« PreviousContinue »
of Sin, and Power against it. The Benefit of frequent Communion is alfo of as great Advantage, becaufe hereby we are confirmed in all Grace and Goodnefs, and our Refolutions to live in Obedience and Conformity to God's Laws are ftrengthened, and the Grace of God's Holy Spirit, to do his Will, is hereby conveyed to us: It is the fovereign Remedy against all Temptations, by mortifying our Paffions, and by fpiritualizing our Affections: In a Word, it is the lik lieft Method to make our Bodies the Temples of the Holy Ghoft, and to prepare our Souls for the Enjoyment of God to all Eternity.
And if at any Time, thro' Ignorance, SurRelapfes after prize, or the Violence of any other Temptation, Receiving, not we fhould fall into thofe very Sins which we dangerous. have repented of and vowed against, when we were at the laft Sacrament, yet thefe Relapfes fhould not make us afraid of coming again, fince we have always the Benefit of Repentance allowed us: If after a Relapfe we repent and renew our Refolutions, with a hearty Grief and Contrition of Spirit, we are made whole as before, If the Wicked (faith God) will turn from all his Sins that he bath committed, all his Tranfgreffions that he bath committed, they fball not be mentioned unto him, Ezek. xviii. 21, 22. Sin no more, fays our Saviour to the Woman taken in Adultery, and I will not condemn thee, John viii. f. It is not the Commiffion of this or that great, Sin that will utterly exclude us from God's Mercy and Forgivenefs, for then indeed, no Perfon could efcape Damnation, because there is not a juft Man upon Earth that doth Good and finneth not, Eccl vii. 20. But it is our Living and Dying without Repen tance and Amendment, that brings God's Wrath and Vengeance upon us. His Mercies are not limitted, he will not only pardon us once or twice, but always upon our Repentance and Return to him. No Time, no Age, or Season, does he accept against, but whenever the Wicked Man turneth away from bis Wickedness that he hath committed, and doth that which is lawful and right, he shall fave his Soul alive, Ezek. xviii. 27. Neither is there any Sin, though never fo vile
and heinous in its own nature, but fhall be remitted and forgiven, unless it be that against the Holy Ghost. All Manner of Sin and Blafphemy fhall be forgiven unto Men, but the Blafphemy against the Holy Ghoft fhall not be forgiven, Mat. xii. 31, 32. And confequently, the Sin of Eating and Drinking unworthily, in the worft Senfe, cannot be a damning Sin, becaufe God in the Gofpel (for Chrift's Sake) has promifed to forgive all our Sins, upon our Repentance, and therefore this of unworthy receiving among the rest.
Some People, I remember, have been very much concerned and difcompofed at their Devotions, upon the Repetition of fome few Expreffions contained in the last Exhortation to the Communion, viz Of being guilty of the Body ' and Blood of Chrift our Saviour; of eating and drinking our own Damnation Not confidering the Lord's Body.Kindling God's Wrath against us.Provoking him to plague us with divers Difeafes, and fundry Kinds of Death. Thefe are hard Sayings, and fome of them too hard to be understood: But however, they are all avoided and escaped by coming worthily, i.e. by Faith and Repentance: therefore let not the terrible Expreffions trouble you, or detain you from the Holy Communion: Repent and believe, and you are fafe and fecure from falling into any of those Dangers which thefe Sentences may feem to threaten you with. So that the want of Preparation, as fome Men have alledged, and in the Sense they generally take it, can never be a sufficient Plea or Pretence for their not coming to the Holy Communion; becaufe, after our belt and ftrictest Endeavours to prepare ourselves, we profefs, (before God and the Congregation)That we do not come to this Heavenly
Table trufting in our own Righteoufnefs, but in his ma 'nifold and great Mercies.' By thefe we are invited to come and to the Mercy of God (thro' Chrift) all of us muft flee and take Sanctuary in, who has promifed, that ke will in no wife caft out those who come unto him, John vi. 37. A broken and a contrite Heart, O God, thou wilt not defpife, Pfal. ii. 17. There is nothing dreadful in this Sacrament, but to the wilful, impenitent and perfevering Sinner, whofe
Condition is dreadful, and every Page in Scripture is terrible against such, whether they come or not; but to the peni tent and humble Soul nothing is difmal or aff ighting in this Holy Feaft; there are none condemned for unworthy reReceiving, but fuch who deferve it for continuing in their Iniquities; and this impenitence renders even their Prayers an Abomination unto the Lord. Though they never partake of the Body and blood of Chrift, they are in equal Danger with those who eat and drink unworthily; nay, I might lay in greater, because the one ufeth the Means in Obedience to our Saviour's Command, and the other wilfully neglects that which would prevent his Damnation, if rightly confidered, and timely applied to. The fureit Way, I say, to prevent our Damnation, is to receive the Sacrament more frequently than Men ufually do, that by a conftant Participation of this Spiritual Food of the living Bread which comes down from Heaven, their Souls may be nourished in all Goodnefs, and new Supplies of God's Grace and Holy Spirit may be continually derived to them for the purifying of their Hearts, and to enable