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purify your life, and render your death happy. The sacrament of the supper is, in this view, an ascent of the mind above terrestial things. At the Lord's table we associate ourselves, in some degree, with spirits of a more exalted order. We declare, that we are tending towards their society; and have fixed our final rest within the veil. This view of the institution, so comfortable to the last period of life, is plainly given us in the words of the text. For it is worthy of particular observation, that as soon as our Lord had instituted this sacrament, he straightway leads the thoughts of his disciples to a state of future existence. Employing that metaphorical style, which the occasion naturally suggested, he tells them, that though he was not henceforth to drink of the fruit of the vine on earth, yet a day was coming, when he was again to drink it with them; to drink it, in his Fathers kingdom. Two distinct ideas are, in these words, presented unto us. One is, the abode into which our Saviour was to remove; his Father's kingdom. The other, the society which he was there to enjoy ; with you in my Father's kingdom. These correspond to the two views under which death is most formidable to men; both of which he intended to banish, by the institution of this sacrament: first, that death is a transition to a new and unknown world; and next, that it is a final separation from all the friends whom we have loved on earth.
FIRST if death terminates our existence here, the abode to which it translates the faithful followers of Christ, is the kingdom of his Father. The institution of this sacrament dispels all the gloomy ideas of annihilation, of non-existence, of total darkness, which our imagination is ready to associate with the grave. We are here assured, that to good men, death is not the close of being, but a change of state; a removal, from a distant and obscure province of the universe, into the city of God, the chief seat of their Father's kingdom. They have every reason to believe, that the objects which are to meet them there, how new and unknown soever, shall all be propitious and friendly. For into the kingdom of his Father, their Lord has declared that he has entered as their forerunner. I go to my_Father, and your Father; to my God and your God. In my Father's house are many mansions. I go to prepare a place for you. I will come again and receive you to myself, that where I am, there ye may be also. What reasonings, what speculations, can have power to impart so much peace to the dying man, as a promise so direct and explicit, coming from him, who is truth itself, and cannot lie. If it were not so, I would have told you.* The prospect becomes still more cheering and relieving, when we include,
*John, xiv. 2.
THE other circumstances mentioned in the text; the society to be enjoyed in that future state of being. With you I shall drink of the fruit of the vine in my Father's kingdom.In how amiable a light does our Saviour here appear, looking forward to a future re-union with those beloved friends, whom he was now leaving, as to a circumstance which should increase both his own felicity and theirs, when they met again in a happier world! Thus, in the most affectionate manner, cheering their drooping and dejected spirits; and by a similar prospect providing for the comfort of his followers in future generations, when they shall be about to leave the world.
The expressions in the text plainly suggest a joyful intercourse among friends, who had been separated by death, and therefore seem to give much confirmation, to what has always been a favourite hope of good men; that friends shall know and recognize each other, and renew their former connections, in a future state of existence. How many pleasing prospects does such an intimation open to the mind! How much does it tend to compensate the vanity of life, and to mitigate the sorrows of death! For it is not to be denied, that one of the most bitter circumstances attending death is, the final separation from beloved friends. This is apt equally to wring the hearts of the dying, and the surviving; and it is an anguish of that sort, which descends most deeply into the virtuous and worthy breast. When surrounded with an affectionate family, and weeping friends, a good man is taking his last adieu of all whom he held most dear on earth; when, with a feeble voice, he is giving them his blessing, before he leaves them for ever; when, for the last time, he beholds the countenance, he touches the hand, he hears the voice, of the person nearest his heart; who could bear this bitterness of grief, if no support were to be ministered by religious hope? If there were no voice to whisper to our spirits, that hereafter we, and those whom we love, shall meet again in a more blissful land?- -What higher view can possibly be given, of the benefit redounding from this divine institution, than its affording us consolation in such situations of extreme distress, by realizing to our souls the belief of an immortal state, in which all the virtuous and worthy shall be re-united in the presence of their common Lord?
THUS I have set before you many considerations, arising from the sacrament of our Lord's supper, which render it a proper preparation not only for a good life, but for a comfortable and happy death. The great improvemeut to be made of the subject is, to bring to the altar of God such dispositions of heart, as may give us ground to hope for this blessed effect. Let us approach to the sacrament with the same seriousness of frame,
as if it were the last time we were ever to partake of it; as if we were now making provision for a journey to that land whence none return; as if we were never to drink, in this manner, of the fruit of the vine, until that day when we drink it with those whom we have loved in our Father's kingdom.—God only knows to whom this may be truly spoken! God knows who, of this assembly, shall never have opportunity to approach again to the sacred table, and to meet with their brethren, on such an occasion, in the courts of the Lord's house!Whatever our doom is to be, whether we are appointed for life or for death, such is the frame of mind which now best becomes, and will most improve us in partaking of the holy sacrament.
