Imatges de pÓgina
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disciples, he tells them, that hard as his words then seemed to them, an additional circumstance of difficulty existed in the fact, that he, on whom they were to feed, was ere long to ascend into heaven: a fact, be it observed, of which the revelation at that particular moment was so little called for, that we cannot but think that it was made for the express purpose of convincing them, that his words had a hidden meaning, which they were not yet qualified to comprehend.

In contending for the sacramental interpretation of both passages, the order of investigation pursued in these Lectures makes me at least so far a disinterested advocate, that, if their support be taken away, the more solid foundations of the doctrine for which I have contended, will, I trust, remain unshaken and unimpaired.

To sum up what has been said of the Lord's Supper, it would appear, that as the great object of the rite is the making us partakers in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ offered upon the cross, so the benefits conveyed by it must primarily be sought under

that idea.

That in this view the remission of sin stands preeminent. But in the peculiar circumstances of the rite itself, we are enabled to distinguish and appropriate yet further the communication of especial benefits to the participators in it. In the communion of Christ's body asserted and typified in it, is implied the communication of the advantages derivable from the intimate connection established between the Redeemer and the redeemed; more especially of that spirit, which is inseparably united with him, and of that life, which we have in him, as he has in the Father. In our communion in the wine of the Sacrament, is yet further expressed our participation in a truly life-giving sacrifice; and the continual renewal of that covenant established with us in his blood, and to which we are originally admitted in Baptism.

In both sacraments alike we are indeed thus led to contemplate, as the fundamental benefits of their observance, the two most distinguishing and immediate blessings of Christianity itself; the forgiveness of sin, and the gift of the Holy Spirit; conducing

alike to the final result of the whole dispensation, eternal life for the faithful adherents to the truth.

On the several and more particular appropriation of these, and on some collateral points of interest, I shall make some observations in my next and concluding Lecture.

LECTURE VIII.

2 PETER i. 4.

Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises.

THE object of the inquiry instituted in the present course of Lectures, has been to ascertain the reality, and point out the nature of the benefits, annexed to the due administration of the two Christian sacraments of Baptism and the Lord's Supper.

For this purpose, the presumptions in favour of the annexation of some such benefits to the appointments in question was first stated; so far, at least, as to meet any repugnance to the consideration of the more direct proofs of the particular things contended for, from the assumed unreasonableness of the admission of any. That the expectation of some advantage from their celebration was not unreasonable, we inferred from the respect universally paid to externals, even in systems apparently unin

fluenced by revelation: that a like expectation would be not inconsistent with the methods of a higher wisdom, we inferred from our experience of the course of the divine procedure under former dispensations. And as the mere fact of the appointment of external services in a religion confessedly divine, would thus, under any circumstances, justify the expectation of benefit from their due observance; so, in the particular case before us, that expectation was not a little heightened, by the consideration of the spiritual nature of the religion, of which the Christian sacraments form a part, and the peculiar circumstances of their original establishment.

In turning our attention more directly to the object of their appointment, one obvious end of their institution at once presented itself; in their character of rites of initiation and communion, they are naturally the very bands and supports of that visible community of faithful persons, to which it was the will of the Founder of the religion, that all his followers should be, externally as well as spiritually, united But the church

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