REVELATIO xxii. 17.
And the Spirit and the Bride say, Come. And let him
that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst
come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of
life freely.
I QUOTE these words, Christian Brethren, be
cause they seem to express in a short space the
whole spirit of God s dealings with us His crea
tures. They represent our Heavenly Father as
inviting by His Spirit, and by His Church, all
men who will, to come and freely drink of the
water of life, or living water, which He alone is
able to bestow. You will remember that when
our Lord sat by the well of Sychar, and talked
to the woman of Samaria who came to draw
water, He spoke of His power of giving to those
who asked Him " living water", as His own
special prerogative; and it is evident that He
intended by the figure of living water, to express
that new life in man s soul which He was able
to impart, that principle which having commenced
in faith and holiness in this life should bring forth
eternal life in the world to come. And the text
is quite in accordance with the words of our Lord,
representing the Spirit as inviting all men who
will to accept of this heavenly gift.
ow it is not my present purpose to say any
thing concerning the greatness of this heavenly
gift ; what I wish to point out is the condition
upon which it is granted. The only condition is
this, " whosoever will /" there is absolutely no re
striction ; whosoever thirsts is invited to drink of
the waters, just because he does thirst ; -if a man
feels his need, that is his title to ask for succour.
Of course the mere fact of a man needing a gift
does not render it certain, that he will obtain the
gift; but in this case the gift, having been ren
dered possible by the death of Christ, is offered
upon the one simple condition of a man feeling
his want and being ready to accept it; and this
condition must be fulfilled ; God has made us such
that we are able to judge for ourselves ; we have
a will and He does not constrain it; He puts
before us great inducements and great threats,
but after all the will is unfettered, and he who
says, I will not serve God, is not compelled to do
so. And every one who will may serve Him;
the terms of the Gospel both in the Old Tes
tament and the ew are those which are laid
down in the text, "Whosoever will, let him
come freely."
I call your attention to this characteristic of
the Gospel, not because it is new, nor because it
requires any argument to establish it, but that
I may make this observation, that although men
will profess that this is the characteristic of the
Gospel, yet they will not in all points act upon
their profession. They will allow that the Gospel
is free, that God says to all men " Come and
drink of the water of life freely," and that when
God is pleased to give us such an invitation He
means it in its veriest letter; but many persons
will not practically allow, that the spirit of such
invitation extends to the invitation, which they
receive, to come to the Lord s Supper. This is
the subject which I wish to treat in this sermon :
that it is an important one no person can deny,
especially an important one to those, who will not
come when they are bidden ; and I wish to con
sider what ground they have to stand upon, who
hang back from the Lord s Table. It is an old
subject ; but it is one which I cannot drop, which
I dare not drop, so long as "there are persons in
my parish who are invited and will not come. It
is a subject also, which cannot in a set discourse
be discussed in all its bearings; there may be,
in particular cases, peculiar difficulties and mis
givings which can best be relieved by private
conference with God s Ministers, as recommended
in the Book of Common Prayer; all that can be
done is to lay down general broad principles, and
forasmuch as in this case "the Spirit and the
Bride say Come," and as we can find no reason
why those who are athirst and are willing should
not come and receive God s gifts freely, I wish
to examine fairly and plainly what the requisites
are, in order that a Christian may with a good
and safe conscience come to the Lord s Supper.
And though what I shall have to say may be
addressed more especially to those, who systema
tically refuse the Gospel invitation to the holy
Feast, yet I believe that it cannot be without
advantage to all of us to enter occasionally into
those thoughts concerning the Lord s Supper, and
the title we have to partake of it, which such
a subject as the present must needs bring to
our mind.
