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Congregation)" That we do not come to this heavenly Table trufting in our own "Righteoufnefs, but in his manifold and great Mercies." By thele we are invited to come; and to the Mercy of God (through Chrift) all of us must 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,
Pfalm li. 1.
There is nothing dreadful in this Sacrament, but to the wilful, impenitent and perfevering Sinner, whofe Condition is dreadful, and every Page in Scripture is terrible againft fuch, whether they come or not; but to the penitent and humble Soul, nothing is difmal 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 ufe 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 rea ceive the Sacrament more frequently than Men ufually do, that by a constant Participation of this fpiritual Focd 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 to 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 Jetus's fake; who gracioully calls upon all who are wearied and oppreffed with the guilt and burden of their Sins, to come to him 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 moft unworthy, are thofe very Perfons whom Chrift doth here call and invite to this Sacrament, when deeply fent 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 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 1piritual Life, there is no other Way to free ourselves 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 Sense of our own Unworthiness, is of all other Arguments, the best Qualification to recommend us to God's Favour and Mercy, fince we know that he refifteth the Proud, fand 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 exercise our "Repentance towards God, our Faith, and Hope of his Mercy, "through Chrift, for the Forgiverefs cf 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 Mysteries, and prevent us, "cating and "drinking Damnation to ourselves." Nay, I further add, that any Perfon thus difpofed or qualified, may come (if it fhould be required) at an Hour's Warning, as fafely as he may come to Church and fay his Prayers, or hear a Sermon. Duenets of Preparation doth not fo much depend upon our fetting afide fo many extraordinary Days for the forcing ourselves 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 Goodnefs 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 the 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 Affiftance, 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. Iut 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 yourfelves 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 De-, fign of this holy Inftitution. The Benefits of our Saviour's Death and Paffion in this Sacrament are indeed freely offered unto all, but only effe&tually 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 Gofpel effectual to our Salvation is our faith in Chrift. Veri by 1 fay unto you, faith our Saviour, be 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. 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 Prieft, 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 Goodness 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 muft join "a thankful remembrance of his A Remembrance "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 efpecially this Work of our Redemption by Jefus Chrift, 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 loved God, but that he loved us, and fent his Son to be the Propitiation for our Sins, 1 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
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 turpaffes 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 deserved, 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 Chrift? 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 dying for us,"we cannot refufe Obedience hereunto, without being guilty of the moft 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 be *come. 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 juftly 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 fo fmall 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 himfelf even to the Death of the Crofs, for us miterable Sinners, who
to a frequent
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,
fhould oblige them
freely offered unto us: And therefore had we no Love, no Re- Mens own Intereft gard or Reverance to the dying Words of our crucified Saviour, to a constant 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.
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 ftands 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.
Charity to the
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 purpose to oblige all Communicants to forgive all manner of Injuries, "before they presume 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 Parson 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. And this Charity of the Heart, in forgiving Injuries, muft likewife fhew itfelf by the Hand, in relieving the Wants and Neceffities of the Poor. Poor. We read, that when this Sacrament was adminiftred in the Apostles Days, large Collections of Monies were then gathered for the Maintenance of the poor Clergy and Laity, A&s ii. 44, 45, 46. and I Cor. xvi. 1. And Theodoret oblerves, that Theodofius the Emperor, when the Time came to offer, arofe, and prefented 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 so effectually recommend our Prayers, and Devotions as this of Charity; it being well obferved, 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 fasting 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 Memorial 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 word,-that they be rich in good Works, ready to diltribute, willing