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on this Subject, for Want of a right Understanding of the Passages of Scripture which treat of this Matter.
CH A P. III.
Of the proper Dispositions for receiving the
buly Sacrament. IMA N the last Chapter I have endeavoured to
sew the Obligations which lie upon all Christians to receive this holy Sacrament; but as it is not sufficient to perform any Duty how good loever it be, unless it be done with such Disposition, as the Nature of the Duty requires, I come now to explain wherein the Dispositions for receiving the Sacrament aright confift
. The noted Paffage of St Paul, 1 Cor. xi, (wherein the Apostle speaks of Self-Examination as a necessary Preparation in order to come acceptably to the Lord's Table) having a very intimate Relation to the Subject, it will be proper to enquire into the Meaning of it, which will give me an Occasion to rectify several Miltakes which many overscrupulous Persons have entertained in this Matter.
It appears by the eighteenth Verse of this Chapter, that the Corinthians were (exceedingly divided among themselves *, and that in so violent a Manner, that they shewed the Effects of their Divisions even in the Church. Instead of eating together their Love-Feaftst, which then preceded the Lord's Supper, as a Token of their Amity, and in order to increase it, every one eat what he had brought without tarrying one for another, whereby it happened that those that could not bring any Thing were hungry, and the Rich that could
bring * These Divisions were probably about the several Superiorities of their Teachers, being puffed up for one against anotber. See Chap. iii, 3, 4. They thought that they did Honour to their Saviour, by contending for a Superiority of Merit in those Ministers of his, who had been the happy Instruments of their Conversion. They weakly flatter'd, themselves' that the Goodness of the Cause would fanctify all the factions and Quarrels which were the unhappy Effects of it.
+ The Corinthians, before they partook of rhe Lord's Supper, used to have Repafts (in Memory of, and to imitate our Saviour's last Supper, the Eve of his Crucifixion) which they called Agape, and were well contrived to promote benevolence and Charity. Some learned Men have observ’d in the Old Testament some Traces of the like Repasts, Deut. xiv, 29, xxvi, 11. Neb. viii, 12. Esther, ix, 19. Tertullian gives the following Account of them : ' Judge of our Entertainment by the Name we call them by, ayona's or the Feasts of Love. Now, no Cost can be too much, no Expence too profuse, that promotes Friendship and Love. 'Tis with these Supports that we comfort indigent and famished Souls, out of a charitable and good Design, For these Men, tho' their Poverty and Want make them despicable on Earth, yet are not the less grateful to Almighty God. We eat and drink only to satisfy Nature, and our Meals are such as may best qualify us for the Of.. fices of Religion. Our Discourse is modest and instructive, as in the Presence of that God who we know hears all we say. When Supper is done, our Hands wash'd, and the Lamps lighted, we fing Hymns and Hallelujalıs, to God, either such as the holy Scriptures supply us with,
bring much, were full *. An Abuse + lo cortrary to the Design of these Feafts (and productive of all Manner of Disorder and Confufion) could not but make them very unfit to eat the Lord's Supper, since these Agapæ, inAtead of being a Preparative to the receiving the Eucharift with more Amity served them for an Occasion of Discord and Rancour I. St Paul,
or of our own Composure. And if any one is guilty of * Excess or Intemperance,
here he's discovered. We conclude all as we began, with Thanks to God'. Tertullian's Apology rendered into English, p. 214.,
If these Feasts (whish St Chryfoftom thinks were instituted for the Relief of the Poor, when Goods were no longer coma mon among Christians) had always continued in this order. ly Manner, they had been very commendable, but on account of the Excesses which crept into them, they were suppressed by the Laodicean Council, (Car 28) and by that of Carthage, and soon after were every where discontinued.
