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for we may ask and yet not receive; as may be the case when we come to the Communion-table from worldly views and for TEMPORAL advantage alone. As when any man receives the Sacrament MERELY to qualify himself for a PLACE. I say MERELY'; for no doubt å man may receive with as much derotion when he has obtained a place, as at any other time. The law supposes (while it enjoins this as the best evidence a man can give of his hearty approbation of our happy constitution in Church and State), the law, I say, supposes that the person comes with due dispositions; otherwise by the Rubrick, which is part of the Law of the Land, the Curate is bound to repel him, as well as any other : and it is well worth observing, that though in the Test act there is a clause to oblige the Courts of Law to administer the oaths and receive the declaration, yet there is no clause to direct the clergy to administer the Sacrament to any person, though possessed of the highest post; so that this matter stands, without the least alteration, just as it did, before the act was made.”
OCCASIONAL WRITER, No. 9. 1736.
SECTION XXVII. ;
Of administering the Sacrament to the Sick
In one of those little cheap tracts so often alluded to, which are addressed to the unlearned, in order to disabuse them of their veneration for, and confidence in, the Eucharist, the simple person introduced by the Author to receive instruction asks this question among many others : “ Are we authorised to consider the celebration of the Lord's Supper, as in any degree an appointed means for procuring the remission of our sins ?— The answer is brief and peremptory :-“ No;" and the questionist is authoritatively informed, (as we have seen in the preceding pages,) that, if ever the Sacrament is administered to the sicK AND DYING, as an appointed means of obtaining the re
mission of sins, “ the participant is deceived, and the rite misapplied.”
That present remission of sins is annexed to the Sacrament worthily received has, I hope, been already proved. It is the doctrine of our own Church, and of every Church which has received the Apostles' and the Nicene Creeds. It was the doctrine of the primitive churches, even of the churches over which St. Paul presided; it is the express language of Scripture; St. Paul and his converts actually did obtain present pardon ; it is implied in the notion of justification ; it is supposed in the daily use of the Lord's Prayer; it is expressly the annexed benefit of one Sacrament, thus to wash for the present remission of sins; and therefore, if in the other, we drink blood shed for the remission of sins, we do in that also receive this same benefit *.
Taking it now therefore for proved and granted, that remission of sins is annexed to the Sacrament, I venture to affirm, that when it is administered in order to afford comfort and hope to the sick and dying, the PENITENT participants are not deceived, and the rite is applied with peculiar propriety. They want spiritual, as well as bodily comfort ; and nothing, they themselves declare, can give it them, but the Sacrament. They trust in this holy rite, when they can trust in nothing else ; and shall a cavilling theologist, in opposition to the Church, whose authority he has bound himself to obey, and in opposition to Scripture, on which the Church has founded its authority, refuse this last solace to the poor sufferer who implores it? Forbid it Christian charity and co mon humanity!
* These points are proved to the satisfaction of candid minds in the Three Sermons on the Lord's Supper, preached by Bishop Cleaver at Oxford.
“ But it is objected,” says Bishop Cleaver, “ that the Lord's Supper, thus understood, may, if administered on a death-bed, deceive the communicant, and encourage by-standers to defer their repentance, in hopes of cancelling all accounts of sin by one single act of devotion. It may be so; but this abuse is no way chargeable on the doctrine itself. If the sick be not really penitent, so far as
may appear to human judgment, they are to blame, who, in such circumstances, administer this Sacrament. If the case be doubtful, the propriety of it will be doubtful; or, if the communicant be in a disposition only to repent, the delay of this rite should be the measure first suggested, or, if in extreme cases it be administered, the hopes of pardon should be held out in proportion to the apparent penitence; and, in truth, where the feeble promise of amendment is offered only in circumstances which too probably may preclude the means of fulfilling that promise, the value of every religious pledge will be at best but suspicious : and it belongs to an omniscient Judge only to appreciate that, to which he alone can apportion the just degree of retribution. But these and many other cases of discretion must be settled by the doctrine itself well considered, not the doctrine made to yield to the abuses, which may occasionally creep into the practice of this or any other Church.”.
As this matter is of great importance and very delicate, I have thought it right to support my opiniops by those of a