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that they should regard, with reverence, its ordained ministers, who had an unquestionable title and a divine authority ? Strange, indeed, would it have been if the case had been otherwise. Proud and self-willed men hold every restraint and prescription in ronted aversion. .... They have no notion of submitting to the Church as their mother, or to the clergy as the successors of the Apostles, and as bearing a divine commission. If they happen to dislike their curate, the conventicle and the preacher afford an instant resource: and while they trust that they are worshipping God, they are indulging their pride, emulation and resentment. ....... To such spirits what are the clergy, what are the rules and discipline, the prayers and sacraments, of the Church ? They are nothing, or worse than nothing ; they are the badges of tyranny and oppression, of a government which they hate, and an authority which they disown. ..... But the humble and contrite spirit of the Christian is displayed in gentleness, submission, gratitude, and charity. To the Church he looks with veneration, to her clergy, to her prayers, to her sacraments, to her discipline; they are associated in his mind with that glorious system of truth which is the support and the life of his soul in time and eternity. And such was the spirit, such was the opinion and practice, of ancient chivalry. The gentlemen of old were brave and independent, but they knew when they should be humble and obedient.
“ I care not for any charge which the bigots of infidelity may cast upon this opinion, but I maintain and exhort you to remember that a deference for the clergy, an unfeigned respect and veneration for their order, not terminating in an assent to the general proposition, but leading to an habitual practice of the disposition towards individual ministers, -towards the priest who is a stranger, as well as towards the curate of your own parish,- is the bounden duty of every gentleman, both as a Christian and as a man of rank; which latter circumstance only increases the general obligation, by the weight of example."-pp. 126-9.
“ Sit down, and take thy fill of joy,
At God's right hand a bidden guest;
CHRISTIAN YEAR. My dear friend, I endeavoured, in my last letter, to urge upon you the need of sustaining your faith and directing your steps, by a constant recurrence to the ordinances of the Church. There is one ordinance to which God, in his mercy, has given a peculiar efficacy. I mean the holy sacrament of the Eucharist. To this I wish, in my present letter, to direct your attention.
You have often complained to me of the difficulty which you find in keeping up in your heart a lively feeling of religion, especially of the great and mysterious truths of revelation. All of us, more or less, must experience this difficulty. All of us must deeply deplore that the world should possess so much influence over our thoughts, and occupy so large a share of our affection. The best men are most sensible of their weakness.
Now, to persons so circumstanced, what can be conceived more suitable than the remedy ordained by God,--namely, that we should from time to time - show forth the Lord's death,” which is the great object of faith, by some outward and visible token? How mercifully has God forecast for us, in providing such a remedy against that forgetfulness which the world is apt to spread over our hearts; and thus, in a manner, forcing us to turn our thoughts to that great and cardinal doctrine of our faith. For, if we avail ourselves with frequency and faithfulness of the holy communion, we cannot help having our minds drawn forcibly to the subject. The very preparation which we make obliges us to think upon it beforehand: the deep solemnity of the accompanying service, the breaking of the bread, and pouring the wine, in commemoration of His broken body and His blood shed for our sinsall this rivets our attention at the time; and, if
we partake of it in sincerity and truth, then God's promised grace, descending from above, enables us to grasp with a firmer hold, and cherish with a livelier confidence, the blessed hope of everlasting life which God has given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ; and we go forth to the world, bearing with us, in that faith, a preservation against the power of evil, and a safeguard against the snares which beset our path.
But there is a further and still holier and more mysterious effect which accompanies the faithful reception of the communion of Christ's body and blood. I beg you to give your attention to this point, because it places the sacrament in a far more sacred light than as a mere commemorative ordinance. It was early in our Lord's ministry, long before the institution of the holy sacrament, that he addressed his disciples in these remarkable words : “ Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood dwelleth in me and I in
him'.” These were, at the time, hard and mysterious sayings, and they are so still. But they are too solemn and striking to be disregarded. Perhaps the best illustration of them is that remarkable parable which is contained in the fifteenth chapter of St. John's Gospel; in which our Saviour says, “ I am the true vine, and ye are the branches. As the branch cannot bear fruit except it abide in the vine, no more can ye except ye abide in me.” Conceive the Church of Christ to be represented by a vine,–Christ himself being the stem, and we all, who are members of the Church, the branches. By the sacrament of baptism we are “grafted” into this tree, and made members of Christ; and by the sacrament of the Lord's supper, we continue so. The life-giving sap flows continually from Him to us; and, so long as this goes on, we bear abundant fruit, and flourish and do well: but let the sap be checked in its flowing, let the fountain of grace be cut off, let us no more eat the flesh and drink the blood” of Christ,—then, he that was once a member of Christ ceases to be so. “If a man,” says Christ, “abide not in me, he is cut off as a branch, and is withered,
1 John vi. 53-6.