“Strict” or Closed Communion

Mark 9:38
      We forbad him, because he followeth not us.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): When I hear strict communion talked of, it reminds me of a little finger which was washed very clean, and therefore thought the rest of the body too filthy to have fellowship with it, so it took a piece of red tape and bound it tightly round itself, that the lifeblood might not flow from itself into the rest of the body. What think you, brethren? Why, as long as that little finger was itself alive, the pulsations and the motions of the blood went from it to all the rest of the body, and that little piece of red tape there was but a ridiculous sham, it did not affect anything; it had not influence; it only enabled the little finger boastfully to glory, and perhaps to earn for itself the sad distinction: These be they that separate themselves. But the blood flowed on unimpeded, and the nerves and sinews felt the common life-throb still.
       They forgot, when they denied fellowship in the outward act of eating bread and drinking wine, that the essential spirit of communion was far too spiritual to be thus restrained, it had overleaped their boundary and was gone. The only way in which a Christian can leave off communing with all other Christians is by leaving off being a Christian. Thus can the finger leave off communing with the rest of the body—by rotting away, and no how else, as long as it is alive. Communion is the lifeblood of the soul. The Holy Ghost will go into every member, and you may try to check Him by Church decrees, or to stop Him by your trust-deeds and your ordinances, that such-and-such a Church shall never be loosed from the bands of ancestral bigotry, but the Church’s life will beat freely through all the members of the Church’s fellowship, and communion will go to all who are in Christ.

ROBERT MURRAY M’CHEYNE (1813-1843): When [Rowland Hill] had preached in a [Baptist] chapel where none but baptized adults were admitted to the sacrament, he wished to have communicated with them, but was told respectfully, ‘You cannot sit down at our table.’ He only calmly replied, “I thought it was the Lord’s table.”

ROWLAND HILL (1744-1833): The Baptist congregation at Northampton has at all times held a warm place in my affections and regard, as it respects their love to all who love the Lord Jesus in sincerity, and prove the same by a holy correspondent life and conversation. In this sense only we should hold what may be called strict communion, but when our communion with each other is found inadmissible on a count of our less important differences about the mere circumstantials of religion, or the administration of a religious ordinance, this should not be called strict but sectarian communion.

WILLIAM JAY (1769-1853): This brings to mind the following occurrence―though [John Ryland] was a firm Baptist, he was no friend to bigotry or exclusiveness. He warmly advocated the cause of mixed communion, and republished Bunyan’s reasons for the practice, with the addition of some of his own…
       I was one day to dine with him at a friend’s house: the company was large: and, while waiting for dinner, a minister asked his opinion concerning strict communion and excluding pious men from the Lord’s table. “You decide the thing by calling it the Lord’s table,” he replied. “Suppose, sir, when I entered this room, I had taken upon me to say, ‘Mr. such-a-one, you shall not sit down at this table; and Mrs. Such-a-one, you shall not sit down at this table?’ What would Mr. D., the master of the house, say? ‘Why, John Ryland, you have forgotten yourself. You are not the owner of this table, but the master is. The table is mine, and I have a right to invite them; and I have invited them; and is it for you to forbid them?’ So in the church. The table is the Lord’s; and all who are called by His grace are His guests, and He has bidden them.”

C. H. MACKINTOSH (1820-1896): If we could only bear in mind that the Lord Himself presides at the table to dispense the bread and wine; if we could hear Him say, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves,” we should be better able to meet all our brethren on the only Christian ground of fellowship which God can own. In a word, the person of Christ is the centre of union; the word is, Receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God, Romans 15:7.

HUGH MARTIN (1822-1885): In a word, those that are Christ’s are welcome; those that are not are forbidden…In the name of Christ, who spreads this table and presides over all its feast and fellowship, we invite those that are Christ’s, those who have crucified the flesh with its affections and lusts―you are to come to the table of the Lord for special communion with Him.

PHILIP DODDRIDGE (1702-1751): May thy table, O Lord! be furnished with guests, and may all that love thy salvation say Let the Lord be magnified, who hath pleasure in the prosperity of his servants, Psalm 35:27

MARY BOWLEY PETERS (1813-1856): By thee, O God, invited, we look unto the Son.

C. H. SPURGEON: Amidst us our Beloved stands, and bids us view His pierced hands;
                                         Points to the wounded feet and side, blest emblems of the crucified.
                                      What food luxurious loads the board, when, at His table, sits the Lord!
                               The wine how rich, the bread how sweet, when Jesus deigns the guests to meet!

 

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