Examine Yourself (3)
Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly.
—1 Corinthians 11:27–29
Participation in the Lord’s Table requires faith.
Examine thy faith. This grace is thy spiritual taste, without which thou canst relish nothing on the table. This is the bucket, and if it be wanting, I may say to thee, as the woman to Christ, ‘The well is deep, and thou hast nothing to draw with.’ This is the hand to receive Christ, John i. 12. This is as the arms whereby we embrace Christ; they ‘embraced the promises’ by faith, Heb. xi. 13. As loving friends that have been a great while asunder, when they meet together, hug and embrace each other in their arms; so the Christian who longeth to see Jesus Christ in the promises, when at a sacrament he meeteth him, huggeth and embraceth him in the arms of faith.
Examine not so much the strength as the truth of thy faith. The wings of a dove may help her to mount up towards heaven, as well as the wings of an eagle. Try whether thy faith be unfeigned, 1 Tim. i. 5. What price dost thou set upon Christ? ‘To them that believe, Christ is precious,’ 1 Pet. ii. 7. An unbeliever, like the Indians,* seeth no worth in this golden mine, but preferreth a piece of glass, or a few painted beads, mean, earthly things, before it; but a believer, like the Spaniard, knoweth the value of it, and will venture through all storms and tempests that he may enjoy it. Dost thou prize the precepts of Christ, the promises of Christ, the people of Christ, the person of Christ, (is that altogether lovely in thine eyes?) and the passion of Christ? Is thy greatest glory in Christ’s shameful cross? Dost thou esteem it above the highest emperor’s most glorious crown? . . . God forbid,’ saith Paul, ‘that I should glory, save in the cross of Christ,’ Gal. vi. 14.
Doth thy faith purify thine heart? ‘Having their hearts purified by faith,’ Acts xv. 9. The hand of faith, which openeth the door to let Christ into the heart, sweepeth the heart clean. Faith looks to be like Christ in glory, and faith labours to resemble Christ in grace. An unbeliever . . . though he keep the room of his life a little clean, which others daily observe, yet he cares not how dirtily those rooms of his inward man lie, which are out of their sight; unbelieving and defiled are joined together, Tit. i. 15.
—George Swinnock, The Christian Man’s Calling, Works of George Swinnock (Banner of Truth, 1992), 1:183–184
* To those who might take offense at this simile: consider the times (1627–1673) before making any anachronistic judgments.