Imágenes de páginas


But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.-1 COR. xi. 28.

I HAVE been treating of that special communion which believers have with Christ, in the administration of the ordinance of the supper of the Lord; and thought I should have treated no more of that subject; having gone through all the particulars of it, which were practical, such as might be reduced to present practice. But I remember I said nothing concerning preparation for it, which yet is a needful duty: and therefore I shall a little speak to that also; not what may doctrinally be delivered upon it, but those things, or some of them at least, in which every soul will find a practical concern that intends to be a partaker of that ordinance to benefit and advantage: and I have taken these words of the apostle for my groundwork. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.'

There were many disorders fallen in this church at Corinth; and that various ways, in schisms and divisions, in neglect of discipline, in false opinions, and particularly in a great abuse of the administration of this great ordinance of the supper of the Lord. And though I do not, I dare not, I ought not to bless God for their sin; yet I bless God for his providence. Had it not been for their disorders, we had all of us been much in darkness as to all church way. The correction of their disorders contain the principal rule for church communion, and the administration of this sacrament that we have in the whole Scripture; which might have been hid from us, but that God suffered them to fall into them on purpose, that through their fall in them, and by them, he might instruct his church in all ages to the end of the world.

The apostle is here rectifying abuses about the administration of the Lord's supper, which were many; and he applies particular directions to all their particular miscar

* Delivered Jan. 7, 1769-70.

riages, not now to be insisted on; and he gathers up all directions into this one general rule that I have here read, 'Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat,' &c. Now this self-examination extends itself unto the whole due preparation of the souls of men for the actual participation of this ordinance. And I shall endeavour, by plain instances out of the Scripture (which is my way in these familiar exercises), to manifest that there is a preparation necessary for the celebration, or observance of all solemn ordinances. And I shall shew you what that preparation is, and wherein it doth consist. And then I shall deduce from thence what is that particular preparation which is incumbent upon us, in reference unto this special ordinance, that is superadded unto the general preparation that is required unto all ordinances.

I. I shall manifest, that there is a preparation necessary for the celebration of solemn worship. We have an early instance of it in Gen. xxxv. 1-5. In the first verse, God said unto Jacob, Arise, go up to Bethel, and make there an altar unto God.' It was a solemn ordinance Jacob was called unto, to build an altar unto God, and to offer sacrifice. What course did he take? you may see, ver. 2, 3. 'And Jacob said unto his household, and to all that were with him, Put away the strange gods that are among you, and be clean, and change your garments; and let us arise, and go up to Bethel, and I will make there an altar unto God.' I will not engage, saith he, in this great duty without a preparation for it; and, saith he, the preparation shall be suitable. Peculiar, special preparation (to observe that by the way) for any ordinance, consists in the removal of that from us which stands in peculiar opposition to that ordinance, whatever it be. I am to build an altar unto God; put away the strange gods;' and accordingly he did so.

When God came to treat with the people in that great ordinance of giving the law, which was the foundation of all following ordinances; Exod. xix. 10, 11. The Lord said unto Moses, Go unto the people, and sanctify them to-day, and to-morrow; and let them wash their clothes, and be ready against the third day. For the third day the Lord will come down upon Mount Sinai.' I will not insist on these typical preparations, but only say, it sufficiently proves the



[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


general thesis, that there ought to be such a preparation for any meeting with God in any of his ordinances. Saith he, 'sanctify yourselves,' &c. ' and on the third day I will come.' God is a great God, with whom we have to do. It is not good to have carnal boldness in our accesses and approaches to him; and therefore, he teaches us, that there is a preparation due. And what weight God lays upon this, you may see, 2 Chron. xxx. 18-20. A multitude of people came to the sacrifice of the passover; but, saith he, they had not cleansed themselves,' there was not due preparation; but 'Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, The good Lord pardon every one, that prepareth his heart to seek God, the Lord God of his fathers, though he be not cleansed according to the purification of the sanctuary. And the Lord hearkened to Hezekiah, and healed the people.' Perhaps the people might have thought it enough, that they had their personal qualification, that they were believers, that they had prepared their hearts to seek the Lord God of their fathers; a thing most persons trust unto in this matter. No, saith the king, in praying for them; they did prepare their hearts for the Lord God of their fathers, but they were not prepared according to the preparation of the sanctuary.' There is an instituted preparation, as well as a personal disposition, which if not observed, God will smite them: God had smote the people; given them some token of his displeasure: they come with great willingness and desire to be partakers of this holy ordinance; yet, because they were not prepared according to the purification of the sanctuary, God smites them.

