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15. Were half the breath, that's vainly spent,
To heaven, in supplications sent-
4. Finally; I exhort you to watch, as well as pray: These must go together to ensure success. Our Saviour's direction is “ Watch and pray, ihat ye enter not into temptation."* Be on your guard against sin. Avoid the scenes of temptation, and the company of the profane. Make the people of God your chosen companions; and flee the contaminating influence of the ungodly! An inspired Apostle has told us, that “ evil communications corrupt good manners ;''and there is always cause to tremble for the professor who loves the company, and the amusements of the enemies of the Lord Jesus Christ. 66 Blessed is the
that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful." I
And now, brethren and sisters in the Lord, I affectionately entreat you, to lay to heart these considerations, and to improve these directions. At the Redeemer's table you have solemnized a mystical marriage--and you must now perform the duties which devolve upon the spouse of Christ. Honour him, and seek to live near him, that his soul may delight in you. Manifest also, in all your conduct, an affectionate regard for your fellow-professors, partakers at the same table, and heirs to the same inheritance. “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no one shall see the Lord."* * Now the God of Peace, that brought again from the dead, our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for over and ever. Amen."
* Mat. xxvi. 41.
1 Cor. xv. 89.
#Ps. i. 1.
Excuses of professors for absenting themselves from
the table of the Lord considered—and the duty of the church, in relation to such, stated.
One of the questions proposed to an adult, who is initiated into the church by baptism, requires him to promise, that he will persevere in the communion of our Christian Church, not only in the hearing of the word; but also in the use of the Lord's supper. An engagement of this kind every professor is supposed to have made, either explicitly or implicitly,
* See quest. 4 in the “ form for the administration of baptish to adults,"
at the time of making his profession. Indeed tsre transaction speaks for itself: His very application to be received, as a professor, expressed a wish to partake of sealing ordinances. If this were not the object, we are at a loss to conceive what it could have been. And it is trifling with the church, as well as with the command of the great Head of the Church, to apply for the privileges of full communion--and then not improve them.
It is not a rash assumption, to assert that every person making a profession of religion enters into covenant with the church ; and this covenant, like that which he is supposed to have previously entered into with his Saviour, is a covenant never to be forgotten.* Its obligations are perpetual. When we enter into covenant with the Lord, we do it for eternity. When we enter into covenant with his church, it is a connexion which has a reference to eternity; and engages faithfulness in the church militant, until the Head of the Church shall be pleased to translate us to the church triumphant.
Yet, notwithstanding the correctness of these remarks, something like the doctrine of self-excommunication has crept into the chureh, in relation to the supper, as well as in relation to baptism. Fortunately, it has not been sanctioned by so many in the ministry. But error in government, as well as in doctrine, will spread, and, like a leprosy, diffuse itself over the whole system. The evil should be
* Jer. 1. )
arrested as soon as it is discovered ; and whenever this disease makes its appearance upon a munier, the safety of the body requires that such member, unless a speedy cure be effected, should be amputated.
The fact cannot be concealed, nor denied, that in most of our churches, there are some professing members, who habitually absent themselves from the table of the Lord. And an idea seems to be cherished by some, who dare not openly avow it, that a professor may commune when he pleases, and refrain when he pleases; that he may commune regularly for a few years, and then withdraw himself, never more to return; nor even to be molested by impertinent questions, and troublesome citations, calling him to an account for his delinquency.Against all this, we feel constrained to enter our protest.
No man can introduce himself into the commupion of any church: It is an act of the officers of the church. And no map can break the connexion between himself and the church, after it has been formed. The officers may, upon proper application, dismiss him with a view to a connexion in some sister church: They may excommunicate him for incorrigible wickedness; or the connexion may be broken up by the dispensation of death. But in no other way can his connexion with that particular ebura h be brought to a close. And until it has been brought 10 a close, he is, and must remain, subject to the care and government of that church.
But, as professors who absent themselves octasionally from the table of the Lord, as well as those who withdraw entirely, have their excuses to urge, in justification of their conduct, we propose now to notice their difficulties ; and to state the duty of the church in relation to them.
1. The first excuse for not communing, urged by some, is unworthiness, on their own part, arising from a conscious neglect of duty. This is a case entitled to a degree of tenderness, although no justification can arise out of it for disobedience to a known and positive command. It is truly a lamentable case, when a professor, on the morning of a communion Sabbath, is so overwhelmed with a view of his past unfaithfulness, as to be ashamed to look up to God, and afraid to come to the Redeemer's table. -But what is to be done? Past neglect cannot excuse us from the performance of a present duty. To stay back is adding neglect, to neglect-and sin, to sin.
It is a downward course; and the delinquent is in danger of waxing worse and worse, until he becomes a complete apostate-Do you shudder at the thought of this? Then at once return to your duty, and your God. Adopt the advice, given to Job, and say :* “ That which I see not, teach thou
If I have done iniquity, I will do no more. Repent sincerely of your past unfaithfulness; and with fixed resolutions, in dependance on the grace of God, to be stedfast in the covenant, renew your
* Chap. xxxiv, som