By Lewis Bayly
These means are duties of two sorts; the former respecting God, the latter, our neighbour. Those which respect God are three-First, Sound knowledge; secondly, True faith; thirdly, Unfeigned repentance. That which respecteth our neighbour is but one, sincere charity.
(1.) Of sound Knowledge, requisite in a worthy Communicant.
Sound knowledge is a sanctified understanding of the first, principles of religion: As first, Of the trinity of persons in the unity of the Godhead; secondly, Of the creation of man, and his fall; thirdly, Of the curse and misery due to sin; fourthly, Of the nature and offices of Christ, and redemption by faith in his death, especially of the doctrine of the sacraments, sealing the same unto us (Heb. vi. 1, 2; John xvii. 3; 1 Tim. ii. 4; 2 Cor. xiii. 5.) For as an house cannot be built unless the foundation be first laid, so no more can religion stand, unless it be first grounded upon the certain knowledge of God's word. Secondly, if we know not God's will, we can neither believe nor do the same. For as worldly businesses cannot be done but by them who have skill in them, so without knowledge must men be much more ignorant in divine and spiritual matters. And yet in temporal things a man may do much by the light of nature: but in religious mysteries, the more we rely upon natural reason, the further we are from comprehending spiritual truth (1 Cor. ii. 14; Rom. viii. 7;)-which discovers the fearful state of those who receive without knowledge, and the more fearful state of those pastors who minister to them without catechising.
(2.) Of sincere Faith, required to make a worthy Communicant.
Sincere faith is not a bare knowledge of the Scriptures and first grounds of religion-for that devils and reprobates have in an excellent measure, and do believe it and tremble (James ii. 19)-but a true persuasion, as of all those things whatsoever the Lord hath revealed in his word; so also a particular application to a man's own soul, of all the promises of mercy which God hath made in Christ to all believing sinners (Heb. iv. 2;) and consequently, that Christ and all his merits do belong to him, as well as to any other;-for first, if we have not the righteousness of faith (Rom. iv. 11), the sacrament seals nothing to us, and every man in the Lord's Supper receiveth so much as he believeth; secondly, because that without faith we communicating on earth, cannot apprehend Christ in heaven, for as he dwelleth in us by faith (Eph. iii. 17), so by faith we must likewise eat him; thirdly, because that without faith we cannot be persuaded in our consciences that our receiving is acceptable unto God (Heb. xi. 6; Rom. xiv. 23.)
(3.) Of unfeigned Repentance requisite for a true Communicant.
True repentance is a holy change of the mind, when upon the feeling sight of God's mercy, and of a man's own misery, he turneth from all his known and secret sins, to serve God in holiness and righteousness all the rest of his days (Isa. lv. 7; Ezek. xxxiii. 11; Acts xxvi. 29; iii. 19; Luke i. 74, 75:) for as he that is glutted with meat is not apt to eat bread, so he that is stuffed with sins, is not fit to receive Christ (Heb. ii. 13, 14; Tit. i. 15;) and a conscience defiled with wilful filthiness, makes the use of all holy things unholy to us. Our sacrificed spotless Passover cannot be eaten with the sour leaven of malice and wickedness, saith Paul (1 Cor. v. 8.) Neither can the old bottles of our corrupt and impure consciences, retain the new wine of Christ's precious blood, as our Saviour saith (Mark ii. 22.) We must therefore truly repent, if we will be worthy partakers.
(4.) The Duty to be performed in respect of our neighbour is Charity.
Charity is a hearty forgiving of others who have offended us, and after reconciliation, an outward unfeigned testifying of the inward affections of our hearts by gestures, words, and deeds, as oft as we meet, and occasion is offered;-for first, without love to our neighbour, no sacrifice is acceptable to God (Matt. v. 23, 24;) secondly, because one chief end wherefore the Lord's Supper was ordained, is to confirm the love of Christians one towards another (John xiii. 14, 34, 35;) thirdly, no man can assure himself that his own sins are forgiven of God, if his heart cannot yield to forgive the faults of men that have offended him (Matt. vi. 12, 14, 15; xviii. 35.)
Thus far of the first sort of duties which we are to perform before we come to the Lord's table, called preparation.