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thereby Ms Honour and Glory is much more considerably advanced nnd maintained in the World, than by our private Devotions*: By these outward Signs and ■ Tokens, we publicly declare to all the World that inward regard and esteem which we have for his divine perfections and goodness 3 hereby we Ut our Light so shine be j ore Men, lhc\t they may fee our good Works, and glorify cur Father which is in Heaven, Mjtt. v. 16- There is no Duty in Scripture more frequently commanded, none more earnestly pressed upon Us, than this of public Prayer. We have the example of all good Men in all Ages for it, and of Christ himself, who was daily in the Temple and in the Synagogue, and, no question, frequented those Places «t the usual Hrurs of Prayers, because then he had the fairest opportunity, from those public Assemblies, to instruct and to exhort to Faith and Repent' once, adly, We may expect greater Blessings and success to our Requests and Desire?, when we join in the public Prayers of our Church, than from private, because our Saviour has in a special manner promised to luch Assemblies his immediate presence; that inhere two or three are gathered together in his Name, there will he be in the midjl oj them : Which he hath no where said of private Prayer, though both are very good, nay, both are absolutely necessary for the beginning and ending of a Christian Life : And it is a very bad Sign of some evil Principle or other, for any Man to be much a stranger to the House of Prayer, which is one ot the greatest Blessings and Privileges (if we know how to value the fame) that we can have in this World, and has always been accounted such among all wise and good Men. It is certain, that the 'lurks, whom we call Infidels, go to their public Devotion five times every Day; and shall not tbey rife in Judgment against us Christians, who cannot afford to go once or twice a Day to God's House, when we have both leisure and opportunity? If Men shall be judged for every idle Word, to be sure they shall not pass unpunished for all the neglects and omissions ot th:ir Duty of this nature. But to proceed:
To this Duty of fervent Prayer, the Communicant should spend some Portion of Time in Reading, and Meditation, to raise his Soul into a devout and heavenly Temper: 7 he proper Office of Reading is to gain spiritual Food and Sustenance, and of Meditation, to digest it. Those divine Subjects most proper for our serious Contemplation on this solemn Occasion, I think, are " our Saviour's Ser** mon on the Mount; the Love of God in the Salvation of Sinners, through u Jesus Christ j Repentance, Faith, Charity, Death and Judgment; the happy '« Condition of a future Srate of Blessedness, and the miserable Condition of the "Damned in Hell." These and the like, as they offer themselves unto you, mould, be meditated upon, until some Sorrow of Mind, some Ardor of Devotion, some Act of Faith, some Flame of Love and Charity arise in your Souls.
Thus have I briefly represented to you both the Nature and Necessity of aSa
* See a Sermon concerning the excellency and usefulness of the Common Prayer. By W. Beveridgc, P. [D, late Lord Bishop of St. Asapb,«the opening of the Parislt Church of St, Peter, Comhill, London.
cramenUl Preparaticn,wh;ch in great measure contains the whole Duty of a Christian's Life; namely, "Repentance towards God, Faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ, and Charity towards our Neighbour." And I also hope, whosoever among us will but endeavour to prepare themselves tor ...the holy Communion, according to the forementioned Directions, may (by the hdp of God) upon all occasions come to the Lord's Table, without the least Fear or Danger of" eating and "drinking Damnation to themselves."
And now some People may censure this Discourse as giving teo great Liberty and Fncouragement to approach the Lord's Table with less Preparation than otherwise Men would venture to do. But 1 know no Ground or Reason for any The church ^uc^ Suggestion, if they impartially consider the Excellence and perCatechiJnv, ftction of that Guide and Companion 1 have followed throughout the'
- Whole : And to represent this Duty of frequent Communion otherwise than what the Church requires, is an Injury both to God and to ourselves: And I dare affirm, that no Part of divine Worship has suffered more on this account, than that of the holy Communion; Thousands of People not daring, in all their Life-time, (though very good Livers) to partake of the Lord's Supper, for star of eating and drinking their own Damnation.
