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to put it off till another time? Art thou sure, if thou hast rejected this solemn invitation, and refused the company to the great Master of the feast, who does now so passionately desire it-art thou sure to be accepted another time? May not these delays provoke the slighted King to cry out in His anger, that thou, which wert in vain bidden, shalt not taste of my supper?
“Raise up thy faculties, therefore, O my soul, and consider the many obligations that thou art under of hastening to the banquet of thy Lord. Think but upon the condescension of the Almighty. He stoops to solicit my presence, and even entreats me to be there ; shall Î then insolently reject these submissions of the Deity, and despise the goodness of my Creator? But as the condescensions of thy Saviour, O my soul, in calling thee to the feast, so the benefits of it to thyself do oblige thee to accept this call, and hasten to the entertainment with an excess of joy.
“ Here is that which conveys grace to the soul, and nourishes my faith and all other virtues to that degree, as to make me a new creature, and fit me for the presence of my Lord in His eternal kingdom. Here is that which ratifies the promises of God, applies the merits of my Redeemer's death to my soul, and, in a word, seals the pardon of my sins. Here is that which will make me in a manner the receptacle of my God, for He will come unto me, and make His abode with me; so that I shall enjoy Him here below, and in some measure anticipate His glorious presence, which is, in heaven, the delight of angels.
“Reflect, again, upon the honour, O my soul, that is conferred upon thee. Why this great honour, O my Lord, to me, the most wretched of all that are called to the heavenly table? What dost thou see in me to tempt Thy compassion and invite Thee to vouchsafe me this honour? Was it not enough for Thee to come down from Thy glorious seat above, and die upon Thy cross for me; but must thou also provide this heavenly banquet for thy servant, and oblige him to sit down in Thy presence, and feed upon
the bread of life? “O my soul, how am I obliged, in gratitude to my Saviour's love upon the cross, to be frequent in the commemoration of it! He there trod the winepress of His Father's displeasure, and in the bitter anguish of His departing soul, cried out He had forsaken Him. The disgrace, as well as the torments of His cruel death, together with His willingness to endure all this for my redemption, are such instances of love, even in this invitation, too, as call for the highest expression of gratitude, and a thankful acceptance of the proffer.”—Bishop Ken.
“ As the hart panteth after the water-brooks, so panteth my soul after Thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God; when shall I come and appear before God? My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God? O send out Thy light and Thy truth; let them lead me; let them
. bring me unto Thy holy hill, and to Thy tabernacles. Then will I go unto the altar of God, unto God my exceeding joy; yea, upon the harp will I praise Thee, O God, my God. Why art thou cast down, O my soul; and why art thou disquieted within me ? hope in God; for I shall yet praise Him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.”Psalm xlii. and xliii.
Enable me, O Lord, my God, to come into Thy
presence duly apprehensive of Thy glorious majesty, and of my own unworthiness to lift
mine heaven. Thou art the great God, dwelling in light that is unapproachable, and I am dust and ashes, a creature of yesterday, and knowing nothing. Teach me, then, O Lord, the perfect way, and guide me into all truth.
I am a sinner. Thy word has told me so, and I feel in my heart that it speaks the truth. And, oh! how awful is the thought to die unrepenting and unforgiven! Who can lie down in devouring fire ? who can dwell in everlasting burnings? But surely there is hope. “This is a faithful
saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Jesus Christ has come into the world to save sinners, even the chief.” In the arms of thy mercy would I seek shelter. In the Son of God—my incarnate, crucified, exalted Redeemer—would I place my confidence. This is
rest for ever. " Whom have I in heaven but thee, and there is none upon earth that I desire beside Thee. My flesh and my heart faileth; but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for
Blessed be thy name, O my God, that I was dedicated to Thee from my tenderest years. Even in the season of unconscious infancy I was welcomed into Thy Church, washed in the waters of baptism, and thereby set apart to Thy love and service. The mark of God is already upon me, that, being sealed unto the day of redemption, I might love God and "run with enlarged heart” in the way of His commandments. I praise Thee, O eternal Father, that in this respect thou hast so magnified to me Thy mercy and grace. And although I have since often sinned, and come short of thy glory, or even lived for years without God and without hope, yet do I know that thou art merciful and gracious, promising to receive the backsliding penitent, and to heal his backslidings.
Lord, it is my desire to return. My soul crieth out for God, for the living God. And I bless and praise Thee that the Almighty Saviour, whose name I bear, and whose servant I sincerely desire to be, has instituted the Holy Communion, as at once the token of His love to His believing people, and of the plentiful provision He has made for their well-being -the badge of their discipleship—the assurance of their pardon, acceptance, and eternal life. I would come, gracious Father, to this holy ordinance; I would prepare for this blessed service; I would “do this in remembrance" of Him who has died for my sins, and is alive again for my justification-eating the sacramental bread, and drinking the sacramental cup, to the glory of redeeming love, and in the name of the Lord my Righteousness.
I pray for the preparation of the understanding and the heart. Lead me to see clearly the truth as it is in Jesus, and so far as Thou knowest it to be good for me. Help me to feel my own unworthiness and sin, that I may sorrow after a godly sort, and know why it was that that holy body was broken, and that precious blood shed for the remission of sins unto many. Give me faith that I may believe in Jesus as made unto me wisdom, and knowledge, and sanctification, and redemption; and be ready on the Sacramental
Sabbath to feed upon Him by faithfeeling that His flesh is meat indeed and His blood drink indeed. Enable me to purpose and desire in my heart to be an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile, laying aside all ungodliness and unholy affection, and living soberly, righteously, and godly in the present world, looking for the blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ. So shall my purposed communion be with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. Amen.
II.-DAY OF FASTING & HUMILIATION.
MEDITATION. It becomes me at all times to feel humbled under the sense of sin. But specially must I do so when preparing to approach the Communion Table, and engage
in that ordinance which at once exhibits sin's penalty and the believer's deliverance from its woeful consequences. I will value the remedy more when I am fully sensible of the disease. What, then, do Scripture and my own heart declare respecting my condition in the presence of Almighty God?
“Behold I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.” “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked; who can know it?” We are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away." " All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
First, Do I feel this awful truth of man's universal depravity? God charges me and all mankind with the guilt of original sin. Our first parents broke the covenant of works, and this is the reason that all are guilty, that all are sinners. In common with all mankind I have inherited a sin-ruined nature the guilt of the fall, and a heart-propensity to evil. Well may I mourn, because in medwelleth by nature no good thing. I am inclined to evil continually. The whole head is sick, the whole heart is faint.