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although he, but a little before, had sent him into Egypt, and told him he would be with him. Why? what should he do then? how should the message be done, and fulfilled? But what was the reason hereof? It is not expressed, yet we may gather from the following words, that it was by reason his son was uncircumcised, for verse 25. "Zippora took a sharp stone, and cut off the foreskin of her son, and cast it at his feet, and said, Surely a bloody husband hast thou been unto me:" God would have smitten him for the neglect of the sacrament of circumcision. Another instance we have for the passover in Hezekiah's time. "Ak multitude of the people, yea many of Ephraim and Manasseth, Issachar and Zebulon had not cleansed themselves, yet did they eat the passover otherwise than it was written." There were many likewise in the congregation that were not sanctified; and therefore God punished them. It is not set down in what manner God punished them, yet by the consequent it may be gathered that it was by sickness, for the next words are to that effect: "Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, The Lord pardon every one that prepareth his heart to seek God, the Lord God of his father, though he be not cleansed according to the purification of the sanctuary; and the Lord hearkened to Hezekiah, and healed the people." So that you see for this God smites a person, and it is to be feared lest judgments temporal fall on the whole nation for this fault; that he even smites not a few of the people to death. But we pass from this, and come to the particulars.
3. The particulars of this offence, and wherein it consists, that a man comes unworthily, that so we may know whether we are guilty of the crime. Know therefore that there are two sorts, that come to the communion.
First, those to whom the business doth not belong, that have nothing to do with the thing, as openly profane ones.
Secondly, such as have interest in the matter, but yet come unpreparedly, and in an unbeseeming manner; the
k 2 Chron. chap. 30. ver. 17,18.
former take part in the sign, but enjoy not the thing signified: and the latter coming unpreparedly, depart without the comfort which otherwise they might have. Now mark to whom Christ would say, if he were now coming to judgment in the clouds, to whom I say, if he were now coming in the clouds, he would say, " Comei ye blessed of my Father, inherit a kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of the world;" to them he would likewise say, Come to my table, come to this banquet, partake of my body and blood; and to as many as he would say, "Depart from me ye cursed into everlasting flames," to so many would he say, Go you from my table, come not near.
Now there are two sorts of people, to whom, if the Lord Jesus were coming in the clouds to judgment, he would say, "Depart into everlasting flames;" and those are these that "know1" not him, and obey not the Gospel of Jesus Christ." Now to these sorts of people Christ would say, if he were on earth, Depart from my table, meddle not with those mysteries. And they are,
1. Those that know not God: and indeed it is a most unworthy thing for an ignorant man to come to God's table. Know, whoever thou art, that art such an one, that it belongs not to thee, it was appointed for an understanding people. The Lord invites not fools and blockheads to his mysteries. God will not know them that know not him. If thou knowest not what the signs are, or the relation of them to the thing signified, hast no insight, or understanding of the mysteries: know that it is to no other purpose to thee to come to the sacrament, than if thou wentest to a mass, to see the gesticulations, elevations, or if thou wentest to see a play, not knowing to what end and purpose it was done. Such a one is not a friend of God, but an enemy that shall be destroyed in everlasting fire, that knows not him. Deceive not then yourselves, but seriously weigh it, and consider what a judgment falls on us for this. What an unworthy thing is it, when as in one month's space, or less, if a man had
1 Matth. chap. 25. ver. 34.
■ 2 Thess. chap, l.ver. IS.
any care, he might learn as much as would bring him to heaven. What saith the apostle ?" Some" have not the knowledge of God, I speak this to your shame." And a shameful thing it is indeed, when the knowledge of the principles of Christian religion may be had in so short a space, to be so grossly ignorant, as commonly many are. It is a most unworthy and a shameful thing to think the knowledge of Christ not worth thus much pains. Thou that carest not for the knowledge of God's ways, what hast thou to do to take his word into thy mouth, to tread in his courts? I doubt not but very many here too are but babes in Christ. An ignorant person then cannot possibly come worthily; for we are to come with faith; and faith cannot be without knowledge. And hence are they joined both together: "By0 his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many." By his knowledge, not subjective, but objective, the knowledge of him: if thou knowest not him, his nature, and offices, the end of his offering himself, and wilt be still a mere ignoramus, come not to God's table, go to Nebuchadnezzar, and feed with him amongst the beastsp, thou hast nothing to do here: nay the very beasts among whom he fed will upraid thee; " For5 the ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib:" but thou art like stupid Israel, which did neither know, nor consider. This is the first sort.
