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POPULAR EXCUSES FOR NEGLECTING THE LORD'S
O LORD, we offer and present unto Thee, ourselves, our souls, and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and lively sacrifice unto Thee, humbly beseeching Thee, that all we, who are partakers of Thy holy communion, may be fulfilled with Thy grace and heavenly benediction. And although we be unworthy, through our manifold sins, to offer unto Thee any sacrifice, yet we beseech Thee to accept this our bounden duty and service, not weighing our merits, but pardoning our offences, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
LUKE xiv. 18.
THEY ALL WITH ONE CONSENT BEGAN TO MAKE EXCUSE.
This text is so well known, as to entirely preclude the necessity of entering into any statement and explanation of the parable from which it is taken. It forms a most appropriate introduction to discourses upon the folly and danger of slighting the invitation to the Lord's Supper. And to this purpose it has been so often used, I may almost say hackneyed, that upon hearing it, you may anticipate the substance of the discourse which is to follow. Little else can be offered but the repetition of longurged arguments and exhortations.
| This Sermon (with the exception of such alterations as were required to adapt it to the DOMESTIC CHAPLAIN) is taken from a volume of Sermons by the Editor published in 1825. As the volume has been long out of print, and he has been particularly requested to publish this sermon as a separate tract, he trusts he may be pardoned for reprinting it in this work. It will form, with the three other Sermons on the Lord's Supper, a tolerably complete series on that important subject.
You may be almost tempted to ask within yourselves, Have we not heard all ? Is the necessity for this appeal so worn, so often made, never to cease? Never! while mankind are in their present corrupt and imperfect state ; never, I fear, must that necessity cease. Never, certainly, while one single individual habitually turns his back upon that sacred rite; never will the duty of the clergy have been discharged, if they cease to admonish him of his error, to warn him that he is neglecting one of the most solemn and affecting commands that the Gospel presents to a Christian.
Whatsoever it may be that detains him from the Lord's Supper ;-call it error; call it lowliness ; call it timidity; call it what you will; I know it is not religion. I know it is not the Gospel. I know, and every man who reads the Scriptures must know, that it is there commanded', distinctly, positively, solemnly commanded, that Christians should eat bread and drink wine, in remembrance of the piercing of Christ's body, and the shedding of His blood upon the cross. Every man must know that this ordinance is of perpetual obligation; not of this age or of that, but to “ show the Lord's death till he come?” Every man must know that Christ instituted, St. Paul explained, the Apostles practised, this rite; not that we should despise, but that we should observe it.
These facts are obvious and indisputable. Who is there that can be ignorant of them?
Yet upon the recurrence of the stated periods for administering this holy sacrament, what numbers, professing themselves Christians, quit the Church, and turn their backs upon the altar. Numbers, we may say a great majority, of the world, spend a long life without once joining in this truly Christian festival. Numbers find themselves upon their sick beds; numbers pass the gates of death, to appear before the judgment-seat of Christ, without having once partaken of these “pledges of his love," without having once, as it were, renewed the seal of His blood.
My friends, when we shall be faint and gasping on our last sick bed; when sinking nature shall proclaim the struggle almost ended; when our soul shall be about to quit this earth-built tabernacle, and to take its flight to meet the “ Father of Spirits ;" when the world, to us, with all its vanities, shall be as nothing; when we shall be made awfully sensible, that we have no stay, no hope, but in our crucified Redeemer; will any man say that, at such a moment, it will be a consoling reflection, that during his whole life he has slighted the invitation, spurned the means of grace, presented by that Saviour, to whom alone he can now look for mercy and for salvation? Is it a reflection which any man, with common sense, would deliberately store ир
1 Matt. xxvi. 26.
1 Cor. xi. 23, &c.
2 1 Cor. xi. 26.
for his last moments ? I am sure it is not. In the discharge of their professional duties, the clergy too often see proofs that it is not. They sometimes witness that awful scene, (and those who witness such scenes will not easily forget them) when a dying man has thought upon this neglect, but thought too late. He has set at nought, all his life, this commandment of his Saviour, and is conscious, perhaps, of having obstinately or thoughtlessly despised those opportunities for reformation of life, and for the renewal of the means of grace, which this institution, both in the preparation for it and in its reception ', is calculated to supply.
From not having sought information upon the subject while in health, he has probably confused
i Vide John vi. 53–56.
and superstitious notions of its nature and operation. Alarmed and agitated, he is eager to repair his neglect, and to partake of these “holy mysteries," these "pledges of” Christ's “love." But ere he can do this, the tongue is parched, the convulsed organs can no longer perform their functions. How tremendously expressive, on such occasions, are the mute signs of terror and remorse. The lips can utter no sounds; but the quivering frame, the clasped hands, the strained and eager eyes, speak volumes. These proclaim, if not more forcibly, at least more unquestionably, than words, the deep feelings of the soul within. They declare that he would think no sacrifice too great to purchase a short space to retrace his steps ; that he would give worlds, if he had them, to have been sustained and cheered by those hopes, which are the fruit of a well-founded, sincere, and active faith in the atoning blood of the Redeemer. Such a faith, I mean, as will manifest itself, not by a confused and precipitate obedience in the extremity of calamity or danger, but will mainly and constantly animate the heart, direct and regulate the conduct; a faith which “ worketh by love;" a faith which, highly appreciating the value of that atoning blood, will delight to do His pleasure, who “poured out his soul unto death ;" will thirst for the promised blessings; will thankfully embrace His appointed means of grace; and will lead its possessor frequently, not only in sickness, but in the day of health and strength, to