AN HELP and EXHORTATION TO Worthy Communicating.

OR, A TREATISE Describing the Meaning, Worthy Reception, Duty, and Benefits OF THE HOLY SACRAMENT.

AND Answering the Doubts of Conscience, and other Reasons, which most ge­nerally detain Men from It.

Together with SUITABLE DEVOTIONS ADDED.

By John Kettlewell, Vicar of Coles-hill in Warwick-shire.

LONDON, P [...]inted by R. E. for Robert Kettlewell, at the Hand and S [...]ept [...]r over against St. Dunst [...]n's Church in Fleet­street. 1683.

TO THE Right Honourable SIMON Lord DIGBY, BARON OF GEASHILL.

MY LORD,

THe Holy Eucharist is a Rite of the greatest Honour and Endearment that ever God vouchsafed to Men, and the most Sublime [Page] and Blissful Instance of our Communion with him. For therein he calls us to his own Table, not to attend as Servants, but to Feast with him as his Friends: He treats us with the most Magnificent Fare, pre­senting That to us for our Food, which one would think were not to be eaten, but adored, even the most Sacred Body and Blood of his own Son; in which he conveys to us all the Benefits of our Re­demption. And being thus apt to excite in us the highest Devotion, and to enrich us with the greatest Fulness of Grace and Blessing, one would expect it should be had in Re­verence, [Page] and most Thankfull Received by every Christian.

But yet in our Days what part of Religion doth so gene­rally suffer, or is so universally neglected among Men? For the greatest Numbers have either little or no Reverence at all for it, or too much, which makes them afraid of it; they Neglect it thro' Carelesness and Causeless Scruples, or Pro­phane it by Unworthy and Disrespectful Usage: So that among all the Professors of Christianity, few pay that Honour to their Lord, or secure that Benefit to them­selves by Receiving, which [Page] he intended All should do.

This, My Lord, is the Grief and Complaint of all, who have any just Honour for their Dearest Saviour, and this Venerable Ordinance; or any generous Compassion for the Souls of others. And that, by the Grace of God, I may help something to redress it, I have endeavoured to de­scribe a Worthy Communicating, and to set out both the Duty and Advantages of it in this Treatise, that thereby I may recommend it to the Choice of all who are Wise, and to the Consciences of all that are Religious. In the Ma­nagement [Page] whereof, I have shunn'd all fruitless Disputes, and nice Speculations, seeking onely to get it Authority a­mong the Loose, and Reve­rence with the Careless, and to reconcile it to the Scrupu­lous, and to make the Duty as Clear, Easie, and Useful as I can to all. Particularly, I have designed all along to make it not onely an Honourable Remembrance of our Dear Lord, but a most Solemn and Strict Engagement to a Good Life in all that use it; for then I am sure they will be infinite­ly Happy in it.

And this Discourse, My No­ble [Page] Lord, I here humbly offer to Your Lordship, desiring it may stand as a Publick Te­stimony of the great Honour and Affection I have for those Excellencies that shine so clear in You. God has endow'd Your Great Mind with a strong Love and a steady Choice of Virtue; and, what I have beheld with Pleasure, with a Generous, and, as there is Place for it, an Active Com­passion for those that want it. You have the True Wisdom, upon Deliberate and Well-studied Reasons, to be Religi­ous; and the Courage, in this Audacious Age, when Ir­religion is set up for the onely [Page] Creditable Dress, to own it, and study to be thought so. For 'tis Your Lordships Ho­nour to think that nothing can truly make You Greater, than to be an humble Wor­shipper, and Faithful Servant of Your Holy Saviour. This Noble Piety and Zeal for Goodness, will endear You, My Lord, to Almighty God, and to all Good Men. And if by these Papers I may in any wise contribute to them, I shall think my self happy in having serv'd to set on the Virtuous Growth of One whom I hope God has set out in a Time that so infinitely needs it, for an Illustrious Ex­ample, [Page] that may give both Ornament and Support to Religion.

But besides this, My Lord, I have another End in this Dedication; and that is, That these Sheets may remain a Lasting Monument of my Gratitude for the Endearing Favours I have received from Your Noble Hand. They were Composed for the Bene­fit of a Place where I am now fixed, and whereto I was de­sign'd by Your great Genero­sity and Nobleness, when I thought of nothing less. For so truly Publick was Your Lordships Spirit in the Fil­ling [Page] of that Church, that You pitch'd upon a Person whose Face You had never known, and who never knew of it, only because You believed he would make it his Care to promote Religion, and to Be­nefit those Souls which You had to commit to him. And this, My Lord, I humbly beg Your Lordships Leave to men­tion, not for Your own, but for the Publicks sake. For in this degenerate Age, when ei­ther Filthy Lucre, or at least some other mean and sordid End, have made a Merchan­dise, and bred Corruption even in the most Sacred Trusts, I think the World has need of such Examples.

[Page]I have nothing more to add, but to beg of Almighty God, That he who brings about the Noblest Ends by the Weakest and most Unlike­ly Instruments, would make this Book effectual to his own Honour and Service; and al­so bless Your Lordship with a Continuance and Encrease of all Virtuous Excellencies, Honour, and Happiness in this World, till at last he shall take You to shine in his own Immortal Glory in the World to come. This is the most hearty Prayer of him, who very much for Your Favours, but more for the true Affecti­on [Page] and Esteem You have for the God and Saviour he serves, is in all sincerity,

My Honoured Lord,
Your Lordships most Affectionate obliged Chaplain, and humble Servant, John Kettlewell.

THE CONTENTS.

