Remember Him by J W Alexander
published by the Banner of Truth Trust, paperback, 64 pages, £2.50.
J W Alexander (1804-59) will be known to some readers as the author of God Is Love, an excellent book of communion addresses. In 80 brief sections, the little work now under review gives direct, straightforward teaching on the Lords Supper and excellent practical advice.
On the one hand Alexander warns, “Gods displeasure falls on him who rushes to this table, ignorant of its true intent and of the way of salvation; unprepared and careless, without solemnity and a desire to have right views of it; hard, impenitent, and indulging himself in known sin”. On the other hand, “if there is sin in hasty profession, there is also sin in neglecting the dying command of Jesus”. Yet he also makes it plain that “while impenitence and unbelief disqualify people from a proper observance of the Supper, they provide no excuse for its neglect, because to have no faith and love to express, is a sin in itself”.
Under the heading, May Doubting Souls Come? Alexander writes: “If . . . you feel your sins and long to be delivered from them; if you attempt and pray to be enabled to come in faith; if you cast yourself on the righteousness of Christ, you need not dread the judgements threatened in Scripture. Hence it would be wrong to defer your profession of faith until you receive the grace of assurance.” And he goes on wisely to quote the answer to question 172 in The Larger Catechism.
There is also wise advice on self-examination: “It should be your maxim, that no marks of evidence are of the slightest value which are not clearly laid down in the Word of God”. But “one undoubted fruit of the Spirit, in the heart, standing out bright and undeniable is sufficient ground for belief that the soul is regenerate”. While earnestly warning against deceiving oneself through a reluctance to come to an unfavourable conclusion about ones spiritual condition, he gives the encouragement: “Realise that you are looking for the reality and not the perfection, or even eminence, of piety”.
The practical advice which Alexander gives is also excellent and he covers a great deal of ground in short compass. One quotation will suffice: “The young communicant who is often asking how near he may go to the brink of sin and yet be safe, is near to his fall”. All believers should benefit from a prayerful reading of this book; but those especially who have recently made a public profession of Christ should make it their business to read it, as should those who are contemplating making that profession.