Preparing for the Lord’s Table

“I will be sanctified in them that come near Me…”

Lev. 10:3

“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.  But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.  For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.  For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.  For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.”

1 Cor. 11:27-31

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Subsections

Bible Verses on Preparation for Communion with God

Preparatory Communion Sermons and Table Addresses

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Order of Contents

Introduction
What is it to Eat and Drink Unworthily?
The Necessity of Preparation
The Necessity of Pastoral Preparation of the People

Coming to the Table for the First Time?
Meditation, Self-Examination & Prayers
Preparatory Materials
At the Table
After the Lord’s Table
Quotes on a Preparatory Worship Service before the Supper

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Introduction  (Under Construction)

Quote from John Carstairs intro to Durham’s, Unsearchable Riches

John Spalding:

‘I am, by virtue of the keys of the kingdom committed to us ministers, to shut the door of this ordinance upon those whom Christ has judged unworthy thereof… and therefore, I in the name and authority of the Lord Jesus Christ… do excommunicate and debar from this holy ordinance, generally… (2) All these that keep up and foster any known sin and transgression and have no mind to shed with it, and will not be in Christ’s common to rid them of it…’

‘I in the same name and authority… am to set open the door to: (1) All these that are broken in themselves, and see no relief but in Christ Jesus; O ye poor, blind, naked, lame, dumb and deaf, come.  (2) All ye that have so much as a greedy look, a heart hankering and langor[ing] after Christ and his righteousness. ; O ye serious desirers, earnest thirsters and hungerers, come get (though ye cannot be satisfied) come get a hungry fill of Christ; O creepers, though ye cannot walk nor run, come borrow legs and wings from Him.’

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What is it to Eat and Drink Unworthily?

Hodge, Charles – But what is it to Eat and Drink Unworthily?  1860, 3 paragraphs, from his Commentary on 1 Corinthians

Vines, Richard 

A Treatise on the Institution, Right Administration and Receiving of the Lord’s Supper, pp. 197-240 & 291-304, Vines was a Westminster divine

Ch. 18 – ‘Of Worthy and Unworthy Receiving of the Lord’s Supper’, pp. 197-240

Ch. 23 – ‘Of Worthy and Unworthy Receiving, with some Cautions to prevent mis-judging ourselves in the case’, pp. 291-304

Ch. 24 – ‘Of Worthy Receiving, etc.’, pp. 305-317

Ch. 25 – ‘That a Godly Man may Receive the Sacrament Unworthily’, pp. 318-321

Ch. 30 – ‘The Sinfulness of Eating an Drinking Unworthily’, pp. 370-375

Ch. 31 – ‘The Cause of this Sin: Not Discerning the Lord’s Body’, pp. 376-380

Ch. 32 – ‘The Aggravations of the Sin of Unworthy Receiving’, pp. 381-384

Ch. 33 – ‘The Danger of this sin’, pp. 385 ff.

Willison, John – Direction 6: Concerning the Sin and Danger of Unworthy Communicating  in A Sacramental Directory, or a Treatise Concerning the Sanctification of a Communion Sabbath, p. 58-65

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The Necessity of Preparation

Bolton, Samuel – The Guard of the Tree of Life, or, A Sacramental Discourse showing a Christian’s privilege in approaching to God in ordinances, duty in his sacramental approaches, danger if he do not sanctify God in them ToC  Buy  1644

Bolton was a Westminster divine.

Burgess, Anthony – A Treatise of Self-Judging, in order to the worthy receiving of the Lord’s Supper   ToC

Burgess was a Westminster divine.

Vines, Richard – ‘Of Examination in Order to this Sacrament’, being ch. 33 of A Treatise of the Institution, Right Administration and Receiving of the Lord’s Supper, pp. 391-420

Vines was a Westminster divine.

Walter Stewart of Pardovan, Collections and Observations Concerning the Worship, Discipline and Government of the Church of Scotland, 1709

15.  Secret Preparation

It is so far from being a warrant and satisfying to a man’s conscience for approaching the Lord’s Table because the discipline of the church admits him, that even a man habitually gracious and prepared will not for ordinary adventure to approach it except he has made conscience of getting himself actually prepared and his graces put in exercise, and set apart some considerable time for that purpose.

