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delivered to those who are to cominunicate, and that in the same kirk there be one sermon of thanksgiving after the communion is ended*.” This last sermon could not have been intended for a week-day; because the Assembly evidently passed their act to accommodate their manner of celebrating the supper to the directory which they had just before adopted, and which knows nothing of such a service t. . If we now repair to the Westminster confefsion of faith, and directory for public worship, we shall meet with evidence enough to destroy every surviving doubt. · The directory, on the head of the supper, and the preparatory service, not only does not enjoin a fast-day, but does not even insist on a week-day sermon. Its words are, “ Where this sacrament cannot with convenience be frequently administered, it is requisite that public warning be given the sabbath day before the administration thereof: and that either then, or on some day of that week, something concerning that ordinance, and the due preparation thereunto, and participation thereof, be taught.” Nothing is here required, but that something
* ERSKINE, p. 281.
+ The directory was adopted in their 10th session, and the above act passed in the 14th.
concerning the ordinance and preparation for it be taught: and it is left discretionary whether this shall be spoken on the sabbath preceding, or at any other time in the course of that week*,
It is, indeed, pretended that the directory does, by implication at least, suppose the necefsity of the previous fast-day; because it declares public solemn fasting to be a duty whicli God requireth when special blessings are to be sought and obtained ; and because it considers the administration of the sacraments as á skem cial occasion, which affords matter of special petitions and thanksgivings; whence it is inferred, that the directory contemplates the holy supper as one of those occasions on which God requireth public solemn fasting. r in
Had not this argument been used often, and not without an air of triuinph, tiine would have been worse than mispent in giving it an answer; but as the case stands it must be seriously examined and put to silence and to shame.
This will be effectually done by quoting fairly the passages to which it alludes, and adding one or two observations.
* In strict compliance with the directory, the preparatory discourse is delivered to the congregation at New-York, on the Friday evening preceding the communion.
Concerning fasting, the directory says, “ When some great and notable judgments are either inflicted upon a people, or apparently imminent; or by some extraordinary provocations notoriously deserved; as also when some special blessing is to be sought and obtained; public solemn fasting (which is to continue the whole day) is a duty that God expecteth from that nation or people.”
. Under the head of prayer, after sermon, it says, “ Whereas, at the administration of the sacraments, the holding public fasts and days of thanksgiving, and other special occasions which may afford matter of special petitions and thanksgivings, it is requisite to express somewhat in our public prayers--every minister is herein to apply himself in his prayer, before or after sermon, to those occasions.”
Whoever finds in either of these passages, or in both of them, an injunction of our sacramental fast, certainly finds in the kernel what never was in the shell. Can any man persuade himself, that the Westminster divines would have taken such a crooked method of inculcating it, and not utter a syllable about it, either in the directory, confession, or catechisms, when expressly treating of the supper, and of the due preparation?
• But, beside this general reflection, which one would think sufficient, I say, - 1st. That the words “ special blessing," s special occasion,” “ special petitions,” on which the whole stress of the argument is laid, prove nothing at all: because the term “ special” is indefinite. Its precise meaning must be ascertained from its relation to the subject of discourse. When applied to the Lord's supper, it inerely distinguishes this from other duties: when applied to the occasions of fasting or thanksgivings, it distinguishes them from the ordinary occurrences of providence. ACcordingly, the supper, with regard to its peculiar character, is called a “ special occasion," but when compared with the occasions of public fasting and thanksgiving, is reckoned a part of ordinary worship*. The paragraph last cited from the directory no more determines the supper to be an occasion of public fasting, than a public fast to be an occasion of communicating; but mentions both as occasions of special prayer; that is, of prayer adapted to the nature of these exercises. And in what sense the word “ special” is used in its connection with public fasting, the appendix to the directory has made plain enough. “ It is lawful and
Conf. ch. xxi.
necessary, upon special emergent occasions, to separate a day or days for public fasting or thanksgiving, as the several eminent and extraordinary dispensations of God's providence shall administer cause and opportunity to his people.” No one, surely, will call the administration of the supper, an" eminent and extraordinary dispensation” of providence.
2d. In one of the places cited from the directory, there happens to be a small letter which completely ruins the cause the citation was intended to support. It does not say, “in the administration of the sacrament,” but “ sacraments," including baptism, and making this to be an occasion no less special than the supper., So that if the argument, shape it as you please, prove any thing, it proves that the die rectory prescribes a public fast as often as a child is baptised. Unless this be admitted, the foundation is swept away, and the fabric reared upon it tumbles to the ground. So much for the DIRECTORY.
The CONFESSION OF FAITH, which treats, in ch. xxix. of the Lord's supper; and the LARGER CATECHISM, which points out, with great care, the various exercises that should precede and follow it, (Quest. 171, 175.) do neither of them contain an iota of the doctrine