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The Subject continued-Irreverance--Jant of
ATTEMPTS to restore frequent communion • have been charged, not only with innovation,
but with disrespect to the ordinance of the supper: for it is objected,
II. That“ by rendering the duty too common, it would deaden affection; destroy solemnity; banish reverence; and thus be injurious to
il region hich it is designed to aid.”
That such an objection should be made by a formalist, who goes to the communion-table once or twice a year to save appearances, or to quiet conscience, is nothing strange. But that it should ever be proposed by a living Christian, is truly astonishing.
On what is it, on what can it be founded: Is it countenanced by the word of God, by the nature of the exercise, or by the experience of believers ? Did Jesus, when he said, This do in remembrance of me, caution us not to do it too frequently lest we should lose our veneration? Did he bid us to shew our reverence to his in
stitution, by trampling on his command? or our gratitude for his love, by slighting his memorial? The saine objection was made by some at the reformation, and was treated with the utmost indignation. A wonderful reverence, truly, for the sacrament, cries Bucer, by which it is contemned, and the saving communion therein offered with the Son of God, rejected* ! But let us appeal to fact. Do other duties grow contemptible by their frequency? Is the sabbath vile because of its weekly return? Are the divine scriptures; is family religion ; are secret and ejaculatory prayer, insipid to those who are most conversant with them? Pray without ceasing, saith the Holy Ghost. “ Pray but seldom," replies the objection we are combating : “ You will be too bold and familiar with holy things if you often meddle with them. Frequent prayer will end in profaning the presence of God, because it will diminish your sense of his majesty." How does this language sound in pious ears? The heart of a believer revolts: his blood runs cold: The testimony in his own breast refutes, as he goes along, these impious suggestions. And can any man con
* Mira sane sacramenti reverentia, qua contemnitur, & sal tifica in eo oblata fili Dei communicatio repudiatur! apud CALDERWOOD in Altar, Damase. p. 536.
ceive why frequent prayer, meditation, &c. should promote the spiritual life, and frequent communicating hinder it? Will increased faith produce unbelief; or renewed love, indifference? Will melting views of divine grace harden the heart? or a commanding sense of the divine glory generate pride ? Will « fellowship with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ,” abate heavenly mindednefst or the sealing of the Spirit of proinise nurture carnal confidence? Ohtell it not in Gath! Let not the rumour reach an uncircumcised ear; that believers in Jesus, who profess*to love him supremely; proclaim his excellence to others; and declare that the more they know and enjoy of him, the more they desire to know and enjoy—that even believers in Jesus, when invited to frequent an ordinance which he hath left as a seal of their covenant-mercies; a mean of intercourse with himself; a pledge of his eternal kingdom, should not only refuse, but justify their refusal, by pleading that it would-diminish their reverence !!
No, Christian reader; carelessness and carnality keep pace with neglect. The new man is deprived of his food: while the old man, “ corrupt according to the deceitful lusts,” gains strength; and thus aversion from duty is doubled with remifsness. This is a lesson of universal
54 ) experience. Never were there more devout, and humble, and reverential communions, than in the days of primitive purity. So where, at this hour, do they more deeply interest pious affection; or exert a benigner influence, than where they most resemble, both in frequency and simplicity, the apostolic pattern.
III. It is objected, that“ very frequent communicating is unfriendly to suitable preparation, as we could not always afford the time necessary to be spent in it.”
Far, infinitely far, be it from me to encourage levity or sloth in a service so spiritual. Wo to him whose profane approach makes “ hin guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.” But in many there is reason to fear, the objection arises from no such scruple. It cannot but be a favourite with those, who “ having the form of godliness without the power," find it useful in palliating their inattention to a duty which they secretly hate, and from which they would gladly be exeinpted. Miserable men! They need preparation indeed: but such as they will never acquire by the farce of “ hanging down their heads like a bulrush ;” and assuming, once in six months, or once in twelve, the austerity of a monk, and the precision of a pharisee; while, during the rest of the year,
they sacrifice at the shrine of mammon or of last.
In what, however, does preparation for the table of the Lord consist? In a multitude of outward performances? In devoting a great part of the preceding week to various exercises of public worship? Alas! all this may be done, and the heart remain as unprepared as ever. The religionist who, besides giving tithes of all that he possessed, fasted twice in the week, was not thereby fitted for communion with his Maker. One hour, one minute of genuine humiliation before God—one tear of gracious contrition for sin-one groan unutterable of the Spirit of Adoption, is of more value in his sight, than the most splendid round of forınalities. If we trample on manifest duty, under the notion that by performing it seldomer, we shall perform it better; he will not accept an host of uncommanded offerings as an equivalent for the disobedience. He hath said, I hate robbery for burnt offering*. “ Burnt-offering you must bring; but you shall not plunder your neighbour's fold to replenish my altar.” Preparation for the holy supper is indispensible. But we may not withhold from our Redeemer the saera. mental tribute, on pretence that when we do
* Is. Ixi. 8.