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the great design of which such unworthy communicants could have no proper sense, not discerning the Lord's body, or not discriminating the Lord's body; not making a proper distinction between the Lord's supper and an ordinary meal. The latter is for the support of the corporeal frame; the former for the benefit and refreshment of the soul, when in the outward signs the believer realizes and contemplates the things they were intended to signify.
The phrase here used is very significant, and not only calculated for conviction and reproof to those who receive the Lord's supper unworthily; but for the instruction, direction, and consolation of those who attend properly on this sacred institution. It plainly teaches us this doctrine: that they only partake worthily of the Lord's supper, who duly discern the Lord's body, as it is therein exhibited to our faith.
Let us inquire, FIRST, What is intended by this expression, of discerning the Lord's body? It implies,
First, That we own and acknowledge him to be the Lord, and our Lord. That he is truly a divine person ; for on this depended his sufficiency as Mediator, having power over his own life, to lay it down and take it up. His dignity gave efficacy to his sufferings. Hence the obedience of one made many righteous. God purchased the church with his own blood. It is not possible for the blood of bulls and of goats to take away sin; but the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses from all sin. Yet he is Lord of all; our rightful sovereign. His design was, not that we should sin with impunity, but to redeem us from all iniquity; not that we should be without law to God, but under the law to Christ.
Secondly: That we believe he has a body, though his assumption of it was a wonderful and extraordinary thing. God was manifest in the flesh. The word was made flesh, and dwelt among us. Phil. ii. 6—8.
Thirdly: That we are acquainted with the ends for which he assumed a body. To obey, to suffer, to die, as the substitute of his people. 1 Pet. ii. 24. Thus attesting the loveliness of the divine character. God is love ; his law is love. He deserves supreme affection. The equity of the divine
government; goodness of the divine law; Christ obeyed with delight; magnified and made it honorable. He testified the great evil of sin. Christ would sooner suffer himself, than the divine honor should be impeached. At the same time, he redeemed from the curse of the law, though he considered it as justly due. Gal. iii. 13. He fulfilled the righteousness of the law in human nature. Rom. viii. 3, 4. And brings the redeemed back to God. 1 Pet. iii. 18.
Fourthly: A discernment of the propriety of his mediation ; the suitableness of this method of salvation, by the incarnate Son of God, to the support of his government; manifestation of his grace, and full display of all his glorious perfections.
Fifthly: That we actually unite with him, in the pursuit of these objects, seeking after answerable affections, and correspondent conduct.
Sixthly : That we improve the symbols used in the Lord's supper for this end, making a difference between what we eat at the Lord's table, and our ordinary food. The Lord's supper is for the support and refreshment, not of the body, but of the soul. A small piece of bread may remind us that Christ is the bread of life ; a sip of wine may remind us that his blood was shed for the remission of sins.
Secondly: What affections should be excited by a just discernment of the Lord's body? Reverence of our blessed Lord, submission to his authority, and a disposition to obey his will.
Tender affections, and humble confidence in him, as our dearest, best, and most faithful friend. Abhorrence of all sin, and of all self-righteous
Deep self-abasement on account of sin. High estimation of the law of God, which Christ has honored and magnified by his obedience unto death. Admiration of the divine character, as exhibited in the cross of Christ, and love to it universally.
Gratitude to God for his unspeakable gift. 1 John iv. 10.
Hungering and thirsting after Christ, and all the benefits of his salvation. Earnest desire after greater nearness to God. Readiness to deny ourselves for Christ, and to take up our cross and follow him.
Love to all the members of Christ's
mystical body, so far as we have any evidence of their relation to him, by discerning his image impressed on them. Pity to the perishing souls of men.
Cordial forgiveness of our bitterest enemies, much more of our offending brethren. Eph. iv. 32. Deadness to the present world, both its smiles and frowns.
Heavenlymindedness, or placing our affections on things above, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God.
Learn hence, what is necessary to our discerning the Lord's body; viz. The illumination of the Holy Spirit. Eph. i. 17. iii. 16. A deep conviction of our need of a Saviour ; a spiritual taste, or a right disposition. Vital faith in the testimony of God concerning his Son.
Who have a right to come to the Lord's table? They only have a right in the sight of God, who possess a living faith in Christ. They only have a right in the sight of men, who make a credible profession of faith in him.
