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Temptation we should fall into those very Sins which we have repented Relapfes after Receiving not of, and vowed against when we were at the last Sacrament, yet these redangerous, lapfes should not make us afraid of coming again, fince we always have the Penefit 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 bis Sins that he hath committed ; · and all bis Tranfgrefions that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned unto bim, Ezek. xviii 21. 22. Sin na more, fays our Saviour to the Woman taken in Adultery, and I will not condemn thee, John viii. 11. It is not the Commiffion of this or that great Sin that will utterly exclude us from God's Mercy and Forgiveness, for then, indeed, no Perion could efcape Damnation, becaute there is not a jutt Man upon Earth, that doth God and finneth not, Ecclef. vii. 20. But it is our living and dying without Repentance and Amendment, that brings God's Wrath and Vengeance upon us. His Mercies are not limited; he will not only pardon us once or twice, but always upon our Repentance and Return to him. No Time, no Age or Seafon, does he except againft; but whenever the wicked Man turneth away from his Wickedness that he hath committed, and deth 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 Sin against the Holy Ghoft. All manner of Sins and Blafphemies fhall be forgiven unto Men, but the Blafphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven, Matt. xii. 31. 32. And confequently this Sin of eating and drinking unworthily, in the worst Senfe, cannot be a damning Sin, becaufe God in the Gospel (for Chrift's fake) hath promiled to forgive all our fins, upon our Repentance, and therefore this of unworthy Receiving among the reft.
Some People, I remember, have been very much concerned and difcompofed at their Devotions, upon the repetition of fome few Expreffions contained in the laft Exhortation to the Communion; namely, "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,-Pro"voking him to plague us with divers Difeafes and fundry kinds of Death:" Thefe are hard fayings, and fome of them too hard to be understood: But however, they are all avoided and efcaped by coming worthily, that is, with Faith and Repentance: Therefore let not these 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 thofe Dangers, which thefe Sentences may feem to threaten you with. So that the Want of a Preparation, as fome Men have alledged, and in the Sense they generally take it, can never be a fufficient Plea or Pretence for their not coming to the holy Communion; because after our best and ftrictest Endeavours to prepare ourselves, we profefs (before God and the с
Congregation)" That we do not come to this heavenly Table trufting in our own
Righteoufnefs, but in his inanifold and great Mercies." By thele we are invited to come; and to the Mercy of God (through Chrift) all of us must flee, and take Sanctuary in; who has promifed that he will in no wise caft out those who come unto bim, John vi. 37. 4 broken, and a contrite, Heart, O God, thou wilt not defpise, Pfalm li. 1.
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 fuch, whether they come or not; but to the penitent and humble Soul, nothing is difml or affrighting in this holy Feaft; for there is none condemned for unworthy receiving, but fuch who deserve 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 thole who eat and drink unworthily; nay, I might fay in greater, because the latter ufe the means in Obedience to our Saviour's Command, and the former wilfully neglect that which would prevent their Damnation, if rightly confidered, and timely applied to. The fureft Way, I fay, to prevent their Damnation, is to receive the Sacrament more frequently than Men ufually do, that by a constant Participation of this fpiritual Focd of the living Bread which comes down from Heaven, their Souls may be nourished in all Goodness, 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 Way of God's Commandments withi 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 Reasonings, to fuch a Neglect as will certain-. ly encrease our Damnation; it being certain that God will never caft any Man into eternal Flames for ftriving 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 Man bath, and not according to that he hath not, 2 Cor. viii. 12. Neither ought we to think 10 unworthily of the Son of God, who came into the World to fave Sinners, that he would inflitute 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 Jelus's fake; 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 moft unworthy, are thofe very Perfons whom Chrift doth here call and invite to this Sacrament, when deeply fen fible of their Unworthiness. Were we not Sinners, were we not conceived and born in Sin, we should not need fuch Means and Inftruments of Grace as Sacra
ments are; but "being by Nature born in Sin, and the Children of Wrath, we are
Men of great
