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as chargeable with the guilt which God imputed to the Jews who lived in the days of Malachi. And would to God that this topic of discourse might have no reference to any one in this assembly! Would to God that no one of you might be justly ranked in any of the odious classes which we have enumerated!
But only employ a moments reflection, on the shortness of the time usually devoted to preparation for partaking of the Lord's supper. It is evident, as I think, from all we have said, that the prepara- . tion necessary to a worthy receiving of it, is a work, nay a work which calls for both attention and exertion. But do we, of a truth, set apart much of our time to this work? I do not mean to examine all the cases in which a man may commu. nicate unworthily; I confine myself to a single point, and only repeat this one reflection : Preparation for the Lord's table is a work which requires time, attention, exertion. That is enough : that proves too much against us all. For, we are constrained to acknowledge, that it is by no means customary among us to retire for meditation, to fast, to engage in peculiar acts of devotion, on the days which precede a communion solemnity. It is no unusual thing to see on those days at many of our houses, parties formed, social festivity going on : in these we see the same games, the same amusements, the same dissipation as at other times. I have reason to believe, that in other Protestant countries, though the same corruption but too universally prevails, I believe, nevertheless, that such days are there distinguished by the suspension of parties of pleasure, by the discontinuance of certain practices, perhaps abundantly innocent in themselves, but, at the same time, too foreign to the design of the holy communion, to engage our attention, when we have an immediate prospect of partaking of it. But in these provinces, we are so far from coming up to the spirit and the truth of Christianity, the exterior order and decency of it are hardly observed.
But if this retlection be insufficient to convince you of a truth so mortifying, as that there is much unworthy communicating in the midst of us; think, I beseech you, on the slightness of the changes which these solemnities produce.
Here is the touch-stone; this is the infallible standard by which to determine the interesting question under discussion. Four times a year we alınost all of us come to the table of the Lord Jesus Christ'; four tiines a year we partake of the holy sacrament of the supper; four times a year, consequently, this church ought to assume a new appearance ;
four times a year we onght to see multitudes of new converts ! But do we see them of a truth? Ah! I dare not dive to the bottom of this mortifying subject. The evil is but too apparent : we have but too good reason to allege, that there is much unworthy communicating in the midst of us.
It is with you, unhappy professors of the Christian naine, with you, who have so often found out the fatal secret of drawing a mortal poison from that sacred table: with you, who are, by and by, going once more, perhaps, to derive a curse from the very bosom of benediction, and death from the fountain of life.
Do not deceive yourselves; seek not a disguise from your own wretchedness; think not of extenuating the apprehension of your danger : listen, O listen to the fearful threatenings denounced, by the prophet, against God's ancient people, after he had addressed them in the words of the text : Cursed be the deceiver which .... toweth and sa
crificeth unto the Lord a corrupt thing
But on the other hand, in use not poison into your wounds, aggrevate not the image of your wretchedness, but attend to the comfortable words which immediately follow those of my text: Now I pray you, beseech God that he will be gracious unto us .... he will regard your persons, ver. 9. The sentence of your condemnation is not yet executed: the doom of death, which has been pronounced against you, is not irrevocable. I see you still blended with Christians who have communicated worthily, and who are going to repeat that delightful service: I still behold the riches of God's goodness, and forbearance, and long-suffering . leading you to repentance, Rom. ii. 4. and you may still become partakers in the blessedness of this day.
You must have recourse to that same Jesus whom you have so cruelly insulted: you must be covered with that very blood which you have trampled under foot in a manner so profane : you must flee and take refuge under the shadow of that very cross, to which you was going to nail afresh the Lord of glory : you must, by ardent and importunate supplication, avert the thunderbolt u hich is ready to be launched against your guilty head : O Lord, rebuke me not in thy wraih: neither chasten me in thy hat displeasure, Psa. xxxviii. 1. Agains! thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sighl:.... deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation : re:
store unto me the joy of thy salvation : and uphold me with thy free spirit, Psa. li. 4. 14. 12.
But above all resolutions sincere, determined, efficacious, followed up by execution from the moment you retire from this place, must supply the want of preparation, and the communicating of this day must make up the defects of all that preceded it. Ah! if God has not, in mercy, granted you such dispositions as these, may he inspire you, at least, with a resolution not to approach his table, for fear of arming his right hand with hotter thunderbolts to crush and destroy you! or rather, may God grant you those happy dispositions, and graciously accept them when bestowed ! May it please God to be disarmed by your repentance, to gather up your tears, to regard with an eye of favor your efforts, your feeble efforts ! May God grant your absolution, your salvation, to the earnest prayers of these his faithful servants, or rather, to the allpowerful intercession of the Redeemer, unprotected by which the most eminent of saints durst not lift up their eyes to heaven, and approach the throne of the divine Majesty.
2. I now turn to you, my dearly beloved brethren, who, while you reflect on communion seasons past, can enjoy the testimony of conscience, that you draw nigh to God in some state of preparation, and that you have reason to hope for a repetition of the same felicity. This ceremony is so august ; the mysteries which it unfolds, are so awful; the punishment denounced against those who profane it, is so tremendous, that it is impossible to escape every emotion of fear, when engaged in the celebration of it. Study to be sensible of your own weakness. Say, in the language of repentance the most lively and sincere, and of humility the most profound : If thou, Lord, should mark
iniquities : 0 Lord, who shall stand ? Pså. cxxx. 3. O Lord God, I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth which thou hasi sheron unto thy servant, Gen. xxxii. Stand in awe of the presence of the Majesty of God Almighty ; cry out with Jacob: How dreadful is this place ! this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven, Gen. xxviii. 17.
But while you render unto God the homage of holy fear, bonor him likewise with that of holy confidence. Think not that he loves to be always viewed as the great, the mighty, and the terrible God, Neh. ix. 32. the God who is a consuming fire, Heb. xii. 29. He draws nigh to you in this ordinance, not with awful manifestations of vengeance, but with all the attractions of his grace, with all the gifts of his spirit, with all the demonstrations of his love. Bow down over the mystical ark, together with the celestial intelligences, and admire the wonders which it contains, and, beholding with them the glory of your Redeemer, with them cry out: Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts : the whole earth is full of his glory, Isa. vi. 3.
Study to know and to feel the whole extent of your felicity, and let a sense of the benefits with which God hath loaded thee, kindle the hallowed flame of gratitude in your hearts.
“ Hast thou ever, O my soul, been made sensible of the unbounded nature of thy happiness ? Hast thou exerted thyself to the uttermost, to take all the immeasurable dimensions of the love of God ? Hast thou reflected profoundly, on a God who was made flesh, who rescues thee from everlasting misery, who covers thy person with his own, that the arrows of divine wrath may pierce him only, without reaching thee? Hast thou seriously considered, that