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sacrament to you, nor to him either, if he be not one of the incorrigible sort before mentioned. And if any minister be one of that sort, and as it may be like Eli's two sons; on account of whose foul misconduct men abhorred the offering of the Lord," (Sam. I. ii. 17,) it is to be hoped, that he who provides himself a lamb for a burntoffering will soon provide himself a worthier priest. Since however the minister of one congregation has no business to inquire the motives or objections of another in relation to this subject, and his own congregation would not be so rude as to reprove him to his face, the priest shall be less likely to hear his own unworthiness assigned or hinted as an excuse for the unpopularity of this or any other religious institution, than
-2, The unworthiness of other communicants: and that were a nice point to judge without their own confession, which is grown too much out of vogue. But admitting the immorality of some communicants as A POSSIBLE CASE, rather than pretending to be judges of other men's sins-shall we think there are not as bad men who do not communicate as any who do? Why should we endeavour to identify ourselves with those who are totally wrong by declining, rather than with those who are partly right by complying with—our Lord's injunction?
-3, Perchance however, it may after all be neither of the forementioned reasons, that is-neither a suspicion of other men's unworthiness, nor a more becoming sense of your own, but the example of a wicked world, and because there are more who do not attend the altar than who do, that you forbear. But is not this the example that you professed to renounce in your baptism, when you undertook to think for yourself with the light of divine revelation for your guide? And if so, how can you submit to be led by that example still in this respect, or in this and
other as well, wITHOUT EXCEPTING ANY PART OF ITS BASENESS AND FOLLY ? 66 Know ye not, that so many us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into
his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death : that like as Christ was raised
from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life,” (Rom. vi. 3, 4,) says St. Paul; opposing Newness of life to the way of the world; though in strictness the way of the world be much newer than the way of life. Now therefore let us consider the other evil part in relation to this matter,
3. The part of Receiving unworthily: wherein we find the subject of unworthiness more or less reprehensible according to the matters or objects to which it relates; some being more serious than some, though all are more serious than they are generally considered. Thus for example, we cannot help calling it an unworthy manner, or unworthy receiving of the sacrament in different degrees, however light the first may seem, when
1, Some hurry up to the Lord's table,-forcing themselves on one before or beyond another in order that they may “sit down in the highest room," or take the highest place; while better men approach with hesitation and diffidence, thinking the very lowest place perhaps too good for them. For hereupon, if ever, it may truly be said in respect of consequences, “ The last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen :" (Matt. xx. 16 :) the Chosen Few being generally to be found among those whom the preponderating multitude are wont to trample under foot, or forestall continually, as they did the poor cripple at the pool of Bethesda. (John v. 7.) Some one must needs take the highest room certainly, if ever there be a communion: therefore it might be well to let the last or newest communicant go up first continually according to our Saviour's rule, “ The last shall be first,” just cited. I also think, it might be as well, if the communicants, or the first table full at least, would come up when they are required, v. g. after the minister's saying, “ Ye that do truly and earnestly repent of your sins," &c., “ meekly kneeling” as they come up. For this order is most agree
able to the rubrick, and will generally be found most convenient.
2, At the table our eyes should be suffered neither to be idle, nor to wander toward improper objects; but both our eyes and inward apprehension likewise should be exercised and employed on the objects there provided for them, as well as our ears and inward conception. We should look on the altar and think of the cross,-on the table, and think of our Lord's Passover: we should look on the bread and wine in two views, carnal and spiritual; one remembering his kind providence “ who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;" (Tim. I. vi. 17;) the other“ God commending his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (Rom. v. 8.) And as the bread is broken and the wine poured out, let us honour, let us worship the blessed body that was broken, and the blood that was poured out for us : but not that which may be carried about in procession, or hung up in a cage, and kept like any common meat till it be spoiled. For honouring what is not the Lord's body as if it was, is as reprehensible on the one hand, as not discerning and honouring accordingly that which is, on the other.
