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Some seem to think that if they have received the outward elements in a serious manner, abstained from their worldly business before and after, restrained their tongues from rough and unkind remarks, and behaved with sobriety for the day, that then they have done an acceptable service to God. But, Christian reader, let our aim be higher and better than this. Seek duly to improve the ordinance, so that it may be a fresh spring to a holy life.
In attending to the due improvement of the Lord's Supper, it may be expedient, first to review what is past, and then to notice the duties to which the faithful communicant is specially called. Such a work necessarily calls for retirement and reflection, Selfrecollection, and communion with God in secret, should therefore succeed, as soon as we have opportunity, to our more public employments.*
Suppose then the Christian to have retired to his closet, one of his first duties will be, TO REVIEW THE STATE OF HIS MIND during the past solemnity.
In order to ascertain whether it has been such as we may have reason to hope will, on the whole, through the merits of the Redeemer, be acceptable to God; (Rom. xiv, 18.) let us make a few practical enquiries, with
• It is recorded of the pious Bonnell, “ When he returned from Church he immediately retired to his closet, and spent a considerable time in his own private prayers and praises. And as his wife was still his fellow communicant, so with her he prayed before dinner; blessing God for that happy opportunity given them both of commemorating our Saviour's sufferings and receiving the pledges of his reconciled favours, and praying for all those who had been partakers with them that day, or at any other time, of those blessed means of grace
which they had then received.” See Hamilton's Life of Bonnell.
reference to the exercise of those
which we have before shewn to be necessary to receiving the Lord's Supper with benefit; such as repentance, faith, gratitude, and charity; (see chap. ix.) and with reference to those directions which have been before given for the employment of the mind during the communion service. See chap. x.
The chief thing is, have you duly remembered Christ at his table? You may know this by the holy tempers and dispositions which such a remembrance is calculated to produce and increase.
A due remembrance of Christ will increase PENITENCE and sorrow for sin. The contemplation in a right spirit of the only begotten of his father, wounded for our transgressions, is evidently calculated to produce fresh convictions of the evil and guilt of all siu ; and contrition and compunction for our many, our wilful, and our repeated transgressions. When with the eye of faith we look to him whom we have pierced, then it is we mourn for sin, and our hearts rise in holy indignation against ourselves. Have we, then, felt at the Lord's table any thing like a deeper and more lively sense of our shameful ingratitude, our cold affections, and our base rebellions? Has this produced' in us any feelings of godly sorrow, and truly humbled us before our Heavenly Father?
If Christ be duly remembered, GRATITUDE will be a prevailing sentiment in our hearts. You cannot consider aright your obligations to him without some emotions of love in your bosom, You will be ready to say, Surely I ought to love Christ. He made me, and died for me; he whom I have slighted and neglected, and who yet intercedes daily in my behalf, justly
demands my warmest affections, and my whole heart. What friend have I so powerful, so wise, so tender, so forbearing, as Christ? See if there were ever sorrow like his sorrow, and that he underwent for me! Unsolicited, undesired, unwelcomed, he came and stood in the gap between me and eternal ruin. He disclosed the way to endless glory, and he now guides me by his Holy Spirit along the path of life; and can I remember this love aright without some kindlings of gratitude in my heart? ?
To this we may well join ADMIRATION, as another effect of a due remembrance of Christ. Who is so worthy of our admiration as he who is the source of all the excellence that is in others, and who combines in himself whatever is great, and whatever is good; whtever is worthy of love and of praise ? At the Lord's table you behold the most exalted of all beings giving his life a ransom for you, and tendering to you the blessings which you need. Though he be the brightness of his Father's glory, and the express image of his person ; yet he receiveth sinners, and eateth with them. Can we then contemplate this astonishing mystery of
edeeming love, without some sentiments of admiration? When the spirit is calm, and the heart is pure, can we but admire the grace of Christ, and sing the song --Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and konour, and glory, and blessing? The angels above desire to look into these things, and they sing his praise; can we then, when we remember what he has done, but be warmed with his love, and re-echo the angelic song, --Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth on the throne, and to the Lamb for ever?
But perhaps you find, on enquiry, that instead of having devout and holy feelings, your FEELINGS have been COLD AND DULL, and your mind has been wandering and distressed. Your examinations should tend to ascertain whether there be not a cause for this in yourself. It is true that Christians often find themselves more harassed by their corruptions at the seasons of devotion, than at other times. The exercises of prayer and communion with God, directly oppose the stream of sin, and its torrent being stemmed, swells more against us. Satan too, perhaps, peculiarly tempts us at such a season, filling the mind with vain and trifling thoughts; and God permits it to be so, that we may be kept humble.' We are ready enough to rest in our services, poor as they are : what would it be if they were wholly right? But while we make these allowances, it is still true, as it has been observed, that “ unless in the case of bodily disease, or erroneous views of Divine truth, the want of comfort in religion springs from open or secret sin, from backsliding in heart, or in life. The joy of God's salvation is a holy joy, not to be found in the ways of sin, nor to be experienced in an evil heart of unbelief, departing from the living God."
Enquire then if any sin yet reign unmortified in your heart. Enquire how you approached to that holy table. On this point we refer you to what has been already said, chap. xi, p. 123–126. If you went thither carelessly, not preparing at all, or very slightly, or as a matter of self-righteousness, to make you worthy, as yoų vainly fancied, to appear before God; in any of these cases, no wonder that you met with a rebuke, rather than a blessing; and, instead of light,
found darkness. If you have received ignorantly or irreverently, uncharitably or with a carual mind,
the advice of Peter applies to you,-Repent, thereI fore, of this thy wickedness, and pray to God, if perhaps
the thoughts of thine heart may be forgiven thee. Acts viii, 21–23. If you have gone thus carelessly and presumptuously, you have profaned a solemn ordi
you have sinned greatly before God. But still be not cast down in despair, as if this were an uinpardonable sin. Now, in your retirement, humble yourself before God, and you may here perhaps first be taught your natural corruption and helplessness; you may here first learn the lessons of brokenness of heart, and sorrow before God. Though we should deeply mourn and carefully watch and strive against every sinful act, yet the wonderful grace of God overrules sometimes even the very failings of his servants to their ultimate spiritual benefit.
Having thus pointed out the review which it is desirable to take of the state of our minds, and given such hints as may assist those who have not received with comfort or apparent profit, or have not duly received, we proceed to point out THE DUTIES TO WHICH THE FAITHFUL COMMUNICANT IS CALLED."
We have reason to hope that most of those who have duly prepared, will find on their return from this sacrament, that even when they have had no remarkable elevation, they have still been enabled to go through the duty with seriousness and attention; something of a holy impression, is left on their minds, some check is given to the love of sin, and some additional strength for holy duties. And some can in more favoured periods say, “ I