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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 Abuse 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 as 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 whic's 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 preferve and increase that fpiritual 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 Goodnefs, " 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 thefe 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 againft it. The Benefit of frequent Communion is alfo of great Advantage, because hereby we are confirmed in all Grace and Goodnefs, and our Refolutions to live in Obedience and Conformity to God's Law are strengthened 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
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 be hath committed; and all bis Tranfgreffions that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him, Ezek. xviii 21. 22. Sin 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 Perion could efcape Damnation, becaute there is not a just 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 he hath committed, and deth that which is lawful and right, be fhall fave 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 Ghoft. All manner of Sins and Blafphemies fhall be forgiven unto Men, but the Blafphemy against the Holy Ghoft fhall not be forgiven, Matt. xii. 31. 32. And confequently this Sin of eating and drinking unworthily, in the worst 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 difcompofed 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 Diseases 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 feem 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 ftrictest Endeavours to prepare ourselves, we profefs (before God and the
Congregation)" That we do not come to this heavenly Table trusting in our own
Righteoufnefs, but in his inanifold and great Mercies." By thele we are invited to come; and to the Mercy of God (through Chrift) all of us muft flee, and take Sanctuary in; who has promifed that he will in no wise caft out those who come unto bim, John vi. 37. A broken, and a contrite Heart, O God, thou wilt not despise, Pfilm li. 1.
There is nothing dreadful in this Sacrament, but to the wilful, impenitent and per fevering Sinner, whofe Condition is dreadful, and every Page in Scripture is terrible against fuch, whether they come or not; but to the penitent and humble Soul, nothing is dimal or affrighting in this holy Feaft; for there is none condemned for unworthy receiving, but fuch who deferve it for continuing in their Iniquities; and this Impenitence renders even their Prayers an" Abomination unto the Lord." Though they never partake of the Body and Blood of Chrift, they are in equal Danger with thole who eat and drink unworthily; nay, I might fay 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 confidered, and timely applied to. The fureft Way, I fay, to prevent their Damnation, is to res ceive the Sacrament more frequently than Men ufually do, that by a conftant Participation of this fpiritual Food of the living Bread which comes down from Hea ven, their Souls may be nourished in all Goodnefs, and new Supplies of God's Grace and Holy Spirit may be continually derived to them for the purifying of their Hearts, and to enable them to run the Way of God's Commandments withi more Conftancy and Delight than they did before. So that the true Confequence of eating and drinking unworthily, fhould rather excite our Care and Diligence in this Duty, than delude us with falfe Reasonings, to fuch a Neglect as will certain ly encrease our Damnation; it being certain that God will never caft any Man into eternal Flames for ftriving to do his Duty as well as he can. If there be fir a willing Mind, faith the Apostle, it is accepted according to that a Man bath, and not according to that he hath not, 2 Cor. viii. 12. Neither ought we to think o unworthily of the Son of God, who came into the World to fave Sinners, that he would inflitute 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 Sinners, 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 chiefeft of Sinners for Jelus's fake; who gracioully calls upon all who are wearied and appreffed with the guilt and burden of their Sins, to come to kim and be will refresh them, Matt.xi. 28 Chrift came not to call the Righteous, but Sinners to Repentance, Matt. ix. 13.
And confequently fuch as account themselves most unworthy, are thofe very Perfons whom Chrift doth here call and invite to this Sacrament, when deeply fen fible of their Unworthiness. Were we not Sinners, were we not conceived and born in Sin, we should not need fuch Means and Inftruments of Grace as Sacra
ments are; but “being by Nature born in Sin, and the Children of Wrath, we are 1 hereby made the Children of Grace, and Inheritors of the Kingdom of Heaven,
