Imágenes de páginas


Of entering into Church Communion by an Attendance upon
the Lord's Supper.

The Reader, being already supposed to have entered into Covenant with
God, § 1. Is urged publicly to seal that Engagement at the Table of
the Lord, §. 2. (1.) From a View of the Ends for which that Ordinance
was instituted ; Ś. 3. Whence its Usefulness is strongly inferred; $.4.
And (2.) From the Authority of Christ's Appointment; which is solemnly
pressed on the Conscience ; Ś. 5. Objections from Apprehensions of
Unfitness, Š. 6. Weakness of Grace, &c. briefly answered, §. 7. At
least, serious Thoughtfulness on this Subject is absolutely insisted upon,
§. S. The Chapter is closed with a Prayer for one, who desires to attend,
yet finds himself pressed with remaining Doubts.

§. 1. |[ HOPE, this chapter will find you by a most express
consent become one of God's covenant people, solemnly and
cordially devoted to his service: and it is my hearty prayer,
that the covenant you have made on earth may be ratified in o
heaven. But for your further instruction and edification give
me leave to remind you, that our Lord Jesus Christ hath ap-
pointed a peculiar manner of expressing our regard to him,
and of solemnly renewing our covenant with him ; which,
though it does not forbid any other proper way of doing it,
must by no means be set aside, or neglected, for any human me-
thods, how prudent and expedient soever they may appear to us.
§ 2. Our Lord has wisely ordained, that the advantages
of society should be brought into religion; and as by his
command professing christians assemble together for other
acts of public worship, so he has been pleased to institute a
social ordinance, in which a whole assembly of them is to come
to his table, and there to eat the same bread, and drink the
same cup. And this they are to do, as a token of their affec-
tionate remembrance of his dying love, of their solemn sur-
render of themselves to God, and of their sincere love to one
another, and to all their fellow christians,
§. 3. That these are indeed the great ends of the Lord's
supper, I shall not now stay to argue at large. You need only
read what the apostle Paul hath written in the tenth and eleventh
chapters of his first epistle to the Corinthians, to convince you
fully of this. He there expressly tells us, that our Lord com-
manded the bread to be eaten, and the wine to be drank, in re-
membrance of him”, or as a commemoration or memorial of
him : so that as often as we attend this institution, we shew

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

forth our Lord's death, which we are to do even until he comeo. And it is particularly asserted, that the cup is the New Testament in his blood+; that is, it is a seal of that covenant which was ratified by his blood. Now it is evident, that in consequence of this, we are to approach it with a view to that covenant, desiring its blessings, and resolving, by divine grace, to comply with its demands. On the whole, therefore, as the apostle speaks, we have communion in the body, and the blood of Christs, and partaking of his table and of his cup, we converse with Christ, and join ourselves to him as his people; as the heathens in their idolatrous rites, had communion with their deities, and joined themselves to them; and the Jews, by eating their sacrifices, conversed with Jehovah, and joined themselves to him. He farther reminds them, that though many, they were one bread and one body, being all partakers of that one bread|, and being all made to drink into one spirits; that is meeting together as if they were but one family, and joining in the commemoration of that one blood, which was their common ransom, and of their Lord Jesus their common head. Now it is evident, all these reasonings are equally applicable to christians in succeeding ages. Permit me therefore, by the authority of our Divine Master, to press upon you the observation of this precept. §. 4. And let me also urge it, from the apparent tendency which it has to promote your truest advantage. You are setting out in the christian life; and I have reminded you at large, of the opposition you must expect to meet with in it. It is the love of Christ which must animate you to break through all. What then can be more desirable than to bear about with you a lively sense of it? and what can awaken that sense more than the contemplation of his death as there represented Who can behold the bread broken, and the wine poured out, and not reflect how the body of the blessed Jesus was even torn in pieces by his sufferings, and his sacred blood poured forth like water on the ground? Who can think of the heart-rending agonies of the Son of God as the price of our redemption and salvation, and not feel his soul melted with tenderness, and inflamed with grateful affection What an exalted view doth it give us of the blessings of the gospel-covenant, when we consider it as established in the blood of God's only begotten Son And when we make our approach to God as our heavenly Father, and give up ourselves to his service in this solemn manner, what

[ocr errors]


an awful tendency has it, to fix the conviction, that we are not our own, being bought with such a price*! What a tendency has it, to guard against every temptation to those sins which we have so solemnly renounced, and to engage our fidelity to him to whom we have bound our souls as with an oath! Well may our hearts be knit together in mutual lovef, when we consider ourselves as one in Christ%; his blood becomes the cement of the society, joins us in spirit, not only to each other, but to all that in everyplace call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours\: and we anticipate, in pleasing hope, that blessed day, when the assembly shall be complete, and we shall all be for ever with the Lord\\. Well may these views engage us to deny ourselves, and to take up our cross to follow our citicified master If: well may they engage us to do our utmost by prayer, and all other suitable endeavours, to serve his followers and his friends ; to serve those whom he hath purchased with his blood, and who are to be his associates, and ours, in the glories of an happy immortality.

