Thomas Smyth.

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

. (page 64 of 68)
Online LibraryThomas SmythComplete works of Rev. Thomas Smyth, D. D → online text (page 64 of 68)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


oh, my impenitent reader, let me once more say if you are thus
invited to participate in doctrines so pure and uncorrupt; in
ordinances so simple and rational; and in an association so
sublime and glorious ; and yet refuse to consecrate your bodies,
soul and spirit unto God which is so manifestly your reasonable
service, how deeply aggravated will be your final condemna-
tion. May God, therefore, give you grace to repent and to
believe His word in this the day of your merciful visitation that
while the door is still open you may enter in, saying as you
take the cup of salvation into your hands and pray, &c.,

On thee alone my hope relies.

Beneath thy cross I fall ;
My Lord, my life, my sacrifice.

My Saviour and my all.

effects or purposes. — ^Waterland, vol. 7, page 151. See also Hutchinson
on the Lord*s Supfer, serm. 2, p. 236. serm. 1, p. 217. Par, Soc, edit.

On account of the analogy of the sign and the thing signified, its declara-
tion and sealing therein, and the certainty of the participation of the thing
signified in its due use, the names and properties of the sign and the thing
signified are in the Sacred Scriptures often interchanged* Spanheim Disp.,
liv. 122.



Digitized by



Googk



SECTION V.

Reply to the Objection That the Observance of the
Lord's Supper is Not Essential to Tjiue Piety Because
It is Only a Positive and Not a Moral Duty, and the
Objections of Unfitness and Want of Strong Faith.

There are many who think they may be pious and devoted to
the Lord and yet live in the neglect of this ordinance, because
it is only an outward ordinance and not in itself necessary or
communicative of spiritual blessings. To this objection we
might reply that the same was true of the brazen serpent and
of the passover, the neglect of either of which incurred death.
The same, also, is true of prayer and of faith, neither of which
have in themselves, any merit or power to conununicate
heavenly blessings, and yet without them we must remain in
spiritual death and perish. Whatever God institutes as a
means through and by which, He will convey spiritual and
heavenly blessings to the soul, and accompanies with a com-
mand to "observe and do" it, and a promise that in so doing
we shall be "blessed with all spiritual blessings in Christ
Jesus," — becomes necessary to salvation, not because in itself
essential, but because it is made spiritual by the appointment of
God who alone can impart the blessing. To all, therefore, to
whom the opportunity of observing the Lord's Supper is given,
it is imperatively binding.

But it may be further shown that where there is any true
and real love in the heart to God and to the Saviour it will
dispose it to be even more solicitous "to observe and do" what
derives all its efficacy from their appointment and command,
then what carries the importance and the advantage of its ful-
filment in itself, and thus commends itself by its intrinsic value,
to the obedience of the heart. On this subject I submit the
following remarks from Dr. Wardlaw : "Now there is here a
department of the Lord's will, that bekmgs more immediately
than any other to our present subject : I mean what relates to
the constitution and ordinances of the christian church. The
obligations of the Lord's will, in this department, are by many
christians more lightly esteemed than almost any other. Tbey
seem as if they felt themselves more at liberty than any where
else, to take their own will, and their own way, and to conform
to what they deem expediency. What I mean is this: — ^that



Digitized by



Googk



THE lord's supper. 679

on the subject just mentioned, as well as on others, there ought
among the true disciples of Jesus, to be conscientiousness: —
that is, they should be as much in earnest in seeking to ascer-
tain their Divine Master's will respecting this as respecting
any thing else. With regard to any point in the range of moral
duty, they would deem it a strange position for them to take up,
that every one might follow for himself the course which in
his eyes appears most expedient. And yet, on the subject
before us, a position of this kind is far from uncommon. Now,
although the distinction between moral and ceremonial is a
quite intelligible and far from unimportant distinction, — the
former involving the principles of immutable rectitude, the
other resting on considerations of special and temporary util-
ity, — ^yet it would be a very false conclusion, that to the observ-
ance of what is ceremonial we are under no properly moral
obligation. We are morally bound to do the will of God.
That will is our rule ; — and whether His injunction be a per-
sonal commission with which no one has to do but ourselves, —
or a ceremonial institute, preseribed to any limited number of
men for a special purpose and a limited time, or an ethical pre-
cept addressed alike to all mankind, — a moral obligation is vio-
lated, if obedience is not rendered. The will of the Supreme
Legislator is disregarded ; — ^there is a moral offense, — ^a sin of
omission. I am afraid that not a few of my f ellow-christians
are far from being sufficiently impressed with this. It is not
a matter of conscience with them. Now in this there is a mis-
take in regard to the manifestation of love to Christ.

