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Westminster Shorter Catechism Project

An Exposition of the Assembly's
Shorter Catechism

by John Flavel


Of the Duties of Communicants.

Q. 97. What is required to the worthy receiving of the Lordís Supper?
A. It is required of them that would worthily partake of the Lordís supper, that they examine themselves of their knowledge to discern the Lordís 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
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Q. 1. What are the duties of worthy receivers?
A. There are three sorts of duties incumbent on them; some antecedent to it, some concomitant of it, and some subsequent to it.

Q. 2. What are the antecedent duties to it?
A. They are two. (1.) Examination of their graces. (2.) Preparation of their souls. Examination of their graces; 1 Corinthians 11:28-29. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lordís body. And preparation of their souls; 1 Corinthians 5:8. Therefore 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.

Q. 3. What is the first grace to be tried?
A. Our saving knowledge of God in Christ, without which we cannot discern the Lordís body; 1 Corinthians 11:29. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lordís body.

Q. 4. What are we to enquire of, touching our knowledge of God in Christ?
A. We are to examine whether it be competent for quantity, and savingly operative and influential on the heart and life, for quality; Hosea 4:6. My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge, &c. 1 Corinthians 13:1. Though I speak with the tongues of men, and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as a sounding brass, or tinkling cymbal.

Q. 5. When is knowledge competent and influential?
A. When we truly understand, by the teachings of the Father, the sin and misery of the fall, the nature and necessity of Christ, and, under these convictions, come to him in the way of faith; John 6:45. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me. And subject ourselves to him in sincere obedience; Matthew 11:28-29. Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart; arid ye shall find rest unto your souls.

Q. 6. What are we to examine ourselves about, besides knowledge?
A. We are obliged to examine ourselves about our faith, whether we have it in any saving degree; 2 Corinthians 13:5. Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith: Prove yourselves, &c. For without faith we cannot please God; Hebrews 11:6. But without faith it is impossible to please God, &c. Nor enjoy spiritual communion with Christ; Ephesians 3:17. That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith: that ye being rooted and grounded in love, &c.

Q. 7. What other grace must be examined and sought for?
A. We must examine our love to Christ, and all that are his: because no gifts signify any thing without love; 1 Corinthians 13:2. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.

Q. 8. What else must worthy receivers examine themselves about?
A. The sincerity of their hearts, evidenced by their obedience; without which they cannot worthily approach the table; 1 Corinthians 5:8. Therefore 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.

Q. 9. But if, upon examination) we are in doubts about our faith and sincerity, must we forbear?
A. If our doubts arise from the weakness, and not the total want of grace, such doubts should not hinder us; Romans 14:1. Him that is weak in the faith, receive you, &c.

Q. 10. What is the danger of coming to the Lordís table without these graces?
A. The danger is exceeding great both to soul and body. (1.) To the soul; 1 Corinthians 11:29. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, &c. And to the body; 1 Corinthians 11:30. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.

Q. 11. What are the duties of worthy receivers at the Lordís table?
A. Their duties at the table are, to discern Christ by the eye of faith, under those signs of his body and blood; 1 Corinthians 11:29. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lordís body. On the discovery of him, to mourn bitterly for sin; Zechariah 12:10. And they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall he in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his first-born. And to excite all their graces into vigorous acts for the applying of Christ to themselves; Canticles 4:16. Awake, O north-wind, and come, thou south, blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out, &c.

Q. 12. What is the duty of worthy receivers, after the sacrament?
A. Their duty is, heartily to bless God for Christ, and the benefits of his blood, Matthew 26:30. And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives. To double their care and watchfulness against sin; Ephesians 4:30. And grieve not the Holy Spirit, whereby ye are sealed to the day of redemption. And to grow more fruitful in all spiritual obedience; Colossians 1:10. That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing; being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God.

Q. 13. What is the first inference from hence?
A. That the abuse and profanation of this ordinance, either by coming to it for carnal ends, or being forced upon it by fear of sufferings, or approaching to it without due qualifications, is a dreadful sin, which God will terribly avenge: Matthew 22:11-13. And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not a wedding-garment. And he saith unto him, Friend, how earnest thou in hither, not having on a wedding-garment? And he was speechless. Then said the king unto the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness: There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Q. 14. What is the second inference from hence?
A. That great and manifold are the blessings and advantages which Christians duly prepared may reap by this ordinance.

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