Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

aside all other business. Such a view may lead us to detect the real state of our mind. Consider, if the true meaning of this excuse be not tbis—“I am leading a life inconsistent with the discharge of christian duties; I am living an unchristian life; and if I die, my soul is lost for ever.” The discharge of your religious duties is your first and great business; and you had better let the body perish for want of its proper food, than the soul perish for want of spiritual food. Remember, however much you are occupied, you will one day stand in judgment before Him, who, though so engaged in providing for your salvation, as not to have time to eat bread, yet spent whole nights in prayer, rather than neglect to fulfil all righteousness. Yet after all, the due preparation for the Lord's Supper is often much mistaken. This subject will be afterwards noticed. Those who are really so engrossed in this world's business, as to leave no time for their most solemn duties, should seriously enquire, whether much of that business that hinders them, be not needless, or hurtful to their highest interests. But however this may be, no business of this world can justify the continued neglect of manifest religious duties. Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all other things shall be added unto you,

A third excuse sometimes offered is, I HAVE RECEIVED THE LORD'S SUPPER, AND HAVE FOUND NO BENEFICIAL EFFECTS FROM IT. Perhaps you have mistaken the kind of benefit which you expected, and have looked for sensible and momentary comfort, instead of solid growth in grace. This ordinance has no miraculous power over the animal frame, but supplies the mind with powerful motives and considera

tions, whereby, through the gracious influence of the Holy Spirit, we are enabled to resist the attacks of our spiritual enemies. It is a means of obtaining spiritual strength from God. The Christian cannot perhaps fully know in this world, what secret strength may thus have been given to him, and how he may have been kept from the ways of sin, and in the ways of God, by the motives here suggested to his mind. But we may very safely, as to this excuse, put it to every conscience-Can you really say, after yon have deliberately prepared yourself for this ordinance, and received it with seriousness, that no resolution against sin has received fresh confirmation, no obligation to obedience has been strengthened? Or at least, is it not presumptuous to question the efficacy, or deny the obligation, of attending upon an ordinance of God, merely because

you have not yet derived from it all the benefits which you expected?

Again, it is objected, I AM AFRAID THAT, WEAK AS I AM, I SHALL BREAK MY RESOLUTIONS, AND SO INCUR GREATER GUILT. You forget that this ordinance is calculated to strengthen your resolutions. You forget that every temporal blessing you partake of increases your obligations to serve God. You forget the greater guilt of neglecting a Divine Institution. But deliberately ask yourself, “ Do I mean to give up myself to the unrestrained enjoyment of sin, and the certainty of endless ruin--or do I wish to be the disciple of Christ, and the heir of his glory?" If indeed you cared not about eternal life, and could be supposed awfully to choose eternal wrath, this excuse would be less inconsistent. But if you really desire to live with Christ, and to spend a blessed eternity in the

mansions above, consider, that the admission of your weakness is the reason why you should constantly go to the Lord's table for new supplies of grace; and if you fall again, as all more or less do, come the oftener to the appointed means of weakening sin, and enlivening faith, hope, love, and every Christian grace.

Some have felt scruples about receiving, because OTHERS WERE AT ENMITY WITH THEM: but this is not founded on any just interpretation of Scripture. This view would also condemn our Saviour, the twelve Apostles, and the whole primitive Church; for none had such bitter enemies as they had at the very

time this communion was most frequent.

Others feel the presence of some against whom they have a prejudice, or of whom they have reason to think ill, a sufficient excuse; forgetting the peculiarity of the Apostle's expression-He that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation TO HIMSELF, and not to his fellow communicants; forgetting our Lord knew that Judas would betray him, Peter deny him, and all forsake him, when he celebrated the last Supper with them. Yet we would not by these remarks justify indiscriminate communion. The Holy Scripture, (1 Cor. v, 11-13.) as well as the Church of England, directs, that all open sinners be excluded.

Others receive only at particular Festivals, not considering, as Chrysostom remarks, that " what makes if reasonable to communicate, is not merely a festival, or the time of a more solemn assembly, but a pure conscience and a life free from sin,"

“Some Christians," it has been observed, " enquire whether they should continue to approach the table of their Saviour, when their consciences are burdened

with the guilt of any particular sin. To this the answer is obvious, because one end of receiving the body and blood of Christ is, to obtain the very blessings of pardon, and peace of conscience, which the objection supposes to be most wanted. If, indeed, unhappily, we have committed some aggravated offence against God, and the ordinary period of our partaking of the Eucharist be near, it may be expedient to abstain for that season from the Lord's Supper; but this abstinence must be with the express intention of more humbly confessing our sins before God,” that we may with sincere penitence and faith hereafter receive.*

It may appear wonderful, even allowing the general darkness and corruption of the human heart, that there should be such a prevailing tendency in professing Christians to negligence, in a case where there are so many strong and tender motives for obedience. Some of the fears, possibly, may have originated from the once generally diffused papal doctrine of transubstantiation, and from a general misconception of the Apostle's reproof of tbe Corinthians, for their irregularities. This part of the subject will be considered hereafter.

Perhaps, however, at the root of all these excuses, there is an unsuspected, secret unwillingness of heart. Men have often a feeling of this kind. It would disturb their quiet, make them uneasy in their mind, and hinder them from enjoying the pleasure that they are wont

* See the Rev. D. Wilson's comprehensive “ Address to Young Christians previous to receiving the Lord's Supper." The section on “ The objections which are sometimes raised against partaking of the holy communion,” is peculiarly adapted to answer the scruples of young Christians.

to take in their sins. Let every one who neglects the Lord's Supper, examine this point well!

From the whole, we may conclude that there is nothing to discourage the PENITENT BELIEVER, from a constant and invariable attendance at this table, The duty is manifest, and the advantage great and evident.

And on the other hand, those LIVING IN the love and practice OF , may here see the grievous state to which their conduct reduces them. You are afraid of going to the Lord's table, lest you should eat and drink damnation; but have you no reason to be afraid of the consequences of disobeying a plain command by staying away? Your sins reduce you to a sad dilemma of danger. Nothing can deliver you from it but speedy repentance towards God, and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no safety to any living soul, but in fleeing to him who is able to save! Let me then earnestly and affectionately entreat every such reader, to examine their own hearts, to ascertain without delay their true state before God, heartily to repent of their sins, and seek the salvation of the Gospel. Then, when you have experienced a real change of heart, when you are born again of God's spirit, and have a good hope through grace, you will come and receive the Lord's Supper, not only without danger and reluctance, but with the greatest comfort and advantage.

We will conclude this chapter in the animating words of Bishop Patrick.

“ Let no man therefore plead this, or that, in excuse for his not coming to the Lord's table; but resolve hereafter carefully to perform so necessary a duty. Let the sinner quit his state of sin and death, and so

« PreviousContinue »