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should believe in the dogmas of any of the sects, such as total depravity, endless hell torments, the trinity, vicarious atonement, &c., to qualify him ; and for the
very best of all reasons, viz. because those doctrines are not taught in the Scriptures. The only qualification required by the primitive disciples, was a rational and practical faith in Jesus, as the Son of God, and the Saviour of the world.
It is asked, “ Must they not have joined a church ?” The Greek word éxx.noiv rendered church, signifies an assembly, a company, and was applied to any assembly of persons ; see Acts xix. 32, where it is rendered . assembly. When applied to Christians, it signified the company of Christian believers, — all who had embraced Christ as the sent of God. In this sense it is necessary to become members of the church, that is, it is necessary to be a Christian, - and to be known and ranked as such, - to make an open profession of your faith in Christ. We regret the present distinction of Christians into two parties, the church and the congregation; and we recommend a measure which will abolish the distinction. Let all Christian believers join the visible church. This act is saying to the world, “I believe in Christ, - I am willing to have it known, --I am not ashamed of my Lord, - I love the fellowship of his disciples, -and I respect his ordinances.” If this recommendation should be followed, the wall of separation between the Christian church, and the Christian congregation would be thrown down, and of the twain there would be one flesh. All then,
All then, (excepting children not arrived to years of sufficient judgment,) would join the celebration, as they certainly should. It is too often the case now, that when the Supper is administered, five sixths of the Christians present, and sometimes more, rise and leave the house, as though they had of right no part or lot in the matter whatsoever. " These things ought not so to be.” It is radically wrong, and the practice ought to be changed as speedily as possible. It is wrong in itself, as well as
wounding to the feelings of the officiating clergyman, and to the members who remain, thus to be forsaken, as it were, by their brethren. This state of things ought not to be permitted to exist another year; the good sense of the community should put an end to it.
Is it asked, whether we would compel people to observe the ordinance against their wishes ?
But every Christian ought to have a strong desire to use all proper means whereby Christ and his religion may be kept in remembrance. We would do no violence to the will ; but we would endeavour to change it, and bring it into acquiescence to the spirit of the Christian religion. There is nothing disagreeable, nor grievous in the service ; it is both pleasant and reasonable. It is of vast benefit to the church. It stands forth as a proof of the religion of Christ, being a constant festival, which has been kept up from the age of Christ to the present time. If Jesus did not live and die for men according to the Scriptures, how could this institution, which is designed to commemorate his death, ever have been established ? The deceit would have been so palpable in the first attempt, that it could not possibly have succeeded. When it was at first established, therefore, it must have been known, that Jesus was present ; because the original account avers, that he was present, and the apostles could not have been deceived about it. He declared that he should die upon the cross, and this ordinance is a perpetual memorial of it, publicly observed. Now if he did not die upon the cross, according to his foretelling, how could this institution ever have been set up ; for the deceit would have been so palpable, that it would have exposed itself. This institution has been handed down from age to age, without intermission, and is a standing memorial, an invincible argument, that Jesus lived and died for
If this institution should cease, one of the evidences of our religion would be impaired. What Christian then will think it unimportant? Who among you, brethren Universalists, will be indifferent to the
subject? Of all others, you feel the strongest obligations to love and honor Jesus, the Lord of glory, the Saviour of the world. Can you decline, then, you who have quenched your thirst at the fountain of living waters? Will you be unwilling to do your part in transmitting to future generations this evidence of the holy religion you possess ?
There are people in the community of very doubtful, humble minds, who are kept away from the table of the Lord by the fear that they are not sufficiently pure, and that, if they make a profession of religion, they shall dishonor the cause of Christ.
If in fact you are truly sensible that you are unworthy to profess the religion of Christ, your duty is very evident, viz. to amend your life, and bring all your actions into a happy agreement with the wholesome and highly reasonable commands which Jesus has given the world, so that in this respect you are without excuse; for if, by any known violation of duty, or any impropriety whatsoever, of heart and life, you are fearful, by a profession of religion, you shall bring reproach upon the cause of Christ, it is evident that the work of reformation should speedily begin. We put the question to the conscience, whether every man ought ņot to live such a life, as would reflect honor upon the religion of his Master ?
We do not, however, “hold to perfection, neither in spirit or conduct, here on earth. All men are liable to err, even the most constantly watchful. It was on this account in part, as we apprehend, that the institution was established. Jesus knew the frailties of his follow
He knew they would be in danger of forgetting him, his-toils, sacrifices, and death ; and for this reason he instituted a festival, the design of which should be to keep him in their remembrance. This is a circumstance which will show, that the institution was designed for imperfect man, — forgetful, apt to err, to forsake his master, and give all his thoughts to the world. This
was intended to call him back, and quicken good resolutions on his part ; to lead him from the heart to pray,
“Call me away from flesh and sense,
And all inferior joys resign.” The objection, therefore, which we are considering, is not a valid one. The service shows itself to be commended to imperfect men, as a help to them in the path of virtue. We are perfectly willing to confess, that it is the influence of religion, pure and undefiled, to make men virtuous and good ; and that it is the duty of those who profess religion, to shine before men in good works, and in pure and heavenly example ; but we question whether the means of piety are to be neglected entirely, until a man has acquired that state of holiness and perfection, to which these means are designed to lead him. Suppose the scholar should say, that he would no longer go to school. On being inquired of as to the reason, he replies, “ I do not know enough to go to school. I am too ignorant.” What would be said to him ? Would he not be told, that his plea was altogether inadmissible ? Schools are designed for the ignorant, to increase their knowledge. If you are ignorant, you have need to attend the school; you will thus grow wiser. No rule can be more obviously correct than this, that the circumstance which renders any thing necessary, cannot be adduced as an objection against it. Of the same character is the objection frequently made against celebrating the Lord's Supper.
The individual is persuaded that he is not sufficiently good; he wishes he was a better man ; but he is not very strict, and he is afraid he shall bring reproach upon the cause.
It was for such persons as you are, that the festival was intended. It will, if properly and regularly observed, impress religion more forcibly upon the mind, and be a means of advantage and improvement
We do not mean to say, that those who observe the ordinance should not keep a careful watch over their lives ; they certainly should do so. We mean only to assert, that this ordinance was designed as a help to a pious life, to encourage men to virtue and benevolence by keeping in their remembrance the religion of their divine Master. It was, then, evidently designed for weak, erring, ungrateful creatures; and such should endeavour, in sincerity, to make such a use of the institution as should put them on their guard against their frailties. It is not certain, that we express our thoughts happily, or intelligently to others; but our object is to remove an objection which exists in the minds of many modest, tender, doubting persons, arising from the supposition, that a person must be absolutely holy, before he can avail himself of the benefit of the ordinance. We are persuaded, such an impression has been an injury, instead of a benefit. It would be a matter of regret, if these remarks should be so far misunderstood, as to lead the reader to suppose we would approve of introducing the vile and abandoned to the table of the Lord. Such will have no wish to come; they have no relish for such a service. They probably have no faith in Christ, and have never derived any enjoyment from his glorious Gospel. They do not find their interest in these things. But there are many people in the community, kind, generous, honest Christians, who are kept away, through the mistaken opinion, that a person must be absolutely undefiled, and righteous, or he cannot with propriety celebrate the death of Christ. The argument we have here advanced, is designed for them. And now brethren, (and sisters too, for you are equally interested,) will you seriously reflect upon this subject? If you are true believers in the Son of God, if