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them strongly to go forth to an object as having such loveliness, when at the same time we do not positively judge any such thing concerning them, but only hope it may be so, because we see no sufficient reason to determine the contrary. There must be a positive dictate of the understanding, and some degree of satisfaction of the judgment, to be a ground of that oneness of heart and soul, which is agreeable to scripture representations of pinadempia, or brotherly love ; and a supposition only of that moral sincerity and virtue, or common grace, which some insist upon, though it may be a sufficient ground of this intimate affection to them as brethren in the family of a heavenly Father, this fervent love to them in the bowels of Jesus Christ. For gospel-sinners and domestic enemies in the house of God, Christians know, are of all others the most hateful enemies to Christ.
It well agrees with the wisdom of Christ, with that peculiar favour he has manifested to his saints, and with his dealings towards them in many other respects, to suppose, he has made provision in his institutions, that they might have the comfort of uniting with such as their hearts are united with, in some special religious exercises and duties of worship, and visible intercourse with their Redeemer; that they should join with those concerning whom they can have some satisfaction of mind, that they are cordially united with them in adoring and expressing their love to their common Lord and Saviour, that they may with one mind, with one heart, and one soul, as well as with one mouth, glorify him; as in the forementioned. (Rom. xv. 5, 6, compared with Acts iv. 32.) This seems to be what this heavenly affection naturally inclines to. And how eminently fit and proper for this purpose is the sacrament of the Lord's supper, the Christian church's great feast of love; wherein Christ's people sit together as brethren in the family of God, at their Father's table, to feast on the love of their Redeemer, commemorating his sufferings for them, and his dying love to them, and sealing their love to him and one another !—It is hardly credible, that Christ has so ordered things as that there are no instituted social acts of worship, wherein his saints are to manifest their respect to him, but such as wherein they ordinarily are obliged (if the rule for admissions be carefully attended) to join with a society of fellow-worshippers, concerning whom they have no reason to think but that the greater part of them are unconverted, (and are more provoking enemies to that Lord they love and adore, than most of the very Heathen,) which Mr. Stoddard supposes to be the case with the members of the visible church. Appeal, p. 16.
It is necessary, that those who partake of the Lord's supper,
should judge themselves truly and cordially to accept of Christ, as their only Saviour and chief good; for of this the actions which communicants perform at the Lord's table, are a solemn profession.
THERE is in the Lord's supper a mutual solemn profession of the two parties transacting the covenant of grace, and visibly united in that covenant; the Lord Christ by his minister, on the one hand, and the communicants (who are professing believers) on the other. The administrator of the ordinance acts in the quality of Christ's minister, acts in his name, as representing him ; and stands in the place where Christ himself stood at the first administration of this sacrament, and in the original institution of the ordinance. Christ, by the speeches and actions of the minister, makes a solemn profession of his part in the covenant of grace: He exhibits the sacrifice of his body broken and his blood shed; and in the minister's offering the sacramental bread and wine to the communicants, Christ presents himself to the believing communicants, as their propitiation and bread of life, and by these outward signs confirms and seals his sincere engagements to be their Saviour and food,
and to impart to them all the benefits of his propitiation and salvation. And they, in receiving what is offered, and eating and drinking the sym. bols of Christ's body and blood, also profess their part in the covenant of grace: They profess to embrace the promises and lay hold of the hope set before them, to receive the atonement, to receive Christ as their spiritual food, and to feed upon him in their hearts by faith. Indeed what is professed both sides is the heart: For Christ, in offering himself, professes the willing. ness of his heart to be theirs who truly receive him; and the com. municants, on their part, profess the willingness of their hearts to receive him, which they declare by significant actions. They profess to take Christ as their spiritual food, and bread of life. To accept of Christ as our bread of life, is to accept of him as our Saviour and portion ; as food is both the means of preserve ing life, and is also the refreshment and comfort of life. The signification of the word manna, that great type of this bread of life, is a portion. That which God offers to us as our food, he offers as our portion; and that which we accept as our food, we accept as our portion. Thus the Lord's supper is plainly a mutrial renovation, confirmation, and seal of the covenant of grace:
Both the covenanting parties profess their consent to their respective parts in the covenant, and each affixes his seal to his profession. And there is in this ordinance the very same thing acted over in profession and sensible signs, which is spiritually transacted between Christ and his spouse in the covenant that unites them. Here we have from time to time the glorious bridegroom exhibiting himself with his great love that is stronger than death, appearing clothed in robes of grace, and engaging himself, with all his glory and love, and its infinite benefits, to be theirs, who receive him: And here we have his spouse accepting this bridegroom, choosing him for her friend, her only Saviour and portion, and relying on him for all his benefits. And thus the covenant-transaction of this spiritual marriage is confirmed and sealed, from time to time. The actions of the communicants at the Lord's table have as expressive and significant a language, as the most solemn words. When a person in this ordinance takes and eats and drinks those things which represent Christ, the plain meaning and implicit profession of these his actions, is this : "I take this crucified Jesus as my Saviour, my sweetest food, my chief portion, and the life of my soul, consenting to acquiesce in him as such, and to hunger and thirst after him only, renouncing all other saviours, and all other portions, for his sake." The actions, thus interpreted, are a proper renovation and ratification of the covenant of grace: and no otherwise. And those that take, and eat and drink the sacramental elements at the Lord's table with any other meaning, I fear, know not what they do.
