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our welcome to this heavenly Feaft unto which we are called; I proceed now in the fecond place to inform you, That if our Repentance or Return to God be real and fincere, it will produce thefe following good Effects in us.
The Nature of
First, "A Senfe, a Sorrow and Confeffion of all our former Sins. Secondly, A stedfaft Purpofe or Refolution to lead a new Life." Thefe a. the Kepen. are the genuine fruits of a true Repentance, and muft always accompany our Return to God, if we hope to have it effectual to our Salva
The Ten Com mandments.
tion. And FIRST, We must labour to gain a Senfe or Sight of all our former Sins and Wickednefs; this will readily pretent itself to us by comparing our Lives and Actions by the Rule and Standard of God's Word, which we must make the Measure of our * Examination. St. Paul fhews us, Rom. iii. 20. that by the Law is the Knowledge of Sin; and our own Experience will convince us, that there is no Way more likely to discover our Inquities, and to humble ourselves for them, than a ferious Application of God's Word to our crooked Paths: And this Duty of Self Examination, is never more properly ap plied to, than when we intend to receive the Holy Communion; for unless we fee the number, and apprehend the Heinoufnefs of our Offences, and fear the Vengeance due unto us for them, we are altogether unfit for the Commemoration of his Death, who died for our Sins, and rose again for our Juftification. It is the fenfe and fight of Sin that muft fhew us the Need and Neceffity of a glorious Redeemer, and what Obligations we are under to blefs and praife God for our fatvation by his Son JESUS CHRIST. Of fuch great Ufe and Advantage is this Duty of Self-Examination, at all times, that Pythagoras, in those Golden Verfes which go under his Name, particularly recommends the fame to his Scholars. "Every Night before they flept, he enjoins them to examine themfelves what Good "they had done and wherein they had tranfgreffed. Run over thefe Things, faid "he, and if you have done any Evil, be troubled; if Good, rejoice." This Course, if daily followed, as is fuggetted by Hierocles, his excellent Commentator, perfects the divine Image in thofe that ufe it. Plutarch, Epictetus, Seneca, and the Em peror Marcus Antoninus, agree in recommending the fame Practice by their own Example, but especially holy David; I thought on my Ways, and turned my Feet unto thy Testimonies, Pfalm cxix. 59. And this method, no doubt, is an admirable Means to improve us in Virtue, and the moft effectual Way to keep our Con fciences awake, and to make us ftand in Awe of ourfelves, and afraid to fin when we know beforehand that we must give fo fevere an Account to ourselves of every Action. And when we are employing our Minds in this Duty of Self-Examination, before the Communion; or at any other Time, we must discharge it as
See The Daily Self-Examinant or An Earnest Perfuafive to the Duty of Daily Self-Examination, &c, by R. Warren, D. D.
impartially as is poffible for us, judging as leverely of our own Actions, as we would do of our greateft and wort Enemy or otherwife we fhall but flatter and deceive ourfelves in a Matter of the greatest Weight and Importance, namely, the knowing the State and Condition of our Souls: But if our Enquiries are just and true, we fhall then plainly difcover wherein, and how often we have gone aftray and done amifs. We fhall, by the faithlul Difcharge bt this Duty, bring to Light "all our ungodly, unjuft, and uncharitable Actions; all our vain and filthy "Speeches; all cur wanton, proud and covetous Thoughts." Such a ftrict and inpartial Examination will discover to us that accurfed Thing, St Deut. vii. 26. which has defiled our Nature, made God our Enemy, and will exclude us the Kingdom of Heaven, if not repented of, 1 Cor. vi. 9, 1o. But by fuch a fevere Scrutiny. as this, we fhall foon perceive the Number of our Tranfgreffions, what vile? Wretches and grievous Offenders we are, how often we have broken our most ferious Vows and Refolutions, efpecially after receiving the holy Sacrament, and in Times of Sickness and Diftrets: Such a Sight and fuch a Profpect of Mifery as this, should excite in us a hearty Trouble and Sorrow for Sin; efpecially if we caft an eye upon the final Iflue. and Confequences of it, with refpect to the World to: come. Upon the Ungodly, fays holy David, God will rain Snaves, Fire and BrimAone, Storm and Tempeft; this shall be their Portion to drink, Pfalm xi. 7. Great Plagues remain for the Ungodly; Indignation and Wrath, Tribulation and Arguib," upon every Soul of Man that doth Evil, Rom. ii. 8, 9. The Wicked shall be turned into Hell, and a the People that forget God. Thete, and many other fuch like Texts of Scripti re, may give us fome Idea or Notion of the deplorable Condition. of the Wicked in a future State, and of God's Hatred agair ft Sin. And is not this then, without multiplying Arguments, fufficient to affect us with great Grief and Sorrow, when we confider that fo long as we live in a vicioas Courte, fo long are we expofed to all thofe Plagues and Torments which God hath in Store for wicked Men, and will most certainly be their Lot and Portion, if not prevented by a timely Repentance?
