« IndietroContinua »
The other Branch of a Communicarit's Duty is, to s examine
A living Paitit whether he hath a lively faith in God's Mercy through Chrift." Ex- in God's Meres. anime jourfelues wretler je le in the Faith, 2 Cor. xiii. 5. this Sacrament of the Lord's Supper being only appointed for such Believers as own their Baptism, and pro!ess the Faith of Christ Crucified, and understand the fundamental Articles of the Chrlian Religion, contained in the Apostles Creed, and also the End and Design of this holy Institution. Tlie Benefits of our Saviour's Death and Passion 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 bis Name, John i. 12. And this is life etei nal, that they miglt know tbce, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom tlou halt sent, John xvii., 3. All that Chrift hath done and iuffered for us Men and our Salvation, can never profit us, unless we have Faith to believe it: That which must reader the benefits and blessings of the Gospel effe&tual to our Salvation is our faith in Corist. Veria 11 say unto you, faith our Saviour, ke that beareth my Words, and believeth on bim tbat sent me, bath everlasting Life, and shall not come into Condemnation, but is palled from Death unto Life, John V. 24. The ancient Churches accounted those only Faithful that had received the Lord's Supper ; and the Germans allowed none to come unto their Sacrifices who had lost their Shields; nor does our own Church allow that any of is should come to this Christian Sacrifice without the Shield of Faith. “ Drów near with Faith, says the Priest, and take this holy Sacrament to
your Comfort,” And this Paith hath God's Mercy, through Christ, for its oba ject, as the Fountain and Foundation of all those infinite Blessings and Comforts which we gain by his Manifestation in the Flesh; and if we enquire into the cause and reason of so 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 low this Mercy beconie ours, thc Antwer is plain, it was through Chrift, by whom all the blessings of this Life, and thole of a better, are purchased for us, and mult be obtained through the merits and Intercession of the Holy Jesus; by him we were redeemed, and according to the Riches of bis Grace we have obtained Remiffum of our Sins, and through bim at last we shall be glorified.
And to this our Faith we must join" a thankful remembrance of his A thankful « Death, and of those Benefits which we receive thereby.”. Our of his Death. Gracious and Merciful Lord, faith holy David, bath so done bis marvellous Works, that they ought to be kad in Remembrance, Psal. cxi. 4. But elpecially this Work of our Redemption by Jesus
Christ, 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 bis 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 allother 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 Cross, made a full, perfect, and « sufficient Sacrifice and Satisfaction to God for the Sins of the whole World.”
The consequences of this Redemption are to infinitely great and valuable, that it as much lurpasses our Understanding as it does our Meri's. We are to declare and publish to all the World, what God hath done to save Mankind from that Damnation which they had deserved, and to restore us again to that Happiness and Glory which we could never expect or hope to enjoy, had not Christ died for us. O come bither and bearken, all ye that fear God, and I will tell you what he ha!) done for my Soul; Psal. lxvi. 16. Praise the Lord, O my Soul, and all that is with. in me, praise his bely Name: Praise the Lord, O my Soul, and forget not all bis Benefits, wbo forgiveth all thy Sins, and bialeth all thy Infirmities; who saveth thy Life from Destruction, and crowneth thee with Mercy and Loving-kindness, Psalm ciii. 1 2. 3. 4: With what joy and thankfulness then should every good Christian commemorate this exceeding love of God in the Salvation of Sinners by Jesus Christ? This was the proper end and design of this Institution, to perpetuate this wonderful Love of Christ in laying down his Life for us. Do this in Remembrance of me, faith our Saviour a little before his Crucifixion; which Our Obligations being a folemn Command of“ our Master and only Saviour thus « dying for us,"we cannot refuse
Obedience hereunto, without being guilty of the most horrible Ingratitude and Contempt of his divine Authority. He hath appointed it for a folemn Commemoration of his great Love to us, laying down bis Life for’us Men, and for our Salvation ; and therefore he commands us to do it in Remembrance of bim : And St. Paul tells us, that as often as we eat this Bread, and drink this Cup, we do Mew forth the Lord's Deatb till be
As for those Men then amongst us who profess themselves Christians, and hope for Salvation by Jelus Christ, not to pay obedience to this his Command, is a downright Affront to his facred Majesty ; and he may justly upbraid us Christians, as he did once the Jews, Why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not the things zohich I say? How unworthy are we of that Salvation which he hath wrought for us, if we deny him so small a favour fuch a reasonable requeft, as to Commemorate his Death and bitter passion once a Month, or at least thrice a Year, “ who did « humble himself even to the Death of the Cross, for us milerable Sinners, who
lay in Darkness, and in the Shadow of Death, that he might make us the • Children of God, and exaltus to everlasting Life?" In this Sacrament of the Lord's Supper we have the Pardon and Remission of all our Sins, the Grace and Affiftance of God's holy Spirit, and the hopes of eternal Life and Happiness,
to a frequent Communion.