I will explain the line of reasoning which I
am about to adopt. When a man considers with
himself, whether he ought to present himself at
the Lord s Table, frequently he is beset with a
host of difficulties and questions, as to what is
required of him and as to his own fitness. Where
shall he go for safe guidance? I reply that he
need go no further than the Catechism which
he learnt when he was a child ; I do not believe
that he will find the qualifications of a worthy-
communicant any where more clearly laid down, or
with more authority. And I do protest, Christian
Brethren, that when that authorized formulary of
the English Church states plainly the conditions
which are required, no member of the Church
has any right to impose upon either his own
conscience or that of his brother any other con
ditions ; yet practically it is evident, that men do
impose other conditions, because when a person
assigns his reasons for not going to the Lord s
Table, they are scarcely ever of this kind, that
he cannot satisfy the Prayer-book conditions : the
Catechism says that certain things are required,
and it implies that no others are required; but
when a man makes his excuse, it almost always
refers to matters of quite another kind, and thus
proves, as I have said, that men do in practice
lay other conditions upon their own consciences
and those of their brethren, besides those which
the Prayer-book has imposed. And I cannot im
press upon you too strongly, that no member of
the Church has any right to do this ; a dissenter
:nay do it if he will; but as consistent members
of the Church, we have no right to teach her
Oatechism to our children, and then virtually
deny its truth by imposing conditions of com
munion over and above those which she herself
lays down.
What then are the conditions? The Catechism
jsums them up under three heads, which I shall
speak upon in order. First, it is required of those
who come to the Lord s Supper " to examine
themselves, whether they repent them truly of
Iheir former sins, steadfastly purposing to lead
a new life." Beyond all doubt this must be re
quired, and it is a most reasonable requirement;
for to take no higher view of the sacrament
than this, we may regard it as a mutual pledge
given by Christians to each other, that they will
keep the commands of Christ; the early Chris
tians, when accused of meeting together for evil
purposes, declared that at their solemn weekly
festivals they pledged themselves not to break
the laws nor to live in lust and wickedness, and
in saying this they referred to the pledge of
holy living, which the Sacrament of the Lord s
Supper implied. And doubtless, whatever other and
deeper meaning the Lord s Supper may have,
this it must have ; that is, it must be regarded
as a pledge of our desire and determination to
live in accordance with the will of Him, whom
we then most solemnly recognize as our Lord
and King. But what I would wish you to ob
serve is, that the condition of which I am speaking
is not something peculiar to the Lord s Supper,
but something which is quite necessary whether we
come to the Lord s Table or not : the Catechism
does not say, "if you would come to the Lord s
Table, you must examine yourselves whether you
repent ; and if you do not care about coming to the
Lord s Table, then you need not examine your
selves ; " but it only lays down that as a necessary
condition of coming to the Lord s Table, which
every Christian ought to do, nay, which unless a
man does he can scarcely be considered to be a
Christian. Who will venture to say, that he has no
need to repent of his sins, and to make up his
mind to live a holy life ? and who will say that he
ought not to examine himself carefully, as to whe
ther he is doing this or no? o one I am sure will
venture to say, "I am not thinking about coming to
the Lord s Table, and therefore these questions do
not concern me ;" every one will feel that it would
be the grossest impiety to speak after this fashion ;
and therefore, as I have said, the Catechism is
only laying down as a condition, that which every
Christian, without exception, ought to do. You
will see the point at which I am aiming ; I wish
you to see, that no proper distinction can be
irawn between the duties of communicants and
ion-communicants, but that every one who is
worthy of being called a Christian is worthy of
Doming to the Lord s Table ; that the requisites
:or coming there are identically the same with
;he requisites for being a Christian in life and
eality, and not only in name ; and contrariwise,
:hat any one, who declares himself unfit to come
:o the Lord s Table, does thereby (though he may
aot intend it) declare himself unfit to be called a
Christian at all.
But let me go on to the second thing spoken
of in the Catechism as required. It is required,
says the Catechism, that those who come to
the Lord s Supper should "have a lively faith
in God s mercy through Christ, with a thankful
remembrance of His death." The meaning and
necessity of which requirement appears at once,
when you consider the Lord s Supper in the light
of a celebration of His death: the Apostle Paul
says, " as often as ye eat of this Bread and drink
of this Cup, ye do shew forth the Lord s death:"
the broken bread and the wine poured out do
indeed set forth, in a simple yet impressive manner,
the broken body and the shed blood of Christ;
and he who joins in communion joins in shewing
forth Christ s death; but it cannot be merely
as a piece of history, that any man can desire
to publish to the world that Jesus Christ died ;
he must desire to publish it, as a great religious
truth, because he feels it to be the great truth
which the world ought to know; in fact he
cannot care to celebrate Christ s death, unless
he can enter entirely into the truth of Christ
being the Saviour of the world, and His death
the world s life. And if he really believes man
kind to have been redeemed from an intolerable
bondage by Christ s humbling Himself to death
upon the cross, he will find it hard to set bounds
to the thankfulness, with which he will regard
Christ s redeeming work; and thus a lively faith
in God s mercy through Christ, and a thankful
remembrance of His death, will of necessity be
long to him, who comes with a sincere heart to
celebrate Christ s death in Christ s own way.