The SECOND Part of a true Repentance is Contrition, or a forrowful Bewailing of our own Sinfulness in Thought, Word and deed. When we call to Mind Contrition the Sins and Follies of our paft Lives, and the Dangers we are like to fall into, furely we cannot be otherwife affected, than fenfibly grieved with the. Thoughts and Apprehenfions of our prefent and approaching Mifery, The Sofrows of David, and the Repentance of St. Peter, 1 Sam. xii. Luke xxii. fhewed themselves in Floods of Tears, and were too great to be confined within: But our Hearts are generally fo hard and unrelenting, that we fin against God, and lote our own Souls without fo much as a Sigh or a Tear. I know that the Tempers of People are different; fome can shed Tears upon every flight occafion, and others cannot weep, though their Hearts are ready to break for Grief; and therefore we are not to judge of the Sincerity of cur own or other People's Repentance by fuch
Signs and Tokens; nor are Tears always neceffary to Repentance, though they very well become us; and the least we can do when we have done amifs, is to be torry for it, and to condemn our Folly, and to be full of Indignation and Dif pleasure against ourselves. I will declare my Iniquity, faith holy David, and be forry for my Sin, Pfal. xxxviii. 18. Efpecially if we have been very wicked, ard have multiplied our Tranfgreffions, and have continued long in an evil Courfe, have neglected God, and have forgotten him Days without Number; then the Measure of our Sorrow muft bear foine Proportion to the Degrees of our Sins; if they have been as Scarlet and Crimson, Ifa. i. 18. that is, of a deeper Dye than ordinary, then our Sorrow must be as deep as our Guilt: If not fo great, we ought to fhew fo much Trouble and Contrition of Spirit, as to produce in us a penitential Confeflion of all our föriner Sins.
Which is the Third Property of a fincere Repentance. Iwill acknowledge my fin unto thee, fays holy David, and mine Unrighteousness have I not bid. Confeffion faid I will confess my fins unto the Lord, and fo thou forgaveft the Iniquity of my fin, Pialm xxxii. 5. Which Confeffion of Sins muft not be in general Terms only, that we are Sinners with the reft of Mankind, but it must be a 1pecial Declaration to God of all our moft heinous Sins in Thought, Word and Deed, with all their feveral Aggravations. laying open our Sores to our heavenly Phyfician; and this we must do to fhew that we condemn all our former evil and vicious Courfes, with a full purpose and Refolution of Mind (by God's Atiftance) never to do the like again. Unless this be done, our Sorrow for Sin, and the Confeffion of our Wickedness, can never profit us in the Sight of God, if it be not joined with a firm refolution of leading a new Life:
A new Life
Which is the Fourth and most effential Part of a fincere Repentance, and the only Condition of finding Mercy with God. He that covereth his Sins all not profper; but whese confeffeth and forfaketh them shall have Mercy, Prov. xxviii. 13. Let the wicked Man forfake his Ways, and the unrighteous Man bis Thoughts, and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have Mercy upon him, and to our God, and he will abundantly pardon, Ifa. Iv. 7. I tell you nay, faith Chrift, but except ye repent, ye shall all likewife perish, Luke xiii. 3. Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your Sins may be blotted out, Acts iii. 19. Thofe preceding Parts of Repentance before-mentioned, are only preparative to this; that which must complete and finish the Work of a new Convert is, to become a new Creature, "to turn from our evil ways, and to break off our Sins by Righteouf"nefs." This certainly must be the Defire and Intention of all Communicants, if they hope or expect any Benefit of Advantage from this folemn Rite or Coven ant; for he that comes with a Defign or Intention of continuing in his former Sins, comes some what like unto Juda, that came and received, and at the fame Time continued his Resolution of betraying his Master. That which makes a Man abfolutely unfit to receive the holy Sacrament, is the living in the conftant and habitual
Practice of any known Sin, without the leaft Defire or Intention of Repentance or Amendinent. Such a Man's Approach to the holy Table, ro doubt, is to "and drink his own Damnation, fince it is a plain Mocking of God, and a great Contempt and Abufe of his divine Authority. We must therefore (by the Help and Affistance of Goo's Grace) " refolve to lead a new Life, following the Com"mandments of God, or otherwife our former Examinations will appear but flight and fuperficial, our Sight and Senfe of Sin trivial and indifferent, our Sorrow. and Centrition of Spirit forced and hypocritical, and our Confeffions odious and formal. Therefore examine well the Sincerity of your Repentance and Refolutions. that you neither deceive God nor yourselves: Him you cannot, because he is a Searcher of the Heart, and a Difcerner of the Thoughts, nor will he accept of any. thing which is not hearty and unfeigned.
