Imágenes de páginas

mies, to the agonies of the cross and to the stroke of the king of terrors: for our benefit, he arose again with power and lustre, ascended into the mansions of eternal happiness, intercedes for us with the Almighty, and holdeth the reins of government. And shall the amiable, the excellent, the beneficial actions of this Saviour, be buried in oblivion? Forbid it gratitude, duty, interest! Forbid it, every consideration that can affect the human mind! With the greatest wisdom and goodness this beneficent Jesus instituted a rite that should recal his love to our memories, and awake each pious passion in our breasts; a rite which, by the breaking of bread, and the pouring out of wine should represent to us, in a striking manner, that most signal proof of the affection, both of him and his heavenly Father, when his tender frame was exposed to wounds and bruises, when streams of the most precious blood issued from his sacred veins. And the more we reflect on this instance of divine love, the more we shall perceive that there was a peculiar propriety in pointing out, by a particular ordinance, a fact of such immense importance in the system of revelation ! Nay, we may even venture to assert, that in some dark and corrupt ages, when the Scriptures were little known by the common people, and hardly studied by the priests, the death of our Saviour, had not the remembrance of it been renewed by the celebration of this sacred ordinance, would have been almost forgotten.

We should also remember, that the vanities of the world, the allurements of sensual pleasure, the charms of ambition, the splendour of riches; in short, temptations froin present objects of every kind, have often too fatal an influence on our temper and conduct; they have a melancholy aptitude to draw the soul aside to folly, and to obliterate the impressions of things divine. It was, therefore, a wise, a kind intention of our great Redeemer, by a frequent repetition of the sacramental feast to call back the wandering heart of man to a sense of his duty and obligations as a Chris. tian. Besides, though the religion of the immuculate Jesus is altogether gentle, generous, and beneficent ; though its whole tendency is to correct the passions, sweeten the dispositions, and enlarge the affection of men; and though it enforces all this upon us by motives surprisingly powerful and affecting ; yet such is the perverseness of the human heart, that jealousies and contentions, envy, wrath, and malice, too often find admittance there. Was it not then an instance of our Saviour's wisdom and benevolence, by uniting us together at the sacrament of his body and blood to inspire us with condescension, compassion, and love, and to urge the putting away all bitterness, anger, evilspeaking, and revenge.

We ought, therefore, to be very careful how we perform this duty appointed by our dying Saviour ? We should, in order to receive it worthily, employ our meditation on the design and excellency of the gospel; on the noble system of doctrines and duties it contains ; on the illustrious, divine, and complete example of the blessed Jesus ; on the important privileges, the valuable promises, and the ravishing prospects his revelation affords; and on the bright and convincing evidence with which it is attended. We should contemplate that essential and unparalleled benevolence of the Deity, in forming the way for our redemption, on the readiness manifested by the Son of God, in undertaking our cause ; and on his wonderful transactions in the prosecution of this grand, this amazing work: above all, we should impress upon our souls a strong sense of the special and immediate purposes for which this sacrament was appointed, and when we actually join in communion, we should be careful that our affections be properly directed, and warmly engaged.

To have our hearts fixed upon the vanities, the profits, and the cares of this world, is a direct violation of the ordinance; and therefore we should be extrem

