of this ordinance itself. Far from this, he solemnly assures them, as from Jesus Christ himself, that the sacramental supper was a sacred rite of gospel worship, in­stituted by our Saviour himself for the use [Page 14] of all christians. And, as the best remedy to cure their disorders, he relates to them the instituti­on itself, and directs them to manage their at­tendance on it in strict agreement therewith.

So that, upon the whole, it will not admit of debate, whether "eating bread and drink­ing wine, in remembrance of Christ," is an established rite of his religion. It is as obvi­ously and certainly an institution of the gospel as ‘baptism in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Ghost’, or indeed any law recorded in the new-testament.

THERE is therefore, so far as we regard the authority of Jesus Christ, the same reason why we should "break bread," in remembrance of him, as that we should obey him in any other instance of duty whatever. Why do we think ourselves obliged to join as christians, in observing the Lord's-Day, or in attending on the word preached and prayer? Is it that we might be obedient to Jesus Christ, who is king in Sion? We are equally under obli­gation to celebrate the memorial of his death. This ordinance has the same stamp of his authority on it; nor are we any more at lib­erty to disregard it in this instance, than in the other. Nay, if we knowingly, and habi­tually offend in this point, we may reasonably [Page 15] call in question the integrity of our hearts re­specting the other. He that has said, "repent and be baptised," neglect not the assem­bling yourselves together "for the services of piety, such as prayer, reading and hearing God's word, has said also, and in words equally authoritative, "this do in remembrance of me." And if we practically slight the au­thority of Christ in this latter instance, why should we think our regards to it are pure and single as to the former? The plain truth is, the Commands of Jesus Christ are all given out with the same authority. And if this au­thority obliges us to obedience in any, it does in every instance. We have no right to make exceptions, doing one thing, and leaving another undone. The only question here is, has Jesus Christ, who is Head and Lord of his church, instituted the sacramental supper? Has he commanded his disciples to "eat bread and drink wine in remembrance of him"? If his will, in this matter, has been plainly made known, an end is at once put to all dispute. It is our indispensible duty to honour his au­thority, by readily complying with his Com­mand.

AND, I may pertinently add here, there are some circumstances attending this command in [Page 16] special, which are powerfully suited to awaken our consideration, and excite in us a care of punctual obedience to it.

IT is a command that has been carefully preserved, and faithfully handed down to us, by no less than three of the Evangelists. Surely, the Spirit of God, under whose extraordinary in­fluence these holy men were moved to write the gospels, esteemed the sacramental supper an appointment of no small importance, and had it in view to bind the celebration of it upon the disciples of Christ in the strongest manner. Had the words, in which our Lord instituted the memorial of his death, been transmitted to us by one of the sacred penmen only, they would have been obligatory upon all who own Christ for their master; But, as they have been repeatedly conveyed, the obligation is more unquestionable, we are more firmly bound to pay a religious regard to this in­stance of duty; and if we neglect to do so, the guilt hereby incurred will be greatly height­ened. A serious thought this! and it were to be wished it might be seriously attended to by all who profess themselves christians.

ANOTHER circumstance attending the command we are upon, worthy of particular notice, is, the extraordinary manner in which it [Page 17] was conveyed to the apostle Paul. It should be remembered here, he was not an apostle, nor so much as a believer, when our Lord in­joined "the eating of bread, and drinking of wine" in commemoration of him. It was after this time, and years too, that he became a convert to the religion of Jesus, and a fellow-laborer with the other apostles in the gospel-kingdom. And now it was that he received the knowledge of the sacramental institution. But how did he receive it? "not of men, nei­ther was he taught it but by the revelation of Jesus Christ." So he expresly assures us him­self. Says he, 1 Cor. 11.23, ‘I received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread, and brake it, and said, take, eat, this is my body which is broken for you; this do in remem­brance of me.’ —The prefixed words, ‘I received of the Lord,’ were evidently in­tended to point out the way in which he came by the knowledge of the supper, as a divine appointment; that it was, not by instruction from the other apostles, nor by any communica­tion that was meerly human; but from Jesus Christ himself. And may it not from hence be fairly concluded, that the sacramental insti­tution [Page 18] was, in the esteem of our Lord, a mat­ter of solemn weight, and that he would by no means have it disregarded? Why else should he make a revelation of it to the apostle Paul immediately from heaven? His taking this ex­traordinary method certainly argues the singu­lar importance of the duty, and renders it an inexcuseable fault in christians to live in the neglect of it.

THERE is yet another momentous circum­stance, accompanying the command to "break bread" in remembrance of Christ. And this is, the time when it was first given out. The apostle Paul takes notice of this circumstance, and puts a special emphasis on it. His words are, "THE SAME NIGHT IN WHICH HE WAS BETRAYED the Lord Jesus took bread, and said, take eat, this is my body which is bro­ken for you: This do in remembrance of me." Surely, no matter of trifling consideration would have engaged the attention of our Saviour at such a time as this! He would not, at so serious and solemn a juncture, have injoined this duty, and by his own example have shewed his disci­ples how to performi it, if he had not tho't it wor­thy of particular regard, and supposed that his followers would think so too. He too well un­derstood human nature, not to mean some spe­cial [Page 19] recommendation of the sacramental supper by instituting it at so critical a time. In a dy­ing hour, the most earnest desires of the soul are wont to be expressed; and to such desires the greatest regard is commonly paid. If a command, or request, comes from a dying man, especially if he is a friend, a benefactor, whom we love, honour and admire, it is apt deeply to impress our minds, nor can we easily hear it with indifference and neglect. Such now, though in a much higher sense, is the com­mand to "breek bread" at the sacramental table. It is the fare-well-request, the last injunction, the dying charge, not only of our best friend, and greatest benefactor; but of him whom we call our Master and Lord. Shall we any of us, after this, habitually neglect the institution of the supper? Shall we express, in our prac­tice, a disregard to a duty, constituted such by the blessed Jesus, just as he was going to lay down his life for us? How shall we free ourselves from the charge of base ingratitude to the greatest lover of our souls, if we reckon it a frivolous rite, or are wanting in our care to pay all due honour to it? Especially, as it was injoined under circumstances, so pe­culiarly fitted to strike our minds, work upon our passions, and engage our religious obser­vance [Page 20] of it. May it not be reasonably questi­oned, whether we mind our Lord's other com­mands, if we can easily, carelesly, and habitu­ally forget, in our practice, this, which was his last and dying one, and delivered with so much particularity and solemnity?

I HAVE hitherto argued from the authority only by which the Lord's-Supper was institu­ted. If we go on, and consider the design of this ordinance, and the good effects it is fitted to produce, we shall find ourselves under strong additional obligations readily to pay our duti­ful regard to it.

WE may be apt to speak of it as nothing more than an injoined ritual that has no in­trinsic value in it. And it is acknowledged, it is not, in itself simply considered, a natu­ral, essential, inseperable part of religion, as the love of God and our neighbour; but a positive institution, dependant on the will of Jesus Christ. But it may notwithstanding be an important useful appointment. We have seen, from several circumstances already men­tioned, that our Lord himself entertained this thought of it; and we may be further assured of this, from its being his appointment, though he had abolished all the rites and ceremonies of the Jewish law. Surely, he would not have [Page 21] made the "breaking and eating of bread," in a certain way, a sacred rite of christianity, if he had not thought it highly expedient; if the design in view had not been valuable, and the tendency of the thing good likewise in itself.

AS to the design of the sacramental institu­tion, it was to perpetuate, by visible symbols, the memory of a crucified Saviour. "This do in remembrance of me". The thing meant is, not meerly that christians, when partaking of the Lord's-Supper, should employ their thoughts on the sufferings of him who died for them. This, no doubt, was one thing intended, and expected; and it would be highly mis­becoming, if, while at this solemnity, they did not keep in mind, and seriously contemplate, the love of their Savior, who "died for sin, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God." But more than this was in the view of Christ, when he appointed the Gospel-Sup­per. His intention was, that this should be celebrated, in the assemblies of christians, as an open declarative representation of his death. ‘It is one thing, says an excellent writer, in­wardly to remember, and another to cele­brate, and solemnly to exhibit, a public me­memorial, by which we not only remember a fact, but avowedly and triumphantly pro­claim [Page 22] our remembrance, and our desire to have that remembrance observed, upheld and propagated.’ In this sense, the Lord's-Sup­per was appointed for a declaration, or "shew­ing forth of Christ's death." The separation of bread and wine at the sacrament, the breaking and eating the one, and the pouring out and drinking the other, do, according to the nature of signs, figuratively set forth, that Christ's body was broken and bruised, and his blood shed as an atonement for sin. This is what is meant by these signs, and they are made easie and intelligible to the most vulgar capacity by the words themselves, which not only relate the institution, but explain its sense; as in the passover, Exod 12.25—27, the memorial was exhibited, and the sense of it given.

WHEN therefore our Savior appointed the breaking and eating of bread, and pouring out and drinking of wine, "in remembrance of him," he not only intended this as an occasion for the meditation of christians on his crucifix­tion and death, but for preserving, and trans­mitting, the memorial of so important an event from age to age, even to the end of the world. Thus the passover was a memorial throughout the whole time the Jewish law was in force. And thus the Supper of the Lord, celebrated [Page 23] by christians in the manner he has prescribed, is an open public declaration of his dying love, perpetuating the memory of that amazing event, which is the true basis of all our hopes of forgiveness with God. By means of this monument, the memory of Christ's death for the salvation of a miserable world has been hitherto preserved. and will be handed down to the end of the world. So great and valuable a design was in the view of Christ, when he ap­pointed the sacramental supper!

AND shall we any of us be backward in comporting with so glorious an intention? How dwelleth the love of Christ in us, if we have no perception of a readiness to take occasion, from the instituted signs of his body broken, and his blood shed, to keep up in our minds the me­mory of his death? If we can allowedly go out of the assemblies of christians, not joining with them in recognising, and perpetuating the me­morial of the greatest event that ever took place in our world, and that is closely connect­ed too with the salvation of it? We are obliged to nothing, if we are not obliged, in the way of Christ's appointment, to celebrate the me­mory of his death.

BUT besides the bonds we are under to ap­pear as guests at the Lord's-Supper from the [Page 24] valuable end designed by its appointment, we are further obliged to this duty in consideration of its advantageous tendency, suitably regarded. It is an appointment of mercy, powerfully adapted to produce spiritually good effects; and cannot fail of doing so, unless it be our own fault. The bread which is broken at this ordinance is an instituted sign that has this meaning, the body of Christ was wounded when he stood in our place, and bore our ini­quities. The wine that is poured out is an emblematical figure signifying, that his blood was shed for the remission of sins. And can we eat of this bread, and drink of this wine, in this view of them, and not receive benefit herefrom? The greatest occasion is hereby given for the excitement, and exercise, of all the passions and affections of the human mind; and if our thoughts are suitably engaged and employed, great good will be the effect; and this, whether we are the subjects of a common faith only, or of that faith which is saving.

IF we have, at present, no other faith than that which is the result of serious inquiry, un­der the common influence of the divine Spirit, which was the only faith of multitudes who partook of the Lord's-Supper, in the days of the apostles, this ordinance is happily calcula­ted [Page 25] and suited to promote our good. More powerful considerations to this end cannot be proposed to us, than those that obviously pre­sent themselves at the sacramental table. Here the love of the Father is figuratively set forth to us in the strongest point of light. Where­in could he, in a more striking manner, have commended his love to us, than by sending his Son to die for us, while we were yet sin­ners? And who, that is in a serious frame of mind, can think of this amazing love of God, and not feel the emotions of affection towards him?—Here also the love of Christ is kindly held out to our view. Would he have laid down his life for us, if he had not loved us with a love stronger than death? And what can constrain us to live, not to ourselves, but to him, if this love of his in dying for us has no influence on us?—Here likewise the just desert of sin is, in the most lively manner, pointed out to us Would the only Son of God have had laid on him such a load of suf­ferings, if sin had not been meritorious of the high displeasure of almighty God? And if he suffered so much, while he only stood in our place, how shall we escape, if we will not be persuaded to leave our sins? The reasoning of our Saviour upon this head is easie and just, [Page 26] and must strike our minds with force, if we will attend to it, "if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry"? Luk. 23.3 [...]. In a word, we have here preached to us with great plainness, though in figurative signs, reconciliation with God through the death of Christ, and complete salvation in eternal Glory, notwithstanding all our past sins, however multiplied, or aggravated, they may have been. And how lost must we be to all ingenuity and sense of gratitude, if, by such considerations, that "godly sorrow" for sin is not produced in us, which is accompained with "repentance unto life, never to be repented of"? Many, without all doubt, in apostolic days, and in every age since, by means of what has been suggested to their minds at the table of the Lord, and impressed on them by his Spirit, have been turned from visible christians only, to those that are christians in the real temper of their hearts. And what has been may be again. The ordinance of the supper is admirably well adapted to promote the edifica­tion of all that come to it in the serious exer­cise of faith, though their faith, at present, should not be such as will argue their being "born from above".—

AND as to those who are already partakers [Page 27] of the grace of God in truth, their is nothing in christianity better suited to help forward their growth in the divine life, than their at­tendance at the sacramental supper in a serious, devout and considerate manner. It is by the dying love of Christ, duly impressed on the mind by the Holy Ghost, that holy dispositions are both begun, maintained, increased, and perfected in the Soul. And what more effec­tual means could have been devised to awaken in us a sense of this love of Christ, and keep it in a vigorous lively state, than our partaking of that bread and wine which are instituted symbols of his body broken, and blood shed, for our pardon and salvation? If, in the exercise of faith, we employ our thoughts on those amazing objects that are here offered to contemplation, it must tend, in the strongest manner, to soften our hearts, inflame our af­fections, strengthen our graces, and establish our minds in all christian virtue; especially, as we may here expect the presence of Christ with us, by his Spirit, to guide our thoughts, assist our meditations, govern our views, en­courage our hopes, comfort our hearts, and confirm in us the principles of goodness. Per­haps, the blessed Jesus is never more present with the true christian, to the purposes of spiri­tual [Page 28] light, love, joy and increase of holiness, than when he is at his table in a right frame of soul. I doubt not, there are those now pre­sent who can speak of special manifestations of their Savior at this ordinance, enlarging their views of the divine glory, invigorating their graces, and strengthening their feeble minds, so as that they have been able to run in the christian race, and not be weary; to walk and not faint.—

So that if we have any concern for the wel­fare of our souls; if we desire they should be possessed of the grace of God, or improved and established in it, we must needs think ourselves obliged to celebrate the memorial of Christ's dying love; as this is an instituted mean so powerfully sitted to produce these good effects.

