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all such; and teaches them that they are wholly disqualified for this ordinance; that they act inconsistently with the design of the institution, and are eating and drinking judgment to themselves.
QUALIFICATIONS FOR THE LORD'S SUPPER.
1 CORINTHIANS XI. 27, 28, 29.
Wherefore, whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body, and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.
Several disorders prevailed in the Corinthian church at the celebration of the Lord's Supper. To rectify these disorders, the apostle in our context, instructed the members of this church, in the nature and design of the institution; informing them, that it was not a common meal, but a sacred ordinance; that the bread and wine. were emblematical of the body and blood of Christ; that they were to be received in remembrance of him; and that as often as they received them, they showed forth his death. Hence he inferred in our text, that whosoever received these elements, unworthily, would be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. By improperly receiving the elements, persons would show such a carelessness about Christ, and such a want of reverence, respect, and affection for him, or such a contempt of him, as would manifest that they had the temper of those who crucified him, and as would have a tendency to injure his cause; so that they would in a measure be sharers in the guilt of those who wounded his body and shed his blood upon the cross.
This being the case, the apostle therefore exhorted them to a careful self-examination, that they might avoid this guilt, and come to the ordinance prepared to keep it aright. This duty he further enforced in the next verse, by the dreadful consequence of unworthily communicating.
On the last Sabbath, the nature, design, and use, of the Lord's Supper were explained. We proceed now, to consider the qualifications to come to this ordinance.
These qualifications are pointed out in our Catechism in the answer to the 97th question :
"What is required to the worthy receiving of the Lord's Supper?
It is required of them that would worthily partake of the Lord's Supper, that they examine themselves of their knowl edge to discern the Lord's body, and their faith to feed upon him; of their repentance, love, and new obedience; lest coming unworthily, they eat and drink judgment to themselves."
By worthiness, in this answer, and in our text, we are not to understand a personal worth or merit, entitling us to come to this ordinance. In this sense, there are none worthy; for none of our sinful race have any merit in the sight of God to entitle them to this or any other privilege; and on this ground every soul must be debarred as unworthy. But by worthiness to partake of this ordinance is meant a meetness or preparedness for it; that is, possessing those qualifications which the gospel requires. The person who possesses these qualifications, whatever they are, is worthy in the sense in which we are to understand this word, as used in reference to the ordinance of the Lord's Supper; however unworthy he may be in himself, or however unworthy he may feel himself to be, to come to the ordinance.
What then are those qualifications, which the gospel requires, to fit a person to come aright to the holy ordinance of the Supper?
I answer, to entitle a person in the sight of God to come to this ordinance, he ought to have real piety, and have his graces in exercise; and to entitle him in the sight of the church, he ought to give credible evidences of real piety.
That a person ought to have real piety to entitle him in the sight of God, appears from a number of considerations
and a number of passages of Scripture, which might be mentioned and illustrated. I will however at present argue this point, only from the nature of the ordinance, from which it will sufficiently appear that all who come to it ought to have real piety.
In the discourse on the last Sabbath morning, it was shown, that the ordinance of the Lord's Supper was instituted to be a memorial of Christ, a seal of the covenant of grace, and the communion of saints. Considered in either of these respects, the nature of the ordinance teaches, that a person ought to have real piety to be entitled in the sight of God to come to this ordinance.
Was the ordinance instituted to be a memorial of Christ, and is it to be observed in remembrance of him? It is certain we cannot do this aright without real piety. For it is self-evident that Christ cannot be remembered aright without love. But without piety there can be no true love to Christ for the Scriptures teach us that the carnal mind," by which is meant the unrenewed mind, "is enmity against God;" Rom. viii. 7. Hence it is evident that the person who is destitute of piety has no true love to Christ; and most assuredly such a person cannot remember Christ aright; and therefore true piety is necessary to come aright to this ordinance.
