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near without fear,* and take the holy sacrament to our comfort; in firm faith that Almighty God, for the sake of our blessed Redeemer, and the merits of his death, will mercifully pardon us, and graciously receive us as worthy communicants.
We should behave with all possible reverence and devotion, when we present ourselves amongst our brethren who come to feed on the banquet of that most heavenly food. With hearts impressed with penitence, with faith, with reverence and love, we should, at the altar, give most humble and hearty thanks to God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, for all the blessings vouchsafed unto us, but especially for the redemption of the world, by the death and passion of our Saviour Christ, both God and man.
* For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 2 Tim. i. 7.
The Obligation of receiving the Holy Communion stated; and the various
Pretences for neglecting it, considered and refuted.
THE holy eucharist is the highest act of Christian worship. It is the memorial of the passion and death of our blessed Redeemer, made before the Almighty Father, to render him propitious to us, by pleading with him the meritorious sufferings of his beloved Son. It is a sensible pledge of God's love to us. He hath given his Son to die for us. He hath also given the precious body and blood of Christ, to be our spiritual food and sustenance.
The bread of this world, frequently taken, is necessary to keep the body in health and vigour. This bread of God, frequently received, is necessary to preserve the soul in spiritual health ; and to keep the divine life of faith and holiness from becoming extinct.
An ordinance of so sublime a nature, fruitful of such inestimable blessings, and enjoined on us by that blessed Redeemer who laid
down his life for us, one would suppose would be highly valued, and gratefully received, by all who profess themselves Christians. It is, however, a lamentable truth, that the greater proportion of them live in the habitual neglect of this distinguishing badge of their holy profession, the ordinance which unites them to their Redeemer, and which is the invaluable seal and pledge of his mercy and grace.
Thou art urged, O my soul, to receive the holy communion by the obligations of duty, of gratitude, and of interest.
Duty urges thee; Christ, the Lord and Saviour, has commanded thee to receive the communion, in` remembrance of his death and passion. « Do this,” says he, 6 in remembrance of me,” (Luke xxii. 19.) Are we not bound to revere and cherish, with the most sacred fervour, the command of a dying friend? And shall we be insensible to the pressing injunction of our Lord and Master, who, at the moment when he was about to lay down his life for us, even for us who were his enemies, commanded us to commemorate his infinite love?
The powerful claims of gratitude urge obedience to his command. Transcendent were the love and compassion which he displayed for us. “ The Son of God, the brightness of the Father's glory, humbled himself even to the death upon the cross for us, miserable sinners, who lay in darkness and the shadow of death.” He instituted and ordained holy
mysteries, as pledges of his infinite love, and for a continual remembrance of his death and passion. And shall we not gratefully commemorate his love towards us, in the way that he hath appointed ? Shall we refuse to render him even the tribute of thanks for the inconceivable sufferings which he endured for us, and for the inestimable blessings which he purchased for us? By neglecting the instituted memorial of his love and mercy, O my soul, thou dost say to thy blessed Redeemer, I cherish no sensibility for thy sufferings; I care not, though the displays of thine infinite love be forgotten; I set no value on the infinite condescensions of thy mercy. Pause and reflect, O my soul, if thou dost neglect this sacred ordinance, how great is the guilt of ingratitude which thou wilt incur.
But if duty does not impel, if gratitude cannot excite thee, listen, at least, to the calls of interest. Consider how many inestimable benefits are annexed to this ordinance. The pardon of sin; the assistance and consolations of God's Holy Spirit ; and an earnest and pledge of a glorious resurrection to eternal life, are the benefits assured to us by a worthy participation of the body and blood of Christ. When, therefore, we absent ourselves from the holy sacrament, we wilfully deprive ourselves of the greatest blessings. Shall not, then, the powerful considerations of interest urge us worthily to partake of an ordinance which rescues us from the guilt of sin, from the curse of God, from everlasting wo? Shall we deliberately contemn the favour of God, the consolations and powerful operations of his Spirit, and the immortal felicities of his heavenly kingdom ? Not less is the folly than the guilt of neglecting this inestimable pledge of divine mercy, of grace, of immortal life and glory.
Wilt thou urge, O my soul, the cares of the world as an excuse for not coming to the holy communion? What! art thou so engaged with worldly business, that thou canst not find time to approach this heavenly institution? Ah! remember, they who were bidden to the supper in the gospel, (Luke xiy. 16.) excused themselves from coming, on the pretence of their worldly occupations; and they were pronounced unworthy of the heavenly feast, because they thus preferred their temporal business to their eternal welfare. No man is rendered unfit for receiving the holy sacrament, who pursues the occupations of life with moderation and honesty, with a due regard to the laws of God, and his good providence over us. Whoever pursues them otherwise, disqualifies himself for heaven. The hearts of men are apt to dwell too much upon the things of this world, and to be engrossed with its cares and concerns. God has, therefore, mercifully provided the ordinances of the gospel, to raise our souls from the earth, and to replenish them with heavenly thoughts and desires. It is necessary, therefore, that all Christians should attend on the ordinan