PREPARATION FOR THE LORD’S SUPPER
Excerpted from Wilhelmus à Brakel, The Christian’s Reasonable Service, 2.569–89
Part 2 of 2


Last Sabbath, we considered the first part of this excellent article on preparation for the Lord’s Supper, where ô Brakel describes how a “stimulating of desire” is necessary for proper preparation for the Supper. In this issue, we continue with the remaining two aspects that are needful for our preparation.


The Second Aspect of Preparation:
An Examination of Self


The second requisite for preparation is self-examination, that is, the determination as to whether one is permitted and able to come to the table in order to eat and drink spiritually. To that end we shall consider (1) that self-examination is necessary; (2) that the unconverted are not permitted to come to the table; (3) that the converted may not stay away from the table; and (4) the manner in which weak believers must encourage themselves.


Self-examination prior to attending the Lord’s Supper is a very necessary work, for it is, first of all, an express command. “But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup” (1 Cor 11:28).


Secondly, this supper is not intended for everyone; a stranger, an uncircumcised person, and one who was unclean were not permitted to eat the Passover (Ex 12). “But unto the wicked God saith, What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth?” (Ps 50:16). Christ invites friends (Song 5:1), and those who hunger and thirst (Isa 55:1).


Thirdly, it is a dreadful sin to eat and drink unworthily. “Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord” (1 Cor 11:27). A dreadful judgment hangs over the head of such persons. “For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body” (1 Cor 11:29).


Fourthly, many have a wrong perception of themselves; they measure themselves by themselves. They deem themselves to be fit, for they have no disagreement with their neighbour, are baptised, diligently go to hear God’s Word, live in such a manner that no one can say anything about them, and believe that Christ is the Saviour—one must thus not doubt that he will also be saved and that Christ is also his Saviour. Therefore all is truly well—Christ invites and commands us, and I then wish to be obedient to the Lord in this respect. Others add to this the fact that, prior to that time, they refrain from indulging in their bosom sins, read pious books, and pray more frequently. One thus puts himself into a pious mould and peacefully attends, eating and drinking judgment to himself.


Fifthly, many are not capable of examining themselves. They are not familiar with the marks which all must have who will attend the Lord’s Supper; they are not acquainted with themselves, nor do they know that a person must examine himself. They thus attend without self-examination and bring God’s wrath upon them.


Sixthly, many do not want to examine themselves, for they know that it would not turn out well. They would then become anxious and doubt their salvation. They perhaps would not dare to go to the Lord’s Supper—but what would people then say of them? Therefore they keep the lid on the pot and peacefully live on in their sins, aggravating all this by eating and drinking unworthily. Is it therefore not very necessary that everyone perceive what his condition is?


Seventhly, if you engage yourself in the duty of self-examination, using God’s Word as a touchstone, an earnestness and concern will begin to manifest themselves. If you perceive yourself to be unconverted, or if you doubt your conversion, you will begin to seek, pray, weep, and flee unto Jesus. If you may perceive true grace within yourself, this will engender joy and liberty to partake by faith. It is therefore evident from all this how necessary and beneficial it is to examine oneself.


An unconverted person may not attend. A stranger, one who was uncircumcised, or an unclean person, was not permitted to eat the Passover; likewise they may also not eat the bread and drink this cup. For the unconverted there is not a single promise, and thus there is also no sealing function. The unconverted are dead in sins and trespasses; however, dead persons cannot eat; faith is the mouth and the hand of the soul. The unconverted have no faith and thus they cannot eat of that bread which has been prepared for believers only. If they nevertheless do so, they must know that they make a mockery of Christ, make themselves guilty of the body and blood of Christ. With the Jews, they, so to speak, crucify Him anew.


Question: Who are the unconverted?


Answer: (1) They are ignorant persons who do not even have an intellectual knowledge of Christ’s person, natures, suretyship, humiliation, and exaltation, nor of the necessity of the atonement and the efficacy of Christ’s death. They are those who as yet have no knowledge of the essence of faith, regeneration, spiritual life, God’s righteousness, and the sinner’s state of condemnation; they neither understand the essence of the Lord’s Supper, know not how to unite the sign with the matter signified, nor understand its sealing function.


