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altar, and for resolving, in the words of the text, and as often as opportunity occurs, “ I will take “ the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of ós the Lord.”
The third point of view in which I proposed to present the communion to your consideration, consists in regarding it as suggesting an unfailing solace under the troubles of life.
It is evident, my brethren, that whatever tends to raise our thoughts above the world, and to abstract us from excessive devotion to its concerns, lessens the power of calamity over us; at the same time that it furnishes à refuge from its most violent assaults. He cannot be greatly dismayed by the agitations of present things, whose hopes and prospects lie far beyond their influence, embosomed safely in the distant future. He has a resource against the severest ills of earth, whose treasure and whose affections are already transferred to heaven. As to those transient objects which men pursue-momentary pleasures, fleeting honours, unsatisfying riches, the whole value of which is limited and bounded by this passing existence. To be greatly affected by the loss or gain of these, is confessedly beneath the composure of a rational and philosophic, and therefore much more of a Christian spirit; and even time itself, with all the greatest and most important concerns which it can crowd into the compass of a whole life, is of small account with him who has learned the wisdom of aspiring to immortal joys, and who has in view a life eternal in the heavens. Such is the exalted hope of every individual who has an interest, by faith, in Jesus Christ. And this hope of the believer is not a visionary expectation, an unfounded and unevidenced delusion; on the contrary, all that assures him of the truth of the Christian revelation, assures him of the certainty of that promise of immortality and felicity which Jesus Christ has given to those who believe and obey him. To keep that promise ever in view, to bring it home to the thoughts and the feelings of his followers, to confirm it by sensible pledges and seals, was the sacrament of the supper instituted; and they who duly receive these holy mysteries, are assured thereby of the favour and goodness of God towards them; and that they are very members incorporate in the mystical body of his Son Jesus Christ; and are also heirs through hope of his overlasting kingdom.
Whatever then be the troubles and adversities which oppress him here, the Christian has, in this glorious prospect, and in this blessed assurance of it, that which should moderate and soothe them all. Even the severest of all earthly afflictions, the dissolution of the ties of kindred and of cherished affection, have here an alleviation and a solace. It is but a temporary separation which Christians are doomed to lament, when God has
called the faithful to enter into their rest. “Sor“ row not, therefore, even as others which have “ no hope,” is the language which the Gospel addresses to those who mourn; for if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus, will God bring with him; and when that restoration is realized, there will be no more sorrow, and no more death, but an eternal fruition of his favour and goodness, in whose presence there is fulness of joy, and at whose right hand there are pleasures for ever more. With such a belief of a blessed re-union, the Christian, who in this holy sacrament is lifted up by the prospect of immortality, can bless God's holy name for all his servants departed this life in his faith and fear; while, in the glory to which they have attained, a new motive is furnished to him to supplicate for grace, so to follow their good examples, that with them he may
be partaker of that heavenly kingdom.
To make effectual this prayer, no better means can be employed than that which this sacrament itself provides; and it is in this view, especially, in the last place, as enforcing a constant preparation for our last hour, that we should seek and improve its salutary influence.
Our whole life, my brethren, is but a vapour, which appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. Frail as it is brief, it is sometimes terminated in the suddenness of a moment; or if
disease give warning of dissolution, it brings with it feebleness, incompetency, and dismay. In the one case, we have no time to prepare to meet our God; in the other, we have neither ability nor resolution for the work. And even when there are intervals of collectedness and of ease, suited to proper contemplation, to repentance, and to holy resolution, yet in a lingering sickness, as in a lengthened life, we defer the consideration of our danger, until death has advanced too near to be stayed or to be avoided; or until alienation of mind has made us insensible of his approach.
But suppose it otherwise, what is the preparation of a dying hour? What its forced and uncertain repentance-its unevidenced professions its impracticable resolutions—its late and reluctant faith, contradicted, as they all have been, by previous habits, of neglect-by deliberate actions of sin and the uniform tenour of an irreligious life. What are all these as grounds of reliance for an eternity of happiness, when contrasted with the diligent self-examination, the voluntary repentance of all sin, the actual renunciation of evil dispositions and evil pursuits, the ascertained progress in virtue and holiness; in fine, the habitual readiness and preparation of him who, in the days of health, of deliberation, and of action, has devoted himself, unreservedly, to the service of his God; and especially, who in often waiting upon him in this holy ordinance, has often reviewed his obedience, renounced his remaining errors, confirmed his upright purposes, and proceeded from strength to strength, in the formation of a Christian character.
He will have little to settle at the last, who has been careful to make the consideration of his state, and the grounds of his confidence and hope, the frequent subjects of his thoughts; and who, knowing in whom he has believed, has made it his daily study to assure himself of his favour, and to do bis will. He who has timely supplied his lamp with oil, and been careful to keep it burning with a bright and steady flame, has but to rise and trim it for a moment, and he will be ready for the summons—“Behold! the bridegroom cometh, “ go ye out to meet him."
It is the holy sacrament, my brethren, which brings before us those important questions respecting our character and state, on which our fitness for death and eternity depends. In coming to this solemn feast, we are called to examine into the certainty of our faith, and the validity of our hopes. And while “we act over “ again the work of our redemption, and effectually partake of our Saviour's merits and suffer
ing,” we are anticipating the period when we shall feel their deepest need, and are providing against the final assault of our last enemy; and if by a true and earnest repentance, by a voluntary VOL. II.