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66 brance of me."* The administration, therefore, of the Lord's Supper, to persons in extreme sickness, should only be thought an opportunity afforded them, to testify the sincerity of their repentance; that they give this assurance of their dying in the faith and communion of Jesus Christ, in entire resignation to the will of God, thus calling them from this mortal world, and in perfect charity with all mankind. And it is far better that they should not defer this ceremony to their death, but be constant attendants at the Lord's table, at the periods of health, and in the vigor of life.
Fourthly. It now remains, lastly, that I lay before you, the benefits that will arise from the partaking in this sacrament, to all, as men, as members of society, and as Chris. tians. The preparation which our church rcquires is, “that we repent us truly of our * Luke xxii.
6 sins past, and are in perfect charity with 6 all men.” The review of our own hearts, and mode of life, both public and private, cannot but be attended with the best effects ; we are brought by such reflection before the tribunal of our conscience, and are led to settle our account with God, in which we are all certainly debtors to his goodness, and dependants on his merey: we consider what our sins have been, we are sensible of our manifold transgressions, and we sincerely repent them. Without stated periods for this review of our couduct, we might be induced to postpone the painful enquiry, and, by deferring repentance, continue in sin, till we found ourselves alike on the eve of amendment, and on the brink of the grave. The next advantage that attends this ceremony is, our being in charity with all men, a peculiar mark and distinction of the Christian religion. This leads us to remember, that we
are all men and brethren ; that though an equality of rank or riches is not possible in this world, yet that we are all earth of the same earth, liable to the same punishments, and heirs of the same advantages in another. It teaches us that benevolence is the duty of all, and pride their disgrace. A particular blame that St. Paul laid upon the Corinthians was, “ When ye come together, (said “ he) to celebrate this rite, the commemora« tion of your meek and generous Master, “ every one taketh before other his own sup“ per; and one is hungry, absolutely de“ fective in his supply of this communion, " whilst another takes it to such excess, that “ he is drunken. What! (continues the « Apostle) have ye not houses to eat and to « drink in? or despise ye your poorer bre“ thren who have none? I commend you « not for this, ye come not together for the 6 better, but for the worse :* that is, in
* 1 Cor. xi.
stead of receiving the benefit you would naturally do, from the fit participation of a religious rite, you are guilty of despising and prophaning it, which is worse than an absolute neglect of it. Thus far have I laid before your view, the due consideration of this sacrament, from a desire to enforce the necessity of this pious and peculiarly Christian duty, from a sincere endeavour to remove a slavish fear on the one hand, as a criminal neglect on the other. It is the duty of the elder, and the well-informed, to explain it to the young and the illiterate, and to press upon them the propriety (if they call themselves members of a certain church) of conforming toits rules and ordinances. Let not our minds be dejected with unnecessary terrors; we have a Redeemer who is touched with a sense of our infirmities, and who “ ever liveth 66 to make intercession for us.” We never can suppose, that a beneficent God gave us religion to make us miserable, but to make
us happy. Christianity was never designed to be shewn through the grate of a cloister, by Pharasaical fast, by cor-, poreal punishment and penance, by the telling of beads, or the jingling of bells. It was intended to be expanded and incorporated into society, to be visible in every action, to be evident in the practice of every morab duty. Our Saviour says to his Disciples, “Go, teach all nations. I send 66 you as sheep among wolves; unite the 66 wisdom of the serpent with the innocence 6 of the dove."* God gave to man an upright countenance, that he might raise to his Maker the cheerful note of praise, that he might lift his hands in thanksgiving for past benefits, in prayer for a continuance of them, or for support and assistance under affliction. Let no vain fears distract us from our duty; man was never intended, like the devils, to * Matthew x. 16.