There is a mistake regarding the manifestaHon of love to
Christ. I do not deny that there may be a love to Christ
engendered by the glorious discoveries that are given us of
His person, and dhanu:ter, and work, such as absorbs the nrind
entirely, rendering it r^fardless of every thing else, — ^unwillr
ing to come down from these elevated and entrancing views
by which the love is kindled, to any thing so far inferior as
what relates to the external order and observances of the
christian church. I would use terms of great lenity in find-
ing any fault with such a state of heart, — there being unques-
tionably, as already admitted, no con^arison between these
sublime though simple truths, which are at once the basis of
the believer's hope, the spring of his peace and joy, the char-
ter of his spiritual freedom, the impelling motive of his obedi-
ence and the bond of his union with the whole family of God,



Digitized by



Googk



<80 THB low's SUPPSft.

— between these and aught that relates to principles or pre-
scriptions of order and rites of external ceremonial Yet
there is an error. It is not the error of excess ; for there can
be no excess in love to Christ. It is rather an error of defect,
— and of defect arising from inconsideration of what true love
requires, on the part of those by whom it is f e!t and cherished,
towards its object. The love that is professed, however,
deeply sincere, must be under the influence of some false prin-
ciple, when it operates in the way of impairing conscientumS"
ness in regard to the knowledge or tiie performance of any part
whatever of Christ's will What is the test to which He
Himself bring, the love of His people towards Him. It is
brief but ccwnprehensive : "If ye love me, keep my command-
ments," (John xiv. 16.) The question, then, which I would
put to the fellow disciples with whom I now remonstrate, — is
— Has true knre any right to select, amoqg His commandmeots,
which it must observe and which it may n^ect? or wiU true
love ever be disposed to such* selection? Would you think
your child had correct conception of the way in whidi his love
to you should be expressed, if he felt himself at liberty to
pick and choose amongst your orders, doing such as he reck-
oned worth the doing, and leaving others undone, — ^sayii^ to
himself — ^These are but Kttle matters, and therefore it is of no
great moment whether they are done or not? If a parent you
would hardly, I ween, be satisfied with your child's taking the
liberty of so reasoning and so acting; nor if he did take it,
would you think his heart quite in the right place, you would
hardly be pleased were any one to offer and urge in his behalf
the plea — that he loved you so well, and was so taken up
about your more important instructions and commands, that
these minor matters escaped his notice, — or were not consid*-
ered by him (dwindling as they did into insignificance besides
the others) as really worth his minding. You might try, per-
haps, with the partiality of a parent, to make the most of such
a plea ; — ^but it would not carry conviction with it. True love
will neglect no known commands of its object. The greater,
of course, it will be most eager to do, and the most careful
in doing; but it will not "leave the smaller undone." Nay, in
a certain sense» attention to the smaller is a stronger and a
surer test of affection than the most zealous execution of the



Digitized by



Googk



THE lord's SUPPBK. 681

greater. In the greater there is an intrinsic importance, which,
discovered by the mind, forms of itself an urgent motive to
their performance. But the smaller, where this description of
motive is absent, owe their f ulfihnent the more simply and
extelusively to the impulse of love ; and, when they have noth-
ing whatever in them of a moral character, nothing in their
own nature directly implicating the conscience, — still more
perfect, perhaps, and unexceptionable is the indication of the
uncompotmded working of the one principle. In such cases,
there is indeed conscience; but it is not conscience pronounc-
ing. The act in itself to be obligatory, — but conscience
approving the exercise of filial love ; — and that love delighting
to do whatever conscience does not actually interdict as wrong.
The one element of affection — the simple spirit of obedience —
is, then, evidently, most pure and unmingled in its operation.
These principles are directly applicable to the obedience of
God's children to their heavenly Father, and of the followers
of Christ to their divine Lord. The performance of duties
such as are enjoined in the first and second tables of the moral
law, — of duties to God, and duties to men, — duties morally
binding, according to those eternal princ^les of rectitude
which, existing in the Divine character, determine the Divine
will, — ^is, without doubt, a manifestation of that love to God
which is the primary and pervading principle of His law, — and
which, in the bosoms of all believers of the gospel, must ever
be in association with the love of Qirist, whose character and
whose will are the same with the Father's; and in order to the
performance of the duties being such as can be accepted by the
Supreme Judge, it must be the fruit and expression* of this
love. But still, in regard to all such duties, there is something
in themselves that is owned and felt by the conscience as
morally obligatory. When on the contrary, Divine injunc-
tions are entirely of a ceremonial character, — being in their
own nature indifferent, the conscience having, in this respect,
no sense of right or wrong in regard to them, feeling ndther
obligation to do them, nor compunction at the thought of not
doing them, — ^then the authority of God stands the more mani-
festly alone ; and nothing whatever, save the consideration of
that authority can enter into the motive to their observance : —
and such observance becomes thus the fairer and more une-
quivocal test of love, and of the spirit of subjection. It is on
this principle, amongst others, that we vindicate the Divine



