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repentance, to oblige us to live like people who hope for heaven, and to obtain for us the grace
power to do so. It was, to make us ever mindful of these mercies, and to preserve the memory of Thy death; and to give us an opportunity of pleading the merits thereof before God, for the pardon of our sins, and for grace to amend where we had done amiss.
It was for these reasons, that Thou, O Saviour, didst ordain this holy Sacrament to be administered and received by all Christians till Thy coming again to judgment.
How great then must the sin of those be, who neglect to administer, and of those who turn their backs upon, this holy ordinance ! We may indeed do as Naaman did, when the prophet bid (2 Kings 5.
11-13.) him go and wash himself in Jordan. We may question whether an action so plain and easy can possibly be attended with so many and great blessings; and we may, through our infidelity, lose all those blessings, as he would have done, had he not been better advised.
But Christians, who have any consideration and love for their own souls, will not lightly esteem, or turn their backs upon, this holy ordinance; because if they know any thing, they must know, that their salvation depends upon it; "and 1 John 1. 7. that it is this blood of Christ which cleanseth us from all sin;" that we can hope for no share in the merits of Jesus Christ, but by closing with this means of grace which He has ordained; that the Lord's Supper is to Christians what the tree of life was to Adam in paradise; and that as he, when for his transgression he was deprived of that food which was designed to make him immortal, as he was left in his pure natural condition, utterly unable to attain eternal life; even so shall we, if we partake not of this food, this BREAD OF LIFE, as our Lord calls it. We are no more capable of attaining heaven and happiness, than he was of returning to paradise after he was cast out.
The reason is plain : without a supernatural grace, no mortal man can attain to a supernatural state and condition. This grace is given us in baptism, as the tree of life was to Adam, and can only be preserved by obeying this command of Jesus Christ. For, saith Ile, “Except ye John 6. 53.
SERM. eat the flesh,” the sacramental flesh, “of the Son of Man, LXXVI.
and drink His blood,” His sacramental blood, “ye have no life in you ;" that is, nothing but this can sustain the divine life of a Christian.
In short, this is the only way to continue in covenant with God; that is, to be one of His family, one of his care, under His especial protection; one who has a promise of and a right to the kingdom of heaven, by virtue of this
covenant. 1 Cor. 10. St. Paul styles this Sacrament THE COMMUNION OF THE 16.
BODY OF Christ; that is, it is that ordinance by which we
Christ, we do belong to a much worse master.
fruit of itself, unless it abide in the vine: no more can ye, except ye abide in Me.” Now, can any thing render Christ more effectually present with, and united to us, than this ordinance; whereby we are made one with Christ, and Christ with us?
The paschal lamb was to the Israelites what this Sacrament is to Christians. There was no hopes of security for any Israelite, who had not the blood of the Lamb upon his door, and who did not ever after keep up the memory of his deliverance by that sacrifice. And will Christians hope for mercy without doing what Christ has ordained in memory of His death, and our much greater deliverance ?
And remember this, I beseech you, for a certain truth : that generally speaking, whatever it is that hinders people from going to the Sacrament will hinder them from going to heaven. Such are these: a careless indifference for their soul's welfare; an unwillingness to look into their spiritual estate; a great love for the world and its idols, and an unwillingness to renounce them; a faint purpose of doing it some time or other.
These are too often the true causes of men's turning their backs upon this holy ordinance, or of coming to it with an indifference and indevotion which betrays the want of a true sense of the blessings which they might receive from it.
May God Almighty grant, that all who now come to partake of this holy Sacrament may receive the remission of all their past sins, be confirmed in all goodness, receive all the graces necessary for their present condition, may be filled with the gifts of the Holy Ghost, and receive this holy Sacrament as a pledge, as an earnest, of a blessed resurrection, and of a life eternal, for Jesus Christ's sake, whose death we now commemorate. To Whom, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, be all honour and glory, dominion and power, now and for ever.
A FREQUENT RECEIVING OF THE LORD'S SUPPER RECOMMENDED
1 Cor. xi. 26.
For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do
shew the Lord's death till He come. It will hardly be expected that I should say any thing upon these words, or upon this subject, that has not been said before ; neither indeed is it necessary. If we can so represent the duties of Christianity, as that they may be apprehended by all sorts of hearers, and that they be often and seasonably put in mind of them, it is all that the ministers of Christ can do.
Our meeting now is in order to be instructed concerning the meaning, the nature, and ends, of the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper. Those that have lived in the faithful use of this ordinance will not expect any further information; the rest will only hear what every Christian should know.
I am verily persuaded there is no Christian, who seriously hopes to be saved, that would ever lightly turn his back on the holy Sacrament, if he understood and considered the meaning, the necessity, and the advantage of receiving worthily; and that there is no danger of receiving unworthily, if a man does but come with an honest heart, and purposes to serve God to the best of his understanding and power.
Now, to lay this matter plainly before you, is what, by God's good blessing, I shall endeavour to do at this time. And though I am not sure that I shall satisfy every body that hears me, yet I do believe, that every person of the most ordinary understanding, who shall seriously attend to what I am going to say, and who heartily desires to be informed concerning this duty, will be convinced of the truth of these following particulars :
First ; that to receive the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, is one of the most necessary duties of the Christian religion.
Secondly; that as the receiving of the Lord's Supper is a necessary duty, so it is one of the easiest to be understood by any person who in good earnest desires to be saved.
Thirdly; that as it is most easy to be understood, so it may be worthily and safely received by the most unlearned Christian, to his great and endless comfort.
Lastly; that therefore, generally speaking, whatever it is that hinders people from coming to the Sacrament, will likewise hinder them from going to heaven.
I. To begin with the first of these particulars: that to receive the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper is one of the most necessary duties of the Christian religion. Now, in order to make this appear, I observe,
First, that the knowledge and remembrance of Christ's death is that on which all the other duties of Christianity depend.
The reason why we confess our sins to God, and hope for pardon, is, because we remember that “we are reconciled Rom. 6. 10. to God by the death of His Son ;' and that “ the blood of 1 John 1. 7. Christ cleanseth us from all sin."
We hope for good at the hand of God, but then it is because we call to remembrance, “that He who spared not (Rom. 8. His own Son, but hath given Him up for us all, will with Him freely give us all things.”
In a word; we should neither have hearts to look up to God, nor confidence to expect any thing from Him, nor grace to be thankful, but that Christ, by His death, has given us a right to do so. And therefore His death we ought ever to have before our eyes.
Secondly; the remembrance of Christ's death in the Sacrament is the only support of sinful men. It is not indeed every body that is sensible of the blessing of a Redeemer; but if once men come to consider seriously that they are sinners, and to believe in earnest that no sinner can go to