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The Duty of Constant Communion


I say ‘constantly’ receiving.  For as to the phrase of ‘frequent communion,’ it is absurd to the last degree.  If it means anything less than constant it means more than can be proved to be the duty of any man.  For if we are not obliged to communicate ‘constantly’, by what argument can it be proved that we are obliged to communicate ‘frequently’?  Yea, more than once a year, or once in seven years?  Or once before we die?  Every argument brought for this either proves that we ought to do it constantly, or proves nothing at all.  Therefore that indeterminate, unmeaning way of speaking ought to be laid aside by all men of understanding.


In order to prove that it is our duty to communicate constantly we may observe that the Holy Communion is to be considered either (1) as a command of God or (2) as a mercy to man.

First, as a command of God.  God, our Mediator and Governor, from whom we have received our life and all things, on whose will it depends whether we shall be perfectly happy or perfectly miserable from this moment to eternity, declares to us that all who obey his commands shall be eternally happy; all who do not shall be eternally miserable.  Now one of those commands is, ‘Do this in remembrance of me.’  I ask then, ‘Why do you not do this, when you can do it if you will?  When you have an opportunity before you, why do not you obey the command of God?’
3.  Perhaps you will say, ‘God does not command me to do this as often as I can’; that is, the words ‘as often as you can’ are not added in this particular place.  What then?  Are we not to obey every command of God as often as we can?  Are not all the promises of God made to those, and those only, who ‘give all diligence’; that is, to those who do all they can to obey his commandments?  Our power is the one rule of our duty.  Whatever we can do, that we ought.  With respect either to this or any other command, he that when he may obey it if he will does not, will have no place in the kingdom of heaven.
4. And this great truth, that we are obliged to keep every command as far as we can, is clearly proved from the absurdity of the contrary opinion; for were we to allow that we are not obliged to obey every commandment of God as often as we can, we have no argument left to prove that any man is bound to obey any command at any time.  For instance, should I ask a man why he does not help his parents – he might answer, ‘I will not do it now, but I will at another time.’  When that time comes, put him in mind of God’s command again and he will say, ‘I will obey it some time or other.’  Nor is it possible ever to prove that he ought to do it now, unless by proving that he ought to do it as often as he can: and therefore he ought to do it now, because he can if he will.
5.  Consider the Lord’s Supper, secondly, as a mercy from God to man.  As God, whose mercy is over all his works, and particularly over the children of men, knew there was but one way for man to be happy like himself, namely, by being like him in holiness; as he knew we could do nothing toward this of ourselves, he has given us certain means of obtaining his help.  One of these is the Lord’s Supper, which of his infinite mercy he hath given for this very end: that through this means we may be assisted to attain those blessings which he hath prepared for us; that we may obtain holiness on earth and everlasting glory in heaven.
I ask, then, why do you not accept of his mercy as often as ever you can?  God now offers you his blessing: why do you refuse it?  You have an opportunity of receiving his mercy: why do you not receive it?  You are weak: why do not you seize upon every opportunity of increasing your strength?  In a word: considering this as a command of God, he that does not communicate as often as he can has no piety; considering it as a mercy, he that does not communicate as often as he can has no wisdom.
6. These two considerations will yield a full answer to all the common objections which have been made against constant communion; indeed to all that ever were or can be made.  In truth nothing can be objected against it but upon supposition that at this particular time, either the communion would be no mercy, or I am not commanded to receive it.  Nay, should we grant it would be no mercy, that is not enough; for still the other reason would hold: whether it does you any good or none, you are to obey the command of God.
7. Let us see the particular excuses which men commonly make for not obeying it.  The most common is, ‘I am unworthy; and “he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself.”  Therefore I dare not communicate, lest I should eat and drink my own damnation.’
The case is this.  God offers you one of the greatest mercies on this side of heaven, and commands you to accept it.  Why do not you accept this mercy in obedience to his command?  You say, ‘I am unworthy to receive it.’  And what then?  You are unworthy to receive any mercy from God.  But is that a reason for refusing all mercy?  God offers you a pardon for all your sins.  You are unworthy of it, ‘tis sure, and he knows it: but since he is please to offer it nevertheless, will not you accept of it?  He offers to deliver your soul from death.  You are unworthy to live.  But will you therefore refuse life?  He offers to endue your soul with new strength.  Because you are unworthy of it, will you deny to take it?  What can God himself do for us farther, if we refuse his mercy, even because we are unworthy of it?

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