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seems strange indeed. Nothing can account for this but the dreadful history of our fall. There we read, and in the experience of daily life we feel, from what we are fallen, when we look back upon man in that his first estate, wherein he formed a chief part of the original and perfect whole, of which the Creator, when He surveyed it all, pronounced it “ very good.”
Let each of us well consider this strange contradiction in creatures like ourselves, so soon to end our time, and to begin our eternity, and always professing to seek our own happiness. We must not say that we believe in Christ, and in those wonderful manifestations of His love and pity towards our fallen race which the scripture history and the scripture doctrine bring before us, if we neglect the only possible proof of our belief, a good and holy life. Our ignorance must be great indeed, or our conscience judicially hardened, if we see not the great ends of Christian doctrine to be, first, a present hope of being restored to the pardon and favour of “God in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself," and then to lay down and enforce the rules of holy living ; that so going on from strength to strength, and in the power of the Holy Spirit, we may finally be entirely restored to the image and the glory which, through sin, were
lost. But if Christian doctrine be read in our families, taught from our churches, studied in our closet, and made matter of frequent and familiar converse in our social and domestic circles, and still produce no corresponding fruits unto holiness, what doth it profit us ? Far better would it be that we should never have heard of the great name of a Saviour; far better that our now enlightened conscience should have remained in heathen ignorance, than that the light that is within us should thus be dark. Untaught in the great truths of the Gospel, our minds, thus choosing evil practice in opposition to sound doctrine, would then have escaped the bitter pang which an enlightened conscience inflicts, when, in the midst of his sinful and careless life, that inward silent monitor “ reasoneth" with the hearer but not doer of the word, righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come.”
But why should the Christian, with the comforts of the Gospel to enlighten his soul, and the commands of the Gospel to direct his ways, why should he be thus his own tormentor? God would not have it so. He has provided the remedy, and has given us the power to take and apply it to 'ourselves. Let us consider, then, how awful is the consequence of all our knowledge: how great the
mercy; but how great too our future reckoning, as to the manner of our receiving and applying it now, in this our “ accepted time.” That Christ should have died for man, and that those very persons who profess to believe that solemn truth should go on in sin, seems strange indeed. But that Christ should have died to atone for sin, and that man, unrepenting and sinning still, should so lull the conscience as, in a manner, to expect to sin securely, and be forgiven, is stranger still. It is a strong delusion of the great enemy of souls to urge reason, to stimulate passion, to suggest a present feeling against the great moral conclusion from all religious doctrine: “ If now these things, happy are ye if ye do nem.'
1 CORINTHIANS, CHAPTER 11, VERSĘS 27, 28. " Whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the
Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup."
This solemn warning deserves our most serious consideration ; it points out a dreadful danger, and we are very nearly concerned in guarding against the possibility of incurring it ourselves. Through the mercy and gracious invitation of our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, we are again called upon to keep up the remembrance of what our redemption cost, at His own holy table; and our thoughts may be profitably turned to the consideration of those mysteries, guarded as they thus are in the Word of God, by this solemn threatening against those who shall profane the holy solemnity, by an unworthy participation thereof.
Let us bring this matter before us in its true light, first, by considering what is meant by
receiving the Lord's Supper unworthily; and secondly, by leading our minds shortly to view, with the seriousness it deserves, that dreadful danger which hangs over those, who thus do not, and will not “discern the Lord's body.”
Every duty which God commands must be performed by us from right motives; for it is the motive, by which we are worked upon in matters of duty, that shews the true character of the deed as far as concerns ourselves. Now the only safe and right motives which can render our deeds any evidence whatever of our Christian faith, are the love and fear of God. In the present state of man's natural corruption, and the ordinary, but ill-judged mode of teaching the sanctions of religion in our earliest years, it is the fear of God which usually operates as the first motive to bring us to any thing like a conscientious obedience to His laws, and to diligent search after His will. The principle is right in itself and is not to be disputed; for the fear of God ought to be, comparatively speaking, our only fear; the fear of offending “ Him, who, after he hath killed, hath power to cast into hell.”+ But, in proportion as this principle of fear produces its fruits in penitence and an amended life, then begins a better, a more acceptable mo* 1 Cor. xi. 29.
+ Matt. x. 28.