Habitual Absence from the Lord’s Supper

I Samuel 20:27, 26
       Wherefore cometh not the son of Jesse to meat, neither yesterday, nor to day? Something hath befallen him, he is not clean; surely he is not clean.

J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): Our Lord Jesus most distinctly commanded His disciples to “eat bread” and “drink wine” in remembrance of Him. What right has any Christian to disobey this commandment?—It is impossible to say that any professing Christian is in a safe, healthy, or satisfactory condition of soul, who habitually refuses to obey Christ and attend the Lord’s table.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): “This do ye in remembrance of me,” He says, and yet some of you never come to His table. May I gently ask you, how you make this disobedience consort with genuine affection for Him? “If ye love me, keep my commandments,” John 14:15.

C. H. MACKINTOSH (1820-1896): There is too much lightness and indifference in the minds of Christians as to the matter of their attendance at the table of the Lord; and where there is not this indifference, there is an unwillingness arising from imperfect views of justification.

ZACHARIAS URSINUS (1534-1583): That some neglect the communion, or defer it even until death, arises no doubt from a wrong notion or influence, either because they will not commune with others, or because they think that they are not worthy.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): Some go to the extreme of urging a perfection that cannot be found anywhere.

J. C. RYLE: They wait and stand still, under the mistaken notion that no one is qualified for the Lord’s Supper unless he feels within him something like perfection. They pitch their idea of a communicant so high that they despair of attaining to it. Waiting for inward perfection they live, and waiting for it too often they die. Now such persons would do well to understand that they are completely mistaken in their estimate of what “worthiness” really is. They are forgetting that the Lord’s Supper was not intended for unsinning angels, but for men and women compassed with infirmity, dwelling in a world full of temptations, and needing mercy and grace every day.

RICHARD SIBBES (1577-1635): The Sacrament was ordained not for angels, but for men; and not for perfect men, but for weak men.

J. C. RYLE: A sense of our own utter unworthiness is the best worthiness we can bring. A deep feeling of our own entire indebtedness to Christ for all we have and hope for, is the best feeling we can bring with us…If they are waiting till they feel in themselves perfect hearts, perfect motives, perfect feelings, perfect repentance, perfect love, perfect faith, they will wait for ever. There never were such communicants—there never will be as long as the world stands.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): When you look within, it should be to see with grief what the filthiness is; but to get rid of that filthiness you must look beyond yourself. I remember D. L. Moody saying that a looking-glass was a capital thing to show you the spots on your face; but you could not wash in a looking-glass. You want something every different when you would make your face clean. So let your eyes look right on―“To the full atonement made, to the utmost ransom paid.” Forget yourself, and think only of Christ.

MARY WINSLOW (1774-1854): Precious friend, look full at Jesus. Look no longer to your own weak, sinful heart…All your trouble arises from your looking for evidences within; and when Satan blinds your eye, and you cannot find them directly you think you have no part or lot in this matter. Your salvation does not hinge in the slightest degree upon what is done in you or by you, but what Christ has done for sinners…Now, faith does not consist in believing that I am a believer, but in believing in Jesus Christ.

J. C. RYLE: Some object to be communicants because they see others coming to the Lord’s Table who are not worthy, and not in a right state of mind. Because others eat and drink unworthily, they refuse to eat and drink at all. Of all the ground taken up by non-communicants to justify their own neglect of Christ’s ordinance, I must plainly say, I know none which seems to me so foolish, so weak, so unreasonable, and so unscriptural as this―it is taking up ground for which there is no warrant in Scripture. Paul rebukes the Corinthians sharply for the irreverent behaviour of some of the communicants; but I cannot find him giving a single hint that when some came to the Table unworthily, others ought to draw back or stay away.

C. H. SPURGEON: I have known at the communion table a person to say, “I cannot sit down there, because in my judgment such a person is allowed to sit down who is unworthy.” Now, dear friend, your course is plain. If you are aware of anything wrong in a church member—grievously wrong—there are proper authorities of the church to whom, not in a spirit of gossiping, but in a spirit of righteous love for the purity of the church, you ought to communicate this fact. But you are not infallible yourself, and therefore it may happen that you have misjudged this individual, and your responsibility will cease when you have done what you believe to be your duty in that matter. If, then, it should seem to those who are set over the church that it is not a fault as you think it is, or that it is not proved, or if they think it not such a fault as should exclude the person, you have nothing further to do with it. It is your business to come to the table of the Lord, and to observe His command, whoever may be there; for, believe me, if you never come to a communion table unless you feel sure that everybody there is perfect, I think you ought to stop away if for no other reason than this—you are not perfect yourself.

J. C. RYLE: Perfect churches, perfect congregations, perfect bodies of communicants, are all unattainable in this world of confusion and sin…Let us not starve our own selves because others are ignorant sinners, and turn their meat into poison. If others are foolish enough to eat and drink unworthily, let us not turn our backs on Christ’s ordinance, and refuse to eat and drink at all.

C. H. MACKINTOSH: Beloved Christian reader, if you are in habit of absenting yourself―I pray you to ponder the matter before the Lord ere you absent yourself again. Reflect upon the pernicious effect of your absence in every way. You are failing in your testimony for Christ.

J. C. RYLE: The man who coolly and deliberately refuses to use an ordinance which the Lord Jesus Christ appointed for his profit, may be very sure that his soul is in a very wrong state.


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