Willison, John 

Direction 4: Concerning the Necessity of Solemn Preparation before our Partaking  in A Sacramental Directory, or a Treatise Concerning the Sanctification of a Communion Sabbath, pp. 50-53

Direction 5: Concerning Habitual and Actual Preparation, in A Sacramental Directory, pp. 54-58

Direction 8: Concerning Self-Examination before Partaking; of the Examination of our State, Sins, Wants, Ends and Graces, in A Sacramental Directory, pp. 72-102

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The Necessity of Pastoral Preparation of the People

Boston, Thomas – Memoirs, pp. 243-4

Houston, Thomas – Preparation for the Administration of the Lord’s Supper & Necessity of Special Pastoral Training and of Faithful Oversight and Discipline in Preparation for the Lord’s Supper, in The Lord’s Supper: its Nature, Ends, and Obligations and Mode of Administration, pp. 158-161 & 162-174

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Coming to the Table for the First Time?

Alexander, J.W. – Plain Words to a Young Communicant  Buy  reprinted as Remember Him by the Banner of Truth

This book ‘has its origin in a desire to provide young communicants with fuller advice than can, in ordinary cases, be given orally to individuals by their pastor and its latter part is related to the beginnings of a Christian walk.  Small and plan though this work is, it may also be useful to Christians of some standing in the Church, especially those who have been without careful instruction.’

Bavinck, Herman – The Sacrifice of Praise: Meditations Before and After Receiving Access to the Table of the Lord1922, 138 pages

These are meditations for persons making for the first time a public confession of their faith in Christ, and for continuing therein before the world.

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Meditations, Self-Examination and Prayers

Alexander, J.W. – Self-Examination and Questions before the communion  being chapters 18 & 19 of Plain Words to a Young Communicant, pp. 29-35 

Burroughs, Jeremiah – ’10 Meditations’, in Gospel Worship, Sermon 13, pp. 267-71

Henry, Matthew 

Helps for Self-Examination Before we Come to this Ordinance  being chapter 4 of A Communicant’s Companion, pp. 81-104

Helps for Meditation and Prayer in our Preparation for this Ordinance  being chapter 6 of A Communicant’s Companion, pp. 125-143

Milroy, William – Private Meditations and a Prayer Preceeding the Holy Communion  1882, in A Scottish Communion, 1882, pp. 151-172

Swinnock, George – A Good Wish about the Lord’s Supper, Works 1:218-222

Willison, John 

Meditations before Partaking, in A Sacramental Directory, p. 283 ff.

‘Meditations and Prayers Proper for Communicants Before Partaking’, in A Sacramental Catechism, p. 240 ff.

Sacramental Meditations and Advices grounded upon Scripture Texts proper for Communicants to prepare their hearts, excite their affections, quicken their graces and enliven their devotions on Sacramental Occasions, being 32 meditations and 14 advices, in Works, 3:201 ff.

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Preparatory Material

Alexander, J.W. – Preparation and Church Preparation  being chapter 23 & 24 of Plain Words to a Young Communicant, pp. 40-42  

Bruce, Robert – Upon the Preparation to the Lord’s Supper  1617  being the 4th and 5th sermons of Sermons on the Sacrament, pp. 138-218

Burroughs, Jeremiah – ‘Sanctifying God’s Name in Receiving the Sacrament’ & ‘What is Required in Receiving the Sacrament?’  1647  being sermons 11 & 12 in Gospel Worship, pp. 225-260

Burroughs was a Westminster divine.

Earl, Jabez – Sacramental Exercises, in two parts: (1) The Christian’s Employment before, at and after the Lord’s Supper, (2) The Christian’s employment and conduct in his life afterwards  d. 1768 

Earl (1673-1768) was an English presbyterian minister.

Henry, Matthew –  The Communicant’s Companion, or Instructions for the Right Receiving of The Lord’s Supper  1700, 314 pages, with an Introductory Essay by John Brown of Edinburgh

Swinnock, George – How a Christian may Exercise Himself to Godliness in Receiving the Lord’s Supper, and of the nature of that ordinance, and preparation for it  Works 1:172 ff.

Tozer, Henry – Directions for a Godly Life, especially for communicating at the Lord’s Table  ToC

Tozer was a Westminster divine.

Willison, John – A Sacramental Directory, or a Treatise Concerning the Sanctification of a Communion Sabbath  d. 1750, 318 pages.  

