Page images
PDF
EPUB

But then he must be able conscientiously to say that the opportunity has not been at hand. Though not a sacrament—though not necessary to salvation, as sacraments are, yet this holy ordinance contains so many advantages in itself, contains so valuable a means of grace, and is so singularly appropriate to the time of life when it is generally performed, that it cannot fail to create a deep and lasting impression on the heart of the serious disciple of the Lord. It is a wise and wholesome preparation, a self-scrutiny, a casting back of the mind upon the unconscious period of infancy, when our parents in the Lord presented us in his temple, and consecrated us to His service, who guarded our tender years from harm, and trained our youthful minds in the acquisition of that knowledge which bringeth peace on

on earth and salvation in heaven. And it is a looking forward of the mind to the hidden future of manhood; to that future so pregnant with danger, so pregnant with uncertainty-just at that season when we are, as it were, on

him, that if he do truly repent him of his sins, and stedfastly believe that Jesus Christ hath suffered death upon the cross for him, and shed his blood for his redemption, earnestly remembering the benefits he hath thereby, and giving him hearty thanks therefore, he doth eat and drink the body and blood of our Saviour Christ profitably to his soul's health, although he do not receive the sacrament with his mouth.”

U

[merged small][ocr errors]

to say,

we

the threshold of life, when the world is opening to us its fair appearing scenes of pleasure and of ambition ; when the temptations both of sense and intellect are just beginning to have sway, and the evil one is standing by to shew us “all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them,” and

“All these things will I give thee if thou wilt fall down and worship me.” Therefore it is that need at this moment, more than at any other period of our life, strength and stimulus to encourage us in our unequal combat; the voice of admonition to warn, and the voice of prayer and appeal to God for help, and guidance, and grace ; prayer, not only of ourselves, but also of the assembled congregation, and of the bishop and pastor of the flock.

Confirmation gives all this. A service most valuable therefore to every class of men. А service not wilfully to be neglected by the Christian in his search for every means of grace, and every hope of glory.*

* A question is often raised, whether the rite of confirmation should be administered even after the Eucharist has been habitually received. It is one of those questions to which no general answer can be given. Where such persons as have unavoidably, or from inattention, neglected the former rite, feel a desire, and are of opinion in their own hearts that confirmation may prove a source of blessing to them, there can be no impropriety in their being confirmed; but at the same time, having partaken of the greater ordinance,

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

III. Such are the general and ecclesiastical qualifications with which men must be endued in order to present themselves at the table of the Lord. But to these there must be added the especial and personal qualifications of the heart and of the mind. Our church catechism, to the question, “What is required of persons who come to the Lord's Supper ?" answers, ,

“ To examine themselves whether they repent them truly of their former sins, steadfastly purposing to lead a new life, have a lively faith in God's mercy through Christ, and be in charity with all men.” Here the qualifications are stated to be :-1. Repentance; 2. Universal charity; 3. A thankful remembrance of Christ's death; all which relate to time past ; 4. A steadfast purpose to lead a new life ; and 5. A lively faith in God's mercy through Christ; which have reference to the future.

Repentance stands first, and by repentance we must understand abject contrition and sorrow for our general depravity, and more especially for our individual sins. We must consider it to embrace humility, consciousness of our unworthiness, and a prostration of all merits on our part before the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. When we remember the things which Christ has done, we are bound to remember the character of those for whom they were done. We must never forget the miserable, degraded state of our nature inherited from Adam; and without entering into any philosophical disquisition as to the justice of God in punishing the sins of the fathers upon the children, but looking first at the facts which we see, and the feelings of evil which we bear in our own bosoms, and then confirming these facts by an appeal to the scriptures of Almighty God, where they are explained in the account of Adam's disobedience; we must confess the rebellious, obstinate, wilful character which the human race has

there is no necessity for the lesser. Let every man do in such a case as he is disposed in his own heart.” Another question is sometimes raised, whether a person is not too old to be confirmed. To this we can decidedly answer in the negative. It is the bounden duty of every Christian, without any limit of age, to receive the Eucharist, and previous to the Eucharist to be confirmed. We can never be too old to do our duty; and if that duty has been neglected while young, we can never be too old to repair that negligence.

ever displayed towards the Creator of the world, despising his law, mocking at his commandments, and even when he sent his only Son to reclaim them, to teach them, and to die for them, still to a great extent disbelieving and rejecting him. “He came to his own, and his own received him not.” They crucified him, and “put him to an open shame.”

Now we are a part of that race of beings who did this. It is our nature which, throughout the

history of the world, presents one continued scene of the most extraordinary and wilful blindness, the most hard-hearted rejection of the lovingkindness of God; murmuring in the wilderness, though his miracles of love were continual ; setting up the idols of Egypt, though his

express command was to worship the Lord God, and him alone; refusing the voice of his prophets, who from time to time were sent to admonish and to warn. It was our human nature which did this. We ourselves might have done the same thing had we been placed in the same situation. We might have been the very Jews who nailed the Saviour to the cross; as we do in fact by the sins of which we are guilty at this present moment. We might have been the Judas Iscariot who betrayed, or the Pontius Pilate who unjustly condemned—the Peter who denied his Master, or the Ananias who lied unto the Holy Ghost. It is our nature which was capable of these things; our nature which we have to lament and bewail as utterly sinful in God's sight.

But not only this general view of sin. We must also descend into particulars. Each of us must lay our hands upon those individual instances where this sinful nature has been displayed. We must search out our hearts, and commune with them in our chambers, and be still. To talk of sin abstractedly, to detail the

« PreviousContinue »