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The Sabbath Day spoke to the Jews of God's works in Creation ; that by Him all things had been made; that the universe round about them had no other parent, nor owed allegiance to any other god. And so likewise is this day the perpetual monitor of the Church of Christ: it speaks of His Presence with us, Who is the new Adam of man's race, the Church's author, the Sun of our system, the God of our covenant, Whom in all our works and doings we are perpetually to serve. Let men, then, who do not believe Christ's nearness to them, look for some other foundation for this Sacred Day; but to us, whose hope and blessings are founded on His Presence, there can be no name for it but the Apostles' appellation of the Lord's Day.
Again, this truth of Christ's Presence may explain to us the nature and use of the Holy Communion. The life of the Church, as was said, is that Christ is there. This is her essential property, this constitutes the secret of her blessings. Let her Lord be absent and she is an idle name. This one thing is the cardinal point of her being. Now, as Christ's Presence with His people at large is what gives them a title to be called the Church, and so distinguishes them from a mere body, or society, or combination, such as are formed for themselves. by mankind, so is the Holy Communion the appointed means whereby each individual has his portion in those gifts of which the Church in general is a partaker. For, as Christ's Presence makes the whole body a Church, so is each man a Churchman by being united to Him. And since His presence is truly with the whole body of the Church, what unites us spiritually to it, must unite us to Him, its head. For, “He is the head of the Church, which is His body; the fulness of Him that
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filleth all in all.” And that this spiritual engrafting into His mystical body is especially effected by the Holy Communion, St. Paul tells us in express words. “For, we being many, are one bread and one body, for we are all partakers of that one bread.” By this holy feast, then, there is a particular application to each devout Christian, of that Presence of Christ, by which the Church is quickened. Thus does He come home to every faithful man, and takes up His dwelling in his heart.
And this is why there is so real a Presence of Christ in the Lord's supper. For He has declared, “ unless ye eat the flesh of Christ, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you.” By which words does not seem to have been intended, as the Romanists fancy, the carnal eating of His flesh, but some such real, though unknown Presence in the Lord's Supper, as may convey to each these blessings, which are the peculiar portion of the Church. If there be, as there doubtless is, a mystery and a blessing in the Presence of Christ, this holy ordinance is to bring it to each man's door. It is one of the two joints or bands, by which each member of the body has intercourse with Christ, Who is the Head of all. From which of course follows the absolute necessity of the Lord's Supper. For there are two only sacraments, which are “ generally necessary to salvation,” Baptism and the Supper of the LORD. This holy ordinance is not, as some suppose, a mere stimulus to the feelings, whereby a sort of acted sermon is preached to our souls. Its efficacy is not to be discerned only by its immediate effects, as we measure a fair sight or sound by the pleasure it confers. But seeing that by it we are grafted into Christ our Head, and have our general participation in that Presence, which is the
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crowning privilege of the Church, it is as necessary to men's spiritual life, as union with the body is to the limbs' vitality. Therefore said our LORD, " abide in Me, and I in you; as the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine, no more can ye except ye abide in Me.” So necessary is this Holy Communion to our benefit.
Finally, the Apostle's words remind us how we should approach it. “I was on the Spirit on the LORD's day.” If it is the object of the Holy Communion to be united to Christ, how idle to approach it save in that earnest, faithful, child-like temper, contemplated by the Apostle. For to be a Churchman, is not merely to differ from others by profession, it is to be united to CHRIST. And can men receive such an holy visitant into an impure heart ? Does not their mansion need to be swept and garnished? Should not the heart to which He is invited, be clothed in peace, purity, love, humility, affection? This is why we are exhorted to make up all private grudges, before we approach the altar of our God. This is why we should seek to strip ourselves of any clinging pollution, by which He may be offended. This is the due preparation for Easter day. The work of Lent should not be mere bodily fasting, though that is commonly the best manner of disciplining the soul, but such fasting from sin, such repentance, godly sorrow, and amendment, as may present us ready at this holy Feast to meet our Lord. Not indeed that our whole strength can suffice for enabling us to escape sin; but He must HIMSELF clothe us in that wedding garment of a devout life, which beseems this holy table. The best preparation for the holy Communion, is to hate sin. Or if we have not learnt this lesson perfectly, let us begin to acquire it. Let us grieve with contrite
hearts for every remaining pollution. Let us seek the LORD's Spirit on His own day. For “Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us; therefore let us keep the feast.”—Not with the old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”
R. I. W.
V O W S.
Monday in Easter Week.
PSALM LXXVI. 11.
In that ancient version of the Psalms, which is retained in our Book of Common Prayer, these words are translated, “Promise unto the LORD your God, and keep it,” with a slight variation as to the expression, but with a perfect identity as to the sense; for though a simple promise is a less solemn engagement than a vow, or oath, in which GoD HIMSELF is appealed to both as a Witness, and as a Judge, yet every promise made to God, under whatever circumstances it be made, is no less binding on the soul, than if it were attended with the most awful ceremonies of religion ; for it is especially a vow; and though the ceremonies of religion may serve to impress its obligation more deeply on the mind of the person making it, they do not add any thing to its intrinsic force.
Every Christian man feels that to violate an oath, in which