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which, in commemoration of our crucified Master, we are now about to celebrate. This text of Scripture has been regarded by some, and I believe is still so treated by many divines, as particularly referring to the sacrament of the Lord's Supper; and, though no Protestant imagines that, in participating the elements of bread and wine, he really eats the body and drinks the blood of Christ, yet many a Protestant conceives, that the promise of eternal life is held out to every believing communicant in this declaration of our Saviour. But no part of this dialogue can have any reference to the Sacrament; which was not known, or thought of, by any of the hearers at the time, and was not instituted, or mentioned by our Lord, till at the close of his ministry and life, the very evening before his apprehension. Certainly, therefore, it could not be so applied by those to whom it was originally spoken.
In one way, perhaps, it may, by us, be considered as applicable to this institution. Faith and obedience to Christ, as the Son of God, and the Saviour of man, constitute a Christian. To keep alive this faith, to confirm this obedience, it is necessary frequently to review the grounds of the one, and the motives to the other. For this end was the Sabbath appointed :-For this, are public forms of prayer composed :-For this, believers assemble together at stated times, unite in pious exercises, and “ hear the word of exhortation." The most solemn act of devotion is the communion; and, by this act, the chief object of all devotion, that is, the confirmation of faith and obedience, is most directly answered. Now, faith and obedience constituting Christianity, and faith and obedience, or Christianity, being most effectually promoted by the regular reception of the Sacrament, - the Sacrament may, by a figure, be made to stand for Christianity itself.
And thus, he who receives the elements of bread and wine at the altar, as the symbols of Christ, in whom he trusts, and whom he faithfully endeavours to obey, may, metaphorically, be said to “ eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood,"_" to dwell in Christ, and Christ in him,"—“to be one with Christ, and Christ with him;" or, in plain terms, he is a sincere Christian, and, as such, entitled to the benefits of the Gospel covenant.
In its most general and comprehensive sense, I trust you have all “ eaten of the flesh of Jesus
Christ, and drank his blood ;" I trust you have all embraced his religion; and however, at times, you may have been led astray by worldly affections, worldly pursuits, or evil example, that you really intend to make his law the standard of your lives. Let me entreat you, then, to establish this faith, and to fix and embody this pious intention, by availing yourselves of every means which the God of all grace hath afforded. Study the Scriptures :--Allot certain seasons to solemn contemplation :-Neglect not private and public prayer: particularly this hallowed ceremony, expressly appointed and enjoined by Him, who “ knew what was in man,"—knew all his weaknesses and his wants, and what was necessary to preserve him in that steadiness of belief, which alone would keep and sustain him in the way that leads to life.
I have more than once pressed you, I hope not harshly or rudely, to the frequent reception of the Sacrament. It is acknowledged to be my office :- I feel it to be my duty. Not that I suppose, or would have you to suppose, that there is any thing of charm or enchantment in this, or any rite; but all prayer has a direct tendency, (and the more solemn, the greater
that tendency,) all devotion has an immediate and powerful tendency to strengthen faith, and raise the mind above the paltry concerns of this corrupt and perishing world,-a world in which even the youngest has no abiding home. And not only myself individually, but the Church, whose organ and instrument I am, holds it to be, I will not say absolutely necessary, but certainly very efficacious,—very efficacious as “ means of grace,” very efficacious to excite in
hope of glory.” And I have no other way of fulfilling that obligation, which the apostle lays on a Christian teacher, to “ rebuke," but by public exhortation. Private censure and warning might offend rather than convince; but none can feel themselves personally wounded by that general reproof, which is indiscriminately addressed, not to one, but to all.
Once in every month, all“ who are religiously and devoutly disposed” are solemnly invited to meet at the table of their common Master; to testify their faith in his word, their hope in his merits, and their readiness to observe his sacred institutions. I believe it is a matter of surprise, as well as concern, to those who think seriously, and have the best interests of their fellow-crea
tures at heart, that this invitation is repeated and heard, heard and repeated, in vain :-perhaps with as little regard as a common summons to adjust some parochial rate, or supply some petty office—at least, it seems to produce as little effect. Whom do we see at the altar, on the succeeding sabbath ?--A few devout women, a few of our poor.--From a congregation of hundreds,—“peradventure twenty righteous may be found there."
I have now resided among you above thirty years; and from all I know of the sentiments and habits of those who attend at this house of prayer, I see no sufficient cause for this tardiness in assembling at the table of the Lord, to whose service they were solemnly bound at their baptism. Certainly, as you acknowledge the Gospel, you mean to acknowledge its Author and Finisher: certainly you mean, at some time or other, to plead the remission He has purchased for mankind, “who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God:"_but when ?-At the last stage of life, when you are departing hence to be seen no more ?-Will you begin to profess your belief, when belief can have no effect, and commemorate the Lord's death, when