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Holy Sacraments are appointed by God to witness this great truth on our hearts and consciences, and to keep us always mindful of it; and for this reason they are called Sacraments or Oaths, because they imply on our parts, the most solemn vows and engagements that as we know it is our duty, so we will make it our constant endeavour to “live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present world.” But they are much more than this : for on God's part they are the appointed means of conveying to us His effectual grace, that we may be enabled to do so.

But see the folly of men. Persons who, through the neglect of their parents, or the want of necessary means of Christian instruction, have been brought up in ignorance and vice, and have lived, as it were,

without God in the world,” or have been led by the bad examples of those about them into all kinds of vicious habits, and have become debauched and drunken, by way of reformation will join some temperance society, and make some mutual engagement amongst themselves to abstain from all intoxicating liquors. And the consequence is, that for the most part, they grow tired of their abstinence, and fall back to their former practices, and fulfil the old proverb, “ The dog is returned to his own vomit again, and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.” For these societies are a scheme of man's contriving, and not being carried on in humility and faith, and in obedience to God's ordinance, God's blessing cannot be expected to rest upon them.

What? do they not know that they are already bound before God, by their very Christian profession, to abstain from drunkenness, and from all other sins ? Or do they trust to men, rather than to God, to keep

them from doing wrong? Or do they reverence men more than God? It is a shame to be obliged to argue with Christian men on such a matter as this; but the folly and perverseness of mankind compel us to do so, for now-a-days most persons seem wholly to have forgotten that the Church of Christ, into which by God's mercy they have been called, is a society appointed by GoD HIMSELF to preserve us from all sin and wickedness, and that the Sacraments of the Church are instituted by Him, both for the purpose of keeping alive in our minds a constant sense of all our Christian duties, and for enabling us by His Grace to perform them. Let me ask

Let me ask you—you, who turn away from the LORD's Table, as if you thought it would do you harm, or, at the best, could do you no good—do you think that you are living as the followers of Christ ought to live? Look into your Bibles, and see; and if you are not, how are you ever to become good Christians? By going on as you are, in all manner of ungodliness ? and never caring about God or CHRIST, or the judgment of the world to come? This you cannot think. Suppose, then, that you were to change your plan. Suppose that some two or three of you, whose consciences are not yet quite hardened, instead of encouraging one another in doing wrong, were to resolve that you would begin to live like Christians. It is most probable that, if you made the attempt, you would soon grow tired of your new way of living, and as the Apostle says, “ be weary in well doing.” Besides your old companions might laugh at you, and most likely you might not be able to withstand their scoffs. But if you were not merely to resolve with yourselves that you would no longer offend God, by persisting in this or that sin, but were to take the Sacrament upon it, and were to pray to

lives;

God to give you Grace to forsake it, that would fix it on your minds in such a way, that it would be in a manner impossible for you to return again to those evil ways which you have promised before God to forsake, and which will lead you to destruction. This is the first, and it may be it is the lowest benefit of receiving the Sacrament with a sincere and good intention. It keeps us in mind of God, and of all our Christian duties; and not only keeps us in mind of them, but it brings with it God's special blessings, and enables us to perform them. It is certain that, without His special Grace, we cannot lead Christian

neither can we obtain His Grace, unless we seek it in the way of His appointment, and endeavour, according to our power, to do those things that are pleasing in His sight.

Consider what I have said; and since the Church requires Easter to be one of the times at which all her members shall receive the Holy Communion, have a care that you do not let this Easter pass away, and leave you, as it were, self-excommunicated. But, on the other hand, do not come without preparation. Come ; but bring with you the wedding garment. For though it is, indeed, a grievous thing, that you should rob yourselves of this, the chiefest means of Grace, it is better that you should incur this great loss, than that you should contract the guilt of receiving those holy mysteries without any serious purpose of leading a new life, and forget the Apostle's awful warning, “He that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh' judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord's Body.”

T. H. L. Marginal reading.

SERMON

XLIII.

PATIENCE UNDER SPIRITUAL DISTRESS.

Tuesday in Laster week.

ISAIAH L. 10.

WHO IS AMONG YOU THAT FEARETH THE LORD, THAT OBEYETH

THE VOICE OF HIS SERVANT, THAT WALKETH IN DARKNESS, AND HATH NO LIGHT? LET HIM TRUST IN THE NAME OF THE LORD, AND STAY UPON HIS GOD.

fited you?

It is the advice of an ancient and experienced guide in the spiritual life, that “the soul, which desires to please God, must, above all other things, lay fast hold on patience and hope.” For it is one of the arts of the author of evil, to throw in this kind of doubt in times of trial or temptation - What have your prayers pro

What have you gained by all your labour in the cause of godliness? There is no change in the character of those among whom you live. The world goes on as it did before. There is the same pride and covetousness in the dwellings of the rich—the same abject spirit and discontent among the poor. It is but lost tiine to try to alter these things; they are the daily spectacles you must expect to see in your path; the

Macarius, De Libert. Mentis, c. xiii.

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common nature of humanity, which will take its course in spite of admonition, and defies all help and cure. And if so, why should you alone affect a mortification of yourself, which the world, by common consent, has put aside ? This is an age of spiritual liberty, when all austere observances, and old forms of self-chastisement, are out of date. Even the religious part of the community have now learnt, that it is ungrateful to Him, Who gives peace, and abundance, and prosperity, not to use the good He gives. How can it be supposed that religion consists in hard fare or poor attire? Whom will you persuade to follow you in these severe practices of a ruder age, of which the bare mention now provokes a host of enemies? No! confess that you have mistaken the character of the times, and the duty which the times require. Your ill success is a proof of your mistaken devotion.

" You have not wrought any deliverance in the earth, neither have the inhabitants of the world fallen.”

The answer of the steadfast Christian soul to all these solicitations, is to be found, where the Psalmist found it, in the sanctuary of God.' The more the custom of the world sets itself against the doctrine of the Cross, and draws the easy-hearted and careless ones, as well as the zealots of another Gospel, after it; the more will the steadfast Christian seek to guide his steps by the words of “the law and the testimony”; the more will he withdraw from the surrounding corruptions to study the examples of brighter times, and follow the faith of the lights of other days, “considering the end of their conversation.” It may be that his prayers for others may seem to be unanswered; yet, he knows they “will return to his own bosom.” And

1 Psalm lxxiii. 16, 17.

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