« PreviousContinue »
affections of gratitude to that Saviour who has redeemed them from the thraldom of the world ; and let them bear the yoke which he may see fit to impose upon them without a murmur or a complaint. Let them be careful, too, not to be again“ entangled with the yoke of bondage ;” nor to suffer that world to gain the ascendency over them which they are bound to conquer, with all its trials and temptations, by faith in him who himself gained over it a complete victory. Let those, too, who have suffered their affections to be engrossed with the cares and business, the pursuits and pleasures of this life, be induced to ponder for a moment on the imprudence of their choice. Let them try their rejection of Jesus Christ, and their dislike to his service, by the same principles of prudence which guide their daily concerns. Let them be careful to inquire how wise or how safe it is to procrastinate their preparation for eternity, because it is at a little distance ;' to be absorbed in pursuits which the grave must end forever ; and to decline placing an entire confidence in Jesus Christ, as the only Saviour of men, because the repentance and faith which he demands are irksome duties, and his service is attended with many and great sacrifices. In such momentous concerns, may the Spirit of Truth so enlighten our minds and affect our hearts, that our choice may be the choice of wisdom ; and that, after having meekly borne the yoke of Christ through the wilderness of this world, we may be admitted to the Canaan of eternal rest! Amen.
I CORINTHIANS xi. 29.
For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth
and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.
This solemn warning was originally addressed to the church at Corinth. The members of that church had fallen into many gross errors and sins.' Beguiled by false teachers, they perverted, and in some cases almost denied, several plain and important doctrines of the Cross. Seduced by the example of many in this rich, populous, and very corrupt city, they were guilty of conduct unworthy, in the last degree, of those who professed to be the disciples of Jesus Christ. This dreadful degeneracy discovered itself even in their religious exercises ; and at the most solemn of all these exercises--at one which, from its very nature, was calculated to inspire them with reverence and awe, with purity and
peace, with kindness and charity-a scene was often exhibited of discord, intemperance, and confusion. Seated round the very table of the Lord, holding in their hands the mystical symbols of his body broken and his blood shed for their sins, professing their attachment to his cause, and invoking his protection and blessing, they shuddered not at the grossest profanation of this sublime and sacred ordinance. Their guilt called down upon them the anger of God; who withdrew from them the sanctifying influences of his Holy Spirit, and left them, at least for a season, in a state of awful and dangerous declension. But a more open and visible mark of his displeasure, was exhibited in the infliction upon them of severe temporal calamity. A languishing disease threw many of them on the couch of suffering; and not a few were called, by death, to appear before the judgmentseat of Heaven.
How deplorable was their condition ! Sinning against God with a high hand, and suffering his severest rebuke!. Well might Paul tremble for their spiritual welfare : well might he summon up all the energy of his soul, and all the ardour of his affection, to reclaim and reform them : well might he urge them, by the terrors of the Lord, to repent and live; and considering, as not the least of their crimes, their dreadful profanation of the Lord's Supper, well might he say, in the strong language of the text, “ For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eatethi and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.”
This solemn warning, my brethren, which seems to have had a very salutary effect upon the Corinthian Christians, is of no less force and use in all the ages
of the church. Let us then endeavour so to understand its true import, and so to apply it to our own consciences, that, under the blessing of God, it may awaken within us a spirit of serious self-examination, of sincere penitence for sin, and of ness, that thus we may be prepared for all the duties and services which we owe to our Divine Master. For this purpose let us consider, first the nature of the offence against which the text cautions us—"he that eateth and drinketh unworthily ;" and, secondly, the awful consequences of this offence-eateth and drinketh damnation to himself."
I. If, in the first place, we consider what it is to partake of the Lord's Supper unworthily, it may be proper very briefly to mention some of those imperfections or sins, under which a person may labour, and yet not be disqualified for a participation of the Lord's Supper.
First, then, Occasional doubts and fears with regard to one's spiritual state are not inconsistent with a worthy approach to the table of the Lord: I will not say, that such coubts and fears do not always result from the wickedness of the human heart; from a neglect of those means which God has put within the reach of all, for the confirmation of their faith and the establishment of an unwavering hope. They who seldom look into the Oracles of Truth, and who are seldom found in the closet of prayer, must expect to become the prey of the tempter, and to have their breasts often
harassed with doubt, or sometimes tortured with despair. There is certainly great guilt attached to such a state. It calls for the sighs and tears of penitence ; for the fervent supplication, at the Throne of Grace, of a broken and contrite heart ; for new and vigorous attempts after an unclouded assurance of being truly born of God; but, if accompanied with this penitence and prayer and resolution, it does not exclude from the table of the Lord. Otherwise, how many weak souls must be deprived of their spiritual nourishment ; nay, how many emi nent saints, in their seasons of darkness, must be cut off from the enjoyment of an ordinance which is often made the means, under God, of dispelling the gloom of spiritual despondency, and of shedding upon the Christian's path a light, which, beaming upon him from Heaven, shews him, that thither his footsteps, though of late so faint and weary, are still tending !
Secondly, Imperfect views of the doctrines of religion are not inconsistent with a worthy participation of the Lord's Supper. At the commencement of the third chapter of this very Epistle from which our text is taken, Saint Paul, addressing the Corinthians, says ; " And I, brethren, could not speak
“ unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat; for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.” The Corin
" thian converts, then, had not advanced beyond the first principles of the oracles of God : yet, although