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ministry, and that he instituted it for our benefit, the very night in which he was betrayed, as a memorial of his approaching voluntary sacrifice of himself upon the altar of the cross, for a satisfaction for the sins of all who shall believe in him. The primitive believers rarely met for social worship without this breaking of bread in remembrance of their Lord. St. Augustine laments, as a symptom of declining piety, that it was only administered on the Lord's day; and the shadow of the ancient practice is still kept up in the Roman mass, in which the congregation witnesses the solitary taking of it by the Priest. As no time has been specified, we are in that respect left to determine for ourselves. The modern Church of Rome requires a yearly communion; our own recommends three times in the year at least; but all denominations, however they may disagree in doctrine or discipline, though some exalt this Sacrament too highly, even confounding the symbols of the crucified Saviour with the Saviður himself,and paying them in consequence supreme adoration; and others degrade it to an inefficacious commemoration; all, with the single exception above named, agree to retain it as an indispensable part of worship. And yet, notwithstanding it is so considered by all but universal consent, many who regularly attend at other religious ordinances, and are fully persuaded that this was in stituted by Christ himself, constantly absent themselves from it, though it is only by a participation in this memorial of his death that they can shew themselves to be his disciples, for this is the badge and evidence of our Christian profession. We may attend occasionally at a place of worship, but we do not belong to any denomination, if we do not communicate with it.
This systematic neglect of an ordinance which has been so solemnly enjoined, and the obligation of complying with which is not denied, can hardly proceed from thoughtlessness and indifference in those who regularly attend the ordinary services of religion. It must arise in most instances from some misconception of its nature, or of the requisite qualifications of a communicant. A few there may be", we hope they are very few, who, shrinking from the self-denial
b Dr. Parr, Sermons on the Sacrament.
necessarily involved in a reformation of life, deliberately avoid the struggle with their corrupt inclinations, and satisfy themselves with the thought, that they do not aggravate their guilt by violating the promise, which as communicants they would make for the abandonment of their favourite vices. Such presumptuous sinners we dare not tempt to kneel in mockery before the table of the Lord; we can only pray that God will give them time and inclination for repentance, and we dismiss the consideration of them with the observation, that their prudence, as it appears to them, will be of no avail ; that the promise which they would evade was made for them in baptism, in which they were pledged to renounce the world, the flesh, and the devil; and that though they will not have to answer in addition for hypocrisy, their willing continuance in any one known sin, and their rejection of one of the means of overcoming it, will in the day of judgment condemn them. Let them also ask themselves, if they who do not keep up this memorial of our Saviour's death, do not virtually of their own accord abandon all right and title to the forgiveness
of sins which that death was intended to procure.
There are others of a better spirit, weak and timid believers, who are kept back by a conscientious distrust of their ability to persevere in the amendment, which they not only promise, but wish. These too, though in a far less degree than the former, are highly blameable, for not ascertaining by experiment how far, with Divine assistance, they may make gradual, and ultimately effectual, advances in amendment of life; they forget that the Lord's supper is not only a rite, but a sacrament, that is, a channel for communicating the very grace they need ; and they deprive themselves of one of the means provided by Divine mercy for the correction of their faults, and their growth in piety and virtue. The notion, that what they allow to be beneficial, will be less efficacious in their own case than in that of others, though it has the semblance of humility, proceeds, I apprehend, from a practical want of faith.
Generally speaking, however, it is not so much the fear of future failure, as the sense of present unworthiness, that keeps persons from this Sacrament. They choose what they consider the least of two evils; they abstain from the feast, though they know they cannot innocently neglect the invitation, rather than be found there without the marriage garment. Their abstaining may often be traced to some false scruple, and that perhaps originating in such an excessive reverence, as leads them to exact from themselves a fitness that is hardly to be found in the present imperfect condition of human nature. These come under that class of believers that St. Paul calls babes in Christ;" and as, according to his direction, Rom. xv. 1. they who are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak; we, if we have attained to clearer views, ought not to ridicule or overawe their scruples, but calmly and affectionately reason with them in order to remove them. It is a melancholy consideration, that there are so many timid believers, who partake not with the comfort it was intended to convey, but with alarm of these pledges of their Saviour's love. In the hope of being of use to some at least of this description, by dispelling their unfounded apprehensions, I have drawn up this tract, which makes no pretensions