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church, until they had proved the fincerity of their repentance by doing works meet for repentance. When Peter's hearers, pricked in their hearts, enquired, what they must do to be faved; he faid to them, "Repent and be baptifed for the remiffion of fins, for the promise is to you." And they gladly received the word; and the fame day, were added to the church three thousand fouls. The apoftle could not know, nor could they themfelves know, without longer time of trial, that they were favingly changed; but he, the fame day, admitted them into the church, without intimating the expedience of farther delay.
You will fay, "The man found at the marriage feast, without a wedding garment, fell under a fevere punishment." It is true; and fo did they, who refused to come to the feaft at all. What then shall we do? Let us come to the feaft, and put on the wedding garment. This gueft, with many others, was called into the king's house out of the highway. Where fhould he get a wedding garment: he had none of his own; and his fellow beggars had none to give him. At the king's house, there was clean raiment, as well as rich food. Here both were free; and here the beggar must come for both. His fault was not, that he came to the feaft, for he was commanded to come; but that he fat there in his dirt and rags, and would not put on the clean garments brought him from the king's wardrobe.
Your coming into the church, and attending on inftituted ordinances, will not be your condemnation; these things are required of you: but if, under all your advantages, you continue in the love and practice of fin, this will be your condemnation. It is not your obfervance, but
your mifimprovement of divine inftitutions, which involves you in guilt.
"But ought we to come into the church, and approach Chrift's table, while we know, that we have no regard to religion?" If this is your character, you neither afk the queftion, nor defire an anfwer, on a religious account. You cannot feel a confcientious folicitude about your duty in this matter, when you have no regard to it in any thing else. It is time for you to awake out of fleep, to repent of your fins, and feek God's mercy and grace, for the renewal of your fouls and the remiffion of your guilt. When any afk me, what is their duty in a particular cafe, I fuppose them to be serious, and I answer them accordingly. If they have no defire to know or intention to do their duty, their queftion is trifling, and the answer will be impertinent. If you are regardless of religion, I can only exhort you to confider your ways, and think on your danger, that you may be awakened to jufter fentiments. But if you already believe the gospel to be true, and feel it to be important; if you have a concern to secure its bleffings, and a refolution to obey its precepts, then go, and attend on all the means which God has appointed to confirm your hopeful beginnings, and accomplish your good intentions.
"But we are anxious to obtain grace for our converfion : and fome tell us, that, if once we venture to the Lord's table before we are converted, there is little hope, that we can ever be converted afterward." My children, they tell you wrong. Paul was of a different opinion. The churches in Galatia, formed by his miniftry, foon turned unto another gospel, than that which he had preached to them; and he was afraid, that he had beftowed on them labour in vain. But he travailed in
birth for them again, that Chrift might be form. ed in them. Reft not in ordinances as your fecu rity; make them not a fubftitute for holiness but improve them as the means of holiness. pel finners will be shut out of Chrift's kingdom, not because they have eaten and drunk in his prefence, and heard him teach in their streets, but because they have ftill been workers of iniquity.
But does not the apoftle fay, "He that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himfelf?" Yes: This man brings guilt, or judgment on himself, because he difcerns not the Lord's body. So did the Corinthians, who took one before another his own fupper, and one was hungry and another was drunken; and fo do all who eat in a profane and impious manner. It is not in this manner, that I advise you to eat. But examine yourfelves, and fo eat of this bread and drink of this cup. The apostle does not warn thefe diforderly partakers to partake no more, but exhorts them to repentance of what is past, and amendment for the time to come.
If Jefus has appointed this ordinance especially for your benefit, there is a peculiar ingratitude attending your neglect of it. The Redeemer, in his whole work, feems to have had a particular and diftinct regard to the young. He himfelf became a child, that he might exhibit to children an example of early piety; and one branch of piety, which he early exemplified, was an attendance on divine ordinances. At the age of twelve years we find him at the paffover. He has invit. ed the young to come to him; he has expreffed his high approbation of youthful religion: nev. er did he appear better pleased, than when he met children in the temple at the paffover, and heard them fing, "Hofanna to the fon of David." He
has cautioned his difciples, that they offend not his little ones, nor caft ftumbling blocks in their way. He has reprefented them as under the guardianship of angels. In the view of the general deftruction of Jerufalem, the diftreffes which would come on children, affected him with fuch deep fenfibility, that he almoft forgat his own. While he was going to the place of execution he faid to the fadly fympathizing women, “ Daughters of Jerufalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children." He has given it in folemn charge to the paftors of his flock, that they pay particular attention to his lambs.
What think you of all this, my children? Are you not bound to come to this ordinance ?-an ordinance which Jefus has appointed for you, and in which he exhibits himself as dying for youdying to purchase a falvation, which you needand need no lefs than others? Do you not think, that he will be pleased with your attendance at his table, as well as with the fongs of the youths in his ancient temple? Do you not think, that this Saviour, who in the days of his flesh was fo attentive to the young, and fo delighted with early indications of piety, will accept your pious and humble approaches to his ordinances?
There are fome who, in their tender age, have felt their minds impreffed with a sense of religion, and have thought, that they foon would openly dedicate themselves to their Saviour, and come to his table. But by delay their serious thoughts and refolutions have languifhed and died away. Ah! I have known fuch inftances. Are there not now among you fome of this defcription? What think you of thefe early impreffions? Were they not the kind invitations of your Saviour to come and take a place in his family, and eat at his table?
Did he not ftand at your door and knock? Was not this his call to you? "Hear my voice and open the door, and I will come in and fup with you, and you fhall fup with me? What a pity, that you didnot attend? What an advantageyou might have gained by complying with his first call? Accept his invitation now. It is not yet too late. Hear his voice while it is called to day. It is ftill a day of falvation.
How beautiful is the church in which our fons are as plants grown up in their youth, and our daughters as corner ftones, polished after the fimilitude of a palace? How pleafing the profpect, when we fee children devoting themselves to God taking hold of his covenant, and youths walking in his ways and encouraging one another in his service? We then anticipate the virtue and felicity of many generations, and promise ourselves, that we fhall fee the good of Jerufalem all the days of our life, and that our children's children will fee the church in peace.
III. We may farther obferve, that we ought to attend upon divine ordinances with a rational view of, and a ferious regard to their proper ufe and defign.
Mofes fays, " When your children fhall ask, what mean you by this fervice? ye fhall fay, It is the facrifice of the Lord's paffover, who paffed over the house of the Ifraelites in Egypt, when he fmote the Egyptians."
M&fes here fuppofes it to be agreeable to the common sense of mankind, and even to the early ideas of children, that there is fome meaning in every fervice which we perform to the deity.. God never requires of us any useless and unmeaning ceremony. In our attendance on his inftituted fervice, we should well understand what it means.