Imatges de pàgina
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which even carries with it delight in the

performance, and pleasure in the execution of it do this only in remembrance of me; now and then assemble yourselves together, and partake of this feast of love which I have prepared for you: do this, as if he had said to us, if I have deserved any thing at your hands, if whilft upon earth, my pleasure and my business was to go about doing good to you; if in heaven, I am now interceding for you, do not utterly forget your benefactor; do not lay aside all thoughts of your friend and mediator; do not grudge a little time to converse with me; re. member me,

and I will not forget, will not leave nor forsake you; forgive each other before

you come to this table, and when you rise from it go

home with cheerfulness, and be kind to, and love one another.

Thus we may suppose him graciously condescending to reason with us; this is the utmost extent of his request, and shall we dare deny a compliance with it? This do, says our Saviour, in remembrance of me. Amongst all those refined and delicate sensations which delight the generous and grateful mind, there is not one more produtive of inward joy and satisfaction, than the pleasing recollection of those benefits which have been conferred on us by our friends: with what joy do we reflect on the gift, and on the giver, and with what pleafure do we place before our eyes every minute circumstance, every motion and gesture that accompanied it! what then should be our praise and thanksgiving, what should be our joy and

plea.

pleasure in calling to mind in the holy sacrament, the amazing beneficence, goodness, and condescension of our Divine Benefactor, whom in his folemn office we afsemble to commemorate! Is all that we ever received at the hands of others, to be compared with that love which he expressed, or with those blessings which he bestowed upon us?

But besides the firit and great design of the Holy Sacrament, namely, the commemoration of our Saviour's life, his sufferings and death, which must fill every grateful heart with an adoration of his goodness, and a veneration for his laws; there are also numberless advantages flowing to mankind from this divine infti. tution; and among others, this is by no means the least, or most inconsiderable; namely, that if performed as it ought to be performed, it muft of necessity tend to create mutual harmony, love, and affection among men: we see every day what great and useful designs have been carried on even by very small focieties of men, whose views and interests have been the same, and who have heartily united to serve and support each other: the conditions we have required in every worthy communicant, are the previous laying aside all strife and envying, all jealousies, quarrels, and animofities : If any man fay he loves God and hateth his brother, he is a liar: And again, first de reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift; and doubtless neither our gifts nor we ourselves, shall be favourably received at the altar, unless

we

we first banish malice and hatred from our hearts, and fill them with love and charity.

The bleffed Sacrament therefore should be looked on by every worthy communicant, as the bond of unity; the extensive chain of love, which links us to our fellow Christians, and which should naturally remind us of that general relation which we bear to each other, and which should be constantly and steadily displaying itself in acts of mutual love, charity, and beneficence. The Rubrick prefatory to the order of administration of the Holy Sacrament, points out to us the exact duty both of priest and people in this particular; the miniiter is there, we fee, invested with power to inquire into the character and behaviour of all those who would communicate, and to exhort them, if they have been guilty of any flagrant and conspicuous crimes, to repent and amend before they presume to eat of that bread, and drink of that cup; he is there empowered also, to prevent those between whom he perceiveth malice and hatred to reign, to be partakers of that holy communion: were he now to perform this pious office, to exert this power,

it might perhaps prove beneficial to society in general, and advantageous to every particular member of it; it might be a means of

preventing all those cruel divisions which feparate families, break friendship, and unloose the bonds of peace; it might promote private happiness, by reconciling friends and brethren, and preserve public tranquillity, by ending dif. putes amicably, without tedious and unprofi

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table law-suits : so true, and so incontestable is it, that in all nations where true Christian religion is established, that aid and support whiclı is by the state afforded to the church, is amply repaid by those reciprocal benefits which accrue to it from that support: since the belt way to ensure obedience to human laws, is to enforce the divine. For were we punctually to perform the commandments of God, the or. dinances of men would be almost unnecessary, and our huge large body of laws, which has swelled to fo enormous a bulk, might then be reduced to a very narrow compafs.

With regard to the intrinsic excellency of this institution, I shall here beg leave to observe, that it hath by a kind of interfering providence, kept up and maintained its dignity and folemnity in spite of all opposition, and even in an age when scarce

any other

part of our religion has escaped the ridicule of fcoffers: there is something, to which indeed we are indebted partly to the great reformers of our church, in the manner of the celebration of it, which inspires an awe and veneration even in the most profligate and abandoned: it has indeed been said, (and what that is false and impious has not been said?) by the enemies of our holy religion, that those ivho fre. quent the table of the Lord, are hypocrites and diffemblers, that they are equally base, corrupt, and uncharitable after, as they were before the performance of this duty; but this is an affertion without proof, or foundation; for surely we may venture to affirm, and experience jui

tifies it, that such as do frequently attend the holy communion, are very seldom convicted by the world of any flagrant crimes, are very feldom men of bad lives or characters. Weaknesses and imperfections we are all liable to, but that a man can often receive the blessed facrament, repent of any known fins, and yet continue to commit those fins; his conscience every time reproaching, him as it must do for such behaviour, is an instance of complicated, of continued impiety, it is uncharitable to suppose any man capable of; and it is withal most ridiculous and absurd, because no worldly views could influence him to act thus, as every man at this time, and in this nation, is left, perhaps too much so, at liberty in this point; and in an age wherein piety is so little regarded or esteemed, and the want of it so little censured, the mere affectation of it could answer no end or purpose whatever.

But further, men from the various and necessary distinctions of life, from rank, fortune, and profession, are separated from each other, and there are some degrees of life which always keep them fo: that is to say, the very high and very low: and hence arises this misfortune, that the great are the proud and insolent, the poor mean and miserable; the former triumph and oppress, the latter sink and despair; the one think themselves above divine notice, the other look on themselves as beneath it; extremes these, both equally derogatory to the supreme power and goodness.

Here then is an institution, which, like that great leveller we all must feel, throws down

diftinction;

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