It was an ordinance of God that Paul had to perform, and we would have thought it a thing that he might easily have done, without any great forethought, but it had that weight upon his spirit, Rom. xv. 30, 31. that with all earnestness he begs the prayers of others, that he might be carried through the performance of it; Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me; that my service which I have for Jerusalem may be accepted of the saints.' He had a service to do at Jerusalem. He was gathering the contributions of the saints (an ordinance of God) to carry it up to the poor of Jerusalem; and

it was upon his heart, that this his service might find acceptance with them; therefore he begs with all his soul, 'I beseech you, brethren,' &c. So great weight did he lay upon the performance of an ordinance, that one would think might be easily passed over, without any great regard.

[ocr errors]

The caution we have, Eccles. v. 1. is to the same purpose: Keep thy foot when thou goest into the house of God, and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools; for they consider not that they do evil.' I shall not stand upon the particular exposition of any of these expressions, but it is a plain caution of diligent consideration of ourselves in all things we have to do in the house of God. A bold venturing upon an ordinance is but the sacrifice of fools: Keep thy foot,' look to thy affections; be more ready to hear,' saith he; that is, to attend unto the command, what God requires from thee, and the way and manner of it, than merely to run upon a sacrifice, or the performance of the duty itself.

I will name one place more: Psal. xxvi. 6. I will wash my hands in innocency: so will I compass thine altar, O Lord.'

I have a little confirmed this general proposition, that all take for granted; and I fear we content ourselves for the most part with the state and condition of those mentioned, who prepared their hearts to meet the Lord God of their fathers, not considering how they may be prepared 'according to the preparation of the sanctuary.' You will ask, What is that preparation?"

This question brings me to the

II. Second general head I propounded to speak unto: I answer, That the general preparation that respects all ordinances hath reference unto God; to ourselves; to the ordinance itself.

1. It hath respect unto God. This is the first thing to be considered; for this he lays down as the great law of his ordinances. I will be sanctified in them that draw nigh unto me Lev. x. 3. God is, in the first place, to be considered in all our drawings nigh unto him; as that is the general name of all ordinances, a drawing nigh, an access unto God. 'I will be sanctified,' &c. Now God is to be considered three ways, that he may be sanctified in any ordinance as the author; as the object; as the end of it.


I shall speak only to those things that lie practically before us, and are indispensably required of us in waiting upon God, in any and every ordinance.

[ocr errors]

(1.) Our preparation, in reference unto God, consists in due consideration of God, as the author of any ordinance wherein we draw nigh unto him. For this is the foundation of all ordinances. Rom. xiv. 11. As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to me.' A practical sense of the authority of God in every ordinance, is that which is required in the very first place for our preparation. I know full well how that the mind of man is to be influenced by general convictions and particular customs. Particular usages built upon general convictions carry most people through their duties: but that is no preparation of heart. There is to be an immediate sense of the authority and command of God.

(2.) We are to consider God in Christ, as the immediate object of that worship which in every ordinance we do perform. You will ask, What special apprehensions concerning God are particularly necessary to this duty of preparation for communion with God in an ordinance? I answer, Two are particularly necessary, that should be practically upon our thoughts in every ordinance; the presence of God, and the holiness of God. As God is the object of our worship, these two properties of God are principally to be considered in all our preparations.

[1] The presence of God. When Elijah, 1 Kings xviii. 27. derided the worshippers of Baal, the chief part of his derision was, 'he is in a journey;' you have a God that is absent, saith Elijah: and the end of all idolatry in the world, is to feign the presence of an absent Deity. All images and idols are set up for no other end, but to feign the presence of what really is absent. Our God is present, and in all his ordinances. I beg of God, I may have a double sense of his presence, 1st. A special sense of his omnipresence. God requires, that we should put in all ordinances a specialty of faith upon his general attributes. Gen. xxviii. 16. Jacob, when God appeared unto him, though but in a dream, awaked out of sleep, and said, 'Surely the Lord is in this place, and I knew it not.' I would say so concerning every ordinance whereunto I go; the Lord is in

« AnteriorContinuar »