  • PART I. The meaning of Feasting in the Sacrament.
    • CHAP. I. Of the meaning of our eating and drink­ing in the Sacrament. THree ends of Feasting in the Lords Sup­per. 1 [...] in Remembrance and Com­memoration of our Saviour Christ, and of his dying for us. To remember him is not bare­ly to call to mind that once there was such a Person, but to think of his particular Quality and Relation to us, which are worth remembring, as of his being our [Page] most Faithful Teacher, our most Graci­ous Governour, our most intire Friend, and noble Benefactor. These things usually commemorated by Festivals. 2 End is in confirmation of the New Covenant which his Death purchased for us. An account of the New Covenant. Christs Death pur­chased it: It is ratified in the Holy Sacra­ment, which is shewn from the same thing being done in Baptisme, Circumcision, and the Passover which answered to it: more particularly. 1. From the Words of Institution, wherein the Cup is call'd the New Covenant, and we are bid to drink of it, which was a Covenant-Rite; and the Bread Christs Body, to the same intent the Paschal Lamb was, which was a Fe­deral Conveyance of it. 2. From its being a Feast or Sacrifice, for Sacrifice is one way of Covenanting with God, and by Feasting on it we partake of it. 3. From its conveying the particular Blessings of the New Covenant, which otherwise than by Federal Promises, or Performan­ces are not to be had. 3 End is in Ra­tification of a League of Love and Friendship with those Brethren that Com­municate with us, and with all others. This Chapter summ'd up. Page 5.
    • [Page]CHAP. II. Of the Worthiness of Communicating in the Sacrament. To Communicate Worthily, is to do it with such Tempers and Behaviours as are worthy of it, and becoming Things which are meant by it. The First End was to re­member Christ, both, first, As our Lord and Master, which calls for Honour and Reverence in our selves, and a care to maintain his Honour among others. For mindfulness of his Commands, and Reso­lutions of Obedience. 2. As our most kind Friend and Benefactor, which calls for Love and an hearty Affection for him. For Joy and Gladness in what we receive from him. For Thankfulness for all his Kindnesses, particularly in Dying for us. And as this Death was a Sacrifice for our Sins, the Remembrance of it calls for a deep sense of our own unworthiness. An utter Abhorrence of our Sins, which caused his Sufferings. A Resignation of our selves to his Vse, as thereby we are become his own Purchase. The Second End was to confirm the New Covenant with God which his Blood procured. This calls for Since­rity and Faithfulness. A Third End [Page] was to confirm a League of Love and Friendship with all Christians. This calls for Peace and Charity to all Persons, and particularly for Alms to the Necessitous. A Summary Repetition of these Qualifi­cations. A Belief of these Things, which carries us on to these Tempers and Per­formances, is the Faith that makes us Worthy Communicants. page 48
    • CHAP. III. A further Account of this Worthiness. These recited Tempers are all necessary in the Person Communicating, but not at all neces­sary to be expresly exercised in the Time of Communion. A Direction in which it may be fit to lay out our Devotion at that time. All these are provided for in the Churches Prayers, so that we may exer­cise them worthily if we go along devout­ly at all the Parts of the Communion Service. page 87
    • [Page]CHAP. IV. Worthy Receiving not extraordinary difficult, and of unworthiness to Communicate. To silence the Complaint of extraordinary difficulty in coming worthily to this Sacra­ment, three things noted. 1. All the par­ticulars of worthy Receiving, are necessa­ry parts of Duty, and of a good Man; so that no more is required to fit us for re­ceiving, than is required to fit us to dye, or to go to Heaven. 2. They are all ne­cessary Qualifications of an acceptable Prayer, Vow, or Thanksgiving; so that no more is required to it, than to a worthy discharge of all other Acts of Religion. 3. However they may be commended, yet they are not necessarily required in more in­tense, and transporting degrees in it, than in other instances of Devotion. The only unworthiness, which can put us by this Or­dinance, is Impenitence: if Repentance will go down with any man, nothing else need stick with him. This Point of Wor­thy Communicating summ'd up. pag. 100
    [Page]
  • PART II.
    • CHAP. I. Of the Duty of Communicating. To Communicate is a Duty incumbent on us, as appears, 1. From the obliging import of the Command about it. This Command of Christ shewn, and several Notes ad­ded, which reatly recommend and enforce it, viz. It is such an Instance, as best shews our peculiar Reverence and Love to him; the whole yoke of Jewish Ceremonies is taken away, and only it, and Baptism, two cheap and easie Rites, imposed in stead of them; it was his last Command, he gave it the Night before he suffered; in St. Paul's Commission to Preach the Gospel, it was particularly specified; without greatest Danger to our selves it cannot be neglected, as appears from our Saviours Words, Joh. 6.53. which are shewn to speak of it; and from the Danger of Neglecting the Jewish Passover, which answered to it. 2. From the obliging Na­ture of those things which are meant by it, viz. Because therein we publickly own Christ and his Religion, and solemnly re­member [Page] him, and confirm the New Cove­nant with God, and a League of Friend­ship with our Brethren, and are vouchsa­fed the highest Honour, and receive To­kens of greatest Love, and enjoyment of present Graces, and pledges of future Glory from him: all which no Good man ought, and no Ingenuous man will decline, when he is call'd to them. This Duty obliges those only who are of Age for it, and them too only at such times as they have an Op­portunity and a fit Occasion offered. An Objection against its being a Duty, from 1 Cor. 11.25, answered. The Neglect of it is a great Sin. This God may excuse in those good Souls, who through Ignorance or Error are held back, and because of their over-high Veneration for it, think them­selves unworthy to come to it, whilst in the honesty of their Hearts they thus mistake it. But he will not excuse it in them when they are better inform'd; and much less in others, who neglect it because they are careless of it, or too Wicked and impeni­tent to receive it. Page 126
    • [Page]CHAP. II. Of the Benefits of Communicating. The Sacrament is full of Blessings, which make it not only our Duty, but our Privi­ledge. In the general, it is the most ef­fectual means in all Religion to recommend our Prayers, and make them powerful; and so is the likeliest way to attain all Mercies. In particular, 1. It seals to us the Pardon of our Sins for the Peace of our Consciences. 2. It encreases and Con­firms in us all Graces. Those are ordina­rily such as we bring along with us. It confers Grace, 1. By the Natural Virtue and Tendency of those Duties, which it both exercises and excites in us. 2. By those inward Assistances, which it conveys to us. Since on all these accounts it is so excellent a Means of Grace and New Life, 'tis the best Rule any Person can observe who would go on in the Work of Repen­tance. All these Motives to Communi­cate, both from Duty and Interest, summ'd up. Page 167
  • [Page]PART III. Of the Hindrances that keep Men from the Communion.
    • CHAP. I. Two Hindrances from Communicating. One most general Hindrance, that keeps men from the Sacrament, is a Fear of their being Vnworthy and Vnfit to receive it. This Answer'd, by shewing, 1. The Par­tiality of it, because they are not so scru­pulous about Neglecting, as about Vn­worthy Receiving, though there be the same Cause for it. 2. That every true Peni­tent is worthy of it: Yea, he that has only fully purposed Amendment, though he has not had time to perform it. 3. Impeni­tenee, which unfits them for it, is no Excuse for the Neglect of it. 4. Im­penitent men, who alone are unfit, if they understand the danger of their State, can­not continue in it, but amend it, and then they may worthily Communicate. 2. A Second Hindrance is, because an Vnwor­thy Receiver eats his own Damnation, 1 Cor. 11.29. which makes not Recei­ving [Page] seem the safer side. By Damnation is meant, 1. A Damning Sin, which is deadly till we repent of it; and such are both unworthy Eating, and sinful Abstain­ing, so that they are equal as to that Point. 2. Temporal Penalties, which were in­flicted for their Intemperance at this Feast, and other Disorders peculiar to those Times, and are not now usual in ours; so th [...]t the Fear of them need not discourage us from it. Page 197
    • CHAP. II. Of Three other Hindrances from Receiving. A Third Hindrance is, because therein they are to promise concerning every Sin, that they will no more commit it; which Pro­mise some dare not make, because they fear they shall not keep it. If this be suf­ficient to hinder any man from the Com­munion; it ought also to hinder him from Prayers, and being Baptized a Christian. But it must not hinder men from any of them. 1. Let them promise this Amend­ment, and keep it, and then the Doubt is answered. They ought to make it. And by God's Grace they may perform it, if they have a mind to it. 2. If after some [Page] time they happen to break it in any In­stance, they have the Benefit of Repen­tance afterwards. A Fourth Hindrance is the great difficulty supposed to be in it, and want of time and leisure to prepare for it. This lies not more against the Communion, than aganst an Holy Life, and all Religion. But it must not put us by from any of them. For, 1. If it re­quired all that Time and Pains which is supposed, that would be no Excuse for any of us to neglect it. To true Peni­tents, the Time and Pains is not so great as is imagined. It requires more of Ill men, but less of Good, who may prepare for it in a less time, yea, if used to Self-examinations, upon a few Minutes warn­ing. 3. The poorest and most imployed have time sufficient, if they would use it to that end: and where they have fewer helps, and less time, the less Preparation is ac­cepted of them. A Fifth Hindrance is, because they see others, or have found themselves to be no better by it; so that 'tis not worth their while to fit themselves for it. If this have any Force, it is not to be restrained to the Sacrament, but holds stronger against Prayers, and other Parts of Worship. But it ought not to hin­der any Persons. For, 1. Where it is true, there is no Excuse from it. 2. In all good [Page] mens case 'tis false, for they are really better by it; many by improving in their goodness, all by continuing in it, for which it is richly worth their pains to come to it. 3. Where they are not bettered at all, or not so much as might be expected; that is purely through their own Fault, in not using the means of improving by it: so let them amend that, and this Hindrance is removed. Page 223
