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no good will be received. Or, enquire again,- Is there any secret sin indulged in my life? Israel could not prosper in the war, on account of Achan's wickedness; nor will you prosper in your spiritual warfare, till your easily-besetting sin is resisted and mortified.
But those who, in humility and seriousness, make the objection which we have been considering, probably have received real, though not sensible benefit. What was the nature of the benefit which you expected ? Perhaps you looked for a great deal of comfort and joy when you went, and you returned depressed, broken-hearted, and bumbled. But is not that very spirit in which you returned, a real benefit? Isa. Ivii, 15. “ If you do not come away with a rejoicing heart, yet, if you come away with a weeping eye,” bless God for that mercy. And though you found neither sorrow nor joy, but a distressing deadness, dulness, and coldness, during the whole service, yet perhaps subsequently you manifested more of the peaceable fruits of righteousness ; possibly you enjoyed the next season of public worship more, or you felt under new obligations to a life of circumspection and holiness; and undoubtedly these were real benefits. God is not confined to our notions of times and seasons, nor to our way of giving his blessings; but, infinite in his wisdom, and boundless in his love, he gives them as will best promote our highest good. But still you say, you are distressed under the mortification of disappointed expectation. Were you not unwarrantably expecting a certain sort of spiritual luxury, the luxury of excited feelings; and need you wonder in this case that you find yourself, after receiving, dull and insensible? God deals thus with you, in kindness, for
your real good. But do you ask, What is now my duty? A time of darkness is the time for faith: let such a one trust in the name of the Lord, and stay on his God: a time of disappointment is the time for resignation and submission to the will of God. But after all, we would advise you not to judge of yourself merely by sensible feelings. The benefits are here to be expected, in a patient and persevering use of the appoipted means; as in the case of prayer, or other means of
for the food of the soul : or as in food, medicine, or other means of health to the body. But be assured, if you return with one additional proof of obedience to the will of God, one pious resolution confirmed, one vicious propensity checked; if humility be in any measure advanced, faith at all strengthened, love in any degree enlarged, or hope enlivened, or any Christian grace or temper increased; you have not received without benefit.
Yet, “in all, remember, God acts as a Just and a GRACIOUS SOVEREIGN. We are unworthy creatures, and deserve nothing from him. By our sins, even in using the appointed means, we forfeit all claim to the benefit. If he refuses to give, we must bide our faces in the dust, acknowledging his justice, and our unworthịness. If he gives any blessing, all the praise and glory belong to the riches of his grace.
In closing this chapter, another point calls for attention. The ministers of Christ are often sent for to administer the Lord's Supper to the sick and the dying. In some cases, those who send, seem to think it a kind of passport to heaven, with which they are safe, and without which they are lost. This is a total mistake of its true nature. If their neglect proceed not from their own wilful fault and disobedience, they may go to heaven without it; while, if they receive it in a selfrighteous spirit, they may perish with it. Regeneration, faith in Christ, contrition, humility, love, holiness, these things mark the heir of glory. Yet, there is, on the other hand, some danger lest persons of evangelical sentiments should undervalue this appointed means, and deprive themselves of that comfort, strength, and refreshment, which it is so well calculated to convey. Let the faith of the pious sick and dying be invigorated by these memorials of Christ; let their hope he enlivened, and their affections enkindled, by the appointed ordinance for commemorating his death. Many have found it a most blessed means of grace, in that solemn hour when all hopes fail, but those which spring from the cross of Christ.
The Happiness which would follow its universal
and devout Observance.
HE Lord's Supper being an ordinance which is eminently calculated to promote our holiness and happiness as Christians, a reasonable prospect of the universal observance of it, in a right spirit, is so delightful, that the author (whose heart is deeply interested in such a hope) will for a little time dwel
The following considerations may tend to shew that THIS HOPE IS NOT wholly UNWARRANTED. The general prevalence of Christianity through the whole world, at a future time, cannot be questioned. The promise that the knowledge of the Lord shall cover the earth, as the waters cover the sea, is, among many others, clear and express. There is also in the Scriptures, a marked connection between the sufferings of our Lord, and the extension of his kingdom. I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto me.- His visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men; so shall he sprinkle many nations.---When thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hands.
Indeed, it is the doctrine of a crucified Saviour, fully proclaimed, and accompanied by the power of the Holy Ghost, that is the means of enlarging the kingdom of Christ, and building up his people in their most holy faith. We may well then suppose that an ordinance, commemorating a doctrine specially calculated to advance the conversion and edification of the world, will, when the Gospel is more generally and fully received, be much more constantly observed,
That day also will be marked by a general spirit of holiness. There shall be upon the bells of the horses, Holiness unto the Lord; and the pots in the Lord's house shall be like the bowls before the altar. Yeu, every pat in Jerusalem and in Judah, shall be holiness unto the Lord of hosts; and all they that sacrifice shall come and take of them that seethe therein; and in that day there shall be no more the Canaanite in the house of the Lord of hosts. Zech, xiv, 20, 21. A state of holiness, is a state of obedience and dedication to God. At such a time his precepts in general will be carefully observed, and men will be in a suitable state of mind 10 celebrate his solemn ordinances. The effect of bad example now, much counteracts the effect of a plain command; but the example of the good will then be so general, as to have a mighty influence.
We have scriptural authority to expect that the sufferings of Christ will then be remembered with peculiar affection and interest. After the affecting description given of those sufferings in the 22d Psalm, it is expressly promised-all the ends of the earth shall remember, and turn unto the Lord, and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee. On this passage Diodati observes~_“the true and lively knowledge of the sufferings and glory of Christ shall be given to, and preserved among all nations by the preaching of the Gospel; and especially by the Sacrament of his body, therefore called a remembrance." Luke xxii, 19. • We may then reasonably hope that hereafter, as all the ordinances of religion will be much more scrupulously observed, and constantly attended than now; so especially, when love to Christ is more extended and more fervent, the ordinance which was appointed by him under such peculiar circumstances as the Lord's Supper, will be carefully and generally regarded.
The author has been in some measure led to these remarks, by the following interesting account of one of the first celebrations of this ordinance in New Zealand, an Island hardly discovered, or scarcely known to Europeans, till the voyages of Captain Cook, in our late beloved Monarch's reign.