IT is, I am ready to think very much owing to the neglect of the Lord's Supper, that there is so little religion to be seen among us. While christians, so called, do generally, and allow­edly express, in their practice, a disregard to their duty in this instance, it is no more than may be expected, that they should neglect it in another, and so on until they are got into an habit of indifference to all religion. It is likewise very much owing to the neglect of this ordinance, or a careless slighty manner of [Page 29] attending on it, that there are so many spirit­ually poor, weak christians among us. No wonder persons should continue "babes in Christ", if they do not use this mean of growth, or, if they use it, do it in an overtly superficial manner.—It is owing to this same cause also, in a great measure, that there are so many christians, who conflict with doubts and fears, being strangers to that comfortable hope to­wards God without which there can be no true enjoyment of life; and how should it be other­wise, if they will not wait upon Christ, in this way of his appointment, for those manifestati­ons of his love which shall scatter their fears, and set their minds at rest? It may be justly questioned, whether religion will ever flourish among us, until this institution of Christ is more generally attended, and with due care and consideration.

I SHALL subjoin here still further to excite our regard to the sacramental supper, that it is a visible mark, sign, or badge of the christ­ian profession. The wisdom of God has al­ways seen fit, under all the dispensations of his kingdom, to appoint some sacred visible rite, as a distinguishing mark pointing out his professing people. Circumcision was the instituted rite of distinction, to the seed of [Page 30] Abraham after the flesh. In addition hereto, the passover, under the law, was appointed, among other ends to be a sign between God, and the nation of the Jews, that is, a public solemn rite by which they might be known to be his people, in distinction from the other nations of the earth. And of such importance were these instituted rites, to the esteem of God, that the despisers of them were peremptorily ordered by his authority to "be cut off from his people"; as not having their proper mark, and therefore no right to their advantages. Christianity also has its distinguishing rites. Meeting together for "supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks," and the like public exercises of piety, are not peculiar to the religion of Jesus, but common to every other. Baptism, and the Lord's-Supper, are the sacred visible rites by which Christ would have his disciples and followers known to be such in distinction from the rest of the world. By baptism, which can be received but once, agreably to the mind of our Savior, they are initiated disciples; but it is principally by celebrating the Lord's-Supper, and doing it frequently in a stated course, that they are dis­tinguished as his followers. By this they were known as such in the days of the apostles. [Page 31] Their assembling together to "break bread" was their appropriate character, and pointed them out as the disciples of Christ. And so it ought to be now. We should be known to be christians by having communion in the em­blems of Christ's body and blood. A crucified Christ is the true basis of the religion of Jesus, in distinction from every other; and the pub­lic solemn celebration of him in this character, in the way he has appointed, is the proper distinctive mark of our profession as his disci­ples. By this we "glory in the cross of Christ", proclaiming our adherance to him, and that we have no hope towards God but through him. But if we are neglecters of the Lord's-Supper, we declare virtually, and in reality of sense, that we are ashamed of the proper christi­an badge. And what ever else we do in reli­gion, we leave that undone which is the institu­ted visible mark to distinguish us as Christ's disciples.

I HAVE now said all that I intended in illustration of the bonds we are under to "break bread" as Christ has commanded.

LET what has been offered, be seriously re­flected on by those who have made it their practice to treat the table of the Lord with [Page 32] neglect, not to say constructive contempt. You have violated the strongest bonds, and must be convinced of it, if you will but consider. Is not the supper of the Lord a plain institution of the gospel? Has not Je­sus Christ peremptorily said "do this in re­membrance of me"? Can you call in question the truth of this command? Have you not as good reason to believe, that he has insti­tuted the sacramental supper, as baptism, or the duty of attending to the word preached? And will you notwithstanding pay no regard to this gospel ordinance? Is he not the con­stituted sovereign in the kingdom of grace? Do you not call him Master and Lord? And is he not your Savior, as well as Lawgiver and Judge? Has he not died a sacrifice to atone for your sins? Have you any hope of the pardoning mercy of God, but through the merit of his blood, that blood of his, this institution is a memorial of. And will you, in opposition to all these constraining motives, go on in the neglect of it? God forbid that you should any longer disregard the authority of his Son Jesus Christ, and betray ingratitude to him for his astonish­ing love, by taking no practical notice of his dying request to his disciples and followers.



Acts. II. 42.

And they continued steadfastly—in breaking of Bread

I HAVE already taken occasion, from these words, to lay before you, in a plain and faithful manner, the obli­gations christians are under to "break bread" in obedience to Christ, and in com­memoration of his dying love to sinners.

WHAT I now propose is, a serious address, relative to the subject we have been upon, to the following classes of persons. To the se­curely [Page 34] wicked; to the careless and indiffer­ent; to those who neglect the Lord's-Supper, though it is their care to observe the other in­stitutions of christianity; to those who call in question the perpetuity of the command to "break and eat bread" at the sacramental table; and, finally, to those who are sensible of their duty in this regard, and would gladly attend it, but that they are hindred by various doubts, fears, and spiritual difficulties.

BY thus methodising this address, it will ob­viously and naturally fall in my way to consi­der the sacramental neglect in every point of view, and to offer thereupon what may be thought proper; not leaving untouched any objection, scruple, fear, or perplexity, however minute, any have mentioned, within my knowledge, in excuse of themselves. It has been my purpose, for some, considering the great and general, and, I may say, scandalous disregard that is practically shewn to as plain a duty as any in the religion of Jesus Christ, to be particular and thorough in an attempt of this nature; and if, in prosecution of it, seve­ral discourses should be found necessary, the importance of what may be delivered will ren­der an apology needless: You will the rather give the more earnest and diligens attention to what may be discoursed. This may be ex­pected [Page 35] of those, at least, whose minds are in anxiety respecting their attendance at the gos­pel supper.

I AM, in the first place, to address a few words to the securely wicked, those who lead a vicious and ungodly life, love the ways of sin, and walk in them, not perceiving within themselves an Inclination to cease from doing evil, but a disposition and resolution rather to go on in the practice of iniquity. Would to God it were an abuse of christians, so called, to suppose there were any among them of this character. But it is a fact too glarringly evi­dent to admit of a denial. To such I would say,

IT is not expected of you, nor indeed de­sired, that you would, in your present temper of mind, come to the table of the Lord. It would be a prophanation of that which is sa­cred for persons of your character to partake of the symbols of Christ's body and blood; and should you attend any other service of piety, it would be only for fashion's sake, and in hypocrisy. You are the wicked ones of whom it is declared, in the sacred books, that "their prayers are an abomination to the Lord", You are the sinners, of whom the holy God makes that demand, "when ye come to ap­pear [Page 36] before me, who hath required this at your hands"? You are the persons, as though pointed out by name, to them he applies, in that most solemn language, "what hast thou to do, that thou shouldest take my covenant in­to thy mouth"? But remember, though the wicked state you are allowedly in is a good reason, why you should not dare to partake of the Lord's Supper, it is, at the same time, a reason that will render you speechless, when you are called to stand before the bar of the coming judgment. Far from cancelling your obligations to this duty, it heinously aggravates your guilt in the neglect of it. You are the more inexcusible, as your being altogether unfitted for this, or indeed any other sacred performance, is owing to your vicious indulgences as willing servants of corruption. If any of you, my hearers, are conscious to yourselves, that you are the sinners here de­scribed, be assured, your state, religiously speaking, is lamentably sad. You will only mock God, should you pretend to draw nigh to him in the exercises of piety. And yet, your guilt in not doing this, instead of being lessened by your being thus sinful, will be greatly inhanced. Is then the condition you are in a safe one? Can you be easie in it? The [Page 37] Lord take pity on you! Unless you are awak­ened to attention, and brought to a sight of your sinfulness and danger, you are undone for the future world. This is the first thing necessary in order to your recovery. If it shall please the father of mercies, and God of all grace, to alarm your fears, roufe your consci­ences, and put you upon seeking to him in real earnest to compasionate your case, there will be hope concerning you. You may, if he should graciously do this, with propriety use the appointed means in order to a "deliver­ance from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the sons of God"; and you may do it, humbly hopeing for success, through him who has been the propitiation for the sins of men.

THE careless and indifferent are nextly to be applied to; by whom I intend, not those who have no sense of religion, and pay no regard at all to it, making sin, in one shape or another, their habitual allowed practice: These are not the persons I have here in view; but those, who, though they may have some perceptions of the bonds of God that are upon them, are yet the subject of them in a transient way only, and this in a low feeble degree, so as that they have no [Page 38] power to form their temper, or thoroughly touch their conscience. Their proper cha­racter is, not that they are totally thought­less, but insufficiently so; not that they are altogether unconcerned about the affairs of their souls and another world, but their con­cern about these infinitely important matters is light and inconsiderable; not that they never have any religious motions working in them, but they are weak, fluctuating and ineffectual; insomuch that they can indulge to carelessness in regard of the duties of pie­ty, and yet keep their minds in ease and peace; yea, they can live in the habitual neglect of them, or, which is as bad, a meer formal, customary performance of them, and perceive no uneasiness on this account. Many there are, and among those too who would take it ill not to be called christi­ans, whose just character has been here de­lineated, To such it may not be amiss to say,

YOUR great unhappiness is, that religion has taken no fast hold of your hearts. You are not only strangers to the power of god­liness but to that state of mind that is on­ly introductory to it. It is seldom, if ever, that persons take up the practice of religion with engagedness of heart, until they have [Page 39] first had excited in them such perceptions of God, and their obligations to him, as are incompatible with that indifferency of spirit which distinguishes the persons to whom I am now speaking. Instead therefore of be­ing christians in truth, you have not as yet attained to that serious state of mind, that sense of God, of sin and holiness, which are common to those who are but just entering upon the business of religion in good earnest.

THE proper advice to you is, to endea­vour, in all sutable ways, to get awakened in you a becoming concern about the infinitely interesting affairs of your souls, and everlast­ing salvation. Without this, if you do any thing in religion it will be a lip-service only. If you "honor God with your mouths, your hearts will be far from him". And, per­haps, duty thus performed, had as well been omitted. Be sure, the supper of the Lord should not be attended in this sleighty, su­perficial, not to say hypocritical manner. It would be a dishonor to the memory of Christ's dying love, and of no service to those, who in this heedless way, should join in the celebration of it. Not that persons will be discharged from guilt, if they neglect duty in general, or the duty of partaking of the [Page 40] sacramental supper in particular, on account of the inconsiderate unconcerned frame of mind they are habitually in. This would be to suppose, that one sin might be an ex­cuse for another, than which nothing is more palpably absurd. Your sin, in neglecting your duty, will be the more heinous in God's sight, as taking rise from so bad a cause as that of a thoughtless state of soul, rendering you un­meet for the performance of it.

THE first thing therefore proper for you is, to pay regard to that inspired direction, "con­sider, and shew yourselves men". Make use of the power of reflection you are endow­ed with, and is your distinguishing glory as men, reasonable creatures. And be much in the exercise of it; taking off your thoughts from the world, its vanities, gayities, amuse­ments, riches and pleasures, and employing them on those spiritual objects that will tend to soften your hearts, warm your affections, and animate your resolutions and endeavors. Without this care, it will be impossible, hu­manly speaking, but that you should remain destitute of any lively sense of God and reli­gion, and indifferent to things of a spiritual nature. It is by meditation, serious, frequent, devout meditation, that the mind is impres­sed, [Page 41] and a concern about the "one thing needful" at first excited, and afterwards main­tained and cherished. And you can be at no loss for objects, which, if solemnly medi­tated on, in the exercise of a rational faith only, would mightily tend to awaken your consciences, and promote in you a becoming sollicitude about your highest interest. Think of God, your relation to him, your depen­dance on him, and the inviolable obligations you are under to love, honor and serve him. Think on Christ, what he has done, and suffe­red, and is now doing at God's right hand in heaven for your salvation; what he ex­pects from you in return for all this good­ness, and what you may expect from him, if you treat it with ingratitude and base neg­lect. Think on the coming of the Lord Je­sus Christ a second time, his coming in the glory of his father, and in his own glory, with the holy angels, to judge the world in righteousness, when you shall stand before his tribunal, and, if you have not been careful to approve yourselves his faithful and obedi­ent servants, shall receive that sentence from his mouth, "depart from me, ye cursed, into the fire prepared for the devil and his angels". Oh amazing object of contemplati­on! [Page 42] What can be more powerfully adapt­ed to move your fear, awaken your concern, and engage your earnest endeavours, that you may be found of your Judge, in that day, among those, to whom he will say, "come ye blessed of my father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the founda­tion of the world". Can you make present to your view, in serious contemplation, this awful day of the Son of God, and not be concerned that you may then hold up your heads with joy? Can it be supposed, that you have faith, so much as a common faith, in this most serious and important truth, unless, when you employ your thoughts on it, your indifferency to religion, your care­lessness in reference to the duties of it, re­ceive some solemn check, unless they no longer operate as your habitual governing temper? If you are, any of you, to such a degree thoughtless, and unconcerned, as that you will not reflect on these interesting ob­jects of revelation, or are able to think of them with so little attention as not to be moved by them, you are in an unhappy condition. The "god of this world" has blinded your eyes, and you will remain in this spiritually hazardous state, until you are [Page 43] brought to consider, and so to consider as to be hereby thoroughly roused. And when­ever this shall come to be your case, you will attend the duties of piety, and you will do it from the heart, and not in hypocrisy; in real good earnest, and not as a matter of form: And by thus attending on the in­stituted means of grace, you may hope, un­der the concurring influence of the Spirit of God, to be trained up to a "meetness for the inheritance of the sanctified by faith in Jesus Christ".

ANOTHER sort of persons to be spoken to are those, who, instead of indulging to vice, are blameless in their lives. Their turn of mind is serious and considerate. They make it their practice to perform the other duties of religion, though not that of re­membring Christ at his table. It is their care to "pray to their father, who seeth in secret"; the "morning and evening sacri­fice" is daily going up as "incense" from their houses; they come to the "sanctuary" at the stated times for worship, and join with God's people in the public offices of reli­gion, the celebration of the sacrament only excepted. Nor is this a meer customary bu­siness, a matter of form only. They esteem [Page 44] it their duty, are consciencious in the doing it, and it would occasion uneasy reflections on themselves, should they needlessly neg­lect it. Some there are, it may be hoped a good number, of whom this is the just character. To such I would say,

IT is to your commendation, that you at­tend these duties of piety. But what good ac­count can you give of your leaving the other undone? Has Christ, the law-giver, King, and Judge of his Church, distinguished between the sacramental institution, and the other du­ties of religion, excusing your observance of the former, if you practically regard the lat­ter? Has he not rather peremptorily required your obedience to them all? Is it not as truly his will, explicitly and solemnly published, that you should celebrate the memorial of his dy­ing love, as that you should pray to God, or take heed to the word of doctrine or exhortation? And if it is proper you should obey him in these instances, why not in the other? Is not his authority the same in all these re­quirements? And will you do just honor to it, if, while you are obedient in some instances, you are disobedient in another? Your attend­ing the other exercises of piety will not be ac­counted another day a good reason for the [Page 45] neglect of this. It will rather be esteemed an evidence of deficiency in your regard to the government of him who is your professed Master and Lord. It is not enough my bre­thren, that you give your attendance on prayer, and the word preached. You are as much obliged to "break bread" at the Lord's-Sup­per. You may no more omit the one than the other. They are equally your duty: or, should there be any difference, your obligati­ons to pay a becoming respect to the sacra­mental institution are the strongest, and should make you more especially careful not to treat it with neglect. "This do in remembrance of me," is the dying command of your Savior, as well as Lord; and it is a command that enjoins your remembrance of the greatest love of the best friend. You are bound therefore in gratitude as well as duty to yield a ready chearful obedience to it. It is strange that any, who have upon their minds a serious sense of religion, and are hereupon careful in other respects to do the duties of it, should yet live month after month, and year after year, in the omission of this. It is more strange still, that they should be uneasy in their minds, should they neglect those duties, while yet they can go on in the neglect of this, and meet with little [Page 46] or no disturbance from the resentments of con­science. How far this constant omission of du­ty, in so important an article, may consist with the truth of grace, belongs only to Christ to determine. Unhappy mistakes, scruples, and fears, relative to the Lord's-Supper, (which may come under consideration in their proper place) will doubtless extenuate their fault: But when our Lord has so clearly and fully made known his will upon this head, it is difficult to conceive of any thing that will be sufficient to discharge us from the guilt of ingratitude to our Saviour, and the want of a due regard to his authority, as our rightful sovereign, while we make it our practice to turn away from his table.