(2) They are not humbled by their sins and can live peacefully without seeking for reconciliation in Christ. They neither long for a conscious knowledge that their sins are forgiven, nor do they long for comfort, the assurance of salvation, sanctification, and a life in the presence of God. They live carelessly and peacefully without being partakers of these matters.


(3) They have no exercise of faith, nor are they engaged in choosing Christ to be their Surety, in longing for Him, yearning for Him, fleeing to Him with prayers and supplications, receiving Him unto justification and sanctification, surrendering to Him, making Him the heart’s desire, and living in union with Him.


(4) Their life is entirely in this world. They desire, long for, seek, concern themselves with, love, delight in, and are anxious about earthly things only; that is, the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life. This can be true whether one lives a civil life in an external sense and is religious, or one, either openly or secretly, indulges in blatant sin.


They who are thus, are unconverted; they must realise this. Such we warn most earnestly that they ought not to be emboldened to come to the holy table, and we declare to them that they are neither partakers of Christ nor of His benefits. The Lord’s Supper is not for them, and if they nevertheless attend, we pronounce the wrath of God upon them.


Converted persons (if they are healthy and have the opportunity to partake) may not refrain from partaking, for it a) is contrary to the friendly invitation of Christ; b) is detrimental to their own comfort; c) impedes their growth; d) contradicts their confession of Christ; and e) is detrimental to the communion of saints, running counter to all the good things which we have enumerated above. When believers make themselves unworthy of the Lord’s Supper by giving offence, living in strife and hatred, or cleaving to a given sin to such an extent that prior to the event they do not wish to make a full resolution to part therewith, they sin in a double measure and ought to humble themselves deeply before the Lord. Let such remain in the sanctuary during the administration of the Lord’s Supper, stand afar off, and observe the partaking of the Lord’s Supper by believers. Let them thus mourn by themselves and think, “I may not be among them.”


Question: What must a person do who, in examining himself, can neither arrive at the knowledge of his state nor conclude whether he is converted? Certainly, such a person may refrain from partaking, may he not?


Answer: One ought never to consider it a privilege if he does not partake; rather, it must cause great sorrow if he is not permitted to come forward, and must refrain from partaking. It is entirely wrong to seek for reasons to refrain from partaking, and thus to pacify the conscience. It is not a requisite for partaking that a person have a complete, steadfast, and active assurance which renders him free from concern as to whether he is in the state of grace—an assurance by which he reflexively appropriates grace. Rather, it is sufficient for one to be assured of the extrinsic acts of faith and repentance, even if one dare not draw the conclusion: I believe and am converted.


(1) A true believer will perceive within himself that with all his heart—albeit the one time more perceptibly than at other times—he yearns for the Lord Jesus in order to be justified by His blood, to be clothed with His holiness as merited by His fulfilment of the law, and to be renewed and sanctified by His Spirit. He will perceive that he yearns for, longs for, cries after, flees to, waits upon, and surrenders himself to Him. He wrestles against unbelief in order that he may bring Jesus into his heart, and to be assured that he believes in Him and is a partaker of Him and His benefits.


(2) He will perceive that he cannot be satisfied with believing that he has received grace. He desires with all his heart the possession, the enjoyment, and the relish of the benefits of the covenant. He will perceive that he is enamoured with being truly united to God, with a life in which there is an impression of the Lord’s presence, with peace of conscience, and with the love and fear of the Lord. When he misses this, he is troubled, and if he has lost this, he cannot rest until he receives it by renewal; for this is his life, delight, and felicity.


(3) He will perceive within himself a hatred and distaste for sin, a grief when he sins, a repeated rising again and a fleeing to the blood of Jesus unto reconciliation, and a delight and love to live a life which is pleasing to the Lord. He perceives within himself a warfare between the flesh and the spirit. The lusts of the world continually draw him to the world and away from God, whereas the spirit—that which has been regenerated, his spiritual life within him—continually draws him away from sin unto God. He also perceives, to his grief, that the flesh at times has the upper hand in this battle, whereas at other times, to his joy, the spirit prevails.


