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At the last passover of which Jesus partook, a more spiritual feast was instituted, and bread was then broken, and wine was then blessed, for a holy and sublime purpose, and as a grateful acknowledgment for a mightier and more universal deliverance than the mere temporal rescue of one nation only from an earthly bondage. Christ was desirous to eat this passover with his chosen disciples, because it was his purpose, and he did then commend to the observance of his followers the perpetual remembrance of the deliverance which his death, his most precious bloodshedding, would achieve for them and “the whole world.” And it is difficult to say, it is hard to imagine, how any one, with the Bible in his hand, hoping, trusting for deliverance from the woe and condemnation of the “second death,” for salvation through the great atonement made on the cross ;- it is, we say, not easy to comprehend how any one thus believing, can overlook the importance, the strong
obligation, which attaches to the observance of a rite commemorative of that great sacrifice, and which, when our divine and loving “ Master's time was at hand,” he himself requested and enjoined on the band of the faithful to observe and to do. If the former, the Jewish feast of the passover was binding on that nation;if on the arrival, if on the completion of that greater sacrifice which it prefigured, it became abrogated, that is, superseded ;can it be in reason supposed that Christians are emancipated from every act of religious observance peculiarly connected with the antitype, the fulfilment of the prophetic promises of God; or that no positive, no outward act of remembrance is now required of those who profess to be the disciples of a crucified Master? Whatever it may be the fashion of a lukewarm age to think, or however vague and undefined may be the notions which some entertain concerning the virtue and necessity of religious ordinances and sacred
institutions; and however great may be, on these points, the laxity of opinion and practice which hath crept in among us,
- yet the simple and irrefutable fact is, that Christ Jesus did enjoin his disciples to remember him in a particular and appointed manner; and not to mention other passages of Scripture, we have only to refer to the 22nd chapter of St. Luke, to be certified of this fact. It remains then with men themselves, and as they will have to answer before God, to reconcile to their consciences this so frequent, so avowed, so unblushing a neglect of a positive ordinance, such as is the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, which, as we learn even in our infancy, was instituted and ordained by Christ himself, " for the continual remembrance of his death, and of the benefits which we receive thereby.”3 We are to remember, my brethren, that this is the distinguishing rite of Christianity. We are to remember, that as it is a commanded duty, so are the benefits great to the faithful communicants-even “ the strengthening and refreshing of our souls by the body and blood of Christ, as our bodies are by the bread and wine:"4 and that as Jesus Christ himself first ordained it in his own simple and beautiful words, 50 is that purely scriptural form preserved among us, so that, agreeably to the apostle's own words," as often as we eat this bread, and drink this cup, we do show the Lord's death till he come."'5 Precious, yea, incalculably precious, is that death to us : nevertheless through ourown stubbornness, and folly, and sin, we may render it of little worth to our selves individually. And if such be our infatuation, if such be our perverseness and hardness of heart; on what merit, and on what plea, can we rest our hopes of pardon and salvation hereafter? “Lord,”
3 Church Catechism.
as said the then convinced and confiding apostle, “ to whom shall we go ? Thou hast the words of eternal life.” 6
If, my brethren, we wilfully and of set purpose turn away from any of the holy commandments delivered unto us, we turn away to our own hurt; and when our “time is at hand,” when the hour of our departure approacheth, we may then in vain wish that we had kept more strictly to the precepts and the recommendations of the Gospel, and had not in so many indefensible instances, and on so many idle occasions, “ left undone those things which we ought to have done.
Our Saviour in his divine foreknowledge knew to a moment when his “time was at hand,” and he prepared himself-he left nothing undone, “He fulfilled all righteousness. And although the perfection of his all-seeing knowledge, and the matchless nature of his goodness, belong not to frail mortality, yet are we again
6 John vi. 68.