ANOTHER class of persons still may be applied to; and they are those who pretend that the supper of the Lord is a temporary appointment, designed for the apostolic days only, confined to them, and ceasing with them as to its use and obligation.

To such it must be said, their notion of this matter is glaringly a mistaken one. And it may with all freedom be thus spoken of, as the apostle Paul has expressly assured us, and upon previous instruction immediately from Jesus Christ himself, that the "Lord's [Page 47] death" is to to be "shewed forth until he comes", 1 Cor. 11.26. What is the apostle's meaning in the phrase he here uses, "until he comes"? Surely he cannot intend the coming of Christ by his Spirit; for, in this sense, he had already come, and remarkably too on the day of penticost, when the Spirit was poured out upon the apostles in miracu­lous gifts and powers. Neither could he mean the coming of Christ to destroy Jerusa­lem. This event, however awful in its ef­fects upon the jewish nation, had no immedi­ate reference to the gentile church at Corinth. There would be no pertinency in the apostle's arguing with this church, in relation to their observance of the Lord's Supper, upon such an interpretation of his words, And there is no other "coming of Christ", spoken of in scripture, but his "coming" at the end of the world, "in the glory of his father, with his holy angels" when a period will be put to the administration of God's kingdom in its present form. So that, if we may depend upon the apostle Paul, the sacramental supper was not a temporary institution, but a perpetual one; not designed for the primitive christians in the first age only, but for all christians in all ages to the end of the world. For the death of [Page 48] Christ is to be "shewed forth until he come", and he will not come until the "mystery of God is finished", and "time shall be no more".

BESIDES, the passages of scripture which treat of this ordinance injoin the observation of it, and point out the manner in which it should be done, were wrote, in the divine in­tention, for the use and benefit of christians throughout all ages, and not for their's only to whom they were immediately directed. There is no christian, in any part, or age of the world, but is as truly concerned, as the christians at Corinth, in that apostolic advice, 1 Cor. 1 [...].25, "let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of this bread, and drink of this cup".

THE end also proposed by our Savior, in the appointment of this sacred rite, is a clear and full proof that it is of perpetual continu­ance, and obligatory upon christians in all ages until the end of time. Whatever other ends might be in the view of our Savior, this was certainly one, that the remembrance of his death, by a figurative representation of it, publicly recognised, might not be forgot, but kept strong and vigorous in the minds of christians. And if it was at all needful, in this way, to keep alive the memory of Christ's [Page 49] death, it was surely as needful in after ages, as in the first days of christianity. There was indeed less occasion for this appointment at first, because less danger of a forgetfulness of Christ's death. In succeeding ages, there would be increased danger lest he should be forgot. And that the remembrance of him might be preserved, continued, and upheld, he instituted this memorial. So that it was more especially designed for after ages, who, by this emblematical representation of him as crucified and slain, might have the reality of this fact, the great foundation of the christian scheme, lively in their minds. The longer it is since Christ's body was broken, and his blood shed, the more need there is of this memorial of it; and there will be need of it, and continually increasing need, until time shall be no more. His death therefore must be "shewed forth," in the way of di­vine appointment, "until he comes." The obligation to this, in stead of being lessen­ed, grows stronger, in proportion to the dis­tance from the time of his death, as a sa­crifice for sin.

IT may be added to what has been said, that the ordinance of the supper is as suitably and powerfully adapted, in its nature, to be [Page 50] beneficial to christians in all ages, as in the first days of the gospel. It offers the same occa­sion, by figurative, yet expressive signs, for con­templation on the most affecting and interest­ing objects. It has the same virtue it ever had, and will retain it, in all future time, to awak­en the attention, to excite affection, to melt the heart, and, in a word, to beget and confirm every real principle of goodness in the soul. It has all along been productive of these happy effects, it still produces them, and is equally fitted to an­swer so valuable an end in time yet to come. Why then should the use of this ordinance be discontinued? Why should it be thought a temporary one? There is the same rea­son for its being a perpetual appointment, as for its being an appointment at all. It is equally fitted for the use of christians at all times, and may be, unless from their own faultiness, of like benefit to them. It would therefore be a dishonour to Christ, by putting an undue limitation on his good­ness to his church, to suppose, that he should design so useful, so beneficial an insti­tution for his disciples only in the first age, when they all, in all ages, might reap the same spiritual profit therefrom.

[Page 51]THERE is yet an other sort of persons to be spoken to, the fearful and scrupulous, those who labor of doubts, and have their minds perplexed with difficulties. But, as my design here is, to be particular and full, that I may, if possible remove out of the minds of this kind of persons all scruples and fears, that they may come with comfort and pleasure to the Lord's table, I must defer what I have to say, until some fur­ther opportunity, if God shall please to grant it.

IN the meam time, let us be thankful to Christ, that, before he left the world, he was so concerned for the good of those, who should be his disciples, in all after­time, as to institute the supper, a mean hap­pily calculated to promote their edification in faith, love, and all christian graces. We should not be so insensible of our own spiri­tual profit, or of the bonds we are under of gratitude to Christ, as to treat this appoint­ment of his love with neglect.

LET us also, from what has been said, be confirmed in our belief of the perpetuity of [Page 52] the christian church. If the ordinance of the supper was intended for a perpetually continuing one, there will be a perpetual suc­cession of christians to attend the celebration of it. As surely as Christ designed, that his death should be "shewed forth until he comes", so surely will he have a church on earth to do this, until the commencement of this signal time. There may be a failure, a total failure, of christians in name, as well as reality, in this and the other nation; while yet he may have a church in the world: And he will perpetually have a succession of disciples to recognise the memory of his death, in the manner he has appointed, who, by this, among other means, shall be built up in faith and comfort, until the consummation of all things: Nor shall the combined powets of earth and hell be able to prevent it.

LET us likewise be firmly persuaded, that those are under the influence of delusive er­ror, who imagine they are above the use of the ordinance of the supper. Whatever mea­sures of the Spirit such may pretend to above o­thers, they are not under his guidance in this mat­ter. None among the followers of Christ ever [Page 53] yet attained to such perfection in this life, as to have no need of this institution of his, which will remain in force "until he comes". And is Christ already come, a second time? Have we yet seen the described signs of his appearing? We must wait for this, before the Lord's-Supper may be put by, as having continued its appointed time.

IN fine, we may properly take occasion, from what has been said, to look and long for the happy privileges of heaven. There will, in that blessed place, be no use for those means, and helps, that are necessary in this present state. Even the ordinance of the supper will be no more celebrated after the coming of Christ. In consequence of this, there will be an intire change in the manner of administration in God's king­dom. We "see now as through a glass darkly"; but then we shall "see face to face, and know even as we are known". We now enjoy God in the use of ordinances; we shall then enjoy him in a more immediate way. We are now, after our highest attain­ments, in the best use of appointed means, poor, weak, imperfect creatures; we shall then be advanced to such a noble degree of per­fection, [Page 54] as to be able to converse with God, and Jesus Christ, in another and far more exalted manner, so as to be completely, un­interruptedly and eternally happy. God grant it may be the portion of us all, through Jesus Christ, to him be glory.




Acts. II. 42.

And they continued steadfastly—in breaking of Bread

SEVERAL classes of persons have been applied to, from these words, in relation to an attendance on the sacramental "breaking of bread."

IT remains to speak to the scrupulous and fearful, those who are kept from this ordinance, not from a thoughtless, careless temper of mind, much less an indulged contempt of the autho­rity of Jesus Christ; but by reason of doubts [Page 56] and difficulties that lie in the way of their obedience to it. These are many and various. It shall be my endeavour to take due notice [...] them all, so far as I am acquainted with [...] not studying to range them in any nice [...] but rather bringing them to view as they [...] occur to mind.

THE first ground of fear I would menti­on is, the apprehension many have of some peculiar kind of sanctity in this ordinance. They imagine it to be holy in a sense different from that, in which the other institutions of christianity are holy; and are therefore scru­pulous, as to their attendance on it; while yet they can, without difficulty, attend the other appointments of gospel worship.

In order to remove away this ground of fear, I would not say a word to lessen, in the minds of any, a just sense of that holy reverence with which they should always approach to the table of the Lord; but it may, at the same time, be proper to put persons upon due care to guard themselves against superstitious notions, respecting the holiness of the bread and wine, of which they eat and drink at the sacramental supper. These, it may be, are the source, at bottom, of the scrupulous fear I am now considering. It takes rise, [Page 57] not from just sentiments of the nature, de­sign, or tendency of the Lord's-Supper; but from a mind tinctured with superstitious awe and veneration. This is certainly the truth, if we imagine, that holiness, in any de­gree, is transmitted into the bread and wine by their consecration to the sacramental use. Many, I have reason to think, entertain this thought of the matter. But it is intirely a false notion. The bread and wine are no other­wise holy, after their consecration, than as they are separated to an holy use, and in this way become capable of being improved to promote holiness in us. The ordinance of the supper is not therefore holy in a sense any way different from that, in which the other institutions of religion are holy. They are all holy, as intended, and adapted, to make men holy, and ought practically to be regard­ed without distinction, or discrimination. Surely we cannot, upon just and solid grounds, scruple the use of the sacramental institution, meerly because it is an holy one, while we free­ly use the other institutions of religion, all which are holy also, and in the same sense precisely too, in which the supper of the Lord is holy. Yea, if the "breaking and eat­ing of bread" at the sacramental-table, should [Page 58] be esteemed, even, more holy than any other acts of instituted religion, it would be so far from being a good reason why we should not do this duty, that it ought rather more pow­erfully to constrain us to it. For why should the Lord's-Supper be esteemed more holy, than the other appointments of christian wor­ship? It can justly be so in no sense but this, its being better fitted to promote holiness in us. And shall any, who profess a serious sense of God, and the obligations of religion, scruple the use of the sacramental institution for this reason. They should rather look up­on themselves so much the more bound to a faithful, constant, consciencious observance of it: Yea, so far as they have it in their view to become holy, or to be made more so, by their attendance on the institutions of the gos­pel, they should be particular in their care not to neglect this, as it is the most powerfully suited to promote this good end.

I shall subjoin here a remark not unworthy of notice. It is this. Christians, for many ages, by means of the popish doctrine of tran­substantiation, entertained superstitious, not to say idolotrous, notions of the sacramental bread and wine; supposing that they were converted into the real body and blood of [Page 59] Jesus Christ. And though the doctrine, from whence these false notions took rise, has, since the reformation, been discarded by those who are called protestants; yet may it be feared, whether some tincture of the old leaven does not still remain in the minds of too many. Thus much, at least, may naturally and rea­sonably be supposed, that christians, upon se­perating from the church of Rome, retained so much of their former superstition, as to place too great a difference between the sa­cramental supper, and other religious duties. For this reason they abstained from an at­tendance at the Lord's table, while they ob­served the other institutions of gospel-wor­ship; and, by this means, there might be propagated, in the minds of many, from that day to this, such a notion of the peculiar holiness of this ordinance, as that they are hard­ly brought to pay a practical regard to it. Whether this is a just account of the matter, or not, it is certain, however it comes about, that many serious good people entertain mis­taken apprehensions of the holiness of this ordinance; otherwise they would not be indu­ced, from such apprehensions, to abstain from the use of it. It can, with propriety and truth, be called an holy ordinance, only as it was [Page 60] appointed to an holy purpose and use, and as it is a proper and powerful means to make the obervers of it holy, according to man's mea­sure, as God is holy. And surely, as has been said, this is a good reason why we should join in celebrating the Lord's-Supper; but a very bad one why we should neglect to do so. Surely, the reasoning cannot be just, the supper of the Lord is holy, as being a di­vine appointment happily calculated to make men holy; I ought not therefore to be a par­taker at it, I may not approach to it. How glaringly absurd is such arguing as this! Where­as, the arguing, on the contrary, is strictly right, and strongly conclusive, the sacrament­al-supper was instituted with a view to make men holy, and is powerfully fitted to such a purpose, it is therefore my wisdom, my interest, my duty, to be a partaker at it; and the more holy it is, on account of its tendency and suita­bleness to make men holy, the more wise I shall approve my self, the more I shall consult my truest interest, the more will my conduct agree with what is right, proper and fit, while I am instant, steady and diligent in paying a religious regard, in my practice, to this sacred institution of the gospel.

SO that, upon the whole, the fear any seri­ous, [Page 61] thoughtful, christians may have on their minds, relative to their participation of the Lord's-Supper, as taking rise from the holi­ness of this rite of gospel worship, has really no just foundation. You should rather fear, my brethren, lest you should dishonour Christ by neglecting a divinely appointed mean, and the most wisely and powerfully adapted one, in order to your being holy, while you neglect to give your presence at the sacramental table. You cannot indeed expect to be holy, to be sure not eminent­ly so, while you difuse this special and pow­erful means in order to it.

ANOTHER thing that keeps some from the gospel-supper is, a fear lest they should not live as may be reasonably expected of those, who "eat and drink in Christ's pre­sence"; they think, and with great truth and justice, that all, who come to the table of the Lord, should adorn their character, as the disciples of Christ, by a well-ordered con­versation; causing their "light to shine be­fore others, that, seeing their good works, they may glorify their father in heaven". But they fear, lest they should not "walk worthy of the Lord". Others, they observe, are too frequently faulty, in this regard, to [Page 62] the reproach of Christ, and scandal of his ho­ly religion; and, fearing lest they should be thus faulty, they are restrained from coming to the supper of their Lord; imagining they had better be non-attendants at it, than run the hazard of this guilt.

