“I will be sanctified in them that come near Me…”
“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
Bible Verses: Preparation for Communion with God
Preparatory Communion Sermons & Table Addresses
Order of Contents
How do we Eat & Drink Unworthily?
Necessity of Preparation
Preparation in OT
Necessity of Pastoral Preparation of the People
Admitted to the Table for First Time?
Meditation, Self-Examination & Prayers
At the Table
After the Lord’s Table
Preparatory Worship Service Before the Supper
Introduction (Under Construction)
Quote from John Carstairs in Intro to Durham’s, Unsearchable Riches
‘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.’
What is it to Eat & Drink Unworthily?
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, pp. 58-65
Hodge, Charles – ‘But what is it to Eat and Drink Unworthily?’ (1860) 3 paragraphs, from his Commentary on 1 Corinthians
The Necessity of Preparation
Walter Stewart of Pardovan, Collections & Observations Concerning the Worship, Discipline & 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.”
Vines, Richard – ch. 33, ‘Of Examination in Order to this Sacrament’ in A Treatise of the Institution, Right Administration and Receiving of the Lord’s Supper, pp. 391-420
Vines was a Westminster divine.
Willison, John – A Sacramental Directory, or a Treatise Concerning the Sanctification of a Communion Sabbath
Direction 4, ‘Concerning the Necessity of Solemn Preparation before our Partaking’, pp. 50-53
Direction 5, ‘Concerning Habitual and Actual Preparation’, pp. 54-58
Direction 8, ;Concerning Self-Examination before Partaking; of the Examination of our State, Sins, Wants, Ends & Graces’, pp. 72-102
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 Buy (1644) 166 pp.
Bolton was a Westminster divine.
Burgess, Anthony – A Treatise of Self-Judging, in Order to the Worthy Receiving of the Lord’s Supper 148 pp. in A Treatise of Self-Judging… Together with a sermon of the generall day of judgement (London, 1658) separately numbered
Burgess was a Westminster divine.
Moral Preparation Before Sacraments of Communion in the Old Testament
The Due Right of Presbyteries… (1644), pt. 2, pp. 190-91
“3. That God required not moral preparation in them for eating the Passover as he does in us before we eat the Lord’s Supper [as the congregationalists claimed], I conceive to be an untruth.
1. Because not to profane the holy things of God, and not to take God’s Law in their mouth and to hate to be reformed, Ps. 50:16, not to sacrifice with bloody hands, Isa. 1:11-12, etc. Ps. 50:8-10; Isa. 66:1, was moral, and did bind and oblige the Jews as they do us, and 2 Chron. 30:6, the posts are sent to gather the people to the Passover, charging them to turn to the Lord God of their fathers, not to be like their fathers; and it is clear by Hezekiah’s prayer, verses 18-19, ‘Good Lord pardon him that prepares his heart to seek the Lord God of his fathers, though he be not cleansed according to the purification of the sanctuary,’ verse 20, ‘And the Lord hearkened, and healed the people.’ Therefore, there was required a preparation of the heart for the right eating of the Passover, besides the typical and ceremonial preparation.
Yea God counted the ceremonial preparation void of the moral preparation but abomination, as Isa. 66:1; Isa. 58:3-6 and Josiah’s Passover is commended from this, 2 Kings 23:22 (as Junius well observes) that none did with such care and zeal, as Josiah did prepare the priests, the people and himself for the passover, in removing all idolatry and abomination, and in renewing their covenant and reso∣lution, verse 3, ‘to walk after the Lord and to keep his commandments with all their heart and with all their soul.’
4. The unclean and uncircumcised in heart were no more members of the true and invisible Church of the Jews, and of Christ’s mystical body, his spouse, his royal generation, than Sodom and Gomorrah, Isa. 1:10, than the Ethiopians, Amos 9:7, than Ammon and Moah, Jer. 9:25-26, as in the New Testament, and the true invisible Church amongst them, as amongst us were kings and priests unto God, Ex. 19:5,9; Ps. 149:1, as we are, 1 Pet. 2:9-10; Rev. 1:5.
