« PreviousContinue »
his Spirit. “ He who has not the Spirit of Christ is none of his.” This Divine Agent effects a complete transformation of the sentiments, tempers, dispositions, and habits. If any man be in Christ Jesus, he is a new creature; old things are passed away, and behold all things become new.” He is created anew in Christ Jesus unto good works ; saved by “the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Ghost.”
Now, let every intending communicant examine himself, whether he has experienced this transforming influence? This question is to be determined, by observing whether or not we exhibit the fruits of the Spirit in our temper and behaviour. Are our affections habitually fixed on earthly objects-do we with reluctance engage in religious services
do we habitually indulge vain or vile thoughts-has no important change ever taken place in our mode of thinking and feeling ? Then have we much reason to fear, that we
“ dead in trespasses and sins.” But, on the other hand, have our sentiments and our dispositions undergone such a change, as to merit the appellation of a “new birth ?” Do things spiritual and divine occupy many of our thoughts ? Do improper thoughts and feelings excite deep uneasiness, even though they should not break out into
wicka edness? Do we habitually live under the influence power
of the world to come ? Are hatred of sin, and love of holiness, habitual principles of action with us?
Then we cannot, without at once neglecting a duty and undervaluing a privilege, refuse to approach to the table of the Lord.
4th, He only has a right to the Lord's table, who pays a religious regard to all the commandments of God. There are many who would trust in Christ as a Saviour from hell, if they, at the same time, could obtain exemption from the authority of his holy law.
All such, whatever may be their profession, are enemies to the Saviour. To no purpose do men call him “Lord, Lord, if they do not the things which he commands them.” “ If ye love me,” says he, “keep my commandments.”
Let, then, the intending communicant examine him. self, as to his sentiments and conduct in reference to the divine law. Canst thou habitually indulge in the commission of what thou knowest this law forbids, or in the omission of what thou knowest this law requires ? Dost thou secretly wish that the precept of the divine law had not been so strict, and that its penalty had not been so severe? Dost thou choose which of God's commandments thou wilt obey, and which of them thou wilt not obey? Does thy partial obedience proceed more from a fear of the divine
vengeance, than from a love of the divine law ? Dost thou fear the penalty of the law, more than thou lovest the precept? Then thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity, and thou canst not eat the Lord's supper, without profaning that ordinance, and injuring thyself.
But, on the other hand, canst thou say, notwithstanding thy many lamentable and lamented failings, thou lovest the law--thou delightest in it after the inward man
-that when thou sinnest, thou condemnest thyself, and justifiest thy God—that thy desire is not that the law were brought down to thy weakness, but that thou wert brought up to its perfection--that to be holy is the strongest desire of thy heart—that thou accountest all God's commandments to be right, and ha
wicked way—and that the love of God and of Christ, constrain you to attempt an universal obedience to the divine law ? If thou canst say all this with a good conscience, thou art a friend of Jesus, and heartily welcome to come in and sup with him.
As “the word of God is quick and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of the soul and spirit, the joints and marrow, discerning the thoughts and intents of the heart,” I conclude with directing you to a few passages of Scripture, in which the character of saints and sinners are very plainly delineated. Psal. xv; Matth. v. 3-9; Gal. v. 19-24.
Examine yourselves by these scriptural marks, and may the divine Spirit guide you into a determination, which shall be glorifying to the Redeemer, and useful to your own souls.
THE FAMILY OF CHRIST.
Nothing is more plainly revealed in Scripture than this,—that true Christians are a peculiar people, invested with peculiar privileges, formed to a peculiar character, and distinguished by a peculiar mode of conduct. Though in the world, they are not of it. Their principles and their spirit, their pursuits, and their pleasures, are altogether of a different kind from those of the men among whom they live. As every thing peculiar about Christians, arises from their connection with Christ, there is perhaps no figurative view of this peculiarity of character and situation which we have just adverted to, more pleasing and instructive than that which represents them as one great family, of which Jesus is the head. In this interesting aspect, we find our Lord exhibiting himself and his people. The evangelical historian informs us, that, on one oce casion, when Jesus was deeply engaged in his favourite employment of familiarly instructing the people, intimation was given him that his mother and brethren, who could not get near him for the crowd, were with out, anxious to speak with him. Unwilling to be in terrupted in the midst of his work, and seizing the oportunity which was afforded him of illustrating the closeness of the relation, and the tenderness of the affection, which subsisted between him and his disciples, “he stretched forth his hands towards them, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren; for whosoever shall do the will of my Father who is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother *.”
Among the peculiar privileges of the family of our Lord, the right to participate in the holy ordinance of the Supper must be numbered. This is a family feast, a feast of love. It is the children's bread we break, and it must not be given to the dogs. All the children are welcome, but all else are considered as intru. ders, and may expect to meet with the alarming question, “Friend, how camest thou in hither!" Can we, then, be more appropriately employed, for a little, than in inquiring whether or not we belong to Christ's family? On the resolution of this inquiry depends the propriety of our taking our seats at his table.-How shall we know whether we are members of the Holy Family? All the members of that holy, happy society, are distinguished by intimate relation, warm affection, general resemblance, dutiful obedience to the Head of the family, familiar intercourse, and mutual
* This incident in the gospel history, is so touchingly versified by our lamented countryman, Grahame, in his Biblical Ptctures, that I cannot refrain from gratifying the reader with quoting the passage:
“Who is my mother and my brethren ?
He spake, and looked on them who sat around,
GRAHAME's Poems, vol. ii. p. 74.