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To the Editor of the Christian Observer. the keys. Whoever has witnessed
the procession of the host in Catholic ON THE ADMINISTRATION OF THE
countries, or even its elevation in SACRAMENT TO THE SICK.
one of the London chapels, will not ANY of your clerical readers wonder at the dominion acquired
will the uneasiness I have experienced, distortion of the Eucharist; and, if with regard to the administration of he be a devout spectator, he will the sacrament to sick persons; in say, as Mr. Whitefield said, when cases, I mean, where the previous attending the Lent solemnities at life of the communicant affords no Lisbon in 1754,- I could think of just evidence of sincerity. There no other plea for the poor beguiled is, indeed, in the Liturgy, an office devotees, than that which suffering called The Communion of the Sick; Innocence put up himself for his but this is drawn up on the supposi enemies, when actually hanging on tion of the party's relative claim to the cross; Father, forgive then, for the blessings of the Gospel. He is they know not what they do! - But addressed in the Epistle appointed whatever be the origin of this error, for the office, as one of the beloved we know that similar delusions are children of God; and the preceding to be found, under various names, collect is constructed to the same among almost all divisions of maneffect. It may be observed, by the kind. Saperstition, credulity, an way, that all the services of the appetite för mystery, or whatever church are exclusively applicable to we choose to call it, appears to be the state and feelings of genuine the natural element of the human Christians; for had it been otherwise, mind. It may be traced in the the compilers of the Prayer-book sages of the ancient world, who must vainly have attempted to satisfy
Of talismans and vigils knew the power, believers with what was prepared
And careful watched the planetary hour; for the servants and friends of the world.
and in the moderns of the present Bat to the point in question. age; who, alas! 10 their own (1 sear) From what I have observed, the eternal loss, substilute an external anxiety of sick persons (as above ceremony for an inward principle. characterized) to partake of the When asked to administer the Lord's Supper, is generally grounded Sacrament to sick persons, I have, on a certain obscure persuasion, that of course, endeavoured to explain its the physical act of receiving the origin, use, and abuse; taking most bread and wine is, in itself, a secu- serious care to distinguish between rity against the terrors of a future the instrument, and the blessing state. The sentiment is derived which it may, or may not, convey. most probably from the perversions How often have I felt
, as though I of the Sacrament by the Papists; were speaking to the dead; and this, and is coincident with the docirines after making the required allowance which they uphold on the power of for illiterate habits and phraseology! CHRIST. OBSERV. No. 145.
Not a glimmering of light has ap- the ordinance itself, as they would peared, beyond what was sufficient be, if you were to demand of them to render the spiritual darkness vi- an abstract essay on the principle of sible. On some occasions, I have vegetation annually developed in gathered what seemed to be a re- their corn-fields and pastures. They solution, on the part of the patient, possess a sort of hereditary conto do the only remaining thing fidence in the external rites of the which could be wanting to complete eucharist; and their domestic hishis sense of safety; preceding ap- tory rivets that confidence, by afprebensions, if any existed, having fording several instances of a grandbeen generally silenced by the con- father, great uncle, or cousin, who viction of having done no harm! I finished a well-spent life by receiving employ this universal phrase, be- what to these ill-instructed Proles. cause of its astonishing diffusion tants is as indispensable as extreme throughout a country enlightened unction to the Papists. I really do by the Gospel; and very far am I not exhibit the above specimens of from quoting it with levity. The religious delusion, with any desire familiarity of the expression fur- of contributing to the reader's amusenishes an affecting illustration of the ment; but merely because such prevalence of self-ignorance; and things are, and such things proclaim can scarcely be ultered by a think. aloud the actual state of our Chris. ing person without a sigb. At other tian world. I assure you, Sir, the moral times, I have been led to imagine, public are much mistaken, if they that the applicant