Page images

of his Divine Authority. He hath appointed it for a folemn Commemoration of his great Love to us, in laying down his Life for us Men, and for our Salvation, and therefore he commands us to do it in Remembrance of him. And St. Paul tells us, that as often as we eat this Bread, and drink this Cup, we do fhew forth the Lord's Death till he come. As for thofe Men then amongst us who profefs themselves Chriftians, and hope for Salvation by Jefus Chrift, not to pay Obedience to this his Command, is a downright Affront to his facred vajefty; and he may juftly upbra d us Chrif tians, as he did once the Jews, Why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not the Things which i fay? How unworthy are we of that Salvation which he hath wrought for us, if we deny him so mall a Favour, fuch a reasonable Request, as to commemorate his Death and bitter Paffion once a Month, or at least thrice a year; who did bumble himself even to the • Death of the Cross for us miferable Sinners,

Mns own Interest who lay in Darkness, and in the Shadow of fhould oblige them to a conftant Commu- "Death, that he might make us the Children nion, because of us of God, and exalt us to everlafling Life? great Benefits. In this Sacrament of the Lord's Supper we have the Pardon and Remiffion of all our Sins, the Grace and Affistance of God's Holy Spirit, and the Hopes of eternal Life and Happiness freely offered unto us: And therefore, had we no Love, no Regard or Reverence to the dying Words of our crucified Saviour, yet furely the Confideration of our own prefent and future Advantage might prevail with us to be more frequent at the Lord's Taule than we ufually are.

And to be in Charity

with all Men.

Forgiving of Ljuries expected from a Com

Hitherto a Communicant hath been directed to let his Heart right towards God; but this is not all, he must proceed further, and enquire how it stands affected towards his Neighbour, fince we are exprefly forbidden, Matthew v. 23, 24. to offer up any Gift or Oblation unto God, if our Hearts are leavened with Malice, Hatred, or Revenge: If thou bring thy Gift unto the Altar, and there remembereft that thy Brother



bath ought against thee, leave there thy Gift before the Altar, and go thy Way, first be reconciled to thy Brother, and then come and offer thy Gift. Here you fee that Chrift prefers Mercy before Sacrifice. And it is generally agreed on by the ancient Fathers, that these Words of our Saviour do directly point at this Sacrament, on purpose to oblige all Communicants to forgive all Manner of Injuries, before they prefume to eat of that Bread, or to drink of that Cup. And it is exprefly faid, Matt. vi. 14, 15. that our Prayers are not accepted, nor our Pardon fealed in Heaven, until fuch time as we forgive Men their Trefpaffes: and to be fure we can never be welcome or worthy Guests at this heavenly Feast, where Jefus, the Saviour of Penitents and the Prince of Peace, is fpiritually prefent, unless our Repentance reconcile us to God, and our Charity to all Mankind.

the Poor.

And this Charity of the Heart, in forgiving of Charity to Injuries, muft likewife fhew itself by the Hand, in relieving the Wants and Neceffities of the Poor. We read, That when this Sacrament was administered in the Apofties Days, that large Collections of Monies were then gathered for the Maintenance of the poor Clergy and Laity, Acts ii. 44, 45, 46. and 1 Cor. xvi. 1. And Theodoret obferves, that Theodofius the Emperor, when the Time came to offer, arofe, and prefented his Oblations with his own. Hands. It was not determined how much every Man fhould give, but all Men were exhorted and enjoined to offer fomething according to their Ability, which if any neglected, the Fathers cenfured them as unworthy Communicants; and to be fure nothing within our Power can fo effectually recommend our Prayers and Devotions like this of Charity; It being well obferved, Mat. vi. that our Saviour hath inclosed Prayer between Alms and Fafting; and therefore they are called its two Wings, without which it will never fee fo high as the throne of God. While Cornelius was fafting and praying, we read that an Angel from Heaven was difpatched to him with this happy Meffage, Thy Prayers and thine Alms are come up for a Memorial before God, Acts x. 4. He that hath Pity upon the Poor lendeth unto the Lord, and that

which he bath given will be pay him again, Prov. xix. 17. Charge them that are rich in this World-that they be rich in good Works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate, laying up in Store for themfelves a good Foundation against the Time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal Life, 1 Tim. vi. 17, 18, 19. Do you not know, that they who minifter about Holy Things live of the Sacrifice, and they who wait at the Altar, are Partakers with the Altar? Even fo bath the Lord alfo or dained, that they who preach the Gospel fhould live of the Gospel, 1 Cor. ix. 13, 14. If we have fown unto you Spiritual Things, is it a great Matter if we shall reap your worldly Things? Ver 11. But we may justly complain with St Bafil Hom. in Bafil, that we know fome who will fast and Mat. xix. pray, figh and groan, yea, and do all Acts of Religion, which coft them nothing, but will not give one Farthing to the Poor. What Benefit is there (faith he) of all the reit of their Devotions ?

