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and months to come—to say, 'I have professed ; and I have partaken of the communion; and I am a Christian.' And mysteries always are easier to get along with than duties. And the tasks of superstition itself do not require such strenuous endeavours as the toils of virtue.
With the principle which has now been laid down, the simple principle that the rite of the Lord's Supper is a symbolical language, I wish to proceed a step further.
And I say, that as there is no mystery in this language, and should be no superstition in using it, or communicating with it, so should there be po superstitious or mystical notion of its relative value. As its meaning should not be mistaken, so neither should its power be overrated. Whatever force it may have had to the Oriental mind, to us, it is not so powerful as the language of words, as the living voice and countenance. It does not hold the same place in the christian system of means, as the written and preached word do, though our superstition may have exalted it to a higher. If we have exalted it higher, we have erroneously done so. We have no warrant from reason, or from the gospel, for conferring this distinction upon it. The language of the New Testament, is, not that men were to be saved by the power of the sacraments, but by the foolishness of preaching,' as the apostle modestly says. Preaching was the grand instrument ordained for the conversion of the world.
And it is reasonable to suppose, that man, the living instrument of divine power, the great agent on earth for the communication of divine truth, that man, with the ardent and glowing soul, which breaks forth in the words of exhortation, which flashes from the eye, which trembles on the lips, which speaks in the whole countenance that man, embodied, intellectual, feeling, eloquent man, should have more power in the economy of the christian religion, than a collection of mere and simple, however solemn emblems.
And this, again, perfectly accords with experience. When the communion is administered, though the symbols are, indeed, affecting, yet they do, by no means, penetrate the heart so deeply as the fervent words of prayer and exhortation, that come from the heart of the minister at the altar. The symbols are solemn mementos, indeed—they bring solemn things to mind; but it is the mind that must be quickened and touched to feel that these things are solemn; and God and nature have ordained that the mind should be more powerfully addressed by language, by words that breathe out the soul, by this communion of heart with heart, than by any forms or emblems of things. This is so true, that if the sacrament in question were celebrated in perfect silence, if there were nothing but this communion with symbols, I am certain it would become, compared with what it is now, a far less interesting service.
The position which I here maintain seems to me exceedingly clear and most evidently scriptural, and scarcely to need the earnestness of language with which I have urged it. That a man should be a more powerful instrument for conveying thought, than a symbol, would hardly seem to need to be formally stated. And let it be remembered that one is an appointed instrument as much as the other.
But although this position is so very evident, nothing is further from the views of the body of Christians. They have learnt from Popish abuses, to exalt the sacraments above every other form and instrument of religious power and sanctity. They imagine, that when the minister of religion goes from preaching the word, to the service of the communion, he goes from the less to the greater, from the more secular, to the more sacred. They imagine that he is then approaching what is most of all, solemn and awful. And I say that this is their superstition, a superstition which I am persuaded, did not exist in the earliest age, a superstition certainly unwarranted by our Saviour and his apostles. Visible symbols and rites at that period, were things of every day occurrence and use. Now they are uncommon. They are, therefore, strange to us; we do not easily communicate with them; and hence we are more liable to impressions of mystery and superstition.
And it is this superstition and this mystery that I would take away from the simple rite of the Lord's supper. I am persuaded, that they can do us no good. I know, both from experience and observation, that they do much hurt. This feeling of preternatural awe and mystery, makes the celebration of the Lord's supper, to many, a constrained and anxious service. I doubt not that there are multitudes who enter upon this service with pain and solicitude, and who feel relieved when it is concluded. What injury must a religious observance do, which is thus regarded!
I have been ready to ask, my reader, while I have been saying these things, Can you bear them? They are true; and why, then, should they not be declared to a community of intelligent Christians ? They are true; and every man whose mind is at all disembarrassed from traditional prepossessions, must see that they are true. I call upon Christians to be no more children in these matters, but men. I ask them, not to think lightly of the communion-far, far from it-but I ask them to think soberly as they ought to think. The simple and spiritual views which I present of this ordinance, will not tend, in the slightest degree, to abate a true reverence for it, nor a calm and religious seriousness in the celebration of it.
I can think of no kindred solemnity that is fitted to awaken so deep an emotion as this. If there were a civic feast ordained in remembrance of that great and good man to whom we look, and to whom the eyes of all coming generations in this land shall look back, as the Father of his Country, I doubt not that, in the celebration of it, thousands among us would be touched with a filial reverence for his virtues and gratitude for his services. There would be no mystery, no superstition, but a simple and deep homage to his memory.