TO such I would say, your fear is just, but does not operate in a right manner. You ought to be "jealous over yourselves with a godly jealousy"; encouraging a fear, lest you should act an unworthy part, and dishonor your Savior, by a walk in the world unbe­coming the gospel, and the highest professi­on of its bonds on you. But then, it should be your care to govern the influence of this fear, so as that, instead of being an hindrance to you in duty, it may rather invigorate your endeavours to put it fully in practice. Your fear is, lest you should not honor your pro­fession; and it is a fear that well becomes all the professors of christianity. But what ought, in true reason, to be its operation? Surely, not to restrain you from making a profession. This would be a counter action to its proper design, and genuine tendency. It should rather put you upon greater watch­fulness, and circumspection. It should quick­en your zeal, and make you more earnest and [Page 63] resolute in your endeavours, under the blessing of God, to behave in the world with that sobriety, purity, and righteousness, which be­come those who sit down as guests at the table of Christ.

IT is observable, the holy apostles were a­fraid lest those who professed faith in Christ, and were admitted to break that bread, which is the instituted memorial of his broken body, should be unmindful of the bonds of God that were upon them, and live in a man­ner unworthy of their character as the disci­ples of Christ. But how did their fear ope­rate? Not by advising men to forbear pro­fessing Christ, or eating and drinking with him at his table. Not a word of this tendency is to be met with, any where in the new-testa­ment. But, in consequence of this fear, their exhortations were, to "hold fast the profession of their faith"; to "take heed, watch and pray"; to be diligent and laborious, that their walk in the world might be "worthy of that God who had called them into his kingdom". And this should be the influence of the fear I am now speaking of; and this will be its influence, if duly regulated. It will not restrain any from remembering the dying love of their Lord, in the way of his appoint­ment, [Page 64] but rather first urge them to it, and then make them earnest and faithful in their endeavours to behave, in all respects, as those ought to do, who are admitted to so near communion with their Savior and Lord.

I SHALL not think it either impertinent, or unseasonable, if I add a word here to those communicants, who, by their unguarded, mis­becoming conduct, are the occasion of that fear in the minds of many, which restrains them from joining with their christian brethren in partaking of the symbols of Christ's body and blood. It is too glaring a truth to be dis­owned, that, among the guests at the sacra­mental supper, there are too many who live as though they were insensible of the bonds they are under to "order their conversation in simplicity and godly sincerity, not by fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God" Instead of being bright examples of those virtues that are ornamental to christians, and honorary to the religion they profess, they are too much con­formed to this evil world, and appear too like the men of it. The plain truth is, the unhallow­ed lives of those, who sit down at the Lord's table, has been a stumbling-block to many serious, considerate, well-disposed persons. Far from exciting them to glorify God by the lustre [Page 65] of these graces, they have rather, by their un­christian behavior of themselves, made them afraid of professing Christ, left they also should be a reproach both to him, and his holy re­ligion. This, my brethren, is utterly a fault. We who "call Christ Lord, Lord, and eat and drink in his presence", should above all things make it our care to "walk worthy of him unto all pleasing". We should keep at the utmost distance from every thing vicious and immoral; and not only so, but should be found in the practice of all the virtues that are amia­ble and praise-worthy. We should be grave and modest in our behaviour, sober and use­ful in our discourse, diligent and faithful in our respective callings, just and honest in our dea­lings. We should daily live in the exercise of meekness, patience, faith, temperance, humi­lity. We should be courteous in our converse, gentle, kind, peceable and obliging in our car­riage; and, as we have opportunity, should, according to our ability, "do good to all men, especially to the houshold of faith". In a word, "whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, what­soever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, [Page 66] we should think on these things", so think on them as to exhibit in our lives a conspicuous example of them: So shall we honour our­selves, and reflect glory on our Saviour and master Jesus Christ; and, instead of deterring others from the table of the Lord, we shall, in the most constraining manner, invite and urge them to be present as guests at it.—But to leave this digression, if any should please so to call it.

ANOTHER difficulty still in the way of some is a fear, lest, if they should be overcome to commit sin after they have ate and drank at the sacramental supper, they should never obtain forgiveness. This may not be a difficulty that has perplexed the minds of many; but some, I have reason to think, are kept from the Lord's-Supper through fear, taking rise from this view of the matter.

BUT it is a fear altogether imaginary. No­thing in all the Bible gives the least counte­nance to it. Far from this, we are assured, in that sacred book, "that if any man should sin", be it before, or after, his breaking and eating bread at the sacramental table, "we have an advocate with the father, Jesus the righteous, who has been the propitiation for our sins". And this Jesus, who died a sacrifice for transgression, has himself most prerempto­rily [Page 67] declared, in terms too plain and express to be easily misunderstood, that but one sin, the sin of blaspheming the holy Ghost, is excepted out of the gospel-grant of pardoning mercy. So that whatever our sins may have been, and whensoever committed, whether before or af­ter a profession of Christ, and eating and drink­ing in his presence, they come within the reach of offered, and promised forgiveness, and shall certainly, upon our repentance, be pardoned for the sake of Christ, and on account of that atonement he has made for the sins of men.

IT is true, sins that are committed after the highest profession of love to Christ, and sub­jection to his authority, are aggravated in their guilt; but whatever aggravating circum­stances attend them, they are not such as will obstruct the bestowment of God's mercy in the remission of them, in regard of those, who in the exercise of true repentance, repair to him for this blessing. Those words of the apostle Paul contain enough in them forever to satisfy us of this, "where sin has abound­ed, grace does much more abound"; though we should take care we do not abuse this grace, by encouraging ourselves to sin, that God's grace in the pardon of it may abound [Page 68] towards us. This would argue the basest in­gratitude. Shall we be evil, because God is good? God forbid!

IT is true likewise, if any, after such se­rious impressions as have put them upon an attendance "on the word, breaking of bread, and prayer", relapse into thoughtlessness and security, insomuch that they can "sin wilful­ly", and in an habitual course, "the latter end with them is worse than the beginning"; the danger awfully great, lest they should "fail of the grace of God" and be "not again re­newed to repentance". But the case even of this kind of persons is not without all hope. It is possible they may be awakned to a just sense of things, and be brought to that "re­pentance which is unto life, not to be repen­ted of"; though their state, it must be ac­knowledged, is hazardous; as they cannot be renewed by repentance, but with extreme dif­ficulty.

THE apostle Paul sometimes supposes, that professors of religion, even those among them who have been admitted to the highest pri­vileges of God's visible kingdom, may shame­fully backslide. And what does he say here­upon? Does he put any upon neglecting gos­pel institutions through fear, lest they should [Page 69] afterwards relapse into sin? Far from this, he advises them to be steady and persevering in the use of them; and to take occasion from fear of a relapse, to be cautious and cir­cumspect, to look well to themselves, to be upon their guard, and to hold out against all opposition in the way of well-doing, that, be­ing faithful to the death, they may obtain the crown of eternal life. And this should be the influence of our fear, respecting sin af­ter having ate and drank at the table of the Christ. Instead of keeping us from this duty, it should keep us upon our guard, and make us the more watchful over our hearts and lives.

ANOTHER difficulty yet in the way of ma­ny to their attendance at the sacramental supper is, a fear lest they are not prepared for so sa­cred an ordinance.

To this it might be sufficient to say, the duty of this kind of persons is so plain, as not to admit of dispute. They should in­stantly set about the work of preparation, and give themselves no ease, until it is accom­plished; and the rather, because, if it is the real truth, that they are essentially wanting in a preparedness, in the frame of their minds, for an approach to the table of Christ, they can [Page 70] have no good hope towards God. They are unmeet for the kingdom of heaven, and shall not be admitted to sit down there, at the eternal supper of the lamb. And, surely, this is not a state to be continued in with peace and quiet of soul.

But, as this difficulty is the most common one, and keeps a great many from the sacra­mental table, I shall be more particular and distinct in offering what may be sufficient to remove it away.

YOU say, you fear whether you are pre­pared to eat bread and drink wine with Christ at his table; and your fear restrains you from attending this instance of duty.

PERMIT me to ask you, what do you mean by this preparation, you are afraid you are destitute of? This is an important question in the present case, and the true answer to it will make way for the re­moval of all the difficulty that is per­plexing to you.

DO YOU mean, when you say you are not prepared for the sacrament, that your state in such, as that, if you attend this duty, it must be done with some mixture of frailty and imp [...]ction? If this is [Page 71] what you mean, you are to be plainly told, that you will never be able to attend the memorial of your Saviour's death in a man­ner perfectly freed from all mixture of sin. You will, as long as you live, con­tinue frail imperfect creatures; and God has made no provision in the Gospel to prevent it. If therefore you imagine, you must not come to the sacrament, until you can attend there without any mixture of cor­ruption, you must never come: And should others think as you do, neither would they come; the consequence of which would be, that the sacramental supper would have no guests to attend it; nor indeed ought it to have any. The real truth is, our Lord ap­pointed the memorial of his death for poor, weak, imperfect, and sinful creatures, as the best of men always have been, and always will be to the end of the world. And if such may not remember the dying love of their Lord, in the way of his special appointment, it must never be done in in this world, and so never done at all. For good men, in the coming world, will be above the need, or use, of this, or any other instrumental mean, as being perfect [Page 72] in their conformity to the image of Christ, as he is to the image of the invisible God.

DO you mean, when you say you are not prepared for the sacrament, that you have not as yet attained to a confirmed, well established state of goodness? Surely, this should be no bar in your way. It ought rather to be a motive powerfully con­straining you to give your instant and con­stant attendance on this institution of the gospel. For it was appointed by Christ, the head of his church, as a wisely and suita­bly adapted, mean, among other things, to confirm the habits of grace, and make them well established principles of all vir­tuous, and christian good practice; and it is, by the use of this divinely appointed mean of grace, as well as by the word, that we are to grow, from the state of babes and children, to that of complete men in Christ. You will therefore, not on­ly dishonour Christ, but wrong yourselves, if, from such a mistaken notion, you ne­glect your duty. The more weak and im­perfect you are in goodness, the more rea­son you have for the use of this mean of grace. How can you use a more proper or [Page 73] powerful method to grow up to the "full­ness of Christ". You would, if you were constant, and consciencious in this near approach to God, and intimate communion with Christ, be formed more and more to the tem­per of heaven, and a meetness for the im­ployments and injoyments of that blessed world. Sin would continually grow weak­er and weaker, and grace stronger and stronger. In a word, by thus commemo­rating the love of your Saviour, you would use a divinely appointed mean, to strength­en your pious resolutions, invigorate your virtuous principles, and animate your up­right endeavours to grow in a likeness to God, and Jesus Christ, and every thing that is spiritually good.

DO YOU mean when say you are not prepared for the sacrament, that you are ignorant of its nature, or of the manner in which you should attend at it; and, not having sufficient knowledge re­lative to this institution of religion, you fear you should do ill to come to it.

THE answer here is easie and short. If you are in earnest in speaking of this as a difficulty, and it is the real truth that you are thus ignorant, there is no [Page 74] need you should long continue so, and the fault will be your own if you do. You are favored with all advantages, in order to gain a sufficiency of knowledge, with reference to the sacrament. You have the bible in your hands, which re­cords its institution, explains its nature and design, and directs as to the man­ner of attending at it. You have like­wise, within your reach, a variety of va­luable books, purposely wrote by the best of men, for your help in under­standing the scripture upon this head. You may also repair, whenever you please, to christian friends and ministers, for all needed instruction. And if under the en­joyment of such advantages as these, you continue ignorant, the fault will be your own, and it will be inexcusably great. It will indeed be evident, that this difficulty, with which you excuse yourselves from coming to the sacrament, is a meer pre­tence. It will surely be so esteemed by your Saviour, who will also be your Judge in the great day of reckoning.

DO YOU mean, when you say you fear whether you are prepared for the sacra­ment, that your fear is, whether you are [Page 75] the subjects of the saving grace of God, and so think you had better stay away from this ordinance, until you are more free from doubt upon this head.

TO SUCH, as it is my design more largely to consider this difficulty by its self in its proper place, I shall only say at present, It may be your fear, lest you have not been partakers of the grace of God in truth, is a false one. You may, not­withstanding this fear, have "passed from death to life," and be known by Christ to be in the number of those who are HIS in the special and eminent sense. Many, among the true fearers of God, have lived, and died, under the prevailence of uncomfortable fears, respecting their spi­ritual state. It is therefore no sure argu­ment, that you have not been formed to a likeness to God, in his moral glory, that you have no lively perceptions of it, but rather conflict with doubts and fears, lest this should not be the truth of your case. And let me further say here, the most likely way you can take for the re­moval of your doubts and fears, is, to give your attendance instantly, and to conti­nue it statedly, at the sacramental table. [Page 76] What matter of wonder is it, you should be in doubt about the goodness of your state, while you habitually neglect your duty in as plain and evident an article, as any in all the bible? God may be displeased with this sin of yours, and "hide his face" from you And what is also wor­thy of serious considerations while you neglect the sacrament, you neglect a mean of grace happily and powerfully suited to give you such views of the love of Christ, as may excite the exercise of love to him, in a degree enabling you to say, "Lord, thou knowest that I love thee." There are, among se­rious good christians, who can tell you, they have come away from the sacrament with a refreshing sense of their interest in the dying love of their Saviour, though they have gone to it in darkness and per­plexity.

BUT let it be supposed, that you are not as yet in what the scripture calls a regenerate state. Is there nothing, at the sacramental table, that is fitted to beget in you the life of God, and true holiness? Have there never been instances of those, in whom the work of grace was begun [Page 77] with power, by means of a crucified Christ, here exhibited to open view? And why may not you also be thus effectually wrought upon, under the influence of di­vine grace? There is nothing, my hear­ers, that can operate upon the human mind, in a way of means, to saving pur­pose, but what is held forth plainly, though by figurative signs, at the sacramental table. And the truths here preached may as well have their operation while you are here, as at any other time, or in any other place.

I would not, by what I now say, be understood to encourage those to come to the ordinance of the supper, who are thoughtless and unconcerned, insensible of sin, and unresolved as to putting themselves under the guidance, instruction, and go­vernment of Christ. But this is far from being the case of those I am speaking to. Their fear of coming to the sacrament, lest they should come in an unprepared man­ner, sufficiently discovers their temper of mind; indicating it to be religious, if not gracious. They would not offend God; they had rather omit duty, than do it under the apprehension they should hereby dis­please [Page 78] him. They are the subjects of a serious, if not a saving sense of God and divine things. It is their concern, that they might honour and serve him; and that they do not do it in the article un­der consideration is owing, rather to their reverence of the divine majesty, that the want of regard to his governing autho­rity.

And are persons of this character essen­tially defective in their preparation for an attendance at the table of the Lord? It ought not to be supposed. It may rather be thought, they will be esteemed by our Saviour welcome guests. They had cer­tainly better wait upon Christ at this ordi­nance, with this preparation, than totally absent themselves from it.

