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to the word of God as preached by his ministers from the pulpit, even to hear the solemn confession of faith as delivered in the creed, and yet continue to remain in sin, does seem a hardihood and an hypocrisy, of which few would dare to be guilty; but that he should pursue this a step further, that he should kneel down at the altar, gaze upon the sacramental elements representing that sacrifice of which he was the cause, that body which was broken, and that blood poured out for his sins-that he should dare to partake of those holy symbols with an intention, or any secret reservation, to continue in the sins of which he has been guilty, and to be in future just the same as he was before. This does seem a depravation of character so frightful, and a hardness of heart so steeled against the grace of God, that, in charity, we must hope and pray that it never can exist. Let us take it for granted that it is impossible.*
*We proceed all along upon the supposition that the communicant follows the direction of the apostle, and before he approaches the table, "examines himself." If he should come without any consideration, or heed, as to his state of life, of course he would be incurring God's wrath. In the ancient sacrifices, a part of the ceremony consisted in what was called the "inspection," a close examination, on the part of the priest, that nothing might be offered which had any blemish or mark. And Chrysostom applies this metaphorically to the self-examination required on the part of the communicants:
That we may, after the strongest resolutions of amendment, yet fall back into sin, must be allowed, by any one who knows what the infirmity of human nature is. But this may exist without any violation of sincerity on our part. The two things are perfectly distinct. Yet the resolutions, constantly repeated, must, in the end, though they be broken time after time, prevail. Like the drop of water, which, by continuance, shall wear away the hardest rock, so a good resolution, sincerely formed, and pursued to the best of our powers, however weak that power may be, yet shall, with those helps of grace superadded, which the Christian
"Wherefore, we ought to inspect ourselves, and all about us. For if, under the old law, they were obliged nicely to look upon every offering, and did not suffer them to bring a sacrifice with a torn ear, or without a tail, or that had a foul ulcer, or was leprous-how much more should we, who do not offer up inanimate creatures, but ourselves, be diligent to be pure.". Chrys. Hom. xx. Again, the same father beautifully says: “ I call upon you with a loud voice, and beg of you, and beseech you, that you do not come with a blemish upon you, and with an evil conscience, to this holy table, for this would not be a communion, though you should a thousand times over touch Christ's body, but it would be your judgment and condemnation. Let, therefore, no sinner come, (but I must not say, no sinner, for then I should drive myself away from this holy table,) but let no one who continues a sinner come." It is this purposed determination to continue in sin, when partaking of the body and blood of Christ, which I am surely justified in saying is impossible.
knows how to ask, overcome the most seductive temptations, and destroy the most inveterate habits of which the human character is capable. The duty is to form the resolution, and to form it with sincerity, to intend, to the best of our strength, to wrestle with the evil of our nature, to be guarded against the attacks of our enemy, to be watchful against surprise, and to be prepared against the open attacks, as well as the insidious treachery, which our mortal enemy is ever bringing against us, to the discomfiture of our souls: "We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." When we go to the Lord's Supper, we must go with a mind resolutely intending to improve, not lazily satisfied with past attainments, nor quietly indulging in our present views of religion, but advancing, pursuing onwards, day by day enlarging our views of God's dealing with us, from point to point seeking fresh inducements to virtue, never resting, never content, but looking forward, even if we may so say, to the impossibility of being "perfect even as our Father which is in heaven is perfect.”
To the man who has been guilty of notorious sin, it is some advance to him to discontinue those sins. Once satisfied of the sinful nature of his past life, he must, of course,
as the preliminary of his new life, root out the vicious weeds from the garden of his soul, clean the ground of its rankness and bad fertility, make good use of the spade and of the plough, to prepare an entirely new soil. But this is only the preliminary, in itself it will not be sufficient. If the soil, however diligently cleansed, however thoroughly ploughed up, be left to itself, if there be no good seed sown therein, the same corrupt weeds that grew before, will grow up again, no one knows whence, and the labour will all be useless. We must not only sweep the house, but garnish it: garnish it, not with frivolous and ornamental furniture, but with that which shall be solid and useful. We must ensure, by careful watching and diligent observation, the storing up gradually of every Christian grace. "Add to your faith, virtue, and to virtue knowledge, and to knowledge temperance, and to temperance godliness, and to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness charity." Here, at the table of the Lord, we must be present with these intentions. Beholding as we do the cross of Christ, the pains and sufferings which he underwent for the sake of expiating sin, we must resolve at each several time of communicating, to advance in our work of godliness, to approach nearer and nearer to that divine example which he furnishes in the
gospel. He that striveth in the games for mastery is temperate in all things, and if they do it to obtain a corruptible crown, how much more shall we do it for an incorruptible crown. A new life, an advancing life, a life, as far as it is possible, of perfection, is to be the Christian's aim, and God being our helper, the Holy Spirit our guide, and Jesus our intercessor, it may be reasonably hoped that we shall "bring forth fruit in due season, some thirty, some sixty, some an hundred-fold."
VII. Lastly, we are to remember Christ with faith. Faith in regard to the past I do not here contemplate, because we could not be called Christians, we could not have been baptized, we could not have been confirmed, without a a professing belief in the doctrines of Christianity. But it is a faith in regard to the future. Now this again depends upon the previous points which we have already agreed upon; repentance, and love, and resolutions of obedience: for why should we repent, unless it were that we believe that pardon will follow? Why should we love Christ, unless it were that we believe that the sacrifice for which we love him will procure our salvation? and again, why should we resolve to advance in our Christian course, unless it were that we believe that "without holiness no man shall see the Lord," and