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ought to have spiritual conceptions of his character and work, in celebrating it.
3. A CHARGE brought against such as celebrate this ordinance without a suitable discernment of the Saviour in it. .. They eat and drink unworthily.” These words have no relation to the relative state of the Corinthians, as if they had no interest in Christ, and no title to this ordinance; but to the improper manner in which they observed it. The Apostle does not condemn them as unbelievers; dispositions and conduct. These, he saw, were exceedingly unsuitable to the spiritual nature and design of the ordinance; and obstructed their spiritual improvement, as on account of such carnal views of it they could not enjoy communion with Christ.
but treats of their frames,
4. THE danger attending this unworthy manner of celebrating the ordinance. They eat and drink damnation to themselves." The original word properly denotes judgment not damnation. 1 Peter iv. 17.-" The time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God." In the text it denotes severe chastisement from the hand of God. Many gracious souls have perplexed themselves by mistaking the meaning of the expression; apprehending that damnation was meant, and that, by an unworthy approach to the Lord's table, they exposed themselves to it. Temporal judgments are mentioned ver. 30. as the consequences of this sin. At most we are not to view the expression as implying more than spiritual judgments. Some of these Corinthians were so judged, and chastised on account of their unworthy communicating, yet were eternally saved. "When we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world." ver. 32. The death of belieyers, as opposed to the
death of the wicked, is denominated "Sleep." Death then seems to be meant by sleep, ver. 30. This was inflicted by God, as a correction of their sin, by some lingering disease, or otherwise. These, who thus slept the sleep of death, were saints, and were thus, in a singular manner, chastised by God for their sin. Since then the Apostle treats only of the improper manner in which the Corinthians had celebrated the Lord's supper, the danger attending this refers not to eternal damnation, but to temporal and spiritual judgments. Viewing the text in this light it contains the following doctrine.
ALL who celebrate the Lord's supper without that discernment of him, as an incarnate and crucified Saviour, exhibited in it, which is suitable to the nature, so. lemnity, and design of the ordinance, do it in an improper manner, and expose themselves to severe judgments from the hand of God.
In order to prosecute this subject a little it is pro posed
I. To mention some things which believers ought to discern in the Lord's body, in order to their being worthy communicants at his table.
II. To make some enquiry into that frame and exercise of soul by which the Lord's body is suitably discerned in the holy supper.
III. To point out the danger of communicating without such a discernment.
IV. DEDUCE Some inferences for the improvement of the subject.
I. I AM to mention some things which believers ought to discern in the Lord's body, in order to their being worthy communicants at his table.
1. In general, I observe that by the Lord's body is
to be understood the incarnate and crucified Saviour, who, by his death expiated sin, and secured all the blessings of salvation.
BODY and blood are mentioned separately, ver. 27. and may be distinguished. Body may denote the Word incarnate under the imputation of sin: Blood the same incarnate Word as having expiated sin by suffering the punishment due to it. By becoming incarnate he had a body, a holy human nature, for us, to present unto God, as an offering and a sacrifice, for a sweet-smelling savour. He had a human nature in such a sense for us, as that the law could lay hold of it, and demand that satisfaction which we owed in our own persons. By suffering death he had blood for us; or in other words, the price of pardon. The law finding him in possession of a body for us, laid hold of it and demanded the shedding of its blood in place of ours. The demand was complied with, and this blood is now sustained by God as the price of our redemption.
IN the holy supper we have no concern with the body and blood of Christ literally: we leave this to the church of Rome. We are to discern them in a legal and moral point of view. We consider them as legal on account of the relation Jesus held to us in law when he suffered; and moral on account of their intrinsic value as the price of our redemption. Bread and wine are not symbols of the body and blood of Christ in a literal sense; if they were we behoved literally to eat his flesh and drink his blood in the ordinance; for they can be used in no other sense than they are exhi, bited in it. This supposition is equally gross with the doctrine of Transubstantiation. These symbols exhibit the body and blood of Christ legally and spiritually. The bread represents him as substituted in
the room of sinners, and the breaking of it, his death for their sins. But they also exhibit him spiritually as the food of their souls. The Apostle expresses both these views of him, chapter v. 7.-" Christ our passover is sacrificed for us." He is sacrificed as our substitute; and he is the true Paschal Lamb on which we are to feast.
IT is necessary to keep this in view, to prevent carnal conceptions of the ordinance. Symbols, in themselves, are merely literal and sensible things. This is necessary to their being signs. But they cannot be signs if any thing in a literal sense be represented by them. These are, by the divine constitution, made symbols of spiritual things, and as such we must use them in the ordinance.
2. THE Lord's body ought to be discerned as the most glorious effect and display of divine wisdom, in the salvation of sinners. Wisdom shines forth in all Jehovah's operations, but in none with so much splendor as in the economy of grace.
SIN deranged the works of God. It introduced enmity between God and man, removed the sinner to a vast distance from his Maker, and immersed him in the depths of misery. The violated law thunders its terrible threatening against the guilty criminal, and justice, inflexible justice, demands its execution. The law also retains its obliging power to sinless obedience, and demands it under the penalty of eternal condemnation for the least failure. The law cannot be relaxed, nor the penalty mitigated. The enmity of the sinner's heart totally disqualifies him for obeying the law, and his imbecility unfits him for expiating his guilt. As God is exceedingly dishonoured he cannot depart from: the demands of law and justice, but must vindicate his
honour and presverve his authority by punishing the sinner. There was no access to God, no way to his favour, which created wisdom could devise. When the sinner begins to reason with himself, "Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God?" All creatures in heaven and earth are silent, and non-plussed, and are able to suggest nothing that can remedy his condition consistently with the honour of Jehovah. This belongs to divine wisdom aloneand divine wisdom has done the work.
In the body of Christ this wisdom is displayed, because through the sacrifice which he offered, all the ends and designs of it are accomplished. Wisdom determined that all the guilt of an elect world should meet at once in the incarnate Saviour, that divine justice might execute upon him the curse of the law in its fullest extent, receive satisfaction for the guilty, and condemn sin; that divine mercy should here meet the sinner, to ameliorate his condition, to pardon his sin, emancipate him from bondage, and enrich him with all the blessings of salvation. Here the great Jehovah, the Law-giver and Governor of intelligent creatures, meets with perishing sinners on terms of high and permanent friendship. Here the Holy Spirit meets with the miserable sinner, to communicate a new life to his soul, to unite him to Jesus, to wash him from defilement, to lead him to the practice of holiness, fit him for communion with God, and to prepare him for glory. Every part of the extensive plan of salvation rests on the broken body of the Lord Jesus. Wisdom has so ordered it, and without this every part would utterly fail. From this God derives all his glory, and sinners all their happiness. On this account it is denominated "The manifold wisdom of God." The gospel is the