Imágenes de páginas
[merged small][ocr errors]

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 Crofs, made a full, perfect, and "fufficient Sacrifice and Satisfaction to God for the Sins of the whole World.”

The confequences of this Redemption are fo infinitely great and valuable, that it as much furpaffes our Understanding as it does our Meri's. We are to declare and publish to all the World, what God hath done to fave Mankind from that' Damnation which they had deferved, and to restore us again to that Happiness and Glory which we could never expect or hope to enjoy, had not Chrift 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, Pfal. lxvi. 16. Praise the Lord, O my Soul, and all that is within me, praife his holy Name: Praise the Lord, O my Soul, and forget not all bis Benefits, who forgiveth all thy Sins, and baleth all thy Infirmities; who faveth thy Life from Deftruction, and crowneth thee with Mercy and Loving-kindness, Pfalm ciii. 1 2. 3. 4: With what joy and thankfulness then should every good Chriftian commemorate this exceeding love of God in the Salvation of Sinners by Jefus Christ? This was the proper end and defign of this Inftitution, to perpetuate this wonderful Love of Chrift 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 Mafter and only Saviour thus Communion. 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 him: 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 he As for those Men then amongst us who profefs themfelves Chriftians, and hope for Salvation by Jefus Chrift, not to pay obedience to this his Command, is a downright Affront to his facred Majefty; and he may justly upbraid us Chriftians, as he did once the Jews, Why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? How unworthy are we of that Salvation which he hath wrought for if we deny him so small a favour fuch a reasonable requeft, as to Commemorate his Death and bitter paffion once a Month, or at least thrice a Year, "who did "humble himself even to the Death of the Crofs, for us miterable Sinners, who

to a




- ce

lay in Darkness, and in the Shadow of Death, that he might make us the "Children of God, and exalt us to everlafting Life?" In this Sacrament of the Lord's Supper we have the Pardon and Remiffion of all our Sins, the Grace and Affiftance of God's holy Spirit, and the hopes of eternal Life and Happiness,


freely offered unto us: And therefore had we no Love, no Re- Mens own Intereft thould oblige them gard or Reverance to the dying Words of our crucified Saviour, to a conftant Conyet furely the confideration of our own prefent and future Ad- munion, becaufe vantage might prevail with us to to be more frequent at the Lord's nefits. Table then we ufually are.

of its great Be


Hitherto a Communicant hath been directed to fet his Heart right towards God; but this is not all, he muft proceed farther, and enquire how it stands And to be in towards his Neighbour, fince we are exprefly 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 unto the Altar, and there remembereft that thy Brother hath ought against 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 fee that Chrift from a Communi prefers Mercy before Sacrifice. And it is generally agreed on by the ancient Fathers, that thefe Words of our Saviour do directly point at this Sacrament, on purpofe to oblige all Communicants to forgive all manner of Injuries, "before they prefume to eat of that Bread, or to drink of that Cup." And it is exprefly faid, Matt, vi. 14, 15. that our Prayers are not accepted, nor our Pardon fealed in Heaven, until fuch Time as we forgive Men their Trefpaffes; and to be fure we can never be welcome or worthy Guefts at this heavenly Feaft, where Jefus the Saviour of Penitents and the Prince of Peace is fpiritually present, unless our Repentance reconcile us to God, and our Charity to all Mankind.

Charity to the

And this Charity of the Heart, in forgiving Injuries, muft likewife shew itself by the Hand, in relieving the Wants and Neceffities of the Poor. Poor. We read, that when this Sacrament was adminiftred in the Apoftles Days, large Collections of Monies were then gathered for the Maintenance of the poor Clergy and Laity, As ii. 44, 45, 46. and I Cor. xvi. 1. And Theodoret obferves, that Theodofius the Emperor, when the Time came to offer, arofe, and presented his Oblations with his own Hands. It was not determined how much every Man fhould give, but all Men were exhorted and enjoined to offer iomething, according to their Ability; which if any neglected, the Fathers cenfured them as unworthy Communicants: And to be fure, nothing within our Power can fo effectually recommend our Prayers and Devotions as this of Charity; it being well observed, Matt. vi. that our Saviour hath inclofed Alms between Prayer and Falting, and therefore they are called its two Wings, without which it will never fly fo high as the Throne of God. While Cornelius was fafting and praying, we read that an Angel from Heaven was difpatched to him with this happy Meffage: Thy Prayers and thine Alms are come up for a Memurial before God, Acts x. 4. He that hath Pity upon the Poor, lenderb unto the Lord; and that which he hath given will be pay him again, Prov. xix. 17. Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be rich in gcod Works, ready to diltribute, willing

