Who Are Those Assured of a Blessing at the Lord's Table?
Joseph D. McPherson
THE ARMINIAN MAGAZINE. Issue 1. Spring 2014. Volume 32.
Date Posted May 28, 2014
According to Mr. Wesley, everyone in the ancient church who was baptized participated in the sacrament of communion daily. From the record in Acts we are told that, "all continued daily in the breaking of bread, and in prayer" (Acts 2:42). Wesley nevertheless observes that in later times, "many have affirmed, that the Lord's Supper is not a converting, but a confirming ordinance." It was troubling to him to learn that it had currently "been... taught, that none but those who are converted, who have received the Holy Ghost, who are believers in the full sense, ought to communicate."
"But," says he, "experience shows the gross falsehood of that assertion, that the Lord's Supper is not a converting ordinance. Ye are the witnesses. For many now present know, the very beginning of your conversion to God (perhaps, in some, the first deep conviction) was wrought at the Lord's Supper."
Our Lord commanded His own disciples, who were not yet recipients of that Pentecostal infusion of the Holy Spirit, "to do this ‘in remembrance of" Him." "Here the precept," says Wesley, "is clear. And to these he delivered the elements with his own hands. Here is example equally indisputable."
In a sermon preached on this subject, Mr. Wesley first shows "That the Lord's Supper was ordained by God, to be a means of conveying to men either preventing, or justifying, or sanctifying grace, according to their several necessities." He secondly explains that "the persons for whom it was ordained, are all those who know and feel that they [need] the grace of God, either to restrain them from sin, or to show their sins forgiven, or to renew their souls in the image of God."
He thirdly makes clear that "inasmuch as we come to his table, not to give him anything, but to receive whatsoever he sees best for us, there is no previous preparation indispensably necessary, but a desire to receive whatsoever he pleases to give."
Last of all Mr. Wesley assures us that "no fitness is required at the time of [taking communion], but a sense of our state" or spiritual need. Supposing there be those who have a sense of utter sinfulness and helplessness, "who know [themselves just] fit for hell." Are they to be repelled from the Lord's Table? Are they to be prevented from partaking of the Lord's Supper? No, assures Mr. Wesley. They are "just fit to come to Christ, in this as well as all other ways of his appointment" or means of grace. (see footnote reference below)
Citations from Wesley's Journal, 27-28 June 1740;