by Rev. William Smith (1834)
The Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 97
Q. 97. What is required to the worthy receiving of the Lord’s supper?
A. It is required of them that would worthily partake of the Lord’s supper, that they examine themselves of their knowledge to discern the Lord’s body, of their faith to feed upon him, of their repentance, love, and new obedience, lest coming unworthily, they eat and drink judgment to themselves.
Worthily partake. –Receive the Lord’s supper, or eat the bread and drink the wine, with hearts properly prepared for it.
That they examine themselves. –That they make a strict inquiry into the state of their souls, and try their own characters by the word of God.
To discern the Lord’s body. –To understand fully what is meant by the bread and wine in this holy ordinance; that the one represents or signifies the body of Christ, which was broken, and the other his blood, which was shed for the salvation of his people.
To feed upon Christ by faith. –To receive Christ, to become intimately united to him, and to derive blessings from him by trusting in him.
Repentance. –New obedience. See Explic. Q. 87.
Coming unworthily, –Approaching to the Lord’s table without a fit or suitable temper of mind.
Eat and drink judgment to themselves. –Expose themselves to God’s displeasure, by eating and drinking thus unworthily, and thereby draw down a punishment upon themselves instead of a blessings.
We are here taught three things respecting the manner of partaking the Lord’s supper:
[Text missing from this copy] is necessary to the worthy receiving of the Lord’s supper, and that it must extend to five points: –
(1.) Worthy receivers, before coming to the Lord’s table, must examine themselves of their knowledge. –1. Cor. xi. 28, 29. Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. He that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation (that is judgment) to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.
(2.) That they must also examine themselves of their faith. –2 Cor. xiii. 5. Examine yourselves whether ye be in the faith.
(3.) That they must likewise examine their repentance. –1 Cor. xi. 31. For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.
(4.) That all worthy receivers, before coming to the Lord’s table, must also examine themselves of their love. –1 Cor. x. 17. For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.
(5.) That they must also examine themselves of their new obedience. –1 Cor. v. 8. Let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
2. This answer teaches us, in the second place, why knowledge and faith are necessary to a worthy partaking of the Lord’s supper:–
(1.) It shows us that knowledge is necessary to discern the Lord’s body. –1 Cor. xi. 29. He that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation (or judgment) to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.
(2.) That faith is also necessary to feed upon Christ. –John vi. 57. He that eateth me, even he shall live by me.
3. We are here also taught in the third place, the danger of an unworthy partaking of this holy sacrament, that those who do so, shall eat and drink judgment, or punishment, to themselves. –See 1 Cor. xi. 29. as quoted above.