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nistry, and never come to the communion; instead of feeling it a monstrous thing, and plainly shewing that we feel it to be such.


Yet, what can be more injurious to a ministry? for it is, in fact, yielding to that universal temptation of putting off all serious care about religion to a more convenient season." ." It is allowing that men may be Christians, and may profit by the hearing of God's word, though they cannot bring themselves to that true devotedness of heart and life which would warrant their habitual presence at the holy table.

The first working of this error may be often traced to the time of confirmation. That holy rite is intended by the Church to admit the catechumen to the class of full-grown Christians, and to all the privileges of believers. Of these the chiefest and most evident is a partaking of this holy feast. But from this the young are apt to shrink. Confirmation has been a step, and for the present they are contented with it; after a while, they look forward to communicating as another. "Let us," is their language, "have time to try our sincerity, to see whether we act up to our vows; and then hereafter we may take our places at the holy table." How thin a veil is this to cover self-dependence, and an unfaithful estimation of the eucharist as the


distinction of a class rather than a means of grace! Now this is the natural temptation of the young; but then, alas, how often is it aided, and not checked, by parents and sponsors! How often do they, longing earnestly to see more evident marks of the working of God's blessed Spirit on the hearts of those committed to them, encourage them in putting off communion until they are better fitted for it! And so this precious opportunity is lost. For in many cases this is the turning point. If the confirmed catechumen seals his vows at the holy table, and seeks for a living might in communion with his Lord, he " goes on thence from strength to strength, until he appears before his God in Zion." But if he postpones communicating, and waits to become fitter, the Spirit of the Lord ceases to strive with him, his better feelings die away, he falls under the power of some temptation, and perhaps never more regains that state of promise which he had reached at confirmation.

The other error which, from a very different quarter, helps on this evil, is of a subtler form. Here the duty of communicating is really allowed; but fears are expressed lest by strongly pressing it on men, you should engender something of formality, if not fall at last amongst

the snares of Romanist delusions.


it is a duty; but why put it so prominently forward? you will make men think that all religion consists in attending the sacrament." Such is no unfrequent language; yet what is this but the deadly error of attacking formalism by removing forms instead of infusing spirit? It is pulling down the scaffolding because its work is not accomplished; it is cutting off the limbs lest men should confound them with the inner principle of life; it is to encourage men in staying away from communion altogether, instead of striving to bring them to it in a more faithful and earnest spirit. This is a fruit of the low and degenerate mysticism which is every where abroad; which, setting out by seeking to promote the essence and inner life of piety, ends by destroying its very existence; which tears down, in its misguided zeal, those necessary stays on which the tender shoots of holy affections must be long trained and helped to mount to heaven.

It is, in fact, the error of the earlier mystic, without his redeeming features of abstraction from the world, and intense devotion. How much healthier is the tone of that true-hearted man, who from his cell in Saxony raised his voice indeed against the errors of the Popish

system, but who could not bear the jargon which teaches us to attain high ends by throwing off the only means of reaching them! With homely earnestness he charges on the devil the delusion, which, continually crying, "Spirit! spirit! spirit!" destroys the while all roads, bridges, scaling-ladders, and paths, by which the Spirit can enter; namely, the visible order established by God in holy baptism, in outward forms, and in His own word.

And here is the secret link between these seemingly discordant errors. Each of them obscures that great characteristic of the rite, that it is an especial means of grace. This leads those who fall into the first, to look at it mainly as a badge, or a profession, and so to "fence the table" against the weak and trembling, and make attendance at it the privilege of a peculiar class. This leads the others to speak little of it; to deem it rather a comfort and privilege attendant on the spiritual life, than a chief means of its support; and so to press rather the direct attainment of that inner frame of feelings, which they deem solely important, forgetting that this is to be acquired through the use of outward means.

If, then, we would promote a due attendance at the holy supper, we must set ourselves firmly

against both these delusions; we must, on all occasions, press home the truth, that to communicate is the privilege and the duty of EVERY Christian; that it is meant not for one class, but for all. Having first removed the mistaken fears with which the change of language has invested the term "damnation," we must go on to press on men that none "can eat and drink their own judgment," except the wantonly careless, or the wilfully profane; whilst all who stay away commit each separate time a separate sin; that the mournful probability of our falling into after-sins of infirmity, is no reason why we should absent ourselves, and so increase the danger and diminish the power of resistance; that Christ our Lord hath bidden all attendthe weak, the trembling, the faint-hearted; and that HE certainly, who so loved men as to shed HIS precious blood for them, could intend, in this invitation, no trap for weak believers, no snare for tender consciences; that nothing but the wilful practice of known and habitual sin can turn that holy food into poison, and so be a sufficient reason for abstaining from it. To this, too, must be added a clear picture of the loss which men incur by thus passing on themselves a needless sentence of voluntary excommunication. As in the holy eucharist, more

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