« السابقةمتابعة »
only enjoined by human authority, but likewife commanded by St. Paul. But let a Man examine kimfelf, and fo let him eat of that Bread, and drink of that Cub 1 Cor. xi 28. Intimating, that no Man fhould prefume to eat of that Bread, and drink of that Cup, without a previous Preparation, if he mean to efcape that fame Judgement of Condemnation which thefe Corinthians brought upon themfelves for their irreverent, finful and diforderly Behaviour at this Sacrament; and this was the Occafion of St Paul's Caution and Reproof: He that eatetb and drinketb unworthily, fays the Apoftle, eateth and drinketh Damnation * to himself, not difcerning the Lord's Body, ver 29.
Put that our Preparation may be fo well performed by us as to prevent the like Danger, let us, as the wife man adviseth, Remember the End, and we shall ner do amifs, Eccl. vii. 16. First then, That we may come to this heavenly Feift holy, and adorned with the Wedding Garment, Matt. xxii. 1 1. we must search our hearts, and examine our Confciences, not only till we fee our Sins, but until we hate them; and instead of thofe filthy Rags of our Righteoufnefs, we must a dorn our minds with pure and pious Difpofitions; even that clean Linen, the Righteousness of the Saints, Rev. xix. With thefe Ornaments are holy Souls fitted for the Society of that celeftial Company, which are to be met with at this Solemnity. 2dly, Another End or Defign of this ftrict Preparation, is, that we may be accepted by Gcd as worthy Communicants; that be who knoweth the Secrets of all our Hearts, neither is there any Creature that is not manifest in his fight, lut all things are naked and opened unto the Eyes of him with whom we have to do, Jer. xvii. 10. Heb. iv. 13. may approve of the Sincerity of our Repentance; and the King, who comes in to view the Guests, Matt. xxii. 11. may (though strictly speaking we are not fo) count us worthy of his Favour and Countenance. And how to attain fo great a Bleffing thefe following inftructions will help and affist us.
This is that
Fir, we are directed to repent us truly of all our former Sins. preparation which Chrift himtelf requires of us, Matt. iii. 2, 3. A Duty you know, which our finful Lives make always neceflary for our Confideration, if ever we expect eternal Happiness hereafter, Luke iii. 3. But more efpecially the Dignity of this Sacrament requires that it should be enquired into with more than ordinary Care and Circumpection, because without fincere Repentance, we cannot expect any Benefit or Advantage from the Death and Paffion of Chrift, which in this Sacrament we commemorate, and have the Merits of it conveyed to us by this facred Memorial. Suppofing then that this is fufficient to convince you of the Neceflity and Importance of this Duty, that upon it depends
[*Note, This Word Damnation, does not fignify etrinal Condemnation, but on the contrary fome temporal Punishment or Judgment, (as you have it in the Margin of your Bible) fuch as ticknefs or Death with which the City of Corinth was afflicted, for their great Abuse and Profanation of this flemn Inftitution; fo that the Sins here reproved, (namely, Gluttony, D.unkennefs and Faction, ver. 18,
21, 22.) and the Damnation here threatened, hath no Relation to us, unless it could be proved, that any of us w.re crer guilty of the fame Wickedness with thete Corinthians; which I believe no Man ever was or would be fuffered to approach the Lord's Table afterfuch a diforderly manner as they did, if Men were fo lewd and profane.]
our welcome to this heavenly Feaft unto which we are called; I proceed now in the fecond place to inform you, That if our Repentance or Return to God be real and fincere, it will produce thefe following good Effects in us.
Firft, "A Senfe, a Sorrow and Confeffion of all our former Sins. Second"ly, A stedfaft Purpose or Refolution to lead a new Life." Thefe a. tue Kepen. are the genuine fruits of a true Repentance, and muft always accompany our Return to God, if we hope to have it effectual to our Salva-
The Nature of
tion. And FIRST, We must labour to gain a Senfe or Sight of all our former Sins and Wickedness; this will readily pretent itself to us by comparing our Lives and Actions by the Rule and Standard of God's Word, which we must make the Meafure of our * Examination. St. Paul fhews us, Rom. iii. 20. that by the Law is the Knowledge of Sin; and our own Experience will convince us, that there is no Way more likely to difcover our Iniquities, and to humble ourselves for them, than a ferious Application of God's Word to our croaked Paths: And this Duty of Self Examination, is never more properly ap plied to, than when we intend to receive the Holy Communion; for unless we fee the number, and apprehend the Heinoufness 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 rose again for our Juftification. It is the fenfe and fight of Sin that muft fhew us the Need and Neceffity of a glorious Redeemer, and what Obligations we are under to blefs and praife God for our falvation by his Son JESUS CHRIST. Of fuch great Ufe and Advantage is this Duty of Self-Examination, at all times, that Pythagoras, in thofe Golden Verfes which go under his Name, particularly recommends the fame to his Scholars.