    • CHAP. III. Of want of Charity. A Sixth Hindrance is a Fear lest they want that Charity, particularly towards Ene­mies and those who have given them Pro­vocations, which is required to it. An account what Love is, and what is not due to such Persons. 1. We are bound to shew them all the Offices of general Chari­ty, which are due to our Neighbour at large, or to all others. This Love con­tains in it all the Particular Offices of Ju­stice, Charity, and Peace, which are due to all mankind: It is transgressed by all the opposite Instances, but by nothing more than hard and uncandid Censures and Sus­picions. The commonness and sinfulness of this Carriage. The want of this Cha­rity [Page] unfits men for this Feast; but so i [...] doth for Prayers, and all other Religious, Worship. 2. We are not bound to shew them all the Offices of special Esteem, Trust, and Confidence, which are not fit to be placed on all men, but on such only as are qualified for them. When they sufficient­ly shew Repentance of their Fault, they are to be re-admitted to the same state of Favour and Friendship. We must be Candid in Judging when their Repentance is sufficiently evidenced. An humble Con­fession is ordinarily a sufficient Proof of it for the first Fault; but not when it has been oft repeated. Luc. 17.4, which seems to affirm it, answer'd. Several Cases clear'd, which are sometimes thought by Pious Souls to be a breach of Charity to­wards Enemies, but in reality are not. As, not forgetting Injuries or Vnkind­nesses, but still retaining a Remembrance of them. Thinking the worse of those who offered them. Being troubled at the sight of them, as that puts them in mind of the great Losses they have sustain'd by them. Shewing more reserve, and car­rying a greater distance in Conversing with them, than with other men. These are no breach of Charity towards them, nor can be a just Hindrance from the Communion. Page 262
    • [Page]CHAP. IV. Of Law-Suits. They are an Hindrance from the Communi­on, when there is sin in them. They are not sinful in themselves, which is shewn, 1. From the necessity of them. 2. From the Magistrates Office being appointed for them. 3. From Gods taking Legal De­terminations upon himself, as if he were the Author of them. 4. From Courts e­rected by consent in the Apostles Days, which ministred to them. These St. Paul prescribed to the Corinthians, 1 Cor. 6. They are the Assemblies mention'd Jam. 2.2, 5. From our Saviours, and St. Pauls Practice, who in claiming the Benefit of them, warranted and authorized them. An Objection from Mat. 5.38, 39, 40. consider'd; which is shewn not to condemn defending our selves in any case when o­thers implead us; nor moving Suits in all, but only in case of lighter Losses and In­dignities, such as our Saviour there men­tions, or making them minister to Revenge in any others. And 1 Cor. 6.7. an­swered, which makes them not a Damning sin, but only when some Virtuous ends do not require them, a Defect and Dimi­nution. [Page] But they are sinful, 1. When they are begun upon an unjustifiable Ground. Such they always are, 1. When they are Vindictive, not Reparative; as when we sue insolvent Persons; or others upon such Words or Actions, for which, besides Costs, no Damages that are valuable are like to be allotted us. 2. When they are for Reparation of small things, which coun­tervail not the evil and hazard of a Suit, but ought to be a matter of Patience and Forgiveness, and so be quietly put up without recourse to it. In judging of this smallness, we must not estimate by our own Pride and Passions; but by the reali­ty of Things, and the Judgment of indif­ferent, humble, and dispassionate Persons. This is true, not only in case of Injuries to our own selves, but also in case of Trust, when we have the charge of others. 2. Suits are sinful when they are carried on by a sinful Management: As they are, when they make us transgress any of those Duties towards our Adversaries, which oblige us towards all Persons. To avoid all these in Suing, is an hard Point: So we must be slow in coming to it, and very circumspect when we are forced upon it. The Answer to this Hindrance summ'd up. Page 304
    • [Page]CHAP. V. Of Three other Hindrances. A Seventh Hindrance, is, because others are not in Charity with them, so that they are afraid they want that Peace which is required to it. As for other mens uncharitableness, it is their sin, and so unfits them; but not being ours, it un­fits not us for Receiving. If that ought to exclude any from the Sacrament, it had excluded Christ and his Apostles, and the Primitive Christians, since none had ever such implacable Enemies as they had. Care to be taken that their Enmity be not continued through our Fault; so that if we have given just occasion, we must endea­vour a Reconciliation; and if we gave none, be careful not to hate them again. An Eighth Hindrance is, because 'tis a Presumption in us to come to it, and there­fore an Humble man ought in all modesty to abstain from it. But, 1. 'Tis no Pre­sumption to come when we are call'd, and to do what we are bidden. 2. 'Tis a very great Presumption to stay away, and leave it undone. 3. If the height of Priviledge and Honour in it be sufficient to make an humble man refuse the Communion; it [Page] will also carry him to renounce the whole Christian Profession. A Ninth Hin­drance is, because many good People are seldom or never seen at it, so that they have good Company, and may be good too, if they abstain from it. But, 1. In in­quiring after our own Duty, we are not to ask whether others practise it, but whether Christ has any where enjoyn'd it. 2. If any Good People keep from the Sacrament, that is no part of their Goodness, so that there­in they are not to be imitated. 3. Though they might be acceptably Good, whilst through innocent Scruples and honest Igno­rance they were afraid to come to it: yet will it be a very great Fault even in them to Neglect it after they are better informed, which will not be forgiven, but upon their Amendment of it. Page 362
    • CHAP. VI. Of Two more Hindrances. A Tenth Hindrance is, because others who are unworthy of it, are admitted to join in it. But, 1. They ought not to be for­ward in judging others unworthy, lest they be mistaken in it. 2. When some, who, as they have great cause to think, are un­worthy, do receive, yet ought not that to [Page] hinder them from joining in it. For if it be a sufficient Hindrance, it had e­qually hindred our Saviour Christ, and the Primitive Christians. It ought not only to hinder us from the Communion, but also from being Members of the Chri­stian Church and Profession; but 'tis plainly of no Force for either of them, since one man shall not bear anothers, but every man his own burden. 3. If still any are really offended at the Communion of the Wicked, upon complaint made in the Congregation they are to be suspended from the Holy Table, and denied the Sacrament. An Eleventh Hindrance is the Gesture of Kneeling, which is required to it. When any are absent upon this account, there is no excuse from it. Three things insisted on to prevent their being hindred by it. 1. Kneeling is no unsuitable Posture in receiving, so that if we were left at Li­berty, we might have enough to justifie our selves in making use of it. 2. It is appointed by our Governours, whom God Commands us to obey in all lawful Things; so that every Good man ought to ob­serve it. But if it neither had Authori­ty to injoyn, nor Reason to recommend it, but another Posture might be better used: Yet, 3. Since it may lawfully, though not so well, be used too, for the Sacraments sake, [Page] which is not otherwise to be had, we should at least comply with it. No Hindrance to this Complyance, because the Gesture of Kneeling is different from what our Sa­viour used. For so is sitting too, and therefore they and we are equally concern­ed to answer it. The Posture he used was no part of the Institution, so that the In­stitution is not broken when the Posture is altered. Neither it, nor any other, has any Command of God for it; so that none is necessary, but all are still indifferent. When a Posture, different from that at the first Institution, was intro [...]uced in Sacraments, our Saviour himself, and they too have submitted to it. Again, no hindrance to it from the fear of worship­ing the Bread, or its being a Popish Rite. A conclusion of this point. Page 381
    • CHAP. VII. Of some other Hindrances. An Account of some other Hindrances. One abstains because the day before he was at a Feast. Another, because his Child is sick, or he himself is lighty indisposed. A third, because his Wife or Husband cannot come along with him to joyn in it. A fourth, because he has a Visit to make, [Page] or a Friend come in, who in all civility must be attended. A fifth, because of a Showr of Rain, or a sharp Air abroad, so that he must endure a piercing Blast, or wet his Foot, to go out to it. These are no Excuse from it, but still Men are bound to Communicate. Some Devout Meditations and Prayers to help them in a Worthy Discharge of it. After they have received, they must be careful to make good those holy Vows and Promises which they made to God in the Holy Sacrament. Page 421 Heads of Self-Examination, for the use of those who would find out what Sins they have to Repent of, either before a Sacrament, or at any other Times. Page 465
      • A Prayer before the Sacrament. Page 474
      • A Prayer and Thanksgiving after the Sacra­ment. Page 478
      • A Morning Prayer for a Family. Page 484
      • An Evening Prayer for a Family. Page 487

