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But further, if we consider these words, holding fast our profession, with peculiar reference to ourselves, as members of a Christian community, they imply a firm and zealous attachment both to the doctrines and discipline of our established Church. With regard to all the essential doctrines of our system, they are generally allowed, and have been most clearly and repeatedly proved, by the wisest and best of men, to be founded upon Scripture; and it is obvious that we should therefore cleave to them with our whole heart. Nor should we less firmly adhere to that system of ecclesiastical discipline, established at the Reformation, which has, under God's blessing, preserved to us a church, more pure, more enlightened, more useful and beneficial, than exists in any other country upon the face of the earth. Let us, therefore, with devoted obedience to our great High Priest, who is over this house of God, strenuously hold fast our profession, and keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Holding fast our profession, however, implies not merely our believing the doctrines, but likewise our practising the precepts, of Christianity. The end of all doctrine and of all precept is the improvement of our life and conduct. And when fully convinced that we have a High Priest over the house of God, who hath obtained for us pardoning mercy and sanctifying grace, who dispenseth to his followers according to their several necessities, and who is ever ready to present their prayers to his heavenly Father, can any stronger argument, any greater encouragement, be required to induce us to draw near to God in all the public and private exercises of religion, or to cherish that noble emulation with our neighbour, which excites us to do good and to communicate, which provokes unto love and to good works? What more powerful motive to continual exertion, than the assurance of such continual help, in the discharge of every duty and the cultivation of every virtue, while we are striving to follow the example of Him, who, by the aids of his Spirit, will give success to our endeavours, and who, in the abundance of his grace, will reward that success with a crown of immortal glory? Or when, through the frailty of our nature, we fall into manifold temptations, what better consolation than the assurance that,
if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous ?
Relying on his intercession, and supported continually by the grace of that Holy Spirit, whom he sent from his Father as our guide and comforter, with what alacrity should we proceed in the path of his commandments ! ? Hath he set apart one day in seven, and hallowed it peculiarly for himself? That day then we are bound to observe by not finding our own pleasures, doing our own actions, or speaking our own words. Hath he established his sanctuary in the midst of us? Thither should we gladly resort, to mingle with his people, in that place where he hath promised peculiarly to pour forth his blessing. Never should we suffer our seats there to be empty, except in cases of argent necessity. Never should we admit to ourselves any excuse for absence, but such as we feel convinced will be accepted at that great day, when the secrets of all hearts shall be laid open, before the tribunal of our Judge. Hath he invited us to approach his holy altar, and hath he spread for the Chris
tian, as it were, a table in the wilderness ? ' It becomes us to praise the Lord for his goodness, and to partake of his bounty with thankful hearts. And yet, though of late years there has been in this congregation a considerable increase of communicants, more especially from the humbler ranks of life, I still greatly fear, my brethren, that there are among us not a few, whose superior knowledge of their duty should have insured a more exemplary 'performance of it, who have seldom, if ever, attended the celebration of this holy ordinance. Do they consider this holding fast their profession ? If the announcement of the intended administration of “the holy sacrament of the body and blood of Christ, to all such as are religiously and devotedly disposed," falls upon their ear, but dies away, as if it regarded them not; if they make no preparation “in the mean season by considering the dignity of that holy mystery, or by searching their own consciences, and examining their lives and conversations by the rules of God's commandments ;” if they consequently return to church, neither more religiously nor devoutly disposed than before to profit by that merciful intimation,-is this holding fast their profession? When from the table of the Lord these accents of mercy are addressed to them, Come unto me, all that travail and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you: This is my body that was broken ; this is my blood which is shed for you and for many, for the remission of sins: Do this in remembrance of me;—when from this gracious invitation they still turn away with indifference, can they call this holding fast their profession? No: it is pouring contempt upon their Saviour's death and passion, it is crucifying him afresh, and putting him to open shame.'
Bear with me, I entreat you, my brethren, in my fervent desire to withdraw you from this perilous, path: Suffer the word of exhortation as though God did beseech you by us : we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. As workers together with him, we beseech you that ye receive not this grace of God in vain ; but ratisy speedily and constantly those solemn vows made at your baptism, when you were admitted within the bond of the Christian covenant, and present your bodies a living sa