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son for our sentiments and practice, than that they were the sentiments and practice of our fa. thers before us, our religion is not a rational, but a mechanical service. Christianity allows no implicit faith, except in the Divine testimony. It is not enough that a point of doctrine or worship has the sanction of venerable names, and ancient custom: these may command respect, but can neither obligate conscience, nor relieve us from the trouble of examining for ourselves; because there is no believing by proxy. Like the Bereans, in whom the gos. pel excited a spirit of noble enquiry, we are to “ search the scriptures," for the warrant both of our religious profession and our religious observances. We are charged to “prove all things, and to hold fast that which is good*.” The charge embraces not merely such things as we have not hitherto adopted, but whatever we already poísess. “ Try all,” saith the Holy Ghost; “ hold fast that which abides the trial, and let go the rest!” As we shall answer, then, to our Master in Heaven, we are bound to review our religious order and usages: and if we shall find them, in any particular, at variance with his appointments, thankfully to own our mistake, and faithfully to amend it. No plea
# 1 Thess. v. 21,
can justify our refusal; for whatever purity we may really enjoy, none of us have the vanity to claim an exemption from error, nor to suppose that the furnace of the sanctuary can detect no drofs in our gold. A church may, in her leading characters, be sound and evangelical; and yet, in some parts of her conduct, go exceedingly astray. · The duty now recommended appears to be peculiarly seasonable and urgent.
1. We profess to be JEHOVAH's witnesses ; to maintain his truths against corruption; and for this end to keep up a distinct communion. If we expect our testimony to make a desirable impression 'upon others, we should ascertain whether we ought not to begin with reformation at home. It will be superlative happiness, indeed, if we be able, after the conscientious discharge of this duty, to lift up our heads and say we are clean. Let us not be too confident that such would be the issue; for, .
2. A number of ourselves more than suspect, that in one of the most interesting parts of public worship, we have deviated far from propriety. They see in our commemorations of the REDEEMER'S DEATH, neither that frequency nor simplicity which were the delight and the ornament of primitive churches. In their estimation, the supper of the Lord is
treated with a neglect which we would tremble to shew towards any other of his institutions. Instead of pressing to it through every difficulty, and with holy joy, we approach it, in general, as seldom as can at all consist with the decency of Christian profession. Once in twelve months, or once in six, is commonly deemed a sufficient remembrance of him “ who loved us and gave himself for us.”
They see, moreover, our sacramental feasts loaded with incumbrances for which they cannot discover any scriptural warrant; and that to these incumbrances is owing, in a great measure, the evil of which they complain.
These things they deplore: they are deeply convinced that the authority of the Lord Jesus; the purity of his ordinances; the very design of the holy supper; and the good of languishing Zion, require a speedy and an effectual remedy.
On this momentous topic, do the following letters, brethren, address you. They are intended to urge the great duty of frequent communicating—to sift the objections by which it is opposed and to place, in the light of truth, some of those observances which obtain among us. However unworthy of their subject, they claim attention for their subject's sake. In the boldness of the gospel, they not only solicit, but demand an impartial hearing. You owe it to yourselves, to the truth, to God. You owe it likewise to your brethren, who, against the torrent of prejudice, have adventured to put more marked honour upon the blessed Jesus, by more frequent, and, as they conceive, more evangelical commemorations of his love, than have been usual. And if it shall appear that they are right; that we have been criminally remifs in celebrating that death which is the spring of every living hope; that all apologies for our neglect are lighter than vanity; and that any of our customs want the approbation of the Holy Ghost; and really stand in the way of our obedience; the question will be decided with all who love Jesus Christ more than fashion, and they will unite in a reform as general as it will be glorious.
Frequent Communion an indispensille Duty.
Our obligation to keep the sacramental feast, is the dying command of our Lord JESUS Christ. I have received of the Lord, saith ihe Apostle Paul, that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he brake it and said, “ Take, cat; this is my body which is broken for you; this do in remembrance of me.” After the same manner also, he took the cup when he had supped, saying, “ This cup is the New Testament in my blood; this do.ye, as oft as ye druk it in remembrance of me. For as often as ye cat this bread, am drink this cup, ye do shew forth the Lord's death till he come*.”
This institute, being drawn up with some latitude, does not ascertain precisely, how often the supper is to be celebrated. Something is, no doubt, committed to Christian prudence. The situation of a church or of her members, may
* i Cor. xi. 23-26.