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situation, with supporting evidence of his religious character. He finds here the lively, and therefore the distinguishable, exercises of a good mind; that disposition, particularly, to obey God, which, is the soul of his religion, and without a conviction of which all things else, commonly considered as evidences of piety, must stand for nothing; and with a rational conviction of which, all these things are chiefly unnecessary. The existence of this disposition, he also finds most happily evinced by its increasing strength; the best, the indispensable evidence, that it has begun to exist. Multitudes of good men obtain this invaluable blessing, here, who elsewhere look, and sigh, for it in vain. There is scarcely a greater discouragement to him, who has entertained comfortable hopes of being a religious man, than the regular destitution of these blessings at the sacramental table. Graces, and hopes, and comforts, which elsewhere decay, almost always revive here; not indeed, regularly, at every celebration of this ordinance ; but at certain happy seasons, returning so often, as at least to prevent the Christian from entire despondence, and usually so, as to furnish him with a good degree of resolution in the course of his duty.
How much such beings, as we are, need all these benefits it is hardly necessary to remark. Should any Christian, who is present, hesitate concerning this subject ; let me request him to remember the sorrows, doubts, and despondencies of the Psalmist; a man after God's own heart; a man inspired; a man often furnished with eminent tokens of the Divine favour. Let him listen to the complaints of his fellow-christians; and learn from their own mouths their lukewarmness, their sloth, their reluctance to their duty, their slowness of heart to believe, and their general self-condemnation ; together with the fears and doubts, and melancholy forebodings, springing from these unhappy sources, Let him, finally, remember how often bimself has suffered, when temptations arrested him; his resolution became enfeebled ; apprehensions multiplied; hope gradually receded from his sight; faith lost its hold on the Divine promises; and he appeared to himself as vibrating between Earth and Heaven, and as a settled inhabitant of neither. If, with these things in full view, he is at a loss concerning the import
ance of the blessings, which I have recited, it will, I am afraid, be difficult, if not impossible, to explain to him their inestimable value.
From the observations, which have been made in these discourses, I deduce,
). The wisdom of this Institution.
The ends, proposed in the Institution of the Lord's Supper by the Redeemer of mankind, are certainly of a most benevolentand glorious nature, and peculiarly worthy of the All-perfect Mind. They are the enlargement, and rectification, of our views concerning the noblest of all subjects, the purification of our affections, and the amendment of our lives. The means, by which these ends are accomplished, are equally efficacious and desirable. They are, at the same time, simple ; intelligible to the humblest capacity ; in no respect burdensome; lying within
; the reach of all men ; incapable of being misconstrued without violence; and, therefore, not easily susceptible of mystical, or superstitious perversion. In their own proper, undisguised nature, they appeal powerfully to the senses, the imagination, and the heart; and, at the same time, enlighten, in the happiest manner, the understanding. Accordingly, Christians in all ages have regarded this sacrament with the highest veneration ; have gone to the celebration with hope ; attended it with delight; and left it with improvement in the Evangelical character. God has been glorified by it in a peculiar manner. The numbers, virtues, and comforts, of his children have been increased ; and the religion of the Cross has been enabled to triumph over the callous, obdurate, heart.
2. These observations strongly enforce the duty of Preparing ourselves for every celebration of this ordinance.
This duty, as every person may easily see, is powerfully urged by almost every thing, which has been said in these discourses; by the solemnity of the command, by the nature and design of the Institution ; by the nature of the disposition, with which we are required to attend it; by the numerous and important benefits, which it confers, and, peculiarly, by the glori. ous character of the Saviour, by whom it was enjoined.
The only manner, in which we can rationally hope to fulfil these duties, or share in these blessings, is the faithful celebration of the ordinance itself. To such a celebration it is ordinarity indispensable, that we make ourselves ready for the performance of this duty. He, who comes to the sacramental table with a thoughtless, indifferent, worldly spirit, may expect to go from it without profit, and without comfort. Nay, more ; as he comes with an unworthy disposition, he is bound to believe, that he will eat and drink judgment to himself. The merely external performance of any duty neither promises, nor conveys, any blessing to the performer. The road to all blessings is obedi. ence; and obedience always has its seat in the heart.
The proper means of preparing ourselves for the Lord's Supper, are solemn contemplations on the great subjects of it; the attentive reading of the Scriptures, or other religious books ; particularly those parts of them, which are employed upon the sacrifice of the Cross, and the love of the Redeeiner; self-exami. nation; and prayer. Let a man examine himself, says St. Paul, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord's body : that is, not distinguishing the true nature and design of this ordinance. The solemn contemplation, the diligent reading, which I have recommended, are indispensable means of this discernment; as selfexamination is, to a knowledge of the views and disposition of our own minds. Prayer, though not the only, is beyond a doubt the best, mode of self-examination. In the awful presence of Jehovah, while employed in the confession of our sins, and supplication for his mercy, we cannot avoid feeling our own unworthiness, the reality, multitude, and aggravation, of our sins, and the necessity of his grace to give us the victory over them; a candour, and an integrity of investigation, not easily attainable in any other situation. With these means, faithfully employed, we may humbly hope for just apprehensions concerning this solemn ordinance ; evangelical dispositions in our attendance upon it, and that blessing of God, which will make it efficacious to our comfort, peace, and advancement in the Divine life.
When the glorious Person, whom God has set King upon his Holy Hill of Zion, comes in to see the guests at his table ; how delightful will it be to each of us, my brethren, to be found by him clad in the robe of righteousness, and thus prepared to receive him with the honour which is his due! How delightful to be wel. comed by him to his table, and received with smiles of complacency! How distressing on the contrary, how dreadful, to appear before him without a wedding-garment! Who must not be speechless, when He sternly and awfully demands the cause of this unseemly, and irreverent appearance? Who must not be overwhelmed with anguish and dismay, to hear, pronounced concerning himself, the terrible sentence, Bind him, hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth?
THE EXTRAORDINARY MEANS OF GRACE
THE DISCIPLINE OF THE CHURCH.
MATTHEW xviii. 15–18.
Moreover, if thy Brother trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault, between thee and him alone, if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy Brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses, every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the Church, but if he shall neglect to hear the Church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man, and a Publican.
In the six preceeding discourses, I have considered at length, two Ordinances of the Christian Church, commonly styled Sacraments; to wit, Baptism, and the Lord's Supper. I shall now proceed to the consideration of another, and the only remaining ordinance peculiar to that body; to wit, Christian Discipline.
In examining this subject, I shall endeavour to point out,