them to run the Ways of God's Commandments with more Conftancy and Delight than they did before. So that the true Confequence of Eating and Drinking unworthily, fhould rather excite our Care and Diligence in this Duty, than delude us with falfe Reafonings, to fuch a Neglect as will certainly increase our Damnation; it being certain, that God will never caft any Man into eternal Flames for friving to do his Duty as well as he can. If there be first a willing Mind, (faith the Apostle) it is accepted according to that a Men bath, and not according to that he bath not, 2 Cor. viii. 12. Neither ought we to think fo unworthily of the Son of God, who came into the World to fave Sinners, that he would inftitute this Ordinance to be a Snare to entangle our Souls with. It was not ordained for Angels, or for glorified Saints, but for humble and penitent Sinners, to bring them home to God; it being a Seal of their Pardon, and a refreshing Declaration of our Heavenly Father's Readiness to forgive the chiefeft of Sinners for Jefus's Sake, who graciously calls upon all who are
wearied and oppreffed with the Guilt and Burden of their Sins to come to him, and be will refresh them, Matt. xi. 28. Chrift came not to call the Righteous, but Sinners to Repentance, Matt. ix. 13. And confequently fuch as account themselves most unworthy, are thofe very Perfons whom Chrift doth here call and invite to the Sacrament, when deeply fenfible of their Unworthiness. Were we not Sinners, were we not conceived and born in Sin, we fhould not need fuch Means and Inftruments of Grace as Sacraments are; but being
by Nature born in Sin, and the Children of Wrath, we ' are hereby made the Children of Grace, and Inheritors of
the Kingdom of Heaven.' They that are whole (faith Christ) have no need of a Phyfician, but they that are fick. This being the Cafe of all Mankind, with refpect to their Spiritual Life, there is no other way to free ourfelves from this Death of Sin, but fpeedily to apply ourselves to this Heavenly Phyfician, who came into the World to feek and to fave thofe that are loft and ready to perib; and the very Sense of our own Unworthiness, is of all other Arguments the beft Qualification to reco nmend us to God's Favour and Mercy, fince we know that he refifteth the Proud, [and prefumptuous Sinner] but never denies his Grace and Favour to the Humble and Meek. As often then as we come to the Holy Communion with fuch an honest and true Heart, as to exercise our Repentance towards Ged, our Faith and Hope of his Mercy, through Chrift, for the Forgiveness of our Sins, and our Love and Charity for all Mankind; fuch a Temper and Refolution of Mind as this, will doubtlefs render us worthy Partakers of thefe Holy Myfteries, and prevent us eating and drinking Damnation to ourselves. Nay, I farther add, that any Perfon thus difpofed or qualified, may come (if it fhould be required) at an Hour's Warning, as fafely as he may come to Church, and fay his Prayers, or to hear a Sermon. The Duenefs of Preparation doth not so much depend upon our fetting afide fo many extraordinary Days for the forcing ourselves into a religious Pofture of Mind, as upon the plain natural Frame and Difpofition of our Souls, as they conftantly stand inclined to Virtue and Good
nefs, through the general Course of our Lives. From whence I infer, that a Multitude of Business, Men of great or a Man's being deeply engaged in the PubBusiness, either lick Affairs of this World, cannot be any publick or private, are not juft Plea or Pretence for his not coming to thereby excufed the Holy Communion; because all Bufinefs from frequent is confiftent with the Duties of Religion, pro
Communion, vided we govern our Affairs by Chriftian Principles: For though fuch Men have not Leifure for fo much actual Preparation, yet they may have that habitual Preparation, upon which the great Strefs ought to be laid in this Matter: Nay, even the confcientious Discharge of a Man's Duty in his Bufinefs, may be one of the beft Qualifications to recommend him to God, fince every Man ferves God when he follows his Calling with Diligence, and observes Justice and Honefty in all his Dealings; and confequently, the greater Danger and Temptation he is exposed to through the Multiplicity of Bufinefs, the more need hath he of God's Grace and Affistance, which are abundantly communicated to us in this Holy Ordinance. So that Men of Business, if they have any ferious Thoughts of another World, ought more especially to lay hold on fuch Opportunities which fecure the Salvation of their Souls; for as they who have Leifure ought to Receive conftantly, as the beft Improvement of their Time; fo they that are engaged in many worldly Affairs, ought to come the oftner to the Holy Communion, and learn how to fanctify their Employments. But to proceed. The other Branch A lively Faith in of a Communicant's Duty is to examine God's Mercy. whether he hath a lively Faith in God's Mercy thro' Chrift. Examine yourselves whether ye be in the Faith, 2 Cor. xiii. 5. This Sacrament of the Lord's Supper being only appointed for fuch Believers as own their Baptifm, and profefs the Faith of Chrift crucified, and understand the fundamental Articles of the Chriftian Religion, contained in the Apostles Creed, and alfo the End and Defign of this Holy Inftitution. The Benefits of our Saviour's Death and Paffion in this Sacrament are indeed freely offered unto all, but