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Eucharist was holden. It was thought that the hands, which had administered the cup and blood of our Lord should not be polluted by the usual form of taking an oath, when the person who took it was required to hold or touch the Bible.
As Protestants, we neither observe such a custom, nor give credit to such an opinion. But mark, I beseech
you, the unadorned language and the solid wisdom of those excellent men, by whom the Church of England was founded. They directed you, not only to take the bread which is a symbol of Christ's body, but to feed on him in your hearts by faith, with thanksgiving. They directed you not only to drink the wine, which is the symbol of Christ's blood, but to be thankful.
Here then you can have no difficulties upon the nature of your duty, as it is preserved in our sacramental service. Here, you may avail yourselves of the solemn, but affectionate exhortation, which is given you to take the Lord's Sacrament to your comfort. Here you have no alloy to that comfort in taking it by any declaration or even suggestion, that may
darken your judgment with doubts, or oppress your hearts with dismay. Here you, according to the words of the Psalmist, may taste and see that the Lord is good. Here you may experimentally know how pleasant and joyful a thing it is for Christians to be thankful unto their Father, who is in Heaven, and to bless the holy name of their dying Redeemer.
The conformity between my own judgement and feelings with those of Archbishop Tillotson, is so entire, that I, with the greatest delight shall conclude this Sermon in his unadorned but most pathetic language.
"Men,” says he, “ are used religiously to observe the charge of a dying friend, but this is the charge of our best friend, our Sovereign and our Saviour, the great lover of souls. Can we deny any thing he asks of us, when he was preparing to undergo the most grievous pains and sufferings for our sakes? Can we deny him this thing so little grievous and burthensome in itself, so infinitely beneficial to us : Had such a friend then, in such circumstances, bid us do some great thing, would we not have done it? How much more then, when he bath only said, “ Do this in remembrance of me! When he hath only recommended to us one of the most natural and delightful actions, as a fit memorial of his goodness to us in delivering himself up to the worst of temporal deaths, that it might co-operate with other means in delivering us from the bitter pains of eternal death."
* Sermon xxv. vol. ii. p. 133.
LUKE xxii. 19 & 20.
And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body, which is given for you : this do in remembrance of me.
Likewise also the cup after Supper, saying, This cup is the New Testament in my blood, which is shed for you.
AFTER the historical, critical, and practical remarks which I made in my last discourse upon the three words Sacrament, Mystery, and Eucharist, I shall endeavour to set right a numerous, but misguided class of Christians upon the real meaning of St. Paul's words in the text, and upon the qualifications necessary for a pious remembrance of their Saviour at the Lord's Supper.
In the way of preliminary reinark I may properly state to you, that the Church of Rome is consistent in maintaining the necessity of self-examination ; for the teachers in that Church require confession followed by absolution, before they permit their adherents to communicate. But the Church of England bas ordained no previous ceremony;
stops short with exhortation--very earnest indeed and very solemn, but pushing the duty to a degree of strictness, which is not directly inculcated by St. Paul's
language, as I shall presently expound it to you, nor indirectly recommended in any other part of the New Testament.
In the process of examination, as it is sometimes conducted in the Church of Rome, I have now and then met with grounds for weighty objection. If questions be proposed to sinful men in general terms, the impression is likely to be indistinct and transient; but if detail be employed, it may fatigue our minds from number, or distract them by diversity, or disgust them by minuteness. This remark I have occasionally made upon reading lists of sins in their various modifications, as subjects proposed by Romish confessors. In some instances they are frivolous enough to provoke derision from a man of sense; in others they let loose the imaginations of young men upon numberless and nameless impurities which relate to the indulgence of their unruly appetites; and subjects of this kind, if not treated with great wariness and delicacy, are too likely to produce levity rather than seriousness; in others, they violate that amiable and sacred modesty which adorns the female sex, and they make room for the curiosity or the libidinousness of a confessor to pry into circumstrances, the knowledge of which ought to be confined to the bosoms of individuals and to their Maker. The Church of England has however shown such prudence, such decorum, and such tenderness, as to avert the inconveniences and improprieties to which I just now alluded. It neither insists upon the necessity, nor with holds the benefits of that private confession, which occasionally forms
a part of examination. It does not authoritatively prescribe such rules as would counteract the exercise of sound discretion in a minister, who is anxious to adapt his inquiries to the peculiar and diversified circumstances of those who apply to him for advice or consolation. Doubtless, the founders of our Church perceived that some kind of examination, though not absolutely necessary, might be highly proper for persons who intend to partake of the Lord's Supper; and foreseeing that such persons might be afraid to rely entirely upon their own private reflections, they close one of their public exhortations in these judicious and serious
“ And because it is requisite that no man should come to the holy communion but with a full trust in God's mercy, and with a quiet conscience ; therefore, if there be any of you, who by this means cannot quiet his own conscience herein, but requireth further comfort or counsel ; let him come to me, or to some other discreet and learned minister of God's Word, and open his grief, that by the ministry of God's Holy Word he may receive the benefit of absolution, together with ghostly counsel and advice, to the quieting of his conscience, and avoiding of all scruple and doubtfulness.”
In our own times few, even of the most pious worshippers are accustomed to consult with their minister before they communicate; and yet they are not guilty of negligence or presumption when they commemorate the death of their Redeemer. He indeed that avails himself of the provision made