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occasionally render communicating inexpedient or even impracticable. By not restricting it to certain periods, which it would then be clearly sinful to omit, Christ has preserved his people from the embarrassments which incidental hindrances would otherwise have created.
But in providing for lawful impediment, he has given no sanction to carelessness. It would be a strange inference from the words of the apostle, and a profligate abuse of gospel liberty, to conclude, that as the Lord hath prescribed no stated times of communicating, we may innocently abstain as often and as long as we please. Some, indeed, appear to act upon this notion. Whether they communicate twice in a year, or once; or only every other year, is to them indifferent. But whoever justifies this irregularity from the indefinite terms of the institution, ought to reflect, that the same apology will justify a professor who should communicate but once in his whole life. With such carnal sophists, however, I have nothing to do. The real disciple who loves his master, will not permit himself to shuffle. He will candidly confefs, that the very phraseology of the text implies frequency. The words as often, occurring twice in two lines, can signify nothing less, if it signify any thing at all. Whence it follows, that frequent communicating is positively enjoined; and, consequently, that infrequent communion is a violation of the commandment which the Saviour delivered with his departing breath.
It may be asked, how are we to mark, in this case, the limit between duty and sin? Where does the one terminate, and the other commence! I answer, that the indefiniteness of the command will obviate the difficulty on the one hand; and fervent love to Christ, on the other. There is little wisdom, and less tenderness, in anxiety to tread as near to forbidden ground as we possibly can, without crossing the boundary. This is perilous casuistry, as many of the godly have found to their cost. In an hour of worldly prudence, they have made experiments, with great safety, as they thought; but which issued in agony of conscience, and a broken heart. On the subject before us, as well as on every other that is liable to doubts, spiritual caution will teach us to remove from danger. But whereever the line be drawn, it is pretty evident that our ordinary practice lies far on the wrong side. Considering the place which the supper holds in the Christian life, and the case with which it may be celebrated; it is a satire on language to call yearly or half-yearly communions frequent. Every believer's heart will tell him so. And here, while meditating on the command often to shew forth the Lord's death, he is intreate
to ponder a few considerations which ought to awaken sensibility, and to influence conduct.
Although it cannot be disputed, that the very words of institution require frequent communion, yet their emphasis is mostly overlooked. An accurate inspection will convince us that they are more happily adapted to the nature and ends of the ordinance, than any other mode of expression; and contain an argument which should thrill our very souls. They hold out the memorial of Emanuel's death, as a test not merely of obedience, but of love ; and the frequency of our acts of obedience as the measure of our love. This do in remembrance of me: For as OFTEN as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, YE DO SHEW FORTH THE LORD'S DEATH. As if he had said, “ In this bread and wine, O my people, I leave you my memorial. Here is the symbol of my broken body, and here of iny streaming blood. In my deepest sorrows you were not forgotten by me; and I require you to keep this feast as a proof that I am not forgotten by you. Realize, O my people, that it is your LORD's
ye time you eat this bread and drink this wine. As ye love me, I charge you; as I have loved you, I charge you, This DO IN REMEMBRANCE OF AIE,
Say, then, thou whom Jesus hath deliver
shew forth every ed from the wrath to come, doth he not here fix a standard of thy gratitude to his grace? If thou art in this manner to testify thy remembrance of him, wilt thou not do it oftener, the more thou rememberest him? If this is the mean by which thou art to shew forth his death, will not thy use of it be regulated by thy sense of thine obligations to his death? And does not the tenor of this command teach thee, that the frequency of thy sacramental commemorations of him will be proportioned to the ardour of thy love? Alas, brethren, if this is a criterion of love to our Lord, the pretensions of most of us are low indeed.
That the foregoing view of the Redeemer's precept is not erroneous, will be evident from a delineation of the principal features of his supper.
1. The sacrament of the supper is an important part of our practical testimony to the cross.
This holy ordinance contributes as much, if not more than any other, to keep alive in the earth the memory of that sacrifice which, through the eternal Spirit, our High Priest offered up unto God. In a powerful appeal to the senses, it arrests attention, and strikes with awe, while the scenes of Gethsemane and Cal. vary pass along in symbolical review. In this holy ordinance, we proclaim to the surround
ing spectators, that we are not ashamed to confefs the despised JEsus before a crooked and perverse generation. We proclaim to the carnal world, that we have renounced their master, their idols, their hope; and have “ avouched the Lord to be our God.” We cry with the apostle, “ God forbid that we should glory,
in the cross of our LORD JESUS Christ.” This, indeed, is the only ordinance in which as believers, we make a public, social, and separate confession of his name. In other services of the sanctuary, we are mingled with the crowd: our profession, though public and social, is not separate, and does not distinguish us from others. In the worship of a godly family at home, it is, indeed, social and separate, but not public. In holy baptism, it is separate and public, but not social, or at most very imperfectly so. It is only in the supper of the Lord, that these three characters of the church's practical confession completely unite. One humble commemoration of his death is a better testimony to his grace, and sinks a deeper conviction into the breasts of the profane, than years of empty profession or angry controversy.
2. The supper is an affecting representation of the communion which believers have with CHRIST Jesus.