Thomas Smyth.

Complete works of Rev. Thomas Smyth, D. D online

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nothing more than what is calculated to fix a salutary regard
on your highest interests, — ^then why object to practices alike
scriptural, reasonable, and useful ? May there not be reason to
su^ect that pride, in some of its forms, is deterring you from
a disclosure of your sentiments and feelings on the great busi-
ness of the soul ? May there not be far more of self-will than
•of principle in the aversion you display? Ought you not to
show a greater readiness to make known to the ministers and
to the churches of Christ what God has' done for your souls;
and to regard it as a privilege of no mean order to enjoy the
counsel, sympathy, and pastoral superintendence of a "man of
God," who will not seek to lord it over your conscience, but to
prove himself a helper both of your faith and joy?

Is it that they are too sinful to draw near to the communion
table f This cannot be the case, if their sins do not exclude
them frcMn Christ, whose "blood cleanseth from all sin."t If
they have come to Himself, they are assuredly welcome to His
table; nor can they hope to realize any great advancement in
conformity to His holy image, while they are neglecting one of
the most distinguished means of sanctification.

Is it because they are apprehensive lest they should incur
that dreadful sentence pronounced upon unworthy partakers:
1 Cor. xi. 29 ? Such an apprehension has deterred many. But
surely this is not the proper effect of a Scriptural warning
against the abuse of any particular ordinance. The course to
be pursued is not to abstain from an acknowledged duty, but
to guard against its practical abuse. The Corinthians were
many of them chargeable with very gross impiety, in indulging
at the table of Jesus in excesses more fitted to the orgies of a
heathen deity than to the commemoration of the death of the
spotless "Lamb of God." For these most sinful excesses the
judgments, or chastisements, of Heaven, came on the Corin-
thian professors. They were visited with sickness, and even
with death ;$ but they were thus "chastened of the Lord, that
they might not be condemned with the world."§ The security
suggested by the apostle to them against the judgments men-

♦Acts ii. 37. 41. 47, tl Cor. xi. 30.

tl John i. 7. 81 Cor. xi. 32.



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686 THE LORD^S SUPPER.

tioned is not abstinence from the table of the Lord, which
would doubtless have procured equal judgments, but the habit
of judging themselves,** that is, the haibit of watching over,
guarding against, and correcting those irreverent and unsuit-
able methods of observing the Lord's Supper in which they had
so shamefully indulged. The threatening, then, pronounced
upon unworthy partakers should in no instance operate to deter
from the communion table ; it should only quicken our christian
diligence in cultivating those sentiments, tempers, and habits,
which are suitable to such a solemnity. Let those who abstain
from the table of Jesus to avoid the judgment threatened,
remember that there are other judgments in reserve for those
who neglect the command of Christ.

Is it tliat they are afraid of drawing back into perdition? If
so, in what respect will the neglect of Christ's table prevent the
fatal catastrophe dreaded? On the contrary, if there be any
saving impressions on the heart, will they not be more likely to
be obliterated by the act of abstaining from the Lord's table,
than by the act of frequenting it?

Is it that they are not yet able to come to a determination?
How dangerous to remain in a state of indecision upon any
question so great and vital! To what particular does your
hesitation refer? Is it to your own perscmal salvation ? If so,
what if you should die ere you decide? Do you not remember
what Christ said — ^*'He that is not with me, is against me."tt
"How Icmg, then, will you halt between two opinions?"
Remember, time rolls on— eternity draws near — ^the Judge may
be at the door — ^your salvation is at stake. A few more delays,
and your account will be required; a few more vain excuses,
and conscience will cease to be a reprover ; a few more efforts
to "serve God and mammon," and the fatal madness will be
revealed; a few more pangs to the faithful ministers of the
cross, and you shall see their face no more till you meet them
at the judgment seat of Christ; a few more strivings of the
Spirit of God, and He will depart from you for ever. It is
then a duty,

3. To be performed without delay. — To hesitate is to harden
the heart, to stifle conscience, to oppose the direct command-
ment of Christ, to confirm infidels in their scorn, to cast a
stumbling-block in the way of inquirers, to weaken the hands
of ministers, to withhold your full support from the church,

**1 Cor. xi. 31. ttMatt. xii. 30.



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THE lord's supper. 587

and to leave yourself without those divine consolations which
are only dispensed 'by Qirist over the memorials of His death.

