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O no; you will not dare thus to make defence ; Jesus says, “I am the vine, ye are the branches. He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit; for without me ye can do nothing.” Then, whose fault is it that ye are without him, if ye refuse to join and be with him, when he asks you in his Eucharist? Again, “If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch and withered, and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.” Whose fault is it that ye are withered branches, dead boughs, lopt off the living trunk of the vine; that the sap and spirit of life rising from the trunk of the vine, has failed to penetrate into your hearts, while all around are green and flourishing branches ; not natural branches, but grafted branches, grafted on the stock of the vine, and therefore bringing forth fruit through the vine, full of fair promise, and a goodly vintage for the day when the Lord of the vineyard shall come to take account? Whose fault but your own; refusing communion with your God when it was ready at your hand ?
You rejected the bond that might have united you. The unction of the Holy Ghost could not anoint your worldly and carnal heart, because you placed yourself in situation where haply it might be found. The grace of God flowing from that holy fountain of love which caused the Saviour to die for you, has met
no seeking on your part. You have not been hungry after the bread of life, nor thirsty after the living water. The grace of God, , as the return of penitence and of faith, as the answer to the aspiring heart of the Christian in communion with his Saviour, has not been shed forth, because you have not sought it. The spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him, dwelleth not in you, because you have not wished it; because you have not cared for it.
This is the truth: The grace of God is sufficient for us. We are told, in St. Paul's case, that it was sufficient for him; and though there may be a thorn in the flesh to buffet us; though the world may overcome us for a time; though we may have many lapses, many wanderings from the fold, yet, by a steady communion with Christ, there will be a certain periodical return, a closer intimacy, a firmer strength, a more perfect union in virtue and in glory, which must in the end prevail. We shall rise from our spiritual communion, “like a giant refreshed with wine,” we shall go forth each time more mightily endued with Christian weapons of resistance and defence; and though we may be “cast down, yet shall we not be destroyed ; though perplexed, yet not in despair; though persecuted, yet not forsaken.”
Then, finally, communicate as often as you may in the holy supper, with your God and Saviour. Only search for the means of grace in that way which the Lord God has appointed, and you will have the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, to dwell in you, and you in him. “It is the Spirit alone which comforts afflicted minds, which puts activeness into the wearied soul; which inflames our cold desires, and blows up sparks into live coals, and coals up to flames, and flames into perpetual burnings; and it is impossible that any man who believes and considers the great, the infinite, the unspeakable, the unimaginable and never ceasing joys, that are prepared for all the sons and daughters of the gospel, should not desire them; and unless he be a fool, he cannot but
to obtain them. For it is not directly in the nature of a man to neglect so great a good; there must be something in his manners, some obliquity in his will, or madness in his intellectuals, or incapacity in his naturals, that must make him sleep such a reward away, or change it for the pleasure of a drunken fever, or the variety of a mistress, or the rage of a passion, or the unreasonableness of any sin. However, this promise is the life of all our actions, and the Spirit that first taught it, is the life of our souls.”
Knock, then, at the door, and it shall be opened;
search, and you shall find; ask, and it shall be given you; ask in the Eucharistic feast of your blessed Redeemer ;--and then, into your hearts, into your practice, into your every day lives will this spirit of God gradually descend, cleansing the foul, softening the hard, vivifying the dead. We shall gradually cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armour of light. We shall be strong, “ having put on the whole armour of Christ.” We shall pass through life in continual remembrance of the sacrifice of the death of Christ, in holiness pure, in our fears and temptations comforted, in all our weaknesses and imperfections strengthened; and when, at last, in the inscrutable decrees of Providence, the sand of our life shall
out, when the dark shadows of the night shall descend upon our souls, and the world shall fade away in the dimness of our mortal vision :—the bright glory of Almighty God shall shine forth on high, and the voice of our expiring lips shall be heard the good and faithful Simeon:
Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word,” for my soul has remembered thy sacrifice, “mine eyes have seen thy salvation."
1 Cor. XI. 28.
But let a man EXAMINE HIMSELF, and so let him eat of
that bread and drink of that cup.
We have now arrived at the last division of our subject, viz. the points which are required at our hands, in order that we may be pronounced worthy communicants.
The requisites for a due participation in this holy service are of two descriptions; first, those which attach to the body of the church generally; and, secondly, those which attach to each individual accidentally.
I. As to the church. Inasmuch as almost all her ordinances are derived from the Jews, and the church of Israel foreshadowed in every