How should we be concerned to approach the Lord's table ? Most entirely renouncing all self-righteousness or idea of our own worthiness, and in the actual exercise of a lively faith, and all concomitant graces.
How unworthily do they eat the Lord's supper, who turn it into a monster and an idol. Who use it as a qualification for civil offices. Who attend it, ignorant of its spiritual meaning. Who think they can make themselves worthy. Who come to it without any conviction that they have been justly exposed to the curse.
Who are not willing to be the property of the Redeemer. Who are not concerned for right affections.
They are very blameable, who, while they entertain a hope that they have tasted that the Lord is gracious, neglect this ordinance, and excuse themselves because it is not essential to salvation. Man was first ruined by violating a positive precept. Do you not seem to call in question the authority, wisdom, and kindness of Christ, who said, Do this in remembrance of me? Will you say, 'I can remember him well enough, without using the means he has appointed ?' As long as I can hope to be saved without it, I do not regard his precept? This is not the spirit of a disciple.
THE DESIGN OF SPIRITUAL GIFTS.
1 Cor. xii. 7. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man, to profit withal.
The church at Corinth had been abundantly favored with the extraordinary gifts of the Holy Spirit, imparted to many of their members, yet several sad abuses had crept in among them; and some who were very deficient in the exercise of grace, were puffed up immoderately on account of their gifts.
The Apostle therefore, in this chapter, treats of the nature, author, and end of spiritual gifts ; that he might distinguish the gifts of God's Spirit from the pretensions of Jewish exorcists, and heathen impostors; and that he might excite Christians to humble thankfulness for the extraordinary endowments of which they were made partakers, and direct them what use to make of them. To this end he introduces the remark in our text. An observation which will hold good, both as to the extraordinary, and the ordinary influences of the Holy Spirit.
By the former, are meant those singular and miraculous powers, which were given to many individuals in the primitive age, for the purpose of attesting the truth of the gospel, at its first publication ; which were not common to all Christians, nor were they absolutely confined to holy persons.
By the latter, are intended those special operations of grace, by which sinners are made saints; and being gradually changed into the divine image, are prepared for glory. These are common to all believers; and all men are so depraved, that without them none would give a cordial reception to the gospel.
The text may refer directly to the former, but it is no less true in the latter sense ; and as that is the only respect in which we can be immediately concerned in the observation, I shall confine myself principally, if not entirely, to that
Some, indeed, would infer from these words, that every man has a certain measure of grace from the Holy Spirit, or, as they term it, a light within, which, being duly improved, (as they conceive it may be without any special and efficacious influence,) will suffice to guide him to heaven. But this idea is ill founded. We read of some who are sensual,” not having the Spirit. Jude 19. And some are called “natural,” who receive not the things of the Spirit of God. 1 Cor. ii. 14. Our Lord also speaks of the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive. John xiv. 17. Nor does our text imply that the Spirit is given to every individual in the world ; but only asserts, concerning every partaker of his illumination, that it is given him to profit withal.
Let'us consider, First, The nature of the Spirit's influence, here called the manifestation of the Spirit. This phrase may be understood, actively or passively.
First : As the influences of the Holy Spirit are enlightening, and manifest the true nature of spiritual things. Hence, natural men are represented as blind, and true saints as having been brought out of darkness into marvellous light. There is a peculiar manifestation made to the soul, by the Holy Spirit, of objects with which the Christian was formerly unacquainted. Particularly a manifestation is made of the beauty and glory of God's moral character ; the extent, equity, and excellence of his holy law; the infinite evil and odiousness of sin; the entire lost estate of a sinner; his extreme need of a great salvation; the only source from which his salvation can possibly originate-sovereign grace; the blessed medium of salvation; the supreme excellence of Jesus Christ, who now appears altogether lovely; the deceitfulness of sin, and the evil of the heart; the beauty of gospel holiness; the vanity of the world, and its insufficiency to make one happy; and the nature and glory of the heavenly state. All these things are so clearly discovered by the Holy Spirit, as that the soul to whom he has manifested them cannot be persuaded out of them. It is as though he had seen them with his eyes.
Secondly: The participation of the Holy Spirit is an