AN HELP AND EXHORTATION TO Worthy Communicating.

The INTRODUCTION.

IN this matter of the Holy Sacrament of the Lords Supper, there are two great Faults which are every where incurr'd, and which all that Love their Saviour or their own Souls ought most carefully to avoid; and they are, a Refusal or Neglect, and an unworthy Vsage or Prophanation of it; both which are most offensive to Almighty God, and to our dear Lord. For our Blessed Saviour has ap­pointed it, and expresly commanded us to come to it, and shew'd us by manifest To­kens [Page 2] that he lays a particular weight upon it; so that we are greatly undutiful and disobedient if we keep back from it: And he has appointed it for sacred Ends and solemn Purposes, which call for a very Re­verent and Devout Carriage; so that we prophane it if we come carelesly, and be­have our selves unworthily when we ap­proach thereto. It is a most necessary part of our Religion, and therefore not to be passed over, and let alone through Negli­gence; and a most awful one, and there­fore not to be perform'd with disrespect, and an irreverent Carriage. So that we must be careful, both to partake of this Holy Feast when we are called to it, and to come to it worthily when we do. And this St. Paul prescribes concerning it, 1 Cor. 11. Let a man examine himself, says he, and so let him eat of that Bread, and drink of that Cup. v. 28. Let a man examine him­self, i. e. let him approve him­self, as the [...]. word here ren­dered examin signifies v. [...], they that are approved may be made manifest. 19, and Chap. 16. v. [...], Whoms [...]ever you shall approve. 3: let him so long try his fit­ness for it, till he see cause to like and approve himself, and think he is worthy of it; for he would not call unworthy Receivers to the Sacrament, [Page 3] but drive them from it, as he doth by telling them the extream danger of it, v. 27, 29. But when once he is so appro­ved, and fit to come to it, then, says he, let him not forbear the Feast, but hasten to partake in it; Let him eat of that Bread, and drink of that Cup.

Thus are both a careless Forbearance, and an indecent unworthy Vsage of this Holy Feast, great Indignities to our Bles­sed Lord, and criminal Violations of it. It suffers on either hand, so that to se­cure it in its just esteem and due obser­vance, both are carefully to be removed. And to do what Right I can to this Holy Ordinance, and what Service I am able to all such as shall seek help from this Treatise, I shall endeavour, what in me lies, to cure, or prevent both, in that which follows.

Now to do this with the greater clear­ness, in Discoursing upon this Subject I shall do these five things.

1st, I shall shew What is the meaning of eating Bread and drinking Wine in the Blessed Sacrament.

2ly, Wherein lies the worthiness of do­ing it.

3ly, How much it is every good Chri­stians Duty to frequent it.

4ly, What great inducements we have to [Page 4] it, and how great the Benefits are that come by it, which should make us press to it of our selves, though it were not commanded.

5ly, I shall consider those Excuses, and take off those Pleas, which are most usually made against it.

And when all this is done, I think I shall have said enough, both to invite, and press men to this Feast, and also to a worthy partaking of it, that so they may come to it when they are invited, and be welcome and worthy Guests when they do.

PART I. The meaning of Feasting in the Sacrament.

CHAP. I. Of the meaning of our eating and drinking in the Sacrament.

The Contents.

Three Ends of Feasting in the Lords Supper. 1 End is in Remembrance and Commemo­ration of our Saviour Christ, and of his dying for us. To remember him is not bare­ly to call to mind that once there was such a Person, but to think of his particular Quality and Relation to us, which are worth remembring, as of his being our most Faithful Teacher, our most graci­ous Governour, our most intire Friend, and noble Benefactor. These things usually commemorated by Festivals. 2 End is in [Page 6] confirmation of the New Covenant which his Death purchased for us. An account of the New Covenant. Christs Death pur­chased it: It is ratified in the Holy Sa­crament, which is shown from the same thing being done in Baptism, Circumcision, and the Passover which answered to it: more particularly, 1. From the Words of Institution, wherein the Cup is call'd the New Covenant, and we are bid to drink of it, which was a Covenant-Rite; and the Bread Christs Body, to the same intent the Paschal Lamb was, which was a Fe­deral Conveyance of it. 2. From its being a Feast or Sacrifice, for Sacrifice is one way of Covenanting with God, and by Feasting on it we partake of it. 3. From its conveying the particular Blessings of the New Covenant, which otherwise than by Federal Promises, or Performan­ces are not to be had. 3 End is in Ra­tification of a League of Love and Friendship with those Brethren that Com­municate with us, and with all others. This Chapter summ'd up.

FIrst, I shall shew what is the meaning of eating Bread and drinking Wine in the Blessed Sacrament, and what we are to under­stand by them, and think of them, when we do them.

[Page 7]When we come to eat Bread and drink Wine in the Holy Sacrament, we must not come only for a Bodily re­freshment, or for eating and drinkings sake, as we do to our common Food: For this is to eat, as St. Paul says, not discerning the Lords Body; but as if it were bare ordi­nary Meat, 1 Cor. 11.29. But we must eat and drink with special ends, and particular Intentions, which may render our eating and drinking, not an ordinary Repast, but a Religious Feasting upon the Body and Blood of our Lord. And these ends are three.

1st. In Remembrance and Commemoration of our Saviour Christ, and of his dying for us.

2ly, In Confirmation of the New Cove­nant, which his Death procured us.

3ly, In Ratification of a League of Love and Friendship with those Brethren that Com­municate with us, and with all others.

First, We must eat Bread and drink Wine in Remembrance and Commemoratio [...] of our Saviour Christ, and of his dying for us. By these Actions we must be put in re­membrance and call to mind our selves, and commemorate or tell it out to others, what a good Friend and Saviour Christ has been to us, and how at last he died and gave his own Hearts Blood for our sakes. And this our Blessed Lord expresly or­dered at the time of Institution, This do, [Page 8] says he, both of the eating Bread, and drinking Wine, in remembrance of me, 1 Cor. 11.24, 25.

To Remember one, is not barely to call to mind that once there was such a Person; but also to think of their particular Qua­lity and Relation, what they are to us, or what they have left with us, or what they have done for us which is worth Remem­bring. If we bid a Servant remember us, we intend he should be mindful of the Commands which we have left with him; if a Friend, that he should bear in mind the Great Love and Faithfulness which we have always expressed towards him; if one we have highly obliged, that he should gratefully resent, and think of the kindnesses which we have done him; or if one, lastly, whose favour we desire, and of whom we have requested any thing, that he would be mindful of the Good turn which he pro­mises to do, or which we ask of him. In desiring any of these, or any others to re­member us, we mean not barely that they should call to mind how once there were such men as we in being; but, over and above that, that they be particularly mindful of the Relation wherein we stand, and think of what we have done, what we deserve, or what we desire or expect from them.

[Page 9]And this our Blessed Lord intends, when in this Holy Feast he Desires, and Commands us to remember him. He would have us think of him in all those Capacities, and reflect upon him under all those Relations, wherein he so infinite­ly deserves to be remembred by us: Such as are that of a Faithful Teacher, a Gra­cious Governour, an intire Friend and noble Benefactor, doing the highest kindnesses, and working the greatest deliverances for us, and for all Mankind.

1st, He would have us remember him as our Faithful Teacher, who has made known to us the whole Counsel of God concerning us, and to call to mind those excellent things which he has revealed to us. As namely, That for the sake of his Death, and through the merits of his Blood, all mankind, who were utter Ene­mies before, shall be put into a way of Re­conciliation with God, and have the Be­nefit of a New Covenant, which proffers Pardon to all that truly Repent, and Spi­ritual help and inward Grace to all that carefully indeavour with it, and the Bles­sings of Heaven and Happiness to all that are intirely obedient, promising that at our Death our Souls shall go into Para­dise, and at the General Judgment our Bodies, which till then were held in their [Page 10] Graves, shall be raised up again to Eter­nal Life.