Every Night before they flept, he 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 any Evil, be troubled; if Good, rejoice." This Course, if daily followed, as is fuggelted by Hierocles, his excellent Commentator, perfects the divine Image in thofe that ufe it. Plutarch, Epictetus, Seneca, and the Emperor Marcus Antoninus, agree in recommending the fame Practice by their own Example, but especially holy David, I thought on my Ways, and turned my Feet unto thy Testimonies, Pfalm cxix. 59. And this method, no doubt, is an admirable Means to improve us in Virtue, and the moft effectual Way to keep our Confciences awake, and to make us ftand in Awe of ourfelves, and afraid to fin when we know beforehand that we inuft give fo fevere 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
The Ten Com mandments.
See The Daily Self-Examinant; or An Earneft Perfuafive to the Duty of Daily Self-Examination, &c, by R. Warren, D. D.
impartially as is poffible for us, judging as leverely of our own Actions, as we would do of our greatest and wort Enemy; or otherwife we fhall but flatter and deceive ourfelves in a Matter of the greatest Weight and Importance, namely, the knowing the State and Condition of our Souls: But if our Enquiries are just and true, we shall then plainly difcover wherein, and how often we have gone aftray and done amifs. We fhall, by the faithiul Difcharge btothis Duty, bring to Light
all our ungodly, unjuff, and uncharitable Actions; all our vain and filthy Speeches; all cur wanton, proud and covetous Thoughts." Such a strict and impartial Examination will discover 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, it not repented of, 1 Cor. vi. 9, to. But by fuch a fevere Scrutiny. as this, we fhall foon perceive the Number of our Tranfgreffions, what vilet Wretches and grievous Offenders we are, how often we have broken our most serious Vows and Refolutions, efpecially after receiving the holy Sacrament, and in Times of Sickness and Diftreis: Such a Sight and fuch a Profpect of Mifery as this, fhould excite in us a hearty Trouble and Sorrow for Sin; especially if we caft an eye upon the final flue. and Confequences of it, with refpect to the World to come. Upon the. Ungodly, fays holy David, God will rain Snares, Fire and BrimAone, Storm and Tempeft; this shall be their Portion to drink, Pfalm xi. 7. Great Plagues remain for the Ungodly; Indignation and Wrath, Tribulation and Angilib," upon every Soul of Man that doth Evil, Rom. ii. 89. The Wicked fhall be turned into Hell, and al the People that forget God. Thete, and many other fuch like Texts of Scripti re, may give us fome Idea or Notion of the deplorable Condition. of the Wicked in a future State, and of God's Hatred agair ft 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 Courte, fo long are we expofed to all thofe Plagues and forments 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 SECOND Part of a true Repentance is Contrition, or a forrowful Bewailing of our own Sinfulness in Thought, Word and deed. When we call to Mind the Sins and Follics of our paft Lives, and the Dangers we are like to fall into, furely we cannot be otherwife affected, than fenfibly grieved with the Thoughts and Apprelienfions of our prefent and approaching Mifery. The Sof rows of David, and the Repentance of St. Peter, 1 Sam. xii. Luke xxii. fhewed themselves in Floods of Tears, and were too great to be confined within: But our Hearts are generally fo hard and unrelenting, that we fin againft God, and lote our own Souls without fo much as a Sigh or a 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 cur own or other People's Repentance by such
Signs and Tokens ; nor are Tears always necessary to Repentance, though they very well become us; and the leaft we can do when we have done amifs, is to be torry for it, and to condemn our Folly, and to be full of Indignation and Dif pleafure against ourf Ives. I will declare my Iniquity, faith holy David, and be forry for my Sin, Pfal. xxxviii. 18. Efpecially if we have been very wicked, ard have multiplied our Franfgreffions, and have continued long in an evil Courfe, have neglected God, and have forgotten him Days without Number; then the Measure of our Sorrows must bear fome Proportion to the Degrees of our Sins; if they have been as Scarlet and Crimson, Ifa. i. 18. that is, of a deeper Dye than ordinary,' then our Sorrow must be as deep as our Guilt: If not so great, we ought to fhew fo much Trouble and Contrition of Spirit, as to produce in us a penitential Confeflion of all our föriner Sins.
