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goodness towards them, and that they are very members incorporate in the mystical body of his Son, which is the blessed company of all faithful people; and are also heirs, through hope, of his everlasting kingdom, by the merits of the most precious death and passion of his dear Son. Why, my brethren, should not their happiness be the happiness of you all? Why should any continue to stay away, when all are invited to come? Can you be insensible to the promise, “ Whoso “ eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath “ everlasting life;" or to that, “ He that confesseth “ me before men, the same will I also confess “ before the angels of God?" Or can you forget the awful declaration, “ He that denieth me before “men, him will I also deny before my Father who “ is in heaven?" You may, indeed, look forward to future opportunities, and may listen to other invitations, to celebrate the supper of your Lord; but if the feelings and views which now influence you, induce you to reject the call, why may we not expect that they will continue to do so! And since, for so long a time, and under such favourable circumstances, you have refused to acknowledge your Saviour, why may not this course of instruction and of invitation, if still permitted to pass away unimproved, be the emblem and figure of your whole life, which shall also disappear and terminate without producing in you those religious results, those fruits of righteousness, which will
for heaven. Think not, however, my brethren, that I would represent the mere act of receiving the sacrament, as that which will, of itself, secure your salvation; or the neglect of it as that which will seal your destiny. But considering its reception as the result and evidence of those religious dispositions and holy desires which are required in those who shall be rewarded with eternal life; and its neglect as arising from indifference to the invitations of the Gospel, and as indicating the absence of all those desires after spiritual improvement which God requires; and regarding the due participation of the holy sacrament, as the Scripture always regards it, as the evidence and test of the Christian character; I again make to you the appeal of the text, “ How
long halt ye between two opinions? If the Lord “ be God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow « him.”
Preparatory to the Communion.
ROMANS v. 1.
Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God,
through our Lord Jesus Christ.
THESE words are an epitome of the Gospel, and present a summary of its benefits. Justification and peace with God are the blessings of which they speak. Jesus Christ is set forth as the author of our salvation; faith is declared to be the act by which, on our part, we become entitled to the benefits of his atonement; and his claim to all our affection, obedience, and homage, is expressed in his authoritative character and title of our Lord.
The very mention of justification implies another doctrine, which lies at the foundation of the whole scheme of the Gospel; and that is, the corruption and depravity of human nature. If men were not sinners, justification would not be needed. If they were not obnoxious to God, there would be no necessity of a mediator to procure for them reconciliation and peace. This fact of our sinfulness is distinctly and constantly represented in Scripture. It is acknowledged in the articles of our Church. And the confession of it is interwoven in all our prayers, services, and offices. And it is, besides, matter of every day observation and experience. All systems of government assume and presuppose it. The whole frame of human laws is but a remedy and protection against it. Human depravity is written at large, in letters of blood, in the cruel outrages, and treacheries, and horrid wars, which disfigure the history of man. The practical evidences of its operation are daily registered in the records of courts of justice, and in the scenes of iniquity which are there exposed. Its demerit is witnessed in those inflictions of punishment which the public welfare makes indispensable. And to the dishonour of our kind, its universal prevalence is acknowledged in the erection of houses of penance, grated prisons, and abodes of crime, which stand as monuments of the fact, even in the very bosom of knowledge, civilization, and refinement.
Nor is the influence of man's corruption confined to those actions which come under the cognizance of law, and suffer the punishment of judicial tribunals. It mingles with, and disturbs, all the private relations of life. It poisons domestic and social happiness, and produces that mass of misery and suffering of which every
individual feels that he is a partaker.
To inquire into the degree of this corruption in every individual is not within the scope of this discourse. That all men are affected by it, is, as we have seen, a matter of experience: insomuch that if we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. But it is equally matter of experience, that we are not absolutely and totally depraved; for then this earth would in nowise differ from the abodes of evil spirits, and of malicious fiends; and men themselves be like the demons who inhabit there. And then all those arguments which the Scriptures address to our reason, our feelings, our sense of propriety, our love of goodness, and our notions of equity, would be entirely lost and misapplied; and all those common ideas of generosity, duty, and obligation, to which men refer, in their intercourse with each other, would also be disregarded, or cease to be appealed to.
Sufficient for our belief is the doctrine of our Church, that man is a very far gone from original
“ “ righteousness, and is, of his own nature, in“ clined,” (not absolutely abandoned,) but “in66 clined, to evil ;" and that “we have no power * to do good works, pleasant and acceptable to • God, without the grace of God by Christ prei venting us, that we may have a good will, and