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worketh abomination or maketh a lie; but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.” (Rev. xxi. 27.)
-2, The priest is at his post, ministering like a servant for the people. And, at the same time, like “ ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us; we pray you in Christ's stead, Be ye reconciled to God.” (Cor. II. v. 20.) But this invitation, while it goes forth alike to all,-to Jews as well as Greeks, and to infidels as well as Christians, will apply immediately to none but such as are properly instructed and baptized; not to those who are baptized without instruction, which is too com
a case, nor to those who are instructed without baptism, which may happen also by chance; nor yet to immoral characters, to “notorious evil livers, or those who have done any wrong to their neighbours by word or deed, so that the congregation be thereby offended." And this condition of notoriety and scandal ought to be well remarked, that exclusion from the Lord's table being so heavy a stigma in society, and consequently severe, if only as a temporal punishment---may not depend on any private judgment, still less on a single suspicion, or only perhaps on spleen or caprice; its object being, not to satisfy the minister only, but equally with him, or rather more, the prime of the congregation. Thus did our Saviour by the traitor Judas; knowing himself the man's unworthiness to sit at the paschal board, but not observing that his evil odour was spread among the disciples. “For Jesus knew from the beginning, who they were that believed not, and who should betray him.” (John vi. 64.) And whereas in one of our exhortations to the communion the priest bids “all that are here present,” it is still to be understood only of those who are described as fit in another exhortation that he uses.
On meeting at the Lord's table persons of this description-persons prepared by suitable habits, and drawn thither by the purest motives and inclinations one might be struck with the very different air presented in this to
that in any other commemorative feast, whether religious, civil, or political—not only from the pleasing feature of moderation and decorum, but from the mild aspect of sanctity equally remote from gloom and levity, or from “the beauty of holiness," as we may call it, here exhibited. For here a morsel of bread and a spoonful of wine is all the matter of the feast; and its accompaniment-alms, with prayer and thanksgiving to almighty God,-and hallowed friendship falling on the congregation, like healing through the serpent that was lifted up in the wilderness, (Num. xxi, 9, like the manna that lay on its face, (Exod. xvi. 14,) or like the sacred flame that crept around Elijah's altar, and consumed his burnt sacrifice-falling also from the Lord. (Kings I. xvii. 38.) Methinks, if an unfortunate heathen could bappen upon such an assembly unawares, and witness their proceedings, he might be awed and delighted at the spectacle as much as ever the old Gauls could have been at the sight of an old Roman senate: and if he could have the meaning of what he saw explained, he might be anxious almost to take a part in these decent devotions. Yet the object is not so much, what may please an heathen, or what may please any man in this sight or spectacle,-as man is not its proper judge, nor outward show a proper criterion for estimating the beauty of the solemnity; but what may please One above, and look well, as we say, in his eyes who looks much deeper than we. “For the Lord seeth not as man seeth: for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.” (Sam. I. xvi. 7.) And sometimes, as our Saviour tells us, “ that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.” (Luke xvi. 15.) Such an abomination for one, no doubt, is the abuse of this bis Son's holy institution. For receiving the same unworthily is of a piece with not receiving it in any manner; and it may be, worse; as I think to shew under that head, to be noticed among other matters in the practical part at which I am now arrived.
§ 1. This part, being entitled a few hints on the Use and Application of the sacrament, I shall divide again into three; 1, the part of Receiving, and that worthily; 2, the part of Not receiving; 3, of Receiving unworthily, or not as we ought to receive it. Of which several particulars I have necessarily remarked some important features before, but have still somewhat to add. And
1. With respect to the first mentioned part, that of Receiving worthily; which must depend in great measure on our preparation for receiving. It may therefore be convenient, to divide this part also into two others, 1, preparatory; 2, actual, with that view.
