Behaving Yourself at the Lord’s Table

by Thomas Haweis (1734-1820)

Having thus improved the short time before the Lord’s Supper, when we come to the Table, we must mind the grand business we have to do there…

lord__s_supper_by_bclary-d37hhzp…which is to receive Christ’s pledge, in token that he hath received us, and to make a solemn surrender of our souls to him; so that henceforth our Maker is our husband, and we are no longer our own, but his.

Whilst the Minister, then, is about to put the elements into our hands, and to make his prayer over us, this surrender should be made in the following way.

1.    Deliberately

this_do_in_remembrance_of_me_16x20-largeHaving counted the cost, on one hand we see a merciful and all-sufficient Saviour, who hath all grace to pardon, and all power to renew promising us to undertake for us, to bless, preserve, and comfort us  yet withal, we being corrupt and fallen creatures, this cannot be done without a course of self-denial and mortification of our members upon earth, though to encourage us to it, this be most intimately connected with eternal glory. On the other hand, we see the indulgences of flesh and sense, the pleasures of sin for a season, but withal the curse of God in time and in eternity, we are therefore through grace fully disposed to renounce the one, and choose the other. This cannot be done too clearly and coolly. Before at our devotions, we cannot be too lively and fervent in spirit, here we cannot be too deliberate; choosing Christ as our best portion, whatever mortification and self-denial, whatever reproach, whatever difficulties may attend his service, that so we may not in a fit of devotion swear we will go with him to prison and to deaths and then by and by, when corruptions strive, and Satan tempts, or tribulation comes, be offended, and go back from our engagements, but so simply and steadily set our hands to the plough, as never to look back, but be faithful unto death, that we may receive the crown of life,

2.    Humbly.

bread-wineWe may not be confident, but in the Lord, and the power of his might. We are promising things, the least of which is above our strength. God must work in tis to do, as he hath wrought in us to will; and it is with this we must surrender up ourselves to him, humbly sensible that we are not in any wise sufficient of ourselves, but we commit our souls into his hands, as a faithful Creator, The sense of our own nothingness should especially lie upon our hearts, when we are admitted to this awful covenant, and receive the seals of it into,our hands. All is from the Lord; he alone that hath begun his work in us, can perfect the same, and enable us to abide faithful to the vows which are upon us.

3.    Cheerfully.

We are a willing people; we give up our souls to Christ and all we have and are, to be for ever his, not merely because we are bound to do it, as because we delight to do it. We are a free-will offering; drawn, not driven; hearty, not reserved j love fixes our choice, and Christ is to us all in all. We wish we had a thousand hearts to give him; we would not hesitate to part with any thing he calls for;  we would delight in that which he commands. With a willing mind, we take his easy yoke and light burden, and are pleased with every opportunity of renewing our bonds, that we may thereby be united closer to the Lord, our head.

4.    Sincerely.

JesusCommunion-This indeed is the life of the whole. A double heart, a reserved surrender, is an abomination before God. If our eye pities, or our heart spares one evil temper, one sin—if we should dissemble with our lips, and flatter him with our tongue, woe unto us ! he that seeth our thoughts afar off, would condemn us even on our knees at the table. Though we should deceive ourselves by our hypocrisy, God cannot be mocked. We must be sincere before him, our naked souls should be exposed to his view, and an honest appeal to our hearts, that God himself knows we desire to make no reserve.

See to this, that you make no partial surrender; God must have all our hearts or none: if we divide them, by fixing one part on the world; if we would plead for ever so little of its sinful indulgences -, if we want to reconcile the services of God and mammon; allowing part of our affections to the pleasures, vanities, interests, or gain of this present evil world, and think God will be satisfied with the remainder, we are utterly mistaken.

The true surrender is to give up all, and to take Christ as Lord of all, our King to reign over us, as well as our propitiation and atonement. This is sincerity, much talked of, but little known. See that it be your own case: without it the strongest promises, the greatest outward reformation, the most lively pangs of devotion, a torrent of tears, or the most solemn remorse, will but deceive you. Coolly, humbly, cheerfully, and wholly, without partiality, and without hypocrisy, desire to give up your soul to Christ; that so you may be able to adopt the words of an excellent Christian, and testify as he did,

 But if I might make some reserve,draft_lens9708151module86930951photo_1267128158jesus_bread_lords_supper_
 And duty did not call,
I love my Lord with such a love,

That I would give him all.”

It will be a blessed ordinance indeed, if you can see such to be the frame of your heart at Christ’s Table, and seal it by the solemn pledges of the Body and Blood of Christ, which are put into your hands. Here then yon will see at the first view the absurdity and ignorance it betrays, to be coming up to the Lord’s Table reading some book pf devotion, and in a formal dull way to be supplying the want of spirituality by such a lifeless repetition of a number of words. Surely if you come to give up your heart to Christ, if you feel like obligations lying upon you to do so, you can never need to read it out of a book; your eye should be on your heart, not the paper; and you should be looking to the dear Saviour, whom you are remembering, and calling forth this heartiness simplicity, and sincerity of soul, with which you choose the Lord for your portion.

Thus you may know how to behave at the Lord’s Table.

communion-invitationsMeet the author and part of your Christian Heritage:  Thomas Haweis (surname pronounced to rhyme with ‘pause’) 1734-1820. Sponsored by the Reverend Joseph Jane of St Mary Magdalene Parish Church in Oxford, in 1748 he entered Christ’s College. There he organised a prayer group often seen as a successor to the Wesleys’ “Holy Club”. After graduation, he was ordained into the Church of England by the Bishop of Oxford in 1757 to serve as curate to Joseph Jane.

In 1762, he was appointed to the Lock Hospital, London, under the guidance of the Chaplain, Martin Madan. At this time he met Selina Hastings, Countess of Huntingdon and preached in many of her chapels. Although offered an incumbency in Philadelphia by George Whitefield, he opted instead to become Rector of All Saints, Aldwinkle, in 1764, retaining the living until his death in 1820.

In 1774 he was appointed Chaplain to the Countess of Huntingdon. He insisted that no one other than a Church of England clergyman be allowed to preach in any chapel where he ministered. However, once the chapels forming the Countess of Huntingdon’s Connection were forced to register as dissenting chapels, Haweis withdrew from her service.

By her will, the Countess of Huntingdon left management of the Connexion to four trustees. The Principal Trustee appointed was, most unexpectedly, Thomas Haweis, who continued to preside over the Connexion, comprising at that time about 120 chapels, even though he continued as a Church of England priest. He made every effort to ensure the Connexion kept as close to the Church of England as was possible and that only the Book of Common Prayer was used. Many of these chapels became part of the Free Church of England in 1863.

Haweis was also one of the founding fathers of the Missionary Society.