Page images
[ocr errors]

Congregation) “ That we do not come to this heavenly Table trusting in our own

Righteousness, but in his inanifold and great Mercies.” By theie we are invited to come; and to the Mercy of God (through Chrift), all of us must flee, and take Sanctuary in; who has promised that he will in, no wise call out those who come into bim, John vi. 37. A. broken, and a contrite Heart, O God, tbou wilt not despise; Palm li. 1-.

::!3.10 There is nothing dreadful in this Sacrament, but to the wilful, impenitent and per. severing Sinner, whole. Condition is dreadful, and every Page in Scripture is terrible againli fuch, whether they come or not; but to the penitent and humble Soul, nothing is diimil or affrighting in this holy Feast; for there is none condemned for unworthy secuiving, but such who deserve it for continuing in their Iniquities; and this Impenitence renders even their Prayers an“ Abomination unfu the Lord.” Though they never partake of the Body and Blood of Christ, they are in equal Danger with thole who cat and drink unworthily; nay, I might say in greater, because the latter use the means in Obedience to our Saviour's Command, and the former wilfully neglect that which would prevent their Damnation, if rightly considered, and timely applied to. The surest Way, I say, to prevent Their Damnation, is to ret ceive the Sacrament more frequently than Min usually du, that by a constant Participation of this spiritual Food of the living Bread which comes down from Heaven, their Souls may be nourish:d in all Goodness, and now Supplies of God's Grace and Holy Spirit may be continually derived to them for the purifying of their Hearts, and to cnable them to run the Way of God's Commandments with more Constancy and Delight than they did before. So that the true Conlequerice of eating and drinking unworthily, should rather excite our Care and Diligence in this Duty, than delude us with false Reasonings, to such a Neglect as will certain. ly encrease our Damnation ; it being certain that God will never cast any Man into eternal Flames for striving to do his Duty as well as he can. If there be firll a

illing Mind, faith the Apostle, it is accepted according to that a Man bath, and not according to ibat be hath not, 2. Cor. viii. 12. Neither ought we to think 10 unworthily of the Son of God, who came into the World to save Sinners, that he would institute this Ordinance to be a Snare to entangle our Souls with. It was not ordained for Angels, or for glorified Saints, but for humble and penitent Sin Ders, to bring them home to God ; it being a Seal of their Pardon, and a refreshing Declaration of our heavenly Father's Readiness to forgive the chietest of Sinners for Jelus's fake ; who gracioully calls upon all who are ü caried and oppressed with the guilt and burden of their Sins, to come to kim and be will refresh them, Matt. xi. 28 Christ came not to call the Rigbteous, but Sinners to Repentance, Matt. ix. 13.

And consequently such as account themlelves most unworthy, are those very Persons whom Christ doth here call and invite to this Sacrament, when deeply fena fible of their Unworthiness. Were we not Sinners, were we not conceived and born in Sin, we should not need such Means and Instruments of Grace as Sacca

[ocr errors][ocr errors]


ments are ; but “ being by Nature born in Sin, and the Children of Wrathi, we are hereby made the Children of Grace, and Inheritors of the Kingdom of Heaven,” They that are whole, faith Christ, have no need of a Physician, but they that are fick. This being the case of all Mankind with respect to their 1piritual Lite, there is no other way to free ourlelves from this Death of Sin, but by 1 pecdily applying ourselves to our heavenly Physician, who came in 10the World to seek and to save thoje that are loft, and ready to perish ; and the very Sense of our own Unworthiness, is of all other Arguments, the best Qualification to recommend us to God's Favour and Mercy, since we know that he resisteth the Proud, [and presumptuous Sinner] but never denies his Grace and Favour to the Humble and Miek. As oft n then as we come to the Holy Communion with such an honest and true Heart, as to exercise our “ Repentance towards God, our Faith, and Hope of his Mercy, * through Christ, for the Forgiveress of our Sins, and our Love and Charity for "all Mankind; " fach a Temper and Resolution of Mind as this, will, doubtless, render us worthy Partakers of these holy Mysteries, and prevent us,

cating and drinking Damnation to ourselves.” Nay, 1 further add, that any Person thus disposed or qualified, may come (if it should be required) at an Hour's Warning, as sately as he may come to Church and fay his Prayers, or hear a Sermon. Dueneis ot Preparation doth not so much depend upon our setting aside so many extraordinary Days for the forcing ourselves into a religious Posture of Mind, as upon the plain natural Frame and Disposition of our Souls, as they constantly stand iaclined to Virtue and Goodness tlirough the general Course of our Lives. Men of great. From whence I infer, that à Multitude of Business, or a Man's being ther publicor deeply engaged in the public Affairs of this World, cannot be any jutt privalomerase Plea ir Preter ce for his not coming to the holy Communion; because excised from all Busine's is consistant with the Duties of Religion, provided we gofrequent com

