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All positive institutions are intended for the promotion of real holiness ; and our observance of them is no farther acceptable, than they are made subfervient to this end.
The ordinance of the supper is designed to shew forth Christ's death; and to call up in our souls the devout remembrance of him. We are, there. fore, to attend upon it with a pious regard to him with a sense of our guilt and unworthinesswith repentance of, and resolutions against every known lin-with faith in his righteousness to jultify us, and in his grace to fanctify us--with gratitude for his condescension and kindness in giving himself for us with love to the brethren, and benevolence to all men, to which we are called by his example exhibited to us, and recognized by us in this ordinance. As we eat at the fame tai ble and partake of the same bread, we are to con fider ourselves as members of the same family, and to ftudy the things by which we may edify one another. The apostle says, “ The cup of blessing is the communion," or joint participation“ of his blood ; and the bread which we break is the communion of his body ; for we being many arc one bread and one body, as we are all partakers of one bread;" or of the same loaf.
“ The things which the gentiles facrifice, they facrifice to de vils, and not to God; and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils. Ye cannot drink of the cup of the Lord and the cup of devils; nor be partakers of the table of the Lord and the table of devils." Whether ye eat or drink, or whatever ye do, do all to the glory of God; giving no offence, even as I please all men in al things, not feeking mine own profit, but the
pro fit of many, that they may be saved.”
I would observe once more,
4. It is incumbent on parents to instruct their children in the nature and design of God's ordinances, and to encourage their attendance upon them. “ When your children fall enquire, What mean you by this service, then shall ye say, It is the sacrifice of the Lord's pafsover.'
In like manner parents are to teach their chil. dren, what is meant by the Lord's fupper. It is a fymbol of his facrifice for the sins of men.
There are fome who deter their children from this ordinance by too awful representations of it, as if it sealed the guilt and destruction of those who received it in unregeneracy. It would be more agreeable to the sweet and benevolent spirit of the gospel to represent the ordinance as a token of God's grace and mercy to sinners, and as a mean of access to him through the Redeemer. It was not instituted to perplex and ensnare, but to edify and comfort humble fouls. It was not intended to terrify and affright, but to strengthen and encourage the tender and fearful.
While we warn the young not to approach it with thoughtlefs temerity, or with the indulgence of known iniquity, let us invite them to come humbly and penitently, Let us lead them to view the ordinance, as designed no less for their use than for ours. Let us allist them in gaining a good knowledge of the gospel, and exhort them to use this and every divine ordinance as the means of fpiritual improvement. Let us recommend to them the religion of Jesus by our own holy example. Let us smile on any hopeful difpositions, which we discover in them, and contribute all in our power to their spiritual nourishment, that they may grow up in all things into Christ, and come to the stature of perfect men in him.
Early Piety the Comfort of Old Age.
A Sermon to Young People.
PSALM lxxi. 5.
For thou art my hope, O Lord God: Thou art my truft from my youth.
young friends, I may venture to say, there is not one of you, but who wishes to live to old age. And if you desire many days, certainly you desire to see good in them all, even in the last of them. It is not a painful and disconfolate, but a pleasant and cheerful old age, which you desire. I cannot promise you long life, continued health, or great riches; nor can I assure you, that your declining years will be free from bodily pains and worldly afflictions. But I can tell
can tell you, how old age, if you should arrive to it, may be very comfortable; yea, more so than your youth. For instruction in this matter I will refer you to the experience of an aged man, whose words I just now read to you. They are the words of David; and words which he wrote, when he was old and grey headed, and when he suffered great and fore troubles. In this condition, and in this period of life, his chief comfort arose from a recollection of that course of humble piety, which commenced in early life. “ Be thou my strong habitation, to which I may continually refortfor thou art my hope, O Lord; thou art my trust from my youth.” Imitate his example ; and whatever may be your outward condition, you will experience his comforts.
“ Truft in God” supposes a full belief of his existence, perfections and government. This belief is the first principle of all religion. “He that cometh to God, must believe that he is, and that he is the rewarder of them who diligently seek him.”
It implies also a knowledge of those gracious promises, which he has made to those of our race and in our condition. A general knowledge of his character gives an assurance, that he will never injure us ; but without a particular discovery of his kind intentions toward us, we can feel no assurance of positive good. For divine goodness is free ; it is under no obligations, and subject to no demands ; but is exercised under the direction of sovereign wisdom. And, besure, fallen and guilty creatures, such as we are, can ground their hope of future happiness on nothing less than the promise of God, because it is manifest that such creatures deserve punishment ; and whether this punishment may, on any terms, be remitted, none can tell, without a declaration from God himself.
God's promises are conditional; and we become interested in the blessings promised only by a compliance with the conditions required. Trust in God therefore implies a submission of heart, and a conformity of life to those rules of duty, which he has prescribed. We are required “ to trust in Vol. V.
God and do good”_" to commit ourselves to him in well doing"-" to reft in the Lord, and wait patiently for him.” If we look for good, without applying the means to obtain it; if we expect the bounties of providence without diligence in our calling ; preservation from evil without circumspection in our walk; the forgiveness of our sins without repentance toward God; the presence of God's grace without calling on his name; or the final salvation of our fouls without a patient continuance in well doing; our pretended trust in God is nothing better than presumption, infult and mockery.
David fays, “Thou art my trust from my youth.' He professes to have made religion his deliberate choice, the will of God the rule of his conduct, and hope in God the comfort of his soul, in that early period of life, which too often pafses away in trilling and vanity.
David's history verifies his profession. He was but a youth, when he went forth to the conflict with the giant of Gath, who bade defiance to the armies of the living God. The king of Israel judged him too young for such an encounter. “ Thou art not able,” fays he,“ to fight with this Philistine, for thou art a youth, and he a man of war from his youth." But David was strong in faith, and his faith he strengthened by recurrence to past experience of God's merciful protection in times of danger. He answers the king,
Thy servant kept his father's fheep in the wil. dernefs; and there came a lion and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock. And I went after him; and when he arose against me, I caught him by the beard and flew him. The Lord, who delivered me out of the paw of the lion and of the bear, shall deliver me out of the hand of this Phil. iftine ; and he shall be as one of tho.e."