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destroying another; and it is no less monstrous and unnatural for one member of Christ's mystical body to be at variance with another to see those who partake of the table of the Lord, at the fame time partaking of the table of Devils, by entertaining hatred or malice in their hearts, by doing, or purposing to do, or even by wishing, any hurt to their brethren in Christ.
Would we then claim the Divine presence and blessing in this folemn action? Do we expect or desire that the King should sit at his own table, and impart to us the fruits of his favour and love: let us be of one mind and let us put on, as the elect of God,holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any; remitting to others their hundred pence, whilst we plead with God* for the discharge of our ten thoufand talents. But the unity here spoken of, seems more immediately to respect their harmonious agreement ia. the great subject of their piaise. They made one found-to-he-h€ara in praising and thanking the Lord, faying, For he is good, and his mercy endureth for ever. And when they thus concurred with heart and voice in extolling the mercy and goodness of God, the house was silled with a cloud.—That agreement in prayer has a mighty efficacy, appears from that gracious promise, "I fay ** unto you, that if two of you shall agree on earth, as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be ** done for them of my Father which is in heaven (a)." And my text affords a convincing proof, that agreement in praise, has an equal efficacy to bring the glory of God into the assemblies of his people. 'We may at least take encouragement from it to make the experiment. We have been asking the Divine presence by prayer; let us go a little farther, and seek it by praise and thanksgiving.
(*) Matlb- XTiii. 1$.
The Eucharist was the ancient name of this facrament, which name informs us, that the facramental devotions of the primitive christians, consisted chiefly in the exercises of praise which I am recommending; and certainly their example ought to have considerable weight with us. Let none fay, I am a guilty creature, and therefore, sighs, and tears, and lamentation, become me better than the voice of praise. For, if you are penitent, believing sinners -> if, despairing of relief from any other quarter, you. have fled for resuge to Christ, and taken fanctuary in - his atoning blood and facrisice, praise is not only lawful, but a neceflary part of your present duty. The design of your *edemption, the tenor of the gospelqovenant,: the glorious privileges to which you stand: entitled, all loudly demand this gratesul return. "Ye "are a chosen generation," fays the apostle Peter, ** a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar peo** pie; that ye should show forth the praises of Him ** who hath called you out of darkness into his mar"vellous light (b)."
But, alas, fays one, what is all this to me *' my harp must still hang upon the willows; for how shall a wretched captive presume to sing the fong of Zion? On my heart no evidences of grace are legible; grief and fear have fo thoroughly possessed it, that no place for the love of God remains. How then shall r lift up my voice, whilst my foul is cast down and disquieted within me?
Now, to such I would answer in general, that let your case be as bad as you suppose, yet still you have cause to bless the Lord. If you cannot thank him for his special grace, yet surely you ought to praise him for his unwearied patience, and those offers of mercy which are daily tendered to you. Bless him that you are still on earth, in the land of hope, and not confined to the regions of everlasting despair. But I
must not stop here. Come forward to the light, thoa dark, discouraged soul; and, in the presence of God, give an ingenuous answer to the sew following questions. ■J Thou complainest of want of love to God, andthf complaints indeed show, that thou enjoyed not the immediate savour of God's countenance. But, is it not still a proof of your love to God, that you fee! the want of his presence, and earnestly desire the communication of his love I A man who keenlyporsues the things of this world, discovers'his love lothem as convincingly as he who rejoices in the sull possession of them. The tendency of the heart, appeatf' as truly in an anxious pursuit, as in. delightsul eajoyment. But, as the weakness of hope is often mistaken for the want of desire, it is proper to consider, that your mourning for the absence os God is a proos of your love. You evince your love for your friends, by grieving for their death, no less than by delighting in them when alive. If, when- you think God has forsaken you, you heartily lament it as your greatest unhappiness and loss, and believe that you are void of grace, and cannot love and honour hin as you would,. this is an undoubted evidence, that your hearts are not destitute of the- love of God.— Farther, Would you not rather. have a heart to love God, than all the pleasures and riches of the world? Would it not comfort you more than any thing else, to be affisred that he loves you, and that you could persectly love and obey him? If so, it Is not the want of love, but the want of assurance, that causeth this disquiet. And therefore,• i charge thee in the name of God,. to render unto. him the tribute os praise which is due. To be much employed in this heavenly exercise, has an evident tendency to vanquish all hurtsul doubts and sears, by keeping the foul near to God, and within the influence of his love and goodness; by dissipating mistrustsul 'vexing thoughts!
and directing the mind to more delightsul employment; by keeping the Tempter at a distance, who is usually least able to follow us, when we are highest in the praises of our God and Saviour ; and especially; by affording evidence as our sincerity^
Come, then, and make the experiment. Obey that voice which proceedeth out of the throne, faying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that sear him, both small and great. Let no voice be wanting1 on this folemn occasion; but let us all be as one, praising and thanking the Lord, whilst we commemorate his goodness and everlasting love. And then we may hope, that he will grace our communion table with his presence, and sill all his guests with the suJU ness of his house.
#N THE PRESENCE OF CHRIST IN THE ORDINANCES OF RELIGION.
Matt. xviii. 20.
For where two or three are pothered together in my uamtt there am I in the midst of them.
THESE words are our Lord's promise to his disciples, of his presence with them, when employed in focial worship.
In the preceding verse he expressly assures them^ that if any two of them should agree together on earth concerning any thing which they shall asfc in prayer, it should he done for them by his Father in heaven. This assurance, though it evidently refers to a miraculous answer of prayer, is, however, a powersul encouragement to Christians in every situation, by joint prayer and supplication, to make their requests known to God. And this plainly' appears from thevgeneral promise subjoined in the text; " For where two or three are gathered together "in my name, there am I in the midst os them.*
In these words we have an explicit-appointment of public worship* It is here evidently supposed, that