Confeflion of Sin.
Which is the Third Property of a fincere Repentance. Iwill acknowledge my fin unto thee, fays holy David, and mine Unrighteousness have I not bid. Ifaid I will confefs my fins unto the Lord, and fo thou forgaveft the Iniquity of my fin, Pialm xxxii. 5. · Which Confeffion of Sins muft not be in genetal Terms only, that we are Sinners with the reft of Mankind, but it must be a 1pecial Declaration to God of all our moft heinous Sins in Thought, Word and Deed, with all their feveral Aggravations. laying open our Sores to our heavenly Phyfician; and this we must do to fhew that we condemn all our former evil and vicious Courfes, with a full purpofe and Refolution of Mind (by God's Atiftance) never 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:
A new Life
Which is the Fourth and most effential Part of a fincere Repentance, and the only Condition of finding Mercy with God He that covereth his Sins all not profper; but whefo confeffeth and for faketh them shall have Mercy, Prov. xxviii. 13. Let the wicked Man forfake his Ways, and the unrighteous Man bis Thoughts, and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have Mercy upon him, and to our God, and he will abundantly pardon, Ifa. Iv. 7. I tell you nay, faith Christ, but except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish, Luke xiii. 3. Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your Sins may be blotted out, Acts iii. 19. Thofe preceding Parts of Repentance before-mentioned, are only preparative to this; that which must complete and finifh 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 Righteouf"nefs." This certainly must be the Defire and Intention of all Communicants, if they hope or expect any Benefit of Advantage from this folemn Rite or Covenant; for he that comes with a Defign or Intention of continuing in his former Sins, comes some what like unto Juda, that came and received, and at the fame Time continued his Refolution of betraying his Mafter. That which makes a Man ablolutely unfit to receive the holy Sacrament, is the living in the conftant and habitual
Practice of any known Sin, without the least Defire or Intention of Repentance or Amendment. Such a Man's Approach to the holy Table, ro doubt, is to eat "and drink his own Damnation,' fince it is a plain Mocking of God, and a great Contempt and Abuse of his divine Authority. We must therefore (by the Help and Affiftance of Goo's Grace)" refolve to lead a new Life, following the Com"mandments of God, or otherwife our former Examinations will appear but flight and fuperficial, our Sight and Senfe of Sin trivial and indifferent, our Sorrow. and Centrition 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 yourselves: 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 reNo abfolute quire perfect Obedience in all our Addreffes to the Holy Altar, or that pected af.or the none must come but fuch as are in a finless State of Perfection: No, this were impoffible, because there is no Man whic's liveth and finneth not for who can fay, I have made my Heart clean, I am pure from my Sin? The Sacrament of the Lord's Supper is not a converting, but a confirming Ordinance, intendcd to preserve and increase that fpiritual Life and Grace which we received at our Baptifm: So 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 thefe holy Mysteries, as in the outward Man by Bread and Wine; Bread being the Staff of Life, and Wine the moft fovereign Cordial (when taken in due Proportion) to chear and rejoice the Heart. And thus our Sculs, by this Sacrament, are fortified and ftrengthened with Grace, Wifdom, Courage, and all other fpiritual 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 fhed for us; but it likewife feals to us all thofe Bleffings and Benefits which are purchased and procured for us by his Death and Paffion; namely, the Pardon of Sin, and Power against it. The Benefit of frequent Communion is alfo of great Advantage, because hereby we are confirmed in all Grace and Goodness, and our Refolutions to live in Obedience and Conformity to God's Law are strengthened and the Grace of God's holy Spirit, to do his Will, is hereby conveyed to us: it is the lovereign Remedy against all Temptations, by mortifying our Paffions, and by fpiritualizing our affections: In a Word, it is the likelieft Method to make our Bodies the Temples of the Holy Ghost, and to prepare our Souls for the enjoyment of God to all Eternity.
And if at any Time, through Ignorance, Surprize, or the Violence of any other