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Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body."
Here then, we have the appointment of Jesus Christ, the glorious Head of the Church, making it the Christian's duty, in this ordinance, to shew forth the death of his Lord. "Christ (says our Heidelbergh Catechism,) has commanded me, and all believers, to eat of this broken bread, and drink of this cup, in remembrance of him."* The duty is plainly stated; the injunction is positive and peremptory "This do in remembrance of me."
Such an injunction, issuing from the lips of Him, who holds our breath, and our destiny in his hand, nothing but the most daring impiety will presume to treat with disrespect. The command of the Supreme Legislator must be law to every created intelligence; and wo to him who disregards the autho rity of this "one Lawgiver, who is able to save, and to destroy!" Let such, then, as neglect and despise this ordinance bear in mind, that it is the Great God, the Judge of quick and dead, whom all heaven and earth are bound to obey, and before whom the very devils tremble, who has said "This do in remembrance of me,"
But this Great God, the Creator, Upholder, and Judge of all, is the God of our Salvation" The Great God, our Saviour." And it is not so much in f Isa. iv. 12.
*Sect. 28. Quest. 75.
nis Divine, as in his Mediatorial character, that Jesus Christ challenges our obedience in the sacrament of the supper. While enduring a painful exile from the heavenly world, and suffering for us, and our salvation, he instituted this feast, and enjoined it upon all his followers, thus to "shew forth his death until he comes."
Oh! who can trifle with a Saviour's love? Whe can disobey a Saviour's command? And that, too, a command issued under circumstances the most solemn and affecting? It was the same night, in which Jesus was betrayed, that he instituted the supper. When the garden and the cross spread all their horrors before him! In that hour of the power of darkness, when we would suppose every thought and every anxiety must have been, with inconceivable intenseness, fixed upon himself, and the death he was to accomplish at Jerusalem: In that hour his love for his people burned with a pure and vehement flame; and his anxiety was exercised to promote their welfare and their comfort. For their refreshment and encouragement, while on their march to glory, he instituted this supper. It is the dying command of the Saviour of sinners, who will dare to withhold obedience? Who does not cherish with peculiar interest, and execute with greatest fidelity, the dying requests and injunctions of a fellow-mortal ? Who does not bear in mind the parting directions of an earthly friend? Who can forget what his father told him, when stretched upon the bed of death? And shall we forget thy dying command, Redeemer
of our souls-our Saviour-and our All? Shall we ungratefully turn our backs on the scenes of Gethsemane and Golgotha; and declare before the church, and in the face of heaven, our unwillingness to keep alive the recollection of thy sufferings and death, in the sacrament of the supper? Oh! no: it must not be. Hell cannot furnish an instance of such black. ingratitude.
"Jesus, thy feast we'll celebrate
We'll shew thy death, we'll sing thy name-
Let the reader, who pretends to be so afraid of an unworthy approach to the table of the Lord, then, bear it in mind, that every time he fails to partake when this ordinance is dispensed, he is guilty of disobedience to the high command of Heaven; a disobedience, aggravated by the circumstance, that it pours contempt upon the dying command of the blessed, and only Saviour. O! be assured, that it will be vastly more difficult to account to your Judge for such neglect and disobedience, than it is to satisfy your conscience at present, under a pretence that the fear of partaking unworthily deters you from approaching the sacramental board. I venture to call this a pretence; because, with very few exceptions indeed, I have never among the multitude, who make such excuse, seen any thing like serious and anxious efforts to become prepared.
But, some one may ask, 'Is no preparation necessary for a seat at the table of the Lord? Are po
qualifications to be attended to, before we adventure to participate in that holy ordinance? Most unquestionably, reader; most unquestionably. And we purpose hereafter to show, what preparation and qualifications are necessary. It answers our purpose at present to tell you, that the want of preparation does not justify your disobedience to the dying command of the Saviour. It is your duty to be prepared and the neglect of one duty can never be accepted as an excuse for the neglect of another duty. The law a nong the Jews, regulating attendance on the passover, was this: "But the man that is clean, and not in a journey, and forbeareth to keep the passover, even the same soul shall be cut off from among his people: because he brought not the offering of the Lord in his appointed season, that man shall bear his sin."* Nothing but ceremonial uncleanness, or unavoidable absence, could excuse the Israelite; and even in such a case, it was required of him to attend on the extra-passover, to be observed on the fourteenth day of the second month by all who had been lawfully prevented from attending at the stated time.† Moral uncleanness, or the want of sanctification, could form no excuse. It was his duty to be holy; and, as I before remarked, the neglect of one duty can never, with propriety, be urged as an excuse for the neglect of another duty. It is so now. "God now commandeth all men every where to repent." "And this is his com
* See Numb. ix. 18.
+ Numb. ix. 10, 11, 12: Acts xviii. 30.
mandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son, Jesus Christ."* The command of God, making it your duty to repent and believe, is as plain and binding as any precept of the moral law. And you may, with as much propriety, and as much safety too, say that you will be guilty of profanity, of Sabbath-breaking, of theft, of uncleanness, or of any other sin forbidden in the Decalogue-as to say, that you will not repent and believe the gospel. It is altogether a mistaken idea, that it is left at your option, whether you shall or shall not honour the Lord Jesus Christ, by confessing his name and commemorating his death. And it betrays more than mistaken ideas upon the subject,-it betrays a heart bent on wickedness,-to neglect this duty, because you wish not the sphere of your indulgences to be contracted-and to bind yourselves to that tender and holy practice, which the profession of religion demands. All this, I repeat it, is your duty-your solemn duty and if you neglect it, you neglect it at your peril! Your sentence of rejection is already recorded on the inspired page! The final and allrighteous Judge has declared, that those who will not confess him before men, he will not confess before his Father, which is in heaven!†
The Judicial process must, in such a case, assume a form somewhat like the following:
Judge. Why did you not commemorate my sufferings and death, in obedience to my dying com mand?