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Self-examination is expressly required as a preparatory duty to observing the Lord's supper. “Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of this bread, and drink of this cup.” I dare not say that God never meets in mercy at his table, those who have been ne gligent in this appointed preparation ; but I will say, that to expect favourable fellowship with God at his table in such a case, is most unwarrantable. Christians are apt enough to complain that they derive little benefit from observing this ordinance; but it is to be feared that one reason is, they are not careful to draw near to God according to the due order. Let us, my brethren, neither neglect nor trust to our preparation. To neglect it is gross presumption--to trust in it is deplorable superstition *
In a single discourse on self-examination, to which his plan re. stricted him, the Author found it impossible to do more than merely give a general outline, which, however, a well-informed Christian will find no difficulty to fill up in his religious exercises. To persons who feel that they need assistance in managing their inquiries into their state and character, Mason on Self-knowledge, Darracot's Scripture Marks of Salvation, and Walker's (of Truro) Familiar Introduction to the Knowledge of Ourselves, in his three Tracts, may be very useful.
SUITED TO THE ADMINISTRATION OF THE
DISCOURSES AT THE ADMINISTRATION OF THE
THE DEATH OF CHRIST.
Matth. XXVII. 50.
Jesus yielded up the ghost. The importance of an event cannot be accurately estimated by the degree of interest which it immediately excites, or the magnitude of the consequences which it immediately produces. Real and apparent importance are so far from being necessarily and uniformly connected, that objects often possess the one quality exactly in the same proportion in which they are destitute of the other. Events which, on their occurrence, excited deep and general interest, and seemed big with the fates of many nations and generations, have sometimes failed of producing any important or permanent result. They have passed by, and are forgotten; or if remembered at all, the recollection is accompanied by a sentiment of wonder, that incidents which have been proved by their event to be so trivial, should ever have attracted so much regard. On the other hand,
the most extensive and lasting revolutions in human affairs have often flowed from incidents obscure in their origin, casual in their occurrence, and apparently trifling in their importance. Thus, when the atmosphere, overcharged with watery vapour, threatened a deluge of rain, have we sometimes seen the black clouds dissipated by the winds, or exhaled by the solar heat, till no trace was left of the apparently impending tem. pest; while at other times a cloud scarcely bigger than a man's hand, and merely staining the pure ether, has rapidly enlarged and thickened, till it has overspread the firmament with darkness, and poured out unexpected and desolating torrents upon the earth.
A moderate acquaintance with the history of past ages, or even an attentive survey of the events which have given so peculiar a character to the times in which we live, will readily suggest innumerable proofs and illustrations of the remarks which have now been made. There is not, however, to be found in the history of the human race, from the commencement of time to the present moment, an instance in which the apparent insignificance of an event was more strongly contrasted by its real importance, than that which is so simply recorded in our text, “ Jesus yielded up the ghost.”
In this event, if we look merely at its external circumstances, there is nothing to merit record, or to secure remembrance. Man's giving up the ghost is an event of daily, of hourly recurrence. There was indeed something peculiar in this case, for Jesus died upon a cross.
But is there any thing uncommonly interesting in the fact, that a poor and unfriended Jew, accused by his countrymen of violating the law of their fathers, and aspiring to temporal rule or divine honours, should fall a victim to their hatred, and expiate his supposed crimes by crucifixion? The severity of