[ocr errors]

to communicate, laying up in flore for themselves a good Foundation against the Time to come, that they may lay bold on eternal Life, 1 Tim. vi 17, 18, 19. Do ye not know that they who minifter about boly Things live of the Sacrifice, and they who wait at the Altar are Partakers with the Altar? Even fo bath the Lord alfo ordained, that they who preach the Gospel should live of the Gospel, 1 Cor. ix. 13, 14. If we have fown unto you fpiritual Things, is it a great Matter if we shall reap your worldly Things? Ver. 11. But we may justly complain Bafil, Homil, with Bafil, that we know fome who will "faft and pray, figh and in Matt. xix. groan, yea, and do all Acts of Religion which coft them nothing, but will not give one Farthing to the Poor: What Benefit is there, "faith he, of all the reft of their Devotions ?"




And when the Communicant has thus far advanced towards the Altar, in his Examination, Repentance, &c. he must not forget another excellent PrePrayer. parative belonging to this Duty of communicating worthily, which although it be not mentioned in our Church Catechifm, yet it is always implied. as a neceffary Part of our Sacramental Preparation, that is, Prayer, private and public; a Duty upon which all our prefent and future Bleffings depend, Matt. vii. 7, 8. and 21, 22. And fo near a Relation hath this Duty of Prayer with this Sacrament, that all thofe Bleffings therein contained and promifed, are only in return to our Prayers; and no doubt but that Man who makes a confcientious Practice of this Duty in his Clofet, and at Church, can never be unprepared for this Sacrament, nor want a Title to God's peculiar Favour and Blefing: For the Eyes of the Lord are over the Righteous, and his Ears are open unto their Prayers, I Pet. iii. 12. The conftant Exercife of Prayer is the beft Method to get the Mastery over our evil Inclinations and Corrupt Affections, and to overcome our vicious Habits: It preferves a lively Senfe of God and Religion in our Minds, and fortifies us against thofe Temptations that affault us; it fpiritualizeth our Nature, and raiseth our Souls above this World, and fupports us under the Troubles and Calamities of this Life, by fanctifying fuch Afflictions; it leads us gradually to the Perfection of a Chriftian Life, and preferves that Union between God and our Souls, which feeds our fpiritual Life with Grace and Goodneis; without it we in vain pretend to discharge thofe Chriftian Duties incumbent on us, or to profper in our temporal Affairs, which must have God's Blefling to crown them with fuccefs. And as Prayer in general has thefe great Bleffings and Advantages attending it, fo give me leave to fuggeft to you under this Head, that thole public Prayers and Devotions, which we offer unto God in our Churches, Public are not only more acceptable to him, but also much more edifying and prayers ta. advantageous to ourfelves: They cannot but be more acceptable to God, becaule.



[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

See The Devout Soul's Daily Exercife, in Prayers, Contemplations and Praifes; containing Devotions for Morning, Noon and Night, for every Day in the Week; with Prayers and Thanksgivings for Perions of all Conditions, and upon, all Occafions.

