February 10, 2006

Warnings concerning the Lord’s Table. by J. C. Ryle

I know not in what state of mind this book may find the reader of this paper, or what his opinions may be about the Lord's Supper. But I will conclude the whole subject by offering to all some warnings, which I venture to think are highly required by the times.

(1) In the first place, "do not neglect" the Lord's Supper. The man who coolly and deliberately refuses to use an ordinance which the Lord Jesus Christ appointed for his profit, may be very sure that his soul is in a very wrong state. There is a judgment to come; there is, an account to be rendered of all our conduct on earth. How any one can look forward to that day, and expect to meet Christ with comfort and in peace, if he has refused all his life to commune with Christ at His Table, is a thing that I cannot understand. Does this hit home to you? Be careful what you are doing.

(2) In the second place, "do not receive the Lord's Supper carelessly," irreverently, and as a matter of form. The man who goes to the Lord's Table, and eats the bread and drinks the wine, while his heart is far away, is committing a great sin, and robbing himself of a great blessing. In this, as in every other means of grace, every thing depends on the state of mind in which the ordinance is used. He that draws near without repentance, faith, and love, and with a heart full of sin and the world, will certainly be nothing better, but rather worse. Does this hit home to you? Be careful what you are doing.

(3) In the third place, "do not make an idol" of the Lord's Supper. The man who tells you that it is the first, foremost, chief, and principal precept in Christianity, is telling you that which he will find it hard to prove. In the great majority of the books of the New Testament the Lord's Supper is not even named. In the letter to Timothy and Titus, about a minister's duties, the subject is not even mentioned. To repent and be converted, to believe and be holy, to be born again and have grace in our hearts--all these things are of far more importance than to be a communicant. Without them we cannot be saved. Without the Lord's Supper we can. Are you tempted to make the Lord's Supper override and overshadow everything in Christianity, and place it above prayer and preaching? Be careful. Pay attention what you are doing.

(4) In the fourth place, "do not use the Lord's Supper irregularly." Never be absent when the Lord's Supper is administered. Make every effort to be in attendance. Regular habits are essential to the maintenance of the health of our bodies. Regular use of the Lord's Supper is essential to the well-being of our souls. The man who finds it a burden to attend on every occasion when the Lord's Table is spread, may well doubt whether all is right within him, and whether he is ready for the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. If Thomas had not been absent when the Lord appeared the first time to the assembled disciples, he would not have said the foolish things he did. Absence made him miss a blessing. Does this hit home to you? Be careful what you are doing.

(5) In the fifth place, "do not do anything to bring discredit" on your profession as a communicant. The man who after attending the Lord's Table runs into sin, does more harm perhaps than any sinner. He is a walking sermon on behalf of the devil. He gives opportunity to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme. He helps to keep people away from Christ. Lying, drinking, adulterous, dishonest, passionate communicants are the helpers of the devil, and the worst enemies of the Gospel. Does this hit home to you? Be careful what you are doing.

(6) In the last place, "do not despair" and be cast down, if with all your desires you do not feel that you get a lot of good from the Lord's Supper. Very likely you are expecting too much. Very likely you are a poor judge of your own state. Your soul's roots may be strengthening and growing, while you think you are not growing. Very likely you are forgetting that earth is not heaven, and that here we walk by sight and not by faith, and must expect nothing perfect. Lay these things to heart. Do not think harsh things about yourself without cause.

To every reader into whose hands this paper may fall, I commend the whole subject of it as deserving of serious and solemn consideration. I am nothing, better than a poor or fallible man myself. But if I have made up my mind on any point it is this--that there is no truth which demands such plain speaking, as truth about the Lord's Supper. Taken in part from J.C. Ryle's book The Lord's Supper.

Other parts of his letter:
Why was the Lord’s Supper ordained?

Who ought to receive the Lord’s Supper?

What benefits are in receiving the Lord’s Table

What effects are in receiving the Lord’s Table

Warnings concerning the Lord’s Table