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Library of Anglo-Catholic Theology

A Short and Plain Instruction for the Better Understanding of the Lord's Supper
by Thomas Wilson, D.D.

Oxford: John Henry Parker, 1851.

transcribed by the Reverend Walter Hannam
AD 2003


General Observations, pertinent to the Subject of the
foregoing Sections

BY this time you see the reason of this institution; the necessity, as well as the invaluable blessing, of observing it religiously; and the manner of preparing yourself for it, as often as you shall have [k] [sic] an opportunity.

And remember, that the oftener you look into the state of your soul, in order to go to this Ordinance, the less trouble you will have to make your peace with God when you come to die; and the less danger you will be in of falling into a state of sin and security, which has been the ruin of an infinite number of souls.

Besides this, you will have the greatest comfort of life, when you perceive that you are still growing in grace, and tending to that perfection which must fit you for Heaven.

On the other hand, if you turn you back upon this Ordinance, it must be because you will not be at the pains to understand your duty, your interest, and your danger.

You have not considered that there is no pardon, no grace, no salvation, to be hoped for, but by pleading with God what [363] His Son hath done, and suffered, and merited for us, and in the manner He has ordained.

And if you will consult your own conscience, it will tell you, that some of these following are the true, though most wretched causes of your contempt of this command of your Saviour's. Either you live in some known sin, or ungodly way of life, which you cannot resolve to forsake; or you are not willing to renew your vows made in Baptism; or, which is generally the case, you have no real concern for your soul; only you delude yourself with some faint purposes and hope, that some time or other you will become a new man.

In the mean time you are guilty of a sin too like the denying the Lord that bought you. You bring an evil report upon an Ordinance of Christ, as if it were not worth observing; you harden wicked people in their infidelity, and neglect of their salvation, by calling yourself a Christian, and living like a heathen, in the contempt of one of the greatest means of salvation. You live in a state, in which all you payers, whether public or private, whether for yourself or for others, will be rejected.

In short; you provoke God every day more and more to withdraw His grace,--to leave you to your own corrupt way of living, till you have filled up the measure of your sins, and prepared for yourself a sentence not to be heard without trembling; I tell you, that none of these men that were bidden, shall taste of my supper, the marriage supper of the Lamb in Heaven.

How great then must the sin of those be, who neglect to administer, and of those who turn their backs upon this Ordinance, upon which our salvation depends! It being the blood of Christ which must cleanse us from all sin (1 John i. 7).

Observations on receiving the Holy Sacrament worthily,
or unworthily

AFTER all, this is not to encourage any person to go to the Lord's Supper without a wedding garment, without a due regard to the duty. For a man may go so unworthily, as to receive judgement instead of a blessing.

For example; Such as live in any known sin unrepented [364] of; such as are not sincerely resolved to live and be governed by the known laws of the Gospel; such as live at variance with their neighbours, without being willing to be reconciled; such as have done wrong, and will not make satisfaction, as they are able; lastly, such as go out of mere custom, without considering the end or benefit of the Ordinance; and return to their usual sinful liberties as soon as the service is over.

All such ought to know that they went unworthily. And if they have any true concern for their souls, they will consider better, and lay themselves under stricter obligations before they go again to the Lord's Supper.

But then let them not, at the peril of their souls, deal deceitfully, and make this a pretence of neglecting to go to this Ordinance for the future; lest they provoke God to leave them to themselves, which is one of the greatest judgements that can befall them.

On the other hand, let not any well-meaning Christians be discouraged with fears of having gone unworthily to the Lord's Supper; and so forbear, because they do not find all the benefit and change wrought in them which they hoped for; but let them consider that a state of holiness and perfection is not to be expected at once, but by degrees, and as we make good use of the graces which the Holy Spirit from time to time vouchsafes to us:

A good Christian not being one who has no inclination to sin, but one who, through the grace of God, immediately checks and suffers not such inclination to grow into evil habits.

God, who knows our infirmities, will accept our sincere endeavours, though attended with imperfections and backslidings, provided we condemn ourselves for them, and strive to amend.

And let us remember for our comfort, that Jesus Christ Himself pronounced all His disciples (the traitor excepted) to be clean, that is, qualified to receive this Sacrament, which He was going to administer to them, although he [sic] knew them to be subject to very great failings and infirmities; which soon appeared, when they all forsook Him, contrary to their solemn promises. But this they repented of, and were forgiven by their compassionate Redeemer.

[365] If therefore you love GOD and your neighbour, though not so fervently as you could wish; if you have a real desire of being better than at present you find yourself to be; if the fruits of the Holy Spirit, though in a very low degree, do appear in your life; lastly, if you do daily pray for God's graces, that you may, in His good time, be what He would have you to be, and do not live in any known sin; by no means forbear to go to this Ordinance, as often as you have an opportunity; and depend upon God's blessing, and an increase of His graces.


GRANT, O God, that I may never draw down Thy judgements upon myself, either by turning my back upon this Ordinance, or by going to it without thought, and unworthily. May Thy mercy pardon what is past, and give me grace for the time to come, to consecrate my life to Thee, and to embrace every occasion of remembering my Redeemer's love, and thereby securing Thy favour, and my own salvation! And if it be Thy will, grant that I may always find such comfort and benefit in this Ordinance, as may encourage me to observe it with joy unto my life's end.

Give me leave to recommend to Thine infinite mercy the miserable condition of all such, as neglect so great means of grace and salvation. Awaken all Christian people into a sense of this duty; open their eyes, and correct their mistakes, that they may be convinced that this is the only means of making their peace with Thee, and of rendering their persons and their prayers acceptable to Thy Divine Majesty, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


[i] This title omitted.

[k] "shall" omitted

[l] This title omitted.

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