Page images
PDF
EPUB

dained it:-as he would very easily perceive, that all this was designed as a very powerful motive to humble him before God, to give him an abhorrence of sin, which could not be forgiven without the loss of the life of an innocent creature; and lastly, that it was intended to lead him to the love of God, who would be reconciled to him

upon

such gracious terms: I say, the most ignorant Ifraelite could understand this end of sacrifices, and perform the duty required of him, as well as the most learned master in Israel.

Even so every Christian, even the most unlearned, is capable of understanding, (if it be not plainly his own fault) and of performing, all the duties of a worthy communicant.

For when he is informed, that this is the true Christian sacrifice,-the only means of rendering our persons and all our prayers acceptable to God, of obtaining the pardon of our sins, the assistance of God's grace, and everlasting happiness after death: when he sees that done before his eyes that Jesus Christ himself did; who the same night in which he was betrayed, having devoted himself an offering and a sacrifice to God for the sins of the whole world, did institute this holy sacrament, by taking bread and wine, and blessing them, and making them, by that blessing, the true representatives of his body and blood, in virtue and power, as well as in name:

When

When he is made sensible, that this service was ordained by Christ himself, not only as a testimony of his great love for his poor creatures, but as a means whereby he would communicate all the benefits of that death which he was then going to suffer; and by which he would apply the merits of his death to all people and ages of the world:

Lastly; when he is assured, even from Christ himself,“ that whoso eateth and drinketh this bis flesh and blood after this holy manner, dwelleth in Christ and Christ in him; that such a one has a right to eternal life, and that God will raise him up at the last day :

Let a man, I say, be never so unlearned, yet he will easily understand,—That he is not to look upon

and receive this bread and wine as common food, but as holy representatives of Christ's body and blood, made such by an efpecial blessing of God;—that he is to receive it in remembrance of the death of Christ, and to believe assuredly, that the blessing of God will attend his doing so; for it being God's own ordinance, he cannot but bless it, and him who observes it.

And when he is informed, that the Lord Jefus commanded this service to be observed until his coming again, (that is, to judge the world) he will easily conclude, that he ought to prepare himself against that day, by this holy ordinance, that he may meet his Lord • John vi. 26.

and

and Judge as a friend, at whose table he has been so often received and entertained.

A Christian, I say again, let him be never fo unlearned, will easily see, that this holy sacrament is most proper to prepare him for that great day, and the account he is then to give;—that it is designed to humble him, to bring him to repentance, to make him fearful of offending God, and to make him very thankful for all his mercies.

It will put him often in mind of the fad effects of the fall of man, and of the fin occafioned thereby; since no less a sacrifice than the death of Christ would satisfy the justice of God.

He will easily see what he must expect, if he lives and dies in sin unrepented of, even the feverest punishment,

He will easily perceive, that these are blessed opportunities, and never to be lost, of renewing his baptismal covenant, which he knows he has broken, and of making his peace with God.

For he cannot but be convinced, that it must be one of the most prevailing arguments with the Divine Majesty, to represent unto him the death of his Son, who died to redeem us, and to restore us to his favour, beseeching him to remember his Son's death in heaven, for our good, as we do on earth in obedience to his command.

And

And lastly, a Christian, let him be never so unlearned, must know, and be convinced, that the oftener he presents himself before God, to plead his Son's death, in this holy manner, the more pleasing it will be to God, the more graces

he will receive from him, the stronger will be his faith, the surer his hopes, and the firmer his pardon.

He will also very easily see, what duties are required to make bim a worthy receiver of this sacrament.

He will understand, for instance, that so solemn a service, and a service upon which his salvation depends, cannot be well performed without some thoughts and consideration.

And a very little confideration will convince him, that he must confess and forsake those fins, which cost Jesus Christ his life, to

prevail with God to pardon them ;-that he is to go to the sacrament with a full purpose of leading a Christian life;-that if he does so, he may depend upon God's mercy through Jesus Christ;—that the remembrance of Christ's death ought to be very dear to him;—and that he is bound to forgive, and to love, and to do good to others, since God is so good and so kind to him.

Every Christian must see, and acknowledge, the necessity of these qualifications, and that whoever goes presumptuously to the Lord's table without them, will receive a curse instead of a blessing.

I say, I say, presumptuously; that is, without thought, without concern, and without doing what he is able, to become a worthy communicant.

For this is our great comfort, that God expects no more of any man, but that he make an honest use of that measure of

grace and light which he has given him. If a man does so, though he may

have his scruples, and his fears, yet he cannot be in danger, no more than a dutiful child can be in danger from a father who sees him doing his best to please him.

But, forasmuch as many are apt to go to the Lord's table without due confideration, and too many do make the trouble of examining and preparing themselves a reason for their not going so often as they should do, (that is, as often as they have an opportunity;) it will be proper to consider what preparation is required of those that would go worthily to the Lord's Supper.

Our Church has indeed given us a short and sure rule and answer to that question, provided we take pains to understand it; but the truth is, it is too often mistaken, both by those that are presumptuous, and by those that are lazy, and not disposed to consider.

By the presumptuous, it is made a matter of mere form; and by the lazy, it is looked

upon as a burthen, and to be avoided as much as possible. Both these are greatly mistaken, and

betray

« PreviousContinue »