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My brethren, do you do your duty, and leave the consequence to him. Trust in him, and he will take care of you, and keep you from falling, or raise you up if you should fall. It is not his usual way to desert those that, sensible of their own weakness, depend upon him ; nay, he has bound himself by promise that he will not do it ; but you shall be kept by his power through faith unto salvation, 1 Pet. i. 5, and he will never leave you nor forsake you, Heb. xiii. 5, therefore in his strength, humbly make the adventure.
As for such of you as have not the qualifications described, and yet are communicants at the Lord's table, I have a few serious considerations to offer to you.
1. Did you never observe that solemn warning of St. Paul, which, like a flaming sword, hovers round the table of the Lord to guard it from your profanation ? Whosoever shall cat.of this bread, and drink of this cup of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord ; and eateth and drinketh damnation, or judgment, to himself. I Cor. xi. 27, 29. Keep off, therefore, ye unholy sinners, lest the weight of this tremendous curse fall upon you and crush you to ruin.
2. To what purpose do you communicate ? This will not constitute you christians, nor save your souls. Not all the ordi. nances that ever God has instituted can do this, without an interest in Christ, and universal holiness of heart and life. And will you incur such dreadful guilt, without answering any valuable end
3. How absurd is it for you to pretend friendship to Christ in this ordinance, when your hearts are not well affected towards him!. This I have hinted at already. This ordinance is a seal ; but what do you set your seal to, when you do not heartily and practically consent to the covenant of grace ? How can you hold communion with the saints, when you are none of them? Or with God, when you neither know him nor love him ? How dare you wear the badge and livery of his servants, when you are ene-, mies in your minds by wicked works? Will you mingle among his people, when you belong to the camp of the gloomy god of this world? Will you act the part of Judas over again, and compliment Christ with a traiterous kiss? What absurdity, what gross hypocrisy, what a daring insult is this? Can Omniscience be imposed upon by such pretensions? Or will a jealous God let Chem escape unpunished ? Do but read a part of the fiftieth
Psalm : you will see your doom, ver. 16–22. Unto the wicked, God saith, what hast thou to do, that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth ; seeing thou hatest instruction, and castest my words behind thee ?— These things hast thou done, and I kept silence : shou thoughtest I was altogether such an one as thyself. But I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes. Now consider this, ye that forget God, lest he tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver. O, Sirs, consider, it will be a poor plea at last to have it to say, Lord, Lord, have we not eaten and drank in thy presence ? and thou hast taught in our streets. The supreme Judge will, notwithstanding, pronounce the dreadsul sentence upon you, Depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity. Luke xiii. 26, 27.
4. Has not God appointed other means which are preparatory to this ordinance ; and in the use of which you may hope to obtain proper qualifications ? His word, prayer, meditation, and such means, are for the common use of saints and sinners, and intended to beget as well as to confirm grace in the hearts of
But the Lord's supper is the peculiar privilege of such as are true christians already ; and is intended only to cherish and improve true religion where it is begun. Therefore your partaking of it without this grand preparative, is preposterous, and directly contrary to the order of divine appointment. Sinners, go first upon your bended knees before God; cry to him with all the earnestness of perishing creatures, for converting grace. Think upon your miserable condition, and never take off your thoughis from the melancholy contemplation, till your hearts are deeply affected. Read, and hear, and meditate upon his word, till you know your danger and remedy. Take this method first, and when you have succeeded, come to this ordinance, and God, angels and men, will bid you welcome.
5. Consider how aggravated your punishment will be, if you continue in your present condition. To sink into hell from the table of the Lord ! 0! what a terrible fall! They that perished from Sodom and Gomorrah, though their punishment will be intolerable, will be but slightly punished in comparison of you. A lost communicant !-One that went to hell with the bread and wine, the memorials of a dying Saviour, as it were, in his mouth! 0! methinks such a one must be the most shocking sight in the infernal regions. How will lost angels, and lost heathens, wonder and stare at you as an horrible phenomenon, a dreadful curiosity! How will they upbraid you, “ How art thou fallen from heaven,
O Lucifer, son of the morning! art thou also become as one of us ?" To tell the truth without reserve, I cannot but tremble at the thought of seeing such of you on the left hand of the Judge. 0! what a shocking figure will you make there! Therefore do not make the profanation of the body and blood of Christ the whole of your religion, but begin where you should, in earnest endeavours after a new heart and life, in the use of the means appointed for that end.
But there are some of you, perhaps, who may take encouragement from hence, and think you are safe, because you have not been guilty of profaning this solemn institution. You are conscious you are not prepared, and therefore most contentedly stay away. There are, no doubt, sundry of you who have lived in this neglect all your lives. I have a few things to say to you, and I pray you to apply them to yourselves.