YOU say, you are afraid to come to the sacrament, lest you should come being un­prepared for this sacred duty. Let me ask you hereupon, have you no fear upon your spirit, as taking rise from a total neg­lect of this gospel-appointment? Is there no sin, or danger, in a continued course of practically throwing disregard upon as ex­press an institution of Jesus Christ, as any in the sacred books? There certainly is, my [Page 79] friends, both sin and danger in neglecting to remember the dying love of Christ in the way of his appointment; and both the sin and danger of this neglect, continued in from one period of life to another, are much greater, and ought therefore to be much more feared, than a meer defect in the degree of preparation. Let it be acknowledged, it is a fault to come to the sacrament, unless we are in some good measure prepared in the habitual frame of our minds; but it is a fault likewise, and a much greater one, totally to abstain from it. Our wisdom and duty therefore is, neither abstain from it, nor to come to it, but with a mind so far prepa­red for it, as that it may be our serious and upright desire and endeavour to honor our Savior, and reap advantage to our own souls. And let me add here, none are more like­ly to come in this prepared manner, than those who fear to come, lest they should be unprepared. This fear will influence them to a becoming care, that they may eat of this bread and drink of this cup, not in a thought­less, customary manner, but in a religious frame of mind, as those who distinguish be­tween the sacramental, and common bread and wine, looking upon them as the sym­bols [Page 80] of Christ's body and blood, and parta­king of them as such, in the exercise of faith affection, zeal, and hearty desires to be spiritually benefitted by them. It were to be wished, all that come to this ordinance would come with this preparation of mind. It would, in this case, be better attended than it commonly is, more to the glory of God through Christ, and more to the edification of communicants in faith, and love, and comfort.

THERE are yet other difficulties to be mentioned. But these must be referred to some other opportunity. The good Lord bless what has been said, that it may be be­neficial to us.




Acts. II. 42.

And they continued steadfastly—in breaking of Bread

I HAVE taken occasion, from these words, to apply to several sorts of persons, in reference to their celebration of the sacramental-supper. The last I spake to were those, who would gladly remember their Savior and Lord in this way of his appoint­ment, but that they are hindered by various perplexing doubts and fears. Some of these I have already mentioned, and endeavoured to remove.

[Page 82]THE next difficulty, which I now proceed to consider, arises from a fear some have, lest they should not eat and drink at the supper of their Lord in that SPIRITUAL manner, without which they should only sin, if they should be guests at it. They imagine, they must be the subjects of SPIRITUAL life, or they cannot take of the bread, or wine; or eat of the one, or drink of the other, in the exercise of that faith and love, with­out which they should rather prophane the ordinance, than to attend on it to the honor of Christ, or the profit of their own souls. They had therefore, they conclude, better stay from it, until they are made spiritually "alive to God through Christ".

IT is obvious to say in reply here, that no one can pray to God, read, or hear his word, or perform any religious duty in a spi­ritual manner, unless he is the subject of spi­ritual life. Fear therefore, as taking rise meerly from an apprehended want of this life, if consistent and uniform in its operati­on, will restrain persons from every instance of piety, as well as this of remembring their Saviour at the sacrament. They ought in­deed, upon this principle, no more to pray, or hear God's word, or attend on any insti­tution of religion, than this of the Supper. [Page 83] For, not being possessed of spiritual life, they can no more perform the former of these duties in the spiritual sense than the latter. And what are we now brought to in real consequence? Religion, in all its bran­ches, must be neglected, by all who have not "passed from death to life". And does this comport, in any measure, with the re­quirements of the gospel? Was it the view of God, in instituting the means of religion, that that they should not be used, until one of the main ends, proposed by them is effec­tually answered without them? Was it his design, that persons should sit idle, and do no­thing, until, by the power of his grace, they are changed into "new-men in Christ"? The holy Bible, that infallible rule of direc­tion, no where suggests any thing to this purpose. On the contrary, it puts men up­on the use of means as the way, and the only way, in which they may expect to be made "partakers of the divine nature". The "clean heart", and the "right-spirit", are, upon the gospel plan of mercy, obtainable blessings. But how are they to be obtained? Says the answer of God himself, "I will be inquired of to do this for you". And that is the ad­vice of our Savior Jesus Christ, not to those [Page 84] only who had grace already, but to those al­so who had it not, "ask, and ye shall re­ceive; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you". And Simon Magus, though at present destitute of a prin­ciple of spiritual life, was yet directed by an inspired apostle "to pray God if perhaps he might be forgiven". Meerly the want of a spiritual principle cannot therefore be a good reason, why we should not be in the use of any instituted mean of religion. If it is, those ought not to pray, who are not spiritually alive to God. For they can no more spiritually perform this duty, than any other; and if duty may not be performed, unless spiritually performed, they may no more pray than "break bread" at the Lord's table. But persons, not spiritually alive, are not only allowed, but expressly directed, even by God himself, to pray to him: From whence it unquestionably appears, that meer­ly the want of spiritual life is not a valid reason, why duty, in any instance whatever, may not be attended.

THERE are, my brethren, other princi­ples, besides that of spiritual life, from which persons may perform duty. They may do it from a principle of fear, "being persua­ded [Page 85] thereto by the terrors of the Lord"; they may do it from a principle of hope, expect­ing in this way to obtain the divine favour; they may do it from a principle of obedi­ence, as having their minds impressed with a serious deep sense of the bonds of God that are upon them; yea, they may do it from a principle of faith that is real, though it should fall short of that which is saving: All which are good principles of action, though not the highest, and best.

AND, in consequence of these principles, that are good in themselves, they may per­form duty also in a manner morally, if not spiritually, good; they may do it heartily, in opposition to hypocrisy; they may do it earnestly, in opposition to heedlessness and formality; they may do it with awakened affections, in opposition to dulness and cold­ness; yea, they may do it in the exercise of a real faith in God, and in his Son Jesus Christ, though their faith should not be that precious faith, which is peculiar to the justified through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ.

AND as duty in general, and as it re­spects the "breaking of bread" at the Lord's-table in particular, may be performed [Page 86] from such principles, and in such a manner, shall any live in the omission of it meerly, or only, because they cannot perform it from a principle, and in a manner, still higher and more noble? This, surely, is not right. It cannot be justified, either up­on the foot of reason, or revelation.

IT is readily acknowledged, when men, besides being destitute of a spiritual princi­ple, have so little sense of the nature and obligations of religion, as that they can at­tend it's duties in a thoughtless, careless, customary manner; or engage in the perfor­mance of them, only that they may be in the fashion, or with a view to wear a cloak for reputation, or that they might the more ad­vantageously carry on their worldly and car­nal designs: I say, when, besides the meer want of spiritual life, persons are in a dispo­sition thus to attend duty, they had as well not do it all. Perhaps, it would be less dis­honorary to God, to omit it, than to perform it thus heedlessly and hypocritically. But shall the same be said of that performance of it before described? Shall those, who, though they are not spiritually alive, yet have upon their minds a serious sense of God and religion, and can attend it's duties with earn­estness, [Page 87] affection, and faith; shall such as these discourage themselves herefrom, or be discouraged by others? It ought not to be. There is certainly a wide difference between thoughtless, senseless, secure sinners, and those who are earnestly concerned about the great affairs of religion, who are disposed to seek God with their heart, and to wait upon him in all the ways of his appointment, that they may be savingly enlightned, and quickned by him. The prayers of the former may be abomination to him, much more a partici­pation of the symbols of Christ's body and blood; while he may regard the former, ap­proving of their endeavours, in the use of the means he has appointed, in order to their being spiritually blessed by him. Did our Savior Jesus Christ ever discourage such from coming to him? Was he not rather moved with compassion towards them? Was he not particularly urgent with them to "to seek God that he might be found of them"? And were there none in the apostles days, not better qualified, who sat down at the sacramen­tal supper? Those holy men of God gladly admitted multitudes of this sort to commu­nion with them in "breaking of bread". And could they now speak from the excel­lent [Page 88] glory, I doubt not but they would say, their fears were groundless; they ought to get the better of them, and not suffer them­selves, any longer, to be detained from so ad­vantageous a mean of religion as that of the sacramental supper. And this leads me

TO another difficulty in the way of some; and this is, an apprehension of the Lord's-Supper as intended, in it's appointment, for those only who are partakers of the grace of God in the special, or saving, sense. The ordinance, say they, is a privilege appropri­ated to persons of this character. No other have a right to it; and should they lay in a claim, it would be in the view of God nothing better than presumption. And as we are in doubt, whether our faith is that by which "the just shall do live", we doubt our having a right to the sacrament, and so had better stay from it, until we are well satisfied that we are be­lievers unto life. This is a difficulty that has often layn heavy upon the minds of too ma­ny; either keeping them from the table of the Lord, or making their presence there uncomfortable, if not, at times, greatly distres­sing. To such I would say,

IF it is indeed the truth, that the sacrament­al supper is designed for those only who are en­dowed [Page 89] with saving grace, none but such ought to come to it: Nor ought any other to be en­couraged to do so. This is a plain case, so plain as not to admit of dispute. And as their right to come, is, upon this suppo­sition, essentially connected with their being the subjects of true grace, they must be well satisfied they have this grace, or they cannot, upon just and solid grounds, be satisfied that they have this right. Grace and right are, in the present case, so related to each other, that wherever there is the want of the one, there cannot be the other. And should any be in doubt, as to the truth of their grace, they must, in the same degree, be in doubt as to the validity of their claim to this ordi­nance. And to speak plainly, and without disguise, I must freely confess, I cannot see how any, who connect a right to the Lord's-Supper with the real truth of Grace, can, with a good conscience, come to it, unless they are clearly satisfied in their minds, that they are partakers of that unfeigned faith, which is proper only to the redeemed unto God by the blood of Christ. And was there no other reason to question, whether it is a truth, that the sacramental supper is appro­priated to those only who are believers in [Page 90] the saving sense, insomuch that none else may warrantably come to it, this I should esteem a very good one. For who then would eat and drink at the Lord's table, but those who had some good degree of assurance, respect­ing the safety of their spiritual state? And how few, alas, are these? It is truly a rare thing to meet with christians that have got above doubts and fears, relative to the goodness of their character in the gospel estimation. The table of the Lord must consequently, upon the impleaded supposition, be surprisingly thin of guests; unless those should appear at it, who had no right to be there, or, what amounts to the same thing, in the present case, who did not know that they had this right, or that were any other than bold intruders; for this they could no otherwise know, than by being beyond doubt as to the goodness of their state God-ward. Surely, it was never the intention of our Savior, in appointing, the sacramental supper, to limit an attendance at it to those few only, who had got above doubt or fear, as to their being christians in the saving sense; and yet, this must have been his intention, if those only may warran­tably give their attendance, who are the sub­jects of true grace; because they must know [Page 91] themselves to be so, or they cannot know they have any divine warrant to eat of this gospel-supper. The plain truth is, this re­striction of a right to the sacrament, will at once exclude multitudes from it who are real christians, because they are weak and doubt­ing ones. None such, if a right to this or­dinance is connected with the reality of grace, ought to come to it. For, so far as they are in doubt of their being real good christi­ans, they must doubt of the lawfulness of their being guests at it. And if they doubt of their right to be at the sacrament, they will incur the charge of guilt if they come to it. That saying of the apostle Paul, Rom. 14.23, is as applicable in the case of doubting as to a right to the Lord's-Supper, as in the case he particularly mentions, "He that doubteth is damned * if he eat, because [Page 92] he eateth not of faith"; that is, he stands condemned in his own conscience, because he eats, not being fully persuaded it was awful for him to eat. Thousands of those [Page 93] who might be worthy communicants at the Lord's table, and receive great spiritual pro­fit by being there, will be excluded from it, if those only may rightfully come to it, who can come, not doubting of the goodness of their character as christians. I cannot sup­pose our Lord has made the way to his ta­ble [Page 94] so strait and narrow; neither can I bring myself to think, that he ever intended this appointment of his religion to be an occasi­on of embarrasment to the minds of his dis­ciples, those of them especially that are weak, or fearful, and need rather to be encoura­ged to, than deter'd from, the practice of their duty.

THE most proper and direct answer there­fore to the difficulty under consideration is, [Page 95] a denial of the foundation on which it is built, namely, that saving grace is a qualifi­cation without which persons may not come to the table of the Lord. If those may warran­tably come, as allowed by their Lord to come, who have not as yet attained to that [Page 96] faith which is saving, all ground of perplex­ity from this quarter is at once removed away. And that this is the real truth, I shall en­deavour to make evident to you. And that I may do it in the most easie, and yet most satisfying way, I shall turn your view to the practice of the inspired apostles, in admitting persons to communion with them in "break­ing of bread"

