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contrite feeling of sorrow for what they have done. Hazardous it truly is to appear at the Lord's table in such a hardened state; but it is no less hazardous to remain for a single moment in such a state, when the sinner may be at every instant immediately summoned to the bar of God, and all repentance fatally cut off.
But, if any Christians do feel some half-formed resolutions of repenting of their evil courses ; if they wish to forsake their sins, but doubt their own strength to resist and resolution to persevere; let them, above all things, present themselves at the table of the Lord, as the most effi. cacious mean of deriving health and refreshment to their souls. Thither let them bring, what all may bring with them if they will, some feelings of devout affection towards God, some emotions of sorrow for their many errors and miscarriages, some sincere resolutions of amending their conduct for the future; and He who wills the death of no sinner, who calls to those who are laden with their sins to come to Him and He will give them rest-He will in His gracious mercy, approve their services, however imperfect, will accept their tribute, however insufficient. He will gladly receive them prostrate before His altar, and will grant unto them pardon and grace. He will enable them so spiritually to eat the flesh of their Redeemer, and to drink His blood,
that their devout affections will be quickened, their good dispositions strengthened, their holy ardour improved; that so, if they be not wanting to themselves, they may improve by degrees in all those graces which form the true Christian character, and advance to a happy state of acceptance with God.
May then every congregation of Christians come to a fuller sense of the great importance of this holy rite of the Lord's supper celebrated in special remembrance of the cross and passion of their blessed Redeemer, and ordained by His express command. May all feel it to be a solemn and serious duty to attend, as occasions may present themselves, with devout dispositions and holy affections at His holy altar; a duty which they owe to Him, in grateful remembrance of all that He has done for them, a duty which they owe to themselves, from the inestimable spiritual benefits specially annexed to the worthy celebration. By duly partaking of these solemn and sacred mysteries, may all improve in feelings of charity towards their neighbour, of lively faith and ardent gratitude towards their Re deemer, of repentance towards God; may they lay down every
sinful passion, every unworthy propensity, at the foot of his altar, shake off all ex: cessive attachment to this world's good, and rise to an holy ardour for the better things of heaven. May they so attend with devout hearts at the solemn religious feast prepared for them here, that they may be found worthy to be admitted hereafter to the great feast of the Lamb to be prepared for them in heaven; to be admitted to eternal communion with the spirits of just men made perfect, with the holy angels which sit beside the throne of Light, with the ever blessed and glorified Redeemer, the great Judge and Father of all.
And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the
full assurance of hope unto the end.
In this passage the Apostle is manifestly exciting the disciples whom he addressed to activity and exertion in pursuing the great ends of their Christian calling. After informing them in the verse immediately preceding, that “God is not unrighteous so as to forget their work and labour of love” wherein he alludes to a particular instance of their meritorious conduct in ministering to the saints; he desires that every one of them“ do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end;" that is, that every one of them would practise all the duties of their religion with the same diligence with which they had practised this single duty, in such a manner as to acquire to themselves a firm and
stedfast hope of finally attaining, through the merits of their Redeemer, the rewards promised to sincere obedience. : But the true meaning of this passage, as well as that of some other texts of a similar tendency, has sometimes been misunderstood in the Christian world. The passage has been apprehended as if the expression in the latter clause were not “ the full assurance of hope” but the full assurance of acceptance with God, and of final salvation following on that acceptance. And, in consequence, the text has been held to afford sanction to the opinion that the faithful Christian, he who has fought the good fight, may expect to attain in this life a full and distinct assurance, a certain anticipated conviction of his salvation ; a conviction impressed upon his mind by some perceptible marks which cannot be mistaken, by some express notices which must be felt.
Now, as there is no point of Christian belief, in which it is of slight importance that we should think and judge aright, that we should avoid error and embrace the truth; so it is, in some respects, peculiarly important that this opinion should not be embraced on insufficient grounds, and without due examination of the foundation on which it rests. For, besides the tendency which such an opinion must ever have to make