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in other passages damnation is no more than condemnation, and that the context will always

shew whether it is a condemnation that refers to this world or to the next. Besides, if instead of stopping at a word they would only finish the chapter, they could not fail to perceive that the Apostle was speaking of temporal judgments, since he proceeds to say, “ For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.” Now we infer from his applying to death the favourable term sleep, that he thought even of those who had suffered most, that they had departed in the Lord; and it appears from the context that the survivors were chastened, that they might not be condemned with the world, but might be brought to repentance. An attentive perusal will convince us that this is the true interpretation ; and it may be added, that in the present age none are disposed, or indeed able, to partake of the Sacrament in the same scandalous and offensive manner.

66 The first Christians met at the Lord's Supper almost every day, and without any special summons. The Sacrament was intermingled with their meals, and the rich brought an abundance, which they abused to a criminal excess, while they imparted no share of it to their hungry brethren: they were compelled to assemble in private houses, and during the night; we celebrate the Lord's supper in the church, and in open day, where the slightest impropriety would be seen and condemned. The rich Corinthians sat apart from the poor; but we kneel down together, without any distinction of rank, within the same sanctuary. The Corinthians brought with them a luxurious feast; the bread which we eat is but a morsel, the wine we drink can never intoxicate. No communicant now is grossly ignorant, or so brutishly irreverent, as not to distinguish between the sacramental bread and wine, and an ordinary meal. Some may be more serious than others, and the best

may be more devout at one time than at another ; but none is now chargeable with intemperance, or intentional levity. The very fears which keep so many away are proofs, that if they came, they would not receive it in this unworthy manner."

SO

8 Parr, Sermon on the Communion.

B 3

It has been maintained, by some", that the Apostle confines his censure to unworthy behaviour at the table, and that his warning has no reference to previous qualifications; but this is going into the opposite extreme. The Apostle not only speaks of not discerning the Lord's body, by which he evidently means the coming unto the feast in an improper form of mind; but he also enjoins them to examine themselves; which must mean not only acquainting themselves with the nature of the ordinance, but their own fitness for it. The reason of the thing shews, that the receiving the Communion with dispositions repugnant to the end of it is receiving unworthily, and his reproof is also levelled against the unchristian temper of these communicants, which was the cause of their unworthy behaviour. It is certain, that those whom he forbids them to eat with (1 Cor. v. 11. "a brother that is a fornicator, covetous, an idolater, a railer, a drunkard, or an extortioner”) could not be worthy communicants, while their disposition and

h Waterland on the Eucharist, xiii.

manner.

conduct were unchanged, though they might partake of the Sacrament in a reverential

And he himself infers above, ver. 7. from the preparation required for the passover, that we must

purge out the old leaven," and keep the Christian feast with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

Since we then, though not in the same gross manner as these Corinthians, may still, in different ways, be guilty of not discerning in the Sacrament the Lord's body, it is objected i that we should act more prudently by refraining altogether from so dangerous a feast. But the objection fails, if there be as great, or a greater, danger in the neglect of this duty. Surely they in the parable who refused to come to the marriage feast of the king's son, were at least as faulty as he who came without a wedding garment; and we find, that as he was punished for his disrespect, so they were destroyed for their disobedience. The danger of receiving unworthily we allow to be great; but the proper inference is, not that men should be deterred from the Sacrament, but from their sins. St. Paul, after his awful declaration, does not exhort them to consult their own safety, by abstaining from so clear a duty, but by coming prepared, and partaking with due reverence. If this be a good reason to abstain from the Sacrament, for fear of performing so sacred an action in an undue manner; it were best for a bad man to give over prayer and hearing the word of God, because there is a danger also in the abuse of these means of grace; it is therefore an argument to cast off all religion. He that unworthily performs any part of religion, is in a dangerous condition ; but he that casteth it off condemns himself, to avoid the danger of condemnation; as he that eats and drinks intemperately endangers his health, while he that to avoid the danger should refuse to eat must soon of necessity lose his life. Those who are alarmed" by the judgments of God denounced against unworthy communicants, have no other security than to examine and judge themselves, and so to communicate worthily. He that comes not, and he that comes unworthily,

| Tillotson.

k Stanhope.

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