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I CORINTHIANS X. 21.-Ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table, and of the table of devils.

FROM various particulars in this epistle, it would appear that a false teacher had come to Corinth soon after the departure of the apostle Paul, who had endeavoured to subvert the influence of the apostle, and to overturn various parts of his doctrine. Besides other errors inculcated by that false teacher, it seems to have been one of his lessons to the converts at Corinth, that they might safely attend the idolatrous feasts of their heathen acquaintances. The argument by which he defended such a compliance was probably this; that while it would save them from dislike and persecution, any tendency it might have to defile them would be completely neutralized by the efficacy of the christian sacraments to sanctify and cleanse them. They were thus taught to regard these sacraments in a light in which, it is to be feared, they are contemplated by some among ourselves. They were taught to regard them as operating like charms, as conveying a benefit to those who partook of them, irrespectively both of the motives with which they observed them, and of their subsequent conduct. In consequence of the mere external act of observing these ordinances, they would thus think, that their past sins were par

doned, that they were immoveably established in the divine favour, and that their final salvation was infallibly ensured.

It was evidently against some mischievous delusion of this sort that the apostle's reasoning in the preceding part of this chapter was directed. To show his readers that there was no indissoluble connexion between the participation of the christian sacraments and the attainment of eternal salvation, and to convince them, of course, that they ought not to sin in the belief that they were henceforward exempted from all danger, the apostle reminds them of the history of the ancient Israelites. They, too, had been admitted to privileges of a very sacred and important nature. 66 They were all under the cloud," the token of the divine presence and protection; and they were all conducted miraculously through the midst of the sea. Nay more," they were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea;" "and did all eat the same spiritual" or typical meat of which christians partake, "and did all drink the same spiritual drink; for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ." Such, then, were their privileges. But did their baptism and their participation of that meat and drink, which were typical of Christ, secure to them irrevocably the divine favour, or save them from the consequences of their subsequent sins? By no means; for "with many of them God was not well pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted."

In order to show his readers yet farther the criminality and the inconsistency of partaking of the feasts observed in honour of the heathen deities, the apostle reminds them, that when a person joins in a religious

service, he is universally regarded as worshipping the divinity, true or false, to whom that service is rendered. "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion," or united participation, "of the blood of Christ; the bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ ?" That is, by partaking of the cup and the bread in the ordinance of the Supper, do we not profess our submission to the author of the ordinance, as our Saviour and Lord? The same principle was recognised by the Jews in their worship. "Behold Israel after the flesh; are not they who eat of the sacrifices partakers with the altar?" By partaking of the sacrifices presented on the altar, they worship the God to whom the altar was erected; and, by parity of reasoning, they who partake of sacrifice offered to an idol, must be considered as joining in the worship of the idol. An idol, however, is no real divinity; and the things which the Gentiles sacrificed, they sacrificed to devils, or demons. In partaking, therefore, of the heathen sacrifices, christians must be understood as partaking with devils; a conduct involving an implicit, if not a direct renunciation of their christian profession. "Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of devils; ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table and of the table of devils."

In further discoursing from these words, I shall first make a few remarks on the two actions here contrasted, and then I shall endeavour to point out the utter incompatibility subsisting between them.

I. I shall make a few explanatory remarks on the two actions here contrasted, " partaking of the Lord's table and of the table of devils." And under this head I shall take occasion to inquire in what cases more especially

we who live in modern times, and in a christian country, may be said to be guilty of partaking of the table of devils.

The first of the actions mentioned in the text, partaking of the Lord's table, or observing the Lord's Supper, does not require much explanation. It is the most sacred and solemn service of the christian religion, and consists in eating bread and drinking wine in commemoration of the vicarious sufferings and atoning death of our divine Redeemer. In this ordinance we profess our submission to the Lord Jesus, as our infallible guide in religion; we profess our dependence on his sacrifice for pardon and salvation; we solemnly consecrate ourselves to his service; and if we partake aright of the outward elements, believing the truth they represent, the participation will be powerfully conducive to our spiritual nourishment. Such is the nature and design of the sacrament of the Lord's Supper; such is the inestimable benefit which it is adapted to impart; and such are the engagements into which we enter by observing it.

The second action specified in the text, and placed in opposition to "partaking of the Lord's table," is "partaking of the table of devils." The term here rendered devils might have been more properly rendered demons. It is the term which was used by the Athenian philosophers, who said of the apostle Paul, "He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods:" and a compound of the same term is used by the apostle when he said to them in return, "Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious," or, as it should be rendered, "unusually addicted to the worship of demons." It was the intention of the apostle not to irritate, but to conciliate their prejudices; and his declaration would be regarded by

themselves as a compliment rather than a censure. According to the mistaken ideas of the heathen nations, demons were a class of intermediate beings between the gods and mortal men, who possessed certain influence in human affairs. Some of them were supposed to be virtuous and benevolent; and others to be wicked and malignant. It was to demons, then, not to devils in the sense in which that term is usually understood, that the Gentiles intentionally addressed their worship. It must at the same time be recollected, that the festivals observed in honour of the heathen deities and demons were generally scenes of the grossest lewdness and drunkenness, so that those who joined in them were really, if not designedly, guilty of "worshipping devils," and of "partaking with devils," in the worst sense of the term.

To partake of the table of demons, or devils, by joining in a heathen sacrifice, is a sin which we have no temptation, and indeed no opportunity to commit, in a christian country. But it does not follow from this, that the remonstrance in the text is utterly inapplicable to our circumstances. "These things," it is said in a preceding verse, in reference to the sin and punishment of the Israelites, "these things happened for ensamples, and were written for the admonition of us on whom the ends of the world are come." If the judgments which happened to the Israelites in the wilderness, were written for the admonition of christians in the apostolic age, much more surely must the instructions delivered to the latter respecting the sacrament of the Supper, have been intended for our benefit. Assuming, then, that the warning in the text is meant for us as well as for the Corinthians, let us inquire when we may be said to be guilty of partaking at the table of devils. As Satan and those apostate spirits

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