As the Gospel claims now to be received, so all its obligations
press upon us with immediate urgency. We are never to dream
of doing that to-morrow, which ought to be done to-day. If
we are not members of christian churches, it is high time we
should be so. Even young inquirers do well to hasten their
decision. It is an exhilarating spectacle to see the bloom of
youth, the vigour of manhood, and the maturity of old age,
blending at the table of Jesus.

This is an immediate duty, because the command of Christ
makes no mention of the future, "Do this," is the injunction ;
and the legitimate interpretation is, "do it now, and never
again neglect it while the lamp of life continues to bum."

It is an immediate duty, because, if neglected now, there may
be no opportunity afforded in the future of obeying Christ's
call. And easy as your mind may be in your present n^lect,
remember that conscience will whisper many faithful remon-
strances in a dying hour. It will tell you, for instance, if you
have sat under a faithful ministry, that shunned not to remind
you of your duty; and if your only recollection should then be
that you waited for a more convenient season, which God never
permitted to arrive, how gloomy and perplexed may be the last
lingering moments of human existence !

It is an immediate duty, for it is even now indispensably
necessary to the progress and establishment of your christian
character. It is part of that spiritual medicine which the Great
Physician has prescribed for restoring and preserving the moral
and spiritual health of the soul. You can as little dispense
with the Lord's supper, as a christian, as you can with prayer,
with the reading of the Scriptures, with the day of sacred rest,
and with the ministry of the word. Christ has appointed no
ordinance which it is either safe or wise to omit.

It is an immediate duty, because it has relation to the most
touching and tender scenes in the Redeemer's history. It has
relation to your Redeemer's sufferings, to the agonies of Geth-
semane, and to the anguish of the cross. It has relation to
those awful scenes as they bear immediately on your redemp-
tion from hell and sin. It is not for Himself, but for you, that
C3irist has appointed this ordinance. For yotu* welfare He
arranged and consulted in the whole matter; and will you, after
all, forego the benefits which He intended to confer on you
through its medium? Will you irreverently fling the cup of



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588 THE lord's supper.

salvation away from you ? Will you allow Christ's dying com-
mand to be utterly neglected, so far at least as you are con-
cerned? Only reflect for a moment what would be the state
of our world if all acted as you do. Remember the church, as
a visible community, would cease. And suppose you were to
reascMi and act in reference to all other christian observances as
you do about this? Then would you not cease to pray? — ^to
read the word? — to honour the Sabbath? — ^to frequent the
sanctuary? And why not do so? Does your conscience say
you must not? But does it not equally say, "We must not
neglect the table of Christ?" Does your heart say you must
not? But does it not still more emphatically say, "We must
not n^lect our Lord's dying command ?" In one word, if you
and all other men in this nominally christian land acted in refer-
ence to christian duties in general, as you do in reference to
this, would it not reduce the whole community to a state of
absolute atheism ? Unquesticmably it would ; for all christian
obligations would be openly trampled on; and the next step
would be that morality itself would cease to have any existence
in the land.

Contemplate briefly the 3d branch of this solemn subject,
viz.

III. The resistless force and tenderness of the motive
URGED. — "Do this," said Jesus, "in remembrance of me!*

What a deeply humbling consideration it is, that we should
be supposed capable of losing the remembrance of our dying
Ix)rd! But O, how kind and gracious was that Master who,
seeing and knowing our infirmity, provided against it, and was
pleased to establish a permanent institution in the church, to
keep alive the memory of His sufferings and death !

It may, indeed, be said with truth that all christian ordi-
nances have this great end in view. For this purpose especially
has the christian ministry been appointed; for "we preach
Christ crucified," as the very burden of our ministrations. But
the death and sufferings of the Redeemer are so vitally impor-
tant, that divine wisdom has seen fit to press home the remem-
brance of them on our very senses, in order that faith may
plant her foot with unshaken firmness on the doctrine of the
cross; and that, as often as she touches the memorials of
Christ's death, she may be roused to exclaim, "God forbid that
I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by
which the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world."



