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Secondly, that the multitude of week-day seryices shortly after introduced, were opposed both as new and irregular. Thirdly, that they were considered as turning the celebration of the holy communion into a kind of theatrical pomp—and fourthly, that their effects were most baneful. There are few so hardy as not to condemn these abuses: and yet they are not more indefensible than some usages which are now viewed as sacred. Nor is there a doubt that had they continued to our day, it would have been quite as difficult to get rid of them. : On the whole, from the obscurity which covers the rise of the sacramental fasts, and the disorder which at first reigned in the other extraordinary services, it seems evident that they crept into the church by degrees; that custom, regardless of the reason of things, and equally tenacious of the wrong as of the right, transmitted them to posterity; and that undistinguishing habit, and the belief of the cradle, have numbered them with the ordinances of Jesus Christ*.
* When the Scottish confession of 156 0, was publicly discussed and approved, three Popish noblemen, the Earl of Athol and Lords Somerville and Bothwick, dissented upon this ground, we will leleve as our fore fatheris l'elevit. Knox's Historie, p. 253. fol. There is too much of this Popish leaven fermenting in every corner of the reformation.
The Evils occasioned by Sacramental Fasts and
CHRISTIAN Brethren, :
My last proposition concerning our sacramental fasts and thanksgivings, is, that they are attended with great and serious evils........
1. They establish a term of religious comniunion, which has no scriptural sanction. .
Christ Jesus hath specified in his word, the principles, duties, and conduct of those to whom the privileges of his house belong; his decisions then, are the only rule of appreciating character, and ascertaining the conditions of Christian fellowship: and it is high presumption in any man or society of men, to extend or abridge them. Now, as he hath not enjoined, either directly or by implication, a day of fasting before, or of thanksgiving after the commemoration of his death, no churches under heaven have a right to require them. Yet they are required; for they are judged necessary, and to omit them is deemed censurable. This is to erect thein, at once, into laws of conscience and
laws of Christ; for nothing is necessary in his church, but what he has commanded; nor any thing censurable, but what he has forbidden. They are, therefore, to all intents and purposes, inade terms of communion; and will deprive of the privileges of his house, those who cannot feel themselves bound in conscience to observe them. And what is this? It is nothing less than to impeach the wisdom, and usurp the authority, of the Lord our lawgiver. If he will resent the unfaithfulness of those who throw down the hedge of his vineyard, and lay it open to the beasts of the field; he will equally resent the arrogance of those, who, by additions of their own, so narrow the door as to exclude his sheep. cit .!
2. As the evangelical institution of the supper does not contain our customary appendages, the insisting upon them is reprehensible as an unxarranted addition to that part of divine worship.
The ordinance, as Churist left it, is simplicity itself: but we have made it a very different thing from what the gospel describes it. We have encumbered it with a pompous ceremonial, which the Lord “ never commanded, neither came it into his mind.” • It may, perhaps, be said that this is a rash and unreasonable charge; that both fasting and
thanksgiving are duties which God hath prescribed; and therefore, that we do not add to his worship.
This is a mere evasion; and a miserable one. God, indeed, requires the observance of days of fasting and thanksgiving; but does he require it whenever the supper is to be dispensed? We are no more authorised to join what he has not joined, than to coin new modes of worship. The connection between the supper and the fast and thanksgiving days, is a human derice, and the compound is as real an addition to God's appointments, as ever human presumption ventured upon. Let me not, however, be misunderstood. I have already conceded, that duties which have no necessary connection, may occasionally coincide in point of time. But if the coincidence result not from God's providence, but from man's pleasure; if it then be held up as a rule of conduct; if it set aside any part of scriptural obedience; if it be employed as an engine of superstition, it becomes, in the strictest sense of the word, a corruption; and a corruption of which it is impossible to calculate the effects. “ If man's wisdom be lowed to add, or alter so much as one loop or pin, it will never be easy or at rest—without the whole tabernacle be newe-modelled according to the pattern in his own head. And one cannot tell what
may be the consequence of, nor how much the Lord may be displeased with, a very small variation from the pattern shewed in the inount. Nor will good meanings and designs be sustained as any whit of an apology for such officious services: It is but a cold reception they get, namely, Who hath required these things at your hands? As the zeal of God's house consumed our Lord himself, and the typical David, both of them ; so ought the same spirit to be in all his ministers especially. They ought to do what in them lies, by reformation, and a spiritual impartial exercise of discipline, to purge the house of God. For to them hath the Son, which is over his own house, committed, in trust, the ordinances and order of it, with a solemn charge to keep them pure and entire, without any the least addition, subtraction, mixture *, or exchange of one thing for anothert.” The same
* Mark this; Mixture. Is not our blending fast and thanks. giving days with the celebration of the supper, a mixture which God never mingled ?
+ The TRUST; a sermon by Mr. Wilson, of Perth, as quoted in a note to p. 35 of the Rev. WILLIAM MARSHALL'S sermon on The propriety of singing the Psalms of David in the New Testament worship.
It would not be amiss, if those who at one time contend for keeping all the parts of divine worship as God hath ordained them, without addition or subtraction, without mixture or exchange; and at another time, as the occasion serves, can re