2. The second are those, that obey not the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They have wit enough, and can talk of religion fast enough; but where is the obedience is required? I know the Lord gives me the proffer of Christ Jesus; can I cast down my proud will, and submit it, lay down my stately plumes, and take him, not only as my priest, to sacrifice himself for me, but as my Lord, and my King to be guided, governed, and ruled by him? when such a one comes that hath not the power of grace in him, who is filled with nothing but rebellion and profaneness; when such a one comes, and presumes to sit down at God's table : it is a most unworthy act; it is more fit that such a
"1 Cor. chap. 15. ver. 34. 'Dan. chap. 4. rer. 33.
• Isaiah, chap. 53. ver. 11.
one should feed amongst the swine, than eat the body, and drink the blood of his Saviour. Nor is it an unworthy act for these only, but also for civil honest persons, though civility be a good stock whereon the science of grace may be grafted: but if a man had nothing besides what nature and education can teach, what moral philosophy can store us with, we have nothing to do at this table of the Lord. How can I dare presume to eat Christ's body, and drink Christ's blood, that am not acquainted with God, know not the principles of religion, and will not be swayed by him, nor be obedient unto his Gospel? These are the particulars then, which make a man an unworthy receiver: first, when he is an ignorant person; and secondly, when he will not obey the Gospel of Jesus Christ, such persons are to be discarded and cashiered; they eat the judgment of condemnation unto themselves.
But there are, as I shewed you, a second sort, that come, that have interest in the business; such as have knowledge, grace and faith in Christ, and shall taste of the new wine with Christ, in the world to come, and be with Christ, which notwithstanding may eat and drink unworthily, and come unpreparedly, and irreverently: whereby they lose that comfort that otherwise they might have: and these, though they eat not the judgment of condemnation, yet they do the judgment of chastisement: they put God's seal to a blank, but the former sort put it to a false instrument: they put it to a blank, I say, and by that means lose much comfort, yea, temporal life itself too, perchance. They eat a judgment of chastisement; by putting it thus to a blank they taste God's displeasure in sickness, weakness and death; but I will shew you how you may avoid this: why, come worthily. Fit yourselves to the purpose, set to it, and thou shalt see, one communion will even bring thee to heaven. I say, if that thou couldst but at one communion fit thyself to come worthily, thou wouldst find exceeding comfort in it. Try the Lord once, and see what a mighty increase of grace this will bring unto thee. That you may know how you may come worthily, there are three things requisite to every worthy receiver at the Lord's table.
1. Some things are requisite before the action be enterprised, or else I shall come very unworthily.
2. Some at the time, and in the very act of receiving.
3. Others after the communion is ended. Many will be persuaded that there is some preparation to be used beforehand, but never do as much as dream of any after: whereas if a man neglect this, the Lord's meat is, as it were, lost in us.
I. As for those things, which are requisite before we come to the Lord's table, they are these.
1. A consideration, what need I have of the sacrament. Is there any such necessity of it? Examine then, what need have I to eat my meat and receive my drink? When we see God brings this before us, let us reason thus with ourselves ; it is as needful for the nourishment of my soul to receive the sacrament, as for my body to take meat and drink. This is that whereby we are spiritually strengthened and enabled to hold out to the last. And here I will not stand to dispute the case, whether a man may fall from grace, or not. And no doubt, but he may: yet I say not, that he doth. I say, no doubt but he may; and why? There is such an opposition, and antipathy betwixt the flesh and the spirit, that did not God refresh the spirit now and then, it might be overborne by the bulk of our corruptions. Now God's ordinances are appointed to keep it in heart, and refresh it, as the sick spouse was "staidq with apples, and comforted with flagons." And God hath appointed his sacrament of the Lord's supper to strengthen, and continue that life, which we received in baptism, as by spiritual nourishment. In baptism our stock of life is given us; by the sacrament of the holy eucharist it is confirmed and continued. If a child be born only, and after birth not nourished; there is none but will know what a death such a soul will die. It will quickly perish by famine. So it is here, unless Christ be pleased to nourish that life, which he hath breathed into me in baptism, and by his ordinances to give me a new supply and addi
1 Cant. chap. 2. ver. S.