Digitized by



Googk



6S2 THE lord's supper.

propriety of the originally prescribed test of man's obedience
to his Creator. It was a test, simply and exclusively, of sub-
jection to God's will; there being nothing else, so far as we
can perceive, in the prohibition of the interdicted fruit, than
the intimation of that will. The test was thus precisely what
it ought to have been ; — and they who turn it into ridicule —
than which nothing is more easy — really "understand neither
what they say, nor whereof they affirm." If, then, it be at all
a correct principle, that the less in intrinsic magnitude, and the
less in imperative obligation, the prescribed actions are, con-
sidered in themselves, the clearer and the stronger is the proof
of love in the conscientious doing of them, — ^those christians
had need to set about the duty of self-examination, as to the
indifference with which they treat all questions relative to the
outward order of the Church of Christ. Christian con^
scientiousness should extend to every indication of the Mas-
ter's will, whatever its nature, whatever the degree of its impor-
tance, and whatever the mode of its conveyance. And if love
is to be measured by conscientiousness, the more minute the
inquiry, and the more anxiously punctilious the obedience, the
greater are both the conscientiousness and the love.

And, therefore, if any reader of this work thinks himself
or herself religious, or flatters themselves, that they have sin-
cere love to the Lord Jesus Christ and yet are unwilling to
come out from the world and be separate and take up their
cross and follow Christ by obedience to His instituted ordi-
nance and an open confession of Him before men — they may
be sure "their religion is vain," and their love "dead."

There are two other special objections to which I will advert
before closing this part of the work as they are oftwi urged by
those who are often really prepared to come to the Lord's
Table.

One is, "I am not yet fit and prepared. I feel that I am a
sinner and I am willdng to have Christ as a Saviour and am
fully determined to be a christian. But I must subdue my
temper and make myself more worthy before I become a com-
municant."

Now, to this I reply, 1 : It is the spirit of self-righteousness.
Christ invites you to His table just on the same terms that He
invites you to Himself. That is as a needy, sinful,

UNWORTHY SINNER, FULL OF UNBELIEF AND HARDNESS OF
HEART, AND UTTERLY WITHOUT HELP OR STRENGTH IN YOUR-
SELF. If, therefore, as such, you are willing to take Christ



Digitized by



Googk



THE lord's supper. 683

as your Saviour and rely on His merits, His grace, His help,
His righteousness, and His prcmiises, then you are His and He
is yours; and then He opens to you the door of His ordinance
and says, "do this in remembrance that you are such a sinner
and that I am, and ever will be, such a Saviour." To say,
therefore, that you will wait till you are better, is to tell Christ
you do not wish to come then to His table and profess that you
are altogether needy and helpless, and unworthy, that you
wish to bring some worthiness of your own. 2. But, secondly,
this plea is dishonouring to Christ, while it would appear to
regard His will. Christ says to you, "do this, as a guilty,
ne^y, hell-deserving sinner, in remembrance of the glorious
fact that in me you have pardon, peace, and righteousness and
compl-ete redemption. Do it for my sake, for the sake of the
world, and for your own sake." Now, were a parent to say
to his children, "do this for my sake and for your own good,"
and one son postponed the doing of it in order that he might be
able to do what was required perfectly, and as both he and his
father would most perfectly approve, while another son set
about doing it at once, as well as he could, and with a sincere
desire to please his parent, which of these two dishonors and
which really obeys and gratifies his father? Of course, you
will reply the son who did willingly and at once what be was
required, obeyed and honoured his parent, while the other
exhibited more of pride and self-will. And how much more
wouM this be the case if, as in this ordinance of the Lord's
Supper, the parent prwnised to aid and assist his children in
endeavoring to do his will and did not require it to be done
perfectly, but heartily and sincerely and gratefully. How
much, therefore, does your conduct dishonor your Saviour,
slight his promises, and manifest the pride and selfishness of
your own heart.