For farther Instruction, fee A Treatise of Sacramental Covenanting with Christ Jbewing the Ungodly their Contempt of Christ in their Contempt of the Sacramental Covenant. By John Raiulet B. D. Author of The Clirijlian Monitor.
PREPARATORY TO A
What the Church os England requires from her Communicants.
A Prayer to God for' bis gracious a distance and direction in our Sacramental Preparation.
HOLY, hoIy\ holy Lord God of Sabaotb, Heaven and Earth are sell ot thy Majestyand of thy Glory. I the unworthiest of all creatures do here, in all humility of foal and body, prostrate-myself before thee, acknowledging my o» n weakness and insufficiency to do any thin* that is good or well pleasing, in thy sight: And therefore, humbly implore the special' influence of-thy Grace.and ho!y Spirit, to further these my endeavours for a worthy participation of the holy Communion of the Body and BlcoJ of Christ, which h^ has commanded me to do in remembrance of him, and of those benefits which we receive thereby. Teach me O Lord, the right way, and lead me in the paths'of holy preparation, that I may be received as a worthy and welcome guest at this thy heavenly table. Possess my mind with a true fense of the g'-eatneis of this mystery, and the excellency of thy mercy in preparing this Table for our spiritual Food: Inspire my Soul with pure and pious Dispositions; and instead of those filthy Rags of^my Righteousness clothe me with the Righteousness o( the Saint?, that my Heart may be a clean, though homely Receptacle for mv Saviour, and one Day fitted fortbe blessed Society of Saints and Angels in Heaven, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Our Either, 8Cc. See Pfal. xxiii. xxvi. cxi. A Prayer for the Gift and Grace of Repentance. \ Lmighty and erernal Lord God, who art cf purer Eyes than to behold lnijTXf quityt and hast more ejpc daily enjoined all those who compass thine Attar to wajh their Hands in Innocency, vouchsafe me unfeigned Repentance for my past Sins, a hearty Sorrow and Contrition of Spirit to lament my Sinfulness, and most firm and sledfast Purposes to lead a new Life. It is the Voice of thy wondrous Goodness and Mercy, that if the IVicked'Jhall forsake his Ways, and the unrigbtesus Man his Thoughts, thou wilt have Mercy upon him, and abundantly pardon him, O let thy Goodness (whereof I have had so great a Share, and plentiful Experience) lead me to Repentance not to be repented of, that I may be a fit Guest at tby Sons Table. 41 Have Mercy upon me, O Lord, and according to the Multitude of "thy tender Mercies, blot out all my Transgressions for thy Mercy's fake in V Christ Jesus, the Son of thy Lave, whom thou hast set forth to be the Propi"tiation for our Sins." Grant this, O merciful Father, for the fake of my blessed Saviour and Redeemer. Amen. Sec Psalm vi. xxv. xxxii. xxxviii.
A Prayer before Self-Examination.
OLord, thou that art the Searcher of all our Hearts, and a Di/cerner of the very Thoughts, and in whose Sight all Things a*e naked and open, be plealeJ to impart a Ray of thy heavenly Light to discover all the Sins and Infirmities of my past Life, and whatsoever else thou knowest wherein I have done amiss, that henceforward no secret Sin may lie undiscovered and corrupted in my Soul j that by examining my Life and Conversation by thy Law, the Rule and Measure of my Duty, I may understand the true State and Condition of m^ Soul, and from a just Sense and Sight of all my Transgressions, through the Assistance ot thy Grace and heavenly Benediction, I may be enabled to reform my Life, and to turn my Feet unto thy Testimonies; so faithfully to search and examine my own Conscience, that I may come holy and clean to the heavenly Feast, and be received as a worthy Partaker of that holy Table which thou hast called me to. Grant this for thy Mercy's fake in Christ Jesiu?. Amen. See P/alm cxxxix.
Brief Heads oj Self-Examination upon each Commandment,
< t Commandment .I. .. .