5. Amongst them no man could invade the priest’s office, or run unsent, no more than under the New Testament, Heb. 5:4; 1 Tim. 4:22, though they were to rebuke one another, Lev. 19, and they had sacrifices for sins of ignorance, Lev. 4:27…
And a third step was excommunication and casting out of the synagogue after the captivity, which are the very degrees of our Church censure.”
The Necessity of Pastoral Preparation of the People
Gillespie, George – bk. 3, ch. 11, ‘Whether it be a Full Discharge of Duty to Admonish a Scandalous Person of the Danger of Unworthy Communicating? And Whether a Minister in Giving Him the Sacrament After Such Admonition be no Way Guilty?’ in Aaron’s Rod Blossoming (1646), p. 223 ff.
Boston, Thomas – Memoirs (Edinburgh: Anderson & Ferrier, 1899), Period 9, pp. 243-44
Houston, Thomas – The Lord’s Supper: its Nature, Ends, and Obligations and Mode of Administration
‘Preparation for the Administration of the Lord’s Supper’, pp. 158-61
‘Necessity of Special Pastoral Training & of Faithful Oversight & Discipline in Preparation for the Lord’s Supper’, pp. 162-74
Voetius, Gisbert – 4. Question in Ecclesiastical Politics, vol. 1, book 2, tract 2, section 4, ch. 3, p. 754-56
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 & After Receiving Access to the Table of the Lord (1922) 138 pp.
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.
Meditations, Self-Examination & Prayers
Swinnock, George – ‘A Good Wish about the Lord’s Supper’ in Works 1:218-22
Burroughs, Jeremiah – ’10 Meditations’ in Gospel Worship… (London: Peter Cole, 1648), Sermon 13, pp. 267-71
Henry, Matthew – A Communicant’s Companion (Philadelphia: Presbyterian Board of Publication, 1700)
ch. 4, ‘Helps for Self-Examination Before we Come to this Ordinance’, pp. 81-104
ch. 6, ‘Helps for Meditation & Prayer in our Preparation for this Ordinance’, pp. 125-43
Appendix in A Sacramental Directory… (Aberdeen: George & Robert King, 1846), pp. 283-98
‘Meditations & Prayers Proper for Communicants Before & After Partaking’ in A Sacramental Catechism… (Pittsburgh: Luke Loomis, 1830), pp. 240-69
These are different than those by Willison immediately above.
Sacramental Meditations & Advices Grounded upon Scripture Texts proper for Communicants to Prepare their Hearts, Excite their Affections, quicken their graces & enliven their devotions on Sacramental Occasions, being 32 meditations & 23 advices (irregularly numbered) in The Whole Works… (Edinburgh: John Bourne, 1816), 3:201-383
Alexander, J.W. – chs. 18-19, ‘Self-Examination’ & ‘Questions Before the Communion’ in Plain Words to a Young Communicant, pp. 29-35
Milroy, William – ‘Private Meditations & a Prayer Preceeding the Holy Communion’ in A Scottish Communion (1882), pp. 151-72
Bruce, Robert – Sermons 4-5, Upon the Preparation to the Lord’s Supper (1617) in Robert Bruce’s Sermons on the Sacrament… ed. John Laidlaw (Edinburgh: Oliphant, Anderson & Ferrier, 1901), pp. 138-218
Bradshaw, William & Arthur Hildersham – Preparing for the Lord’s Supper (SDG)
Bradshaw (1570–1618) was a puritan chaplain in the Church of England. Hildersham (1563–1632) was an English puritan.
Tozer, Henry – Directions for a Godly Life, Especially for Communicating at the Lord’s Table, Intended First for Private Use… (Oxford, 1628)
Tozer was a Westminster divine.
Burroughs, Jeremiah – Sermons 11-12, ‘Sanctifying God’s Name in Receiving the Sacrament’ & ‘What is Required in Receiving the Sacrament?’ in Gospel Worship… (London: Peter Cole, 1648), pp. 225-260
Burroughs was a Westminster divine.
