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vince us, that there is no Way more likely to difcover our In quities, and to humble ourselves for them, than a ferious Application of God's Word to our crooked Paths, and this Duty of Self-Examination is never more properly applied to, than when we intend to receive the Holy Communion: For unless we fee the Number, and apprehend the Heinousness of our Offences, and fear the Vengeance due unto us for them, we are altogether unfit for the Commemoration of his Death, who died for our Sins, and rofe again for our Juftification. It is the Senfe and Sight of Sin, that must fhew us the Need and Neceffity of a glorious Redeemer, and what Obligations we are under to blefs and praise God for our Salvation by his Son JESUS CHRIST. Of fuch great Ufe and Advantage is this Duty of SelfExamination at all Times, that Pythagoras, in thofe Golden Verles which go under his Name, particularly recommends the fame to his Scholars. Every Night before they Rept, be enjoins them to examine themselves, what Good they had done, and wherein they had tranfgreffed. Run over thefe Things (faid he) and if you have done Evil, be troubled; if Good, rejoice. This Courfe, if daily followed, as is fuggefted by Hierocles, his excellent Commentator, perfects the Divine Image in those that use it. Plutarch, Epictetus, Seneca, and the Em. peror Marcus Antoninus, agree in recommending the fame Practice by their own Examples; but efpecially Holy David, I thought on my Ways, and turned my Feet unto thy Teftimonies, Plal. cxix. 59. And this Method, no doubt, is an admirable Means to approve us in Virtue, and the moft effectual Way to keep our Confciences awake, and to make us ftand in awe of ourselves, and afraid to fin, when we know before-hand that we must give fo severe an Account to ourselves of every Action. And when we are employing our Minds in this Duty of Self-Examination, before the Communion, or at any other Time, we must discharge it as impartially as is poffible for us, judging as feverely of our own Actions, as we would do of our greateft and worst Enemy; or otherwife we fhall but fatter and deceive ourselves in a Matter of the greateft Weight and Impor
Importance, viz. of knowing the State and Condition of our own Sculs: But if our Enquiries are juft and true, we fhall then plainly discover wherein, and how often we have gone aftray and done amifs. We fhall, by the faithful Difcharge of this Duty, bring to Light all our ungodly, unjust, and uncharitable Actions; all our vain and filthy Speeches; all cur wanton, proud, and covetous Thoughts. Such a strict and impartial Examination will difcover to us that accurfed Thing Sin, Deut. vii. 26. which has defiled our Nature, made God our Enemy, and will exclude us the Kingdom of Heaven, if not repented of, 1 Cor. vi. 9, 10. But by fuch a fevere Scrutiny as this, we fhall foon perceive the Number of our Tranfgreffions, what vile Wretches and grievous Offenders we are, how often we have broken our most ferious Vows and Refolutions, especially after the receiving the Holy Sacrament, and in Times of Sickness and Diftrefs: Such a Sight, and fuch a Profpect of Mifery as this, should excite in us a hearty Trouble and Sorrow for Sin; efpecially if we caft an Eye upon the final Iffue and Confequences of it, with respect to the World to come. Upon the Ungodly (faith Holy David) God will rain Snares, Fire and Brimstone, Storm and Tempeft, this fhall be their Portion to drink, Pfal. xi. 6. Great Plagues remain for the Ungodly, Indignation and Wrath, Tribulation and Anguish, upon every Soul of Man that doth Evil, Rom. ii. 8, 9. The Wicked shall be turned into Hell, and all the People that forget God. Thefe, and many other fuch like Texts of Scripture, may give us fome Idea or Notion of the deplorable Condition of the Wicked in a future State, and of God's Hatred against Sin. And is not this then, without multiplying Arguments, fufficient to. affect us with great Grief and Sorrow, when we confider that fo long as we live in a vicious Courfe, fo long are we expofed to all thofe Plagues and Torments which God hath in Store for wicked Men, and will most certainly be their Lot and Portion, if not prevented by a timely Repentance? The fecond Part of a true Repentance is Contrition, or a forrowful Bewailing of our own Sinfulnefs, in Thought, Word, and Deed. When we call to mind the Sins and Follies of our past Lives, and the Dan
gers we are like to fall into, furely we cannot be otherwise affected than fenfibly grieved with the Thoughts and Apprehenfions of our prefent and approaching Mifery. The Sorrows of David, and the Repentance of St Peter, 2 Sam. xii. Luke xxii. fhewed themfelves in Floods of Tears, and were too big to be confined within: But our Hearts are generally fo hard and unrelenting, that we fin against God, and lofe our own Souls without fo much as a Sigh or Tear I know that the Tempers of People are different; fome can fhed Tears upon every flight Occafion, and others cannot weep, though their Hearts are ready to break for Grief; and therefore we are not to judge of the Sincerity of our own or other People's Repentance by fuch Signs and Tokens ; nor are Tears always neceffary to Repentance, though they very well become us; and the leaft we can do when we have done amifs, is to be forry for it, and to condemn our Folly, and to be full of Indignation and Difpleasure against ourfelves. I will declare my Iniquity. (faith Holy David) and be forry for my Sin, Pfal. xxxviii. 18. efpecially if we have been very wicked, and have multiplied our Tranfgreffions, and have continued long in an evil Courfe, have neglected God, and have forgotten him Days without Number, then the Measure of our Sorrow muft bear fome Proportion to the Degrees of our Sins; if they have been as Scarlet and Crimfon, Ifaiah i. 8. that is, of a deeper Dye than ordinary, then our Sorrow must be as deep as our Guilt; if not fo great, we ought to fhew fo much Trouble and Contrition of Spirit, as to produce in us a Penitential Confeffion of all our former Sins
