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If there be an institution which merits the reverence and observance of all times, it is surely that which is designed to commemorate the virtues of this august and gracious character, and the blessings procured to the world by the holy labours of his mission, and the saving maganimity of his death.

But the sacrament of the Lord's Supper derives not its solemnity and importance solely from the circumstances by which its institution was accompanied, or the authority by which its observance was enjoined. By the wisdom of the founder, it was designed to refer to objects worthy, in the highest degree, of the consideration of mankind. It renews, but extends to the whole world, the pascal feast of the Israelites. It points to the consummation of the types and figures of preceding times. It announces the termination of sanguinary sacrifice. It invites all men, as the members of one great and affectionate family, to partake, with the same privileges and hopes, of the same blessing. It is, in a word, to reconcile man to God and to himself, to revivify those who are dead in trespasses and sins, to reopen the gates of heaven which had been closed by rebellion and by crime, and to tender to every individual of every age, “ that bread and that

cup,

of “ which whosoever shall eat and drink worthily “shall have everlasting life.”

There is scarcely any view in which we can contemplate this holy ordinance, without moral or religious edification. Does it direct our thoughts to Christ, the friend of man? It urges us to obedience by gratitude and love. Does it exhibit in Christ the victim of the iniquities of man? It impresses us with an awful sense of the equity by which the victim was required. Does it remind us

of the love of God in sending forth his Son “to “ suffer death upon the cross for the redemption « of man?” It directs our attention to the most affecting instance of the divine benignity, and tends to excite the best and most salutary sentiments of the heart. By these considerations are kindled, at once, the love, the reverence, and the awe of God. The deep and delightful impressions of the divine goodness are mingled with the awful and quickening conviction of the divine justice; and we learn to look up to the Almighty with a more solemn and affecting sense of the duty which we owe him, for the holy mercies of his gracious and redeeming interposition.

But let not the obdurate and impenitent sinner hope that this sacrament is to include him within the pale of its blessings. To such a man, if he dare to approach the altar of God, it brings not hope, nor trust, nor blessing, but wrath and condemnation. It is to be preceded by a preparation of the heart as solemn, as the benefits which are to flow from it are great and numerous. The vices and weaknesses of life must be called to view; the recesses of the bosom laid open to a just and profound scrutiny; and the sanctity of penitence must be substituted for the pollutions of passion and of crime. In this renewal or regeneration of the spirit of man, lies the first condition of the blessings which are to be subsequently communicated. The condition may be painful and hard to be fulfilled; for what sinner can lay without effort the oblation of every impure and worldly passion on the altar, and mingle with the offering the tears of a deep and salutary contrition? But it is accompanied by high and noble promises ; and motives are supplied which facilitate its accomplishment by encouraging the efforts of reformation, and counteracting the temptations to crime.

This preparatory purification of the spirit, this alienation of the sinner from himself, this return of the wanderer to the fold of the shepherd, are not the sole things necessary to the effectual participation of the Lord's Supper. A transitory piety, a sudden but ineffectual resolution of amendment, a penitence to be speedily extinguished amid the follies and levities of life, are not to bring down the blessings which await the evangelical communicant. To solemnize, at one moment, a sacrament so awful and holy, and to depart, on the next, from the obligations which it imposes and consecrates, is, on the contrary, more certainly to provoke the wrath, and assure the punishment, which that sacrament affords the means to appease and to avert. He, therefore, who would partake, with saving efficacy, the cup of salvation, must not only bring to the table of Christ holy and disciplined thoughts, but display them afterwards in newness of life. The heart that has been regenerated, must be preserved in a state of regeneration. The obedience which has been promised must be fulfilled. And thus, and thus only, shall a man be rendered “a meet partaker of this

holy sacrament,” and be assured of the blessings and privileges which it confers.

There is, then, in this institution a sublime evidence of the wisdom and of the goodness of Christ. It is not announced as a mere trial of our obedience and our faith. It does not occupy us in the observance of any unmeaning or burdensome ceremony. It engages us in no idle and corrupting festivity. It holds out no hope of an easy pardon, and an unconditional acceptance. No! In its origin it is affecting,

in its promises it is sublime, in its tendency holy, in its benefits unspeakable. It is calculated, by the views which it opens, the example which it commemorates, and the love which it witnesses, to elevate and to purify the mind. All the best and happiest emotions it contributes to awaken and confirm ; all evil appetites, and all sordid attachment to the world, to repress or to reform; and it is not only calculated to give dignity to virtue, and strength to piety, and confidence to faith, and love to hope, but to become a means of reconciling man to his Maker, and of sanctifying, preserving, and redeeming the family of God.

III. From this beautiful institution we turn to contemplate another, scarcely less interesting and important, or less accordant with the improvement and happiness of man.

The ministry of Christ had been completed under circumstances the most afflicting and adverse, and the victim of the cross was laid in the grave. His . religion seemed to be buried with him. His friends and disciples fled. His enemies exulted in fanatical triumph. In the mean time, his prediction was about to be fulfilled, and the temple, which had been cast down, was speedily to be restored. In three days he

The power of the Sanhedrim, the bigotry of the populace, the fanaticism of the rabbi, could do no more; and his mission was perfected, and the mystery of redemption sealed, by an event which demonstrated his triumph over the grave, and afforded the highest testimony to the truth of the Gospel.

The apostles of Christ, without departing from the primitive appropriation of one day in seven to the purposes of religion, set apart, with the same view, the day which had been distinguished by an occur

arose.

rence so important and so sublime. To this Christian ordinance a reverance was due not inferior to that which was required by the Jewish sabbath. The sabbath of the Jew was of local ; this was to become of universal obligation. The first was to be a memorial of the creation of man; the second was to be the memorial of his more merciful regeneration, and of his redemption from the bondage of sin and death. By the one, the people of a peculiar nation were taught to look back to the formation of things, when the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters, and the fair and magnificent form of nature arose from the darkness and confusion of chaos ; by the other, all mankind were to be referred to the event by which the great structure of salvation was perfected, and which exhibited Christ, after so many sufferings, triumphing over the powers of darkness and of death, and sealing the testimony of that religion of

grace

and

mercy which was to proclaim “ peace on earth, and good will to man.” The sabbath, therefore, of the Jew and of the Christian, direct our contemplation to the most sublime or most affecting occurrences; but the Christian sabbath, perhaps, would be thought to impress the heart with more animating motives, because it refers to higher mercies; and to demand an observance more grateful and affectionate, because it points to fairer views of the compassionate goodness of the divine nature.

We learn from the example and precept of the holy personages by whom the Christian sabbath was ordained, that it was, in the first place, to be set apart as a day of rest. According to this intention, the occupations of the world are periodically to cease. They who have been, for the six preceding

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