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THE LORD^S SUPPER. 689

/

Bear in mind, then, christian, that in the ordinance of the
supper the Lord Jesus calls upon you to remember Him — ^to
remember Him in those scenes of sorrow amidst which He origi-
nally instituted the sacramental table. And can you ever for-
get your dying Lord, while His sufferings and death are your
only hope for the pardon of innumerable transgressions, and
for life eternal? It is impossible. I entreat you, then, not to
cherish the fallacy that you can remember Christ as acceptably
to Him by your own methods as by falling in with His own mild
and gracious appointment. You must not only remember your
suffering Lord ; but you must remember Him in that way which
He has ordained.

You must do this for His sake ; for He is the sovereign Lord
of conscience, who commands nothing unreasonable, and there-
fore looks for unshrinking obedience on the part of all his sub-
jects.

You must do it for the sake of the world; for it is full of
enmity to Christ and> His ordinances ; andi, if you continue to
live in the neglect of this great and sacred duty, you are
strengthening the hands of the enemies of God and man.

You must do it for the sake of the church; for every new
enrolment in the list of Christ's visible disciples calls forth her
songs of praise, stimulates her gratitude, and strengthens her
hands against the common enemy.

You must do it for the sake of Christ's ministers, for they
watch "for your souls as they that must give account, that they
may do it with joy, and not with grief, for that is unprofitable
for you."* How would their hearts be comforted by your
open, cheerful profession of the truth! Perhaps you owe
them much if they knew it; and why not tell them, if God has
made them a blessing to your souls ?

You must do it for your families. Your present example is
pernicious in the extreme to them. You not only do your own
souls an injury, but you are retarding the decision of others,
and perhaps riveting upon them a train of worldly feelings
and habits, never to be overcome. Give yourselves, then, to
the Lord ; and you may soon hear those around you, and with
whom you are united by the ties of nature and affection,
exclaiming — "We will go with you, for we perceive that God
is with you of a truth."

You must do this for your own sake; for this ordinance can-
not possibly be dispensed with. It is as great a privilege as it

♦Heb. xiii. 17.



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690 THE lord's supper.

is a duty, to show forth the death of Christ You cannot
safely or prosperously live in the neglect of an ordinance so
closely associated with the exhibition of your faith as a chris-
tian, and your obedience as a subject of the Redeemer's spirit-
ual empire. The ordinance of the supper is a part of that
divine provision by which your soul is to be fed and nourished
for eternity ; it is the highest of all Heaven's festivals on earth ;
and, while it is neglected, the benefit of all other ordinances
must be mournfully circumscribed.

You must remember Christ, then, in the way which He
approves, and which has the sanction of His own direct and
simple command.

Picture to yourself, O believer ! the circumstances connected
with the original institution of the supper. See your blessed
Lord about to be betrayed, see the bands of wicked men ready
to seize upon His sacred person, see the agonies of Gethsemane
and Calvary about to drink up His spirit, and, whilst you medi-
tate on the awful scene, hear Him say to you, "Do this in
remembrance of me." Surely if He, in the very night in which
he was betrayed, remembered you, it is the height of ingrati-
tude on your part to forget Him, or to be unmindful of any
appointment intended to commemorate His dying love. You
could not be mdifferent to the last tender utterances of a dying
parent; you could not heartlessly refuse the last gentle wish
of an expiring friend ; you could not exonerate yoursdf from
a compliance with the parting request of one whom you loved,
by doing ten thousand things which He had never asked you to
perform. And can you, O christian! live one hour longer in
the neglect of your Lord's dying command? Can you turn
your back on an observance which commemorates all that was
tender, and endearing, and meritorious in your Redeemer's
sufferings? Can you hope to meet the Master's approbation
while you are setting loose by the most pathetic of all His com-
mands ? Say not in your heart, "I will render Him every other
homage, but the homage of approaching His table I must be
permitted for a time to defer."

When Christ says to you, "Do this in remembrance of me,"
He reminds you that the ordinance of the supper is, in its every
feature, a memorial of Him.