§. 5. It is also the express institution and command of our blessed Redeemer, that the members of such societies should be tenderly solicitous for the spiritual welfare of each other: and that, on the whole, his churches may be kept pure and holy, that they should withdraw themselves from every brother that walketh disorderly**; that they should mark such as cause offences or scandals among them, contrary to the doctrine which they have learned, and avoid themff; that if any obey not the word of Christ by his apostles, they should have no fellowship or communionwith such, that they may be ashamedU; that they should not eat with such as are notoriously irregular in their behaviour, but on the contrary, should put away from among themselves such wicked persons\\ ||. It is evident therefore, that the institution of such societies is greatly for the honour of Christianity, and for the advantage of its particular professors. And consequently, every consideration of obedience to our common Lord, and of prudent regard to our own benefit and that of our brethren, will require, that those who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity, should enter into them, and assemble among them in these their most solemn and peculiar acts of communion at his table.

§. 6. I entreat you therefore, and if I may presume to say . it, in his name, and by his authority I charge it on your conscience, that this precept of our dying Lord, go not, as it were, for nothing with you ; but that, if you indeed love him, you keep this, as well as the rest of his commandments—I know you may be ready to form objections. I have elsewhere debated many of the chief of them at large, and I hope, not without some good effect*. The great question is that which relates to your being prepared for a worthy attendance: and in conjunction with what has been said before, I think that may be brought to a very short issue. Have you, so far as you know your own heart, been sincere, in that deliberate surrender of yourself to God, through Christ, which I recommended in the former chapter? If you have, (whether it were with or without the particular form or manner of doing it there recommended,) you have certainly taken hold of the covenant, and therefore have a right to the seal of it. And there is not, and cannot be any other view of the ordinance, in which you can have any further objection to it. If you desire to remember Christ's death; if you desire to renew the dedication of yourself to God through him; if you would list yourself among his people; if you would love them and do them good according to your ability; and, on the whole, would not allow yourself in the practice of any one known sin, or in the omission of one known duty ; then I will venture confidently to say, not only that you may be welcome to the ordinance, but that it was instituted for such as you.

* 1 Cor. vi. 19,20. f Col.U. 2. { Qa). iii. 88. $ 1 Cor. i. 2.

|| I Thoss. iv. 17. tj Mat. xvi. 24. *• 2 6. ft Rom. xvi. IT.

tt 2Thess iii. U. Hljl Cor. v. 11, 13.

§. 7. As for other objections, a few words may suffice by way of reply. The weakness of the religious principle in your soul, if it be really implanted there, is so far from being an argument against your seeking such a method to strengthen it, that it rather strongly inforces the necessity of doing it.—The neg^ lect of this solemnity, by so many that call themselves christians, should rather engage you so much the more to distinguish your zeal for an institution, in this respect so much slighted and injured. And as for the fears of aggravating guilt in case of

apostacy, do not indulge them. This may, by the divine blessing, be an effectual remedy against the evil you fear; and it is certain, that after what you must already have known and felt, before you could be brought into your present situation, (on *he suppositions I have now been making,) there can be no room to think of a retreat; no room, even for the wretched hope of being less miserable than the generality of those that have perished. Your scheme therefore must be, to make your salvation as sure, and to make it as glorious as possible; and I know not any.appointment of our blessed Redeemer, which may have a more comfortable aspect upon that blessed end, than this which I am recommending to you.

* See the " Fourth of my Sermons to Young Persons." VOL. I. X X

§. 8. One thing I would at least insist upon, and I see not with what face it can be denied. I mean, that you should take this matter into a serious consideration: that you should diligently enquire, 'whether you have reason in your conscience to believe it is the will of God you should now approach to the ordinance, or not:' and that you should continue your reflections, your enquiries, and your prayers, till you find farther encouragement to come, if that encouragement be hitherto wanting. For of this be assured, that a state in which you are on the whole unfit to approach this ordinance, is a state in which you arc destitute of the necessary preparations for death and heaven; in which therefore, if you would not allow yourselves to slumber on the brink of destruction, you ought not to rest so much as one single day.

A Prayer for one, who earnestly desires to approach the Table of the Lord, yet has some remaining Doubts concerning his Bight to that solemn Ordinance.

"BLESSED Lord, I adore thy wise and gracious appointments, for the edification of thy church in holiness and in love. I thank thee, that thou hast commanded thy servants, to form themselves into societies; and I adore my gracious Saviour, who hath instituted, as with his dying breath, the holy solemnity of his supper, to be through all ages a memorial of his dying love, and a bond of that union which it is his sovereign pleasure that his people should preserve. I hope thou, Lord, art witness to the sincerity, with which I desire to give myself up to thee; and that I may call thee to record on my soul, that if I now hesitate about this particular manner of doing it, it is not because I would allow myself to break any of thy commands, or to slight any of thy favours. I trust thou knowest that my present delay arises only from mv uncertainty as to mv duty, and. a fear of profaning holy tilings by an unworthy approach to them. Vet surely, O Lord. if thou hast given me a reverence for thy. command, a desire of communion with thee, and a willingness to devote myself wholly to thy service, I may regard it as a token for good, that thou art disposed to receive me, and that I am not wholly Unqualified for an ordinance, which I so highly

« AnteriorContinuar »