And to be is
freely offered unto us: 'And therefore had we do Love, no Re- Mens own Interest gard or Reverance to the dying Words of our crucified Saviour, to a constant comyet surely the confideration of our own present and future Ado munion, because
of its great Bevantage might prevail with us to to be more frequent at the Lord's nefits. Table then we usually are. : Hitherto a Communicant hath beun directed to set his Heart right towards God; but this is not all, he must proceed farther, and enquire how it stands towards his Neighbour, since we are exprelly forbidden, Matt. v, 23, Charity with 24. to offer up any Gift or Oblation unto God, if our Hearts are leaven all Men. ed with Malice, Hatred, or Revenge. If thou bring thy Gift un!o the Altar, and there rememberest that thy Brother hath ought againlt thee, leave there :
Forgiving of Inthy Gift before the Altar, and go thy way, first be reconciled to thy juries expected Brother, and then come and offer thy Gift. Here you see that Christ írom a Comnuniprefers 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 presume to eat of that Bread, or to drink of that Cup." And it is exprefly said, Matt, vi. 14, 15. that our Prayers are not accepted, nor our Parson sealed in Heaven, until such Time as we forgive Men their Trespasses ; and to be sure we can never be welcome or worthy Guests at this heavenly Feast, where Jesus the Saviour of Penitents and the Prince of Peace is spiritually prelent, unless our Repentance reconcile us to God, and our Charity to all Mankind.
And this Charity of the Heart, in forgiving Injuries, must likewise shew itself Charity to the by the Hand; in relieving the Wants and Necessities of the Poor.
We read, that when this Sacrament was administred in the Apostles
Days, large Collections of Monies were then gathered for the Maintenance of the poor Clergy and Laity, Afts ii. 44, 45, 46. and i Cor. xvi. I. And Theodoret oblerves, that Theodofius the Emperor, when the Time came to offer, arose, and presented his Oblations with his cwn Hands. It was not determined how much every Man should give, but all Men were exhorted and enjoined to offer iomething, according to their Ability; which if any neglectid, the Fathers censured them as unworthy Communicants : And to b: fure, nothing within our Power can so effcctually recommend our Prayers and Devctions as this of Charity; it being well observed, Matt. vi. that our Saviour hath inclosed Alms between Prayer and Faiting, and therefore they are called its two Wings, without which it will never fly so high as the Throne of God. '-While Cornelius was fasting and praying, we read that an Angel from Heaven was dispatched to himn with this happy Message: Thy Prayers and thine Alms are come up for a Memorial before God, Acts x, 4. He that hath Pity upon the Poor, lenderb unio the Lurd: and that which he bath given will be pay bim again, Prov. xix. 17. Charge them ibat ure rich in this worid, -that they be rich in good Works, ready to diltribute, willing
to communicate, laying up in Pore for themselves a good Foundation against the Time to come, ibat they may lay bold on eternal Life, 1 Tiin. vi 17, 18, 19. : Do ye not know that they wbo minilter about holy Things live of the Sacrifice, and they who wait at the Altar are Portakers with the Altar ? Even to bath the Lord also ordained, that they who preach ehe Gospel should live of the Gospel, 1 Cor. ix. 13, 14. If we have forwn unta you spiritual Things, is it a great Mutter if we shall reap your worldly Things ? Ver. 11. But we may justly complain
with Balil, that we know some who will “ fast and pray, figh and
groan, yea, and do all Acts of Religion which cost them nothing, but
will not give one Farthing to the Poor : What Benefit is there, e faith he, of all the rest of their Devotions ?"