The actions at the Lord's supper thus implying in their nature and signification, a renewing and confirming of the cove. nant, there is a declarative explicit covenanting supposed to precede it ; which is the profession of religion, before spoken of, that qualifies a person for admission to the Lord's supper. And doubtless there is, or ought to be, as much explicitly professed in words, as is implicitly professed in these actions ; for by these significant actions, the communicant sets his seal but to his profession. The established signs in the Lord's supper are fully equivalent to words; they are a renewing and reiterating the same thing which was done before ; only with this difference, that now it is done by speaking signs, whereas before it was by speaking sounds. Our taking the bread and wine is as much a professing to accept of Christ, at least as a woman's taking a ring of the bridegroom in her marriage is a profession and seal of her taking him for her husband. The sacramental elements in the Lord's supper represent Christ as a party in covenant, as truly as a proxy represents a prince to a foreign lady in her marriage; and our taking those elements is as truly a professing to accept of Christ, as in the other case the lady's taking the proxy
in her professing to accept the prince as her husband. Or the matter may more fitly be represented by this similitude: It is as if a prince should send an ambassador to a woman in a foreign land, proposing marriage, and by his ambassador should send her his picture, and should desire her to manifest her accepta ance of his suit, not only by professing her acceptance in words to his ambassador, but in token of her sincerity openly to take or accept that picture, and to seal her profession by thus repre. senting the matter over again by a symbolical action.
To suppose persons ought thus solemnly to profess that which at the same time they do not at all imagine they experience in themselves, and do not really pretend to, is a very great absurdity. For a man sacramentally to make such a profession of religion, proceeding avowedly on the foot of such doctrine, is to profess that which he does not profess; his actions being no established signs of the thing supposed to be professed, nor carrying in them the least pretension to it. And therefore doing thus can be no man's duty; unless it be men's duty to make a solemn profession of that which in truth they make no profession of. The Lord's supper is most evidently a professing ordinance ; and the communicant's profession must be such as is adjusted to the nature and design of the ordinance; which nothing short of faith in the blood of Christ will answer, even faith unfeigned, which worketh by love. A profession therefore exclusive of this, is essentially defective, and quite unsuitable to the character of a communicant.
When the apostle says, 1 Cor. xi. 28," Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat; it seems most reasonable to understand it of trying himself with regard to the truth of his Christianity, or the reality of his grace; the same as 2 Cor. xiii. 5, where the same word is used in the original. The Greek word (ooxwu.alstw) will not allow of what some have supposed to be the apostle's meaning, viz. that a man should consider and inquire into his circumstances, and the necessities of his case, that he may know what are the wants for the supply of which he should go to the Lord's table. The word properly signifies proving or trying a thing with respect to its quality and goodness, or in order to determine whether it be true and of the right sort. And so the word is always used in the New Testament ; unless that sometimes it is used metonymically, and in such places is variously translated, either discerning or allowing, approving, liking, &c.; these being the effects of trial. Nor is the word used more frequently in the New Testament for any sort of trial whatever, than for the trial of professors with regard to their grace or piety. The word (as Dr. Ames in his Catecheseos Sciagraphia, and Mr. Willard in his Body of Divinity, observe) is borrowed from goldsmiths, properly signifying the trial they
make of their silver and gold, whether it be genuine or counterfeit : and with a manifest allusion to this original application of the word, is often used in the New Testament for trying the piety of professors. It is used with this view in all the following texts : 1 Pet i. 7. “ That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried by fire, might be found unto praise,” &c. 1 Cor. ii. 13. “ The fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.” James i. 3.— The trying of your faith worketh patience.” 1 Thess. ïi. 4.
God who trieth our hearts.” The same word is used in 2 Cor. viii. 8. “ To prove the sincerity of your love." So, Gal. vi. 3, 4. “If any man thinketh himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself: But let every man prove his own work." In all these places there is the same word in the Greek with that in the text now under consideration.
When the apostle directs professing Christians to try them. selves, using this word indefinitely, as properly signifying the examining or proving of a thing whether it be genuine or counterfeit, the most natural construction of his advice is, that they should try themselves with respect to their spiritual state and religious profession, whether they are disciples indeed, real and genuine Christians, or whether they are not false and hypocritical professors. As if a man should bring a piece of metal that had the colour of gold, with the impress of the king's coin, to a goldsmith, and desire him to try that money, without adding any words to limit his meaning, would not the goldsmith naturally understand, that he was to try whether it was true gold or true money?
But here it is said by some, that the context of the passage under debate (1 Cor. xi. 28,) plainly limits the meaning of the word in that place; the apostle there speaking of those things that had appeared among the communicants at Corinth, which were of a scandalous nature, so doubtless unfitting them for the Lord's supper; and therefore when the apostle directs them to examine or prove themselves, it is but just, to suppose his meaning to be, that they should try whether they be not disqualified by scandal.-To this I answer, though the apostle putting the Corinthians upon trying themselves, was on occasion of mentioning some scandalous practices found among them, yet this is by no means any argument of its being only his meaning, that they should try themselves whether they were scandalous persons ; and not, that they should try whether they were genuine Christians. The very nature of scandal (as was observed before) is that which tends to obscure the visibility of the piety of professors, and wound others' charity towards them, by bringing the reality of their grace into doubt; and therefore what could be more natural, than for the apostle, when mentioning such scan.