And when the Communicant has thus far advanced Prayer. towards the Altar, in his Examination, Repentance, &c. he must not forget another excellent Preparative belonging to this Duty, of communicating worthily, which although it be not mentioned in our Church Catechifm, yet it is always implied, as a neceffary Part of our Sacramental Preparation, i. e. Prayer *, private and publick; a Duty upon which all our prefent and future Bleffings depend, Mat. vii. 7, 8. and xxi. 22. And fo near a Relation hath this Duty of Prayer with this Sacrament, that all thofe Bleffings therein contained and promifed, are only in Return to our Prayers; and no doubt but that Man who makes a confcientious Practice of this Duty in his Clofet, and at Church, can never be unprepared for this Sacrament, nor want a Title to God's peculiar Favour and Bleffing; For the Eyes of the Lord are over the Righteous, and his Ears are open unto their Prayers, 1 Pet. iii. 12. The conftant Exer


See the Devout Soul's Daily Exercife, in Prayers, Contemplations and Praises containing Devotions for Morning, Noon and Night, for every Day in the Week. With Prayers and Thanksgivings for Perfons of all Conditions, and upon all Occafions. By R. Parker, D. D.

cife of Prayer, is the best Method to get the Mastery over bur evil Inclinations and corrupt Affections, and to overcome our vicious Habits: It preferves a lively Sense of God and Religion in our Minds, and fortifies us against those Temptations that affault us; it fpiritualizeth our Nature, and raifeth our Souls above this World, and fupports us under the Troubles and Calamities of this Life, † by fanctifying fuch Actions; it leads us gradually to the Perfection of a Chriftian Life, and preferves that Union between God and our Souls, which feeds our fpiritual Life with Grace and Goodness; without it, we in vain pretend to difcharge thofe Chriftian Duties incumbent on us, or to profper in our Temporal Affairs, which must have God's Bleffing to crown them with Succefs. And as Prayer in general has these great Bleffings and Advantages attending it, fo give me Leave to fuggeft to you under this Head, That thofe publick Prayers and Devotions, which Publick Prayers we offer unto God in our Churches, are not

recommended. only more acceptable to him, but also much

more edifying and advantageous to ourselves;* they cannot but be more acceptable to God, because thereby his Honour and Glory is much more confiderably advanced and main-tained in the World, than by our private Devotions: By thefe outward Signs and Tokens, we publickly declare to all the World that inward Regard and Esteem which we have for his divine Perfections and Goodnets; hereby we let our Light fo fhine before Men, that they may fee our good Works, and glorify our Father which is in Heaven, Mat. v. 16. There is no Duty in Scripture more frequently commanded, none more earnestly preffed upon us, than this of Publick Prayer. We

+ See The Daily Companion, with Chriftian Supports under the Troubles of this World, &c.

See a Sermon concerning the Excellency and Ufefulness of the Common Praver, preached by William Beveridge, D D. late Lord Bishop of St Ajaph, at the Opening of the Parish Church of St Peter, Cornhill, London.

Alfo The Churchman's Daily Companion, fhewing the Neceffities and Advantages of frequenting the publick Prayers. By Dr. Warren.

[ocr errors]

We have the Example of all good Men in all Ages for it and of Chrift himfelf, who was daily in the Temple and in the Synagogues, and, no Question, frequented thofe Places at the ufual Hours of Prayer, because then he had the fairest Opportunity from thofe Publick Affemblies, to inftruct, and to Exhort to Faith and Repentance. 2dly, We may expect greater Bleffings and Succeis to our Requests and De fires, when we jin in the publick Prayers of our Church, than from private; because our Saviour has in a special Manner promised to fuch Affemblies his immediate Prefence, that where two or three are gathered together in his Name, there will he be in the midst of them, which he hath no where faid the like of private, though both are very good, nay, both are abfolutely neceffary for the Beginning and Ending of a Chriftian Life; and it is a very bad Sign of fome evil Principle or other, for any Man to be fuch a Stranger to the Houfe of Prayer; which is one of the greatest Bleffings and Privileges (if we know how to value the fame) that we can have in this World, and has always been ac counted fuch among all wife anil good Men. It is certain that the Turks, whom we call Infidels, go to their publick Devotions five Times every Day; and fhall they not rife in Judgment again't us Chriftians, who cannot afford to go once or twice a Day to God's Houfe, when we have both Leifure and Opportunity. If Men fhall be judged for every idle Word, to be fure they fhall not pafs unpunished for all the Neglects and Omiffions of their Duty of this Nature. But to proceed!

Reading and

To this Duty of frequent Prayer, the Communicant should fpend fome Portion of Time in Reading and Meditation, to raife h's Soul into a devout and heavenly Temper: The proper Office of Reading is, to gain Spiritual Food and Suftenance, and of Meditation to digeft it. Thofe divine Subjects, most proper for our serious Contemplation on this folemn Occafion, I think, are our Saviour's Sermon on the Mount, the Love of God in the Salvation of Sinners through Jefus Chrift, Repentance, Faith, Charity, Death and Judgment; the happy Condition



See An Effectual Remedy against the Fear of Death, by John Norris, M.A.

« PreviousContinue »