If someone perceives that these frames and exercises are truly to be found within him, he will be able to come to the table, even if he lacks clear assurance. Many believers lack this assurance either due to ignorance of the Word, weakness of their historical faith, fear of deceiving themselves, or they may see so much sin coexisting with grace. Such may not refrain from partaking, but rather are obligated to come forward with the multitude which keeps holyday, so that by using the signs, the promises—which are made to such as have just been mentioned—may be sealed to them.


The Third Aspect of Preparation:
Spiritual Adornment


The third requisite for preparation is spiritual adornment. When someone is to attend a wedding, he adorns himself with the very best that he has. A bride will adorn herself in a most excellent manner so that she may be desirable to her husband and honour him. Much more must a believer do this in order that the King may delight in his beauty. The guest who also sat down, but was without a wedding garment, was soon identified and cast out (Mt 22:12–13). This is meant as a warning, but also as an exhortation to put on a wedding garment.


This spiritual adornment consists, first of all, in an enlivening of historical faithby a quiet meditation and reflection upon the entire work of redemption, together with approval of and joy over the goodness, wisdom, righteousness, power, and truth of God which manifest themselves in the work of redemption.


(1) In your thoughts ascend to the fountain of all this: eternal election. Consider that from eternity it has been God’s good pleasure to reveal His righteousness and mercy, in order to give reason for adoration, joy, thanksgiving, the magnification of God, and thus for felicity. Consider that He has furthermore determined that to that end some angels and human beings be punished for their sins, and has ordained others, due only to His grace and sovereign good pleasure, to be the recipients of eternal blessedness.


(2) From there proceed to a reflection upon the covenant of redemption, or the Counsel of Peace: The Son would be Surety for the elect who due to their own wantonness would fall away from God and subject themselves to a temporal and eternal curse. Consider how it was determined that He would assume the human nature in unity of His person, and as Surety would take upon Himself their sins as His own, satisfying the justice of God by His suffering and death, accomplishing everything which was needful to bring them to felicity.


(3) Then descend to the creation of man and to the breaking of the covenant of works. From there, proceed to the promises of the Mediator, to all the shadows and sacrifices by which God’s people were taught how the promised Saviour would deliver and save them, taking note how believers yearned for the fulfilment of the promise.


(4) Furthermore, consider that the promised Messiah came into the world after approximately four thousand years, assuming the human nature from the Virgin Mary in unity of person, and thus entered into a state in which He could execute His Suretyship. Consider how the Lord Jesus, from His birth, has taken upon Himself with such willingness and love the curse which was upon the elect, and therefore immediately had everything against Him. He was born in poverty, and as an outcast was laid in a manger in the rear of a stable. He had to flee from the persecution of Herod, and in the sweat of His brow He ate His bread. Upon the initiation of His public ministry, He was first violently assaulted by the devil in the wilderness. He traversed the entire country, preaching with great power to bring men to repentance and salvation. Moved by deep compassion He healed those who had various sorts of misery; He healed the blind, deaf, dumb, and lame; He cast out devils and resurrected the dead, to the comfort of those that mourned. However, He also immediately experienced the wrath and slander of the Pharisees and scribes who endeavoured to make Him despised, and subsequently conspired to put Him to death.


