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OF HOW FREQUENTLY THE SACRAMENT OUGHT
TO BE TAKEN.
It does not appear that our Saviour left any command upon the subject. The apostles and their disciples took it much more frequently than is customary in modern churches. The canons of the Church of England enjoin that it shall be taken at least three times in the year, viz. Christmas-day, Easter and Whit-Sundays : in most of our churches it is administered once a month, and in some once a week : our church hereby appearing to leave the decision of the question to the consciences of her members, yet fairly hinting, by the opportunities offered to communi-' cants, that the more frequently it is taken the more salutary will be the effect; and it has been remarked that those who take the Sacrament, upon principle, the oftenest
lead the best lives; which is an unanswerable argument in favour of frequency of communion; and I would recommend all Christians to communicate as often as they find opportunity; how often that may be their own consciences must decide; because they will be evidences for, or against, them at the last day. One man cannot judge for another, unless a positive command of Scripture direct him ; since one man cannot understand the precise situation of another, nor what his facilities or impediments may be; but every person who omits this rite frequently should (as I think) take care to satisfy himself that the hindrance he opposes to participation justifies the omission: for I certainly think, as we are by the tenor of our duty bound to perform every good act as often as we can, no reasonable opportunity to perform this one should be neglected; and if, young Christian, you are earnest in your search after God, you will soon delight more in
taking the Sacrament than in neglecting it; only be sincere and zealous; play not the hypocrite nor coward, and remember that God delights in mercy; that he loves to see his children around his blessed table; that he accepts only the free-will offering, rejecting the service of constraint.
Some fearful communicants, from observing others apparently more devout than themselves, are apt to be cast down and to suspect their own sincerity: but this very feeling proves it; because it indicates that they are seriously careful of that they are doing: and, although I mean not to depreciate visible appearances of strong devotion, yet, as in some cases such fearful persons may mistake physical for moral effects, I would advise them rather to judge by consciousness than comparison; and, if they can satisfy themselves of their own serious intention, to repose in God's goodness for acceptance, without seeking inquietude by judging from appearances in others.
Young, and ill-informed, Christians; it cannot be expected, from your youth, want of information, and other arbitrary circumstances, that you can obey the commandments to the extent that your Seniors and better informed brethren can: you must not, therefore, draw comparisons between yourselves and them, for the purpose of disheartening, but for that of improving yourselves by their examples.
Be sincere and earnest in your endeavour after a knowledge of God's will, for the purpose of obeying it; practice all you know, however little it may be, humbly and heartily, and he will require no more of you, till through his grace (which you must seek earnestly by prayer) you have learned more: and recollect that, when the rich men cast large gifts into the treasury, a poor widow cast in but two mites; yet our Saviour pronounced
her offering the greatest, because it was all she had; so, do you cast in all you have, and it will be a greater and more acceptable offering to God than the service, however extensive, of him who knows abundantly more than you do but does not act up to that knowledge; and, even should he, he does no more (as it affects your comparisons) than you do, for you do the same. But, as a Christian must always proceed forward, be as diligent as you can to encrease your knowledge of God's law, since that is your duty; and it is the best knowledge: all other, however absolutely necessary it may be for the purposes of life and society, can only make you wise, but this will make you blessed; and be assured when you have resolved to take the sacrament, but are prevented by obstacles which you cannot surmount, that God, who looks to the heart and the intent, will accept the determination of 'your will as the act of obedience; for the