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of which, shed on the cross, we by faith at his table drink; we plead for the exercise of that infinite mercy of Almighty God which is over all his works.- Can that plea be offered in vain? Again! with what fulness and power and earnestness does the closing sentence of the prayer state the object of our holy service-that all we do may be sanctified; "our bodies made clean by his body—" that all we think may be as pure as angels' thoughts; "our souls washed through his most precious blood-" that the fruits of this holiness and purity may be a near and firm union with the same gracious Redeemer, our once incarnate God; "we evermore dwelling in him, and He in us." Every feeling thus regulated by his Spirit; every act, in obedience to his Will; our affections fixed on Him, loving Him, for He first loved us; and striving in all things so to conform ourselves to Him, that our lives here, being one with Him by obedience, they may hereafter be one with Him in his glory-ours be the hope that "with angels and archangels, and all the company of heaven, we may evermore laud and magnify God's great name"-" Father, Son, and Holy Ghost" --and know no end thereof for ever.
In this prayer of consecration, how admirably does the Church sum up the circumstances which attended the institution of the Holy Sacrament; how forcibly does she present them to our notice and regard; and how
naturally does she open the prayer, by addressing Almighty God, not as our Lord, our King, our future Judge, but as our heavenly Father! To what else but his "tender mercy" as a most compassionate and loving Father, do we, rebellious sons, owe it, that a way of return to our filial duty and high hopes of inheritance has been opened to us, by a new and, to us, haply, a living way: our life purchased of Jehovah by the blood of his own sinless, pure, holy, eternal Son? Of this glorious truth, mark how every point in the history-tending to fix in our hearts a deeper and livelier sense of the infinite love which vouchsafed the gift-mark how well every point is set forth! how skilfully every incident connected with it is noted! The love which willed it was that of a Father the gift free, to show that man could never have claimed it by desert'. Thus, again, the wisdom which planned the great scheme of salvation, and the power which so ordered events through long ages, that it was finally accomplished; they were exercised on our behalf because of his fatherly compassion. And whom did our heavenly Father give to be that gift of mercy? Even his Son, his beloved Son, his only Son, Jesus Christ-Jesus, to be the healer of those wounds which sin had inflicted on the soul: Christ, to be our spiritual King, reigning in us, and over us: reigning over us, a defence against all our enemies; reigning in us, a defence against ourselves'; for his
Every gift which is vouchsafed of mercy must be a free gift; for the exercise of mercy implies guilt in the object of it, and the guilty cannot claim so much as pardon, still less blessing!
2 “There is none other that fighteth for us, but only Thou, O God!” See the Litany.
Will then governs our hearts, and his laws then rule our actions. It had been much, that the Father having given his Son, the Son should lay aside the glory which He had with the Father before the world began, and appear upon earth exercising his supreme power over evil, and by his divine authority establishing the world in righteousness-it had been still more to have been born in the likeness of man, to have filled a lowly station in life, the object of doubt, and contempt, and scorn'; persecuted by his enemies, forsaken of his friends-but no suffering less than that of death would satisfy God's righteous wrath, and appease the indignant anger of a justly offended Father. To death, therefore, this Jesus, the Son of God, this only Son of the Father, this precious gift to man-to death he bowed himself'. Nay, still more surely to win our affections on the side of duty, that we be faithful to God and to his Christ for these so great mercies; still more deeply to engage our gratitude to such benefactors, we are conducted to the foot of the cross, that by the eye of faith we may there witness all which the Son suffered for us, and so estimate the extent of the mercy which the Father hath vouchsafed to us. The Holy One died on the cross; died a death of the most acute and aggravated pain. Yet to Him was the cross his triumph; for He "made there (by his one oblation of himself once offered) a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction, for the sins of the whole world." Here let us pause, even at the foot of the cross. Can the soul desire more encouragement to 2 Is. liii. 12. John xix. 30. 3 Heb. vii. 27.
Is. 1. 6. Matt. xiv. 65.
cast away the burden of sin which may long have oppressed it? What hitherto has irreligion done for the sinner, but rankle in his heart, "his plagues and his destruction;" perplexing his waking hours, harassing him in the night watches, embittering all the enjoyments of life, and aggravating all its sorrows? Behold the cross, and the Saviour there dying for us! The fulness, and perfection, and sufficiency of the sacrifice is ours its power all-sufficient, if we will receive the same.
The Church then carries us back to the occasion upon which this blessed Sacrament was instituted: and certainly the scene so presented to us is one which it were impossible for any to contemplate unmoved. The very circumstances themselves which marked it, even taken apart from their heavenly object, are calculated to win at once the best affections of youthful hearts, and excite in them every generous feeling of sympathy, admiration, and gratitude. A friend visits criminals under condemnation of death. From the condemned, all hope seems cut off. Moved by compassion, the friend resolves to die in their stead. Before, however, He offers himself as their vicarial sacrifice, he reminds them not to forget Him, or the proof he was about to give them of his love; and knowing that in the infirmity of our nature we are too prone to forget the benefactor, even though we enjoy the benefit, he directs a positive memorial of his death in this ordinance; that by partaking of bread and wine, according to his appointment, we should, from time to time, show forth the Lord's death till He come. "Do this in remembrance of me."
Your child will at once wonder that such a
command, even thus viewed, could ever be slighted. Add to this view of the command the further consideration that this friend died to save us not from temporal but from eternal death; and the obligation to keep in mind his memory in the way by himself appointed, gathers accumulated strength; and our sense of gratitude is only less deep and fervent than our sense of duty. Such at least will be the effect of the scene upon the ingenuous mind of youth.
Our Church still further evidences her truly evangelical and apostolical character by adopting, at the celebration of the Holy Sacrament, the very words used by Christ when he instituted it, and recorded as such by St. Paul1. "Take, eat," said the blessed One; "this is my body, which is given for you." Now, as He was himself in the body when He gave the bread, it is manifest that He meant the bread broken to represent his body about to be broken by death.
Thus the command to eat of the bread as his body was intelligible; the ordinance being not only expressive of a commemorative rite, but being a means, when the outward sign was consecrated by prayer and the Holy Spirit in answer thereto, of conveying to all who should partake the same in faith, the full benefits of that passion which He endured in the body-even "a pledge to assure them thereof." So likewise when "taking the cup," and terming it "his blood," even before his blood had been shed, there could be no other intelligible meaning attached to his declaration, than that of the cup of wine being a representation of his blood; and that here also, whoso
1 1 Cor. xi. 23.