At His table, the believer remembers Him in His pre-incar-
nate state. To the glory which He had with His Father before
the world was, he elevates His adoring and grateful spirit,
rejoicing that He to whom He looks for His redemption is



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THE lord's supper. 691

"God over all and blessed for ever." How ennobling to the
mipd the thought of a divine Saviour ! It is this single concep-
tion alone that meets the exigency of the mind, when once it
sees sin in its true colours. A created Saviour may suffice till
the conscience is thoroughly awakened to a discovery of "the
exceeding sinfulness of sin;" but after this, it must feel that
millions of creatures, however exalted, could not ransom one
immortal spirit. A divine Saviour is the all-attractive object at
a communion-table ; while the believer sets to his seal tfie truth
of that declaration which could never have proceeded from the
lips of any but a divine person: "Lo, I am with you alway,
even unto the end of the world."t

At His table, the believer remembers Christ in His assump-
tion of the nature of man. He feels unspeakable comfort in
the thought, that "the Word was made flesh;"! that the
Saviour, whom he adores, is the partaker of that nature in
which he is clothed; that in Him dwell all the sympathies of
humanity; that he is verily touched with the feeling of his
infirmities ; and that, in this nature, he is the fit subject both of
suffering and reward.

At His table the believer remembers, with peculiar emotion,
the depth and anguish of his Lord's sufferings. Looking on
the lively emblems of His crucifixion and death, his heart melts
with only contrition at the recollection of those sins which
occasioned the awful catastrophe. His spirit, also, is over-
whelmed with a sense of that boundless love which no sense of
anguish could quench. Oh, what love was that, which the
desertion of friends, the persecution of enemies, the malice of
hell, and the wrath of Heaven, could not subdue !

At His table, the believer remembers that His Lord will again
appear for the salvation of His church. Once, indeed. He
appeared as a suffering Redeemer ; but, when He shall appear
the second time, it will be in the glory of the Father, and
attended by multitudes of the holy angels. The hope of
Christ's appearing is one of the great animating principles of
the christian's life ; and, as He ^ows forth the death of His
Lord, he delights to meditate on the day when all the glories
of His Godhead shall shine forth on that very world which
has rejected Him ; and when His despised and suffering church
shall "lift up her head, and rejoice for evermore." How tri-
umphant and how consolatory is that feeling which connects

tMatt. xxviii. 20, tjohn L 14.



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692 THE lord's supper.

Christ's cross with His crown ; which rises from the communion
table to the throne of "the King eternal, immortal, and invisi-
ble ;" and which, from the contemplation of the one great sacri-
fice, looks forward to "the glorious appearing of the great God,
and our Saviour Jesus Christ ;"§ "who shall change our vile
bodies, and fashion them like to His own glorious body, accord-
ing to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things
unto himself !"**

But may I not suppose that you feel the force of your blessed
Lord's authoritative command? — and that you are mainly
anxious to know how to yield yourselves to its influence with
the greatest possible advantage? You have long stood back
from the table of the Lord, during which period your con-
science has not ceased to be a reprover ; but now you feel drawn
towards it by the impulses of duty and love. You have long
forbore to confess Christ before men; but now the language
of your heart is, "I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ;
for it is the power of God unto salvation, to every one that
believeth ; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek."tt

In such a state of mind, how easy and inviting is his task
who would seek to counsel you ! The anxious inquiry of your
mind is, "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?":|:t You only
desire to know and understand your obligations that you may
perform them. Assuming that this is your state, it only
remains now that, being convinced of your duty to draw near
to the Lord's table, you should adopt such methods, and culti-
vate such frames of mind, as may render this divine ordinance
eminently conducive to your growth in grace, and to the still
greater maturity of your christian character.

CX)NCLUSION.

Let me now conclude these counsels by placing before you a
few encouragements to draw near to the table of the Lord.

1. Your first encouragement is the command of Him who
died for you.

And what higher encouragement can you require? Ought
it not to be to you as a thousand motives ? If you have Christ's
command on your side, in approaching His table, what other
excitement to duty can you require ? Forget not that His man-
date involves in it the most tender and pressing invitation.
As your best friend — ^your greatest benefactor. He asks you to

8Tit. ii. 13. ttRom. i. 16.

♦♦Philip, iii. 21. tJActs ix. 6.



