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T is expressly enjoined in the Rubric
attached to the Order for the Administration of the Lord's Supper, that “every Parishioner shall communicate at least three times in the year.” By another Rubric annexed to the Order of Confirmation, the term Parishioner is limited to " such as have been confirmed, or are ready and desirous to be confirmed.” All, therefore, who profess themselves members of the Church of England, who are content to worship according to her scriptural forms, and concerned to attain the benefit of her apostolical and primitive ordinances, should be prepared to comply with this positive and express requirement, or provided with a sufficient reason why they decline to du so. Duty can have lost nothing of its obli gation because the enforcement of it is leiu to reason and to conscience.
In the primitive Church, and during the
age of the Apostles and their immediate successors, there seems no room to doubt, that to receive the appointed symbols of the body and blood of Christ was the distinctive and essential pledge, not only of real but even nominal Christianity. Every one who avowed himself a believer in Christ, and sought a personal interest in the benefits covenanted to such by the Gospel, was first admitted into the Church, after a suitable probation, by the sacrament of Baptism, and then not only authorized, but required to present himself at the Supper of the Lord. Whoever became a Christian in name, became also a Communicant in act; and separation from the ordinance was regarded as equivalent to separation from the body of the Church. And this, whatever irregularities may have vitiated her practice, still is, and must continue to be, her principle. If the Church is a “congregation of faithful men, in which the true word of God is preached, and the sacraments duly administered according to Christ's ordinance,” it is obvious, that he only is a lively member of the Church, who is a partaker of both the Sacraments. The interval between Confirmation and the Lord's Supper, therefore, is not a profession of membership with the Church of England, though it may be a negation of every other; nay, it is not even a full profession of membership with the Church of Christ, for he said, “ Drink ye all of this : do this as oft as ye shall drink it, in remembrance of me.”
It appears, then, to the writer of this Preface, that we ought to consider the sacred ordinance, of which this little volume professes to treat, as the sole outward pledge of sound churchmanship and vital Christianity. He would gladly aid in substituting the workings of an enlightened conscience for that“ godly discipline,” of which the restoration is a thing“ little to be expected,” however devoutly to be wished. With such views, at the instance of the publishers, he undertook the revision of this popular treatise, which has been in extensive circulation for many years, on the express understanding that no change should be made affecting the character of the work. He has simply expunged or modified expressions which appeared to be objectionable, and introduced into the body of the volume a few appropriate prayers, slightly altered from Bishop Taylor's Devout communicant; appending also some hymns suited to the solemnity. His personal responsibility, therefore, extends only to the" Preparatory Considerations,” which may, he trusts, by the Divine blessing, become instrumental in drawing some to these “ holy mysteries,” who have hitherto, through extreme susceptibility, or groundless apprehensions abstained from an ordinance which is no less valuable as a privilege, than imperative and important as a duty, and which, in truth, belongs to all of riper years “who name the name of Christ.”