(5) Having finished His course, the wrath of God was poured out upon Him in such measure—due to the sins of the elect which He had taken upon Himself—that He became sorrowful, even unto death. He prayed with strong crying and tears, and the bloody sweat dripped from His countenance to the earth; He indeed went to His disciples, but none supported Him. He was betrayed by His own disciple, Judas, captured by His enemies, dragged away cruelly as a murderer, placed before the ecclesiastical council, falsely accused, and condemned to death as a blasphemer. Furthermore, He was mocked, spat in the face, beaten with fists, delivered to the Gentile judge, Pilate, brought to Herod, and led along the streets in a robe of mockery. His crucifixion was demanded by the people (having been stirred up by the chief priests). He was crowned with a crown of thorns as an act of mockery, and beaten over the head with sticks. He was condemned to death, led from Jerusalem to Golgotha while bearing the cross, nailed to the cross—the nails being driven into the wood through His hands and feet—and was raised up along with the cross, thus being suspended between heaven and earth. There hung this beloved Jesus—covered with blood from head to toe, experiencing the most excruciating pain, and enduring the greatest shame imaginable. He furthermore had to see the joy of His enemies, the shaking of their heads, and the pointing of their fingers, as well as hear all sorts of biting words of slander. God withdrew all light and the manifestation of His favour from Him, and filled Him instead with His anger and wrath. He cried out in the anguish of His spirit, “My God! My God! why hast Thou forsaken Me?” He suffered from a painful thirst; in response to which vinegar mixed with gall was given Him as a drink. The sun was darkened so that an oppressive darkness troubled Him even more, and last of all He gave up the ghost. All this was comprehended in being Surety for a sinner; and, true believers who read or hear this, it was in this manner that He paid the ransom for you.


(6) He was buried and on the third day rose again from the dead. After forty days He ascended into heaven, and received the very greatest honour and glory at the right hand of the Father—and will return as Judge upon the clouds to judge the children of men.


The quiet and thoughtful contemplation of all this is one’s duty around the time of the Lord’s Supper, for by this, one remembers Him and shows forth His death. The contemplation of this will engender a clearer impression of God’s righteousness, the necessity of satisfaction, the love of Christ, the severity of His suffering, and the resultant efficacy of the atonement.


Proceed from this point to the contemplation of the way by which God brings the elect into fellowship with the Saviour. God causes the gospel to be preached at various places in the world, sends forth ministers to proclaim it, and calls His own by His Word—not only externally, as He does with many, but also internally. He illuminates them, convicts them, gives them a desire after the Lord Jesus, draws them to Him, and gives them faith whereby they receive Christ and entrust themselves to Him for justification, sanctification, and salvation. God thus regenerates them, makes them new creatures, leads each of them according to His counsel, and at last takes them into the glory merited by Christ. Simultaneously, meditate upon those ways by which the Lord has brought you hitherto—at each point you will thus observe wondrous things. You will be strengthened in the truth, joyfully approve of this, quietly be led into the truth, and thus be guided to glory by His counsel.


Secondly, spiritual adornment consists in the endeavour to come into a spiritual frame whereby one can be an object of free grace. This transpires when you observe yourself in reference to your insignificance and sinfulness in order to be humbled thereby. Those who are in such a condition are suitable objects of grace. “… for God… giveth grace to the humble” (1 Pet 5:5); “I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones” (Isa 57:15); “… I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Mt 9:13). Therefore, think as follows: “What am I, poor worm, that the Lord should remember me! I am a man whose origin is in the dust, who dwells in a vessel of clay, carrying about in my flesh the worms of corruption, and am but a dry root and nothing at all. Will such a one enter into covenant with God, be a child of the Lord of lords, and hereafter have communion and fellowship with this glorious and all-sufficient God? Furthermore, I am nothing but sin, and by nature I miss the image of God; instead, the image of the abominable devil was in me. What abominations this wicked heart has brought forth—not only prior to my conversion, but also yet after my conversion! What sins I have committed in thoughts, words, and deeds at such and such a location, at such and such a time, in the presence of, and together with such and such a person, as well as in solitude! How void of desire and spirituality, and how sinful I am in my religion; that is, in hearing and reading the Word of God and in praying and singing! How unfaithful I am in reference to grace received, and how I have grieved the Holy Spirit! Truly, I am not worthy that God would look down upon me and bestow any grace upon me at all.” Reflect upon this for some time until you are rightly affected by these matters and sink away in your sinfulness. This is not so that you become unbelieving and disown your state, nor be terrified and devastated by the law and the prospect of eternal condemnation—as if this alone were the right manner of being humbled. No, such terrors are generally experienced at the outset of conversion. However, the conviction of one in whose heart there is faith is not of this sort. Rather, the humility to which we are here referring consists of these frames:


(1) Humbleness of heart: “I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies” (Gen 32:10); “Who am I, O Lord GOD? and what is my house, that Thou hast brought me hitherto?” (2 Sam 7:18); “… I… am no more worthy to be called Thy son” (Lk 15:21).