3, We find many other particularities only in this superficial way which are yet very unworthy of the solemnity of the Lord's supper; and I had need mention one, if I go no farther, of this sort : which is an unbecoming fastidiousness in receiving the cup, and turning the edge of it after a brother, as if to avoid contamination by the soilure of his lips; and as if those lips could be fraught with contamination which are daily cleansed, perhaps, by a true confession. I call this a superficial unworthiness, because it is outward and apparent; what it indicates, or rather partakes of, being at the same time,
4, Either great inadvertency or still greater unworthiness as it consists in a reception with selfishness instead of charity, with darkness instead of light, and with pride
instead of humility. For it is charity to love one's neighbour as one's self, and light to regard him as the image of God, and humility to esteem him better than one's self: and so receiving the cup of blessing, we shall be too much humbled by a sense of our own vileness both within and without, to think much of other people's; and sufficiently out of conceit with ourselves, to give our neighbour's image an opportunity of gliding into the place of our
5, There are as many degrees in this relation as steps to the altar ; but it is remarkable, whether it proceed from pride or any other natural motive, that in remembering the extent of their heavenly communion, men have generally the slightest feeling of the degrees that are nearest to them; as first, of the communion of saints-being in their own nature, and beginning with their humble brethren; next, of the communion of the Holy Ghost, by which their natures are sanctified, and their hearts carried forward as an offering to the Father in his Son, Jesus Christ. And hence there would seem to be a very inconvenient breach in their devotions. For, as St. John naturally asks, but not like a natural man, “He that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he lore God whom he bath not seen ?" (John I. iv. 20.) God is not to be come at, if I may so say, in this manner: that is, by stepping over our brother's head: but rather by taking him in our hand. And this commandment have we from him, That he who LOVETH GOD, LOVE HIS BROTHER ALSO.” (Ib. 21.)
These things we should not dissemble to ourselves; and then the last and most flagrant species of unworthy receiving that I now think fit to insist on would be barely possible ; that is,
6, To receive without thanks, to commemorate the greatest benefits as matters of course, and perhaps without feeling a grain of their importance : which is something like hypocrisy ; though it may be without any foul purpose, and at least must be set down as RANK FORMALITY. When old Isaac thought only to partake of his favourite's venison, it was with an idea that his soul might bless him before he died: (Gen. xxvii. 4:) and should we not have some such idea of blessing God before we eat another meal in going up to the Lord's table; or can we leave it without blessing him who hath blessed us with every blessing that we enjoy; and more especially with the flesh of his own dear Son, as a sacrifice and rich repast? I do not know whether such a deficiency should be mentioned as a single failing, or as a sign of our total miscarriage on this occasion, like a disappointed meal: but certainly every other fault in receiving must be heightened by this; as commonly every offence against our neighbour is by the appearance of ingratitude.
I do not feel disposed to insist now on the unworthy way of receiving the sacrament expressly for carnal and hypocritical ends, like some that I have had occasion to allude to * before now, as well for that reason, as because I have little time and less inclination for the task, Neither cau we need any weight of that sort to cast us down, considering how awful a thing it is to receive unworthily in any respect. If the men of Beth-shemesh were punished so severely as we read in the Old Testament for only looking into the ark, (Sam. I. vi. 19,) and Uzzah, the driver of the cart on which the ark was conveyed only for touching the same with a view to steady it, also; (Ib. II. vi. 7 ;) if, as we read in the New Testament, one is punished with reprobation for partaking at the Lord's supper unworthily, (Matt. xxvi. 24,) and afterward many more are stricken, if not so severely, yet with different diseases and corporeal death (Cor. I. xi. 30) for similarly offending, but in a lighter way-we cannot suppose, that the consequence will not be unpleasant to ourselves somehow, if we also receive unworthily, as well as
• In the Fate of Ananias. Sermon XXII. of the former Series.