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for April 1837; but, instead of continuing the series in that publication, it was proposed to the writer to put the whole into the form of a separate volume, which he was the more disposed to do, as many among his hearers had expressed a desire to the same effect.
At the time when the work was undertaken, and even for some time after it was completed, there had not for nearly a century been presented to the public any regular treatise on the Lord's Supper, avowedly from the pen of a Minister of the Church of Scotland, and in acknowledged accordance with her doctrinal standards. Several useful and excellent catechisms, communion services, and collateral publications, had appeared on the subject; and within the last few years a small volume, containing Three Addresses, * distinguished alike for soundness of views, fervour of piety, and beautiful simplicity of language; but during the whole of the long period which has now been mentioned, there had not, so far as the writer of this is aware, been any minister of our National Church who had taken up the subject in all its branches and bearings, with the view of forming a treatise which should, in its general structure, manner of treatment, and style of composition, be specially
* By the Rev. Dr Watson of Burntisland,
adapted to the moral condition, the spiritual exigencies, and the literary taste of modern society, although it cannot be denied that this was an object not only desirable but important.
Many of the older treatises are almost entirely out of print, or to be found only in the voluminous works of their respective authors, and are therefore beyond the reach of the general reader. Some of them, moreover, contain directions to communicants, which by many most competent judges are now regarded as injudicious—because proceeding on the supposition of greater uniformity in the experience of those who are in a proper state for communicating, than Scripture warrants us to expect or require—and as more likely to discourage and afflict the conscientious and humble, than to arouse the heedless or repress the formalist. And although others of these treatises, which have recently been reprinted in a separate form, may, in point of intrinsic excellence, greatly surpass any modern production, they are yet so complex in their structure, the unity of their plan is often so obscured by multiplied divisions, and they are written in a style so foreign to our present modes of thought and expression, as thus to lose much of their attraction to the popular mind.
Part of these objections, it is true, may be said to have been obviated by the more recent publica
tions—few as they are—which have been given forth by the ministers of other religious communions. There is neither vanity, illiberality, nor presumption, however, in supposing, that the members of our own Church may naturally desire and expect to be furnished with the means of private instruction and meditation, with respect to the most interesting of Christian ordinances, by works prepared for them by Ministers of that Church to which they themselves belong.' Independently of this consideration, it so happens, that one of the ablest, fullest, and best written of these recent treatises, is rather lengthened and expensive for the generality of readers, and that no inconsiderable proportion of its pages is occupied with a large selection of mere texts, arranged under different heads, with an extensive series of Psalms and Hymns, and a pretty long chapter on the Communion Service of the Church of England things which are either of collateral importance only, or which, to the majority of the Christian community in this part of the kingdom, cannot be supposed to possess any particular interest.
On the several grounds which have now been alluded to, it did not appear to the writer either superfluous or unseasonable to contemplate an additional Treatise on the Lord's Supper; and he hopes he may be permitted to say farther, that, in the course ofinstructing and training many successive classes of young communicants, some important topics were suggested to his thoughts, which, so far as he was aware, had not been brought forward or illustrated in any existing publication on the subject. He here alludes in particular to that which forms the leading topic of his Introductory Chapter, in which, as he thinks, a conclusive argument for our Lord's inherent Divinity, is derived from considering the particular time when, and the circumstances under which, the Supper was instituted. It also occurred to him, that the nature of the ordinance, and of the obligations involved in its celebration, admitted of being pointed out in a far more simple and less abstract manner than had been commonly attempted-deducing these from a more close analysis and careful interpretation of the sacramental signs and symbolical actions in which they are so beautifully and expressively exhibited. In following out this plan into its practical details, it may possibly occur to the reader that the Author has sometimes been led into unnecessary repetition; but those who honour it with an attentive examination will find that this, in reality, is not the case; but that, whenever the same topics are a second time presented to view, it is for a purpose totally different from that on account of which they had been previously introduced ; as, for instance, that it is one thing to consider the things which are represented or brought to remembrance in the Lord's Supper—another thing to consider the feelings and affections which these same things are fitted to awaken-and another still, to consider and ascertain whether such feelings and affections have been brought into actual, lively, and adequate operation.
It will be observed, that the present Treatise does not contain any series of separate Meditations on the subjects connected with the holy ordinance of which it treats. The reason of this is, that the necessity of such meditations was, in a great measure, superseded by the particular plan which had recommended itself to the Author's adoptionthat plan leading him to illustrate in their order, and as an essential part of the work, all those sacred and devotional topics which the different views of the ordinance are fitted to suggest. He was desirous, besides, to avoid swelling the volume either by a variety of meditations, by specimens and forms of prayer, by special addresses, or by the transcription of psalms and hymns, however appropriate and beautiful. All these can be much more conveniently and copiously obtained in publications more expressly devoted to such subjects. For similar reasons, he has not occupied any part of his pages with specimens of the various services of Presby