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Reverend SIR, THO' you have thought proper to assert, that
1 there is nothing in the whole New Testament which requires any other qualification for receiving the Lord's Supper than a belief of christianity, and a freedom from scandalous vices; I have attempted to draw, from those writings, several arguments to prove that none but truly pious persons ought to attend that institution. This point I apprehend will receive further confirmation by attending closely to what the Apostle Paul had occasion to write to the Corinthians, on account of their unbecoming behaviour at the Lord's table. Let us distinctly consider what he says with respect to unworthy receiving, and the means he recommends in order to prevent it, vizi Self-examination previous to the celebration of it.
As to the former; the Apostle declares concerning those in general who ' eat this bread and drink
this cup unworthily' (whatever be the particular manner of doing it) that they are guilty of the body
and blood of the Lord, that they come together "unto condemnation, that they eat and drink judg"ment to themselves. I have already shown that all unholy persons who attend the Lord's Supper are guilty of this, as they do not and cannot attend
: By whichey are expofed
cur a degree of
it worthily; and that therefore they are exposed to this condemnation *. By which I mean, that they incur a degree of guilt proportioned to their unworthy manner of celebrating the ordinance, and are liable to a proportionable punishment. Even good men, as far as there is any thing unworthy in their manner of attending, do so far stand chargeable with guilt before God, and are liable to be, some way or other, chastened of the Lord,' or to bring some kind of judgment to themselves' of a spiritual nature, tho' not to be finally condemned with the world.' But all unholy persons are exposed to final condemnation ; and as by their unworthy receiving the Lord's Supper, they increase their guilt, (particularly, as we have seen, by folemnly declaring a falfehood) it follows that they aggravate their future punishment in proportion to the nature of their crime, (as they certainly do by every other sin), unless they repent. Now the just and natural inference from hence appears to my reason to be, that they'ought to refrain from the Lord's Supper, while they remain unholy, in order to avoid this additional condemnation ; for it is most unreasonable to suppose, that it is a man's duty to do that, the doing of which will enhance his guilt and add to his future misery. " Why then (may it probably be asked) “ did the Apoftle leave us to infer this, since he had “ so fair an opportunity of asserting it in his address 66 to this Corinthian church? But he did by no means « declare them unfit for the ordinance, much less '" forbid their attending upon it any more, as might « have been expected he would have done, if unholy " persons had no right to it; tho' they gave plain 6 proof that they were not truly pious, but on the " contrary, very profane ; since they not merely 66 turned this sacred institution into a common meal, 66 but were guilty of such indecency and excess as es were unbecoming and criminal on any occasion, be
ing * See Letter IV. p. 42.
Difinter's Anfier to Dr. Priente,
werkenness itself; afin which
with damnation.” As this as an argument against the nen order to the worthy receive
it is requisite that I should here, tho' you have not urged Cther do, as I know not that it has
“ Christianity threatens with damnat;
It must be acknowled
of godlinels. Wh
acknowledged, if it could be clearly These Corinthians were bad men, it would "Plausible argument against the doctrine en defending; but the proof of this does not
Jy appear. On the contrary, to me it seems otiv evident that they were in general, to apce, pious persons, or that they had a visibility lliness. What else can we reasonably conclude
the character which the Apostle gives of them in the beginning of his epiftle, part of which we have already quoted. He notonly calls them the sanctified • in Christ Jesus,' but tells them that he “ thanked • God always on their behalf, that in every thing • they were enriched by him, and in all utterance, • and in all knowledge, and that they came behind « in no spiritual gift, waiting for the coming of our (Lord Jesus Christ, who (says he) shall confirm you « unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day • of our Lord Jesus Christ. I am quite at a loss to know the Apostle's meaning, if he does not intend in these words to represent them as real Christians. Nor can I see any thing in his account of their manner of celebrating the Lord's Supper inconfistent with the fupposition that they were truly pious, or that could have been sufficient to ground a charge upon any individuals as ungodly persons. It cannot reasonably be thought that they really considered the Lord's Supper as designed in no other view than as a publick entertainment, or that they had utterly forgot that it was a memorial of Christ and a religious insti
hele words uitle's meanit.
tution. Their fault I apprehend to have been precisely this : they did not fufficiently distinguish the external part of this religious rite from a common meal, but eat and drank, and moit probably conversed together in the same manner as was customary in their other publick feasts. This is called by the Apostle, not discerning (or discriminat'ing) the Lord's body.' But this, tho' in some degree criminal, was by far more excusable than it would be in any christian society in the present day, and was greatly alleviated by the confideration of their not having a written account of the original inftitution, the gospels not being at that time penned ; and was the less to be wondered at, as it was necessary for the Apostle himself to have an express revelation from heaven concerning the true nature and design of this ordinance. Besides, they might the more easily fall into this impropriety of conforming the Lord's Supper to a common meal, as it was usually, celebrated immediately after one, and was fo in the first institution of it.
As to the indecency these Corinthians are said to have been guilty of at the Lord's table, fome beginning to eat before others came, &c. this was the natural confequence of their not distinguishing the Lord's Supper (as to the outward form of it) from one of their common entertainments, at which the like rudeness fre- · quently obtained in those times, which were (as you justly observe) remarkable for the want of modern politeness at their social meals, of which Grecian historians have complained. But what is laid the greatest stress upon in this argument is, that it is faid of some of these communicants, that they were drunken. To this I answer, that the Greek word uebsuel does not necessarily signify being intoxicated with liquor, but will easily admit of a softer term, and may be translated drinks to excess, or drinks plentifully; meaning, that they had drank a larger quantity,
Astontution of fately after heal, as
of wine than was necessary or proper at the table of the Lord ; tho' no more than was lawful at their own *. This sense of the word well agrees with the general accusation brought against them, viz. their attending this rite as if it had been a common entertainment. And this is confirmed by the manner in which the Apostle reproves them : • What, have ye • not houses to eat in? Shall I praise you in " this? I praise you not. Wherefore, my brethren, ' when ye come together to eat, tarry one for ano• ther, and if any man hunger, let him eat at home.' How different is the Apostle's language from what we may naturally suppose it would have been if they had been guilty of the sin of drunkenness, tho' only in their own houses, much more in the house of God and at the table of the Lord. Nay, if that had been the case, they would have been guilty of one of those scandalous vices which you say deserve excommunication, and therefore the Apostle would not merely have reproved them with the utmost severity, but ordered them to be cut off from the church; for in this very epistle he had before given orders for the excommunication of the incestuous person, and warranted their proceeding to the exclusion of any members of their church who should be guilty of any immoralities, among which it is observable he mentions drunkenness. According to this warrant then, the perfons in question, if they had been guilty of drunkenness at all (much more at the table of the Lord) would not only have deserved excommunication, but would in fact have been excommunicated. But it is
* In this sense the word is evidently used fohn ii 10. Every 'man at the beginning doth set forth good wine, and when men • have chcichwol well drunk (pub. tranf. 1 i.e. drank pretty freely, to as to exhilarate the spiriis:-Otherwise we make our Lord to encourage, by his firit miracle, a drunken revel. Gen. xliii. 34. Cant. v. 1. and Hag. i. 6. are instances to the present purpose, the LXX making use of the word in question in each of these places. Sec DODDR. Fam. Exp. on John ii. 10. note.