Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

CONCLUSION.

I Have thus attempted to vindicate the Eucharist from the contempt and neglect into which it appears to have fallen among many, from a thoughtless profanenessi from a rustic stupidity ; from a barbarous and Heathenish habit of irreligion, contracted by immersion in sensuality and worldly cares; from a false philosophy,and from an erroneous theology. In this endeavour I have sought the support of Scripture; of the best divines of various ages, and of the opinions and practices of high antiquity. If I have erred, I have erred with a majority of the learned and the good; and my error, 1 think, cannot be injurious to the cause of religion and virtue.

It is better, as Dr. Waterland observes, to err on that side which ascribes too much to the Sacrament, than on that 'which

[ocr errors]

which ascribes too little; because it is erring on the Side Of The Precepts; for Holy Scripture gives express, and very alarming, cautions against paying too little regard to this holy institution, but none at all, against the contrary extreme. The error, if it be one, is also on the side of humility, modesty, and piety. Supposing us to be deceived, all that follows is, that we may be led to frequent the Sacran ent oftener than we should otherwise do; to come to it with greater reverence, and to repeat our solemn vows for the leading of a good life by the assistance of divine grace, with more serious and devout affections.

- No divines that I know of, teach that the use of the Outward Sacrament Is. Of Any Avail, without inward Faith and Repentance, or entire Obedien Ce. The reception of the Sacrament is not a Single Duty, but involves a System of duties moral and religious. The outward part is the least and the lowest part; and, separate from a Good Heart, from Faith and Repentance, it is No Duty At All. . Such are the sentiments of the most judicious 'and

and pious Divines of this country, and I adopt them cordially ; but I will cite the words of Dr. Waterland in the follow, ing paragraph, as they are quite applica; ble to my humble essay.

“ What I have endeavoured has been to maintain the dignity of a venerable Sacrament, by the light of reason, Scrip: ture and antiquity, against unreasonable attempts to depreciate or undervalue it.

The common methods of subversion begin with lessening the work of preparation, and then go on to sink the beneFITS: the next step in the progress, is to reduce the whole to'a bare memorial, a memorial of an absent friend, a master, or CHIEF MARTYR; passing over the DIVINE perfections of our Lord, and the ALL-SUFFICIENT MERITS of what he has done and suffered for us. Now, in order to build up again as others pull down, the business of these papers has been to shew, that the Sacramental memorial is a memorialof Christ, GOD AND MAN, who died a willing sacrifice for the sins of mankind; and that it is not a bare memorial or representation of something ONCE done and suffered, but

a real a real and present Exhibition of those graces, comforts, or blessings accruing therefrom to every Worthy Receiver; that therefore proper acknowledgments and engagements are expedient from us, and these require suitable preparations and qualifications, and a deportment thereto corresponding; in a word, SelfExamination, and SELF-APPROBATION before-hand; serious resolutions of AmendMent at the time, and a conscientious care afterwards to persevere in well-doing to our lives end." Such is the scope, and such the substance of my little Treatise, which I trust, human errors excepted, is entirely conformable to the true Scriptural and Church Doctrine.

Since the Eucharist is thus beneficial, and besides its mysterious effect in drawing down grace and pardon, conduces in a high degree to promote virtue, and render the Conduct of life prudent, sedate, innocent, and useful, I cannot doubt but an attempt to revive a due degree of attention to it, is to serve society, especially in times so singularly unfavourable to religion as our own. It is not the

querulous

querulous language of common-place declamation to assert, that the present times are singularly unfavourable to the prevalence of the Christian religion. I dwell no longer on the attempts of Church. men in England to desecrate or unhallow the Sacrament; (tell it not at Paris; publish it not in the streets of RACOVIA ;) but I say, that the manners and principles of the present times are unpropitious, not only to the due performance of sacramental rites, but to all the duties of Christian devotion, and therefore render the attempts of the humblest Theologian to revive the Religious Principle, desirable, and, whatever be their defects, VENIAL.

As to the manners of the times, it is certain that commerce, amidst its many advantages, has introduced a general spirit of selfishness and avarice; so that the devotional regard, which, in days of comparative poverty and virtuous simplicity, religion was wont to exciie, is now paid to MONEY; that idol of the heart, on whose altar, truth, virtue, freedom, are daily sacrificed, with all the enthusiasın of the blindest bigotry. Self-aggrandizement,

and

« ForrigeFortsett »