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and of benefit to the world in which I dwell! And may iť . please thee from this day forward, to number me among thy peculiar people, that I may no more be a stranger and foreigner, . but a fellow-citizen with the saints, and of the household of God* !.. Receive, () heavenly Father, thy returning prodigal ! Wash me in the blood of thy dear Son: clothe me with his perfect. righteousness ; and sanctify me throughout by the power of thy Spirit! Destroy, I beseech thee, more and more the power of .. sin in mine heart! Transform me more into thine own image, and fashion me to the resemblance of Jesus, whom henceforward I would acknowledge as my teacher and sacrifice, my intercessor and my Lord! Communicate to me, I beseech thee, all needful influences of thy purifying, thy cheering, and thy comforting spirit! And lift up that light of thy countenance upon me, which will put the sublimest joy and gladness into my soul ! +
“ Dispose my affairs, () God, in a manner which may be most subservient to thy glory and my own truest happiness; and when I have done and borne thy will upon earth, call me from hence at what time, and in what manner thou pleasest : only grant, that in my dying moments, and in the near prospects of eternity, I may remember these my engagements to thee, and may employ my latest breath in thy service! And do thou, Lord, when thou seest the agonies of dissolving nature upon me, remember this covenant too, even though I should then be incapable of recollecting it! Look down, () my hea. venly Father, with a pitying eye, upon thy languishing, thy dying child; place thine everlasting arms underneath me for my support; put strength and confidence into my departing spirit ; and receive it to the embraces of thine everlasting love ! Wel. come it to the abodes of them that sleep in Jesust, to wait with them that glorious day, when the last of thy promises to thy covenant people, shall be fulfilled in their triumphant resurrection, and that abundant entrance, which shall be administered to them into that everlasting kingdom ||, of which thou hast assured them by thy covenant, and in the hope of which I now lay hold on it, desiring to live and to die, as with mine hand on that hope!
" And when I am thus numbered among the dead, and all the interests of mortality are over with me for ever, if this solemn memorial should chance to fall into the hands of any surviving friends, may it be the means of making serious impressions on their mind ! May they read it, not only as my
* Eph. ii. 19.
1 2 Pet, i. 11.
+ Psal. iv. 6,7. f 1 Thess. iv, 14.
language, but as their own; and learn to fear the Lord my God, and with me to put their trust under the shadow of his wings for time and for eternity! And may they also learn to adore with me that grace, which inclines our hearts to enter into the covenant, and condescends to admit us into it, when so inclined; ascribing with me, and with all the nations of the redeemed, to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, that glory, honour, and praise, which is so justly due to each divine person, for the part he bears in this illustrious work! Amen."
N. B. For the sake of those who may think the preceding Form of Self
dedication too long to be transcribed, (as it is probable many will,) I have at the desire of a much esteemed friend, added the following abridg. ment of it, which should by all means be attentively weighed in every clause, before it is executed ; and any word or phrase which may seem Jiable to exception, changed, that the whole heart may consent to it all.
“ Eternal and ever blessed God! I desire to present myself before thee, with the deepest humiliation and abasement of soul; sensible how unworthy such a sinful worm is to appear before the holy Majesty of heaven, the King of kings and Lord of lords, and especially on such an occasion as this, even to enter into a covenant transaction with thee. But the scheme, and plan, is thine own. Thine infinite condescension hath offered it by thy Son, and thy grace hath inclined my heart to accept of it.
“ I come therefore, acknowledging myself to have been a great offender ; smiting on my breast, and saying with the humble publican, God, be merciful to me a sinner! I come, invited by the name of thy Son, and wholly trusting in his perfect righteousness; intreating that for his sake thou wilt be merciful to my uprighteousness, and wilt no more remember my sins. Receive, I beseech thee, thy revolted creature who is now convinced of thy right to him, and desires nothing so much as that he may be thine!
" This day do I, with the utmost solemnity, surrender myself to thee. I renounce all former lords that have had dominion over me ; and I consecrate to thee all that I am, and all that I have; the faculties of my mind, the members of my body, my worldly possessions, my time, and my influence over others ; to be all used entirely for thy glory, and resolutely employed in obedience to thy commands, as long as thou continuest me in life ; with an ardent desire and humble resolution to continue thine, through all the endless ages of eternity: ever holding myself in an attentive posture to observe the first intimations of thy will, and ready to spring forward, with zeal and joy, to the immediate execution of it.
" To thy direction also I resign myself, and all I am and have, to be disposed of by thee in such a manner, as thou shalt in thine infinite wisdom judge most subservient to the purposes of thy glory. To thee I leave the management of all events, and say without reserve, not my will, but thine be done ; rejoicing with a loyal heart in thine unlimited government, as what ought to be the delight of the whole rational creation.
“Use me, () Lord, I beseech thee, as an instrument of thy service! Number me among thy peculiar people! Let me be washed in the blood of thy dear Son! Let me be clothed with his righteousness! Let me be sanctified by his Spirit ! Transform me more and more into his image! Impart to me, through him, all needful influences of thy purifying, cheering, and comforting spirit! And let my life be spent under those influences, and in the light of thy gracious countenance, as my Father, and my God!
“ And when the solemn hour of death comes, may I remember this thy covenant, well ordered in all things and sure, as all my salvation, and all my desire*, though every other hope and enjoyment is perishing : and do thou, () Lord, remember it too! Look down with pity, () my heavenly Father, on thy languishing dying child! Embrace me in thine everlasting arms! Put strength and confidence into my departing spirit! And receive it to the abodes of them that sleep in Jesus, peacefully and joyfully to wait the accomplishment of thy great promise to all thy people, even that of a glorious resurrection, and of eternal happiness in thine heavenly presence !-And if any surviving friend should, when I am in the dust, meet with this memorial of my solemn transactions with thee, may he make the engagement his own; and do thou graciously admit him to partake in all the blessings of thy covenant, through Jesus the great Mediator of it ; to whom with thee, () Father, and thy holy Spirit, be everlasting praises ascribed, by all the millions who are thus saved by thee, and by all those other celestial spirits, in whose work and blessedness thou shalt call them to share! Amen.”
* 2 Sam. xxiii. 5.
CHAP. XVIII. 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; $. 3. Whence its Usefulness is strongly inferred ; $.4. And (2.) From the Authority of Christ's Appointment; which is solemnly pressed on the Conscience ; §. 5. Objections from Apprehensions of Untitness, g. 6. Weakness of Grace, &c. briefly answered, §. 7. At least, serious Thoughtsulness on this Subject is absolutely insisted upon, f. 8. The Chapter is closed with a Prayer for one, who desires to attend, yet finds himself pressed with remaining Doubts.
§. 1. I 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 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 methods, 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 affectionate remembrance of his dying love, of their solemn surrender of themselves to God, and of their sincere love to one another, and to all their fellow christians.
g. 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 commanded the bread to be eaten, and the wine to be drank, in remeinbrance of him*, or as a commemoration or memorial of him: so that as often as we attend this institution, we shew
* 1 Cor. xi. 24, 95.
forth our Lord's death, which we are to do even until he come*. And it is particularly asserted, that the cup is the New Testament in his bloodt; 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 * 1 Cor. xi. 26. + Ver. 25. 1 1 Cor. x. 16. || 1 Cor. x. 17. $1 Cor xii. 13.