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of such Proceedings, to the End of that holy Institution, and the Danger to which they thereby exposed themselves *. Thirdly, to point out the Way to avoid these Dangers t.
Now, before I shew wherein consift the true Dispositions which qualify us for the due Reception of this Sacrament, I beg leave to make two or three general Remarks.
And first, fince it appears that the Unworthiness of the Corinthians confifted in a good Measure in the Irregularity of their Behaviour at their Love-Feasts, is it not now as clear as the Light, that in a Church like ours, where the consecrated Elements are furnished at the publick Expence ; and distributed equally and decently ; where an outward Profession of Friendship is implied, at least not contradicted, it is impossible that the Unworthiness charged on the Corinthians, can be ours? So that this Text is perverted to a very wrong Use, when made the Pretence of keeping Men from the holy Table, whose present Circumstances have no Manner of Concern in, or Relation to them. I do indeed allow that there are other Ways to receive the Sacrament unworthily (which there was no need to specify on this Occasion) beside that mentioned in this Passage ; fince we may fay in general, that all those that partake of it without having Regard to the Ends of the Inftitution, may be said, in some Sense, to do it unworthily, tho' in a Degree much inferior to that of the Corinthiansy. whose Offence was of
* Ver. 23. to 305
+ Ver: 33 to 34.
most enormous Size ; and it is, I think, hardly poffible in these Days, to come to the Lord's Table as they did, without Respect, without Reflection, without discerning the Lord's Body *, which was represented by the Bread and Wine, full of Envy, Divifions, and Uncharitableness. But surely this Crime of Unworthiness is by no Means to be extended to every little Failure or Omiffion in the Performance of this Duty, as if that did render us such unworthy Receivers as those Corinthians were, or strait consign us over to the same Punishments.
Our Saviour did not institute this holy Sacrament for a Snare to his Followers, to draw them into Sin and Danger ; (this would be to turn the Cup of Salvation into a Cup of Poison, unworthy of that God whose tender Mercy is over all his Works + ) but rather in great Mercy to them, as a powerful Means to quicken and encourage their Virtues, as an happy Instrument to nourifh and fan the Flame of their Love to him. He only desires Truth in the inward Parts , and if there be but a willing Mindt, he will accept of our sincere, tho' weak En. deavours, and will pardon us when we prepare our Hearts to seek him, tho we be not cleansed according to the Purification of the Sanctuary H.
* I don't know whether they did not intirely overlook, that this was done isf Remembrance of Christ : St Paul, methinks, seem to reproach them therewith tacitly in the Words : For as often as ye eat this Bread, and drink tbis Cup, ye few fortb, or, as it may be equally rendered, shew je forób tbe Lord's Deatb till be come ; setting forth before their Eyes a Matter to which they gave but little or no heed. t-Ff.cxlv. 9. I PJ. li, 6. + 2 Cor. viii. 12. | 2 Cbron. XXX, 18, 39,
II Let it be observed, that the Judgment here spoken of does not denote eternal Damnation, but certain judicial and extraordinary Plagues * which God in Aicted upon scandalous Sinners, in order to vindicate our Saviour's most excellent Institution, from the Contempt they brought upon it ; and we cannot wonder that God should so severely threaten and punish such high Affront and Violation of his sacred Ordinance : No Judgment could be too sharp, or great, in order effectually to deter others from such Practices. Now, that this Damnation was of a temporal Nature is plain, because the Reason for this Damnation is, that they might not be condemned with the World, i.e. they are punished in this World, that by these Chastisements they may be brought to a Sense of their Duty, and may happily escape the Torments of the World to come. This Confideration cannot but administer great Comfort to scrupulous and timorous Consciences, who may from hence obferve, that the Crime of unworthy receiving, tho' great in itself, is not unpardonable, and that those who have been guilty of it, may still find Favour with God, if they do but repent and amend. Now,
* Our Apostle alludes to them in another part of the Epistle, where he orders the incestuous Person to be delivered to Satan for the Destruction of the Flesb, that the Spirit migbt be saved in the Day of the Lord Jesus Christ, Chap. v. 5. And it was probably these supernatural Diseases which were cured by Prayer and anointing, James v. 14. Vid. Preservative againft Popery, Vol. 2. Tit. 7, p. 67. fo.
+ Thus, in order to keep up the Veneration due to the Sabbath, God was pleased, at the first Institution, to punish with Death the Transgreffors of it, Numb. xv, 32, 36.
to put it beyond all Manner of Doubt, that the Word here is to be understood of a temporal Punishment, let it be observed that the Greek Word which we translate Damnation, figni. fies properly Judgment *, and is so rendered in the Margin of our Bibles. Our Translators did not therefore probably understand Damnation here in the harsh Sense of the Word, but they put in a Word, which, tho' it may be taken in a temporal Sense, has, in the common Acceptance, a Reference to eternal Punishment, to make People more careful how they received, not foreseeing the ill Uses that might be made of it, and accordingly have been in our Age ; wherein, through the Ignorance or Indiscretion of some Persons, this one Word has kept more people from the holy Communion, than all the Commands for it can bring to it. I do indeed allow, that tho' St Paul fpeaks of Judgment in a temporal Sense, yet no
Doubt it is a great Sin (as I have just now hinted) to receive unworthily, and, like other Sins, if not repented of, will, in the End, prove dammable, and cause the guilty Person to be at last condemned with the World. But there are 2. great many other Cases besides this of the Sacrament, in which a Man is guilty of a damnable Sin, if he does not his Duty as he ought to do. He that performs, in any Instance, the
* The original Word xpiuc fignifies any Judgment whatsoever, and being of a general and indefinite Signification, can only be fixed by the particular Circumstar.ccs of the Place, which in this Passage plainly determine it to a temporal Sense ; as it does also, Luke xxiii, 40. and 1 Peteiv. 17, belide other Places of Scripture,
Worthip of God, or professes the Christian Religion unworthily, does these Things to his own Damnation, and upon the fame Account that he is said to eat his own Damnation that communicates unworthily in the Sacrament. No Man, for instance, is fit to say the Lord's Prayer, who is not fit to eat at his Table. Reading, and hearing, and praying unworthily, i, e. without due Reverence, and in the Love and Indulgence of any known Sin is. damnable, as well as unworthy communicating. But will any Man from hence argue, that it is best for a wicked Man not to pray, nor to hear or read the Word of God, lest by fo doing he should enhance and aggravate his Condemnation? And yet there is as much Reason from this Consideration, to persuade Men to give over praying and attending to God's Word, as to lay aside the Use of the Sacrament: The plain Truth is, he that un worthily uses or performs any part of Religion, is in an evil and dangerous Condition ; but he that cafts off all Religion plunges himself-into a: desperate State, and does, in the End, certainly damn himself to avoid Damnation ; because he that cafts off all Religion throws off all the Means whereby he should be reclaimed, and brought into a better State. I cannot more fitly illustrate the Matter than by a plain Similitude: He that eats and drinks intemperately, endangers his Life and his Health, but he that, to avoid that Danger, will not eat at all, I need.not fay what will soon become of him.