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;”a and yet be not ashamed to say, I will not come?
It is thy holy feast of charity and of love. It is the body of thy Son that thou invitest me spiritually to eat, the blood of thy Son that thou wouldest have me spiritually to drink.
The supper will be ready, the table will be spread ; the priest will be there to minister. Shall the guests alone be wanting? Shall God send his servants so kindly to invite, and no one hear his voice? Shall he have occasion, because the bidden guests have oxen to prove, or a piece of ground to buy, or wives to marry, to send out into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind ?b O, surely not. I also, O my God, if thou be willing, will be there. I also will bow the knee before thy altar, and praise thy name, Most Highest. I also will record the glories of thy blessed Son, and give thee thanks for thine exceeding great goodness. I also will join in that glad thanksgiving : Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will towards man."
But yet, though it be my duty, though it be thy command, and I dare not refuse thy solemn invitation, yet I must remember the holiness of this feast; I must bear in mind the solemn character of the joy which shall be mine; Matt. xi. 28.
b Luke xiv. 16.
I must bear about me the marks of the cross, which I now take up to follow thee the blessed Lord of life; I must not only say, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest, and then add, But suffer me first to go and bury my father ;“—but I must rise up, and forsake all, lands and houses, children and wife, yea, and my life also, if thou requirest, that I may be thy disciple.b
And, therefore, let me meditate, let me pause, let
me pray: let use the time which now thou givest' me, to prepare myself for this holy feast, so that thou mayest not have to say, in the midst of my rejoicing, “ Friend, how camest thou in hither, not having a wedding garment ?”
0, Holy Spirit, come, and day by day be with me, to prevent, to strengthen, and to guide: 0 Saviour intercede, and day by day be with me, to atone for me, to mediate for me, to save me from myself; O God the Father, hear, and day by day be with me, to bless, to pardon, and to receive me into the promises of thy heavenly kingdom ; while I make ready, and gird up the loins of my mind, and put my shoes on my feet, and take my staff in my hand
“ IT IS THE LORD'S PASSOVER.'
Luke ix. 59. b Matt. xix. 29.
• Matt. xxii. 12. Exodus xiii. 2.
THE STATE OF MAN BY NATUR E.
“ OF every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it, for in the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die."
Thus spake the Almighty, then with no attribute but love ; for nature was young, and pure, and spotless; and God saw every thing that it was good,—and man, the crowning work of all, knew of nought save to hold converse with God, and to talk with him face to face, and to be ministered unto by angels, and to rejoice in his exceeding great happiness, and life without end.
a Gen. ii. 16, 17.
b Gen. i. 31.
But it was not long, for the tempter drew nigh; and Satan, with his evil subtilty beguiled the children of God, and they did eat :a and then God put on his attribute of justice, and his guilty and disobedient children fell beneath the frowns of his anger, and punishment was first decreed. “Unto Adam he said: Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it; cursed is the ground for thy sake: in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life. Thorns also, and thistles shall it bring forth to thee, and thou shalt eat the herb of the field ; in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken. Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return."
O fairest work of God, marred by this subtle enemy! O disobedient children towards so kind and loving a Creator! Beauty turned into foulness, and order into deformity; happiness becoming misery; our children brought forth in sorrow, our ground accursed, and bringing forth thorns and thistles, and life, which was before eternal, now turned into certain death: for thus it was, that “ by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men:” for “ in Adam
die ;"* and thus it was that “all the days of man are sorrows, and his travail grief. His flesh upon him shall have pain, and his soul within him shall mourn :”b and thus it was that “ fleeth as a shadow, and continueth not in one stay; ,"c and “ there is but one step between us and death."
Thus speak the scriptures; and when I look around, what is there for me to behold ?-when I look at myself, what is there to see ?—how frail in body, how weak in mind, how sensible of ill; how vain, how ignorant, how transitory!
My body.—True, indeed, “ I am fearfully and wonderfully made : thine eyes did see my substance yet being imperfect, and in thy book were all my members written, which in continuance were fashioned when as yet there
of them :" but thou hast constructed me a perishable being. The wonderful fashion of these limbs, so perfect in their structure, so admirable for my existence, may yet be crumbled into dust, or be withered, or distorted, or by a thousand accidents may become a pain and grief to me. I look around me, and behold in my brethren the palsied limb and crippled body; I see on every side the tottering gait of the lame, the wandering step of the
1 Sam. xx. 3.
Eccl. ii. 23.
c Job xiv. 2. e Ps. cxxxix. 14-16.