vinced it is not the true one; and think myself well employed in endeavouring to recommend those more exalted ideas of the Sacrament, which our forefathers adopted, and which contributed both to their own virtue and happiness, and to the general prevalence of the Christian Religion,



The Opinion that the Eucharist is a mere

Memorial, considered.

Though the opinion of Bishop Hoadly, that the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper is but a mere memorial,' has been repeat. edly refuted, yet is said to gain ground, and to be likely to prevail more and more, in an age when the whole of our Religion is represented by the Sect of self-named Rationalists, the modern Socinians, as totally devoid of every thing mysterious.

This notion that the Sacrament is a mere memorial, recommends itself, they argue, by its simplicity. Every body can understand what is meant by an act of commemoration. The idea is perfectly familiar. We keep a birth-day in our families, and we remember public events in anniversary festivals. To receive the Sacrament as a mere commemorative act, like



these in common life, requires no pecu-
liar grace of Christianity, no examination
of the heart, no preparatory discipline.
The remembrance of a friend at a convi-
vial table, is an act nearly as religious and
virtuous as the reception of the Sacra-
ment, according to the ideas of those who
affirm that it is nothing more than an act
of memory ; performed with some forma-
lities indeed, which, however, as far as any
benefits to ourselves are to be received,
might as well be omitted, if they had not
been positively commanded. The Exte-
nuators of the Sacrament sometimes sug-
gest a hint that the command to perform
this slight service may possibly not extend
to us in these days, but might have been
confined to the Apostles, to whom it was
immediately given by the Institutor. Dr.
Bell, whom I am sorry to quote so often,
instructs his disciples thus : “ Should any
one,” says he, “be sincerely convinced
s that the Lord's Supper was not instituted
“ for a standing rite of his religion, but
“ merely for the observance of the Apos-
“ tles themselves who were present at the
'" institution, no punishment whatever will

s be

[ocr errors]

“ be incurred by him for omitting to cele“ brate it under this persuasion.” This declaration, pronounced with the decision of a legislator, becomes not a weak mortal, when speaking of rewards and punishments to be bestowed by the Almighty : and I do not think it right to suggest to the common people, to whom his little pamphlet is addressed, excuses for neglecting the Sacrament, which, without any assistance, they are ready to fabricate. I venture to say that scarcely one in a thousand, among the unlearned, would ever have thought, without such a suggestion, that the command to celebrate the Sacrament could have been confined to he Apostles who heard it. May not many other precepts be supposed to concern only those who heard them, as well as this which respects the Sacrament?

The simplicity of the doctrine that the Eucharist is but an act of memory, and the facility of performing that act, may cause the depreciating accounts of the Sacrament to be well received in the busy · world, where men think they have something else to do than to bestow much



time and thought on the concerns of Religion. They who are deeply immersed in the cares of ambition, avarice, or pleasure, may, without any great self-denial, spare a few moments to perform a duty 50 easy, and of so little moment as eating bread and drinking wine in an act of com. memoration. The most thoughtless of mankind may stop a few moments to pick up straws from the surface of the stream; but they only, who are convinced that there is a pearl beneath will have resolution to dive to the bottom.

Persons, who are so far deluded as to acquiesce in the straws on the surface, while gold and jewels are attainable by a deeper research, may regret their delusion when they feel themselves, at some future period, totally destitute of the riches of grace. They may have to deplore their confidence in those teachers, who led them to believe that the Eucharist is nothing more than a commemorative rite, requiring no preparation, and followed with no present and appropriate advantage.

If the Holy Communion be a memorial only, then every man, who, without


« ForrigeFortsett »