Not that we are to fuppofe that this Sacrament of the Lord's Supper doth reNo abfolute quire perfect Obedience in all our Addreffes to the Holy Altar, or that pected after the none must come but fuch as are in a finless State of Perfection: No, holy Sacra- this were impoffible, because there is no Man which liveth and finneth not for who can fay, I have made my Heart clean, I am pure from my Sin? The Sacrament of the Lord's Supper is not a converting, but a confirming Ordinance, intend-' cd to preserve and increase that spiritual Life and Grace which we received at our Baptifm: So that when we come to the holy Communion we come thither for fresh Supplies of Grace and Goodness," for the ftrengthening and refreshing of our "Souls, in all Holiness and Virtue." As our natural Bodies are fed and nourished with thofe Elements of Bread and Wine, the fame Effect is wrought in 'the Soul, in the inward Man, by these holy Myfteries, as in the outward Man by Bread and Wine; Bread being the Staff of Life, and Wine the most fovereign Cordial (when taken in due Proportion) to chear and rejoice the Heart. And thus our Sculs, by this Sacrament, are fortified and ftrengthened with Grace, Wifdom, Courage, and all other fpiritual Gifts, to keep us through Faith unto Salvation. Both the Comfort and Benefit of it, are great; the Comfort of it, because it does not only reprefent to us the exceeding Love of our Saviour, in giving his Body to be broken, and his Blood to be fhed for us; but it likewife feals to us all thofe Bleffings and Benefits which are purchased and procured for us by his Death and Paffion; namely, the Pardon of Sin, and Power against it. The Benefit of frequent Communion is alfo of great Advantage, because hereby we are confirmed in all Grace and Goodness, and our Refolutions to live in Obedience and Conformity to God's Law are ftrengthened and the Grace of God's holy Spirit, to do his Will, is hereby conveyed to us: it is the fovereign Remedy against all Temptations, by mortifying our Paffions, and by fpiritualizing our affections: In a Word, it is the likelieft Method to make our Bodies the Temples of the Holy Ghost, and to prepare our Souls for the enjoyment of God to all Eternity.
And if at any Time, through Ignorance, Surprize, or the Violence of any other
Relapres after Temptation we should fall into those very Sins which we have repented Receiving not of, and vowed against when we were at the laft Sacrament, yet thefe redangerous lapfes fhould not make us afraid of coming again, fince we always have the Penefit of Repentance allowed us: If after a Relapfe we repent, and renew our Refolutions with a hearty Grief and Contrition of Spirit, we are made whole as before. If the wicked, faith God, will turn from all bis Sins that he hath committed; and all bis Tranfgreffions that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned unto bim, Ezek. xviii 21. 22. Ein na more, fays our Saviour to the Woman taken in Adultery, and I will not condemn thee, John viii. 11. It is not the Commiffion of this or that great Sin that will utterly exclude us from God's Mercy and Forgiveness, for then, indeed, no Perlon could efcape Damnation, becaute there is not a juft Man upon Earth, that doth God and finneth not, Ecclef. vii. 20. But it is our living and dying without Repentance and Amendment, that brings God's Wrath and Vengeance upon us His Mercies are not limited; he will not only pardon us once or twice, but always upon our Repentance and Return to him. No Time, no Age or Seafon, does he except againft; but whenever the wicked Man turneth away from bis Wickedness that be bath committed, and deth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his Soul alive, Ezek. xviii. 27. Neither is there any Sin, though never fo vile and heinous in its own Nature, but fhall be remitted and forgiven, unless it be that Sin against the Holy Ghost. Ail manner of Sins and Blafphemies fhall be forgiven unto Men, but the Blafphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven, Matt. xii. 31. 32. And confequently this Sin of eating and drinking unworthily, in the worft Senfe, cannot be a damning Sin, becaufe God in the Gofpel (for Chrift's fake) hath promiled to forgive all our fins, upon our Repentance, and therefore this of unworthy Receiving among the reft.
Some People, I remember, have been very much concerned and discompofed at their Devotions, upon the repetition of fome few Expreffions contained in the laft Exhortation to the Communion; namely, "Of being guilty of the Body and Blood of Chrift our Saviour,-Of eating and drinking our own Damnation,"Not confidering the Lord's Body,-Kindling God's Wrath against us,-Pro"voking him to plague us with divers Difeafes and fundry kinds of Death:" These are hard fayings, and fome of them too hard to be understood: But however, they are all avoided and efcaped by coming worthily, that is, with Faith and Repentance: Therefore let not thefe terrible Expreffions trouble you, or detain you from the holy Communion: Repent and believe, and you are fafe and fecure from falling into any of thofe Dangers, which these Sentences may seem to threaten you with. So that the Want of a Preparation, as fome Men have alledged, and in the Sense they generally take it, can never be a fufficient Plea or Pretence for their not coming to the holy Communion; because after our beft and ftricteft Endeavours to prepare ourfelves, we profefs (before God and the