2ly, He would have us remember him as our Gracious Governour, whom God has anointed to give Laws to us, and to recol­lect and bear in mind those Commands, which, as our Soveraign Lord and Ma­ster, he has laid upon us. As namely, That we love God, and trust in his Good­ness, and submit to his Providence, and Worship him with Prayers and Praises, but above all with an Holy and a God-like Life; that we be Humble and Hea­venly-minded, Chaste, Temperate, and Contented; that we be dutiful to our Governours, respectful to our Superi­ours, courteous to our Equals, conde­scensive to our Inferiours, grateful to our Friends, loving and obliging to our Ene­mies, and just, charitable, and peacea­ble towards all Persons, of whatsoever Nations, Sects, or Parties, even to all Man­kind.

3ly, He would have us remember him as our most intire Friend, and noble Be­nefactor, who let us in so deep into his Heart, and heaped his Favours on us at so prodigious a rate, as never was, nor ever will be equall'd. For he loved us without any thing of our own Deserts; and in spite of our highest Provocations; [Page 11] and without expecting any other recom­pence, besides the Pleasure of being kind to us; and to such a degree, as made him forego the greatest pleasures which he might have held without all inter­ruption in Heavenly places, and be­come a man of Sorrows, and lead a Per­secuted, difficult, and necessitous Life, and at last dye a most exquisitely pain­ful, and ignominious Death for our sakes, which ransom'd us from the great­est Curse, and procured us the most valuable Blessings that our Nature can admit of. And this Benefit of his Death, being not only in it self the cost­liest, but the very price and purchase of all the rest, he would have remem­bred above all others in this Feast; and accordingly he has suited the Food in it to be broken Bread, and Wine poured out, which do most lively represent it. As often as you eat this Bread, and drink this Cup, saith the Apostle, you exhi­bit to all that look on and observe it, or shew forth the Lords Death till he come, 1 Cor. 11.26.

These are the things which our Savi­our Christ calls us seriously to remember and consider of in our own minds, and which the Actions themselves commemo­rate and shew forth to others, when we [Page 12] eat Bread and drink Wine in this holy Sa­crament. When we partake of this Feast, which he has appointed us, he would have us remember him, and think with our selves how Faithful a Teacher he was to us, and what good Lessons and Declarations he has left with us; how gracious a Lord and Master he proved, and what Commandments he has laid upon us; and lastly, how kind a Friend, and noble Benefactor he shewed himself, and what astonishing kindnesses he has done for us in all the Labours of his Life, but especially and above all in his suffer­ing a bloody Death for our sakes, which purchased us the Forgiveness of our Sins, the Grace and Spirit of God, and Eternal happiness. All this Faithful Teacher, and Gracious Governour, and intire Friend, and noble Benefactor Christ is to us in the highest Measures, and to all imaginable Degrees; and since he is so, he would have us to bear it in mind, and oftentimes to think of it. And that we may be sure to do it, he has in­stituted this Feast on purpose for it, and told us that our work is to call to mind and remember him whensoever we come to it.

And this way of having these things remembred, by appointing Feasts for the [Page 13] Commemoration of them, has been very usual in the World. Thus the [...]. Athen. Deipn. l. 5. c. 1. Diogenistae, Anti­patristae, Panaetia­stae appellati sunt, qui stato anni Die Diogenis, Antipa­tri, & Panaetii no­bilium Philosopho­rum memoriam ce­lebrarent. Is. Ca­saub. ad loc. Ani­mad v. c. 1. Disciples, in the se­veral Sects of Philosophers at Athens, were wont to have a set Feast and Col­lation in remembrance of their Founders. And it has been the way of all the World to remember their Benefactors, and commemorate some great Blessings, by Festivals. Thus at this day we com­memorate the delive­rance from the Powder-Treason, and the Kings happy Restauration, by a yearly Festival upon that occasion. And the whole Christian Church has perpetuated the memory of Christs Nativity, Resurrection, and the Descent of the Holy Ghost, by the yearly Feasts of Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost. And God himself in the old Testement call'd men to a remembrance of the Creation of the World by the Feast of the Seventh day Sabbath; and all the Jews to the commemoration of his sparing all their First-Born, when the destroying Angel slew all the First-Born of Egypt, by the [Page 14] yearly Festival of the Passover appointed for that very purpose, Exod. 12.14.

This then is the first end of our eating Bread and drinking Wine at the Lords Table, it is in remembrance of our Saviour Christ, and of what he has done for us. So that when we partake in this Feast of his appointment, we must seriously reflect on him who has appointed it, and bethink our selves that he is our Faithful Teacher, calling to mind his Revelations; our Sove­raign Lord and Master, remembring his Commandments; our intire Friend, Sa­viour, and Benefactor, who has done strange things for us, but above all, who has laid down his own Life to purchase us the Pardon of our Sins, and Spiritual Grace, and Eternal Happiness, upon our Repentance, Obedience, and Virtuous endeavours. With these Thoughts he would have us entertain our minds, at the same time we Feast our Bodies with the Creatures of Bread and Wine which he has prepared for us: and if we would an­swer his end in it, and be welcome Guests at this Feast when he calls to it, we must be sure so to do.

And as we must eat Bread and drink Wine at the Lords Table in remembrance of our Saviour Christ, and of his dying for us; so must we,

[Page 15]2ly, In Confirmation of the New Covenant, which his Death purchased and procured us.

This Covenant is a mutual contract and ingagement between God and us; and consists of several Articles agreed to on Gods side, and several on ours. As for Gods part, to all Believers, i. e. to all that believe the Scrip­tures, and particularly that part of them, these his promises, without a belief where­of they will have no lift or encourage­ment to set about the performance of the Conditions required on their parts: to all Believers, I say, he promises three Things, viz. the forgiveness of Sins, the assistance of the Spirit, and Eternal happiness. And an­swerably on their Parts they promise three more, which three indeed are all summ'd up in one, i. e. the last of them: and those are, to Repent of all their Sins, to endeavour with his Grace, and to obey all his Command­ments.

He promises to forgive them all their Sins. For this is one Article of the New Cove­nant, as the Apostle relates it, Heb. 8. This is the Covenant I will make with them in those days, I will be merciful to their unrighteous­ness, and their sins and iniquities will I re­member no more, v. 10.12. But then at the same time he expects, and accordingly they promise that they will Repent of them, and forsake them. For he orders Repentance [Page 16] and Remission of Sins to be preached both together, Luc. 24. That Repentance and Re­mission of sins should be preached in his Name to all Nations, v. 47; and tells us expresly, that except we repent we shall all perish, Luc. 13.3.

He promises them the assistance of his Spirit to enable them to do his will and be­come obedient. For this also is reckoned as another Article of the Covenant made with Abraham, that he would grant unto us the Power to serve him in Holiness and Righte­ousness all the days of our Lives, Luc. 1.72, 73, 74, 75. and the great Promise of the Gospel is, that God will give his Holy Spi­rit to those that ask him, Luc. 11.13. But then he expects, and accordingly they promise, that they will use and improve his Grace whensoever it is intrusted with them, and endeavour after all Virtues as they stand in need of them. God works in us both to will and to do, says St. Paul, when we join with him, and work out our own Salvation, Phil. 2.12, 13: and 'tis only to him that hath, saith our Saviour, i. e. to him that hath improved the Talents bestowed on him, as those Good Servants had done, who had gain'd the one v. 20. five, the other v. 22. two Talents with them, that more shall be given, and he shall have [Page 17] abundance; but from him that hath not, i. e. hath not improved what he received, as the wicked Servant had not done, who went and v. 25. hid it, shall be taken away even that which he hath, Mat. 25.29. And that this is Gods ordinary Rule where he in­trusts any thing, he expresly declares a­gain upon another occasion, Luc. 19.26.

He promises them, lastly, eternal Life and happiness. This, says St. John, is the Promise which he hath promised us, even Eternal Life, 1 Joh. 2.25. But then he ex­pects, and at the same time we promise, that we will obey all his Laws, and do every thing which he requires of us. For Christ is become the Author of Eternal Sal­vation, says the Apostle, to those only that obey him, Heb. 5.9: and blessed are they that do his Commandments, says St. John, for they only have Right to the Tree of Life, Rev. 22.14.

