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the death of Christ, which the Church gives us, in the Catechism, as the first reason why the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper was ordained.
How can people ever expect salvation who thus disobey and despise Christ's own command?
Bear this, then, clearly in your mind. The Holy Eucharist is the great Christian Sacrifice. It does not repeat, but it unites our act to the act of Christ, when He died upon the cross as our Sacrifice; and also to the act which He is always doing in heaven for us now. He continually offers Himself to the Father as "the Lamb slain" to take away our sin. He asks, yea, He bids us do the same thing on earth: He asks us to join Him in doing it. Oh, think what power our prayers must have, when they are thus joined to His! "How shall we not prevail with God, when that awful Sacrifice lies displayed," said one of the early Fathers of the Church,-St. Chrysostom. Christ shews Himself to the Father as the Sacrifice slain,-in will and intention,-from the foundation of the world, and pointed to in all the sacrifices of the Jewish worship, and says, "O Father, forgive these souls for whom I died; forgive them for My sake, and for the sake of all I did and suffered for them." Then Christ says to us, "Join Me in pleading for your own forgivenessjoin Me in pleading My own Sacrifice as the ground of your pardon." Shall we refuse? How can we ever hope for pardon if we do?
II. The Holy Eucharist is a heavenly Feast as well as a Sacrifice. It is not only the one appointed way in which all faithful Christians "shew forth," in solemn
mystery, their "Lord's death till He come;" it is also the way in which Christ ordained that our souls should be nourished and supported unto everlasting life. Just as our bodies are kept alive and nourished by proper natural food, so also must our souls be kept alive unto God, by proper spiritual food. The only way in which our souls can be made to live unto God, is by their being united to Jesus Christ, the One Mediator between God and man. We were first united to Christ in Holy Baptism, when we were born again of Water and the Holy Spirit. Our Lord set up the Holy Communion, to be the chief way by which His members might keep themselves united to Him. In this Holy Sacrament Christ comes Himself to be our spiritual food and sustenance; He gives us Himself, even His own Body and Blood, to preserve our bodies and souls unto everlasting life. This is a great and awful mystery. We cannot understand it, but we must believe that what Jesus said, He is able to make good. He said, when He brake the bread, the night before He suffered, "THIS IS MY BODY," not the figure of My Body, but "THIS IS MY BODY WHICH IS GIVEN FOR YOU." Likewise, of the consecrated wine, He said, "THIS IS MY BLOOD.' We must not doubt the words of Christ, as the Jews did once, when He told them that He was the Bread of heaven, and that the Bread which He would give was His Flesh, which He would give for the life of the world. "How can this man give us His Flesh to eat?” said the unbelieving Jews. Jesus said to them, very solemnly, in reply, "Except ye eat the Flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His Blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth My Flesh, and drinketh My Blood, hath
eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My Flesh is meat indeed, and My Blood is drink indeed. He that eateth My Flesh, and drinketh My Blood, dwelleth in Me, and I in him.”3
The Holy Communion is the way ordained by Christ whereby His members may eat His Flesh and drink His Blood, and so dwell in Christ, and Christ in them.
Unless men obey Christ's express command, and feed upon His Body and Blood in the Holy Communion, they cannot remain united to Christ, and if not united to Christ, they cannot come to eternal life. Nay, our Lord Himself says, they have no life in them. How awfully dangerous, then, is the case of those who never either set forth the Lord's death, and plead it as the only ground of their pardon and salvation in the one only way appointed by Christ Himself, or draw near with faith to receive the heavenly food of His Body and Blood. How can they expect to find pardon, if they will not plead for it? How can they dare hope that their souls are alive unto God, if they refuse that divine food which Jesus Himself provides for them.
Oh! let us beware how we neglect or trifle with God's unspeakable gift in the Holy Communion, lest by refusing to come to Jesus in this way of His own appointment, we find ourselves at last separated for ever from Him, cut off from Him, the living Vine, as dead branches, fit only to be cast into the fire.
8 St. John vi. 52-58.
PREPARATION FOR HOLY COMMUNION.
The Preparation necessary for a Profitable Reception of Holy Communion.
LTHOUGH the receiving of the Holy Communion is "generally necessary to salvation," yet there is great danger in receiving it unworthily. This heavenly and life-giving food is then turned into a poison. The case stands thus: Not to receive at all, is to forfeit our salvation by reason of our neglect of Christ's command. To receive unworthily, is to commit presumptuous sin. In order to be saved, we must not only receive the Holy Communion, but receive it worthily. To find out whether or not we are in a fit state to receive this Holy Sacrament to our soul's health, we must examine ourselves. St. Paul plainly teaches us this in his Epistle to the Corinthians. He says, "Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that Bread and drink of that Cup."1
The Church guides us to examine ourselves particularly on three points: 1. Repentance; 2. Faith; 3. Charity.
1. In examining ourselves as to our repentance, we 1 I Cor. xi. 28. 2 See Church Catechism.
must keep before our minds what repentance really means. To make up true repentance there must be, (i.) True contrition, which means deep sorrow at having offended God by sin-that broken and contrite heart which God has promised not to despise. Without this true sorrow for sin, God never pardons it.
(ii.) A fixed resolution not to sin wilfully again. Without this changed will, repentance is not real. It is absolutely necessary, therefore, before going to Holy Communion, to find out, by careful self-examination, whether we have (i.) contrition, or true sorrow for sin, and (ii) a changed will, which makes us stedfastly resolve to lead a new life.
2. The second thing we must examine ourselves about is our faith. We must firmly believe all that God has revealed by His Word or by His Church; and especially we must, the Church tells us, "have a lively faith in God's mercy through Christ, with a thankful remembrance of His death." Of course, unless we realize God's mercy in sending His Son into the world to die for us, and have our hearts filled with gratitude and thankfulness for that crowning act of God's love, we cannot be in a fit state to celebrate the great memorial Sacrifice in which the Lord's death is shewn forth. But further: we must have faith in Christ's real presence in this Holy Sacrament. The outward elements of Bread and Wine are the symbols, not of an absent, but a present Saviour. The Church says plainly in the Catechism, that "the Body and Blood of Christ are verily and indeed taken and received by the faithful in the Lord's Supper." But if Christ's Body and Blood are taken and received, they must,