Swinnock, George – ch. 18, ‘How a Christian may Exercise Himself to Godliness in Receiving the Lord’s Supper, & of the Nature of that Ordinance, & Preparation for it’ in The Christian Man’s Calling in Works (Edinburgh: James Nichol, 1868), 1:172-91
Westminster Larger Catechism
Earl, Jabez – Sacramental Exercises, in Two Parts: (1) The Christian’s Employment Before, At & After the Lord’s Supper, (2) The Christian’s Employment & Conduct in his Life Afterwards (Edinburgh: William Whyte, 1815)
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 pp. with an Introductory Essay by John Brown of Edinburgh
Willison, John – A Sacramental Directory, or a Treatise Concerning the Sanctification of a Communion Sabbath (d. 1750; Pittsburgh: United Presbyterian Board of Publication, 1879) 318 pp.
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.
Oxenden, Ashton – The Earnest Communicant
Oxenden (1808-1892) was an evangelical, Calvinist, Anglican bishop in Canada and prolific writer.
Alexander, J.W. – ch. 23 & 24, ‘Preparation’ & ‘Church Preparation’ in Plain Words to a Young Communicant (NY: Randolf, 1854), pp. 40-42
ed. Beeke, Joel – Feasting with Christ: Meditations on the Lord’s Supper
At the Table
Alexander, J.W. – chs. 31-34, ‘The Act of Partaking,’ ‘Thoughts of Self & Sin,’ ‘Thoughts of Christ’ & ‘Thoughts of Brethren’ in 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 – ch. 10, ‘Helps for the Exciting those Pious & Devout Affections which should be working in us while we attend this Ordinance’ in A Communicant’s Companion, pp. 199-218
Swinnock, George – How a Christian may Exercise Himself to Godliness at the Table Works 1:192-211
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
After the Lord’s Table
Alexander, J.W. – chs. 35-41, ‘Cautions after Communion,’ ‘Disappointed Hopes,’ ‘Thankful Review,’ ‘General Retrospect,’ ‘Going Down to the World,’ ‘Courage’ & ‘Interval Between Communions’ in 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
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 & 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’ in Works 1:212-18
A Sacramental Directory
Meditations After Partaking, p. 293
Concerning our Deportment when Rising & Going from the Lord’s Table, pp. 259-70
Containing Directions how to Behave when we go Home to our Retiring Places, pp. 270-3
‘Meditations & Prayers Proper for Communicants After Partaking’, in A Sacramental Catechism… pp. 257-69
On Public, Preparatory Meetings & Worship Services before the Supper
Sprott, George W. – ‘Preparatory Services’ in The Worship and Offices of the Church of Scotland: Or the Celebration of Public Worship, the Administration of the Sacraments, and Other Divine Offices, According to the Order of the Church of Scotland; Being Lectures…, pp. 103-107 1882
Leishman, Thomas – bottom of p. 341-2 in ‘The Ritual of the Church’ in ed. Story, Robert, The Church of Scotland, Past and Present, vol. 5 1890 ff.
Edgar, Andrew – pp. 462-3 in ‘The Discipline of the Church’ in ed. Story, Robert, The Church of Scotland, Past and Present, vol. 5 1890 ff.
On a Lasco
Earngey, Mark – ‘Soli Deo Gloria: The Reformation of Worship’ being ch. 2 of Reformation Worship: Liturgies from the Past for the Present (New Growth, 2017), p. 40
“A Lasco’s bimonthly Communion took a period of two weeks and even involved a special preparatory service the day before. Thus, an important contributing factor to the differing frequencies of the Lord’s Supper throughout the churches of the Reformation was the balance between the desire for frequent Communion, and the desire for thoroughgoing church discipline.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
On the 1500’s
Carr, Kevin – ‘Robert Bruce on the Nature of the Lord’s Supper, & Preparation for its Observance’ (2010) 42 pp.
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.
On the 1700’s
MacLeod, Ian – Ch. 5, ‘The Preparation & Admission of Communicants’, pp. 153-209 in The Sacramental Theology & Practice of the Reverend John Willison (1680-1750) PhD thesis (1994)
Bible Verses on Preparation for Communion with God
Communion Sermons and Table Addresses