3. But thirdly, your plan is suicidal and impracticable. You
never can do this duty perfectly. You never can make your-
self fit and worthy. You never can by your own efforts,
overcome what is evil in your heart. And the longer you
wait the more will you realize the impossibility of doing so,
and the more will you be filled with self-distrust, doubts, and
misgivings. There is no other Physician than Christ, no other
balm than His grace, and no other way to obtain this grace
than by doing His will, obeying His conmiands, observing His
ordinances and relying on His promises. "I am come," said
a young applicant at a late meeting of our Session, "to the



Digitized by



Googk



684 THE lord's supper.

determination to rely aitc^tber upon Christ, for I find that all
my own purposes and resolutions and efforts are vain. I,
therefore, cast mysdf on Him." It is for you and weak,
infirm and. frail believers this feast is provided, and it is in
coming to it you will find that grace and mercy which your
necessities require. Come, then, not as the Pharisee, trusting
to your fitness, but ccwne as the Publican, sensible of your need
and locking for mercy through the Redeemer. Then wiH you
go away justified and accepted, and never otherwise.

But you say, "I have not faith enough yet. I would like to
have a little stronger faith before I go." This, however, is
only another form of the previous objection, and involves aU
the guik, unbelief and sdf-righteousness it does. Suppose
your child was recovering from a dangerous illness, but was as
yet very feeble and weak. By the advice of the physician- you
prepare a nourishment which will, in connection with other
food, give him new energy and health. But your child dieclines
the nourishment, saying, "I am yet too weak and feeble to
take such a strong and nourishing diet. I will wait till I have
gained more strength and then I will use it." How foolishly
would such a chiH act, and how certainly would he prevent his
own restoration to health and strength! But just so foolish
and suicidal is the course you are pursuing. For, it is for the
weak in faith, "the babes in Christ," the feeble and immature,
this ordinance, and a profession of religion and the enjoyment
of all the privileges of the church were provided. It is to
give more faith, and g^ce, and strength to such; these are
enforced upon them as their duty and their privilege. By
coming to the Lord's table in a htmible and dependent spirit
the Lord will increase your faith, revive your spirit, and add
to your present store! Whereas, by sta)ring away, God will
leave you to your weakness and barrenness, and take away
from 3rou even that which you now have. Obey, then, the
Saviour's command, relying on the Saviour's promised grace
and mercy. Come to this table that you may there "buy wine
and milk without money and without price," and Christ will
abumdantly supply all your need out of the riches of His free
and inexhaustible grace.

Only hear your Saviour say,

"Strength shall be equal to your day;"

Then may you joy in deep distress,

Leaning on all sidficient grace.

And glory in infirmity,

That Christ's own power may rest on thee.



Digitized by



Googk



THE lord's supper. 685

WBile you are weak then are you strong,
Grace is yonr shield and Christ your song.
You can do all things and can bear
All suffering if your Lord is there.
Sweet pleasures mingle with the pain,
While His own hand your head sustains.

Come, then, in grateful obedience and in heartfelt reKance
upon Christ, and let your language and your spirit be :

If human kindness meets return.

And owns the grateful tie;
If tender thoughts within us bum,

To feel a fnend is nigh :

O shall not warmer accents tell

The gratitude we owe
To Him who died, our fears to quell.

Our more than orphan's wo !

While yet His anguish'd soul surveyed

Those pangs he would not flee;
What love His latest words dispay'd,

"Meet and remember me!"

Remember Theef thy death, thy shame.

Our sinful hearts to share!
O memory, leave no other name

But His recorded there.

According to th^ gracious word,

In medc humility.
This will I do, my dying Lord,

I will rememb^ Thee.

Thy body, broken for my sake.

My bread from heaven shall be ;
Thv testamental cup I take.

And thus remember Thee.

Gethsemane can I forget?

Or there thy conflict see,
Thine agony and bloody sweat.

And not remember Thee?

When to the cross I turn mine eyes,

And rest on Calvary,
O Lamb of God, my sacrifice!

I must remember Thee : —

Remember Thee, and all thy pains

And all thy love to me ;
Yea, while a breath, a pulse remains.

Will I remember Thee.

And when these failing lios grow dumb.

And mind and memory flee.
When Thou shalt in thy kingdom come,

Jesus, remember me.



Digitized by



Googk



SECTION VI.

Exercises on the Lord's Supper to be Used by Parents in
THE Family; by Sabbath School Teachers and Pas-
tor's IN Adult Bible Classes; and by Communicants
Themselves.*

SECT. I. scripture NAMES GIVEN TO THE LORdIs SUPPER.