THoughlhavc notatheistically denied the Being of a God, or wickedly renounced him by Apostacy, yet have I not loved, desired or delighted, ia other Things more than in God? Or, have I not feared men, and dreaded the ^-...I—»f»iu. WrtrlrJ. store than of God? Or, have I not trusted in men,
of God's ijve I Glory
and Honour ol what I now enjoy to myself, more than to God? (Say) God be. merciful to me a Sinner, and lay not this (or theses Sins to my Charge [Repeat the fame at the End of every Commandment.]
IL Though I have not worshipped God by Images, yet have T not entertained gross and false Conceptions of him? or, have I not wilfully omittted coming to Church, or to the public Prayer?, when I had no just occasion to hinder-me? or have I not ludeiy, irreverently or wantonly behaved myself during the Time of. divine Service? or, have I not wilfully refuted to come to the Lord's Supper, when t have been called to it? or, have I not rashly and unadvisedly received the Sicr^-~ ment without due Preparation ? or, have I not broken my Vows and Resolutions
which I then made.
111. If I have not op?nly blasphemed the Name of God, ytt have I ;iiot lightly or irreverently spoken of himr or, have I not profanely j;steJ up;>n, or abused his holy Place* er Fci son-, or any Thing else dedicated to hi? Service? or, hav? I not taken God's Name in vain, by common Swearing and Cursing ? or, have I nottaken false and unlawful Oaths? or, have I net broken my own Vows and Resoutions, especially my Baptilmal?
IV. Have I not neglected the worship of God on his Sabbitli3? have I not ipentpart thereofin vain Sports, idle Dilcourses, Visits, and many other unnecessary affairs ? or, have I not sum red others to profane the Sabbath, when it was iu my Power to restrain them from so doing?
V. Have 1 not been stubborn, irreverent and undutiful towards mv Parents, rejecting thiir Counsels, despising their Government, and coveting their Estate besore their Death? or, have 1 contributed toward their Ntcessiries when they were in Want, and I bad in my Power to help them? or, hive I not been disloyal to my Prince, stubborn and unfaithful to my Master, refractory and unthankful to my Minister, peevish and unkind to my Friend and Companion.
VI. It I have not actually taken away the Life of any Person, yet have I not made my Neighbour's Life grievous by Oppression, Rage, and Violence against him? Or, have I not by Fighting or Quarrelling wounded his Person? Or, have I not tempted him, by any other Vice or Intemperance, to destroy his Health, and so. marten his Days? Or, have I not by false or contumelious Speeches wounded his good Name and Reputation? Or, have I not, by my own Luxury and Intemperance in Eating and Drinking, been accessary to my own Death?
VU. If I have escaped the grosser Acts of Adultery and Fornication, yet have I not conceived Lust in my Heart, and neglected the Means to preserve my own and others Chastity? Or, have I not by Gluttony and Drunkenness, or by any impure Thoughts or Words, defiled my Soul? Or, have I not accustomed myself to filthy Talking, Jesting, and immodest Garbs, and unchaste Behaviour in common Conversation?
VIII. If I have not been guilty of common and public stealing, yet have I been true and just in all my Dealings ? or, have I not contracted Debts, when I was conscious to mylelf that I was not able to pay, or make Restitution ? or, have I not wasted my own or others Estates by riotous living? or, have I not by Violence and Oppression exacted of my Inferiors, or by unlawful Usury taken advantage of their Necessities.
IX. If I have not before the Magistrate sworn falfly against any Man, yet have I net accustomed myself to Lying and Slandering? or have I not accused my Neighbour unjustly ? or, have I not concealed the Truth of another, when Justice and Charity obliged me to give Evidence of it ? or, have 1 not unjustly sought to uphold my own Credit,or to blast any other Person's?
X- Have I not secretly complained against the Providence of God, as if others had too much, and I too little ? or, have I not by unlawful means endeavoured to deprive others of their Goods and Property ? or, have I laboured truly and faiibiuUy