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They also receive the Lord's Supper, unworthily, who do it only as a testimony of respect, and friendly remembrance. These do not discern, rightly distinguish, the Lord's body. Their celebration of this ordinance is not scriptural: as they do not keep in view the grand object, for which Christ instituted it. It was a maxim among the Rabbins" that if the Paschal Lamb was slain in its own name, and the blood sprinkled as that of another sacrifice, the whole was polluted.” Or if the offerer changed his intention, during the solemnity, and in the purpose of his mind, changed the sacrifice, it was polluted. (See Mishna. Tract Pesachim.) This was doubtless true of the passover, and no less so of the antitype, for in the emblems of Christ crucified, a greater than the Paschal Lamb is represented. If our Saviour instituted this solemnity, to bring to our remembrance his death, as a sacrifice for sin, and a person comes to the altar, with a creed determined against this scriptural and religious use of it, does he not in heart change the sacrifice? he professes to remember Christ crucified, but he commemorates the sprinkling of his blood, not as an atonement for sin, but “ as a necessary consequence of Jewish malice, and of the unshaken integrity, of the founder of christianity, who to convince the world that he was sincere, and that his doctrines were all true, submitted to a painful and ignominious death.” Is not this eating and drinking uñworthily ?-can such communicants have ever carefully examined the Book of God relative to this matter? If they have not, they are greatly to be pitied, and greatly to be blamed ; if they have, and still refuse to acknowledge him, who died for their sins, and rose again for their justification, their case is peculiarly deplorable.
It may be here asked, who then should approach this sacred ordinance ? I answer, 1st, every sincere believer in Christ, has a right to come-such are of the family of God, and this bread belongs to the children. 2dly, every real penitent is invited to come, as all the promises of pardon mentioned in the bible, are made to the contrite, and he that is athirst may take of the water of life freely. Thus, none are excluded, but the unbeliever, the impenitent, the transgressor, and the profane, heaven itself will be
accessible to many who die in their struggles, to flee from the wrath to come ; in their aspirations after holiness, and in their endeavours after a new life; we may rest assured that God, who made us all, who only can compare performance with ability, who alone knows how far the heart has been pure, or corrupted, how inadvertency has surprised, fear has betrayed, or weakness has impeded, will make every reasonable allowance for human infirmity; and shall those be rejected from the table of the Lord, below, who will be permitted to join the church of the first born above, the assembly of saints, and the choir of angels ?
3. In the beginning of this chapter I have mentioned the general tendency of this ordinance, to produce religious excellence. Another powerful motive to enforce a regular attendance at the Lord's table, will be found by every Christian in his own personal benefit.
The signs and memorials of a religion which is founded on the highest act of divine love, and imposes universal benevolence, as its characteristic virtue, will form the humble and conscientious communicant, after its own amiable likeness “ pure, peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits.” They will send him into public society, the equitable magistrate, the peaceful citizen, the friendly neighbour. They will dismiss him to the retirements of domestic life, the affectionate husband, the kind parent, and the indulgent master. He will find no discipline so likely to soften the heart, and civilize the manners, as the exercises of christian piety, which inspire and cherish the humanity, charity, and mutual condescension, that constitute the essence of social happiness. An habitual conformity to the precepts of the gospel, moral, and ceremonial, will make religion not only the dictate of his understanding, but the object of his affections ; virtue will be not only the deliberate choice of his will, but the sentiment of his heart, and the unvaried colour of his life.*
* From the great respect that was paid to this ordinance, in ancient times, it is sufficiently evident that uncommon influences of the spirit of God accompanied the celebration of it. Hence, those epithets applied to
We have then this great encouragement, in the performance of our religious duties, that we are under the direction of a merciful and gracious being, who imposes no services but such as contribute to our perfection ; that the end of all his dispensations, the object of his ever watchful providence, is to lead us in the way of his commandments, and by the guidance of his spirit, through this varied scene of good and evil; through the innocent satisfactions, and the unavoidable calamities of life, to a state of happiness, pure and unalterable.
We know that whilst in obedience to the injunction of our blessed Redeemer, we are commemorating his passion upon earth, he is pleading the merits of it in heaven ; and what Christian, who reads these pages, if the trumpet, which shall give notice of the
it, by St. Ignatius, in his epistle to the Ephesians. “ Brethren, stand fast in the faith of Jesus Christ-in his passion and resurrection, breaking that one bread which is the medicine of immortality, the antidote against death, and the means of living in God by Christ Jesus, the medicament that dispels all evil." Ignat. Epist. ad Ephes. Cap. xx