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the laws of God. Yet this is only one amongst many instances which shew the little worth of abstract acknowledgments of duty. Men live by a different rule-by the law of their own habits, and of the tone of life around them; and that this is in direct opposition to the theoretical admission of the universal duty of communicating, is but too clear on all sides. How many may be found in every church, who rise with utter unconcern to quit the half-concluded service, when they know that they shall soon be bidden to "draw near with faith, and take that holy sacrament to their comfort!" It seems never to cost them a thought-it is a settled principle, on which they may act without the trouble of a separate process of deliberation. The feast is not for them. Yet how would this decent multitude endure the address which in the old times of the Church they could not have escaped ?—"Ye that cannot communicate, walk off and begone. Let no... infidel be present; no heterodox person; no heretic."

On this temper of the times no thoughtful Christian can look without pain; for though there may have been some increase in the num

Apostol. Constitut. lib. viii. cap. 12; quoted by Bingham, Antiq. b. xiii. cap. 1.

ber of communicants, it has undoubtedly kept no due relation to the increase of apparent piety amongst us. The complaint may still be made, "How insignificant is the proportion of that little company, which, when the bulk of the congregation has retired, and the doors are closed, thankfully gather round the table of the Lord, to commemorate the Saviour's meritorious cross and passion; and in this little company, how small is the number of the young!-where are the lambs of the fold ?""*

If, then, the evil be admitted, it is of no little moment to inquire into the causes which have helped it forward. Now, amongst the foremost of these appear to be two widely spread misconceptions, which, seeming at first sight destructive of each other, do in fact combine to bring about the same result. One of these, beginning with paying a seeming reverence to the holy rite, would represent it as too great and holy to be approached by ordinary Christians. Those whom matured age, and long-established habits, or greater spirituality of mind, seem to mark as belonging to the higher classes in the Christian school, may safely draw near and rejoice in their

Charge of the Lord Bishop of Winchester for 1837, p. 23.

privilege; but for those who are still compassed about with temptation, still weak in faith, and not sure of themselves, they had better wait, lest, by a premature reception of the holy sacrament, they do but increase the guilt of their after-offences, if not "eat and drink their own damnation." This is one of the most common grounds for living in the absolute neglect of the holy office. The young think themselves too giddy, the middle-aged too full of occupation, the poor too full of cares, the rich too full of business; professional employments keep the men, the trials of a family the women; and so, by common consent, they stay away from communion, thinking that they are but treating with due reverence so great a mystery. It is much to be feared that, in many cases, the tone of our ministry has rather tended to help on than check this error. We have grown to connive at such excuses, in our desire to keep the table of the Lord free from unfaithful worshippers. We hear, in common language, the number of "the congregation," not of the communicants, at any church. The man who does communicate is marked as doing something more than others, rather than the non-communicant as doing less. We suffer ordinary Christians to attend week by week, and even year by year, upon our mi

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