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and virtue; faithful to the convictions of our own heart. What our lot in the world may be, is not ours to foresee or determine. But it is ours to resolve, that, whatever it shall be, it shall find us persevering in one line of uprightness and honour.
By such discipline, such attentions as these, we are to guard against those failings, which are sometimes found to stain the most engaging characters. Joining in proper union the amiable and the estimable qualities, by the one we shall attract the good; and by the other, command respect from the bad. We shall both secure our own integrity, and shall exhibit to others a proper view of what virtue is, in its native grace and majesty. In one part of our character, we shall resemble the flower that smiles in spring; in another, the firmly-rooted tree, that braves the winter storm. For remember we must, that there is a season of winter, as well as of spring and summer, in human life; and it concerns us to be equally prepared for both.
A HIGHER and more perfect example of such a character as I now recommend, cannot be found, than what is presented to us in the life of Jesus Christ. In him we behold all that is gentle, united with all that is respectable. It is a remarkable expression which the Apostle Paul employs concerning him; I beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ.* Well might these qualities be singled out, as those for which he was known and distinguished. We see him in his whole behaviour affable, courteous, and easy of access. He conversed familiarly with all
* 2 Cor. x. i.
who presented themselves; and despised not the meanest. With all the infirmities of his disciples, he calmly bore; and his rebukes were mild, when their provocations were great. He wept over the calamities of his country, which persecuted him; and apologised and prayed for them who put him to death. Yet the same Jesus we behold awful in the strictness of his virtue, inflexible in the cause of truth; uncomplying with prevailing manners when he found them corrupt; setting his face boldly against the hypocritical leaders of the people; overawed by none of their threatenings; in the most indignant terms reproving their vices and stigmatising their characters. We behold him gentle, without being tame; firm, without being stern; courageous, without being violent. Let this mind be in us, which was also in Jesus Christ; and we shall attain to honour both with God and with man.
On the SACRAMENT of the LORD'S SUPPER, as a PREPARATION for DEATH.
[Preached at the Celebration of the Sacrament of the
MATTHEW, Xxvi. 29.
But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom.
WITH these words of our Blessed Lord the
Evangelist concludes his account of the institution of the sacrament of the Supper. It is an institution which, solemn and venerable in itself, is rendered still more so by the circumstances which accompanied it. Our Lord had now, for about three years, continued to appear in his public character in the land of Judea. He had, all along, been watched with a jealous eye, by his enemies; and the time was come when they were to prevail against him. A few friends he had, from the beginning, selected, who, in every vicissitude of his state, remained faithfully attached to him. With these friends he was now meeting for the last time on the very evening in which he was betrayed and seized. He perfectly knew all that was to befall him. He knew that this was the last meal in which he was to join with those who had been the companions of all his labours, the
confidants of all his griefs; among whom he had passed all the quiet and private moments of his life. He knew that within a few hours he was to be torn from this loved society, by a band of ruffians; and by to-morrow, was to be publicly arraigned as a malefactor. With a heart melting with tenderness, he said to the twelve apostles, as he sat down with them at table, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer.* And then, having gratified himself for the last time in their society, and having instituted that commemoration of his death, which was to continue in the Christian church until the end of ages, he took a solemn and affectionate farewell of his friends, in the words of the text; I say unto you, that I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom.
As these words were uttered by our Lord, in the prospect of his sufferings; when preparing himself for death, and looking forward to a future meeting with his friends in heaven; let us, under this view, consider the sacrament, which he then instituted, as a preparation for all the sufferings of life, and especially, a preparation for death. It is fit and proper, that such solemn prospects should enter into the service which we are this day to perform. We have no reason to imagine that they will render it a gloomy service. A good and wise man is often disposed to look forward to the termination of life. The number of our days is determined by God; and certainly it will not tend to shorten their number, that we employ ourselves in preparing for death. On the contrary, while our days last, it will tend to make * Luke, xxii. 15.
us pass them more comfortably and more wisely. Let us now, then, as if for the last time we were to partake of this sacrament, consider how it may serve to prepare us for the dying hour.
I. IT is a high exercise of all those dispositions and affections, in which a good man would wish to die. He would surely wish to leave this world in the spirit of devotion towards God, and of fellowship and charity with all his brethren on earth. Now these are the very sentiments which the sacrament of the Lord's Supper inspires into the heart of every pious communicant. It includes the highest acts of devotion of which human nature is capable. It imports a lively sense of the infinite mercies of Heaven; of the gratitude we owe to that God who, by the death of his Son, hath restored the forfeited happiness and hopes of the human race. It imports the consecration of the soul to God; the entire resignation of ourselves, and all our concerns, into his hands; as to the God whom we serve and love; the guardian in whom we confide. To thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul. I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy. I will come into thy house in the multitude of thy mercy; and in thy fear I will worship towards thy holy temple.*
These devout affections towards God are, on this occasion, necessarily accompanied with benevolent dispositions towards men. Our communion is not only with God, but with one another. In this solemn service, the distinction of ranks is abolished. We assemble in common before our great Lord, professing ourselves to be all members of his family and
* Psalm xliii. 4. - v. 7.