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proach it in mortal sin were itself mortal sin. For although our own Church also requires at least confession to God, and pronounces His absolution over us before we dare approach those holy Mysteries, yet because we are so far freed from our sins, that we may approach, to our salvation not to condemnation, yet can we say that we are so freed, that nothing remains to be washed away? that the absolution, which admits to that cleansing Blood, is every thing, that cleansing Blood Itself, in this respect also, addeth nothing? Rather, the penitent's comfort is, that, as, in S. Basil's words on frequent communion, “continual participation of life is nothing else than manifold life," so, often communion of that Body which was broken and that Blood which was shed for the remission of sins, is manifold remission of those sins over which he mourns, that as the loving-kindness of God admits him again and again to that Body and that Blood, the stains which his soul had contracted are more and more effaced, the guilt more and more purged, the wounds more and more healed, that atoning Blood more and more interposed between him and his sins, himself more united with his Lord, Who Alone is Righteousness and Sanctification and Redemption.
Since then, this Divine Sacrament has, as its immediate and proper end, union with Him Who hath taken our manhood into God, and the infusion into us of His Spirit and life and immortality, making us one with His glorified Humanity, as He is One in the Godhead with the Father, and, besides this, it is ulteriorly, the cleansing of our sins, the refining our corruptions, the repairing of our decays, what must the loss of the Church of the latter days, in which Communions are so infrequent! How can we wonder that love should have waxed cold, corruptions so abound, grievous falls have been, among our youth, almost the rule, Ep. 93. ad Cæsar. t. iii. p. 186. ed. Ben.
to stand upright the exception, Heathen strictness reproach Christian laxity, the Divine life become so rare, all higher instances of it so few and faint, when "the stay and the staff," the strength of that life is willingly forfeited? How should there be the fulness of the Divine life, amid all but a month-long fast from our "daily Bread ?" While in the largest portion of the Church, the people mostly gaze at the threshold of the Heaven where they do not enter, what do we? We seem, alas! even to have forgotten, in our very thoughts, that daily Communion, which once was the common privilege of the whole Church, which, when the Eastern Church relaxed in her first love, the Western continued, and which they from whom we have our Communion Service in its present form, at first hoped to restore". It implies a life, so different from this our common-place ordinary tenor, a life so above this world as knit with Him Who hath overcome the world; so Angelic as living on Him Who is Angels' Food; an union with God so close; that we cannot mostly, I suppose, imagine to ourselves, how we could daily thus be in Heaven, and in our daily business here below, how sanctify our daily duties, thoughts, refreshment, so that they should be tinged with the hues reflected by our daily Heaven, not that heavenly Gift be dimmed with our earthliness; how our souls should through the day shine with the glory of that ineffable Presence to which we had approached, not we approach to it with earth-dimmed souls. It must ever be so; we cannot know the Gift of God, if we
a "Hearing Mass" in the Roman Communion. This is, of course, said of the general declension of Communions; at early Masses, even on week-days, the writer is informed that there are Communicants, but not to what extent.
b Edw. VI. 1st book. See Pref. to Tract 81. p. 18.
e S. Cyr. Al. in S. Joh. l. iv. p. 351. S. Jer. Ep. ad Hedib. q. 2. S. Aug. in Ps. 33. En. i. §. 6. " That Eternal Word, Wherewith the Angels are fed, Which is equal with the Father, men ate, because being in the Form of God, &c.' The Angels are satisfied with Him; but He emptied Himself' that men might eat Angels' food." (on Ps. 78, 26.)
forfeit it; we must cease mostly even to long for what we forego. We lose the very sense to understand it.
It is not in blame of others, my brethren, God forbid! it is as the confession of a common fault, to which others have contributed least who have been least unworthy, and which, if we confess, God may the rather teach us how to amend, that I dare not but notice, how, even in this privileged and protected place, we still mostly forego even what remains, and what our Liturgy still enjoins. We have learned even, as people needs must, to justify the omission. As those, who know not our privileges of daily service, think set daily prayers must become a lifeless form, so right-minded persons speak, (and perhaps until they know it, must needs speak,) as though not we needed more reverence to partake worthily of the Communion weekly, but as though weekly Communions must needs decrease, not increase, reverence. And thus in this abode, which God has encompassed and blessed with privileges above all others, where so many have been brought into an especial nearness to Him, and a sacredness of office, so many look to be so brought, and yet on that account need the more watchfulness and Divine strength that they fall not,—where, if we will, we may retire into ourselves, as much as we will, and have daily prayers to prepare our souls,—we have, in very many cases, not even the privileges which are becoming common in village-Churches; we all, to whom it is expressly, as by name, enjoined, to "receive the Holy Communion with the Priest every Sunday at the least," have it perhaps scarcely monthlya; and the thanksgiving for the Ascension of our Lord stands in our Prayer Book year by year unuttered, because when He ascended up on high to receive gifts for men, there are none here below
e Rubric after Communion Service.