AND was this such as will countenance the thought, that nothing less than a faith that is saving will qualifie for the sacrament, or that none who are not thus qualified, ought to come to it? Far from this, their practice ob­viously and unavoidably leads us to think just the reverse; namely, that the sacramental in­stitution was designed for the use and benefit of professing believers in general, whether their faith is of the special, or common kind. It is certain, the several communities of chris­tians, in apostolic times, were constituted of two sorts of believers; believers unto life, and believers whose faith was not an abiding prin­ciples of good action. And it is as certain that they all, unless excluded for open scan­dal, were partakers at the Lord's table, and this under apostolic direction; yea, as having some or other of the apostles at their head, [Page 97] and leading in the administration. Nay, it is evident beyond dispute, that it was the practice of the apostles to admit professing believers to the supper of the Lord under circumstances, wherein neither they, nor the persons themselves, could, upon rational evi­dence, know, whether their faith was any other than that common one which would consist with their perishing beyond the grave. The three thousand persons we read of, in my context, as admitted to "break bread" with the apostles, were admitted to this gospel privilege, the very day they were con­vinced that Jesus was the Christ, and pro­fessed faith in him as such. And it is the truth of fact, that it was their practice to receive persons to communion with them, in all the privileges of God's visible kingdom, upon a bare profession of faith in Christ, without waiting for evidence from its fruits, that it was the faith by which "the just do live". We no where read, in the sacred books, of their delaying to baptise any, or to admit them to fellowship in the Lord's-Supper, until it was made evident either to them, or the persons themselves, that they were the subjects of that faith which is con­nected with salvation. Far from this, they [Page 98] IMMEDIATELY baptised, and admitted to the sacrament, all that professed faith in the gos­pel-revelation, and upon this profession only. Surely, they would not have been thus hasty in their admissions to a participation in gos­pel ordinances, if they had thought, that christian professors might not, with the allow­ance of their Savior, join together in "eat­ing and breaking bread", until they were the subjects of that faith which is justifying. Had this been their sentiment, it cannot be supposed, without dishonouring their charac­ter, that they would at once, without any delay, have owned all that made a profession of faith as disciples, admitting them to fel­lowship with themselves in all the privileges of the gospel dispensation. It might rather, with all propriety, have been expected, that they would have taken time to advise, cau­tion, and guard their hearers; waiting for credible evidence, in the judgment of ratio­nal charity, that they were believers in the saving sense, before they allowed them to be partakers at the Lord's-Supper. Had they looked upon it as a truth, that this ordinance was intended by our Lord, in his appoint­ment of it, for the use of those only who were believers unto life, it is unacountably [Page 99] strange, that they should have encouraged, yea, directed such numbers to the use of it, upon a bare profession only, before there had been opportunity for the tryal of their faith, or the exhibition of reasonable proof that it was of the saving kind. They knew that our Lord had said to believers in him, "then are ye my disciples, if ye continue in my word". And again, "not every one that faith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doth the will of my father which is in hea­ven". They knew also, from what they had seen themselves, that, among those who had professed faith in Christ, there were some, yea, a great many, whose faith did not "work by that love", either to God or man, which the gospel makes necessary to denominate it a faith that is saving. They could not therefore ad­mit persons to christian fellowship in gospel ordinances, meerly, or only, upon a verbal profession of faith, looking upon this pro­fession as credible evidence, that they were tru­ly sanctified. For it was not in the judgment of the largest rational charity, good evidence in the case. Instead of being convinced, up­on just and solid grounds, that it was a justfy­ing faith, there was reason rather to fear, at least, [Page 100] in regard of many, that it was no other faith than would leave them short of heavenly salvation. It ought not therefore to be sup­posed, when the apostles so suddenly admit­ted persons to baptism, and the Lord's-Supper, upon a bare profession of faith in Christ, that they imagined, that this profession gave cre­dible proof that they were believers in the saving sense, or that they esteemed them as such. It is far more reasonable to think, on the contrary, that they understood, by the faith here professed, no more than such a conviction that "Jesus was the Christ", as to be therefrom disposed and influenced to a readiness to own him as their Savior and Lord; and, in consequence hereof, to put themselves under his care, guidance and tuition; and to be found in the use of his appointments, as the best method they could take to be fur­ther enlightened, improved, and trained up in the way they should go, in order to their finding eternal life. If gospel institutions are considered as a means wisely and powerfully fitted to cultivate and improve such a faith as this, and as designed by God for the use of those who have it, in order to their becoming christians, formed to a "meetness, for the in­heritance of the sanctified by faith in Jesus [Page 101] Christ, the conduct of the apostles was exactly such as it was proper and reaso­nable it should be. It is beyond all doubt with me, that this was their sentiment con­cerning these institutions; and that this also was their view in admitting these professors to an attendance on them. Nor, unless they acted under the influence of this thought, and with this view, is it possible, as I imagine, to justifie either the wisdom of their conduct, or its faithfulness to God, or the souls of men: Nor can they be justified, upon any other scheme of tho't, who encourage persons in the use of gospel institutions, who are not clearly satisfied, upon proper tryal of their faith by its fruits, that it is of the saving kind.

THE plain truth is, no good reason can be given, why the institutions of the visi­ble kingdom of God should not be intended for the use and benefit of all professing chris­tians, seriously concerned about their souls, and everlasting salvation; though their faith, at present, should be no other than that which is the effect of the ordinary illumi­nations and assistance of the divine Spirit. They are as suitably adapted to beget, as to increase, a faith that is saving. And it is, perhaps, in the serious, diligent, persevering use of these [Page 102] stituted means of grace, that persons, ge­nerally speaking, are made holy, really and truly so, as well as improved in this gracious quality of their minds. Men, it is true, must have faith in the gospel-revelation, be­fore they can attend its institutions, unless they should do it from a principle of hy­pocrisy. Accordingly the apostles admitted none to christian communion, until they professed faith in Christ. * But, upon do­ing this, they received them into the king­dom [Page 103] of grace; not waiting for evidence that they were already fit for the kingdom of glory, but putting them at once under the enjoyment of all gospel means, privi­leges, motives, and advantages, that they [Page 104] might, by a wise and good use of them, be made "men of God," formed to a "meet­ness for the inheritance of the saints in light." And it was doubtless, the design of God, in [Page 105] erecting the gospel dispensation, with so many powerful, well adapted means and advantages, to train up all that are under it, as in a school, "from faith to faith," from a common faith to a special one, and from a special one in a lower degree, to an higher, until the subjects of it are complete in Christ.

ENOUGH has now been said to make it [Page 106] evident, that saving grace is not a qualifica­tion, without which persons may not come to the supper of the Lord.

Two things are commonly objected against what has been said, which it may be pro­per and needful to take some notice of here.

[Page 107]THE first is, the case of the Ethiopian eunuch, who, upon desiring to be baptised, re­ceived that answer from Phillip, who had been expounding the scripture to him, "if thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest." The plea here is, saving faith was, [Page 108] in regard of this person, made necessary in order to his being admitted to the ordinance of baptism. And if he might not be baptised without this faith, to be sure be might not be a partaker at the Lord's-table.

THE answer is easie. It is said, without sufficient reason, that "believing with all the [Page 109] heart" means the same thing with saving faith. Many, in the days of Christ, and his apostles, heartily believed; yea, their whole heart was in their faith, insomuch that they received the word with joy, yea, a strong motion in all the passions and af­fections [Page 110] of their heart; while yet, their faith was not as an abiding principle, as appeared afterwards, by their falling away in a time of temptation, or by their being led aside by the cares of the world. And this might have been the case, of this eunuch, for ought any thing that is known to the [Page 111] contrary: Besides, the eunuch, in answer to Phillip, did not say that he "believed with all his heart." His words import nothing more than single naked belief. Said he, "I believe that Jesus is the Son of God"; upon which he was straitway baptised. But if his answer had been, "I believe with all my heart, that Jesus is the Son of God", it would not have been evident, that he was [Page 112] the subject of a faith that would have argued his being born of God: To be sure, he could not know that he was, upon just and solid grounds, unless by inspiration from a­bove; and without this, he would have been too hasty, and indeed rash, if his declaration concering his faith was intended to con­vey this thought.

IT may possibly be thought by some, that "believing with all the heart" is too strong a mode of speech to mean any thing short of a faith that is connected with life. But it is a certain truth, that persons may be­lieve in Jesus as the Son of God, and Savior of the world; really in opposition to deceit, and hypocrisy; heartily, in opposition to the want of affection; and "with all their heart", as signifying the passionate emotion of their whole soul; while yet their faith may have no [Page 113] depth of root, and may leave them short of that renovation of mind without which they cannot be saved. It may be worth remem­bering here, it is said 2 Cron. 15.12, that "all Judah entered into a covenant to seek the Lord God of their fathers with all their heart, and with all their soul". It follows in the 13th v. "and all Judah rejoiced at the oath; for they had sworn with all their heart: and God was found of them". Surely, no one will say, that, by "all the heart", in this passage, we are to understand a heart that had [Page 114] been renewed by the grace of God. The most the phrase can be supposed to import is, that they entered into this covenant in real earnest, as having in motion the several passions and affections of their heart. So this eunuch believed, before he was baptised; and yet, neither he, nor they, might be the sub­jects of that sanctifying grace, without which they could not enter into that life which is eternal in heaven.

THE other objection is taken from those words of the apostle Paul, which he spake with immediate reference to a participation at the Lord's-Supper, 1 Cor. 11.28. "Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup". Now, a man's having, or not having, that faith which interests him in the purchases of the redeemer's cross, being an affair of the greatest impor­tance, it is supposed, that this is the faith about which we are directed to examine our selves, and so go, or forbear to go, to the Lord's-Supper, as we find ourselves to be, or not to be, the subjects of it.

IN answer whereto, I would say. It is rea­dily acknowledged to be a matter of great im­portance to examine into our faith, that we may know, whether it is a faith that is connect­ed [Page 115] with salvation; and it may be fit and pro­per, as it would answer some very good ends, thus to examine ourselves, when we are about to go to the table of the Lord; though this is not the examination the apostle has here in his view. The examination he directs to, does not so much relate to the christian's character as savingly converted, as to his knowledge and faith, with reference to the sacramental supper. * The case was this, The Corinthi­ans, to whom he was now writing, had been [Page 116] very irregular and disorderly in their cele­bration of the Lord's-Supper, for which the apostle, in this 11th chapter of his epistle to them, sharply reproves them; and, in order to rectify their disorders, he particularly re­lates [Page 117] to them the institution of the supper, as he had received the account of it immediate­ly from Christ himself, that, knowing its nature and design, they might observe it in a more worthy manner. In order whereto, his direction follows "let a man examine him­self, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup". As if he had said, I have [Page 118] laid before you, in plain easie words, the nature and design of the sacramental supper, as instituted by Jesus Christ. Examine your­selves by this rule, and do it seriously, care­fully and faithfully. This I advise you to, as a proper and suitable expedient to prevent your coming to this ordinance in the irreve­rent, indecent manner you have formerly done. In this way, you may come in a more wor­thy and becoming manner, to the honor of Christ, and your own spiritual profit. What the apostle aims at is, to put them upon duly distinguishing between this supper of the Lord, and their own, which they ate previous to it; looking upon it, not as a common meal, and partaking of it as such, but as an instituted memorial of Christ's dying love. This they might do, though their faith as yet was no other than that, which is the effect of the or­dinary influence of the divine Spirit. Doubt­less, a very considerable number of these Co­rinthians had no higher a faith than this; and if the apostle intended, that they should so examine themselves as not to come to the sacrament any more, unless they could find that they had saving faith, a very great part of this church must have abstained from the use of this ordinance. But this the apostle had not [Page 119] in view. His only design was, to direct to such an examination, more especially in relation to the sacramental supper, as might happily in­fluence them to come to it in a more beco­ming manner, and as might reasonably be ex­pected of those, who eat and drink of those symbols, which figuratively represent the dying love of Christ towards sinners.

BUT the design of the apostle in this chap­ter will be more largely illustrated, when I come to consider the next difficulty that hin­ders many serious christians from an approach to the Lord's table. This is an important difficulty, and the occasion of perplexing fear to a great many. The consideration of it must therefore be left to some other opportu­nity.

I SHALL only say further at present, It is not an easie matter for christians, especially christians that are weak in faith, or that are but beginners in religion, to determine con­cerning their faith, that it is, not of the com­mon, but saving kind. It would therefore be inconvenient and unfit to put them upon mak­ing this determination, previous to their go­ing to the sacrament, and as a qualification in order to it, and without which they might not attend at it. It would unavoidably throw [Page 120] the minds of many that are real christians, as well as other serious well-disposed persons, into perplexity and fear, and keep them from coming to this ordinance, though they might otherwise come to it with profit to themselves, and so as to honor their master Jesus Christ. I cannot suppose, the apostle would have given this occasion of distressing concern, as he must have done, in thousands of instances, if the examination he directs to, in this text, refers to a determination of our faith as saving, in order to our going to the sacrament.

THE good Lord bless what has been now said to the removal of those fears, which keep any from the table of the Lord; and may there, for the time to come, be seen a greater num­ber of welcome guests at it!




Acts. II. 42.

And they continued steadfastly—in breaking "of Bread"

I HAVE taken occasion from this text, to speak to those whose minds are perplext with diffi­culties, which keep them from attending the sacramental "break­ing of bread." Several of these difficulties have been already mentioned, and that said which was thought sufficient for the removal of them.

[Page 122]I NOW proceed to another difficulty, and that which, perhaps, has been the greatest obstacle in the way of many serious well-disposed christians to the Lord's-table; and this is, a fear of "eating and drinking un­worthily", and hereupon becoming "guilty of the body and blood of the Lord", and sealing "damnation to themselves". This fear has unhappily taken rise from a mis­taken apprehension of those words of the apostle Paul, 1. Cor. 1 [...].27, "whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord". And again, ver. 29, "He that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damna­tion to himself, not discerning the Lord's body."

THE readiest, and most effectual way, as I imagine, to obviate this difficulty, and give ease to the minds of those who may be perplexed with it, will be to be particular and distinct in ascertaining the precise meaning of the apostle, in the phrases he uses in these texts, "eating and drink­ing unworthily"; being "guilty of the body and blood of the Lord"; and "eating and drinking damnation to himself"; and then in applying what may be offered to [Page 123] the case of those, who may be under per­plexing fear, from these passages of sacred writ, in a few remarks, or observations, suited to give them relief and help.

I SHALL, in the first place, endeavour, with all plainness, to open the meaning of the apostle in the above recited words, that have been the occasion of difficulty to serious christians.

ONLY, before I come to this, I would make a previous note, and desire it may be particularly attended to, and all along remem­bered, in the following discourse. It is this. The passages we are going to explain are not independant sentences, the proper meaning of which is to be gathered, from the meer force of the words, in themselves simply, and nakedly, considered, but parts of a well cohering dis­course; and can therefore be explained in no way, but by considering the design in view, the part they bear in the discourse, and how they stand connected with it. The not duly considering these things is, I believe, the rea­son their true meaning has so often been un­happily misunderstood. "Eating and drinking unworthily" at the Lord's table, considered in general, will never lead one into the true meaning of it in this place; because the apostle [Page 124] is speaking of a special case, and the particu­lar unworthiness of a particular number of christians, which can be known in no way, but by consulting the context. The nature and meaning of this "unworthiness" and the "special punishment" incurred by it, must be measured by that, and by that alone; unless it may be thought allowable to break in upon the apostle's course of reasoning, and put a sense on his words that has no pertinency to the design he is upon; which is certainly an unfair treatment of an human writing, and ought much less to be practised in regard of one that is sacred, as being of divine inspiration.

HAVING made this remark, the way is clear to look into the context, as the only proper method to understand the apostle, in the phrases we are about to explain. And by doing this we shall find, that great disorders, particularly with reference to the sacramental supper, had crept into the Corinthian church. It was on account of these disorders, that the apostle wrote this chapter; and if we would know, what that "unworthy eating and drink­ing" is, which he blames these Corinthians for, and would rectify for time to come, we must know what the indecences, and disorders were, that prevailed among them. For this [Page 125] "unworthiness" must be explained by these disorders.

THE apostle, before he comes to parti­cular instances of their misconduct, declares in general, as in the 17. ver. "I praise you not, that you come together not for the better, but for the worse". More is intended in these words than is expressed. Their meaning is, far from commending you, I think you are greatly to be blamed. What I rebuke you for, and with severity too, is, that, when you assemble together for the performance of the public offices of religi­on, you behave so as that your coming to­gether, instead of being for your spiritual advantage, tends rather to the increase of your guilt.

HAVING spoken thus generally, he now comes to particulars; mentioning the special instances, wherein they were blame worthy. And they are these that follow.