They that are whole, faith Chrift, have no need of a Phyfician, but they that are fick. This being the cafe of all Mankind with refpect to their fpiritual Life, there is no other Way to free ourtelves from this Death of Sin, but by tpecdily applying ourfelves to our heavenly Phyfician, who came in to the World to feek and to fave thoje that are loft, and ready to perish; and the very Senfe of our own Unworthinefs, is of all other Arguments, the belt Qualification to recommend us to God's Favour and Mercy, fince we know that he refifteth the Proud, [and prefumptuous Sinner] but never denies his Grace and Favour to the Humble and M.ek. As oft n then as we come to the Holy Communion with fuch an honeft and true Heart, as to exercife our "Repentance towards God, our Faith, and Hope of his Mercy, "through Chrift, for the Forgiverefs of our Sins, and our Love and Charity for "all Mankind; "fach a Temper and Refolution of Mind as this, will, doubtless, render us worthy Partakers of thefe holy Myfteries, and prevent us, "cating and "drinking Damnation to ourselves." Nay, I further add, that any Person thus difpofed or qualified, may come (if it should be required) at an Hour's Warning, as fafely as he may come to Church and fay his Prayers, or hear a Sermon. i he Duenets of Preparation doth not fo much depend upon our fetting afide fo many extraordinary Days for the forcing ourfelves into a religious Pofture of Mind, as upon the plain natural Frame and Difpofition of our Souls, as they conftantly stand inclined to Virtue and Goodness through the general Courfe of our Lives. Men of great From whence I infer, that a Multitude of Bufinefs, or a Man's being ther public or deeply engaged in the public Affairs of this World, cannot be any juft private, are Plea or Preter ce for his not coming to the holy Communion; because excufed from all Bufine's is confiftant with the Duties of Religion, provided we gomunion. vern our Affairs by Chriftian Principles: For though tuch. Men have not Leifure for fo much actual Preparation, yet they may have that habitual Preparation, upon which the great Strefs ought to be laid in this Matter: Nay, even lie confcientious Discharge of a Man's Duty in his Bafinefs, may be one of the best qualifications to recommend him to God; fince every Man ferves God when he fol lows his Calling with Diligence, and obferves Juftice and Honefty in all his Dealings; and confequently, the greater Danger and Temptation he is expofed to thro' the Multiplicity of Bufinefs, the more need hath he of God's Grace and Assistance, which are abunddantly communicated to us in this holy Ordinance: So that Men of Bufinefs, if they have any ferious Thoughts of another World, ought more efpecially to lay hold on fuch Opportunities which fecure the Salvation of their Souls; for as they who have Leifure ought to receive conftantly, as the best Improvement of their Time; fo they that are engaged in many Worldly Affairs, ought to come the oftener to the holy Communion, and learn how to fanctify their Emp o, ments. I ut to proceed :
The other Branch of a Communicant's Duty is, to" examine A living Faith, whether he hath a lively Faith in God's Mercy through Chrift." Ex- in God's Mercy. amine yourselves whether ye be in the Faith, 2 Cor. xiii. 5. this Sacrament of the Lord's Supper being only appointed for fuch Believers as own their Baptifm, and profefs the Faith of Chrift Crucified, and underftand the fundamental Articles of the Chriflian Religion, contained in the Apoftles Creed, and alfo the End and Defign of this holy Inftitution. The Benefits of our Saviour's Death and Paffion in this Sacrament are indeed freely offered unto all, but only effectually to Believers. As many as received him, to them gave he Power to become the Sons of God, even to them that believe in his Name, John i. 12. And this is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Fefus Chrift whom thou haft fent, John xvii. 3. All that Chrift hath done and fuffered for us Men and our Salvation, can never profit us, unless we have Faith to believe it: That which must render the benefits, and bleffings of the Gospel effectual to our Salvation is our faith in Christ. Verily 1 fay unto you, faith our Saviour, he that heareth my Words, and believeth on bim that fent me, bath everlasting Life, and shall not come into Condemnation, but is passed from Death unto Life, John v. 24. The ancient Churches accounted thofe only Faithful that had received the Lord's Supper; and the Germans allowed none to come unto their Sacrifices who had loft their Shields; nor does our own Church allow that any of us fhould come to this Chriftian Sacrifice without the Shield of Faith. "Draw near with Faith, fays the Priest, and take this holy Sacrament to
your Comfort," And this Faith hath God's Mercy, through Chrift, for its object, as the Fountain and Foundation of all thofe infinite Bleffings and Comforts which we gain by his Manifeftation in the Flesh; and if we enquire into the cause and reafon of fo much Mercy and Goodnets to Mankind, no other can be given, but the Riches of his Mercy, Eph. ii. 4. And if we further enquire how this Mercy become ours, the Antwer is plain, it was through Chrift, by whom all the Bleffings of this Life, and thofe of a better, are purchased for us, and mult be obtained through the merits and Interceffion of the Holy Jefus; by him we were redeemed, and according to the Riches of his Grace we have obtained Remiffion of our Sins, and through him at last we shall 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 fo done his marvellous Works, that they ought to be kad in Remembrance, Pfal. cxi. 4. But elpecially this Work of our Redemption by Jefus Chrift, which to forget were an Ingratitude bafer and viler than ever Heathens or Publicans, the very worft of People among the Jews, were known to be guilty of towards their Benefactors-Matt. v. 46. Herein is Love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and fent his Son to be the Propitiation for our Sins, John iv. 10. This is a Mercy far above all other Mercies; nay, it is even this which sweetens all other Mercies to us. Had there been no Re