1. The Lord's Supper. I Cor. xi. 20.

Because an ordinance of —
Divine appointment. 1 Cor. vi. 23 ; Luke xxii. 19.
Special spiritual nourishment. Mat. xxvi. 26, 27; Luke

xiv. 16; John vi. 63-63 ; xii. 2.
Superseding the sacrificial feasts under the law. Psalm

cxli. 2 ; Dan. ix. 21 ; Exod. xii. 6, 24 ; Mat xxvi. 26.
Prefiguring and anticipating the rest and enjoyment of

heaven. Exod. xii. 11 ; Mat. viii. 11 ; xxvL 29 ; Luke

xii. 18-22 ; Rev. xix. 9.

2. The Table of the Lord. 1 Cor. x. 21.

Because believers, in the ordinance —
Approach with deep reverence. Psalm Ixxxix. 7; Lev.

X. 3 ; Heb. xii. 28.
Enjoy the reviving presence of their Lord. Song i. 12 ;

John XX. 20 ; 2 Cor. iii. 18.
Are privileged to speak to Him. John xiii. 26 ; xiv. 22 ;

Esth. V. 6; vii. 2.
And to partake of a repast of His own providing. Psalm
xxiii. 5 ; Rom. viii. 32.

3. The Communion. 1 Cor. x. 16.

Because in the ordinance, believers in Jesus participate in
the benefits of —

His blood. 1 Cor. x. 16 ; Mat. xxvi. 26-28 ; Mark

xiv. 24.
And righteousness. 1 Cor. x. 16 ; xi. 24 ; Mat. xxvi.

26 ; Luke xxii. 19.
And sweetly sympathize with each other respectii^
Jesus and His g^ce. 1 Cor. x. 17 ; xii. 13.

*In the case of the former the young persons will be required to be
prepared on the proof texts and to be familiar with them, and perhaps
communicants themselves can in no way derive more instruction and
improvement than by prayerfully and attentively turning to and perusing
all the passages referred to.



Digitized by



Googk



THE lord's supper. 68T

4. The Feast. 1 Cor. v. 8.

Because the provision is abundant. Isa. xxv. 6 ; John

vi. 55.
Because a repast on a sacrifice. 1 Cor. v. 7, 8.
Because a feast of self-dedication. 1 Cor. v. 7, 8; 1

Kings viii. 65 ; Ezra vi. 16.
Because a feast of covenant engagement. 1 Cor. v. 7, 8 ;

Gen. xxvi. 30, 31 ; xxxi. 46.

5. The Eucharist, or Thanksgiving.

1st, Because Jesus at the instituticwi of the ordinance gave
thanks. 1 Cor. xi. 24, 25; Mat. xxvi. 26, 27; Mark
xiv. 22, 23 ; Luke xxii. 19.
For the glory that was about to accrue to God. John

xiii. 31 ; xxi. 19.
For the salvation of sinners now secured-. Isa. liii.

10; Luke ii. 14; Heb. ii. 10.
For the glory of wMch His hiunmn nature was about
to become the partaker. John xii. 23, 24 ; xvii. 5,
22 ; Heb. xii. 2.
2d, Because believers should engage in the service with a
thankful spirit. 1 Cor. x. 16; Mat. xxvi. 30; Mark
xiv. 26 ; Psahn ciii. 1-5.

SECT. II. VIEWS OF DIVINE TRUTH EXHIBITED BY THE LORD'S

SUPPER.

L Of God

There is the love of God in providing a Redeemer. John
iii. 16 ; 1 John iv. 9 ; Ronu viii. 32.

There is the justice of God in requiring the sacrifice of
Jesus. Mat. xxvi. 28 ; Heb. ix. 22 ; Rom. iii. 25, 26.

There is the mercy or grace of God in now freely and
abundantly remitting sin, and otherwise blessing hell-
deserving sinners. Mat. xxvi. 28 ; Rom. v. 21 ; 1 Cor.
X. 16.
II. Of Jesus.
1st, He is God, in that —

He instituted the ordinance. 1 Cor. xi. 23, 26, 26.

He is commemorated in the ordinance. Luke xxii. 19.

He is repeatedly called Lord in connection with the ordi-
nance. 1 Cor. X. 21 ; xi. 23, 26, 27 ; Psalm ex. 1— Mat.
xxii. 43-45.



Digitized by



Googk



C88 THE LCmD^S SUPPBK.

2d, He is also man, in that —
He had a true body. Mat. xxvi. 26.
And a reasonable soul. Mat. xxvi. 28, 38 ; Isa. liiL 12.

3d, When on earth Jesus was the substitute of sinners. Mat.

xxvi. 28; Mark xiv. 24; Luke xxii. 19, 20.
.4th, Jesus was a voluntary substance. 1 Cor. xi. 24; Luke



Online LibraryThomas SmythComplete works of Rev. Thomas Smyth, D. D → online text (page 64 of 68)