has persuaded suppose that we in the country (where himself, on the representation of the mywatch-tower is erected)have clean people about him, to consent to the escaped the errors, and ihe deadly reception of the Sacrament, as an errors of the dark ages. If we had, act, which, at the worst, could not this address might have been spared. occasion bim much hurt, and bad Who would believe, that in the nineop its side the probability of effect- teenth century, a British Protestant ing a possible degree of good ;--could be found, who imagined that case somewhat resembling that of a a clergyman's prayer might be benediseased person, who takes a pre- ficial to the dead? Yet I koow a scribed drog with a kind of forced man, at this moment, who comcredulity, that it may do something plained of a clergy man's refusal ta towards his recovery, while entirely read the burial service over a suiignorant both of his own distemper cide, because that service, as he and of the philosophy of medicine; judged, might contribute a little and a little suspicious, at the same towards the more favourable receptime, that his physician's general tion of this self-murderer before the practice is rather innocent of evil, tribunal of God! Let the opponents than productive of any permanent of the Bible Society think, and benefit. In a third class of persons, think again, what they are doing. I have witnessed a determination to I leave this fact in their possession, communicate by way of complying and return to the point in discussion. with an ancient usage ; and their Myown opinion of the Sacrament is, manner and expression has been that it is a mean of strengthening and such (mutatis mutandis) as they might refreshing the graces of those persons have used in reference to some who have actually passed, or at least quaint feudal custom of the manor are passing, the line of demarcation or borough, which early habits had which divides the kingdoms of light taught them 10 venerate, and to and darkness ; or, as Scougal says, regard as sacred from all innovation. " peculiarly appointed to nourish These characters are as much star. and increase the spiritual life, when iled by any inquiry into their rea- once it is begotten in the soul. sons, or into the spiritual design of Then, if ever, doth the soul make
its most powerful sallies towards evidence which, even in the general heaven, and assault it with a holy opinion of the world, would darken and acceptable force * !” All the the individual's character; supposnames of the institution appear to ing, I mean, mankind to decide on authenticate this opinion. It is a spiritual concerns with the same sacrament, or a solemņ oath of al- practical impartiality as on matters legiance to Christ; a supper, where, merely secular. as to a social and full repast, be- There is a circumstance connected lievers are invited to meet each with the subject of this paper, which other, on the ground of their mutual has struck my own mind with perelation, or union, collectively in culiar force, namely, that eminent Christ; a communion of saints, Christians (as far as I have read and having mystically fellowship with observed) in the near approach of Christ; a cucharist, 'act of deaih, have not discovered any une thanksgiving performed by persons usual anxiety to communicate. It conscious of having received a gift is true, that many, and perhaps the from Christ ; and finally, a feast majority of them, have eaten of that on the spiritual passover, in com- bread, and drunk of that cup, in their memoration of the deliverance of last days; but in the case of these believers from sin and death by exalted spirits, the act is the conti. Christ. Whichever of these five nuation of a babit, one of the golden designations you select, the predo- links in the chain of their salvation ; minant idea of the solemnity is that regarded by them, not as essential, of an observance kept by a faith- but as highly salutary ; not as the ful servant or friend. If such then one grand effort to be made in erbe the fact, I can, with no .con- tremis, but as a familiar and pleasant sistency, administer the emblems of service, gratefully performed, for the the crucified Saviour to any indi- last time, in anticipation of the heavidual who approaches under a su- venly feast, where they are to drink spicious character; and of course, new wine in their Father's kingdom. 10 no one ranked among the di- To illustrate this part of the inquiry visions before described. One by the example of godly persons :might with equal propriety invite It is recorded of Sir Matthew Hale, a party of rebels to celebrate a that, “ yot long before his death, the royal birth-day.
