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divine authority, as. “ remember that thou keep holy the sabbath day." He who breaks one of the least of his commandments (and certainly this is not one of the least of them), and teaches others, either by precept or example, so to do, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven. What an alarming reproof must this be to those, who either systematically reject, or habitually neglect this holy ordinance : if the due observance of this sacred rite, be divinely authorized, no man can refrain from its celebration and be guiltless.
2. As a profession of faith in Christ and a promise of obedience to his laws, are the qualifications necessary for receiving baptism, so are they for receiving the Lord's Supper. But there is this very material difference to be made, when we inquire into the qualifications of any one for baptism, and when any one enquires into his own qualifications for the Lord's Supper. Baptism is administered to an infant, or person of riper years, to be admitted into the christian Church, on a profession of faith in Christ, and a promise of obedience to his laws. The questions put to the surety for the infant, or to the person of riper years, are, dost thou believe? wilt thou obediently keep God's holy will and commandments, as declared by his Son, Jesus Christ, and walk in the same all the days of thy life? The Lord's Supper is administered to an actual member of the Christian church, after a trial of his sincerity, and strength in holding fast this profession, and in performing thris promise ; he therefore is bound to put these questions to himself-" Have I believed ? have I obediently kept God's holy will and commandments, as declared by his Son Jesus Christ? or have I acted hypocritically by professing a faith which I do not hold, and a purity I do not intend to aim at ?” so far as he has failed in believing, or in obedi. ently keeping God's commandments, he is to renew his faith and virtue, by recollection, repentance, and prayer. He is to have a lively faith in God's mercy, through Christ, and repent him truly of biş sins, stedfastly purposing to lead a new life. Thus the receiving of the Lord's Supper, is a continual renewal of our baptismal profession and promise, This sacrament was ordained for the continual remembrance of the sacrifice of the death of Christ, and of the benefits which we receive thereby, and consequently, for a continual profession of our faith in that sacrifice, and for a continual promise of our obedience (growing out of that faith), by which alone we can receive those benefits. Accordingly, our communion service, in its exhortations, confession, and supplications, constantly lays before our minds, the objects of our faith, and the branches of our obedience; it calls forth the corresponding effusions of the heart, thankfulness for the blessings of the gospel, repentance for past failures, and resolutions of amendment, concluding with a solemn dedication of ourselves, our souls and bodies to the service of God, and a doxology to the adorable trinity, in whose name we have been baptized, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
St. Paul has taken up this subject, in a particular manner, (1 Cor. xi. 27, &c.) and it is highly necessary that we should weigh his important advice, he says,—“ let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup, for he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.” Men of every age and country, may eat the bread and drink the cup of the Lord unworthily. By profaning the memorials of his death, they may forfeit the benefits of it, and increase the measure of their guilt and punishment. But as many well-disposed members of the church have been afraid of approaching the altar of the Lord, lest for the want of a proper frame of mind, they should eat and drink their own damnation ; to remove the pious scruples of the timid, and awaken the attention of the inconsiderate, I will endeavour to explain the manner in which this passage of scripture is to be understood.
The first Christians, at the time they celebrated the holy communion, made a religious feast, and each family or individual contributed their portion of the victuals, according to their discretion and ability. This entertainment was called, a feast of charity, or brotherly love* So long as it was conduc
* See Jude, 12 v.
ted in a religious manner, it was liable to no objection, although it was no part of the ordinance of Christ, nor was in any way necessary to the due celebration of the holy communion. But disorders soon attended it, and, after a time, it was left off, throughout the Christian world.
These disorders appear first to have arisen in the church of Corinth, a large wealthy and luxurious city, wherein St. Paul seems to have found more to reprove and amend, than in any other congregation, to which his epistles are addressed. Concerning the holy communion, and the feast of charity accompanying it, he thus reproves the Corinthians," Now in this that I declare unto you, I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse. For first of all when ye come together in the church, I hear that there are divisions among you. When ye so come together, therefore, it is not to eat the Lord's Supper, as ye ought, for in eating, every one taketh before other, his own supper, and one is hungry, and another is drunken. What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in ?