THE first is, their having divisions among them. Says he, (ver. 18.) "when ye come together in the church, I hear there are di­visions among you; and I partly believe it." It should seem it was by report from others, and not personal knowledge, that he became acquainted with this disorder in the church [Page 126] at Corinth. But such was his intelligence, that he believ'd it "in part", or rather fully "of part" of the church. And a scan­dalous disorder this was. The word, (in the original Schismata) here translated divisions; means, not meerly, or only, divisions in their affections towards each other, but divisions in their outward conduct. It is true, they met together in the same place for commu­nion at the Lord's-Supper, but it was in a schismatical manner, dividing themselves into parties, and not appearing, as they ought to have done, as one body, affectionately united in commemorating the dying love of their common Lord. It cannot be deduced from any thing that is said in this chapter, or in any part of the epistle, that they had as yet separated from each other under the form of different sects, meeting in different places for worship: but the apostle tells them, that so it might be expected it would be. The prejudices, the lusts, and unsubdued tempers of men would lead to this, and God in his righteous providence might permit it, that it might be made to appear who, upon trial, would be approved as stedfast and immoveable. So his words run, ver. 19, "For there must be also heresies [in the original, [Page 127] Air [...]seis sects *] among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you". But though this corinthian church was not at present divided into two, or more separate societies, but continued one christian community, meeting together in the same place, yet they behaved in their assemblies in an unbrotherly, factious and schismatical manner. The apostle, accordingly, applies to them, as in the 20 ver. "when ye come to­gether therefore into one place, this is not [Page 128] to eat the Lord's-Supper." As if he had said, though you assemble, as a christian society, in one and the same place, and there eat; yet you do it after such a man­ner, that it would be a dishonour to a sacred institution of Christ, to speak of it as eating the Lord's-Supper. This leads to

A NUMBER of other faults, these Corin­thians are obviously charged with, and severe­ly reproved for; as we may see, in the 21, and 22d ver. in which they are thus addres­sed, "in eating every one taketh before other his own supper, and one is hungry, and ano­ther is drunken. What! have ye not houses to eat, and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not"?

THEIR having a "supper of their own" in the house of God, when about to cele­brate the supper of the Lord, is here evi­dently spoken of as indecent and irregular. When the apostle says, "every one eateth before other his own supper", it is easie to perceive, that he alludes to a custom which had obtained among them, whatever gave rise to it, namely, that of having a common feast in the place of worship, here called "their [Page 129] own supper," * either previous to, or mixed with, the "Lord's-Supper." This he plainly condemns, and would represent as a disorder unhappily introduced among them. What else can be the meaning of those severely reprehen­sive interrogatives, "what, have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God"? As if he had said, Is it [Page 130] not to your disgrace, and can you do any other than think so, that you make the house of God a place for common feasting, when you have houses of your own, you may use to this purpose, as proper occasions may be offered therefor? Your consciences, duly enlightened, will reproach you for such un­suitable conduct. I cannot but suppose, that these suppers, in the place of worship, and conjoined, as it were, with the Lord's, let them be called love-feasts, or by whatever other [Page 131] name, are here solemnly prohibited by the apostle; especially, when he adds, "shall I praise you in this? I praise you not." He could scarce, in any way of diction that was more striking, have expressed his condemnation of this practice among them.

ANOTHER irregularity they are rebuked for, is, their confounding, or so mingling, "their own" with the "Lord's-Supper," that they were neither properly, nor sufficiently distin­guished from each other, as they ought to have been. It is with special reference to this disorder, that the apostle charges them, ver. 29, with "not discerning the Lord's-body", or, as the original words, [mê dia­k [...]i [...]ôn] might, perhaps, be more properly ren­dered, " [...]t differencing *, not discriminating, the Lord's body," that is, the sacramental bread, figuratively called by our Savior in the institution of "his supper,", and by the apostle Paul in this chapter, "the body of Christ", [Page 132] from the bread of "their own supper" And in their way of celebrating the "supper of the Lord", it is plain it was not suitably differenced, or discriminated, from their "own supper"; not did it appear, as it ought to have done, an open, solemn, religious decla­ration, or shewing forth, of his death.

ANOTHER fault still they are charged with is, their so eating their own supper as to be­tray a want of that kindness, yea, that com­mon decency, which would have been blame-worthy in those who knew nothing of christi­anity. By comparing the 21st with the 33d ver. we shall find, that they did not "tarry for one another", but as they came to the place of worship fell to, as the vulgar phrase is, and eat every one of what he had brought; by which means those who had brought a plenty were satiated, while those who, being poor, had brought nothing, were made asha­med, not having wherewithal to keep them from hunger. A strange manner of conduct this! It not only discovered the present inope­ration of that brotherly kindness, which is the glory of a christian, but downright incivility; and they are both aggravated, as they were now purposely assembled, and assembling, [Page 133] that they might unite in celebrating a sacred rite of the religion of Jesus. *

THE last, but greatest disorder, among [Page 134] these Corinthians, was their excess, or intempe­rance; which, at any time, is highly criminal, but eminently so when about to eat bread, and drink wine, at the sacramental supper. The charge against them, in the 2 [...]st ver. is, not only that, "in eating every one taketh before other his own supper", but that, while "one is hungry, another drunken". It has been thought scarce possible, that these christi­ans, especially while together in order to cele­brate so solemn a rite as that of the Lord's-Supper, should be chargeable with drunkenness, literally and grossly speaking. Expositors there­fore have commonly understood the word here in a more lax sense; supposing the most that can be meant by it is, that they had used too great freedom at their "own supper", eat­ing and drinking to a degree of excess; and that, in this unsuitable frame, they partook, some of them, of the sacramental bread and wine. And this was the thought I was led to entertain of this matter, until I had given it a more critical examination; since which I ima­gine, it may justly be suspected, that some, among those who had brought a sufficiency for a full repast, were guilty of intemperance in too gross a sense of the word. *

[Page 135]THESE now were the indecencies and irre­gularities of the Corinthian christians, with reference to the holy sacramental supper. Ac­cordingly, that special unworthiness, I am ex­plaining, which the apostle would fasten upon [Page 136] them, must be considered in connection here­with, and interpreted hereby. It accordingly means, in one word, the same thing pre­cisely with their celebration of the Lord's-Supper in that disorderly, irreverent, and prophane manner that had been mentioned. [Page 137] The apostle is to be understood, as if he had said, he that eateth and drinketh in the man­ner I have pointed out, is the He that "eat­eth and drinketh unworthily". These things are connected in his discourse, and explain each other.

BUT some, perhaps, will say, is this all the unworthy eating and drinking at the Lord's-table, that guests there may be chargeable with? I answer at once, without the least hesitation, no, by no means. There are other ways, wherein persons may bring upon them­selves [Page 138] this guilt. All such do so, who eat and drink of the sacramental bread and wine in a careless. thoughtless, inattentive, custo­mary manner; much more may unworthi­ness be charged upon those, who come to the supper of the Lord to serve their reputation, or that they may be under better advantage to carry on their worldly designs; and it may in a worse sense still, and in as bad an one [Page 139] as can easily be conceived of, be fastened on your irreligious, prophane men, who, with­out any becoming sense of God, or regard to his Son, but solely with a view to qualify them­selves for some post of honor, or profit, kneel before the altar, and take into their polluted mouths the sacred symbols of the body and blood of Christ. In a word, it may justly be said of all, that they eat and drink unworthi­ly, who do not do it conformably to the nature and design of this instituted rite, and as it is fit and reasonable it should be done. But all this notwithstanding, the special unwor­thiness, the apostle is here speaking of, is that schismatical, disorderly, non-differencing, and intemperate attendance at the sacramental supper, which he had been blaming, and con­demning, the Corinthians for: Nor can any be guilty of "unworthily eating and drinking" in that special sense, in which this fault is charged upon this christian society, unless they eat and drink at the holy supper of the Lord, in the like indecent, irregular, and prophane manner which they did.

HAVING thus explained the first words, that have been the occasion of difficulty to serious minds, "He that eateth and drink­eth unworthily", I go on to do the same by the next, "shall be guilty of the body and [Page 140] blood of the Lord". Some, through weak­ness, the undue influence of fear, or a mind unhappily tinctured with superstition, have been kept from the sacramental supper, be­ing led, by these words, to imagine, that, should they unworthily partake of it, they would be chargeable with the very sin the Jews were, when, literally speaking, they "wounded the body, and shed the blood of Christ". But this is so vain an imagination, so gross a contradiction not only to the known use of these words in scripture, but to com­mon sense, that the bare mentioning of it is sufficient to expose it as ridiculously absurd. "The body and blood of Christ", here spo­ken of, are to be interpreted, not in the lite­ral, but figurative sense. They mean, not "his real body and blood", but these symbo­lically considered, or as represented under the emblematical signs of "bread and wine", at the sacrament. So the words were meant by our Savior in the institution of the supper, and so they are understood by the apostle Paul in this very chapter, in the account he has given of the original consecration of "the bread and wine".

ACCORDINGLY, when it is said of those, who "eat and drink unworthily" at the sacra­ment, [Page 141] that they are "guilty of the body and blood of the Lord", the true meaning is, that they justly expose themselves to that judgment God will inflict upon those, who make an undue, sinful, and prophane use of that "bread and wine", which, sacramentally, figuratively, or symbolically, are "the body and blood of Christ". What this judgment in special is, as threatned in this chapter, we go on to show, under the last words we proposed to explain, namely,

"EATING and drinking, damnation to one's self", in case of eating and drinking "unwor­thily" at the Lord's table. The english word, damnation, does not answer to the true import of the greek word (Krima) here used by the apostle. And it is a thousand pities it was thus translated, as it has been, unhappily, the occasion of much perplexity to many serious good christians. Says the excellent Dr. Dod­dridge, in his note upon this word, "I think it the most unhappy mistake in all our version of the bible, that the word, Krima, is here rendered damnation. It has raised a dread in tender minds, which has greatly obstructed the comfort, and edification, they might have re­ceived from this ordinance". I fully join with this great and good man in the sentiment here expressed; and the rather, because, ha­ving [Page 142] consulted all the expositors, and writer, upon the sacramental supper, I could come to the sight of, I find, that they unite as one in speaking of the "judgment", more especi­ally intended here by the apostle, as of the temporal kind, not of "damnation" in the fu­ture world. It is true, this word (Krima) is sometimes used to signify the damnation of hell; but it oftner means judgment in this present state. The apostle Peter says, (1. Epis. 4.17.) "The time is come, when judgment (Krima) is to begin at the house of God". Will any one say, damnation to future wrath is the judgment here meant? It cannot be supposed. The evangelist Luke (chap. 23.40.) brings in one of the malefactors, who were crucified with our Lord, rebuking the other in these words, "dost thou not fear God, seeing thou art (en to Krima) in the same condemnation"; that is, adjudged to one and the same temporal death: Yea, in the 24th chap. 20th ver. he speaks of the chief priests, and rulers, as having delivered our Lord (en Krima thanaton) to be condemned to death: Not surely to damnation in a future world. It would be blasphemous to suggest such an untruth. From these texts it appears, that the word (Krima) we are now explaining, may, agreeably to its use elsewhere in scripture, [Page 143] mean, not punishment in hell, but temporal evil in this world.

AND that this was the judgment the apostle had directly in his eye, when he made use of the word Krima, which, in our bibles, is transla­ted "damnation", he has taken all proper care to put beyond all reasonable dispute. For, let it be particularly minded, in the verse im­mediately following that wherein he says, "he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself", he adds, as though on purpose to prevent our mistaking his meaning, in the use of the word translated damnation, "FOR THIS CAUSE, many are weak, and sickly among you, and many sleep". As if he had said, your disorderly, prophane man­ner, at the sacramental supper, has brought down upon you the judgments of God. For this cause, on account of this your unworthi­ness, he has visited you [perhaps, a miracu­lous visitation may be here intended] with bodi­ly diseases, and temporal death itself: And this you have had exemplified among you, in many instances of those, who have been sick, and died. But to make it yet more certain, that by this Krima, which has been unhappi­ly translated by the english word "damnation", in our bibles, we are to understand temporal judgment, and not the miseries of hell, the [Page 144] apostle, in the 32d ver. has expressly assigned, the reason of the infliction of the punishment (Krima) he had spoken of. His words are these, "when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we might not be condemn­ed with the world". You observe, the evil, or punishment, be it what it may, to which these Corinthians had been adjudged, for their un­worthy behaviour at the Lord's table, is here considered, by the apostle himself, as discipli­nary only, a "divine chastening"; and as inflicted too, with a view to prevent their dam­nation in the other world. It is impossible therefore, the punishment, he here connects with this unworthiness, should mean, being of the medicinal kind only, any other than tem­poral judgment. In a word, the apostle, far from giving the least countenance to the sense of the word Krima, as translated "damnation", and meaning the "damnation of hell", has said that which is obviously and abundantly suffici­ent to lead every intelligent reader to under­stand by it, temporal punishment; [...] as had been inflicted upon some of these Corinthians, but in a way of discipline only, and in order to prevent their damnation, beyond the grave, with the wicked world.

IT will, perhaps, be asked here, does not unworthy eating and drinking at the Lord's [Page 145] table expose to damnation in the other world? I answer; without all doubt it does. And so does unworthy hearing of God's word, unworthy praying to our father who is in Heaven, and unworthy performing any du­ty whatever in religion. The exact truth is, every sin, of whatever kind, or in whatever degree, whether it be a sin of omission, or commission, does as really expose to damnati­on, as unworthy eating and drinking at the Lord's-Supper.

BUT this notwithstanding, future damnati­on is not the punishment, the apostle more immediately intends, in the passage we are upon; but, as has been said, temporal evil, which he explains by these words, "weakness, sickness, and the sleep of death". Neither does he connect, even, this temporal judg­ment with every sort, or degree, of unworthy receiving the sacrament; but with that grossly irreverent, and prophane manner, in which the Corinthians received it. So that none have any just reason to apply that special punish­ment, here spoken of, be it what it may, to themselves, unless they can charge themselves with attending on the ordinance of the sup­per in the like wicked manner, which these Corinthians did; which is not much to be feared at this day. Their scandalous irregu­larities, [Page 146] especially their divisive, intempe­rate manner at the Lord's-Supper, for which God, perhaps beyond the ordinary course of nature, sent sickness and death among them, are not the faults we are in present danger of falling into the commission of. Those, to be sure, are at the utmost distance from this unworthiness, who come not to the sacramental table from a consciencious fear, lest they should be chargeable with it. They, of all persons in the world, have the least reason to apply this text to themselves. Their case as widely differs from that of these Corinthians, as light differs from darkness. And as their cases are thus altogether different, it is quite beside the apostle's intention, and a downright abuse of his words, to perplex their minds, and dis­courage themselves from duty, in considera­tion of that, which is no ways applicable to them.

