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Man may think He has promised less, than Another thinks He has. But on the other hand, to magnify the Meaning of figurative Expressions into Certain Benefits never spoken of plainly in other places; so as to annex to this One Duty such Blejfings and Privileges as belong only to the whole System of Christian Practice, is an Error (supposing it one) of quite another Nature. It seems to me to pervert the Design of the Gospel; as it leads Men to make Themselves easy in the Performance of This, as distinct from 'Those Duties, upon which our Acquittance at the Day of Judgment is constantly and uniformly put. It is apt to make Them expect what G O D has never promised: and, not resting here, it tends to make Them negligent of those Great Matters of the Gospel, without which He has declared None to be entitled to the Promises and Privileges of it.
If therefore, the Manner, in which I have chosen to treat this subject, should appear to some to stand in need of any Apology; This is the only One I can perswade .My self to make, That I have no Authority to add to the Words of Christ, and his Apostles, upon this Subject; nor to put any Meaning or Interpretation upon Those Words, but what is agreeable to the Common Rules of speaking in Tike Cafes, and to the
declared declared Design of the Institution itself: Nay, That it would be, in Me, a finful Presumption to amuse Christians with greater and higher Expectations, than They, who alone can be depended on, as far as I can judge, have given them any reason to entertain. If I have arrived at the full Meaning of what Our Lord, and his Apostles, have taught about it; I have what alone I ought to aim at: and it will be of little importance, from how many and how great Men I differ. This I can fay with Truth, that, whenever I differ from Them, I do it with a great Concern on my own part, and a great Respect towards Them: so far from being inclined to it, or pleased with it, that it would have been a Pleasure to Me not to have found a necessity for doing it; and will now be a Satisfaction to Me to be set right in any Point, small or great, in which I may have judged amiss.
But, how different soever from Mine, the Opinions of Any may be; through the strength of a long Prepossession, or of a Superior Judgment: yet certainly, All who (in the Apostle's phrase) love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity; (or, as the word is, in Incorruption;) and who desire to be no wiser about his appointments, than He himself was; and are content to expect no more from bis Institution, than He himself put into it; will join with Me at least in the one only Method
of of Examining into the Nature and Extent of it. And all such persons will be candid in judging Another, even supposing Him in an Error: when it is so plain in this Cafe, that Nothing could lead him into it but a sincere Desire that the DoSirine of Christ alone should prevail, in a Matter, which must depend upon His Will, as sar as He has deck* red it; and can depend upon Nothing else.
In a word, I have here endeavored to represent One of our Lord's Institutions, in its original Simplicity, And if what I have done shall prove at all successfull in removing any Error, or Superstition, from this past of Christianity; I (hall, esteem my Pains well bestowed. The best Preservative against the chief attempts of Unbelievers, I am persuaded, is to shew the Religion of Christ to the World, as He left it: and the greatest ser* vice to Christianity , is to remove from it whatever hinders it from being seen as it really is in itself. Nor can I think any Time more truly seasonable to guard against Superstition of any sort, than when Infidelity is making it's Efforts: Which is ever feen to draw its main Strength from the Extravagancies and Weaknesses of Christians; and not from the Declarations of Christ, or his Apostles.
Nature and En D of the Sacrament of the Lord'ssupp'er, &c.
Y present Design is to give as good Instructions as I can, to honest and well-disposed Christians, for the right Performance of that Duty, which is now generally called, Receiving the Sacrament: but, in the most antient phrase, was called partaking of the Lord's Supper. And, as what I am now writing is intended for Those who have a sincere Desire of knowing what is their Duty, in this Cafe, in order to practise it in a Manner suitable to the original Design of it; and a Will to exercise, with all due Seriousness, their Right of judging for Themselves in This and all other Duties of Religion in which They are concerned: I shall endeavor to lay down what I have to say, in so plain and intelligible a Manner, that Every Christian, capable of thinking at all upon this Subject, may be able immediately to fee whether It conveys to Him the true Notions of this Duty, left us by Christ and his Apostles, or hot; and so either receive it, or reject it, as He shall find Cause.
Propositions. I. The Partaking os the Lord's Supper is not a Duty of itself \ or a Duty apparent to Us from the Nature of things: but a Duty made such to Christians^ by the positive Institution •of Jesus Christ.
My Meaning is not, That this particular Duty was instituted by Christ, without any previous Reason inducing Him to do it; but