BLTC Press Titles


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The Fairy Tale of the Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Thomas Carlyle, Rudolf Steiner


Knowledge of Higher Worlds and its Attainment

Rudolf Steiner


The Bhagavad Gita

Anonymous


Some Experiences of an Irish R. M.

Edith Somerville and Martin Ross


Dr. Martin Luther's House-Postil

by Martin Luther

Excerpt:

It is true, Judas did not receive this Sacrament to his consolation or amendment. There were also many among the Corinthians, as St. Paul tells us, who received it unworthily, and thus brought upon themselves bodily and spiritual punishment. There is indeed a difference in the reception of this Sacrament; some partake of it worthily and unto eternal life, but others unworthily unto condemnation, inasmuch as they do not repent and have true faith. Hence it is of the first importance that we learn toknow what is meant by the expression "eating and drinking worthily or unworthily."

The Papists taught that one should not partake of this Sacrament except he be entirely fit and perfectly pure. Such fitness, however, they made dependent upon certain works of penance, much enlogized by the priests; such as auricular confession, castigation of the body, fastings, prayers, giving of alms, and the like. These were accounted sufficient satisfaction for the sins committed. But such worthiness is of no account; for it is impossible by our own deeds to become really pure aud worthy before God. Even the disciples were not perfectly pure when Christ gave them His Supper, for He tells them that they have need of washing their feet, by which He meant not the washing with water, but the forgiveness of their sins.

Let us then learu to understand and to remember, in this connection, that they do not receive the Sacrament unworthily who know and mourn their wretchedness; who confess that they are poor, miserable sinners; who experience many a temptation; who are yet affected by anger and impatience, by passion and intemperance. Such and similar sins adhere to us more or less as long as wo live on earth: and if we earnestly repent of them, and do not continue in them against the warning voice of onr conscience; if we seek their forgiveness and consolation in the misery which they brought upon us, we ought not to be deterred from coming to the Holy Sacrament. As long as the old Adam is within us, it will surely happen that impatience, wicked thoughts, and the like, will trouble us and cause us to sin. If we then had to remain away from the table of the Lord until we had become entirely free from sin, we would, indeed, never be fit to come to this Holy Sacrament.

They, however, receive it unworthily who knowingly and intentionally persist in their sins, such as revengeful wrath, murder, fornication, adultery, and similar manifest sins and crimes. Christ instituted the Holy Sacrament unto the forgiveness of our sins, that we should forsake them and not continue in them. Judas received the Sacrament unto his condemnation and death, because he had determined to destroy the Lord, and did not recede from this his wicked purpose.

Some people are shocked by this example; they know that they are guilty of hatred, malice, and other sins, wherefore they will not come to the Lord's Supper, but postpone it from day to day, and from year to year, simply because they are unwilling to give up their anger and their hatred. Such persons commit a twofold wrong; they cling tenaciously to their sins, and also wickedly despise the command of Christ to partake of His Sacrament . These people should desire to put an end to their wrath and envy, should strive to desist from sin, and should long to obtain, through the reception of the Holy Sacrament, remission of sins and strengthening of their faith. If then there is yet remaining a glimmering of sin and weakness, if now and then evil thoughts and passions make their presence known, we must cry unto God and pray: O Lord, give me a peaceable, kind and loving heart, and cleanse me from my sins, for Christ's sake. Thus can we come to the Supper of the Lord in faith and hope, without being terrified by this saying of St. Paul; for this does not pertain to those who long to be liberated from the bondage of sin, but to those who are therein, and do not desire to be freed, but rather find pleasure in their wickedness and defend their evil deeds. The Corinthians were such people; wherefore the apostle tells them: "I praise you not," indicating that they were not penitent, and yet desired to be praised as good Christians.

The custom prevailing at that time in regard to the Lord's Supper was different from the present. The Christians came together in the evening, and each one ate whatever he had, in the presence of the others. Sometimes it happened that a part ate and drank too much, while others who had nothing suffered want. Such conduct the apostle condemns. He declares it to be damnable, if persons deliberately sin, and then go to the Sacrament as though nothing had happened. They who act thus, eat and drink the Sacrament unworthily, and God punishes them with sickness and other afflictions.

You observe that such wickedness is far greater than the shortcomings of wavering hearts which, seeing the error of their ways, return to the path of duty and earnestly pray: 0 God, we have done evil before Thee; forgive us our manifold sins. Christ will surely pardon them, and invite them to His Supper; He does not invite the self-righteous and saintly, but just these poor sinners, who on account of their guilt are greatly troubled and in sorrow. This He means by the words: "This is my body given for you unto death, this is my blood which is shed for the remission of your sins." Surely, they must have been great and guilty sinners for whom such a glorious sacrifice and such a great ransom was offered. The great requirement, therefore, is this: we must discover that we are really sinners, and then come to the Table of the Lord for comfort and relief; but he who will not confess his sins nor amend his ways, should by no means come to this Holy Sacrament.


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