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Communion Sunday
The Fencing of the Tables


My Christian Friends, we are assembled here this day to celebrate the Holy Communion of the Body and Blood of our Saviour Jesus Christ: and we earnestly pray for a special blessing from above, while we are engaged in a duty so solemn and comforting. Let us call to mind, as the authority on which the Christian Church maintains this Holy Sacrament, the words of Institution, as these are set forth in the First Epistle of St Paul to the Corinthians: xi. 23-29.

23 For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which He was betrayed took bread :

24 And when He had given thanks, He brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is My body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of Me.

25 After the same manner also He look the cup, when He had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in My blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of Me.

26 For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till He come.

27 Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.

28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.

29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.

Let us mark, then, how that the Lord Jesus in the night wherein he was betrayed did Himself ordain to us this His Holy Supper, to be observed in His Church until He come again: for the perpetual remembrance of that great sacrifice which He offered up in His death for the sins of the world: for the sealing of all the benefits thereof unto true believers : for their spiritual nourishment and growth in Him : for their farther engagement to all the duties which they owe unto Him : and to be a bond and pledge of their communion with Him, and with each other, as members of His mystical body.

The outward elements of bread and wine, being duly set apart to their ordained uses, have such a sacramental relation to Christ crucified, as that properly, yet only in a figure, they be sometimes called by the name of that which they represent: to wit, the body and blood of Christ: albeit in substance and nature they still remain truly and only bread and wine as they were before. Yet true rt is, and in no wise to be gainsaid, that the body and blood of Christ, though not corporally in or along with the bread and wine in the Lord's Supper, arc spiritually present to the faith of the worthy receivers, no less than the elements themselves are to their outward senses: insomuch that they who rightly observe the Sacrament, do therein receive and apply unto themselves the virtues of His most precious atonement, and the most comfortable benefits purchased thereby, to their spiritual nourishment and growth in grace.

But yet, brethren, of this you must be well advised, that no such benefits are to be obtained in the Lord's Supper, save only by such as worthily partake of it.

Those who are ignorant, scandalous, or profane: those who are knowingly impenitent and unbelieving: those who have no true love to the Lord Jesus, and no real charity towards their brethren: those who are living and are yet minded to live in any sin against their knowledge or their conscience: must not presume to come to this holy table: lest by professing there that knowledge and faith, that love and charity, that penitence and obedience, which their own heart testifieth that they have not, they eat and drink judgment to themselves.

But those who are instructed in the knowledge of the truth as it is in Jesus, so that they shall be able to discern the meaning and intent of this reasonable service: those who are heartily relying on His sacrifice, so that they can with all godly sincerity show forth His death, and partake of the signs thereof: those who so love Him that they can without guile profess to be doing this in thankful remembrance of Him: those who are so kindly affectioned to each other that they can with a true heart sit down at a communion table, declaring that though many, they are one body in the Lord: those who are so truly penitent for their sins, and so sincere in their purposes of new obedience, tliat they can with sincerity testify that they are the Lord's, and set their seal to the covenant that binds them to Him : all such are permitted, yea, they are required, to take their place at the Table of the Lord.

But may one who still doubteth of his being in Christ as a true and firm believer, or of his due preparation, come to the Lord's Supper ? We answer in the words of the Larger Catechism : One who doubteth of his being in Christ, or of his due preparation for the Lord's Supper, may, notwithstanding, have a true interest in Christ, though he be not yet assured thereof; and in God's account he hath it, if he be duly affected with the apprehension of the want of it, and un-feignedly desire to be found in Christ, and to depart from iniquity : in which case, seeing promises are made and this sacrament is appointed for the relief even of weak and doubting Christians, such a one is to bewail his unbelief, and to labour to have his doubts resolved: and so doing, he may and ought to come to the Lord's Supper, in order that he may be farther strengthened.