Our Version tranNates it drunken ; but I think it ought rather to be rendered full, being opposedto bungry,and accordingly the French Geneva Translation has it fait bonne Chére ; and it has been observed that the Greek Word uebúhy is often taken in an innocent Sense, that is of being affected with Liquor to a Degree of Chearfulness only: See John ii, 10. The like Manner of Speaking is met with in the Old Testament, Gen. xliii, 34. Ps. xxiii, 5. xxxvi, 8. Cart. v, 1. Ifa. lviii, 11. Jer. xxxi, 14. Hag. 1, 6. (See Louth's Comment on Ezek. xxxix, 19.) And this Sense, I think suits better with the Apostle's Conclusion, ver. 34. Wberefore, my Bretbren, when ye.come toget ber to eat, tarry one for another. If the Corin. sbians had been guilty of Drunkenness, properly so called, St Paulwould probably have taken notice of it, in another Manner. See Calmet in Loc.
+ St. James Ch. ii, 1, and St Jude Verse 12, complain of the Disorders which happened in the Love-Feasts in their Time. | It is not easy to decide whether in these Words, This is the Lord's Supper, St Paul intends to speak of the
not to eat t
after reproving them for these scandalous Divisions and in order to reclaim them) sets before their Eyes an Account of the Institution t, and from thence takes Occafion to tell them, that whosoever shall eat this Bread, and drink the Cup of the Lord unworthily †, without considering the Ends for which this Sacrament was instituted , of which Charity and Union were some of the chief, mall be guilty of the Body and Blood of the Lord, i. e. shall be reckoned to set at nought, and despise Jesus Christ himself, whom these Elements represent. But let a Man, says he, examine himself, let him look unto his own Heart, let him fearch his Conscience, to fee whether he intends to remember his Savi
Love-Feafts, or of the Eucharist. If of the first, the Sense will be, this is not to imitate eur Saviour's pafchal Supper. If of the other, perhaps we might better translate the Words as Erasmus 'has done, Non licet Cænam dominicam cdere, it is not lawful for you (i. e. after this scandalous Behaviour) to partake of the Lord's Supper. However, it must be own’d, that there is a great Difficulty in this paffage, and it is not easy precisely to separate what belongs to the Love-Feasts, from that which belongs to the Lord's Supper.
+ The Argument lies thus, Christ gave an equal Distri.bution of the Sacramental Bread to every one at the Table, in Token that he died equally for all ; and he
appointed them all to eat together of it, at one common "Table in Remembrance of his Love to them all. Can you
then eat every one separately his own Supper, excluding those to whom he equally distr: buted the sacred Bread, and yet conceive you worthily eat the Lord's Supper, and duly participate of .... this great Feast of Love ?” Whitby. See also Comment, de Sacy, in Loc.
| That is, in an unfit, einbecoming Manner. The opposite Word q&o, Matt. iii, 8. Luke iii, 8. is translated moet, and Phili, 27, as it becometh,
our with those good Dispositions which naturally result from this Commemoration, and then let him eat of that Bread, and drink of that Cup; for whosoever fall eat this Bread, and drink this Cup of the Lord unworthily, which was the Case of these Corinthians, eateth and drinketh Damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's Body, i. e. not perceiving. (as probably they did not in the Midst of their Tumults and Disorders *) that what they eat: and drank at the Lord's Table, 'was not common Bread and Wine, but the Emblems of the Body and Blood of Christ, and that these Elements were for the spiritual Comfort of the Poor, as well as the Rich. For this Caufe (for not discerning the Lord's Body) many says he, are fick among you, and many sleep, or are dead. And then he exhorts them to judge themselves, whether they intend to come to their religious Assemblies with mutual Charity, and if in consequence thereof they eat their. LoveFeasts, without breaking through the Laws of Order and of Decency, of Union and. Biotherly Love, in which Cases he supposes. shem to come worthily to the Lord's Table.
So that St Paul's Design in this paffage was. first to thew the heinous Nature of the Divisions which reigned at Corinth, and the fad Effects they produced even in the most sacred Part of religious Worship t'; secondly, the Contrariety
*. It was probably out of the Love-Feasts that that the Sacramental Elements were provided ; of which, it is not 'unlikely the Corinthians ate with the fame Unconcernedness after their Confecration, as while they remained coinmon. † Verr 18, 22,