Which is the third Property of a fincere Repentance, I will acknowledge my Sin unto thee, (fays the ProConfeffon phet David) and mine Unrighteousness have I not hid ; of Sins, I faid I will confefs my Sins unto the Lord, and fo tbou forgaveft the Iniquity of my Sin, Pfalm xxxii. 5. Which Confeffion of Sins must not be in general Terms, that we are Sinners with the reft of Mankind, but it must be a fpecial Declaration to God of all our moft heinous Sins in Thought, Word, and Deed, with all their feveral Aggrava
tions, laying open our Sores to our Heavenly Physician; and this we must do, to fhew that we condemn all our former evil and vicious Courfes, with a full Purpose and Refolution of Mind (by God's Affiftance) that we never intend to do the like again. Unless this be done, our Sorrow for Sin, and the Confeffion of our Wickedness, can never profit us in the Sight of God, if it be not joined with a firm Refolution of leading a New Life;
Which is the fourth and moft effential Part of a fincere Repentance, and the only Condition of finding Life. Mercy with God. He that covereth bis Sins fhall not profper, but whofe confeffeib and ferfaketh them, fhall have mercy, Prov. xxviii. 13. Let the wicked Man forfake bis Ways, and the unrighteous Man his Thoughts, and let him return unto the Lord, and be will have Mercy upon him, and to our God, and he will abundantly pardon, Ifaiah lv. 7. I tell you nay, (faith Chrift) but except ye repent, ye shall all likewife perib, Luke xiii. 3. Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your Sins may be blotted out, Acts iii. 19. Thofe preced ing Parts of Repentance before-mentioned, are only prepa rative to this, that which must compleat and finish the Work of a new Convert, is to become a New Creature, to turn from our evil Ways, and to break off our Sins by Righteousness." This certainly must be the Defire and Intention of all Com-: municants, if they hope or expect any Benefit or Advantage from this folemn Rite or Covenant; for he that comes. with a Defign or Intention of continuing in his former Sins, comes fomewhat like unto Judas, that came, and received, and at the fame Time continued his Refolution of betraving his Matter. That which makes a Man abfolutely unfit to receive the Holy Sacrament, is the living in the conftant and habitual Practice of any known Sin, without the leaft Defire or Intention of repentance or Amendment. Such a Man's Approach to the Holy Table, no doubt, is to eat and drink his own Damnation, fince it is a plain mocking of God, and a great Contempt and Abufe of his Divine Authority. We must therefore (by the Help and Affiftance of God's Grace) refolye to lead a New Life, following the Command
ments of God, or otherwise our former Examinations will appear but flight and fuperficial, our Sight and Senfe of Sin trivial and indifferent, our Sorrow and Contrition of Spirit forced and hypocritical, and our Confeffions odious and formal. Therefore examine well the Sincerity of your Repentance and Refolutions, that you neither deceive God nor yourfelves: Him you cannot, because he is a Searcher of the Heart, and a Difcerner of the Thoughts, nor will he accept of any Thing which is not hearty and unfeigned.
Not that we are to fuppofe that this Sacrament of the Lord's Supper doth require perfect Obedience in all our Addreffes to the Holy Altar, or that none must come, but such as are in a finless State of Perfection: No, this were impoffible, because there is no Man that liveth and finneth not; for who can fay, I have made my Heart clean, I am pure from my Sin; and that even the juft Man falletb feven Times a Day. This Sacrament of the Lord's Supper is not a converting, but a confirming Ordinance, intended to preferve and increase that Spiritual Life and Grace which we received at our Baptifm; fo that when we come to the Holy Communion, we come thither for fresh Supplies of Grace and Goodness, for the ftrengthening and refreshing of our Souls in all Holiness and Virtue: As our natural Bodies are fed and nourished with thofe Elements of Bread and Wine, the fame. Effect is wrought in the Soul, in the inward Man, by these Holy Myfteries, as in the outward Man by Bread and Wine; Bread being the Staff of Life, and Wine the moft Sovereign Cordial, (when taken in due Proportion) to chear and rejoice the Heart. And thus our Souls by this Sacrament are fortified and ftrengthened with Grace, Wifdem, Courage, and all other Spiritual Gifts, to keep us through Faith unto Salvation. Both the Comfort and Benefit of it are great; the Comfort of it, because it does not only reprefent to us the exceeding Love of our Saviour, in giving his Body to be broken, and his Blood to be shed for us, but it likewife feals to us all thofe Bleffings and Benefits which are purchafed, and procured for us by his Death and Paffion, viz. the Pardon
No abfolute Obedience expected after the Holy Sacrament.