v. sn cur Affairs by Christian Principles : For though tuch. Men have not Leisure for so inuch actual Preparation, yet tliey may have that habitual Preparation, upon which the great Stress ought to be laid in this Matter : Nay, evenilie conscientious Discharge of a Man's Duty in his Business, may be one of the best qualifications to recommend him to God; since every Man serves God when he fol. Jows his Calling with Diligence, and observes Justice and Honesty in all his Dealings; and confequently, the greater Dinger and Tempration he is exposid to thro' the Multiplicity of Business, The more need hath lie of God's Grace and Assistance, which are abunddantly communicated to us in this holy Ordinance : So that Men ot · Bufiness, it they have any serious Thoughts of another World, ought more ef·pecially to lay hold on fuch Opportunities which ficure the Salvation of their Souls;

for as they whu have Leisure ought to receive constanıly, as the best Improvemènt of their lime ; so they that are engaged in many Worldly Affiirs, ouyht to cope the oftener to the hüly Communion, and learn how to fanctify thuir Empo, ments. I ut to proceed :


The other Branch of a Communicart's. Duty is, to “ examine

A living Faitir " Whether be liath a lively Faith in God's Mercy through Christ.” Ex- in God's Meres. amine 16hfelves whetker je le in the Faith, 2 Cor. xii. 5. this Sacrament of the Lord's Supper being only appointed for such Believers as own their Baptism, and proefs the Faith of Christ Crucified, and understand the fundamental Articles of the Chrlian Religion, contained in the Apoftles Creed, and also the End and Design of this holy Institution. The Benefits of our Saviour's Death and Passion in this Sacrament are indeed freely offered unto ail, but only effe&ually to Believess. As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the Sons of God, even to them that believe in bis Name, John i. 1 2. And this is life eternal, that they might know tbce, the cnly true God, and Jesus Chrilt whom thou halt sent, John xvii. 3. All that Chrift hath done and iuffered for us Men and our Salvation, can never profit us, unless we have Faith to believe it: That which must render the benefits, and blessings of the Gospel effe&tual to our Salvation is our faith in Christ. Veria by 1 say unto you, faith our Saviour, ke that beareth my Words, and believeth on bim tbat. sent me, bath everlasting Life, and shall not come into Condemnation, but is paffed from Death unto Life, John v. 24. The ancient Churches accounted those only Faithful that had received the Lord's Supper; and the Germans allowed none to come unto their Sacrifices who had lost their Shields; nor does our own Church allow that any of 18 should come to this Christian Sacrifice without the Shield of Faith. “ Drów near with Faith, says the Priest, and take this holy Sacrament to

your Comfort," And this Paith hath God's Mercy, through Christ, for its oba ject, as the Fountain and Foundation of all those infinite Blessings and Comforts which we gain by his Manifestation in the Flesh; and if we enquire into the cause and reason of so much Mercy and Goodness to Mankind, no other can be given, but the Riches of his Mercy, Eph. ii. 4. And if we further enquire low this Mercy become ours, the Antwer is plain, it was through Chrift, by whom all the Blessings of this Life, and thole of a better, are purchased for us, and mult be obtained through the merits and Intercession of the Holy Jesus; by him we were redeemed, and according to the Riches of bis Grace we have obtained Remifin of our Sins, and through bin at last we hall be glorified.

And to this our Faith we must join " a thankful remembrance of his A thankful “ Death, and of those Benefits which we receive thereby.. Our of his Death. Gracious and Merciful Lord, faith holy David, bath so done bis marvellous Works

, that they ought to be kad in Remembrance, Pfal. cxi. 4. But cipecially this Work of our Redemption by Jesus Christ, which to forget were an Ingratitude bafer and viler than ever Heathens or Publicans, the very worst of People among the Jews, were known to be guilty of towards their Benefactors-Matt. v. 46. Herein is Love, not that we lcved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the Propi. tiation for our Sins, 1 Joha iv. 10. This is a Mercy far above all other Mercies ; nay, it is even this which sweetens allother Mercies to us. Had there been no Re


demption, our Creation had only made us capable of endless Torments, and it had been better for us never to have been born, than to be born to inevitable Ruin; which must have been our Lot and Portion, had not “ the Son of God, by his “ own Oblation of himself, once offered upon the Cross, made a full, perfect, and “ sufficient Sacrifice and Satisfaction to God for the Sins of the whole World."