What, then, does it become us to feel, when celebrating, not the political saviour of a country, but the moral Saviour of the world? The remembrance which we cherish in this service, is of a more exalted virtue, of a more disinterested benevolence, of a more heavenly piety and patience, of an example and a suffering tending to more holy ends and issues, than all the annals of the world besides can furnish. There is no being that has lived on the earth, that ever shed such light upon my path, or opened to me such fountains of consolation, or held up to me such a glorious hope, as Jesus my Saviour has done. The benefits, which he communicates, were purchased with toil and privation, were sanctified by sufferings, and sealed in blood; and they are blessings transcending all that the world can bestow-blessings, spiritual, divine, immortal. For these things, no rites or vows of remembrance can be too solemn; no homage too reverential, no gratitude too profound, and affectionate, and constant. As often then as we eat the bread and drink the cup, let us show forth, with all affection and humanity, the remembrance of Christ ; and let us ever show forth the same remembrance by the imitation of his virtues !
Art. VII.-1. Fourteenth Annual Report of the Massachusetts
Society for the Suppression of Intemperance, with Resolutions passed at a Public Meeting held November 5, 1827. Boston,
N. S. Simpkins & Co. 1827. 12mo. pp. 21. 2. Discourses on Intemperance, preached in the Church in
Brattle Square, Boston, April 5, 1827, the Day of Annual
18mo. pp. 111. 3. First Annual Report of the Executive Committee of the
American Society for the Promotion of Temperance. Andover. 1828. 8vo. pp. 68.
The great exertions that have been made in this country to repress intemperance during the last few years, cannot have escaped the observation of any one who is interested in the movements of the community. The causes which have contributed to produce the alarming prevalence of this evil, have been investigated and pointed out with great precision. The corporeal and mental diseases, the destruction and desolation which have attended its progress, have been exhibited with the most affecting eloquence, and its remedies have been diligently sought for, and presented to the public in the most practical forms. Societies have been formed, public meetings held, addresses delivered, tracts and newspaper essays circulated, to call forth, if possible, the whole moral strength of the country, to aid the cause of virtue.
Of the many publications on this subject, those named at the head of our article are among the most valuable. Mr Palfrey has collected, with great care, the statistics of intemperance, and painted the ruin and misery, which it entails on its victims and society, in glowing colors. Some of the calculations which he has introduced, -as the number of deaths produced by it, the number of persons injuriously affected by its prevalence, the quantity of ardent spirits consumed in the United States, and the amount of property wasted by it,—must startle even those who would fain be incredulous as to the extent of this national calamity. He has also given many valuable suggestions as to the modes in which the cure of the evil is to be attempted. VOL V.-NO. III.
The Report of the Massachusetts Society for the Suppression of Intemperance, presents some of the causes of the general prevalence of this vice, and its remedies, in a more plain and tangible shape, than any publication we have seen. This Society has probably been the cause of much good by keeping the public mind continually awake to this subject. liš long continued and judicious exertions merit the highest gratitude of the community.
The Report of the American Society for the Promotion of Temperance, contains a great quantity of interesting matter, which deserves a wide circulation. The plan adopted by this society of having a secretary or general agent, to collect and publish information on the subject of intemperance, and to devote himself to promoting the cause of temperance, appears to us very judicious. We doubt not that this association is exerting a powerful and salutary influence on the public morals.
Though the subject is in a great degree worn and exhausted, and though we can hardly expect to arrive at any new conclusions concerning the causes, nature, and remedy of the disease, yet we believe it to be at all times useful to direct the public mind to it in every possible mode. As long as the evil continues to be alarming, the attention of the cominunity ought not to be suffered to slumber, although litile can be added to the weight of facts and arguments which have already been accumulated. What is now wanted, is not so much any new information, as to have what is already known widely diffused, and deeply impressed upon every individual.
It is gratisying to believe that the efforts which bave been made to repress intemperance, have not been wholly in vain. It cannot, we think, be questioned, that the higher classes of society, in this part of the country, are more temperate than they were fifteen or twenty years ago. This has probably been occasioned, in a great degree, by the very prevalence of the vice, which has led educated and thinking men to beware of the first approaches of bad habits, and to inculcate on their children a salutary horror of their effects. They are evidently alarmed by the nature and extent of the evil which oppresses the country, and desirous of adopting any measures to diminish it. A change, too, has taken place in their opinions with regard to the use of distilled liquors. There are now fewer convivial meetings among these classes, and ardent spirits are in less common use. There is also reason to hope that a good impression has been made on the laboring classes; that many among them begin to find that spirits are not necessary as a stimulus to labor, but that they are