This work consists of three sections: (1) Containing Directions how to prepare for a Communion Sabbath, (2) Containing Directions for the Right Spending of a Communion Sabbath when it is Come,  (3) Containing Directions Concerning our Behavior After Partaking.  

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At the Table

Alexander, J.W. – The Act of Partaking, Thoughts of Self and Sin, Thoughts of Christ, Thoughts of Brethren  being chapters 31-34 of Plain Thoughts to a Young Communicant, pp. 51-56

Earl, Jabez – The Christian at the Lord’s Table in Sacramental Exercises, p. 63-75

Henry, Matthew – Helps for the Exciting those Pious and Devout Affections which should be working in us while we attend this Ordinance  being chapter 10 of A Communicant’s Companion, pp. 199-218

Swinnock, George – How a Christian may Exercise Himself to Godliness at the Table  Works 1:192-211

Willison, John 

Meditations when Partaking, in A Sacramental Directory, p. 288

Concerning our Ejaculations [in Prayer] by the Way, in A Sacramental Directory, p. 202

Ejaculations Proper when we go forward to the Table, in A Sacramental Directory, p. 208

Suitable Subjects for our Meditation while we Sit there, in A Sacramental Directory, p. 210-233

How to Employ our thoughts when we see the Sacramental Elements and Actions, and hear the Words of Institution, in A Sacramental Directory, p. 241-244

Some Further Meditations on the Sacramental Elements, Actions and Words, in A Sacramental Directory, p. 244-258

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After the Lord’s Table

Alexander, J.W. – Cautions after Communion, Disappointed Hopes, Thankful Review, General Retrospect, Going Down to the World, Courage, Interval Between Communions  being chapters 35-41 of Plain Words to a Young Communicant, pp. 56-64

Earl, Jabez – The Christian in his Retirements after the Lord’s Supper  in Sacramental Exercises, pp. 76-104

Henry, Matthew 

Directions Concerning the Frame of our Spirits when we come Away from this Ordinance  being ch. 12 of A Communicant’s Companion, pp. 235-58

An Exhortation to Order the Conversation Aright After this Ordinance  being ch. 13 of A Communicant’s Companion, pp. 259-275

Milroy, William – After Addresses to Communicants, Private Meditations and a Prayer After the Holy Communion   1882, in A Scottish Communion, pp. 179-228

Swinnock, George – What a Christian Ought to do After a Sacrament  Works 1:212-218

Willison, John 

Meditations after Partaking, in A Sacramental Directory, p. 293

‘Meditations and Prayers Proper for Communicants After Partaking’, in A Sacramental Catechism, p. 257 ff.

Concerning our Deportment when Rising and Going from the Lord’s Table, in A Sacramental Directory, 259-70

Containing Directions how to Behave when we go home to our Retiring Places, in A Sacramental Directory, pp. 270-3

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Quotes on Preparatory Worship Services before the Supper

Samuel Rutherford  1642

A Peaceable and Temperate Plea for Paul’s Presbytery in Scotland, Chapter 20, Article 6

“…this sacrament requiring a self-examination going before (1 Cor. 11:28).  Therefore a sermon of preparation is preached the day before, even as Christ prepared and dieted his guests with heavenly sermons preceding the action (as is clear, Luke 22:14,15; Mark 14:18-20; Matt 26:21-23; John 13:13-16).

The nature of the sacrament requires thanksgiving, and therefore in the afternoon [on the Lord’s Day] a sermon of thanksgiving is preached, which is also warranted from Matt 26:30.”

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Church of Scotland  1645

Acts of General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, 1638–1842 (Edinburgh: 1842), 120.

“That there be one sermon of preparation delivered in the ordinary place of public worship upon the day immediately preceding.”

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Samuel Miller  1845

Letters on the Observance of the Monthly Concert in Prayer, p. 21

“…and so are the special services preparatory to the administration of the Lord’s Supper, which are observed without scruple in a large number of Christian churches.” 

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Historical Articles

Carr, Kevin – Robert Bruce on the Nature of the Lord’s Supper, and Preparation for its Observance, 2010, 42 pages

Robert Bruce’s sermons on the Lord’s Supper, 1590, are a Scottish classic.  Here is an article giving a bit of the life of Bruce, putting the sermons in their historical context, and summarizing their theology and significance.

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Related Pages

The Lord’s Supper

Bible Verses on Preparation for Communion with God

Communion Sermons and Table Addresses

Self-Examination

Meditation