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of God, we profane the blood of the covenant, we do despite unto the Spirit of grace ; and incurring so deep guilt, we must expect suitable punishment. But I proceed to the other sacrament,
ONG the wonderful works of power and grace performed by God Almighty in favour of the children of Israel, and in order to their delivery from the Egyptian slavery, a most signal one was the smiting the firstborn in every house of the Egyptians, and passing over the houses of the children of Israel; wherein God declared his just wrath against their cruel oppressors, depriving them in a sudden and dreadful manner of what was nearest and dearest to them; and his gracious mercy toward them, in preserving what was alike dear to them from so woful a calamity ; thus (as the text expresseth it) putting a difference between the Egyptians and the children of Israel. Now that the memory of so remarkable a mercy might be preserved, that their affections might be raised to a strong sense of God's goodness, and their faith in him confirmed, so as in the like need to hope for the same favourable help and protection, by the consideration of so notable an experiment, it pleased God to appoint a sacrament, or mysterious rite, to be annually celebrated, representing and recalling to mind that act of God, wherein his special kindness was so eminently demonstrated toward his people : the same also (as did other rites and sacrifices instituted by God among that people) looking directly forward upon that other great delivery from sin and hell, which God in mercy de
signed toward mankind, to be achieved by our Saviour; prefiguring, that the souls of them who should be willing to forsake the spiritual bondage of sin, should be saved from the ruin coming upon them who would abide therein ; God regarding the blood of our Saviour (that immaculate Lamb, sacrificed Exod. xii. for them) sprinkled upon the doors of their houses ; 23. that is, by hearty faith and repentance, applied to Heb. I. 22. their consciences. The occasion of celebrating which "Pet. 1. 2. holy rite, our Saviour we see did improve to the institution of this sacrament, most agreeing therewith in design, as representative and commemorative of the greatest blessing and mercy that we are capable of having vouchsafed to us; some part of that ancient rite or sacrifice (which was most suitable to the special purposes of this institution, and most conformable to the general constitution of the Christian religion, whereby all bloody sacrifices are abolished) being retained in this.
The action itself (or rather the whole rite, consisting of divers actions) we see plainly described in the Gospels, and in the First Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians, distinguishable into these chief parts. 1. The benediction and consecration (by prayer and 1 Tim. iv.5. thanksgiving) of bread and wine. 2. The breaking Luke xxii. of bread, and handling the cup. 3. The delivery 19, 2014 and distribution of them to the persons present. Cor. xi. 4. The declaration accompanying that delivery, that 24, 25. those symbolical things and actions did represent Luke xxii. our Saviour's body given and broken, our Saviour's simusgivars. blood shed and poured out for us, in sanction 22, 23, 24. of the new covenant. 5. The actual partaking of those symbols, by eating the bread and drinking the wine, done by all present. These things we find
sono nosent af.
done at the first institution and exemplary practice of this holy ceremony; the which our Saviour obliged us to imitate, saying, Do this in remembrance of me. There followeth in St. Matthew and St. Mark,
presently after the narration concerning these parMatt. xxvi. ticulars,-Kai úpuroavtES, And having sung a hymn, Mark xiv. they went to the mount of Olives : which action 26.
was indeed in itself proper to conclude the practice of this holy rite; yet what reference it hath thereto cannot thence be determined : however, with these the church hath always joined several acts of devotion (confessions, prayers, praises, thanksgivings, intercessions, vows) suitable to the nature and design of the sacrament, apt to glorify God, and edify the faithful in the celebration thereof.
Such is the practice itself instituted and enjoined by our Saviour; the mysterious importance thereof, as we find it explained in holy scripture, (the only solid and sure ground upon which we can build the explication of supernatural mysteries,) consisteth chiefly in these particulars :
1. It was intended for a commemorative representation of our Saviour's passion for us; fit to mind us of it, to move us to consider it, to beget affections
in us suitable to the memory and consideration Luke xxii. thereof: TOūTO TOLETTE eis Thv fury avóurnoirDo this, 1 Cor. xi. saith our Lord, for my remembrance, or in com25.
memoration of me; that is, so as thereby to have raised in you a reflection of mind and heart upon those grievous pains which I shall have endured for
your sake, to procure for you a remission of sins and 1 Cor. xi. reconciliation to God: and, So often, saith St. Paul,
as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, katanyérlete, ye tell forth (or significantly express) the death of
our Lord till he come, or during his absence from us. The suffering of our Saviour (the most wonderful act of goodness and charity that ever was performed in the world, which produced effects of highest consequence to our benefit, the considera-. tion whereof is apt to work the best dispositions of piety in us) should very frequently be present to our thoughts and affections; and that it may be so with advantage, such a solemn and sensible representation thereof is very conducible; wherein we behold him crucified, as it were in effigie, his body broken, his blood poured out for us; it being, in a sort, a putting us into the circumstances of those who did behold our Saviour for us hanging upon the cross. Our Lord being absent in body from us, (sitting in heaven at God's right hand,) to supply that absence, that we should not be apt to forget him, and thereby become wholly estranged from him, is pleased to order this occasion of being present, and conversing with us, in such a manner, as may retain in our memories his gracious performances for us; may impress in our hearts a kindly sense of them; may raise us up in mind and affection to him.
2. The benefits consequent upon our Saviour's passion, rightly apprehended, heartily believed, seriously considered by us, are hereby lively represented, and effectually conveyed, to the sustenance and nourishment of our spiritual life, to the refreshment and comfort of our souls. It is a holy feast, a spiritual repast, a divine entertainment, to which God in kindness invites us; to which, if we come with well-disposed minds, he there feeds us with most holy and delicious viands, with heavenly manna, with most reviving and cherishing liquor.