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scientiously discharging this part of their duty as Christians.
These may sometimes arise in the minds of Christians, First, from the idea that they have not found the benefit they expected from celebrating these holy mysteries. This difficulty may possibly have been created by your expecting some impressions or effects not authorized by the word of God, or by your looking for these consequences in a manner or degree beyond the real rule of Scripture. Or you may have mistaken an occasional depression of the animal spirits for spiritual desertion. Or it may
have neglected the ordinary means, either preparatory to the Lord's Supper, or following upon it, with which God usually connects any important or permanent benefit. Or you may have at some times been blessed with such elevated and holy emotions of heart at the Lord's Table, as have led you to conceive yourselves wholly destitute of any advantage under more calm and sedate exercises of devotion. But, whatever may have been the particular cause of the difficulty you feel, let it never for one instant deter
from persevering in a regular attendance on the Holy Communion. The promises of God can never fail. Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, to-day, and for ever. Pray only for more faith, implore of God a corrected and enlarged judgment, wait on Him for the fulfilment of his own word, look up to the blessed Saviour for his presence in the receiving of the consecrated memorials of his love, and you shall obtain all, and more than all, the blessings I have mentioned; you shall find that Christ's flesh is meat indeed, and his blood is drink indeed.
Some Christians may inquire, Secondly, whether they should continue to approach the Table of their Saviour when their consciences are burdened with the guilt of some particular sin. To this the answer is obvious, because one end of receiving the body and blood of Christ is to obtain the very blessings of pardon and peace of conscience which the objection supposes to be most wanted. If indeed, unhappily, we have committed some aggravated offence against God, and the ordinary period of our partaking of the Eucharist be near, it may be
, expedient to abstain for that season from the Lord's Supper ; but this abstinence must be with the express intention of more humbly confessing our sins before God, that we may be prepared with sincere penitence and faith to renew the covenant we have violated, and apply again for that seal of pardon and reconciliation which we so much need. In other cases which may occur of our consciences being burdened with the remembrance of particular sins, our duty clearly is to renounce and forsake those sins with unfeigned abhorrence, and then to partake of the body and blood of Christ, that we may be strengthened in our vigorous resistance of them.
But others may further doubt, Thirdly, whether, when they are in a declining state of religious feelings, they may not be committing a greater sin by receiving the Communion, than by omitting it for the time altogether. To this I reply, to adopt the sentiments of an able Divine, that “the omission of the Lord's Supper is itself a sin in a Christian who has been in the habit of receiving it, and a greater sin than communicating, with whatever imperfection.” It is true, it is our duty to forbear sin, that is, all those actions which are sins in their own kind and nature; but not those actions which may become sins by some accident, or the defect of some circumstances. In this case the accidental evil is to be avoided, or the defect amended, and not the act to be omitted. Now, receiving the Sacrament is of itself and in its own nature good, and becomes sinful from some adherent corruption, which brings a defilement upon it. Our concern, therefore, is to aim at the removal of this defilement, which weakens and pollutes our act of duty, and not to cease from the duty itself.
I might specify various other objections which may disturb the consciences of Christians with regard to the Holy Communion; but
I forbear, as those which I have answered may serve to suggest suitable replies in similar cases.
It may, however, be proper here to mention, that objections are sometimes raised against partaking of the Lord's Supper upon grounds very different from any of those which I have as yet adverted to. The cases I have considered are those of persons sincerely in earnest about spiritual religion. But objections are also made by those who betray, by the very nature of them, , a totally wrong state of mind. Many persons, when invited to prepare for this important duty, will at once admit that they are not in a fit state for performing it, and yet will remain for years apparently quite unconcerned about that entire change of heart and character which they are aware is necessary to their rightly receiving the Lord's Supper. Others will meet every exhortation addressed to them on the subject, by replying, that they are not prepared to make that separation from the amusements and pursuits of the world to which the Sacrament would bind them. It is not uncommon, moreover, to hear it affirmed by some, that they do not consider the duty so' essential to salvation as we endeavour to represent it; whilst too many imagine that the hurry and engagements of their families is an adequate reason for declining a compliance with our Saviour's command. Others likewise, though living in the
commission of known sin, will satisfy themselves in continuing it, by the wretched pretence, that they do not receive the Holy Communion. Many, lastly, either defer attending to the subject, under the distant and slender hope of becoming better and more fit for celebrating the Eucharist hereafter; or rashly and superstitiously suppose that receiving the Communion on a dyingbed will be some security for the admission of their souls into the happiness of Heaven.
To these, and various like statements, one answer must be given. They all proceed from minds fixed on the love and practice of sin, and unawakened to a proper feeling of the nature and importance of religion. The duty of all such objectors is two-fold: first, to repent and believe the gospel; and, secondly, thus repenting and believing, to prepare for celebrating, in an humble and spiritual manner, the most blessed mysteries of the body and blood of Christ. A merely external participation of the Sacrament, in a formal, ignorant, and superstitious state of mind, can indeed only increase the guilt of those who so profane the Redeemer's holy institution. No one is to be encouraged to such a profanation. Those who, with the objectors before us, consider their religious duties as in some way meritorious before God, and regard the Sacrament as a finish to their other performances, are fundamentally wrong; they