LET me caution you, before I conclude, against judging of the propriety of your disposition in this solemn act of worship, solely by the warmth of your affections and the fervour of your devotion. This state of heart, how desirable soever it may be, cannot be at all times possessed. It depends in some measure on natural sensibility. All are not equally endowed with warm and tender feelings. Even they who are susceptible of the highest degrees of pious and virtuous sensibility, cannot, on every oc. casion, command that happy temperature of mind. We are not, therefore, to judge unfavourably of ourselves, if this be not always the privilege of our devotions. It is chiefly a sedate and composed frame of spirit, that we must study to cultivate; arising from grave and sober thoughts; from serious and penitent recollection of past errors; from good purposes for the future; and from a deep sense of the approaching events of death and immortality. Penetrated with such dispositions, you have ground to come to the altar of God with humble trust and joy; under the belief, that you are approaching, through the great Redeemer, to that merciful Creator, to whom, in the high and holy place of eternity, the devout aspirations of his servants on earth are ever acceptable and pleasing.
ON THE USE AND ABUSE OF THE WORLD.
·They that use this world, as not abusing it.
THE world is always represented in Scripture as the great scene of trial to a Christian. It sets before him a variety of duties, which are incumbent on him to perform and, at the same time, surrounds him with many dangers, against which he has to guard. The part which is proper for him to act, may be comprised in these two expressive words of the text; using the world, and not abusing it; the significancy and extent of which, I propose now to explain. The subject is of the highest importance, as in the world we must live and according as we use, or abuse it, it will prove either our friend or our greatest foe.
It is natural to begin with observing, that the Christian is ⚫ here supposed to use the world; by which we must certainly understand the Apostle to mean, maintaining intercourse and connection with the world; living in it, as one of the members of human society; assuming that rank which belongs to his station. No one can be said to use the world who lives not thus. Hence it follows, that sequestration from the world is no part of Christian duty; and it appears strange, that even among those who approve not of monastic confinement, seclusion from the pleasures of society should have been sometimes considered, as belonging to the character of a religious man. They have been supposed to be the best servants of God, who, consecrating their time to the exercises of devotion, mingle least in the ordinary commerce of the world; and especially who abstain most rigidly from all that has the appearance of amusement. But how pious and sincere soever the intentions of such persons may be, they certainly take not the properest method, either for improv
ing themselves, or for advancing religion among others this is not using the world, but relinquishing it. Instead of making the light of a good example shine with useful splendour throughout the circle of society, they confine it within a narrow compass. According to the metaphor employed by our Saviour, after the candle is lighted, they put it under a bushel. Instead of recommending religion to the world, they exhibit it under the forbidding aspect of unnecessay austerity. Instead of employing their influence to regulate and temper the pleasures of the world, by a moderate participation of those that are innocent, they deliver up all the entertainments of society into the hands of the loose and giddy.
The various dangers which the world presents to one who is desirous of maintaining his piety and integrity, have given rise to this scrupulous caution concerning the use of the world; and, so far, the principle is commendable. But we must remember, that the virtue of a Christian is to be shown, in surmounting dangers which he is called to encounter. Into the post of danger we were ordered by Providence when we were brought into this world. We were placed as soldiers, on the field of battle. It is there that our fidelity to our great commander must appear. The most signal virtues which adorn and improve the human character, are displayed in active life. There, the strength of the mind is brought forth and put to the test. There, all the amiable dispositions of the heart find their proper exercise: humanity is cultivated; patience, fortitude, and self-denial, come forward in all their forms: and the light of good men's works so shine before others as to lead them to glorify their Father which is in Heaven.
It may be assumed, therefore, as a principle justified by the text, and by the whole strain of Scripture, that to use, and in a certain degree to enjoy, the world, is altogether consistent with religion. According to the rank which men possess in society, according to their age, their employment, and connections, their intercourse with the world will be more or less extended. In private life, they use the world with propriety, who are active and industrious in their callings; just and upright in their dealings; sober, contented, and cheerful in their station. When the cir cumstances of men allow them a wider command of the enjoy ments of the world, of those enjoyments they may freely partake, within the bounds of temperance, moderation, and decency. The highest situations of rank and opulence ought to be distinguished by dignity of character; by extensive beneficence, usefulness, and public spirit; by magnificence, without ostentation, and generous hospitality, without profusion.
We shall have a clearer view of the proper use of the world, when we contrast it with that abuse of the world, which we too