(2) Evangelical shame accompanied by faith: “I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to Thee, my God: for our iniquities are increased over our head, and our trespass is grown up unto the heavens” (Ezra 9:6).


(3) Sorrow over the sinfulness of sin: “For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against Thee, Thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Thy sight” (Ps 51:3–4).


(4) A humbling abhorrence of self: “I have sinned greatly in that I have done: and now, I beseech Thee, O LORD, take away the iniquity of Thy servant; for I have done very foolishly” (2 Sam 24:10).


(5) A being fearful of the rod: “O LORD, rebuke me not in Thine anger, neither chasten me in Thy hot displeasure” (Ps 6:1).


(6) Confession of sin, coupled with the acknowledgement of it being hateful and condemnable: “I acknowledged my sin unto Thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD” (Ps 32:5).


(7) Heartfelt prayers for forgiveness and peace of conscience: “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of Thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. Hide Thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities” (Ps 51:1–2, 9).


(8) A lifting up of the heart by believing the promises made to those who confess their sins: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 Jn 1:9). These are the humble frames of the heart upon which God bestows His free grace and these are the adornments in which the Lord Jesus finds a delight. Pray for such frames, and highly esteem them if you may have them.


Thirdly, this spiritual adornment consists in a restoration in and renewal of the covenant of grace. Israel did likewise, for we read, “And they entered into a covenant to seek the LORD God of their fathers with all their heart and with all their soul; And they sware unto the LORD with a loud voice, and with shouting, and with trumpets, and with cornets. And all Judah rejoiced at the oath: for they had sworn with all their heart, and sought him with their whole desire; and he was found of them” (2 Chr 15:12, 14–15). It is true that this covenant, which once has been made, remains sure to all eternity. “Neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed” (Isa 54:10); “And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me” (Jer 32:40). Some frequently come into darkness, however, and doubt if they have ever rightly entered into the covenant and are concerned whether they are partakers of Christ. Others miss a lively frame, and the joy of being in covenant with God. The lustre of the benefits of this covenant is so obscure for them. It is therefore beneficial and necessary to renew the covenant. Therefore quietly meditate upon the miserable, sinful, condemnable, impotent, and abominable state of those who are outside of the covenant of grace. Consider that you yourself were once one of these. Consider, on the other hand, how blessed it is to be in the covenant of grace, to be a partaker of its excellent benefits, and how surely and perfectly it has been established in the death of the Lord Jesus. Be enamoured with this state. Give heed therefore to the sincere, earnest, and urgent invitation and calling of the Lord Jesus; listen to His lovely voice. Stir up your desires thereby and by way of that covenant surrender yourself earnestly and willingly to the Lord Jesus as if you had never done so before, saying, “I now do this with my whole heart and by this covenant I wish to, and shall, live and die.”


Fourthly, this spiritual adornment consists in a sincere resolution to lead a more holy life. “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” (1 Cor 5:8); “Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine which I have mingled. Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding” (Prov 9:5–6). You must not only make a general resolution, but it must relate to specific sins, as well as to specific virtue. To that end, there must be an enlivened desire for holiness: “O that my ways were directed to keep Thy statutes!” (Ps 119:5); a wholehearted initiative: “I have inclined mine heart to perform Thy statutes alway, even unto the end” (Ps 119:112); and there must be earnest prayer for help, being aware of your impotence: “Order my steps in Thy Word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me” (Ps 119:133); “Teach me to do Thy will; for Thou art my God: Thy Spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness” (Ps 143:10). If the soul may be conscious of her sincerity in this, she will be at liberty to approach to the Lord. “If our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God” (1 Jn 3:21).