So that the New Covenant is a mutual Contract and Ingagement between God and Men, wherein he promises to all that Believe, and accordingly they accept it, that he will forgive them their Sins when they Repent of them, and help them to any Graces when they concur with him and en­deavour after them, and give them Eter­nal Life after they have intirely obeyed him. [Page 18] He promises Pardon, Inward Grace, and everlasting Happiness; but then they, having Faith or Belief already, without an actual exercise whereof they would not seek after this Covenant, nor, if they did, could be admitted to it, make Pro­mise to him again of Repentance, vir­tuous endeavours, and an intire obedi­ence, which must confer a claim, and give them right thereto.

This is the New Covenant, and this Christs Bloody Death has purchased and procured for us. God would not dispense with the First Covenant without a Ran­some that might remove all hindrances, by securing the Honour of his Holiness, and utterly discouraging all future offen­ces, and satisfying all the ends of Justice: and because that could not otherwise be so well effected, as he thought fit it should, Christ himself became an expia­tory Sacrifice, and, by dying for it, ob­tained the Second. And for this cause it is called the New Covenant in his Blood, i. e. that Covenant which was confirmed and purchased by it. This, says he, is the New Testament, or rather, the New [...]. Covenant in my Blood, 1 Cor. 11.25.

Now this Covenant, which is the purchase of Christs Death, and which is [Page 19] the summ and substance of all that he has got for us, we all entred into at first when we were Baptized. For Baptism is our Sealing of this Covenant, and stipula­ting or ingaging to make good these Terms to Almighty God; Baptism, says St. 1 Pet. 3.21. Peter, is the Answer, or [...], Stipu­lation of a good Conscience towards God; i. e. it is the Federal Promise, or undertaking of it, which every Person makes when he is Baptized. And this is plain from that form of the Baptismal Vow which the Primitive Christians used, and which we use now at present, wherein, if they are grown Persons, they them­selves, or if Children, their God-fathers and God-mothers in their Names do ex­presly Covenant and ingage for that Faith, Repentance or Renouncing of all Sins, and Obedience to Gods Laws, which are required by it.

And as we first entred into this Cove­nant when we were Baptised; so are we cal­led to renew and confirm it every time we are invited to sup with our Lord in this Holy Sacrament. When he Summons us to eat Bread, and drink Wine in re­membrance of his Death at this Feast; he calls us withall to confirm this New Covenant, which his Death procured, [Page 20] and which was the price and purchase of it. He invites us to receive ingage­ments from God of his promised Mer­cies, and to give him ingagements of our Duty and Service: to be assured by him, that, if we do believe the Scriptures, he will forgive us our Sins upon our Re­pentance, and give his Grace and Spirit to our endeavours, and make us eternally happy upon our obedience; and to assure him, that we do so believe, and are re­solv'd so to repent, endeavour, and obey, that so by virtue of his Gracious Pro­mise we may have right thereto. He intends our eating and drinking at his Table as a Federal Rite, and for a Re­newal and Ratification of this League of Love and Friendship: So that at the same time we eat and drink in remem­brance of Christs Death which procured the Covenant, we must solemnly give our Consent to it, and expresly ratify and confirm it too.

This may fairly be presumed to be one end of the Holy Communion, be­cause it is the end of Baptism, which St. Peter calls a 1 Pet. 3.21. Stipu­lation, and which, as we have seen, is our entrance into the Gospel-Covenant and Religion. And since it is so evidently the use of that, in great [Page 21] likelihood it is of this too; for both the Sacraments were still held of like Vse, Nature, and Signification.

Nay, this was the end, not only of the Christian, but also of the Jewish Sa­craments, which shews it was not pecu­liar to any one, but runs through all of them.

For as for Circumcision, it was a Fede­ral Rite or Sign. It bound the Jews (as before it had done the Patriarchs) to God, and God to them, in the Covenant Moses gave them, by a mutual Obligation. For therein they promised to perform all that the Law injoined—He that is Circumcised, says St. Paul, is a Debtor to keep the whole Law, Gal. 5.3. And thereby they were as­sured of the Righteousness and Benefits God had promised—Abraham received Circum­cision as a Seal of the Righteousness of Faith, says the same Apostle, i. e. as a Seal or Confirmation of the Promises made to it, Rom. 4.11. And because it was thus a sign to both parts, and a Rite used at their engaging in it, Circumcision is call'd the Covenant, i. e. the Solemn Ceremony and undertaking of it, Gen. 17.10. Act. 7.8.

And then as for the Passover, it also was a Covenanting Ceremony and Federal Rite, as may sufficiently appear from its being a Feast on Sacrifice, which is the most So­lemn [Page 22] way of Covenanting with God. And this use of the Passover is of the greater weight to conclude the same of the Lords Supper, because among us this answers to it, and comes in stead of it. It answers to it, I say; for our bleeding Lord was the Great thing which their Sacrificed Lamb signified, whence he is called the 1 Pet. 1.19. Lamb without Blemish and without Spot, the Rev. 13.8. Lamb slain from the Foundation of the World, and the Joh. 1.29. Lamb of God that takes away the sins of Mankind: and our Feasting upon his body and blood is the same with their Feasting upon it, as St. Paul plainly intimates, when he says Christ our Passover is Sacrificed for us, therefore let us keep our Eucharistical Feast upon him in it, answerable to what they did upon the Lamb in theirs, 1 Cor. 5.7, 8. And at the Institution of the Holy Sacrament, our Saviour intimated that the Passover was abolish'd, and that this was hence­forward to succeed and come in stead of it. For immediately before he ap­pointed his own Supper, he tells them he would not any more eat of the Lamb, or drink of the Wine in the Passover; i. e. he would abolish this, so as we should no more eat or drink of it; and substitute that in place of it, Luc. 22.16, 18.

[Page 23]And now since 'tis the general Nature of Sacraments, both among Jews and Chri­stians, to be Covenanting Rites; since Bap­tism plainly is, that goes hand in hand with it; and since the Passover was, which pre­ceded and answered to it, this being substitu­ted in place, and put instead of it: in all likelihood the Sacrament of the Lords Supper is a Federal Feast, and a Covenanting Rite too.

But to prove this yet more particular­ly, That this Holy Sacrament is intended for a Federal Rite, and for our Renewal and Ratification of the New Covenant, will ap­pear,

1st, From the words of Institution, where­in the Cup is call'd the New Covenant, and we are bid to drink of it, which is a Fede­ral Rite; and the Bread is call'd Christs Bo­dy to the same intent as the Paschal Lamb was, which was a Federal Conveyance of it.

2ly, From its being a Feast upon Sacri­fice, which is a Federal Feast; for Sacri­fice is one way of Covenanting with God, and by Feasting on the Sacrifice we joyn in and partake of it.

3ly, From all the particular Blessings of the Covenant being conveyed by it, which otherwise than by Federal Promises or Per­formances are not to be had.

1st, That o [...]r eating Bread and drink­ing [Page 24] Wine in the Holy Sacrament, is in­tended for a Federal Rite, and for our Renewal and Ratification of the New Covenant, appears from the words of In­stitution, wherein the Cup is called the New Covenant, and we are bid to drink of it, which is a Covenanting Rite; and the Bread is call'd Christs Body to the same in­tent as the Pascal Lamb was, which also was a Federal Conveyance of it.

1. In the words of Institution the Cup is called the New Covenant. This Cup, says our Saviour, is the New Testament, or [...]. Covenant, in my Blood, 1 Cor. 11.25.

And we are all bid to drink of it, which is a Federal Rite, and was then a known Ceremony of confirming any Covenant. Drink ye all of it, says he to his Disciples, Mat. 26.27.

