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The best Preparation is a HOLY LIFE.
He who lives a holy life is always ready to deparı and to be with Jesus. Must be not be always ready to stay and to be with Jesus in His blessed Sacrament?
The iife of faith is a life full of the presence of God. Faith is the eye of the soul, and that eye looks not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. It realises-makes real to us—the presence of God and of the world unseen. The thought of that world unseen is never far away, nor long away, in a life of faith. In a life of faith, then, it is not like going on a long journey, for which the soul unprepared, when we seek he close presence of our Lord and our God in Holy Communion. It is only like going a littie step Dearer, for which the soul should be always ready.
It is a poor way of making a continual remem. brance of the Sacrifice of the Death of Christ” to live in daily forgetfulness of it, and to come to Holy Communion only two or three times in the year. I should not like to have to say every time I came, • O God, I confess I have been too long without coming to this holy Sacrament; forgive me my neglect.' A life which cannot turn to Jesus at any time simply and naturally is a dangerous one. It is not a life of faith.
So the best preparation is a HOLY LIFE.
But will not coming often make me feel less ? May I not make it too common, and so come with less reverence ? No, you will not find it so. It is found, as a rule, that those who come oftenest come most reverently, and love best to come. In the Primitive Church the Lord's Supper was administered at least every Lord's Day. It would have seemed as strange to the early Christians to have a festival, such as Sunday always is, without Holy Communion, as to have a feast with nothing to eat. And certainly our Lord meant it to be a constant food for the souls of His people.
But, if I ought to live so as to be always ready, will there be any need of special preparation ? Yes, you would wish to do all honour to your Lord, and to win all blessing for yourself. So you will prepare your soul. The preparation is like dressing your soul for a feast. You are going to feast with Jesus. You would not like to go to a feast at some great man's house without taking care to be clean and well-dressed. But you are going now to meet One greater than the greatest on earth.
How then shall you prepare ?
The only thing said in the Bible about preparation for Holy Communion is this :
“ LET A MAN EXAMINE HIMSELF."
It is quite the way of the Bible to give great broad rules to guide us, but to leave us to fill up the
way and plan of following these rules for ourselves. All the Bible tells us is that we must search into our own selves before we come.
Plainly this is in order that we may know what we are, and what we have done, and how we have been living. This searching into our own selves is called SELF-EXAMINATION.
The Bible does not tell us how to do it, so we inust try to find that out for ourselves. We should naturally ask, Does our Church then help us ? And at once we find it does. In the first of the two addresses to be used in giving notice of Holy Communion, we are told something about Selfexamination. The Church there exhorts us to search and examine our own consciences, and that very earnestly and truthfully, and again to examine our life and conversation (which means the same as conduct) by the rule of God's Commandments. Now we could not do better than follow this advice. What we have to do is to set our own hearts and lives side by side with God's holy law, that we may see where we have broken it, and how far we are from what God requires.
THE COMMANDMENTS. I hope you have often thought of the reason why the Ten Commandments are read at the beginning of the Communion Service. It is plainly because by them we ought to examine ourselves before we come to the Lord's Holy Table. I am going therefore to take the Ten Commandments, and to set down a few questions about each of them to help you in this work of Self-examination. But before I do so there are several things I should like you to think about.