* See The Daily Companion, with Chriftian Supports under the Troubles of this World, &c.

thereby his Honour and Glory is much more confiderably advanced and maintained in the World, than by our private Devotions*: By thefe outward Signs and Tokens, we publicly declare to all the World that inward regard and eftcem which we have for his divine perfections and goodness; hereby we let our Light so shine before Men, that they may fee our good Works, and glorify cur Father which is in Heaven, Matt. v. 16. There is no Duty in Scripture more frequently commandcd, none more carneftly preffed upon us, than this of public Prayer. We have the example of all good Men in all Ages for it, and of Chrift himself, who was daily in the Temple and in the Synagogue, and, no question, frequented those Places at the ufual Heurs of Prayers, because then he had the fairest opportu nity, from thofe public Affemblies, to inftruct and to exhort to Faith and Repentance. 2dly, We may expect greater Bleffings and fuccefs to our Requests and Defires, when we join in the public Prayers of our Church, than from private, because our Saviour has in a special manner promised to fuch Affemblies his immedi ete prefence; that where two or three are gathered together in his Name, there will be be in the midst of them: Which he hath no where faid of private Prayer, though both are very good, nay, both are abfolutely neceffary for the beginning and ending of a Chriftian Life: And it is a very bad Sign of fome evil Principle or other, for any Man to be much a stranger to the Houfe of Prayer, which is one of the greateft Bleffings and Privileges (if we know how to value the fame) that we can have in this World, and has always been accounted fuch among all wife and good Men. It is certain, that the Turks, whom we call Infidels, go to their public Devotion five times every Day; and fhall not they rife in Judgment against us Chriftians, who cannot afford to go once or twice a Day to God's Houfe, when we have both leisure and opportunity? If Men fhall be judged for every idle Word, to be fure they shall not pass unpunished for all the neglects and omiffions of their Duty of this nature. But to proceed:

To this Duty of fervent Prayer, the Communicant should spend fome Portion of Time in Reading, and Meditation, to raise his Soul into a devout and heavenly Temper: The proper Office of Reading is to gain fpiritual Food and Suftenance, and of Meditation, to digeft it. Thofe divine Subjects most proper for our ferious Contemplation on this folemn Occafion, I think, are "our Saviour's Ser"mon on the Mount; the Love of God in the Salvation of Sinners, through "Jefus Chrift; Repentance, Faith, Charity, Death and Judgment; the happy "Condition of a future State of Bleffedness, and the miferable Condition of the "Damned in Hell." Thefe and the like, as they offer themselves unto you, should be meditated upon, until fome Sorrow of Mind, fome Ardor of Devotion, fome Act of Faith, fome Flame of Love and Charity arife in your Souls.

Thus have I briefly reprefented to you both the Nature and Neceffity of a Sa

* See a Sermon concerning the excellency and usefulness of the Common Prayer. By W. Beveridge, D. {D, late Lord Bishop of St. Asaph, at the opening of the Parish Church of St. Peter, Cornhill, London.


cramental Preparation, which in great measure contains the whole Duty of a Chriftian's Life; namely, "Repentance towards God, Faith towards our Lord Jefus Christ, and Charity towards our Neighbour." And I alfo hope, whosoever among us will but endeavour to prepare themfelves for the holy Communion, according to the forementioned Directions, may (by the help of God) upon all occafions come to the Lord's Table, without the leaft Fear or Danger of" eating and drinking Damnation to themfelves."


The Church

And now fome People may cenfure this Difcourfe as giving too great Liberty and Encouragement to approach the Lord's Table with lefs Preparation than otherwife Men would venture to do. But I know no Ground or Reason for any fuch Suggestion, if they impartially confider the Excellence and perCatechilm. fection of that Guide and Companion I have followed throughout the Whole: And to represent this Duty of frequent Communion otherwise than what the Church requires, is an Injury both to God and to ourselves: And I dare affirm, that no Part of divine Worship has fuffered more on this account, than that of the holy Communion; Thousands of People not daring, in all their Life-time, (though very good Livers) to partake of the Lord's Supper, for C fear of eating and drinking their own Damnation.


[ocr errors]

For farther Inftruction, fee A Treatife of Sacramental Covenanting with Chrift; fbewing the Ungodly their Contempt of Chrift in their Contempt of the Sacramental Covenant. By John Rawlet B. D. Author of The Chriflian Monitor.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »