Imatges de pÓgina
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ness and beneficence to all : and the same inclination that puts us upon seeking our own good will engage us likewise to contribute, what in us lies, to that good of our brethren in which our own is so nearly concerned, and with which it is so strongly interwoven. No differences of opinion, of circumstances, of worldly

interests, can divide those who are thus firmly united Rom. viii. to their Lord and to one another. Neither life nor 38.

death, neither things present nor things to come, neither height nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate them from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus their Lord, from that love of the brethren, which is rooted and grounded upon this their love of God. It is true indeed, the faithful are not thus strictly united either to the wicked Christian or to the unworthy communicant. But some relation there is, even between the best and the worst of men; and the most inveterate either of our own or of God's enemies have enough in them to justify, to challenge, to command, our love. We are all partakers of the

same common nature : it is by this kind of resemEcclus. xiii. blance that every beast, as the Wise Man observes,

loveth his like ; and on the same account, as he afterwards intimates, it is equally reasonable that every man should love his neighbour.

All men are the work of God's hands, they are all made after the image of God. And can we pretend, therefore, truly to love God, whilst we have no regard to that image of his which is so visibly, in so distinguishing a manner, impressed upon men? It is on the account of this likeness to our Creator that the murderer of his brethren is so severely threatened by God : for so we are expressly told, Genesis ix. 6, Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed : for in the image of God made he man. And as men

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are all made after the likeness of God, so are they all partakers of his lovingkindness and mercy; he hath given them all a rational, immaterial, immortal soul, capable of knowing, of loving, of enjoying God: he hath shown them the way to happiness, and hath invited, besought, encouraged them to walk in it: he hath called all sinners to repentance, and does, with wonderful patience and longsuffering, wait for their amendment. The precious blood of the son of God was shed for them, and the powerful assistances of the holy Spirit are, through bis mercy, tendered to them : and it must therefore be the height of ingratitude, arrogance, and presumption in us, to pretend that we can find nothing worthy of our love in those men to whom God hath been pleased to offer, upon whom he is ready to bestow, such unspeakable privileges and rewards. The sense of Christ's love to men is by St. Paul urged as a reason why we should not grieve or offend them by the unseasonable use of our Christian liberty: Destroy not, says the apostle, him with Rom. xiv. thy meat, for whom Christ died. And the same consideration is of equal force to oblige us to love our neighbours, though we cannot be assured that they are of the number of the faithful; for, whatever they are, Christ died for them; and we cannot therefore be at too great pains to show our compassion, our kindness, our love to them.

This charitable and merciful disposition of mind, as it ought at all times to be found in us; so is it then most especially required of us, when in the sacrament of the Lord's supper we contemplate and commemorate this love of Christ in dying for us. It is a powerful argument of the exceeding riches of the love of Christ that, whilst we were yet sinnera, he died for us, the just Rom. v. 8. for the unjust, that he might bring us unto God.

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The 1 Pet. iii. 18.

consideration of our own manifold sins and transgressions is the great motive that excites, quickens, and inflames the sense we have of Christ's love to us. And can we then, at such a time, delight to dwell upon the sing of men, and withdraw our love from them on account of those sins? Do we think our brother hath no reason to expect our love because he hath offended us? And have not we ourselves, in a more provoking manner, offended that God whose love we there remember, whose love we there implore ? Nay, do we

not, by this our uncharitableness, even now offend him Matt. v. 44. who hath commanded us to love our enemies, to bless

those that curse us, to pray for those that despitefully use us and persecute us? This, we read, was the practice of the holy Jesus, both in his life and at his death : And is the disciple greater than his lord? Is the servant greater then his master? Is it not enough, if the disciple be as his lord, if the servant be as his master ? If then we would be meet partakers of the holy Sacrament, we must take care that the same mind, the same kind, tender, charitable mind, be in us, which was in our blessed Lord and Saviour. The holy eucharist is a feast of charity, and those only are worthy to be admitted there, who, whilst they meditate upon the love of their Lord, go themselves and do likewise.

There have been, and still are, warm disputes between the Latin and Greek churches, whether the Sacrament should be administered with leavened or unleavened bread. Now which way soever this question is determined, and it is perhaps of no great moment which way it is determined, it is agreed that there is a fer

ment which is certainly unsuitable to the celebration Cor. v. 7. of this feast. Christ our passover is sacrificed for us ;

therefore we are to keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of charity and lovingkindness. He who presumes to approach to the holy table with the guilt of uncharitableness upon him, as he comes uninvited, so will he depart unsatisfied and unrewarded. For how unfit must he be to taste the love of God in the Sacrament, who is himself full of envy and malice, and is wholly taken up in contriving ways and means to execute bis revenge, rage, and fury? What pleasure can he take in meditating upon God's mercy in the redemption of man, whilst he abounds with hatred, enmity, and ill-will against those for whom that redemption was wrought? The merciful are always most feelingly affected with the sense of mercy; and we ourselves must be filled with love before we can truly relish or sufficiently value the love of Jesus. An angry man hath no taste of this love, a revengeful man intermeddleth not with such joy.

The greater and the more unfeigned our affection for men is, the more inflamed will be our gratitude to God, the more thankfully shall we commemorate the love of Christ in dying for them. We have usually a deep sense of the obligations we are under to any 'one who hath been particularly kind to any of our friends; we think ourselves under no concern to acknowledge the favours that are bestowed upon those we are strangers to, and in whose good or ill fortune we are equally indifferent: but the distinctions and advantages that are given to our enemies are so far from heightening our esteem and gratitude towards those who gave them, that they much oftener occasion our anger and produce our hatred. Now, in the holy sacrament of the Lord's supper, the general and diffusive love of God to all mankind is represented to us, and should, with devout and thankful hearts, be acknowledged by us. But we shall be in a very unsuitable disposition to

offer

up the well-pleasing sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving to God, for the mercies he hath bestowed on men, if, instead of an unfeigned, disinterested love to them, we are unconcerned for them, or at enmity with them: it is scarce to be expected that we should sincerely beg God to bless those whom we go on bitterly to curse; it is not to be thought that we can in earnest beseech the Almighty to pardon those whom we ourselves are uncharitably resolved never to forgive.

They who come to the Lord's table with this wicked disposition of mind about them cannot so properly be said to remember the love, as to renew the sufferings, of their Lord and Saviour. They do not praise, but affront; they do not worship, but provoke God: they grieve, they resist, they quench the Holy Spirit of peace

and love. He who at any time hates his brother, is, 1 John iii. by the apostle St.John, said expressly to be a murderer;

but he who comes to the Sacrament, and still cherishes this hatred in his breast, is a murderer, not only of his

brother, but even of his Lord and Saviour, whom, by Heb. vi. 6. such his uncharitableness, he again crucifies afresh, and

puts again to an open shame.

All sin, all known, habitual, wilful sin, unfits a man for the Sacrament; but the breach of charity, as it is in the highest degree contrary to the nature and design of this divine institution, so is it more especially inconsistent with the due reception of these holy mysteries. And our church, therefore, as it hath directed all impenitent sinners to abstain from the Sacrament, so hath it more particularly forbid the uncharitable to approach to this holy table. That this feast of love may not be profaned and defiled by malicious and revengeful guests, she hath directed the minister “ not to suffer those to be partakers of the Lord's table betwixt whom he perceives malice and hatred to reign.” No person is, by

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