Imatges de pàgina
PDF
EPUB

has been pleading, and trample under foot the very blood which he had urged as his suit for mercy.

Ah! Christians, who have been baptized into the name, the merits, and the grace of Jesus Christ; who have even renewed, in the apostolic rite appointed for the purpose, those reasonable and holy vows which in baptism your sureties imposed upon you; why is it that, in regard to so many of you, baptism and confirmation, those means of grace and pledges of mercy, appear destitute of efficacy and of consolation-neither producing what they so powerfully enforced, a death unto sin and a new birth unto righteousness, nor securing to you the consolations of God's favour and the hope of heaven? Show me the Christian who has been devoted to God in these sacred rites, but whose character and life are very far from exhibiting the spirit and virtues of his holy calling, and you will find that he maintains no intercourse with the Father of his spirit, no communication by prayer with the Fountain of grace and mercy; that he attends the holy temple of his God only when convenience suits and a capricious inclination prompts; that there he is the late, the careless, the indevout attendant; indulging the whisper and the smile in the presence of him before whom angels vail their faces; bending neither his soul nor his body before his Maker, lifting neither his heart nor his voice in homage to the Lord of all. Follow him from the temple to the closet: it is the scene of his worldly, perhaps his criminal projects, but never, or only rarely, of his prayers. Behold him in his family: they are never led by him, as guilty sinners, as grateful dependents, to the footstool of their Judge, to the throne of their Benefactor. Follow him to

the public walks of the world, and the varying scenes of nature: he admires its beauties, he enjoys its bounties, he obtains its treasures and its honours, but is a stranger to that habitual devotion which lifts the soul from the joys of earth to the brighter joys of heaven, from the beauties and bounties of nature to him who made and who bestowed them, and from the temptations of the world to him who only can confer the strength to resist and to overcome.

But show me the professing Christian, the reverse of him whom we have just contemplated, who not merely fulfils all righteousness, but adorns the doctrine of God his Saviour in all things, and that Christian is the man of prayer-regularly, and reverently, and devoutly in the temple-statedly and humbly in his closet and his family-constantly and fervently in his spirit, amidst the competitions, the temptations, and the pleasures of the world. Christians, if you would thus be renewed by the Holy Ghost, you must thus invoke his sacred pre

sence.

8. You must do more, my brethren: you must frequently and devoutly partake of that holy sacrament which will strengthen and refresh you by the spiritual body and blood of Christ.

It is by the union of Christians with Christ their head, that they partake of the sanctifying efficacy of the Divine Spirit, and are enabled to bring forth the fruits of righteousness. This union is effected and completed by the participation of the holy supper, which is the communion of the body and blood of Christ; which excites, and nourishes, and strengthens, in those who worthily receive it, all holy graces and virtues,

What shall we say then of those who, devoted to their God and Saviour in baptism, and renewing this devotion in the ordinance of confirmation, are solemnly pledged to obey his commands; and yet neglect that command-" Do this in remembrance of me?" Depriving themselves of the communication of those spiritual graces which flow into the soul of the devout Christian, who in this divine. ordinance spiritually partakes of the body and blood of his Redeemer, need we wonder that they fall far short of the Christian character, and of the claims of their holy profession-that they do not perform the great Christian work enforced in their baptism, of daily mortifying their corrupt affections, and daily proceeding in all virtue and godliness of living? Is it possible that the Christian virtues will flourish in that soul which, neglecting an ordinance that exhibits the Saviour giving himself a sacrifice for its sins, and presenting him to the eye of its faith in his agony and bloody sweat, in his cross and passion, neglects a divinely instituted mean of grace, most powerfully calculated to nourish and to strengthen its gratitude, its love, its pious devotion?

But does this holy sacrament, instituted and designed for the renovation of the soul, produce this effect in all who receive it? I speak not now of the open and notorious evil livers, who profane the name of God, injure or defraud their neighbour, or violate the laws of sobriety and chastity-such the church enjoins on the guardians of the altar to exclude from the heavenly banquet-such, it is hardly to be supposed, would partake, in this state of habitual sin, of the body and blood of the Redeemer, and thus, by the memorials of his love and

his mercy, deliberately seal their perdition. But, alas! even among professing Christians, whose character and life are unstained by gross vices, and who evidence their reverence for the institutions of their God and Saviour, by partaking of that holy supper which he instituted and commanded, we do not always perceive that vigour of faith, that ardour of piety, that purity of life and conversation, that holy superiority to the world, that earnest desire and pursuit of their heavenly inheritance, which this sacrament is calculated to produce. Alas! strange as it may appear, there are some who can rise from the altar where they have celebrated the love of him who died for them, and vowed, over the memorials of his body and his blood, to live to his glory and obey his commands; and, during the remainder of the sacred day which has witnessed these vows, neither worship him in his temple, nor, it is to be feared, worship him elsewhere. Would it not appear as if there were some who can pass from the altar to the world, where indeed their duty calls them, but there mingle with the gay, the voluptuous, the votaries of mammon, the competitors for honour, and rarely exhibit any marks by which they may be distinguished from the worldly crowd!

Oh! if I could address persons of this description, I would beseech them to reflect what dishonour they do bring on their holy profession, what disgrace on the church which nourishes them in her bosom, what guilt, it is to be feared, on their own souls. At the foot of the altar they acknowledged that the remembrance of their sins was grievous unto them, the burden of them intolerable; over the memorials of the body and blood of their

Saviour, they presented unto God themselves, their souls and bodies, a reasonable, holy, and living sacrifice; and yet they can neglect his worship, they can mingle with the world, and be as eagerly and supremely devoted to it, as if not to God, but to the world they had solemnly consecrated themselves. God of mercy! for these things O visit them not in thy wrath!

Christians! it is your duty, for it is the command of your God and Saviour, to receive the communion of the body and the blood of Christ; but it is your duty to receive it with serious reflection, with faithful examination, with the confession of your offences, in steadfast resolutions of new obedience, in faith, in gratitude, in charity, in love. Then it will prove to you a sanctifying ordinance, conveying to you the renewing power of the Holy Ghost, transforming your affections, quickening your virtues and graces, raising you above the world, and inspiring you with the blessed hopes of immortal glory.

9. But, Christians, in order to preserve and to increase that renewing of the mind which the means of grace are designed to produce, you must give them effect by the exercise of constant diligence and watchfulness.

Watch as well as pray, was the command of him who knew in the midst of how many and great dangers and temptations we are placed-dangers and temptations that will surprise and hurry us into sin, unless watchfulness is our constant safeguard. The world without us is an enemy constantly seeking, by insidious wiles as well as by direct attacks, to gain possession of our hearts; and unless we are constantly on the watch to meet and to repel

« AnteriorContinua »