Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

to originality, and which conveys, sometimes in their own words, the opinions of Waterland, Archbishops Sharp and Tillotson, and other approved divines.

But before I enter upon the subject, I would notice the distinction that has been judiciously drawn between unworthiness in the communicant, and an unworthy partaker of the Communion; a distinction which some on first hearing of it may condemn as an over refinement, yet which is of real use in clearing the question from a preliminary difficulty, and is recognised by the Apostle. All, even the best, are, as the service well reminds us, unworthy, through their manifold sins, to offer any sacrifice, unworthy even to gather up the crumbs under their Lord's table; but it is not perfection which is required as the condition of communicating worthily ; it is a contrite spirit, and the fruit of such a spirit, an earnest desire to break asunder the bonds of sin, and to obtain strength to do it by the very means of that communion. “ If we expect God's grace and assistance, we must work out our own salvation in the careful use of all those means which God hath appointed to that end. That degree of goodness which some would have to fit them for the Sacrament is not to be had but by the use of it." “ To wait till you are perfectly worthy in every respect, is to wait for ever; less and less unworthy you may be enabled to become by often partaking of the Lord's supper, and sincere preparation will always, through grace, make you sufficiently worthy to partake of itd.” Our unworthiness is, in fact, the cause of the institution of this Sacrament, that the pardon of our sins may be ratified by it; and that as our frail bodies, though in health, must be sustained by suitable food, so our souls may be refreshed and strengthened by the spiritual food provided in this ordinance. Indeed our religion is founded upon the acknowledged fact of our unworthiness, and would be unintelligible without it. An innocent man, if such could be found, like Adam before he fell, might have immediate intercourse with his Creator; a sinner can only approach

e Archbishop Tillotson, Persuasive to frequent Communion.

& The Provost of Oriel's Manual after Confirmation, which I take this opportunity of recommending.

a holy God, whose commandments he has broken, through a Mediator. Hence baptism, which significantly denotes the necessity of inward purification, introduces us into the Church; and hence originated the sacrifices of the earlier dispensation, which prefigured the one oblation of himself which our great High Priest once offered upon the cross, of which we have so lively a representation in this Sacrament. No past wickedness, however heinous, ought to be pleaded as a bar; the worse any one has been, the more need he has of the Saviour, who for his comfort promises that he will cast out none that come unto him; and who said, when on earth, that the whole needed not a physician, but the sick; we are not to enquire what we have been, but what we are; not how deeply we have sinned, but if we desire to forsake our sins, and to live unto God. The feeblest aspiration after holiness, and after the power of obeying the Divine will, is a sufficient warrant for us to come; for we may be sure that all such desires are excited in us by the Holy Spirit, in order to draw us to God. If they be followed, more grace will be given, so that the weakest

B

and the vilest may, if they will, proceed from strength to strength, till, in the use of this and other means of grace, they become gradually more and more conformed to the image of Him who instituted it. It is therefore a common device of the enemy of souls to prevent this important step in the Christian course, and to suggest, under the disguise of an angel of light, to the trembling believer, that it would be dangerous presumption in him to partake till he had made himself better. Unhappily there are seldom wanting well-disposed but injudicious advisers, to confirm the scrupulous in this delusion, and to treat this semblance of Christian humility as a favourable symptom of their moral state. It is so specious, that there are probably few whom it has not at some time misled; but true it cannot be, since it leads us first to disobey a plain command, and then to rely for our improvement not upon our Lord, and upon the Sanctifier, the Holy Ghost, but upon ourselves. Let us look into ourselves to produce a conviction of sin, but for holiness let us look to Him, who bears the encouraging name of Jesus, because he saves his

people from their sins. Let us come to his table, that “our sinful bodies may be made clean by his body, and our souls washed through his most precious blood.”

We now proceed to consider real unworthiness. Such we know there is from the case of the Corinthians, and that it was highly displeasing to God, who is holy and jealous, and will be found by presumptuous sinners under the Gospel dispensation of mercy, no less than under the Sinai covenant, to be “ a consuming fire?." St. Paul's language on the occasion' has frightened many from the Sacrament, who would otherwise have taken it to their benefit; and the lapse of time since the authorized version was made, by affecting the meaning of words, has increased the panic; for the unlearned, reading that the Corinthians ate and drank to themselves damnation, determine not to expose themselves to the risk of incurring the punishment of hell, though a little consideration might satisfy them, that here and

e Deut. iv. 24, as explained in the Epistle to the Hebrews, xii. 29. fi Cor. xi.

« PoprzedniaDalej »