This drinking of it, as it is an Appli­cation of it to our selves, and taking it into our own Bodies, is a plain sign of our ingaging in it, and adhering to it; for thereby we shew that we close with, and embrace it. But this is still further evident, because anciently among the Jews, and other Eastern Nations, eating and drinking were Federal Rites, whereby they were wont mutually to Seal Leagues of friendship, and confirm Co­venants [Page 25] with each other. For they used to bind their Compacts by a Friendly Treat, and to consummate them in all Hospitable Entertainment. Thus we read in the Story of Laban and Jacob: for when Laban demands, Come thou, let us make a Covenant, I and thou; Gen. 31.44; Jacob's Consent to it is expressed by this, —he said unto his Brethren, Gather stones; and they took stones, and made an heap, and did eat there upon the heap; by that Note of Friendship answering the Demand, and confirming the Covenant which was proposed, v. 46. And so Joshua's Cove­nanting, or making Peace with the Gibeo­nites when they came to sue for it, is cal­led his taking of their victuals, Josh. 9.— the men took of their victuals, and asked not counsel of the Lord, and Joshua made Peace with them, and made a League with them to let them live, Josh. 9.14, 15. And Obadiah mentions being in Covenant with any one, and Eating Bread with him, as Words that signifie the same Thing, whereof the one is the others Explication. The men of thy Confederacy have brought thee even to the border, says he, i. e. have al­most quite bereft thee of thy own Coun­try; the men that are at Peace with thee, have deceived thee; they that eat thy Bread, have laid a Wound under thee: in which [Page 26] Description of the Enemies of Edom, tho' there be Variety in the Expression, yet is one and the same Thing meant by them, Obad. v. 7. And the same might appear from other Instances, both in the Scriptures, and in Prophane Authors.

Since in the Words of Institution then our Saviour tells his Disciples, the Cup is the New Covenant, and bids them drink of it, which was well known among them to be a Federal Rite; he plainly shew'd his meaning was, that they should ratifie and confirm the New Covenant by it.

2. In the Words of Institution the Bread is called Christs Body to the same intent, as the Paschal Lamb was in the Jewish Sacrament: and this also shews it to be a Covenanting Rite, because that was a Federal Conveyance of it.

The Bread, I say, or rather the taking and eating of it, is called Christs Body to the same Intent, as the Paschal Lamb was in the Jewish Sacrament. Jesus took bread, says St. Matthew, and brake it, and said, Take, eat, Not [...] in the masculine, to agree with [...] bread; but [...], wh [...]ch, b [...]ing of a different gender, cannot a­gree to [...], but to the whole Action. this is my Body, Mat. 26.26. Which Words, This is my Bo­dy, relate to the Paschal Lamb, that in the or­dinary Phrase of the Doctors was called the [Page 27] Corpus Pascha­tis, & Corpus Ag­ni Paschalis. Vt Buxt. observ. è Tal­mud. & Maim. Body of the Passover, and the Body of the Pa­schal Lamb, to shew, that the taking and eat­ing of the Bread and Wine was to be his Body in the same sense now, as the eating of the Paschal Lamb had been hitherto. Which Relation to the Passover that he had then in hand, and to their manner of expressing it, I think is one very obvious and natural Account of his calling this New Feast his Body when he spake of it.

And this also shews it to be a Covenant-Rite, because the eating of the Paschal Lamb among the Jews was his Body in a Federal sense, as a Federal Conveyance of it. For their Slain Lamb was a Figure of our Dying Lord, as hath been proved, and was accepted to all the purposes of his Blood: and their Feasting on it, as in all other Sacrifices, was their Federal joyn­ing in, and partaking of it. For to Feast on a Sacrifice, was to joyn in the Covenant made by it, and to partake of the Bles­sings promised to it, as shall presently be shewed.

And since in the Words of Institution our Saviour says of the Eating of the Bread that it is his Body, to the same in­tent as the Eating of the Paschal Lamb was [Page 28] in that Jewish Sacrament, which was so in a Federal sense, as a Federal Conveyance of it: he plainly intimates his own Sup­per to be a Federal Feast, and that we confirm the New Covenant by joyning in it.

And as this appears from the Words of Institution, wherein the Cup is called the New Covenant, and they are bid to eat and drink, which is a Federal Rite; and the Eating of the Bread is called Christs Body to the same intent as the Paschal Lamb was, which was so in a Fe­deral sense, as it Federally conveyed it: So doth it also,

2ly, From its being a Feast upon Sacri­fice, which is a Federal Feast; for Sacri­fice is one way of Covenanting with God; and by Feasting on the Sacrifice, we joyn in, and partake of it.

The Lords Supper, I say, is a Feast upon Sacrifice. It was the way both among Jews and Gentiles, that when they brought an Offering to God, they who offered it were to come, and Feast on some part of it. Thus it was in the Worship of the Golden Calf, and the Sacrifice which Aaron made to it, Exod. 32: He built an Altar before it, and offered Burnt-offerings and Peace-offerings, and the People sate down to Eat and to Drink, i. e. upon part of what [Page 29] they had offered, v. 5, 6. And thus it was in the Sacrifice which Samuel blessed, 1 Sam. 9: The People will not eat until he come, because he doth bless the Sacrifice, and afterwards they eat that be bidden, v. 13. And to this Usage several Places of the Scripture allude, as namely Psal. 106.28. —they joyned themselves unto Baal-P [...]or, and ate the Sacrifices of the Dead: And Exod. 34.15—lest thou do Sacrifice unto their Gods, and one call thee, and thou eat of his Sacrifice: And several others. And as it was thus in the Religious Feasts both of Jews and Gentiles, so it is also in the Lords Supper. Our Saviour gave his Body and Blood a Sacrifice for our Sins, putting away Sin, as the Apostle says, by the Sacri­fice of himself, Heb. 9.26. And having thus made the Oblation, according to what was in use both in the Jewish and Gentile Sacrifices, he institutes this Treat of Bread and Wine, as a Feast upon it. This I suppose is aim'd at, when St. Paul brings in an Altar speaking of the Chri­stian Feast, which sufficiently intimates its relation to a Sacrifice, as a Treat upon it: We have an Altar, says he, whereof they have no right to eat that serve the Ta­bernacle, i. e. wherein the strict Judaizers may not partake; for Judaism excludes Men from the Communion especially, [Page 30] and indeed from all Parts of the Christi­an Worship, Heb. 13.10. And this he also shews concerning it, when he com­pares it with the Jewish and Gentile Feasts on Sacrifices, making them answerable and parallel to it, 1 Cor. 10.16, 18, 20, 21. And this he directly affirms of it, when he says, Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us, therefore let us keep the Eucharistical Feast, i. e. upon this Sacrificed Christ, 1 Cor. 5.7, 8.

And Feasts upon Sacrifice are Federal Feasts, i. e. Feasts that ratifie and confirm Covenants; for Sacrifice is one way of Co­venanting with God, and Feasting upon it is the way of participating or sharing in it.