1, The preparatory part; which is begun in baptism, and never discontinued from that point by right, may however become more and more particular as the time draws on for a worthy commemoration of the sacrifice which is to crown the whole of our preparation through life with a continual feast. For being, as I before intimated, placed in a state of salvation by virtue of that first named ordinance, we have thenceforward only to keep it, as we may by God's help: or else, the child that dies immediately upon its new birth will be happier than a man who shall have lived long enough to fall away from it; indeed we may say with the preacher, of such a man, that if he should " beget an hundred children, and live many years, so that the days of his years be many-yet an untimely birth is better than he." (Eccles. vi. 3.) But if we keep our baptismal engagement and the state in which it places us, the feast which we are now to celebrate however delightful in itself will be but an imperfect image of that to be celebrated eternally with all the excellent of the earth; when“ many shall come from the east and west, , and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac and Jacob in the Kingdom of Heaven, but (many of) the children
of the Kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness." (Mat. viii. 11, 12.) For
-1, The virtue of a sacrament of God's appointing is such, that the partaker may be held to do and suffer or enjoy virtually or in necessity the several parts represented therein until he actually do, suffer, or enjoy what may be contrary to the same; every part being naturally continuous or perpetual until it meet with interruption. For example: in taking upon ourselves the Christian profession, wé necessarily incur many sufferings and mortifications as well as procure much enjoyment; which sufferings and enjoyment are all peculiar in their way and will continue until the abolition of one and the consummation of the other by an inevitable occurrence, if something do not occur beforehand to prevent it. All this is so obvious that some who think too meanly of truisms may account its mention childish or superfluous. Such, however, is the fact: and hence it may be conceived how children dying after baptism are considered to die in the faith, though they have never learned to believe. So our Saviour Christ was pleased to die for the sin of the world and to commemorate his own passion, being then as real in virtue or necessity as ever it was in fact, with his twelve apostles, or with eleven of them rather, because the wicked eat not in that manner; as I before signified. And so you, my brethren, when you meet here, are not to consider yourselves as merely come to a perishable altar, table or tump which is sure to crumble with “ the cloud capt towers and gorgeous palaces” when their time comes : but “
ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels; to the general assembly and church of the first born which are written in Heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus, the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaketh better things than that of Abel.” (Heb. xii. 22, &c.) Among all our preparation therefore for the Eucharist--enjoying and retaining the privilege of baptism is to be accounted first in every respect. But
-2, We seldom feel or reflect upon things at a dis. tance with the same intenseness as when they are near: and therefore as the celebration of the Eucharist approaches, your anxiety to ensure for yourselves a share of its benefits and enjoyment may well increase. If people can think it worth while or necessary to put on their best outside attire to go to a civic feast, they may think the best inside that they can procure by any means scarcely good enough to wear at this heavenly banquet. The mind is to be fitted for it by reading and meditation *, the spirit by acts of charity and devotion. Considering the natural ferment of the passions and the jarring of artificial interests to which we are exposed in ordinary, our mind on approaching the altar of God should be like a vessel escaping from the troubled ocean into a quiet port. And, as in this instance some cumbersome or less important articles will have been thrown overboard and left behind, a prey to the waves,--so in that other many heart rending cares and incongruous concerns must be abandoned to a certain abstract, or ideal abyss, the wicked world: as every thing has its place, and one element as well as another. So the world, and not the altar-nor the church -nor yet its peaceful precincts—is the place for pride, and selfishness, and ignorance, if not likewise for the witchery of superstition, for “ whatsoever worketh abomination or maketh a lie;" no merchandize or constituents of the Kingdom being retained but “they which are - written in the Lamb's book of life,” that is CHRISTIAN MODES OF THINKING AND DOING.
* I here take the liberty of particularly recommending to the mor studious and enlightened of the people the forecited 12th chapter of the epistle to the Hebrews, as an excellent lesson at home before the sacrament and after too, if convenient. Passages of Scripture like this are more in. spiring for the occasion, commoner productions may be sometimes more instructive.