ly careful to maintain a right temper and behaviour at

a that time. We should study to abstract our thoughts as much as possible, from every foreign, every terrestrial consideration, and to have our passion fervently employed in the solemn service. “Retire, O my soul, each of us should say, from this inferior scene of things, from all its pleasures and all its pursuits, and hold communion with the Almighty and his Son, the immaculate Jesus. Meditate upon that infinite grace of omnipotence, which contrived the amazing plan, that displayeth pardon, peace, and endless happiness to so undeserving a creature as thou art. Recollect that surprising condescension and tenderness of thy compassionate Redeemer, which induced him to bring down from heaven, salvation to the sons of men. Call to mind the admirable instructions he offered, the charming pattern he exhibited, the hard labours and sufferings he endured in the course of his ministry; especially call to mind the ignominy, the reproaches, the agonies he endured when he hung upon the cross, and purchased for thee eternal mercy. Think upon these affecting subjects, till thine heart is filled with sorrow for thine iniquities; till thy faith becomes lively, active, and fruitful; till thy gratitude and love are elevated to the highest pitch; till thy obedience is rendered uniform, steady and complete. Hast thou, O my God, and Parent of universal nature ! Hast thou so illustriously manifested thy compassion for sinners, as not to spare thine own Son? Hast thou sent the Saviour into this lower world, in order to raise the children of men to immortality, perfection, and glory? And am I now in thy presence, on purpose to celebrate this institution, which requireth me to commemorate the death of the great Messiah ; to declare my public acceptance of his excellent revelation, and my regard to my Christian brethren : May then the remembrance of his beneficence, dwell upon my mind, and upon my tongue for ever and ever! May I consider and comply with the intention of his gospei; and may the sentiments of kindness and chari's

towards my fellow-mortals, and fellow-disciples, with increasing purity, with increasing zeal, reign in my breast.'

When we partake of this sacred ordinance, such are the views that should possess our souls: but it will signify little to entertain these views at that time, unless the effects of them are apparent in our future conduct and conversation ; for a transient flow of affections, or sallies of immediate delight, were not principally intended in this institution. The blessed Jesus did not ordain it as a ceremony or charm, but as a proper method of establishing our hearts in virtuous and pious dispositions. Though ye have, therefore, O Christians, obeyed the Redeemer's command in this appointment, and found your passions greatly moved, yet this is not the whole required at your hands; it will justly be expected, that ye should live to the honor of your divine Master. As you have solemnly professed your faith in him, and your love towards him, the reality of your faith and love should be demonstrated by walking more strictly in the way of his precepts, und by abounding in that heavenly character and temper, which his spotless example so engag. ingly recommends: thus only will the sacrament become subservient to the most beneficial purposes; thus only will it be instrumental in qualifying us for sharing in the dignity and felicity possessed by our exalted Saviour. May, therefore, all the followers of the immaculate Jesus, advance from holiness to holiness till they arrive at the regions of eternal felicity, by uniting together at his sacred table.

Having thus instituted his last supper, our blessed Saviour was deeply affected with his own thoughts : and after delivering the sacramental cup, telling them that his blood was shed for them, he mentioned the treachery of Judas a second time: But, behold, the hund of him that betrayeth me, is with me on the table. This second declaration was made very properly after

the institution of the sacrament, which exhibits the highest instance of our great Redeemer's love to mankind, his dying to obtain the remission of their sins; for it abundantly proves, that the person who could deliberately be guilty of such an injury to so kind a friend, must have been a monster, the foulness of whose ingratitude, cannot be reached by the force of language. Some of the disciples, particularly struck with horror at the thought of Judas's treachery, rebuked him, by asking him with surprise, how he could betray his Master? This accusation, Judas, no doubt, repelled, by impudently denying the fact ; but consciousness of guilt, giving edge to the reproaches of his brethren, and to every circumstance of the affair, he thinking himself affronted, immediately left the company, exceedingly displeased.

Our blessed Saviour's sufferings were now at hand: the traitor Judas was gone to the chief priests and elders, for a band of soldiers to apprehend him ; but this did not discompose the Redeemer of mankind; he took occasion to meditate on the glory that would accrue both to himself and to the Almighty, from those sufferings, and spake of it to his disciples : Now, said he, is the Son of man Glorified, and God is glorified in hin. He also told them, that having already done honour to his Father, by the past actions of his life, and being about to honor him yet further by his sufferings and death, which would display his perfections, particularly his infinite love to the human race, in the most astonishing and amiable light, he was in his turn to receive honor from the Almighty ; intimating that his human nature was to be exalted to the right hand of Omnipotence, and that his mission from God was to be supported by irrefragable attestation. But his disciples, imagining that he spake of the glory of a temporal kingdom, their ambition was again revived, and they began to dispute with as much keenness as ever, which of them should be the greatest in that kingdom. This contention, Jesus, composed by the

« AnteriorContinuar »