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enmity. Such an acknowledgment is often made; without its being perceived, that the disqualification affects not merely this duty in particular, but that of prayer generally. For we cannot put up the short prayer enjoined for daily use; withouticon. sent to the dependence of the forgiveness of ourselves by the father of mercies, on the like being extended by us to our fellow sinners. .
In what is said, it is not intended to urge a compliance with this call of duty, on those who are living in a state of sin, and while they so continue. And here, by a state of sin, I allude not only to offences which are notorious and give publick scandal; but those which are less obvious, yet very much impair the happiness of social life. Under this head, come all deviations from strict 'truth and integrity, in the conversation and in the dealings. While people are conscious of such traits of cha. racter, they are right in abstaining from the Lord's Table. Not only are such persons not invited to it; but they are cautioned in one of the exhortations of the Church, that by attendance on it, they kindle God's wrath against them. And as to any support which they may think given to religion, by attending on an ordinance confessedly divine, the very reverse is the result: inducing an opinion- although a mistaken one-in persons of more correct conduct than themselves, that a rite observed to be so inoperative on the observers of it, may be dispensed with.
But while we acknowledge, that consciousness of à state of sin should restrain from this holy ordinance; it is to be lamented, that the same should ever be the effect of some difficulties, which the persons labouring under them can sometimes hardly account for or explain; and which also may sometimes be traced to the want of a certain species of animal sensibility; not having any more connexion with holy habit, than with any other which may be descriptive of character. The way to avoid such de:
lusion, is to keep constantly in view, that the great end of religion is "the living godly, righteously and soberly in this present world;" and that the mean of this, ordained by divine wisdom, must rest not on our transient feelings, but on its own permanent obligation."
With some, there is a restraint from the Lord's Table, in a consideration which we cannot but respect,
while we fault the omission which it occa. sions. I allude to persons, who rieither doubt of their christian obligations, nor are afraid or ashamed to avow them before the world; but who shrink back from the making of a profession, the sanctity of which they may not sustain in future life. Now these are eminently the persons, who will find the benefit of binding themselves by this tie, to the great captain of their salvation; for the obtaining of his grace, to secure them against all sin: at the same time distinguishing between what deserves the name, and what is within the bounds of Christian liberty. And it should further be considered by them, that if they were to act consistently with their erroneous principle; it would hinder from all attendance on the publick worship of God, and even from all conversation advocating his existence and his perfections: because any thing of this sort opes rates rather to the injury than to the increase of religion; if, while we thus confess him with our lips, we should be found denying him in our works.
Many an ill-informed conscience has revolted at what is said in the eleventh chapter of the first epistle to the Corinthians-"He that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself.”* There are frequently misunderstood the two words as used in this place unworthily” and “damnation;" which however may be made clear, by other expressions in the passage. The “ eating and drinking unworthily;" or in a manner unworthy of the occasion, was the eating and drink.
* Verse 29,
ing as at an ordinary meal. And this is what is called “the not discerning of the Lord's body," that is the Adt noting of the difference between the appointed sign of it and conamon food. : 3°5513,13 . nu
It is the more surprising that there should be so often mistaken the sense of the word unworthily;" as it is utterly, inconsistent with humility in the best of Christians, to suppose themselves worthy of the benefits assured to them in the Lord's Supper. But let the idea of worthiness be transferred from the person, to the demeanour during the celebration; and understood as expressing no more than its suitableness to the occasion; and immediately, a different sense is visible on the passage. That this is the true sense, the connexion shows.
The“ damnation,"—that is the condemnation or judgment* spoken of, is the being subjected to certain temporal punishment, by which God, in the ifancy of his Church, vindicated the sanctity of this sacred rite. For that reference is had not to judgment in another world, but to temporal punishment in this, appears from what is said -" for this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep:” And “we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world." In short, the precise fault of the Corinthians is avoid. ed, by the merely recollecting with reverence, that the bread and wine which are the objects of our senses, are representations of the body and blood of Christ, which were offered as a sacrifice for our sins. Doubtless, in addition to such recollection, the occasion should be an excitement of pious affections and holy resolution. But the obligation to this, is the result of the nature of the subject gene. rally; and not of the particular handling of it, in the said passage to the Corinthians.
To bring the whole matter to a single point, we may fairly rest it on this ground. Has the ordinance in question been instituted by the divine author of
our religion? If the question be answered in the ne. gative, it bars all further inquiry. But if the affirmative be the correct decisions and I address myself to those who are convinced of this there can be no state of mind which should exclude us from the celebration of it, except such as we ought to be afraid to live or to die in. Accordingly they to whom this applies, are thus particularly addressed in one of the exhortations of our Church"Where. fore do ye not repent and amend?” As for those who are not conscious that they are living in any course of conduct, which blasts their hopes of hap. piness hereafter; they are now earnestly entreated to conform to this appointed profession of Christianity; which, as was said in the beginning, must be imperfect at the best, in any other form. And it is to be hoped, that this exhortation will be especially re, garded by those, who are in the afternoon to be the subjects of the holy rite of confirmation; which, in all the ages of the Church, has been considered as preparatory to the eucharistick celebration of the great sacrifice of the cross; by the merit of which alone, there can be an acceptance of ourselves, or of our devotions, or of any of our works. (See Disertation VIII.]
The Design of this Lecture.-Scriptural Authorities.-The
Fathers.-English and Lutheran Churches.-Opinion of Calvin and Beza.-Uses of the Ordinance.- Particulars in the Service.-Exhortation to Subjects of the Rite.--Especially to Young Persons.
present Lecture, is on the ordinance of Confirmation; and may properly be considered as a part of the lectures which were proposed to be delivered on the Catechism: because the title of the instrument is-"A Catechism, that is to say an instruction, to be learned by every person, before he be brought to be confirmed by the Bishop.”
It is not uncommon to find within our communion, persons who are uninformed of the grounds on which we practise the rite to be discoursed of. In regard to those who have this day submitted to the administration of it; * we may hope, that there needs not any thing to be now said, in the way of explanation: because, as every person offering is expected to have previously applied to one of the clergy, there is thus an opportunity afforded of obtaining all the satisfaction which may be required. It is therefore principally for the informa. tion of those who have been witnesses of the transaction, that there is to be given the following brief statement of the reasons of our retaining of this ancient rite: to which will be added an explanation of such parts of the service, as may seem liable to be misunderstood.
The origin of it was as follows: We read in the cighth chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, verses
• The Lecture was delivered immediately after the adni. nistration of the rite.