The consequences of this Redemption are to infinitely great and valuable, that it as much lurpasses our Understanding as it does our Meri's. We are to declare and publish to all the World, what God hath done to save Mankind from that Damnation which they had deserved, and to restore us again to that Happiness and Glory which we could never expect or hope to enjoy, had not Christ died for us. O come bither and bearken, all ye that fear God, and I will tell you what he hath done for my Soul; Psal. Ixvi. 18. Praise the Lord, O my Soul, and all that is with. in me, praise his holy Name : Praise the Lord, O my Soul, and forget not all bis Benefits, who forgiveth all thy Sins, and braleth all thy Infirmities; who saveth thy Life from Destruction, and crowneth thee with Merty and Loving-kindness, Psalm ciii. 1 2. 3. 4:

With what joy and thankfulness then should every good Christian commemorate this exceeding love of God in the Salvation of Sinners by Jesus Christ? This was the proper end and design of this Inftitution, to perpetuate this wonderful Love of Christ in laying down his Life for us. Do this in Remembrance of me, faith our Saviour a little before his Crucifixion ; which Our Obligations being a folemn Command of“ our Master and only Saviour thus

“ dying for us," we cannot refufe Obedience hereunto, without being guilty of the most horrible Ingratitude and Contempt of his divine Authority. He hath appointed it for a folemn Commemoration of his great Love to us, in laying down his Life for us Men, and for our Salvation ; and therefore he commands us to do it in Remembrance of bim : And St. Paul tells us, that as often as we eat this Bread, and drink this Cup, we do fhew forth the Lord's Death till be

As for those Men then amongst us who profess themfelves Christians, and hope for Salvation by Jelus Christ, not to pay obedience to this his Command, is a downright Affront to his sacred Majesty ; and he may justly upbraid us Christians, as he did once the Jews, Wby call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not the things zobich I say? How unworthy are we of that Salvation which he hath wrought for

if we deny him so small a favour such a reasonable request, as to Commemorate his Death and bitter passion once a Month, or at least thrice a Year, “who did « humble himself even to the Death of the Cross, for us milerable Sinners, who ce lay in Darkness, and in the Shadow of Death, that he might make us the « Children of God, and exalt us to everlasting Life?" In this Sacrament of the Lord's Supper we have the Pardon and Remission of all our Sins, the Grace and Afliftance of God's holy Spirit, and the hopes of eternal Life and Happiness,


[ocr errors]




[ocr errors]



And to be is


freely offered unto us: And therefore had we oo Love, no Re- Mens own Interett gard or Reverance to the dying Words of our crucified Saviour, to a constant Con. yet surely the confideration of our own present and future Ado munion, because vantage might prevail with us to to be more frequent at the Lord's nefits. Table then we usually are. : Hitherto a Communicant hath been directed to set his Heart right towards God; but this is not all, he must proceed farther, and enquire how it stands towards his Neighbour, since we are expresly forbidden, Matt. v, 23, Charity with 24. to offer up any Gift or Oblation unto God, if our Hearts are leaven all Men. ed with Malice, Hatred, or Revenge. If thou bring thy Gift un!o the Altar, and there rememberest that thy Brother hath ought againli thee, leave there

Forgiving of Inthy Gift before the Altar, and go thy way, first be reconciled to thy juries expected Brother, and then come and offer thy Gift. Here you see that Christ from a Comununiprefers Mercy before Sacrifice. And it is generally agreed on by the ancient Fathers, that these Words of our Saviour do directly point at this Sacrament, on purpofe to oblige ali Communicants to forgive ali manner of Injuries, “ before they presume to eat of that Eread, or to drink of that Cup." And it is exprefly faid, Matt, vi. 14, 15. that our Prayers are not accepted, nor our Parion sealed in Heaven, until such Time as we forgive Men their Trespasses ; and to be sure we can never be welcome or worthy Guests at this heavenly Feast, where Jesus the Saviour of Penitents and the Prince of Peace is fpiritually prelent, unless our Repentance reconcile us to God, and our Charity to all Mankind. And this Charity of the Heart, in forgiving Injuries, must likewise thew itself

by the Hand, in relieving the Wants and Necessities of the Poor. Charity to the

We read, that when this Sacrament was administred in the Apostles

Days, large Collections of Monies were then gathered for the Maintenance of the poor Clergy and Laity, Asts ii. 44, 45, 46. and 1 Cor. xvi. I. And Theodoret obferves, that Theodofius the Emperor, when the Time came to offer, arose, and presented his Oblations with his cwn Hands. It was not determined how much every Man should give, but all Men were exhorted and enjoined to offer iomething, according to their Ability; which if any neglect. d, the Fathers censured them as unworthy Communicants : And to be fure, nothing within our Power can so effcctually recommend our Prayers and Devotions as this of Charity; it being well observed, Matt. vi. that our Saviour hath inclosed Alms between Prayer and Faiting, and therefore they are called its two Wings, without which it will never fly so high as the Throne of God. :- While Cornelius was fasting and praying, we read that an Angel from Heaven was dispatched to him with this happy Message: Iby Prayers and thine Alms are come up for a Memuial before God, Acts x, 4. He that hath Pity upon the Poor, lendeib unio the Lurd: and that which he bath given will be pay bim again, Prov. xix. 17. Charge them ibat ure rich in this worid, -that they be rich in good Works, ready to diltribute, willing


« PreviousContinue »