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we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” John xt. 23. You cannot, then, Christians, expect to enjoy abundant peace, unless you are careful to perfect holiness in the fear of God. If you would increase in spiritual life, you must live after the Spirit. If you would have the flesh and its lusts cru. cified, you must walk in the Spirit. The best reason you have for working out your salvation with fear and trembling is, that God worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Be not then slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience, inherit the promises. Be stedfast and unmoved, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour shall not be in vain in the Lord.
THE DISCERNMENT OF THE LORD'S BODY NECESSARY
TO A PROFITABLE PARTICIPATION OF THE HOLY SUPPER.
I Cor. xi. 29. He that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drink
eth damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.
CORINTH was the capitol of Achaia. It was ereced on an isthmus which joined Morea to the continent, which enabled it to command all Greece. It had an excellent harbour on each side the isthmus, which rendered it a place of universal resort. Here learning and commerce flourished. Afluence, as is usual, introdu. ced pride, luxury, effeminacy, and every other vice; hence, Corinth became infamous to a proverb. Lasciviousness was not only tolerated, but, in some respect, sanctioned, and consecrated, in the worship of Venus, and the prostitution of her votaries. Here lived the infamous prostitute Thais, who, for one night's lodging, . exacted ten thousand drachmas. '
Such was the state of Corinth when the Apostle in. troduced the gospel into it. Its idolatry, wickedness, and dissipation, opened a wide field, on which to display the riches of divine grace. Here Paul preached, for about two years, to both Jews and Gentiles. His la... bours were attended with little success among the former, while many of the latter became obedient to the faith, and a church was soon organized.
The Apostle had not long departed from Corinth, when, through the influence of false teachers, the old leaven began to appear, gain ground, mar the beauty of the church, and disturb her tranquillity. The evils which prevailed among them were, party spirit, con. tentions, vexatious law suits, covetousness, luxury, uncleanness, pride in spiritual gifts, communion with idolaters, corrupt doctrines, and a prostitution of gospel ordinances, especially the Lord's supper. These evils brought Christianity and the interests of religion into no small danger. To stem the torrent of immorality, to fortify the Corinthians against the influence of false teachers, and to correct their pernicious irregularities, was the design of writing this epistle. . : In this chapter he commends the attention they had formerly paid to the ordinances he had dispensed among them. He enjoins them to copy the example he had set them, as he had imitated Christ. He freely repri. mands their irregularities, animosities, and schisms, espe.. cially the improper manner in which they had celebrated the sacrament of the Lord's supper. In order to convince them, more effectually, of the impropriety of their conduct, in the abuse of this ordinance, and to reform their practice concerning it, he particularly illustrates its nature and design, as he had received it from the Lord Jesus Christ, ver. 23–26. points out the sin of observing it in the manner they had done, ver. 27. and inculcates the necessary previous duty of self examination, as conducive to a proper and profitable observa. tion of the ordinance.
As Christ is, in a very peculiar and extensive manner, exhibited in this ordinance, it becomes all who would celebrate it aright to take such a view of him as iş suited to the nature and design of the institution.
The text points out the proper manner in which this is to be done, with the danger of doing otherwise. In it we may observe the following things. : 1. The celebration of the Lord's supper is expressed by the actions of eating and drinking. “ He that eateth and drinketh.” These actions are done literally, and are, in themselves, merely natural actions. This is necessary to constitute a sign, and to make the ordinance a sacrament.' Bread and wine literally are the elementary signs or symbols, representing the body and blood of Christ. There is a literal participation of these expressive of the soul's believing participation of Jesus as its spiritual food. The due celebration of this ordinance does not lie in eating bread, and drinking wine, though it cannot be done without this, and though there is too much reason to fear that many take no other view of it; but it lies in an improvement of the Lord Jesus Christ, by faith, as a crucified Saviour, through the medium of these sensible signs, for nourishing, strengthening, and comforting the soul. In the participation of the elements moderation and decorum must be observed, that the solemnity of the ordinance may be preserved. To satiate the corporeal appetite can contribute nothing to the better celebration of the ordinance, nor render the sign more significant. By divine appointment, a smail part of the symbols represents a whole Christ; and they have no other use but what is synbolical. Eating and drinking a little are also sufficient to represent the soul's feeding plentifully on Christ. Here the Corinthians erred. Without waiting for one another, they proceed. ed to eat and drink as they came forward, and went even to excess, “ One being hungry and another drunk. en.” Hence the justice, of the Apostle's charge that, 6 when they came together into one place, it was rot to eat the Lord's supper.” It was not with a view to celebrate a holy ordinance in a solemn religious man. ner, but to take a common repast.
2. The manner in which this ordinance ought to be observed: by forming suitable conceptions of Christ as exhibited in it. " Discerning the Lord's body." By the Lord's body is meant Christ himself, the incarnate Saviour, who bare the sins of his people and fully expiated them, by his death. To understand this of his body literally would be too near an approach to the Popish doctrine of Transubstantiation.
The word rendered “ Discern” signifies to discriminate or distinguish one thing from another by their differential properties. It is so used 1 Cor. iv. 7. " Who maketh thee to differ?” Who hath discriminated thee from others, by conferring these endowments and advantages which render the superior to them? The Corinthians had celebrated this ordinance, in a carnal manner, too much resembling their common entertainments, to the gratifying of their animal appetites, even to excess. They overlooked the spiritual nature and intention of the ordinance. They did not view the elements as symbols of spiritual things. Nor did they seek to see Christ in them, nor to feed upon him. They wanted spiritual discernment to discriminate it from a common repast, in which there is nothing spiritual exhibited. “They walked as men,” not as believers. They destroyed church fellowship, by not waiting till all had convened. They did not eat the one bread as being one body. They were justly reprimanded, by the Apostle, for their conduct. While this ordinance has so peculiar a relation to Christ, and while he is so eminently exhibited in it, believers