« السابقةمتابعة »
in time make our religion a nominal badge or an oppressive burden. The things which are seen and temporal, being ever present, occupy and engross the mind, prevail insensibly over the things unseen and eternal, and unless the greatest care be employed, would in the end efface those hidden motives and secret springs of action which should make the Christian's life a walk of faith. The most sacred duties neglected, or but occasionally and carelessly performed, affections cold, inoperative, and wavering, and a gradual but certain victory of present allurements over our future expectations and hopes, would be in Christians, as it is in other men, the necessary and unfailing result of their intercourse with the world, if it were not sometimes suspended or interrupted.
To prevent this consequence; so opposed to the consistency of our religious profession in this life, and so fatal to our expectations of happiness in the life to come, we should often be recalled to the consideration of our character, of our prevailing dispositions and desires, and of the destiny for which we are preparing; often surround ourselves anew with the certainties and realities of which the Bible assures us, to know to what danger we are exposed, and to what heights of virtue we are required to attain ; in fine, to ascertain our true condition, and our grounds of hope, to mark our progress or our declension
in the spiritual life, and to excite ourselves to fresh diligence, to make our calling and election
If this be granted, my brethren, how necessary for all these important purposes, and how well adapted to promote them, is the frequent participation of the holy communion.
Coming to this solemn ordinance with deep self-examination and renewed repentance, we there acknowledge and bewail our manifold sins and wickedness, which we, from time to time, have most greviously committed by thought, word, and deed, against the Divine Majesty; and recollecting with sorrow and with shame, how different our course of life has been from that to which we stood, by our profession, obliged and pledged; we renew in God's presence that solemn vow by which we offer and present unto him ourselves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and living sacrifice unto the Lord.
Is it possible, my brethren, for any ingenuous and susceptible mind to regard these solemn declarations and resolutions, without halting in the declining path which leads to destruction, without exercising a more diligent watchfulness over the first risings of every vicious inclination, or without feeling the sincere, animated, and conscientious desire to increase in the graces of true religion. And if there be truth in the promises and threatenings of God's word; if there be fitz VOL. II.
ness in the precepts and rules which it enjoins, or sound wisdom in the accordant conclusions of our own minds in their best moments of deliberation and thoughtfulness; these are tempers, feelings, and desires, which, whatever may be our natural reluctance and aversion to them, it behoves us most carefully to cherish and to cultivate, as being most intimately connected with our everlasting welfare. And since, in the holy communion, these tempers, feelings, and desires, are best implanted and best nourished, we perceive, in this advantage alone, the highest reason that can be, to adopt, on every opportunity that is offered, the resolution of the text-"I will take “ the cup of salvation, and call upon the name " of the Lord.”
But the sense of our deficiency and of our demerits, which must be impressed upon our conscience, upon every recollection of our religious obligations, and of the sins, negligences, and ignorances, of which we are guilty, must make us deeply feel our need of pardon for the past, and of grace to help for the future. And here, in the second place, the holy communion presents itself to our view as a continual remembrance of the sacrifice of Christ's death, and of the benefits which we receive thereby.
What Christian is there, my brethren, who does not desire, as well as need, to have the merits of that death, and those benefits of pardon and
grace which it procures, often represented to his mind? Where is he who, being continually liable to sin, from the guilt of which he longs to be de-. livered, does not continually require to be reminded of the way of forgiveness? Where is he who continually perceiving his weakness and his inability to walk in the paths of righteousness, does not need to be continually directed to the only source of spiritual strength? In the holy communion we are assured, by sensible pledges, of the sufferings and death of that exalted Victim, in whom alone we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins. There we are taught to recognise our great ascended High Priest, addressing us, if penitent, in words of encouragement, of reconciliation, and of peace. And putting in our hands to offer and to plead on earth, the memorials of that atoning sacrifice which in heaven he is continually presenting and pleading in our behalf. There we may hear him say to us, as he did to his first disciples, “ This * is my body which is given for you. This is my
blood of the new covenant which is shed “ for you and for many, for the remission of 66 sins."
And if rejoicing in the assurance that our sins are forgiven, if animated by a thankful spirit, and being desirous to walk worthy of our Christian vocation, we are cast down and depressed by the recollection of our great frailty, of our
continual exposedness to temptation, and of our liability to fall again into sin, it is our privilege to .realize in this ordinance the highest and the greatest of the means of grace. The aid of the Holy Spirit, not less than the forgiveness of sin, is one of the inestimable benefits which were purchased for believers by the death of Christ. * Behold, I send the promise of my
upon you,” was his declaration to his disciples. And again, “ I will pray the Father, and he will
give you another comforter, that he may abide “ with you for ever.” “ My grace,” said he to St. Paul, “ is sufficient for thee. My strength is made
perfect in weakness.” And to show the mode by which it is to be obtained, he has said, “ Ask, " and ye shall receive; for whatsoever ye shall “ ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.' And especially, and explicitly, has he declared, “ Your heavenly Father will give the Holy Spirit “ to them that ask him." But in this sacred ordinance the whole Church unites in a solemn appeal to God for this promised help, “humbly
beseeching him so to assist us with his grace, “ that we may do all such good works as he hath
prepared for us to walk in.”
If then, my brethren, to receive pardon for the past, and for the future, grace to help in time of need, are advantages which we realize from this commemoration of the death of Christ, let us see in this another reason for approaching to the holy