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THE lord's supper. 693

sit down with Him at the banquet of His love; and, while He
spreads before you the mystic symbols of His death, His lan-
guage is, "Eat, O friend; drink — ^yea, drink abundantly — O
beloved."§§

2. Be encouraged by the thought that, in drawing near to the
communion table, you are honouring your divine Lord.

Yes, even to us, who have been such unprofitable servants,
has Christ entrusted the display of His glory in the worid ; and
how can we be said to regard that sacred trust if we are indif-
ferent as to His dying command? By yielding a prompt obedi-
ence to that command, we honour His authority, we exalt His
name in the face of gainsayers and enemies, we proclaim Him
to be the only Saviour of a ruined world, we exhibit to promi-
nent view the doctrine of the cross, we profess to be His
pledged and devoted follow/ers, we become His" witnesses amidst
a scoffing and thoughtless generation, and contribute our hum-
ble part to maintain and perpetuate His cause in the world.

3. Let your third encouragement be derived from the nature
of the approach you are coiled to make.

Is it not the table of the Lord Jesus — ^the table of your best
friend — ^that you are invited to approach? What a privilege
is here set before you I How refreshing to the soul must be
the observance of an ordinance which brings it into such imme-
diate contact with the grand mysteries of redeeming love!
What a help must it prove to faith, and hope, and love, and all
other christian graces! Though feeble and trembling, then,
draw near to this solemn feast ; for it is intended for all Christ's
disciples, however weak, however much tempted, and however
far removed from that full assurance of hope which would
enable them to exclaim, "My Lord and my God !"*

4. Let your fourth encouragement be derived from the
experience of the church.

In every age since Christ ascended to His mediatorial throne,
the Holy Spirit has given testimony to the ordinance of the
supper, by making it the sacred channel of innumerable spirit-
ual blessings to those who have drawn near to it in simple and
grateful obedience to the will of Christ. Here the young dis-
ciple has been animated with the full determination of proceed-
ing in his christian course; here the timid and despondent have
been roused to the exercise of salutary confidence and joy;
here the weary and heavy laden have found repose in the grace

HEccL V. 1. ♦John xx. 28.

«8— VoL IX.



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594 THE uobd's supper.

and tenderness of their compassionate Redeemer; here the
wavering and perplexed have been restored to the full decision
of their christian character ; here the sorrowful spirit has been
filled with the peace of God which passeth all understandmg ;
here the spell of this world's temptations has been broken;
here the evil heart of unbelief has been rebuked by the chasten-
ing of divine love ; here the anticipations of heaven have thrown
a shade over the glare of all earthly things ; and here the enrap-
tured mind has a thousand times exclaimed, "Surely this is
none other than the house of God, and the gate of heaven!"
Go, then, believer, to the table of Jesus, and there beseech your
divine Lord that He would make the celebration of His death
to you what it has been to thousands of His redeemed servants.
Let this prayer be poured out in faith, and the result will doubt-
less correspond to the means employed.



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SECTION II.

The Institution, Design, Qualifications, Benefits,
Objections and Obligations of the Lord's Supper.

My object in this Address, is to endjeavour to explain to you
what I conceive to be necessary to be known in order to your
receiving, in a suitable manner, the Holy Communion of the
body and blood of our Saviour Jesus Christ.

I will consider,

I. The Institution of this Sacrament ;
II. The Design of it;

III. The Qualifications of those who receive it aright ;

IV. The Benefits to be derived from it;

V. The objections which are sometimes raised concerning it;
VI. The Obligations we are under to a regular partaking of it,

I. The Institution of the Lord's Supper.

A Sacrament is an outward and visible sign of an inward
and spiritual grace, ordained by Christ Himself, as a means of
receiving that grace, and a pledge to assure us of it. In the
Sacrament of the Lord's Supper the outward sign is bread and
wine; the invisible grace, is a participation by faith of the body
and blood of Christ, to the strengthening and refreshing of the
soul, and preserving it to everlasting life. It was instituted by
our blessed Lord the very same night in which He was betrayed.
The Holy Scriptures inform us, that, as our Saviour was eating
the last Paschal Supper with His disciples, "He took bread, and



Online LibraryThomas SmythComplete works of Rev. Thomas Smyth, D. D → online text (page 55 of 68)