But here again I ask, what is there peculiar to
a communicant in this? it is true, that this is re
quired of those who come to the Lord s Supper,
but is it not also required of those who do not
come? can they forget Christ s death without
blame, simply because they refuse to celebrate
it in His own way? I would admit at once,
that every one who says, 1 have not a lively
faith in God s mercy through Christ, and I have
no thankful remembrance of His death, I feel
no gratitude for what Christ has done and no
hope of mercy through Him, I would admit at
once, that every one who said this should keep
away from that Feast, which is the very assertion
of those feelings which he does not possess; but
what Christian will venture to make this plea?
who does not feel, that to take such ground is
:o deny his discipleship altogether? Wherefore
;his second condition also imposes nothing peculiar
upon communicants; but only lays that down as
[heir duty, which is clearly required of every
one, who desires to call himself without pro
fanity and without hypocrisy by the holy name
of Christ.
Let us pass to the third and last condition.
The Catechism tells us, that those who come to
the Lord s Supper must "be in charity with all
men." Quite a reasonable requirement this, if
we remember that the Lord s Supper was re
garded from the earliest times as a feast of love
or charity. The holy Eucharistic Feast was never
regarded merely as a commemoration of the sacri
fice of the cross; it was this indeed, but it was
something more, it set forth in the most emphatic
manner the unity of the Church, the great truth
that all Christians were members of one body
of which Christ was the head; and so S. Paul
speaks of Christians all " eating of the one bread ;"
and if the Christians desired to be set forth be
fore the world as a body of men having one head
and one heart, they could not be seen to greater
advantage than when in commemorating the death
of Him, who being rich for our sakes became
poor, and by becoming poor levelled all earthly
distinctions, and made all men rich who believed
in Him, they met together on one common ground,
as men who loved each other because they were
constrained by the love of Christ, as men who
forgave each other their trespasses because God
through Christ had forgiven them, as men who
honoured one another on account of that common
nobility which belonged to them as " heirs of God
and joint-heirs with Christ." And this being
the spirit of the holy Feast, it is clear, that all
envy and malice and ill-feeling and unkindness
must be put away by those who attend it: to
come to the holy Table without freely forgiving
our brother his trespasses against us, and making
restitution in whatsoever we may have injured
him, without a genuine spirit of love and bene
volence for those who are partakers with us of
a common salvation, is evidently rank mockery;
it is to act the part of Judas, to attend the
Feast with a treacherous heart. So that if any
one pleads guilty to a want of charity tov^ards
his brethren, if he is living on terms of hatred
and malice towards any one, if he is unkindly
in his feelings towards the least and humblest
of mankind, then I cannot say " Come to the
Lord s Table." But who dare make this plea?