minister told him there was to be a " What, then, are you the searcher sacrament next Sunday at church; of hearts?”No. I am too con- but he believed he could not come scious of my inability to search my aud partake with the rest ; thereowo. Yet, men's lives are the in- fore, he would give it to him in dexes of their souls. If a sick man bis own house. But he answered, judge self to be near death, and No: his heavenly Father had prepared in consequence desire me to give a feast for him, and he would go to him the emblematic boily and blood his Father's house to partake of it. of Christ, and if I visit this man, So he made himself be carried this and find him to be the same, who, ther in his chair, where he received a few weeks ago, lived, to my per- ihe sacrament on his knees, with sonal knowledge, a life of habilual great devotion ; which it may be profaneness, or sensuality, or cover- supposed was the greater, because ousness, or extortion, or antichristian he apprehended it was to be the levity, or religious apathy, I certain-' last, and so took it as his viaticum, ly infer his unfitness to draw near and provision for his journey*." to the Sacrament, with accuracy of Dr. Hammond it is related, that sufficient, as I think, to justify a he communicated in private on the refusal of his request. It is no Good Friday, and Easter-day, April arbitrary sentence; but founded on 22, preceding his death, which took • Life of God in the Soul of Man, 1
• Life, by Biskop Burnet.
place on the 25th; and " amidst his the benediction was pronounced, he weakness and indisposition of all replied, . May God never forsake parts, in the act of celebration, his 'me*!'"-Of De Renty, it is said, devotion only was not faint or sick, that after receiving the eucharist, but most intent and vigorons ; yet the only words he uttered, were,
equalled by his infinite humility, My God, my God, pardon me ! which discovered itself, as in his de- I am a great sinner.”
His pastor portment, so particularly in that his inquiring of him why he spoke so pathetical ejaculation, which brake little, and especially as the comforth at the hearing of these words of pany present wished for his instructhe Apostle, Jesus Christ came into the tion; " It is not fitting," he replied, world to save sinners; unto which he " to speak in the presence of the rejoined, of whom I am chief*.”-Of Word incarnate, which I have reHooker, his biographer writes, that ceived, nor to take up any room in a very short time before his death, his those hearts which ought to be filled friend, Dr. Saravia, “ gave him, and only with God." He added, " that some of those friends that were with his mind was fixed upon that joy him, the blessed sacrament of the which a creature ought to have, to body and blood of our Lord Jesus, see itself on the point of being rewhich being performed, the doctor united to his first Principle, and to thought he saw a reverend gaiety his ultimale End +."- In these, avd and joy in his facet."-Of Bishop in a thousand other instances which Sanderson, the same narrator tells might be collected, what a self-evi. us, that “the day before he took dent distinction is observable behis bad (which was three days be- tween the opinion entertained by de
fore his death), he, that he mightvout communicants respecting the receive a new assurance for the par- origin and end of the Lord's Supdon of his sins past, and be strength- per, and the deplorable ignorance ened in his way to the heavenly of such persons as were before clasJerusalem, took the blessed sacra- sified ! 'In the one case, we seem ment of the body and blood of his to see " Jeaning on Jesus' bosom and our blessed Jesus, from the one of his disciples, whom Jesus hands of his chaplain, accompanied loved;" and in the other, we almost with his wife, children, and a friend; seem to hear Jesus saying, “ Bein as awful, humble, and ardent a hold, the hand of him that betraymanner as outward reverence could eth me is with me on the table.” expresst."-Of Pascal, we are in- On referring to a few memoirs formed, that two days before his which happen to be within reach, I dissolution, " the curate coming in remark that biography is silent as with the sacrament, and saying, Here to the reception of the Sacrament is what you have wished for so by Luther, Cranmer, Latimer, Here long, aroused him, so that he became bert;. Bishops Hall, Bedell, and perfectly collected, and raised bim- Burnet; Baxter, Boyle, P. and M. self up in his bed, though with some Henry, Archbishop Leighton, Scoudifficulty, that he might receive it. gal, Halyburton, Doddridge, BonThe curate asked him the custom- nell, Adam (of Wintringham), ary questions respecting the prin- Whitefield, Walker (of Truro), and cipal articles of faith ; to each of Milner. Yet “these all died in which he answered distinctly, “Yes, faith." But as their reception of it is sir, I believe it with all my heart.' still a matter of doubt, (except in He then received both the sacra- the instances of those among this ment and extreme unction with noble assemblage of believers who great devotion, and was so much departed suddenly) I do not adduce affected as to burst into tears. When
