Imágenes de páginas

tation of his Love, which, just before his appointing this holy Sacrament, He so earnestly and affectionately enjoined his Followers, as the distinguishing Badge of their Profeffion. This is my Commandment, that ye love one anc:her, as I have loved you. Greater Love bath no Mian than this, that a Man lay down his Lif,, ir his Friends. Ye are my Friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you". Hereby Mall all Men know, that ye are my Disciples, if ye have Love one to anothero. Then befides; commemorating his Love jointly, as the Servants of one Mafter, and Members of one Body, partaking of the same Covenant of Grace, and the same Hope of everlasting Happiness, must, if we have any Feeling of what we do, incline us potently to that reciprocal Union of Hearts, which indeed the very Act of communicating suggests and recommends to us. For we, being many, are one Bread and one Body: for we are all Partakers of that one Bread P.

Another Grace, which this Commemoration of our Saviour's Death peculiarly excites, is Humility of Soul. We acknowledge by it, that we are Sinners; and have no Claim to Pardon or Acceptance, but through his Sacrifice, and his Mediation, whose Merits we thus plead, and set forth before God. And this Consideration must surely dispose us very strongly to a thankful Observance of his Commands, to Watchfulness over our own Hearts, to Mildness towards others. For we ourselves also have been foolish, disobedient, deceived: and not by Works of Righteousness, which we have done, but according to his Mercy, God hath saved us, which He shed on us abundantly through Ghrift Féfus our Saviour".

And as this Sacrament will naturally strengthen us in all these good Dispositions, we cannot doubt but God will add his Blessing to the Use of fuch proper Means, especially being appointed Means. For fince He hath threatned Punishments to unworthy Receivers,

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

He will certainly bestow Rewards on worthy ones. Our Saviour hath told us, that his Flesh is Meat indeed, and his Blood is Drink indeed': Sustenance and Refreshment to the Souls of Men. When he blessed the Bread and Wine, He undoubtedly prayed, and not in vain, that they might be effectual for the good Purposes, which He designed should be attained by this holy Rite. And St. Paul hath told us, if it needs, more expressly, that the Cup, which we bless, is the Communion, that is, the Communication to us, of the Blood of Chrift; and the Bread, which we break, of the Body of Christ': that is, of a faving Union with Him, and therefore of the Benefits procured us by his Death: which are, Forgiveness of our Offences for He hath faid, This is my Blood of the New Testament, which is shed for the Remision of Sins": Increase of the gracious Influences of the Holy Ghost; for the Apostle hath said, plainly speaking of this Ordinance, that we are all made to drink into one Spirit": and everlasting Life ; for whoso eateth his Flesh, and drinketh his Blood, dwelleth in Christ, and Christ in him, and He will raise him up at the last Day". Whence a Father of the apostolic Age, Ignatius, calls the Eucharist, the Medicine of Immortality; a Preservative, that we mould not die, but live for ever in Jesus Chrifx.

But then what hath been already hinted to you must be always carefully observed ; that these Benefits are to be expected only from partaking worthily of it: for he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, St. Paul hath told us, is guilty of the Body and Blood of the Lordy, that is, guilty of Irreverence towards it, and eateth and drinketh Judgment to himself. Our Translation indeed hath it, Damnation to himself. But there is fo great Danger of this laft Word being understood here in too strong a Sense, that it would be much safer, and exacter, to translate it, (as it is often translated elsewhere, and once in a few

xii. 13.

John vi. 55 1 Cor. x, 16. Matth. xxvi. 28. u 1 Cor.

Joho vi. 54, 56. * Ign. ad. Eph, C. 20. See Waterland on the Eucharist, p. 277

Cor, xi. 27 2 1 Cor. xi. 29.


Verses after this Passage, and from what follows ought undeniably to be tranflated here) Judgment or Condemnation: not to certain Punishment in another Life, but to such Marks of God's Displeasure as He fees fit; which will be confined to this World, or extended to the next, as the Case requires. For receiving unworthily may, according to the Kind and Degree of it, be either a very great Sin, or comparatively a small one. But all dangerous Kinds and Degrees may with Ease be avoided, if we only take Care to come to the Sacrament with proper Dispositions, and, which will follow of Course, to behave at it in a proper Manner.