What Christian would not shudder at it ? Whether
a man be in attendance at the Lord s Table or
not, nay, even if he never intends to take the
question of his duty in this respect into his serious
consideration, still want of charity is vile, dam
nable, unchristian. When S. John said, "Little
children, love one another," he did not say,
" love one another, if you go to the Lord s Table ;
but if you do not go to it, it is no great matter;"
he laid it down as a chief fundamental point
of Christian practice, even as our Lord had be
fore. This third requirement of the Catechism
then, like the others, lays no new duty upon us ;
it merely says to us, Such and such things are
your duty; if you are not performing it take
heed that you do not partake of an ordinance,
in which you cannot possibly join without danger
and without hypocrisy : it does not imply, and
was never meant to imply, that there was a
certain catalogue of new duties, which devolved
upon a communicant, and from which a non-
communicant would be free ; on the other hand
the whole spirit of the Catechism is this, Are
you living in remembrance of your Christian
profession? are you what the Scripture would
call awake, or are you asleep? do you mean
anything more by saying you are a Christian
than this, that you were born in England and
not in India, that you can repeat the Apostles
Creed and do not worship Juggernaut? when
you speak of Christ as your Lord and Saviour,
do the words express the deep convictions of your
heart, or are they the mere remnants of nursery
or Sunday School teaching ? ow if in reply to
such questions as these you would reply, " God
forbid that my Christian profession should be a
lie ! I wish to serve Christ, being persuaded that
He first loved me, and by redeeming the world
from sin and enabling me to become a child
of God has laid such obligations upon me as
I can never repay" then the spirit of the Prayer-
book would say, Go to the Lord s Table, there
seek nearer communion with Him whom you
desire to serve, there set forth His death, there
join with your fellow-Christians in an act of
worship to God and love to each other. This
I say is the spirit of the Prayer-book ; and -again
I assert, that as consistent members of the Church
we have no right to lay down other terms of
communion, than those which in the Catechism
we find : there are three conditions laid down,
and they are very plain and very simple, and he
who can find in them no obstacle to his coming
to the holy sacrament ought to find no obstacle
at all: and my design has been to shew you,
that those things, which the Catechism says are
required of persons who would come to the Lord s
Supper, are in reality required of all Christians;
no one may venture to demur to them; because,
in confessing that he is unfit for the Lord s Supper,
he is confessing that he is unworthy to be called
a Christian at all. And thus we are brought
to this conclusion, that every Christian ought
to be a communicant, that a non-communicant
Christian is an unchristian Christian, a man who
bears a name in the world which here in God s
Church he dare not support. What do you think
of that conclusion?
Observe, I do not deny, that a person who
is in the habit of going to the Lord s Table will
probably feel a degree of responsibility, which
another may not feel ; but then it is one great
advantage of the Holy Communion, that it does
bring before the mind, in a way which can hardly
be neglected, the importance of holiness and god
liness; and I do not deny that every communi
cant has a character to support, and that any
fall on his part will be thought more of, will
bring greater discredit on religion, than that of
a more careless person; but what I do assert
is, that every Christian has his duties, and that
they do not become more his duties nor less
because he has done what every Christian ought
to do, and that it cannot be taken as a pallia
tion of any sin in the eyes of God (whatever it
may be before men) that he who committed it
had always been careless about religion, had never
thought of the Holy Communion, had looked
upon his Christian name as a mere mark to dis
tinguish him from his fellows. It can be no
palliation of any sin to say, I have committed
others, and I never took the means which God
L n His mercy provided to make me grow in
Do not imagine, Christian Brethren, that I
have any very great hopes of such arguments as
those which I have now used, producing much
effect with those, who have for years past been
living in neglect of the ordinance of the Lord s
Supper. I believe that the arguments are good
ones, and that you would have great difficulty
in overturning them ; but I know also, that those
who will come to the water of life are not those
whose intellects have been convinced by argu
ments which they cannot gainsay, so much as
those who are athirst and those who have the
will. Yet I think it well that you should see
clearly before you what is your duty ; and espe-
cially I desire, that no one of you should ever
have to say it of me, that I failed in plain ex
positions of duty, and in declaring as simply as
may be the whole counsel of God. And now I
would conclude my discourse thus : I have treated
the text as an exhortation to the Lord s Supper,
it is more obviously perhaps an exhortation to
the Supper of the Lamb in Heaven : some of you
will not take the invitation in its former sense,
but I should conceive that in the latter sense
few of you think that you are refusing it well,
God grant that none of you may! but this I
would have you to bear in mind, that the quali
fications for the one Supper and for the other
are the same: those three things, which the
Catechism lays down as being required of those
who come to the Lord s Supper, are also precisely
those things, concerning which a man must be
called upon to examine himself, when he is pre
paring to leave this world and appear before
God repentance, faith, charity; these in brief
are the demands, which are made upon those who
would come to the Supper of the Lord; which
of them can you omit, Christian Brethren, as a
requisite for entering heaven? can you go there
without repentance? can you go there without
faith in the Lord Jesus Christ? can it be heaven
to you, if your hearts are not warmed with
charity? You see then that there is nothing re
quired of those who conie to the Lord s Supper,
which is not required of those who are prepared
to meet their God: and meet Him we must,
there is no choice about that; a man need not
come to the Lord s Table if he is not prepared,
but a man must appear before God, whether he
be prepared or no. Think of that ; and do you
who have hitherto slighted the invitations of your
Lord, pray God to give you grace to grieve
Him by your neglect no more.

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