The other Branch of a Communicant's Duty is, to" examine A living Faith "whether he hath a lively Faith in God's Mercy through Chrift." Ex- in God's Mercy. amine yourselves wketler 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 Chriflian Religion, contained in the Apoftles 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 only effe&ually to Believers. As many as received him, to them gave he Power to become the Sons of God, even to them that believe in his Name, John i. 12. And this is life eternal, that they might know thee, the cnly true God, and Jefus Chrift whom thou haft fent, John xvii, 3. All that Chrift hath done and fuffered for us Men and our Salvation, can never profit us, unless we have Faith to believe it: That which must render the benefits and bleffings of the Gofpel effectual to our Salvation is our faith in Chrift. Verily 1 fay unto you, faith our Saviour, he that heareth my Words, and believeth on bim that fent me, bath everlasting Life, and shall not come into Condemnation, but is passed, from Death unto Life, John v. 24. The ancient Churches accounted thofe only Faithful that had received the Lord's Supper; and the Germans allowed none to come unto their Sacrifices who had loft their Shields; nor does our own Church allow that any of us fhould come to this Chriftian Sacrifice without the Shield of Faith. "Draw near with Faith, fays the Prieft, and take this holy Sacrament to "your Comfort," And this Faith hath God's Mercy, through Chrift, for its ob ject, as the Fountain and Foundation of all thofe infinite Bleffings and Comforts which we gain by his Manifeftation in the Flesh; and if we enquire into the cause and reafon of fo much Mercy and Goodnets to Mankind, no other can be given, but the Riches of his Mercy, Eph. ii. 4. And if we further enquire how this Mercy become ours, the Antwer is plain, it was through Chrift, by whom all the Bleffings of this Life, and thofe of a better, are purchased for us, and must be obtained through the merits and Interceffion of the Holy Jefus; by him we were redeemed, and according to the Riches of his Grace we have obtained Remiffion of our Sins, and through him at last we shall be glorified.
And to this our Faith we muft join "a thankful remembrance of his A thankful "Death, and of thofe Benefits which we receive thereby." Our of his Death. Gracious and Merciful Lord, faith holy David, hath so done his marvellous Works, that they ought to be kad in Remembrance, Pfal. cxi. 4. But efpecially this Work of our Redemption by Jefus Chrift, which to forget were an Ingratitude bafer and viler than ever Heathens or Publicans, the very worft of People among the Jews, were known to be guilty of towards their Benefactors-Matt. v. 46. Herein is Love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the Propitiation for our Sins, 1 John iv. 10. This is a Mercy far above all other Mercies; nay, it is even this which sweetens all other Mercies to us. Had there been no Re
demption, our Creation had only made us capable of endless Torments, and it had been better for us never to have been born, than to be born to inevitable Ruin; which must have been our Lot and Portion, had not "the Son of God, by his "own Oblation of himself, once offered upon the Crofs, made a full, perfect, and "fufficient Sacrifice and Satisfaction to God for the Sins of the whole World."
The confequences of this Redemption are fo infinitely great and valuable, that it as much furpaffes our Understanding as it does our Meri's. We are to declare and publish to all the World, what God hath done to fave Mankind from that Damnation which they had deferved, and to restore us again to that Happiness and Glory which we could never expect or hope to enjoy, had not Chrift died for us. O come bither and bearken, all ye that fear God, and I will tell you what he hath done for my Soul, Pfal. Ixvi. 16. Praise the Lord, O my Soul, and all that is within me, praife his holy Name: Praife the Lord, O my Soul, and forget not all his Benefits, who forgiveth all thy Sins, and baleth all thy Infirmities; who faveth thy Life from Deftruction, and crowneth thee with Mercy and Loving-kindness, Pfalm ciii. 1 2. 3. 4 With what joy and thankfulness then fhould every good Chriftian commemorate this exceeding love of God in the Salvation of Sinners by Jefus Chrift? This was the proper end and defign of this Inftitution, to perDo this petuate this wonderful Love of Chrift in laying down his Life for us. in Remembrance of me, faith our Saviour a little before his Crucifixion; which Our Obligations being a folemn Command of" our Mafter and only Saviour thus "dying for us,"we cannot refufe Obedience hereunto, without being guilty of the moft horrible Ingratitude and Contempt 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 profess themselves Chriftians, and hope for Salvation by Jefus Chrift, not to pay obedience to this his Command, is a downright Affront to his facred Majesty; and he may juftly upbraid us Chriftians, as he did once the Jews, Why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? How unworthy are we of that Salvation which he hath wrought for us, if we deny him fo fmall a favour fuch a reasonable requeft, as to Commemorate his Death and bitter paffion once a Month, or at least thrice a Year, "who did "humble himself even to the Death of the Crofs, for us miterable Sinners, who
to a frequent Communion.
lay in Darkness, and in the Shadow of Death, that he might make us the "Children of God, and exalt us to everlafting Life?" In this Sacrament of the Lord's Supper we have the Pardon and Remiffion of all our Sins, the Grace and Affiftance of God's holy Spirit, and the hopes of eternal Life and Happiness,