To these Dispositions our Catechism proceeds. But more is needful to be known concerning them than can well be laid before you now. Therefore I shall conclude at present with desiring you to observe, that no Unworthiness, but our own, can possibly endanger us, or prevent our receiving Benefit. Doubtless it would both be more pleasing and more edifying, to come to the Table of the Lorda in Company with such only as are qualified for a Place at it: and they, who are unqualified, ought, when they properly can, to be reftrained from it. But we have neither Direction nor Permission to stay away, because others come who should not: nor can they ever be fo effectually excluded, but that Tares will be mixed among the Wheat: and attempting to root them up may often be more hurtful than letting both grow together until the Harvefl b. Nay, should even the Stewards and Dispensers of God's Mysteries be unholy Persons, though it be a grievous Temptation to others to abhor the Offering of the Lord', yet that is holy still. They shall bear their Iniquity: but notwithstanding, all the Promises of all God's Ordinances are Yea and Amen, sure and certain, in Jesus Christe, to as many as worship Him in Spirit and in Truthf. b Matth. xiii. 28-31.

ei Cor. iv. 20 1 Sam. ii. 17.

John iv. 23.

1 Cor. x. 21.

2 Cor, i, 20.








HAT Qualifications and Dispositions are re

quired of them who come to the Lord's Supper, the Scripture hath not particularly expressed : for they are easily collected from the Nature of this Ordi

But' our Catechism, in its fifth and last Answer concerning it, hath reduced them very justly to three: Repentance, Faith, and Charity.

I. That we repent us truly of our former Sins, fedfastly purposing to lead a new Life. For as we are by Nature prone to Sin; and the youngest and best among us have in more Instances than a few been guilty of it, the less the better: so in Christianity, Repentance is the Foundation of every Thing. Now the Sorrow that we ought to feel for the leait Sin, must be a very serious one: and for greater Offences in Proportion deeper. But the Vehemence and Passionateness of Grief will on every Occafion, and particularly on this, be extremely different in different Persons. And therefore all, that God expects, is a fincere, though it may be a calm, Concern for every pait Fault, of which we are conscious, and for the Multitudes, which we have either not observed or forgotten. And this Concern must proceed from a Sense of Duty, and produce the good Effects of an humble Confession to Him in all Cafes, and to our Fellow-Creatures, in all Cafes needful ; of Reftitution for the Injuries that we have done, so far as it is possible; and of a settled Resolution to amend our Hearts and Lives, wherever it is wanting. More than this we; and less than this God cannot acO


can be

cept. , For it would be giving us a Licence to disobey Him, if He allowed us to come to his Table, and profess to have Fellowship with Him, while we walked in Darkness * Mere Infirmities indeed, and undefigned Frailties, provided we strive against them with any good Degree of honest Care, and humble ourselves in the Divine Presence for them, so far as we are sensible of them, will not provoke God to reject us, as unworthy Receivers, though in Strictness we are all unworthy, For if such Failures as these made Persons unfit, Nobody could be fit. And therefore they will be no Exo" cuse for omitting what Christ hath commanded : nor

any Reason why we should not do it with Comfort.

But whoever lives in any wilful Sin, cannot safely come to the holy Sacrament: nor, which I beg you to observe, can he safely stay away. For, as the Hypocrisy of professing Amendment falsely at God's Table is a great Sin; so the Profaneness of turning our Backs upon it, because we will not amend, is to the full as great a one:: and it is the merest Folly in the World to chufe either, as the safer Way; for a wicked Person can be safe no Way. But let him resolve to quit his Wickedness: and when he is thoroughly fure, so far as he can judge from a competent Experience, that he hath resolved upon it effectually, then he may as safely receive as he can say his Prayers. And such a one should come, not with servile Fear, as to a hard Mafter ; but with willing Duty, as to a merciful Father, Nay, should he afterwards break his Resolutions, though doubtless it would be the juftest Cause of heavy Grief, yet it would not prove that he received unworthily, but only that he hath behaved unworthily fince he received. And the Thing for him to do is, to lament his Fault with deeper Contrition, renew his good Purposes more firmly, pray for Help from above with more Earnestness, watch over himself with more pru

[blocks in formation]
« AnteriorContinuar »