I MAY not improperly subjoin a few words here, in order to undeceive those, who ground a fear, from this passage of the apostle we have been upon, lest they should be certainly and unavoidably damned, should they happen to eat and drink at the sacramental supper, in an unworthy manner. This, I have reason to think, has given perplexing uneasiness to some serious souls, restraining them from [Page 147] remembering Christ in the way of his appoint­ment. But they have herein grossly imposed upon themselves. Should it be supposed, that the apostle was speaking, in this text, of dam­nation in the coming world, which we have seen abundant reason to think he is not, he ought by no means to be understood, as mean­ing, that it would inevitably prove damnation to a person, should he come to the table of the Lord, and eat and drink there in an un­worthy manner. For the gospel of the blessed God has provided, through Christ, and promi­sed, pardoning mercy to repenting sinners, however many, or heinous, their sins may have been. Unworthily receiving the sacrament may therefore, in common with all other unwor­thiness, be forgiven by the intervention of repentance, and so damnation be prevented. Should a person unhappily come to the supper of the Lord, so as to be an unworthy guest there, through negligence, carelessness, or any other faulty cause, he might, by the grace of God, be brought to repentance; and this would as certainly secure him from damnation, as it is true, that God is "ready to pardon", and embrace penitent sinners in the arms of his mercy. Without all doubt, many are now in heaven, and many will, in time to come, have admission into this blessed place, who [Page 148] have often been at the sacramental table in an unworthy manner: not because it was not their sin; but because, by repentance, they obtained the forgiving mercy of God.

I HAVE now particularly, though as briefly as I well could, explained those words of the apostle Paul, which have been the occasion of fears and scruples in the minds of many, with respect to their attendance on the institu­tion of the supper, and restrained them from coming to it. It only remains, as was proposed,

II. To make a few remarks, upon what has been offered, tending to remove away these fears and scruples, and make the way of those clear to the table of the Lord, who have been kept from it, by the influence of them. And,

1. IT is obvious to collect, from the expla­nation we have given of the apostle's words, which have been the occasion of perplexity to too many, that their fears and distresses, ta­king rise therefrom, are altogether groundless.

Are any of you afraid to come to the sacra­mental supper, lest you should "eat and drink unworthily"? There is no reason for fear, lest you should come unworthily in the sense, in which this fault is charged upon the Corin­thians. It is indeed morally impossible, that persons, in your serious, concerned state of mind, should come in that gr [...]ly indecent [Page 149] manner, which gave occasion to the words, which have been perplexing to you. However, 'tis commendable in you, as there are other ways, in which you may eat, and drink unwor­thily at the Lord's table, to be so far afraid as to use all due caution, that you may be welcome guests there. This is the only reason­able operation of fear, respecting this article of duty. It ought not to keep you from com­munion at the sacramental supper; but should rather put you upon your guard, and such endeavours as may be proper in order to your avoiding that, which is the ground of your fear. Should your fear restrain you from your duty, its operation would be faulty. It would not, in consistency with what is right and fit, answer the design of its excitement in you, un­less it should prompt you to your duty, and to a care to see that it be well done.

Are any of you afraid, if you should come to the sacramental supper, that you should be "guilty of the body and blood of the Lord"? You cannot be thus guilty, unless you sinfully eat of that bread, and drink of that cup, which are divinely instituted signs of "the body and blood of Christ." For this is the only mean­ing that can, with propriety, or truth, be ap­plied to these words. And you do well to be afraid of sin, whether it relates to the or­dinance [Page 150] of the supper, or any other service of piety. Only, you should remember, and im­press your minds with a serious sense of its being true, that this very fear of your's will become sinful, if, instead of stirring you up to the performance of duty, and a due care to perform it in a suitable manner, it at all restrains you from it; much more, if it influences you to an habitual, and total neg­lect of it. You say, you fear to come to the supper of the Lord, lest you should be "guilty of his body and blood". You cannot easily be thus guilty, in the sense, in which the Corinthians were. There is no danger of your using the sacramental bread and wine, which represent figuratively, "the body and blood of Christ", in the rude, factious, prophane manner they did. Any, at this day, would be asham­ed of such conduct: Nor need you be afraid of being chargeable with the guilt of it. You may, it is true, be faulty in the use of the "bread and wine", which are instituted signs of the "body and blood of Christ; and you may reasonably fear, lest you should be thus faulty. But what ought to be the effect of this fear? Most certainly, not disobedience to as plain, and peremptory, a command as any in the bible; but caution, watchfulness, and circumspection, that you may comply with it, in the best manner you can.

[Page 151]ARE any of you afraid of being chargeable with the guilt of "not discerning the Lord's body" should you come to the ordinance of the supper? You must be grossly ignorant, if you do not know, that there is a great and wide difference betwixt sacramental and common bread and wine. And the way, now in use, of eating and drinking sacramental bread and wine, is so different from that in which it was done by the Corinthians, when these words were wrote, that it cannot be supposed you could be guilty of "not discerning the Lord's body", in the sense that they were: For which reason, a fear of this guilt, in the minds of any, is wholly groundless. Not but that there may be fear, and justly too, lest the sacramental bread and wine should not, in the exercise of faith, be discriminated from that which is com­mon, ate and drank in a manner becoming their consecration to so solemn a use as that of re­membering the dying love of Christ. But it would be altogether beside the proper and just tendency of this fear, to keep any from parta­king of this bread and wine. Its only influ­ence should be to dispose, and engage all to a due care to eat, and drink of them, agreably to the nature, and end, of so sacred an in­stitution.

IN fine here, are any of you afraid of co­ming [Page 152] to the holy supper, lest you should "eat and drink damnation to yourselves? Your fear, so far as it takes rise from the english word, damnation, has no just reason for its support. For, it is not expressive of what the apostle Paul means by the greek word Krima, he here uses; as has, I trust, been already made abun­dantly to appear.

NOT but that "eating, and drinking unwor­thily", at the Lord's table, exposes to "damna­tion", meaning by it damnation to wrath in the future world; and you may reasonably fear so eating and drinking, as to render yourselves liable to this awful punishment: Not indeed because this punishment is the special judgment intended by the apostle; but because it is the punishment elsewhere, in scripture, threatned against sin in general, be its kind, or degree, what it may. For the same reason, therefore, that you are afraid of coming to the Lord's-Supper, lest by doing this unworthily, you should "eat and drink damnation to yourselves", you should fear lest, by an unworthy neglect of this ordinance, you should expose yourselves to this same punishment. For the truth is, there is as real danger of incurring damnation by a neglect of this instance of duty, as by an unworthy performance of it. You, who fear to come to the sacramental supper, lest you ex­pose [Page 153] yourselves to damnation, while, at the same time, you have no fear upon your minds, lest, by the neglect of this sacred institution, you should as justly make yourselves liable to the same punishment, would do well seriously to consider this. There is like danger in both cases; and you will only delude yourselves, if you think to avoid the danger of eating and drinking unworthily, by not eating and drink­ing at all.

IT may, perhaps, be said here, the apostle Paul has particularly denounced damnation against unworthiness at the Lord's-Supper, while neither he, nor any of the sacred pen­men, have, with like particularity, pointed out this punishment, in case of not coming to it. The answer is obvious, and, as I imagine, intirely satisfactory. The apostle, in the words referred to, is speaking, as has been made evi­dent, of temporal judgment, and inflicted only with a salutary view, in a way of fatherly chastisement; not of damnation, meaning by it punishment beyond the grave: Nor is this kind of punishment denounced any where, in the bible, against unworthy receiving the sa­crament, but in those texts which denounce this same wrath against the neglect of duty, as well as the unworthy performance of it. So that a disobedient neglect of that supper which [Page 154] has been solemnly appointed by Jesus Christ, does as really expose to damnation, as an un­due attendance at it. Why then should any abstain from sacramental eating and drinking, through fear, lest they should eat and drink un­worthily? Sin lies at the door in either case, and danger too. And it is, without all doubt, both more sinful, and more dangerous, with re­spect to the persons whose fears I have been endeavouring to remove, to neglect coming to the sacramental supper, than to come to it with that imagined unworthiness which keeps them from it.

2. ANOTHER remark is this, that, should any have unhappily attended the ordinance of the supper in an unworthy manner, the best advice to them is, not to cease from attending their duty in this special instance; but to take proper care to perform it better for time to come. This remark naturally arises from the general tenor of the apostle's discourse, in the chapter we have been considering. He had been blaming, and rebuking, the church at Corinth for their rude, disorderly, and prophane manner of celebrating the holy supper. And what does he hereupon advise them to? Does he forbid them the use of this gospel ordinance? Does he say any thing tending to discourage them from going again to it? Not a word [Page 155] of this nature is to be seen in any part of what he has wrote to them. Far from this, though they had come to the supper of the Lord with such indecency, and irreverence, as are not known in the present age, he supposes it to be their duty still to come to it; and what he endeavours is, to engage them, by proper ar­guments, to reform what had been amiss, and to attend their duty in a suitable manner in time to come. Christian professors would act wisely in taking due notice of the apostle's care, that the holy supper might not be neglected, and, at the same time, that it might not be un­worthily celebrated. Should they be consci­ous, that they have waited upon Christ at his table in an unbecoming manner, they should not be discouraged, through fear, from waiting upon him again; but should rather be excited to give the more earnest heed, to get their un­worthiness removed, that they may attend their duty conformably to the will of their Lord for the future.

I MAY not improperly add here, if any of those are seriously thoughtful of coming to the supper of the Lord, who have never as yet been there, they should not be discouraged from their duty, in this respect, by the influence of fear, lest they should come unworthily. Their fear should not drive them away from this ordi­nance, [Page 156] but rather put them upon the use of proper pains, that they may come in a worthy manner. The Corinthians had been guilty of schism, rudeness, and intemperance in their ce­lebration of the sacramental supper; and yet, the apostle does not advise them to lay aside the use of this ordinance, but to take care to come to it, for the future, in worthy manner. And this is the best advise that can be given christi­ans at this day. It is not allowable for them to treat this ordinance with constructive con­tempt, by abstaining from the use it; and if they are afraid of coming to it unworthily, the effect of their fear should be, their more diligent endeavour to come in the manner they would desire, and as may be for the honor of their Lord.

3. ANOTHER remark still may be, that it ought not to be supposed, that the apostle Paul, in the chapter we have been explaining, had it in his heart to discourage those christi­ans, from an attendance at the sacramental table, who discourage themselves, and from what he has said too. Let us attend a little to their character, more especially as drawn from the ground of their discouragement. Why are they kept back from remembering their Lord, in the way of his appointment? Is it not because they fear, lest they should not [Page 157] do this with that faith, love, humility, and holy reverence, which become a sacred institu­tion of gospel worship? Is it not because they have worthy sentiments of Jesus Christ, who has appointed the sacramental supper, and would willingly be communicants at it, but that they have scruples in their minds, as to their fitness to be so? Is it not because they are jealous over themselves with a Godly jealousy, jealous of the honour of their Lord, and would serve him with their best? Is it not because they are heartily desirous of pleasing Christ, and are afraid, lest they should fail of doing so, should they come to his table?

CAN it now be imagined, with any face of reason, that it was the design of the apostle, by any thing he has said, in this chapter, to dis­courage this kind of persons from giving their presence at the sacramental supper? Could it have entered his heart to block up their way to the table of the Lord? It ought not to be supposed. Surely, if he did not discou­rage the Corinthians from attending this ordi­nance, though they came to it in such an irreve­rent manner, as that they were visited by God, FOR THIS VERY CAUSE, with "weakness, sick­ness and death," he could never intend to throw any discouragement in the way of the persons I have described. And if he could know [Page 158] how they have misconstrued his words, and taken occasion, from them, to neglect the supper of the Lord, he would scarce be able, though in heaven, to refrain from grief. And could he now speak to them from the excel­lent glory, it would be to advise them forth­with to lay aside their fears and scruples, and honor their Lord by celebrating the memorial of his death.

4. THE last remark is, that it should be the serious endeavor of all to come worthily to the table of Christ. The apostle Paul aimed main­ly at this, in all that he said to the Corinthians, in that part of his epistle to them we have been considering. To this end he set before them their faults, and gave them the directi­ons proper, in order to their rectifying them, that they might come to the supper Christ had appointed, not to condemnation, but to praise and honor. And this should be the care also of all, who profess themselves the disciples of Jesus. They should not esteem it a matter of trifling concern, how they partake of the sym­bols of their Lord's death, but should endeav­or to do it, so as to glorify God, and promote their own spiritual advantage.

MANY, I am sensible, would be glad to come to the sacramental supper who were never there; and what has kept them back is, this [Page 159] matter of worthily partaking there. Being convinced, that they ought to come worthily, they are restrained from coming, because they fear they shall not be able thus to come. But this is a difficulty that will as truly hold against all the other duties of religion. They ought all to be performed in a worthy man­ner; and if persons should imagine they can­not thus perform them, why may they not as reasonably leave them all undone, as this of remembering their Savior at his supper? Is this right? What must be the effect of such conduct but a total disregard to all the ser­vices of piety? The exact truth is, the influ­ence of fear, respecting the supper of the Lord should never be, to keep us from it, but to excite our care that we may be welcome guests at this gospel feast; and thus we shall be, if the subjects of that meetness, which is suited to the nature and design of the duty. And this meetness, I will venture to say, those are certainly possessed of, who are most sensible of their unworthiness, and most fearful lest they should dishonour Christ, by an undue attend­ance at his table. With respect to persons of this character, there is no danger of their rudely, or irreverently, rushing upon this ordinance. They are the men, who are most concerned, that they may be prepared for a [Page 160] due approach to it; and there is no doubt but they ought to be ranked among those, who would be most welcome to it.

I have now said all that I had in view to say, in the choice of the subject I have been so long upon. I have, in as plain and faithful manner as I could, laid before you the obligations christians are under to celebrate the instituted memorial of their Lord's dying love. I have been particu­lar in speaking to the careless and secure; the luke­warm and indifferent; the conscientious and careful, in re­gard of their attendance on the other institutions of gospel worship; and, in fine, the scrupulous and fearful: endea­vouring to consider, and remove, all the doubts, difficulties and fears, which have kept any from an attendance at the table of Christ, so far, at least, as they have come within reach of my knowledge.

WHAT will be the effect of my having been thus large, and full, in treating upon this special article of christian du­ty, is known to God only. If what has been discoursed may, under the divine blessing, be influential upon any to do honor to their Savior, by remembering him in the way he has prescribed, it will be labor spent to good purpose. It will occasion joy of heart to all the friends of Jesus; yea, it will be pleasing to him, who loved us, and died for us; yea, it will be a pleasure to that God, who so loved us, even while we were sinners, as to give his only begotten Son to be slain a sacrifice to atone for our transgressions. But if what has been said should prove labor in vain, as being fol­lowed with no good effect, as having no influence to prevail upon any to join with their christian friends in breaking of that bread, which is the symbol of Christ's broken body, it will be remembered another day, that you have been faithfully entreated, warned, directed, and encouraged to the practice of this article of duty; and you will be the more inexcusable on this account. I shall only say, I have delivered my soul, and have done it faithfully in this instance, however defective I may have been in others. The good God grant, that this christian point of practice, which has been seriously and solemnly urged, may prove a savor of life unto life unto many, and not of death unto death—to any one soul.


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