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2. We may see how little a practical belief of the Bible prevails. Were the awful sentence in the text, and similar threatenings, firmly believed, men could not live and enjoy themselves as they do, while their conduct ascertains that they are under the curse. Alas! the greater part could not give less evidence of love to Christ, though the text had run thus, If any man love the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema, Maran-atha! They are as eager in worldly pursuits as if they were to live for ever, and as careless about soul concerns as if there were no hereafter. These things are a sad proof of the latent atheism and unbelief which work powerfully in the human heart. Many undoubted proofs have been, and might be adduced, that the Scriptures are divine, and yet they are treated as a cunningly devised fable and an idle tale.
3. That divine threatenings, however severe they may appear, are a great mercy. There scarcely can be a greater mercy than fairly to warn men of their danger. Were any person about to fall headlong from the brink of a precipice, no kinder office could be performed than to warn him of his danger, and use every possible mean to prevent his ruin. Sinners are on the brink of eternal ruin. While out of Christ, there is nothing between them and hell but the breath of their nostrils. The gospel, preached with such certification of danger as we have in this text, warns every man. It points out our bane and antidote. When such as love not Christ are pronounced accursed; it is like the call given by Lot to his sons-in-law, Gen. xix. 14, “Up, get ye out of this place; for the Lord
will destroy this city:" and it is to be lamented, that often the most faithful warnings have no better success: " he seemed to them as one that mocked.” If there is great wrath in this curse, gospel hearers have the more need to consider, and lay down the weapons of their rebellion. While this and such texts stand in the Bible, sinners, in a land of light, can never pretend that they are not properly warned: if they read, they are warned; if not, they increase their sin by neglecting that which is at once their duty and privilege. All who are now hearing, must recollect that they are expressly warned; for, if any man in this assembly love not Christ, let him be Anathema, Maran-atha.
4. This subject further informs us, that while all who love not Christ are guilty of great sin, the hypocrite is a sinner of peculiar magnitude and deep die. In common with others, he has all the ill of not loving Christ. He has the superadded ill of lying to the Redeemer, and mocking his omniscience. He honours him with the lip, but the heart is far from him. He betrays him with a kiss, and wounds him in the house of his friends. While the conduct of the hypocrite is awfully heinous, it is equally absurd. If it is not a good thing to love Christ, why do you profess it? If it is, why do you not practise it? You now affect a superior degree of holiness to many of
your neighbours, and shun the common crowd of Christ's enemies as too wicked for you. Matters will alter. Hereafter, if you die in your present situation, the common damned will shun your society as fiends less foul. Bethink yourselves. Hypocrites have the chief
place in hell. Your character is odious on every hand. God hates it, and so do his saints. Sinners too hold the character of the hypocrite in abhorrence. He is odious to the former, for pretending to be what he is not; and to the latter, for what he pretends to be. 5. We may learn too, how few real Christians there
If such love to Christ be essential to a Christian, as makes all who possess it give him the preference to every other object, and renders every thing about him, even his cross, most precious; real lovers of Christ are very few. Were we to survey the characters of true love to the Redeemer, we would soon find that there are few possessed of it. It is a superlative and sincere love, and makes all who have it, prize and embrace every mean and opportunity of enjoying him. Viewing such as profess Christianity, we will find some giving the chief place in their heart to one object, some to another; and only a very few to Christ.
6. Again; we may see the propriety of the solemn ordinance before us. The supper is a signal proof of Christ's love to his people, and an eminent mean of inflaming their love to him. At his table, eating his flesh and drinking his blood, they remember himwho he is and what he has done—and they remember his love more than wine. Recollecting the night when he was betrayed, the bloody scene that followed, and that all his sufferings were for them; they cry out, “ Behold, what manner of love!” and love begets love. Through the influences of his Spirit, * they sit under his shadow with great delight, and
his fruits are sweet to their taste;" and often 6
“ they are sick of love.” He has promised his gracious presence to all his ordinances; and often at his table, his “disciples are glad through seeing the Lord.”
7. We may also see who will be worthy communicants at the table of the Lord this day. Surely not these who do not love him, and are accursed. That any service may be acceptable, the person who performs it must first be accepted; but if any man loves not Christ, he is accursed, and not worthy to sit down at his table. Unto such wicked
says, “What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldst take” the seal of “my covenant in thy mouth.” The passover and the Lord's supper both commemorate a great deliverance. It would have appeared very strange in Pharaoh, continuing still in the same mind, to have gone and eaten the
passover in an Israelite's house. However custom may render people blind or inadvertent, it is equally absurd for a sinner, persisting in his sin, and destitute of love to the Lord Jesus, to sit down at his table. He has no interest in the Saviour, or the fruits of his death. He has no love to his person, or finished work. He is an entire stranger to his righteousness and grace, his spirit and salvation, and an enemy to them all. If the sinner is for heaven at all, it is on the plan of the covenant of works; and what can such a person have to do with the seal of the New Covenant!
Those only will communicate worthily, who love Christ above all, desire an interest in his person
and righteousness, and can say, “ Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire
besides thee;" and about the covenant, the seal of which they are to receive, with David, 2 Sam. xxiii. 5. “ Although my house be not so with God; yet he hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure: for this is all my salvation, and all my desire.”
Intended communicants, and especially such as have the deepest concern, fully sensible that love to Christ is essential to a worthy partaking of the Lord's supper, will be ready to say, “I have been endeavouring to look into my heart, but I cannot satisfy myself about being possessed of genuine love to the Redeemer: I find my heart so cold to him, and the power of indwelling sin so strong, that I am afraid of being mistaken in imagining I have any love at all to that glorious Person whose death we are about to commemorate.”
Nothing can be of more importance to communicants than to have this matter comfortably settled. You ought to do much in secret, and we in public, to make you acquainted with your own hearts. To enable you to determine the great matter about loving or not loving Christ, we would beseech you to think on the following questions.
Do you recollect a time when you thought but little about Christ, and cared little whether you loved him or not? Are matters now in some measure changed? Is it your chief concern both to love him, and to know that you do so ? Are you fully sensible that, separate from him, you can do nothing, and must perish? Are you persuaded that love to him is a great privilege, as well as a great duty? Are you impressed