Imatges de pàgina
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distinction; to this feast all are invited, high and low, rich and poor, one with another. There are indeed but too many of those, whom fortune has placed in a superior rank, who affect to despise it; those whom gratitude calls on to he most thankful for benefits received, are most forgetful of their benefactor ; those whose example could most influence the rest of the world, are too careless of their behaviour; or if we do now and then see them at the holy table, it is because they cannot avoid it; they are drawn by interest to a place where devotion could not carry them, and readily comply with human laws, though they have neglected the divine.

It happens in this, as in that feast mentioned by our Saviour, that the rich who are bid. den, will not come; they have farms, they have wives, they have pleasures, they have vices, they pray the Lord of the feast to have them excused; whilft from the streets and lanes of the city come in the poor, and the house is filled with guests.

This is indeed the only table, where all men; of all orders, ranks and degrees, can be admita ted together, where none but merit can gain us admittance, where none but innocence can insure our welcome, and where all are sure to meet with that reward which they deserve. Let the confideration therefore of the use, the importance, the excellency of this injunction, induce us to reflect seriously on what I proposed, secondly, to lay before you,—the obligations which we lie under to perform it. And Ii

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first then, This is the absolute and politive command of our great Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, whom we all pretend to acknowledge as our sovereign, that general under whom we fight, and who hath therefore the undoubted right to rule over us: to refuse to obey his commands, is treason and rebellion, flying in the face of him whom we have sworn to serve ; him who hath power to punish or reward us: but his commands, however easy to be complied with, seem harsh and disagreeable to our perverse and obftinate dispositions ; let us fet the precept in a milder light; let us consider it as the last request of a dying friend, who af. ter a wearisome and wretched life spent in our service, begs us but now and then to think of him, to call to mind his endeavour to oblige us: but this image, as indeed all must be, is far beneath what it would represent, because our blessed Saviour did more for us, for every one of us, than any one man could possibly do for another, and has therefore infinitely more right to our obedience. Can we forget a friend whose wisdom is always ready to counsel, whose power is always exerted to defend us? Can we forget a friend who lived but to serve, who died but to redeem us; whose knowledge alone can make us happy here, and on whofe interceffion we must rely for eternal bliss hereafter? Shall we not then set apart a few hours to a grateful remembrance of that bounty to which we owe our whole lives? Can any table furnish us with such entertainment as the table of the Lord? Can any feast give us such refin

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ed, and such exquisite delight? If two or three of us come together on this occafion, our Saviour will be in the midst of us; he will preside over the feast, he will receive his guests, he will promote every good thought in us, banish every evil one, enliven our charity, and make us worthy visitants.

In the purer ages of Christianity, the eucharist was always a daily part of the common prayer; they who lived then never omitted an opportunity of partaking of it; and though I am far from thinking it necessary to falvation, that we should exactly follow them therein, yet surely such their zeal was infinitely preferable to the coldness and insensibility of these our days.

What are the most frequent causes of this, it is perhaps very difficult to determine: fome I believe are unwilling, some are afraid, fome are ashamed to communicate; the foolish man fets light by it, the weak man dreads it, the wicked man prophanes it. By daily converse with an idle, felfish, luxurious world, we contract such a levity and dissipation of thought, that we cannot without great difficulty bring back our wandered thoughts to any thing fo folemn and fo ferious; that, beside the self examination required, is a disagreeable work: nothing is foʻirksome to an unjust steward, as to be forced to look into, and give up, his accounts; he would fain put it off, and promise by and by to settle once for all; or perhaps he says, he knows his own weakness; if he repents now, and communicates, he fears he shall

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sin again, and receive to himself greater damnation. Some again are of jealous, bad, and unforgiving tempers; they would approach the holy table, but they have been greatly injured, unjustly provoked, and they cannot fo readily pardon.

Men, in short, never want excuses either for doing what they ought not to do, or leaving undone what they ought; but those things which appear right in our own eyes, may not do so in those of God. If he gives us the opportunity of reconciling ourselves to him, and we will not accept of it, doubtless, as the Scripture expreffes it, he will repent him of his goodness toward us.

Caft away then all unnecessary fears and frivolous excuses, all malice and hatred, all wicked and carnal delires, repent ye truly of all your sins, and resolve to lead a new life, following the commandments of God, and walking from henceforth in his holy ways. Let us but make the resolution, and God will strengthen it: it is better to come imperfect and sinful as we are to the altar, than not to come at all: God, we may rest assured, will pardon our infirmities, and compassionate our weakness: let us give him our hearts, and he will clean and purify them. If any of us then, my brethren, here assembled, are desirous, as many of you I hope are, of receiving the holy communion, let us, I beseech you, prepare and fit ourselves for this folemn occasion; for as God loveth the cheerful giver, so he will ani. mate our lifeless faith, invigorate our luke

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warm zeal, remove all our doubts, and strengthen all our good resolutions; if we once approach his table, he will then consider us as his guests, and will receive us with tenderness and affection; and if we behave ourselves there with becoming zeal, piety, and devotion, will one day admit us to a nobler feast in the kingdom of heaven, where all his faithful children and servants shall meet to partake of one blefsed communion, in a state of uninterrupted joy and everlasting happiness.

ON MEASURE FOR MEASURE.

S E R M ON

XLIX.

LUKE VI. 38.

With the fame Aleasure that ye mete withal, it

shall be measured to you again.

AMONGST all those glorious attributes

which conspire to form our exalted idea of the Supreme Being, there is not one which the mind of man contemplates with more wonder and adoration, than the divine justice; as it is that which doth eminently preside over and direct the rest, and without which, omnipotence itself could only be pernicious, and omniscience of no effect; to be convinced of which, we need but turn our eyes on our own

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