Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Preparation for the Lord's Supper

In many churches the Lord's Supper is administered without any acknowledged need for due spiritual preparation for this means of grace. The Puritan Richard Vines gives some indications as to the necessity of spiritual preparation.

There is a certain peculiar preparation due to the celebration of this Ordinance; for where the manner is so contrary, as worthily and unworthily, and the effect of the Ordinance much depending upon the manner of receiving it, and the benefits so great, as communion of Christ's body, the danger no less than of condemnation, reason will tell us, that there is a preparation requisite, that the fruit may be of the Tree of Life, and not of the Tree of knowledge of good and eyil, Eat and die. It's either too much blindness or boldness to rush upon this Ordinance without preparation...Our Saviour did not only use, but honour preparations, when he fasted and pray'd in order to his great work. To the Passover there belong'd...a solemn preparation: The Lamb was taken upon the tenth day, the leaven was enquired after and purged out which if they have now no obligation, yet they have a meaning: and you use to have Sermons for preparation, which are but preparatives to preparation they do but light the candle, but you must, as that woman, Luke 15:8 "Sweep the house and seek diligently"; else Sermon preparation may (as I fear it often doth) go without soul-preparation. That word 1 Cor. 11:28 "And so let him eat", tells us plainly, that somewhat must go before. 

Preparation is not something that we may trust in and though we must take it seriously and engage in it with sincerity we must take ourselves to Christ by faith and only go to the Lord's Table in his strength and merit.
I look for no preparation that shall not stand in need of mercy. If I see so much in my self, as makes my self empty, and that emptiness doth make me athirst for Christ, then I shall not dispute my preparation, but deny my worthiness, and yet come.

Monday, June 24, 2013

self-examination with Love

Dr John Love of Greenock (1757-1825) writes helpfully concerning the duty of self-examination with regard to our state, i.e. "am I in Christ?" He gives the following scripture proofs (Ps 28:5; Ps 111:2; Ps 103:2; Ps 106:7).

He also distinguishes a duty of self-examination with regard to our frame or condition, i.e. "am I growing in Christ?" (2 Peter 3:18; Lam 3:40; Ps 119:59). In relation to the latter text he observes that self-examination is absolutely necessary for repentance.

Self-examination as to both state and frame are required in order to have that peace of conscience that is desirable. Without self-examination no man can utter 2 Cor 1:12 "For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward". Only after self-examination can the conscience give its testimony - both our state and frame will come under judgement of Christ at the last day.

'Memorials,' vol. 2:499

Monday, June 10, 2013

Unsearchable Riches

Rev Donald Maclean (1915-2010) of the St Jude's congregation of the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland was well-known to generations of people who lived, worked or studied in Glasgow. His previous Portree ministry (1948-1960) had also been noted for its wide influence. (Dutch friends can find out more here)

This volume of his sermons -- available now on Kindle and expected soon in hard-back and paper-back -- shows some of the reason why. Twelve sermons are preceded by an insightful biographical sketch.

His Christ-focused preaching was warm in tone, clearly explained the text of the Bible, robustly tied the verse(s)to the doctrine, appealed to the hearer's conscience, showed where the text fitted into the 'big picture' of the teaching of the covenants in the Bible, and stressed 'the free offer of the gospel'.

Many people who wanted to have Scripture explained by Scripture, instinctively listened to Mr Maclean's preaching. Many felt it reflected the Reformed confessional Calvinistic Scottish pulpit in its better days. A new generation can now sample it in 'Unsearchable Riches'.

Review by N. Campbell.

p.s. you can listen to audio sermons of Rev. D. Maclean here and here.

p.p.s. hard copies can be ordered and an excerpt can also be read here.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

the decree of a most fearful parliament in heaven

Sure I am, the decree of a most fearful parliament in heaven is at the very point of coming forth, because of the sins of the land. For “we have cast away the law of the Lord, and despised the words of the Holy One of Israel” (Isa. v. 24). “Judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off; truth is fallen in the streets, and equity cannot enter” (Isa. lix. 14). Lo! the prophet, as if he had seen us and our kirk, resembleth Justice to be handled as an enemy holden out at the ports of our city [so is she banished!], and Truth to a person sickly and diseased, fallen down in a deadly swooning fit in the streets, before he can come to an house.

Samuel Rutherford, 1628