For this sacrament is not intended only for such as are far-advanced and firmly-established Christians, but for weak and immature. And, as is truly said in the Book of Common Order, Albeit we feel in ourselves much frailty and wretchedness, so that we have not our faith so perfect and so constant as we ought, being many times ready to distrust the Lord's goodness through the corruption that is in us: and albeit, furthermore, we be not so thoroughly given to serve God, neither have we so fervent a zeal to set forth His glory, as our duty requireth and our heart coveteth: feeling still such rebellion in ourselves that we have need daily to fight against the lusts of our flesh: yet, nevertheless, seeing that our Lord hath dealt so mercifully with us, that we are preserved from falling into desperation and unbelief; and seeing also that He hath endued us with a will and desire to renounce and withstand our own evil affections, and with a longing for His righteousness and the keeping of His commandments: we may be now right well assured that these defaults and manifold imperfections in us shall be no hindrance at all against us to cause Him not to accept us at His spiritual Table. For the end of our coming thither is not to make protestations that we are upright or just in our lives: contrariwise, we come to seek our life and perfection in Jesus Christ, acknowledging the mean-while that we of ourselves are the children of wrath and condemnation, even as others.

Let us consider, then, that this sacrament is a singular medicine for all poor sick creatures: a comfortable help to weak and fainting souls: and that our good Lord, who breaketh not the bruised reed, neither quencheth the smoking flax, requires no other worthiness or fitness in us, but that we unfeignedly acknowledge our sinfulness and emptiness and imperfection, and look up to Him for the supply of all our need. Wherefore in His name we do in an especial manner invite and encourage those among you that labour under the sense and burden of your sins, and grievously lament your shortcomings, and desire to reach out into a greater progress in grace than yet you can attain unto, to come to the Lord's Table: assuring you in the same most blessed Name of all needful ease, refreshing, and strength to your weak and wearied and heavy-laden souls. And to this end we earnestly admonish you that with all lowly reverence ye wait upon this ordinance: that ye heed-fully discern the Lord's body broken for you and given unto you: that ye affectionately meditate on His sufferings and death; and that ye thereby stir yourselves up to a vigorous exercise of all your graces : in judging yourselves, and sorrowing for sin: in earnest hungering and thirsting after Christ: in feeding on Him by faith : receiving of His fulness, trusting in His merits, rejoicing in His love, giving thanks for His grace, and renewing your covenant engagements to His service.

The Ten Commandments. Exod. XX.

1 And God spake all these words, saying,

2 I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth :

5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me\

6 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

7 Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.

9 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:

10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:

11 For in six days the Lord, made heaven ana earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

12 Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.

13 Thou shalt not kill.

14 Thou shalt not commit adultery.

15 Thou shalt not steal.

16 Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.

17 Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbour’s.

The Beatitudes. St Matt. V.

3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad; for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

Let it be well understood to what end these scriptural tests of character are set before you. You are not asked if you have attained that measure: no one living has. But are you seeking after it ? And knowing how vainly you do so, are you praying earnestly for God's grace to strengthen and sanctify you: and are you relying simply on the sacrifice of Christ? If, by God's grace, it be so, then without doubt we are accepted of the Father, and invited to partake of those

HOLY THINGS WHICH ARE FOR HOLY PERSONS

Then is sung Paraphrase XXXV: Meanwhile the Elements of Bread atul Wine are carried into the church by the Elders, and set upon the 'Communion Table.

I 'Twas on that night, when doom'd to know
The eager rage of every foe,
That night in which He was betray'd,
The Saviour of the world took bread:

2 And, after thanks and glory given
To Him that rules in earth and heaven,
That symbol of His flesh He broke,
And thus to all His followers spoke:

3 My broken body thus I give
For you, for all; take, eat, and live;
And oft the sacred rite renew,
That brings My wondrous love to view.

4 Then in His hands the cup He raised,
And God anew He thank'd and praised;
While kindness in His bosom glow'd,
And from His lips salvation flow'd :

5 My blood I thus pour forth, He cries,
To cleanse the soul in sin that lies;
In this the covenant is seal'd,
And Heaven's eternal grace reveal'd.

6 With love to man this cup is fraught,
Let all partake the sacred draught;
Through latest ages let it pour
In memory of My dying hour.

Then the presiding minister, standing at the Communion Table, the assisting ministers being on his right and left, and several of the Elders being around\ proceeds with the First Table Service.


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