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Of the Nature of a Sacrament.

care of them than the most tender parent, and love them with an everlasting love. He gives them this pledge, as the father gave the prodigal son the ring, whereby they are sealed to the day of redemption; and withal sheds abroad in their hearts his love, begetting theirs ; because we are sons, God hath sent forth the spirit of his Son into our hearts, whereby we cry, Abba, Father ! Thus the children, coming to their Father at the table where their elder brother hath provided a feast of love for them, receive increase in every filial temper and disposition, and grow up into him in all things, who is their head, even Christ. Here, then, behold the precious purchase of a Saviour's blood; that we, the heirs of wrath, and children of darkness—that we, dust of the earth, vile as men, abominable as sinners-that we, aliens and enemies in our minds by wicked works, should be bronght nigh, not merely permitted, as the prodigal asked, to be put among the hired servants, but robed in the Saviour's righteousness, placed among his children, seated at his table, blessed with his favour, partakers of the provisions of his house below, and looking for un inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, which fadeth not away, reserved for us in heaven, Well may we cry out with astonishment, Behold, what manner of love is this which the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God!

3. Another benefit is the consolation and joy which are herein dispensed. To rejoice in Christ Jesus, to have peace with God through faith, to be filled with comfort and joy of the Holy Ghost, in

Of the Nature of a Sacrament.

the present earnest, and sure prospects of glory to come, is in a peculiar measure the case in this ordinance, where all things visibly tend to beget confidence in God. Here we often get Pisgah-views of the promised land; here the mourning saint finds joy—the weary, rest-the dejected, encouragement-the strong, increasing confidence; here the spirit of faith applies the atonement, and the sense of reconciliation often fills our souls with joy unspeakable, and full of glory. Christ intends his people should be comforted, should abound in all spiritual joy, and come as to a feast where " gladness is sown for the upright in heart.”

Here we should dry our tears-at least, if they fall, they should be tears of joy ; we should put on the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness, " and not sit mournfully before the Lord of Hosts,” nor cloud the joy of the festivity with sorrow on our brow, unless such a sorrow as St. Paul mentions, sorrowful, yet always rejoicing : whilst, though mourning for our sins, we believe the greatness of the gift bestowed on us; and the Spirit witnesses with our spirit, to the work he hath wrought in us, and gives us a present taste of our inheritance, before we are actually put in possession of the purchased glory in heaven.

What a delightful ordinance ! How many thousands of real Christians have experienced the comforts of it, and daily continue to do so !-- Real Christians, I say! not mere ceremonious visitors; they feel, taste, and handle nothing of the word of life; the bread and wine are to them barren elements, dry breasts which afford no consolation;

Of the Nature of a Sacrament.

but the soul, vitally united to Christ, can say, I sat under his shadow with great delight. He brought me to his banquetting-house, and his banner over me was love. He tastes the joy therein dispensed, and goes away rejoicing, because he hath been with Jesus.

4. In this ordinance also there is a free distribution, according to every man's necessities, of strength and power from Jesus Christ, for all the work to which a Christian is called. This is one instituted means of conveying to believers the supplies of the Spirit for their wilderness state, both to subdue their corruptions, and strengthen their graces. Here we draw water out of the wells of salvation

į and, like Elijah travelling to the mount of Horeb, receive from time to time our provision, in the refreshment of which we may hold on our way, and wax stronger and stronger, till we come to the heavenly Horeb, the mount Zion, the Jerusalem which is above. If our corruptions are strong, here is grace to mortify them; here we are taught, and do receive, humility to supplant pride; heavenlymindedness instead of worldliness ; and purity instead of pollution. The example before us, as well as the grace ministered, powerfully calls upon us to learn of him to be meek and lowly of heart; not to be of the world, even as he was not of the world ; to walk in holiness, as he also walked. Are our graces all feeble and weak ? Where shall we blow the smoking flax into a flame, if not here, where every thing conspires to confirm our faith, to enliven our hopes, to kindle our warmest affections, to enlarge our charity, to inspire our zeal,

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Of the Nature of a Sacrament.

to teach us, meekness, to quicken our languor, to encourage our perseverance, to excite our thankfulness; in short, to work in us every divine temper and disposition? This blessed ordinance is designed to strengthen us mightily in the inner man, to support us under all discouragements without, and fears within, that we might go on from strength to strength, from grace to grace, till we come to the blessed place, where we shall go from glory to glory.

Here, then, are great and glorious privileges ohtained by the precious blood of the Son of God; and we are called upon to come and partake in all of them: and what excuse can we make ? Do not we want a pardon? Is adoption a despicable blessing? Is spiritual joy an insipid pleasure ? or the gift of God's Spirit an unnecessary assistance? Why then do so many slight the ordinance of the Lord, and neglect this great salvation ? Do you disclaim any relation to Jesus Christ, and renounce his religion, that you decline making this profession, and have no desires after the benefits of his death and passion? Surely they who never think of remembering the Lord's death till he come, will be most unprepared to meet him in a day of judgment. I beseech you to consider this, you that forget God, lest, by your slight of him, he should be provoked to give you up to your own inventions, and you die in your sins, neither sprinkled with his blood, nor clothed with his righteousness, nor partakers of his Spirit: be assured they who forget Christ now, will be disowned by him in the. day of his appearing and glory.

An Invitation to the Communion.

CHAPTER II.

AN INVITATION TO THE COMMUNION.

WHEN in the parable the table for the marriage feast was spread, the oxen and fatlings killed, the servants in waiting, the royal bridegroom ready, a message was sent to hasten the guests Come now, for all things are ready. With this message, brethren, am I sent to every one of you, beseeching and entreating you for Christ's sake, that ye would be reconciled to God, and, as a token thereof, to come unto the marriage supper

of the Lamb. But as their message of old was rejected, so too frequently is ours. The inost of you agree with one consent to excuse yourselves : the farm and the merchandize, the cares and pleasures of this life, so engross your time, that you have neither inclination nor leisure to attend the call. And of those who do come,

forget the wedding garment, and thrust themselves in, unwelcome guests, who, after having eaten and drank in Christ's presence, will be bound hand and foot, and cast into outer darkness, where is weeeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth. To the one and the other of these, I will address the following words, before I enter upon the consider

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