Imatges de pàgina

weaknesses and the failures of other men, without going into any examination of our own, would only engender spiritual pride—would only beget in us a complacency and self-satisfaction, utterly ruinous to all hope of salvation. We must, therefore, in the words of the apostle, " examine ourselves"_" sift ourselves as wheat -“try out our reins and our heart," and if there be any evil thing, draw it forth, and confess it to God, in all sorrow and contrition. Who that does so, who that considers seriously and honestly the movements of his thoughts, and words, and actions, for a single day, will not have need to wish many things undone which have been done, and many things done which have been omitted? who will not have to exclaim -how perverse, how unbelieving, how discontented, how wordly-minded have I been; and, therefore, how odious in the sight of God must I appear? “ Lord, be merciful to me a sinner!" Who can look upon himself, and then look up to God, and not burst forth into the impassioned and ardent language of the prodigal : “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son ?"

“He that repents truly, is greatly sorrowful for his past sins, not with a superficial sigh or tear, but a pungent afflictive sorrow; and such a sorrow as hates the sin so much, that the man would choose to die rather than act it any more.

This sorrow is called in scripture,


a “ weeping sorely, a weeping with bitterness of heart, a weeping day and night; a sorrow of heart, a breaking of the spirit, a mourning like a dove, a chattering like a swallow.”* We cannot all, or any of us, at all times, feel the intensity of grief for sin which is here depicted. The degree of sorrow for sin will depend greatly on the degree of sin ; and as we do not all sin equally, we cannot all feel the same depth of repentance :f but there remains plenty of opportunity even for the best. There is only required the honest examination; and though we may not have the heart-breaking of David, when he mourned for his murder and adultery; though we may not need the bitter weeping of Peter, when he said, with oaths and curses, “ I know not the man;" still the carnal lusts, daily excited, the impure motives, daily suggesting unhallowed actions, even the good actions daily intermingled with, and springing out of impure designs; “ the good

Bishop Taylor, Holy Living and Dying. † " In Christianity, repentance is the foundation of every thing. Now the sorrow that we ought to feel for the least sin must be a very serious one, and for greater offences, in proportion, deeper. But the vehemence and passionateness of grief will, on every occasion, and particularly on this, be extremely different in different persons. And, therefore, all that God expects is, a sincere, though it may be a calm, concern for every past fault of which we are conscious, and for the multitudes which we have either not observed or forgotten."-Archbishop Secker.

[ocr errors]

that we would, that not doing, and the evil that we would not, that doing :”—all, or any, are quite sufficient for the best of us to seek the Lord, if, haply, we can find him, in the holy feast of his Eucharist; to seek him with a contrite heart, and a bruised spirit, to inquire out the weaknesses and indiscretions, the aptness to temptation, and the secret ulcers which may lie under the surface of a healed skin, to lay them bare with the keen knife of self-examination; to search for the Physician of souls in humiliation, in sorrow, in confession.

“Repent ye, and believe the gospel,” said our blessed Redeemer himself. Previous to believing the gospel, repentance was the preparation : and even so, were he to speak on earth again, his blessed words would be, now that the gospel is believed, if haply it is believed “Repent ye, and receive the Eucharist.”

IV. The next qualification which we must possess is, universal charity. We are naturally and easily led to this from repentance: for what greater arguments can there be to lower our pride than a remembrance of our infirmities—to decrease the difference between ourselves and others, than remembering the difference between ourselves and God, to put in contrast the wrongs done to ourselves, by calling to mind our own wrongs done towards our heavenly Father, to show us the love which we should bear to others, by dwelling on that love which caused Jesus

Christ to die for our sins: but all these things belong to repentance.

Christian charity embraces first a universal brotherly love: this is surely evident from the many express commands which Jesus gave: “One is your master even Christ, and all ye are brethren.” Here, in the Lord's Supper, we meet as brothers, united in one family, and joined by one covenant, partaking of one worship, celebrating the memory of one Saviour, through him and in him joint heirs of the same kingdom. It is this notion of equality which is the peculiar character of the Eucharistic feast; equality, not in worldly things but in heavenly things ; equality, not as touching the honours or privileges of men, but as touching the glories of that kingdom which Jesus Christ has promised, as touching the sins, the follies, the infirmities of human nature, of which we all, rich and poor, are the joint possessors. Here no righteous pharisee dare to say to the overburdened publican: “Stand off, for I am holier than thou ;" or, lifting up his voice to God: “I thank thee that I am not as other men are.” Here no Dives dare to bring the privileges of birth, or wealth, or power, to compete with the privileges of the Christian, and the treasure which is in heaven, and the power of that Holy Spirit which sanctifieth the people of God. No, the master and the servant, the householder and his labourers, the inhabitant of

[ocr errors]

palaces, and he who from day to day earns the hard pittance of his daily bread, rude and unpolished ;-all differences and distinctions which this imperfect world renders necessary, and which very differences are a mark of its imperfection – all being cast aside — before the same altar they kneel, brethren in the Lord.

“A new commandment give I unto you,” said Jesus, “ that ye love one

love one another:" of course if we remember that we are brethren," we must love one another. This word betokens love, it puts aside all pride, for one is not better than another. It puts aside all fear, for perfect love casteth out fear, and looking only to him who is the head of all, the great disparity between ourselves and that head merges and swallows up all disparity between ourselves. “A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another, as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” This commandment was given shortly after the institution of the Eucharist. It was given while the twelve were sitting by the side of that great master who gave himself as the example, “as I have loved you,and how? by dying: and it was indeed a perfectly new commandment, new to the Gentile, new to the Israelite, for it was said by them

« AnteriorContinua »