Again, was this ordinance instituted to be a seal of the covenant of grace? God seals the blessings of this covenant to none but his real people; therefore none but his real people, have a right to this seal. It is absurd, that any others should pretend to receive it, since it is not given to them by God, and seals nothing to them. On the part of sinners, the articles of the covenant of grace are all summed up in this sentence, that they will be the people of God, which includes all the duties of religion, as faith, repentance, love, and holy obedience. He that is in covenant with God is bound to fulfil the articles thereof; and the Lord's Supper is a seal of his engagement to fulfil these articles. He hereby publicly and solemnly binds himself to be the Lord's and his alone. He professes that Christ is the only foundation of his hope of salvation, and that he believes in him, and by faith takes him as his Saviour; he professes repentance of all his sins; and he binds himself to live to the glory of God, by keeping his commandments. This being the nature of this transa
tion, most assuredly no person can come to this ordinance aright unless he has true religion. He who has not true piety does not assent to the articles of the covenant, and therefore he must be insincere in setting his seal; and it is absurd for him to set his seal to a covenant, which was never made with him, and to which he does not assent. It is virtually trifling with omniscience and mocking the heart-searching God. In agreement with these observations is that solemn text, Ps. L. 16; "Unto the wicked God saith, what hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth?" Hence, from a consideration of this ordinance as a seal of the covenant of grace, it appears that true piety is an essential qualification to come aright to the ordinance.
We must come to the same conclusion, if we consider the ordinance as the communion of saints. None but those who are really saints can be fit for, or enjoy this communion. Light and darkness are not more opposite to each other than religion and irreligion, or the temper of a saint and of one who is not pious. It is therefore impossible for one who has not religion to hold christian. communion with one who has; and it is absurd for him to come to the Lord's table to hold communion with the people of Christ.
We may observe again, that in this ordinance, not only the people of Christ hold communion with each other; but Christ holds communion with his people. This the apostle intimates in the same passage, in which he teaches that this ordinance is the communion of saints. "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ ?" 1 Cor. x. 16. He introduced this passage to show that the Corinthians ought not to join with the Heathen in their religious festivals"; for as in the Lord's Supper they professed to hold communion with Christ, so by partaking of these idolatrous feasts which were kept in honour of idols, their communion would be with these idols. This being the case, it is certain that none can be fit for this ordinance, unless they are fit to hold communion with Christ. But, "What communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial ?" 2 Cor. vi. 15, 16. An unrenewed soul cannot hold communion with Christ; and
therefore, without true piety, a person must be unfit for this ordinance.
From all these considerations we conclude, that true piety is an essential requisite to a right participation of this ordinance. This is children's bread, and none but children have a right in the sight of God to partake of it.
Will it be objected to this conclusion, that there was aJudas at the Lord's Supper, when Christ himself administered it; and that as he knew the hearts of all men, he knew that he was a hypocrite, and not a real disciple; and that therefore if he had intended to make true piety a requisite qualification, he would have debared Judas from this ordinance? To this objection I answer, it is not certain that Judas was at the Lord's Supper. It is certain he sat down with the rest of the apostles to eat the passover; but whether he continued sitting with them until they received the Lord's Supper, or went out before, is doubtful. But admitting that he was at the ordinance with our Lord himself, it proves nothing against the conclusion which has been drawn. For Christ intending by his conduct in the first administration of the ordinance, to set an example to his church in future ages, treated Judas according to his visible character; and he was visibly a pious man. We have no evidence that his character previous to this time did not stand as fair as that of any of the disciples. So that the instance of Judas (admitting that he was at the Lord's Supper) proves nothing against the position, that persons to have a right to this ordinance, and to come acceptably in the sight of God, ought to have real piety. It only teaches us, that the church, in receiving persons to this ordinance ought to be guided by their visible character. And it holds up a solemn warning to all hypocrites, who in the end of Judas may see the danger of drawing nigh unto God with their mouths, and honouring him with their lips, while their hearts are far from him.
The qualifications to come to the Lord's Supper, in the sight of the church ought to be visible piety. For the of ficers in the church, cannot search the heart; but they ought to look for evidence of that which God requires, which has been shown to be real piety. And since they have committed to them by Christ, the keys of the visi