d One College, it should be said, has, for some time past, restored weekly Communion.
to receive the Gift He won for us, or Himself Who is the Giver and the Gift. Nor has this been ever thus; even a century and a half ago, this Cathedral was remarked as one of those, where, after the desolation of the Great Rebellion, weekly Communions were still celebrated ©.
But, however we may see that our present decay and negligence should not continue, restoration must not be rashly compassed. It is not a matter of obeying rubrics, but of life or death, of health or decay, of coming together for the better or for the worse, to salvation or to condemnation. Healthful restoration is a work of humility, not to be essayed as though we had the disposal of things, and could at our will replace, what by our forefathers' negligence was lost, and by our sins bound up with theirs is yet forfeited. Sound restoration must be the gift of God, to be sought of Him in humiliation, in prayer, in mutual forbearance and charity, with increased strictness of life and more diligent use of what we have. We must consult one for the other. There is, in our fallen state, a reverent abstaining from more frequent Communion, founded on real though undue fears; there is and ought to be a real consciousness that more frequent Communion should involve a change of life,
e Archdeacon Grenville to Sir Wm. Dugdale, in Life and Correspondence of Sir Wm Dugdale, p. 429, 30. Letter 174, A. D. 1683. “I am informed that his Grace my Lord of Canterbury hath determined on the setting up a weekly Celebration of the Holy Communion, according to the Rubric, in the Church of Canterbury, and that my Lord Archbishop of York is likewise doing the same in his Cathedral, and that they are both writing letters to the Bishops within their Provinces, to follow their example; a noble work of piety, which will prove to their everlasting honour, and very much facilitate conformity in the land, which hath been very much wounded by the bad example of Cathedrals, which have (for the most part) authorized the breach of law, in omitting the weekly celebration of the Eucharist, which hath not been constantly celebrated on Sundays in any Cathedral but Christ Church, Ely, and Worcester." [Archdeacon Grenville was a son-in-law of Bp. Cosins, and "maintained" for many years the "order which Bishop Cosins had restored," until 1688, when he resigned his preferment, and went into exile, ib. p. 431 and 229, note.]
more collectedness in God, more retirement, at times, from society, deeper consciousness of His Presence, more sacredness in our ordinary actions whom He so vouchsafeth to hallow, greater love for His Passion which we celebrate, and carrying it about, in strictness of self-rule and selfdiscipline, and self-denying love. And these graces, we know too well, come slowly. Better, then, for a time forego what any would long for, or obtain it, where by God's bounty and Providence that Gift may be had, than by premature urgency, "walk not charitably," or risk injury to a brother's soul. He Who alone can make more frequent Communion a blessing, and Who gave such strength to that one heavenly meal, whereby through forty days and forty nights of pilgrimage He carried Elijah to His Presence at the Mount of God, can, if we be faithful and keep His Gift which we receive, give such abundant strength to our rarer Communions, that they shall carry us through our forty years of trial unto His own Holy Hill, and the Vision of Himself in bliss. Rather should those who long for it, fear that if It were given them, they might not be fitted for it, or, if we have it, that we come short of the fulness of its blessing, than use inconsiderate eagerness in its restoration. Ask we it of God, so will He teach us, how to obtain it of those whom He has made its dispensers to us. They too have their responsibilities, not to bestow it prematurely, though they be involved in the common loss. Let us each suspect ourselves, not others; the backward their own backwardness, the forward their own eagerness; each habitually interpret well the other's actions and motives; they who seek to partake more often of the heavenly Food, honour the reverence and humility which abstains, and they who think it reverent to abstain, censure not as innovation, the return to ancient devotion and love; restore it, if we may, at such an hour of the day, when to be absent need not cause pain or perplexity,