Fifthly, spiritual adornment also consists in having an esteem for the Church. “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy” (Ps 137:5–6). The Church consists of the people of God, the beloved of the Lord, the body of the Lord Jesus, and the kingdom of Christ, and is a city adorned upon a hill, a light in the world, a terror to the kings of the earth (not due to her physical power, but rather, her heavenly disposition), awe-inspiring to the ungodly, the delight of the godly, an ornament of the entire earth, a goodly bonnet in the hand of God, and the glory of Christ! The Church is the object of God’s goodness and benevolence. “All my springs are in Thee” (Ps 87:7). The supervision and protection of the Lord provide a safe hiding place. “I the LORD do keep it (the vineyard); I will water it every moment: lest any hurt it, I will keep it night and day” (Isa 27:3). What bliss it is to be among those saints and glorious persons and, with them, to appear before the countenance of the Lord, to confess Jesus, to glorify God, and to receive a blessing! Who would not be carried away with desires to be among them, and with them endure the sweet and the bitter, prosperity and adversity? Moses conducted himself as such: “By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt” (Heb 11:24–26).


Sixthly, spiritual adornment also consists in having a heart which is moved in love toward all God’s children, regardless of whether one knows them or not—yes, a heart filled with love which extends to all men. “And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity” (2 Pet 1:7).


At the Lord’s Supper communion is exercised with all believers. It is a communion which cannot but function by the love of the heart manifesting itself. Here the heart must be examined carefully as to whether there is any hatred, envy, or vengefulness—and if there is, special care must first be given to its removal. One must also consider whether there have been any differences or discord between you and your neighbour—be it that you have offended him with deeds, words, or facial expressions, or that your neighbour is of the opinion that you have not conducted yourself well toward him. It could also be that your neighbour has offended you and you did not behave yourself correctly toward him in defending yourself. Give heed to this and do not readily pass over this. Do not allow yourself to be blinded by self-love, neither be your own judge, nor insist upon your rights to the utmost, but rather accommodate him as much as the truth will suffer you to do. Do not demand that your neighbour be humbled before you, nor triumph over him, but be the least, even if he is the more guilty one, is younger in years, and is of lesser position. Even if he were to boast of this, go to him and discuss this in love, persuading him by your tenderness and peaceful disposition. If you have offended him, go to him and openly confess your guilt, request forgiveness, and be not ashamed before him, for you were not ashamed of your misconduct toward him. Give heed to this and do not pass over this by saying, “I forgive him in my heart,” or, “I confess my guilt before God and my heart is therefore at peace,” etc. You must not expect a blessing if you have not done everything from your side to promote peace with your neighbour. If your neighbour refuses to be reconciled, you have done your part. Consider the following passages in connection with this: “Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift” (Mt 5:23–24); “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Eph 4:32).


We have thus sought to motivate you to be engaged in sacred preparation. We shall add one more matter as a warning and as advice. The warning is as follows:


(1) Restrict yourself neither as far as time (that is, as far as the duration of your preparation is concerned), nor as to the manner in which you will perform this, so that you will be confused and troubled if you do not perform this as carefully as you ought. The Holy Spirit is sovereign in His operation; however, let there be neither laziness nor laxity.


(2) Do not force yourself to be in a specific frame and to be emotionally moved to such and such a degree. This would convey that you imagine yourself to be able to do this by your own strength and your own will. The best preparation is to engage in this duty in quiet resignation, as being destitute of everything, and with expectation—not running ahead of the Spirit, but rather, following His leading. This will provide the best preparation, and will teach you not to rely upon preparation.


The advice I wish to give is that I deem it to be most beneficial to have a day of fasting and prayer prior to the Lord’s Supper—be it that one either does not work and eat at all, or that one works little and eats the simplest of foods. Let every one consider the circumstances in which he is; that is, whether he is in service or free, rich or poor, or whether he is in an ungodly or godly family. The Lord has left it to our discretion to what extent we wish to restrict ourselves, except that there be one day which we designate for the purpose of setting ourselves apart. This act of separation itself, and the repeated reflection upon this during this day will make an impression. To spend this day with the impression of it having been set apart will make one humble and pliable. If one has been barren, dead, without desire, and has had wandering thoughts the entire day, there may generally be special movement at night, so that one may as yet rejoice in having set the day apart. If such is not the case, however, the desire to seek will yet excuse us to some degree, and one will be humbled by having spent the day in such an unprofitable manner, not having been able to be humbled about other sins on this day.



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