• Memoirs prefixed to Thoughts. • Lise, by Bishop Fell. Liver, by Walton. + Life, by Jean Baptiste S. Jura
them otherwise than as probable the approach of insincere receivers, examples of holy persons venturing saying, “ There is poison in the into the presence of God, without cup, &c.”—Doddridge appears to what some might call an indispen, regard the Sacrament as the exelu. sable preparation. Certain, how. sive right of regenerate persons; and ever, of ihese humble souls have considers its first reception as a left behind them, their definite views natural introduction into the congreof the ordinance in question, to gation of believers*.-Mr. Bonnell, which I shall briefly advert, as, cor- on returning from the Lord's table, roborative of the sentiments already says; “ The glory of
God with advanced. Baxter argues, “ God his heavenly host, filled the place. never appointed the Lord's Supper My Saviour impregnated the conto be chosen and used by impeni. secrated elements, and in a manner tent ongodly persons, as a means to embodied himself there, yet still convert them; 1. Because it is pre- remaining where he was, illing supposed, that they be baptized who heaven and earth, but more pare communicate. And I have proved, ticularly our chancel; saying to us, that baptism to the adult pre-sup- and to me an undeserving guest, posed the profession of faith and re- • You are all my friends, and worpentance, and that it deliveretb par- tby, whatever your sins be, through don and title to salvation. 2. Be- my sufferings. But O my soul, let cause faith, and repentance, and co- not what is past content thee: thirst venant-consent renewed, are also to more and more after thy dear Lord, be professed by all before they com- and give up thyself entirely to him; municate. 3. Because it was ever let there be no reservet."-" I go an ordinance proper to the church, to the Sacrament,” observes Mr. which consistech of professors of Adam, "to know God and myself; faith and holiness. 4. And the to wonder at the reconciliation of communicants are said to be one strict punishment with free parbread and one body, and 10 eat don; to see the greatness of my sin, Christ's flesh and drink his blood, and and the greatness of my hope, ia Christ to dwell in them by faith, and the greatness of the sacrifice therein to have eternal life bereby. And as represented ; lo sin no more, because for them that say, it is not saving I believe there is no condemnation faith, but some commoner prepara. for my sin; to be raised as high as tory sort, which is necessary to be heaven, and humbled in the dust; professed in Baptism and the Lord's to be astonished at the mystery of Sapper, I have at large confuted Cbrist crucified, and to profess that them in a treatise of Right to Sacra. I know less of God than evert." ments; and the reasons before and -Mr. Walker argues, that the penow named confute it. I add, that culiar design of the Lord's Supper their opinion is destructive to true is, “ that believers therein making Christian love: for by them no one • Rise and Progress, ch. xviii. should be taken for a child of God, What is the general custom of the Dissenand in a state of salvation for being ters, of the Church of Scotland, and of the baptized and communicants, and so Lutheran churches abroad, witli regard to a noi loved as such. And how poor a death-bed Sacrament? Job Orton says, “I charity is it to love all visible have known sume worthy clergymen com Church-members, but as the chile plain of their great embarrassment in this dren of the devil must be loved!”* respect. It is very grievous to have any -The whole of Matthew Henry's in- sick and dying." (Letter 7, to Mr. Stedman.)
thing like arguing and disputing with the estimable book on the Sacrament Calvin's views of the Eucharist are coincident (The Communicant's Companion), is with those of the Church of England. constructed on the same principle; Instit. iv. 17. and in a detached address be forbids + Lise, by Archdeacon Hamilton.
* Catechising of Families, &c. 1683. * Private Thoughts, ch. sjii.