1. Consider what it is you say, when you declare you are unfit for this ordinance. There are some that seem to make a merit of it, that they stay away from a sense of their want of preparation. But what is this want? It is the want of all love to God, of faith in Christ, of repentance for sin ; it is the wapt of holiness of heart and life, and every good thing; it is to be without pardon, without a title to heaven, without any interest in the righteousness of Christ; it is to be a slave to sin and Satan, an heir of hell, a poor perishing creature, liable every moment to be cut off, and sink under the weight of divine vengeance : this is your case if you are unfit for this ordinance. Nothing but such things as I have mentioned can reniler you unfit. And is this a safe case ? Can you contenterly rest in it ? Alus! is there so much merit in neglecting to remember Christ in this institution, as wiil render your case safe, and indeninify you ? Must you not be shocked at the thought ?
2. Are you using all proper means to obtain preparation, with the utmost diligence and earnestness ? Or are you inactive and unconcerned about it? If so, it is plain you love to be unprepared: you take pleasure in being disqualified to remember the Lord Jesus. And while you are careless about this, you are virtually careless what will become of you, careless whether heaven or hell will be the place of your everlasting residence : and O ! what will be the end of such a course! and how terrible is your
3. Is it nothing to you that you have lived so many years in the world, without affectionately commemorating that Saviour who died for you, without devoting yourselves to God, consenting to his covenant, and joining yourselves with his people ? O! is there no guilt in all this? No guilt in suffering so many opportunities of attending upon this ordinance to pass by neglected ? what can be a more aggravated wickedness ?
4. This neglect clearly proves that you have no regard for Jesus Christ. You do perhaps insist upon it that you love him. But he himself has left a test of your love : If ye love me, keep my commandments. Now this brings the matter to a short issue, There is no command in the whole Bible more plain than that of remembering him in this ordinance. This you know in your consciences. And yet you have lived in the wilful neglect of this known, easy, dying command of Jesus. With what face then can you pretend that you love him ? Your love is reprobated, and will not stand the test.
5. Let me remind you of what I observed before, that, by the neglect of this ordinance, you practically renounce your baptism. You are now of age to act for yourselves, and you have not apo proved of the act of your parents, by ratifying it in your own person, therefore you abjure it ; you renounce the blessed Trinity, in whose name you were baptised, and to whom you were devoted ; and you give yourselves back to an horrible trinity of another kind, to the world, to sin, and the devil. And are you indeed willing to have no more to do with the God that made you, and with Jesus of Nazareth ? Pause and think before you agree to such a dreadful renunciation. But, alas ! you have agreed to it already, by refusing to renew your early dedication in your own persons. Therefore the best you can now do is to recall your renunciation and immediately acknowledge the act of your parents as your own.
I would inculcate this particularly on young people. You that are eight or ten years old, or more, you have sense enough to act for yourselves in so plain a case. And what are you resolved upon ? Will you be Christ's or Satan's ? You cannot avoid choosing one or the other for your master; for not positively choosing Christ, is virtually choosing the devil for your Lord, and hell for your home. If you stand to the act of your parents in dedi. cating you to God, come make it your own at his table. Such
young guests would be an ornament to it: and O! that we may early see you there properly prepared ?
6. Do not think that by this neglect you keep yourselves from being under obligations to be holy, and that you are at liberty lo live as you list. Your obligations do not depend upon your consent. You were born the servants of God, and you will continue under obligations to be such in spite of you. Is he not the most excellent of Beings, your Creator, your Lawgiver, your Preserver, your Redeemer ? And do these things infer no obligation upon you ? Have you not also, in sickness, or under horror of conscience, made vows and resolutions in your own persons ? And are you free to sin still ? The truth of the case is, do what you will, you are under the strongest obligations to God, and you cannot shake them off ; and if you will not observe these obligations to duty, you must submit forever to your indispensable obligation to punishment. And he will make you know that he has a right to punish you, if you will not acknowledge his right to your obedience.
7. What avails it that you can avoid the Lord's table, when you cannot possibly shun death, or avoid his tribunal ? Here try all your art, and you will find it in vain. And if you are not prepared for this ordinance of worship in the church on earth, much less are you prepared for those more exalted forms of worship in the church in heaven! What then will become of you?
In short, it is a national sin in our country, that the table of the Lord is contemptible ; that men who call themselves christians live in the wilful neglect of that ordinance which was appointed by him, whom they acknowledge as the Founder of their religion, to be a memorial of himself. Alas! the very memory of Christ is almost lost among us. Shall I not visit for these things, saith the Lord. Shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this ? Jer. v. 9.
Perhaps some of you will say, You shut us up in a strange dilemma indeed. If we come unprepared, we sin ; and if we stay away, we sin ; and what then shall we do?' My brethren, I thus shut you up, on purpose that you may see what a wretched case you are in, and that there is no safety for you while you continue in it. You are shut up under a necessity of sinning, and the best choice in such a condition can be only the lesser evil ; though even that is extremely aggravated. Whether you come