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ADDRESSED TO THOSE WHO ARE PROPOSING OR
PREPARING TO COMMUNICATE.
Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread and drink of that cup. 1 Cor. xi. 28. In the exhortation which is appointed to
be , giveth warning for the celebration of the Holy Communion, upon the Sunday immediately preceding,” two things are especially recommended to the consideration of all who purpose to become partakers of it. First, the “ DIGNITY OF THAT HOLY MYSTERY,” and then,“THE GREAT PERIL OF THE UNWORTHY RECEIVING THEREOF." These, accordingly, are the subjects which require to be treated in a preparatory address, designed exclusively for members of the Church of England.
May the blessing of God prosper this attempt to consider them, and make it conducive tu
his own glory, and the benefit of all those to whose notice it shall be presented—through Jesus Christ!
We are first to consider the “ DIGNITY OF THAT HOLY MYSTERY,” which may be inferred in a threefold manner:
1. From the circumstances of its primary institution.
2. From the obligation to its general observance.
3. From the greatness of its attendant benefits.
1. The circumstances under which the Lord's Supper was instituted are thus briefly, but forcibly, stated in the prayer of consecration : “Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread ; and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, Take, eat; this is my body, which is given for you.
Do this in remembrance of me. Likewise, after supper, he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave
it to them, saying, Drink ye all of this ; for this is my blood of the New Testament, which is shed for you and for many, for the remission of sins. Do this as oft as ye shall drink it in remembrance of me.”
Here we are reminded of him who ordained this Holy Sacrament, first, in his divine character, as the Son; the beloved, the only begotten of the Father; abiding with Him in glory before the world was: then, as coming forth from the Father, and coming into the world, to the end that, by uniting in himself the divine and human natures--having been made by the latter capable of suffering, as by the former already competent to redeem-he may become “our Saviour, Jesus Christ.” Such were the means by which God had determined from the beginning, that “by the seed of the woman he would bruise the serpent's head,” and bless all nations in the seed of faithful Abraham; and if the means involve a mystery, this is only to be expected from one who is secret in counsel and wonderful in working. Great, without controversy, acknowledges the Apostle, is the mystery of godliness-GOD“ manifest in the flesh;" and again, when closely contemplating the means by which God would save the world, he exclaims, in a kind of transport, “O! the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out." Though, however, the love of Christ is only to be partially comprehended; though, in the full extent, it is that which “passeth knowledge;" it was yet the Apostle's task to "preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world had been hid in God." Hence, then, we infer the dignity of Him who instituted this holy ordinance, and, consequently, of the ordinance itself. From the hour when sin entered the world, and death by sin, God hath been silently ordering all things for the revelation of his Son our Saviour, Jesus Christ: and when his wondrous purposes were about to be consummated by the offering of the one sacrifice, which should for ever take away sin, “Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread.”
How, then, should all devout affections kindle in our hearts at the very name of Jesus: a name that calls up the vast idea of all that the Godhead could accomplish, and all that the manhood could endureaccomplished and endured for us. He who
was in the form of God, and thought it not robbery to be equal with God, made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of man; and being found in fashion. as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient to death, even the death of the cross. Surely we may exclaim, in the spirit of the Apostle: “O, the depth of that descent! O, the wonder of that humiliation ! 0, the immensity of that love!" Surely we may acknowledge with the Patriarch : “It is high as heaven-what can we do? deeper than hell—what can we know ?” Well may the Apostle speak in rapture of “the love of Christ which passeth knowledge,” for the condescension of him who was at once suffering as Man and redeeming as God, is enhanced, if it be possible, by the ingratitude of those for whom all this was done. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. They for whom he had accomplished all, and for whom he was about to endure all, hid their faces from him. His enemies laughed him to sccrn; his friends forsook him and fled;