And when the Communicant has thus far advanced towards the Altar, in his Prayer.
Examination, Repentance, &c. he must not forget another excellent Pre
parative belongirig to this Dury of communicating worthily, which although it be not mentioned in our Church Catechism, yet it is always implied as a necessary Part of our Sacramental Preparation, that is
, Prayer *, private and public; a Duty upon which all our present and future Blessings depend, Mait. vii. 7, 8. and 21, 22. And fo near a Relation hath this Duty of Prayer with this Sacrament, that all those Blessings therein contained and promised, are only in return to our Prayers; and no doubt but that Man who makes a conscientious Practice of this Duiy in his Closet, and at Church, can never be unprepared for this Sacrament, nor want a Title to God's peculiar Favour and Blesling: Fyr the Eyes of the Lord are over the Righteous, and his Ears' are open unto their Prayers, 1 Pet: iii. 12.
T'he constant Exercise of Prayer is the best Method to get the Mastery over our evil Inclinations and Corrupt Affections, and to overcome our vicious Habits : It preserves a lively Sense of God and Religion in our Minds, and fortifies us against those Templations that assault us; it spiritualizeth cur Nature, and raiseth our Souls above this World, and supports us under the Troubles and Calamities of this Life, by sanctifying * such Afflictions; it leads us gra: dually to the Perfection of a Christian Lise, and preserves that Union between God and our Souls, which feeds our spiritual Life with Grace and Goodness; without it we in vain pretend to discharge those Christian Duties incumbent on us, or to prosper in our temporal Affairs, which must have God's Blefling to crown them with success. And as Prayer in general has these great Blessings and Advantages as tending is, so give me lave to suggest to you under this Head, that thole public Prayers and Devotions, which we offer unto God in our Churches, aje not only more acceptable to him, but also much more edifying and
Prayers readvantageous to ourselves : They cannot but be more acceptable to God, because
See The Devout Scul's Daily Exercise, in Prayers, Contemplations and Praises ; containing Devctions for Morning, Noon and Night, for every Day in the Week; with Prayers and Thanksgivings foi Perions of all cuo. - ditions, and upon, all Occasions.
* Ste The Daily Companion, with Christian Supports under the Troubles of this World, &c.
thereby his Honour and Glory is much more considerably advanced and maintained in the World, than by our private Devotions: By these outward Signs and Ickens, he publicly declare to all the World that inward regard and eftem which we have for his divine perfections and goodness; hereby we let our Light fo fine before Men, that they may see our good Works, and glorify cur Father which is in Hearen, Mait. v. 16. There is no Duty in Scripture more frequently commandcd, none more carnestly pressed upon us, than this of public Prayer. We have the exaniple of all good Men in all Ages for it, and of Christ himself, who was daily in the Ten:ple and in the Synagogue, and, no question, frequented those Places at the usual Hours of Prayers, because then he had the fairest opportu. nity, from those public Affemblies, to instruct and to exhort to Faith and Repen ance. 2dly, We may expect greater Blessings and success to our Requests and Desires, when we join in the public Prayers of our Church, than from private, be cause our Saviour has in a special manner promised to luch Assemblies his inmediete prefence; that where two or three are gathered together in bis Name, there will be be in the midst of them : Which he hath no where faid 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 of the greatest Blessings and Privileges (if we know how to value the same) that we can have in this World, and has always been accounted such among all wife and good Men. It is certain, that the Turks, whom we call Infidels, go to their public Devotion five times every Day; and shall not they rise 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 of their 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 : The 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, chrough « Jesus Christ; Repentance, Faith, Charity, Death and Judgment; the happy « Condition of a future State of Blessedness, and the miserable Condition of the “ Damned in Hell.” These and the like, as they offer themselves unto you, should be meditated upon, until fome Sorrow of Mind, fome 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 a Sa
See a Sermon concerning the excellency and usefulness of the Common Prayer. By w. Beveridge, D.D. late Lord Bishop of St. Alaph, at the opening of the Parith Church of St. Peter, Cornhill, London.