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good offices. Let us apply these general characters, for the purpose of discovering whether we belong to the family of our Lord.
1st, Are we distinguished by our intimate relation to our Lord Jesus Christ? All men are related to Jesus Christ, as their Creator, and preserver, and governor, and benefactor, and judge ; nay, all men are connected with him as partakers of the same nature ; and all who hear the gospel are connected with him as a Saviour, freely offered to them in the divine testimony. But the relation I refer to, is far more intimate, and altogether peculiar to Christians. It is that relation, by the formation of which men become one with the Saviour ; so one with him, as that all that he did, and suffered, and obtained as Mediator, is considered as done, and suffered, and obtained by them; so one with him, as that they receive out of his fulness, live by his life, and act by his strength. In this relation all true Christians are placed. They are in Christ Jesus.
But how are we to know whether we are distin guished by this relation? The question is not very difficult to answer. We are none of us by nature thus related to our Lord Jesus. This relation is formed by faith. All who believe are united with the Saviour; ; all who have not believed are still unconnected with him. Are you then believers ? Are you persuaded of the truth of the divine testimony concerning Christ? Do you cordially acquiesce in the way of salvation through his mediation ? And do you personally rely on him, and on him alone, for pardon, acceptance, and eternal life? Another way of discovering whether we are thus united to the Saviour, is by inquiring whether we are possessed of the consequences of this union. The living head has living members. The fruitful vine has no barren branches. They who are in Christ, and abide in him, bring forth much fruit. Examine yourselves, then, whether ye be in Christ, and whether Christ be in you; for if this is not the case, ye are reprobates.
2d, Are we distinguished by the affections peculiar to the holy family? Families ought to be, and in many cases are, bound together by the cords of love. The Saviour loves his family and “they love him . who first loved them.” Can you, intending communicant ! satisfactorily answer the question proposed by our Lord to the Apostle Peter, “Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?" Canst thou say with him, “Lord, thou who knowest all things, knowest that I love thee.” Canst thou say, I love him above every created object - I love him more than worldly possessions--more than worldly relations—more than life itself, and yet I wonder and lament that I love him no more ? Do you wish a criterion of trying the sincerity of your love to the Saviour? Hear his own words: that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me :-if ye love me, keep my commandments.”—The family of Christ love the God and Father of their Lord. Once their “ carnal mind was enmity against God,” but now they have learned “to love the Lord their God with all their heart, and strength, and soul, and mind.” Is this your character ?-Farther, the family of Christ are taught of God to love one ano. ther. Do you love genuine Christians with a peculiar affection, an affection founded on their Christian relations and qualities? “ We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren.”
3d, Are we distinguished by a general resemblance to our Lord Jesus, and the members of his holy famia ly? We generally find the same outline of features prevail among the members of the same family. It is so in a remarkable manner in the family of our Lord:
“Whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the first-born among many brethren. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also who are earthy; and as is the heavenly, such are they also who are heavenly: And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.” This resemblance, though not perfect in the present state, is yet real,-universal,- perceptible--and progressive.
Ask, then, intending communicant, is “the mind in me which was in Christ Jesus ?” Do my sentiments and inclinations coincide with his ? Am I in the world, as he was in the world, meek and lowly, tender and compassionate, patient and forgiving, zealous and active? Is the resemblance become more and more visible ? Beholding in a glass the glory of the Lord, am I changed into the same image, from glory to glory?" And am I waiting and longing for that blessed period, “ when he shall appear, and I shall be like him, seeing him as he is ?” when the likeness shall be extended to the whole man? when «he shall change this vile body, and fashion it like unto his own glorious body, according to the working of his mighty power, whereby he is able even to subdue all things to himself?”
4th, Are we distinguished by dutiful obedience to our Lord, as the Head of the holy family? In every well-regulated family, the will of the head of the fa. mily is a law to the members of it. It is completely so in the family of our Lord. His will is the law of his house. Christians walk by rule ; and that rule is not their own reason, or will, nor the opinions and will of men, but the mind and will of Christ. Now, is this our character ? Is our first inquiry with re
spect to any piece of conduct, what is the will of my Lord? Do we believe what Christ reveals, because be reveals it do what he commands, because he commands it and submit to what he appoints, because he appoints it? Is our regard to his will universal? Do we attempt to bring every thought and feeling into subjection to him? Do we account his statutes concerning all things to be right? Have we no reterves, no exceptions ? Is our obedience affectionate and cheerful—the obedience of children, and not of slaves ? Do we delight to do his will--and “present ourselves a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable, which is our reasonable service ?"
5th, Are we distinguished by that familiar intercourse which marks the members of the family of Christ? Members of this family have frequent and intimate intercourse, both with the head of the family and with each other. Now, do we know what it is to have our "fellowship with the Father, and with his Son Christ Jesus ?" Do we know what it is to tell our Saviour all our wants, and sorrows, and fears, and to receive the supply of our need “according to his glorious riches?” Do we highly prize the ordinances of grace, as the means of this communion? Do we greatly esteem the Holy Spirit, the great agent by whom this intercourse is conducted ? Do we carefully avoid every thing which has a tendency to interrupt this communion, by grieving “that Holy Spirit of promise, who is the earnest of our inheritance ?" Do we main tain a friendly intercourse with our fellow Christians, though they differ from us in opinion and usage on matters of inferior moment? « They who fear the Lord speak often one to another."
6th, Are we distinguished by mutual offices of kindness, as members of the holy family? In a happily constituted family, the current of love is in cona
stant circulation ; and there is an endless succession of mutual kindnesses and attentions. It is so in the family of Christ. Are we distinguished by marks of the attention of our great Elder Brother and Head? Are we constantly receiving out of his fulness, receive ing, according to our necessity, instruction and warning, reproof and consolation, chastisements and endearments ? And are we attempting to do him good offices in return ? Our goodness, indeed, cannot extend to him. He stands personally in need of none of our services : But he has a church on the earth which he identifies with himself. Are we endeavouring to promote its interests ? Are we speaking to his honour, and living to his honour? Are we doing all we can to thin the ranks of his enemies, and increase the number of his friends ? Are we daily making prayer for him, and daily also praising him?
By these plain scriptural remarks, we call on you to examine yourselves. If you have no satisfactory evidence of relation, affection, resemblance, or obe dience to Christ, nor of intercourse with him, nor of a mutual interchange of good offices, presume not to take a place among his children. But if, amid many deficiencies, you cannot but discern the outline of this character in yourselves, you are members of the holy family. Come, and welcome. Your Elder Brother sits at the head of his table, and his voice to you is, “ Henceforth I call you not servants, but friends, Eat, О friends; drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved !"
Immediately after the Introductory Address, an appropriate psalm, such as Psa. xxvi. 6–8; Psa. xliii. 3-5; Psa. cxxxii. 110. is sung, during which time the seats around the communion table are occupied by intending communicants. On their being filled, the minister descends from the pulpit to the head of the table-reads the account of the institution of the Lord's supper from 1 Cor. xi. 23-26 ; and offers up a thanksgiving for the blessings of salvation,