Sacrifice, I say, is one way of Covenant­ing with God. When God would enter into Articles, and bind himself in Co­venants with Men, he chose to do it in shedding the Blood of some Sacrifice, that Typified the Blood of Christ his Son, which is the onely thing that moves him to deal with us in any Concern that either implies or tends to Friendship and Re­conciliation. Thus he did with Abra­ham when he promised him the Land of Canaan if he would continue Gen. 17.1, 2. perfect, and walk before him; he ordered him to make a Sa­crifice, that therein he might covenant [Page 31] and engage it to him. Take an Heifer, says he, and a she-Goat, and a Ram, &c. And Abraham took them, and divided them in the midst, and when the Sun went down, behold a smoaking Furnace, and a burning Lamp that passed between those Pieces, wherein, 'tis like, God Consumed and Feasted on Abraham's Sacrifice; and in that same day the Lord made a Covenant with Abraham, saying, Vnto thy Seed have I given this Land, &c: Gen. 15.8, 9, 10, 17, 18. And thus he did with the Jew­ish Nation, when he ratified that Cove­nant with them, which Moses gave them; he chose the Blood of Burnt-offerings, that therein he might seal it t [...] them. For when Moses told the People all the words of the Lord, and they answered with one voice, saying, We will do them; he built an Altar of twelve Pillars, according to the twel [...]e Tribes, and offered Burnt-offerings and Peace-offerings, and then recited the Book of the Covenant in their [...]ars, that they might give their Assent to it in the Solemnity of this Sacrifice; the Blood whereof is therefore called the Blood of the Covenant, because it was thus solemnly entred, and established by it, Exod. 24.3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. And thus he did in other Compacts, but particularly in all those wherein he pro­mised Pardon of Sin; for without shedding [Page 32] of Blood, i. e. of some Sacrifice, says the Apostle, there is no Remission, Heb. 9.22. Thus did God, in all Contracts of Pardon and Reconciliation, require the Blood of some Sacrif [...]ce, that therein he might ra­tifie and confirm them. And this was the great Use whereto all Sacrifices of Ex­p [...]ation (such as our Saviour Christs is in most signal manner, whereon we Feast in the Lords Supper) served among the Jews: they were solemn Compacts and Stipulati­ons, wherein he promised Pardon, and they Amendment, after any Offences. He in­gaged to accept the Life of the sacrificed Beast in lieu of theirs, and to exempt them because it had suffered; and they enga­ged to amend the Fault which they sought to have atoned, and never more to repeat it. This 'tis plain they did, from that Form of Penitential Confession in use among them, when they brought an Expiatory Sacrifice to the Lord: Obsecro Domi­ne, peccavi, deli­qui, rebellavi, hoc aut illud feci, nunc autem poe­nitentiam ago, sitque haec hostia expiatio mea. Vi. Episcop. Instit. l. 3. c. 3. ad Praecep. 35. & Ouir. de Sacr. c. 15. O Lord! I have sinned, and dealt wickedly, and rebelled against thee in do­ing this or that; now I am sorry for it, and asha­med of it, and will never more return to it; and therefore beg this Sacrifice may atone for it. And if [Page 33] they had not thus repented of it, the Isa. 66.3. Sacrifice would have been of no avail to the Forgiveness of it. For, to what pur­pose is the multitude of your Sacrifices unto me, saith the Lord, so long as you shew no Repentance with them? But wash you, make you clean, cease to do evil, learn to do well: Come now, and let us reason to­gether; tho' your Sins be as Scarlet, they shall be as white as Snow, Isa. 1.11, 16, 17, 18. The Sacrifices of God, says the Psalmist, are a broken Spirit, i. e. they must be offer­ed and presented with it; a broken and a contrite Heart, O God, thou wilt not despise, Ps. 51.17.

Thus were Sacrifices a mutual Stipulati­on and Engagement, consisting of a Pro­mise of Pardon on Gods part, and a Promise of Repentance and Amendment on Mans: so that they were in the nature of a virtu­al Contract and Covenant between them. And this God plainly intimates concern­ing them, when he tells of his Saints ma­king a Covenant with him by Sacrifice: —Gather my Saints, saith he, who have made a Covenant with me by Sacrifice, Ps. 50.5. and calls Salt, wherewith every Obla­tion of Meat-offering was to be seasoned, the Salt of the Covenant, because it was to season all those Sacrifices wherein the [Page 34] Covenant was confirmed, Levit. 2.13.

And as Sacrifice is one way of Covenant­ing with God, so is Feasting upon it the way of sharing and partaking in it. He who joyned in the Feast, was looked upon by God himself to joyn also in the Offer­ing, to promise all the Duty which it en­gaged, and to partake in all the Blessings which it procured for them. They which eat of the Sacrifices, says St. Paul, are Par­takers of the Altar, 1 Cor. 10.18. And therefore he forbids them to joyn in the Gentile Feasts, where they sacrificed to Devils, because that were to partake and have Fellowship with Devils, v. 20, 21.

And thus, from this also, viz. the Lords Supper being a Feast on Sacrifice, it appears to be a Federal Rite, because Sacrifice is the great way of Covenanting with God, and by Feasting on it, we joyn in and partake of it. In eating Bread and drinking Wine at the Lords Table, agreeably to what the Jews and Gentiles did at their Religious Feasts, we feed on the Sacrifice of Christ; and that Sacrifice confirmed the New Covenant with Almighty God, that be­ing, as he says, sealed 1 Cor. 11.25. in his Blood, so that by our Feasting on it we are made to share in it, and give our full Consent thereto.

[Page 35]3ly, That our Eating and Drinking at the Lord's Table is a Covenant-Rite, ap­pears from all the particular Blessings of the Covenant being conveyed by it, which otherwise than by Federal Promises and Performances are not to be had.

The Particular Blessings promised in the Covenant, I say, are all conveyed by it. Our Saviour tells us of the Bread we eat, and of the Wine we drink, that they are his Body and Blood:—This is my Body, says he, and this is my Blood of the New Testament, Mat. 26.26, 28. By which, altho' we are not to understand that they are so in their Natures, yet the least we can understand is, that they are so in their Effects, i. e. that they convey to us all those Blessings, which the piercing of his Body, and the shedding of his Blood procured for us. Those Blessings are contained in the New Covenant, and, as I said, are chiefly these three, viz. the For­giveness of Sins, the Assistance of Gods Spirit to aid and strengthen us, and Eter­nal Life and Happiness: and all these the Eating of Bread and Drinking Wine in the Holy Sacrament are designed to con­vey to us.

They convey to us Forgiveness of Sins, and assure us, when we perform them as we ought, that God is in Favour and at [Page 36] Peace with us. Of this we have suffici­ent Assurance, because we Feast upon a Sacrifice, which is Gods Meat, and are entertained at his own Table, as his Guests whom he has invited: and the least which that can mean is, that he admits us into a State of Love and Friendliness, since we do not invite those we will not be Friends with to our own Tables. When any one calls another to a Treat, it is a plain Sign he either would be, or is, or at least makes shew of being reconciled. It is a most Natural Sign, and now every where is, and always was a Note of Friendship and Endearment. And as such the Scriptures are wont to speak of it. When those whom he had shut out, should knock at the door to be let in, and claim Acquaintance, our Saviour tells us, they will say to him, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, Luc. 13.25, 26. And when he shews his Apostles how high Favour, and what great Interest they shall have with him, he tells them, they shall eat and drink at his Table in his Kingdom, Luc. 22.29, 30. And when he declares how kind he will be to those that hear his voice, and open unto him, he [...]ays, he will come in and sup with them, and they w [...]th him, Rev. 3.20. So that when God enter­tains us at his own Table, and invites us [Page 37] to Feast with him, as he doth in the Holy Communion; we may be sure, if we come worthily as we ought, he is in Friend­ship with us, and our Sins are forgiven. And this our Saviour plainly intimates, when he tells us at the giving of the Cup, that it is Mat. 26.28. his Blood shed for the Remission of Sins, and bids us ver. 27. drink of it, that so we may have it in our selves, and be assured we have re­ceived the Atonement. And this, we must observe, is a Privilege which God never vouchsafed to the Jews, no not to the Priests themselves: for in all their Sacri­fices he would never give them the Blood of Expiation, to assure them of their Sins being atoned by it, (nay, nor the Flesh neither in the Great Sacrifice of Expiati­on, which was burnt Lev. 16.27. Heb. 13.11. with­out the Camp) but ordered it always to be poured out upon the Altar, or the Ground, Exod. 29.12. Levit. 4.25, 30, 34. And to this, 'tis like, St. Paul may have respect, when he tells the Hebrews, We have an Altar where­of they have no right to eat, who serve the Tabernacle, Heb. 13.10, 11.

They convey to us also the Assistance of Gods Spirit and Grace to aid and streng­then us. This is intimated by our Savi­our [Page 38] Christ, when he calls his Flesh, which all must eat (i. e. not in its Natural Sub­stance, but in its Effects, or those Bles­sings which were purchased by it) by the Name of Bread, which is a thing that, as the Psal. 104.15. Psalmist says, strengthens mans heart, and gives Nourishment and Support to us. I am the living Bread, says he, which came down from Heaven: If any man eat of this Bread, he shall live for ever; and the Bread which I will give, is my Flesh, which I will give for the Life of the World, Joh. 6.51. In the Sacrament we are cal­led to eat Christs Flesh, and drink his Blood (not in their Natural Substances, as I have hinted, but in their Effects:) and he that eateth my Flesh and drinketh my Blood, saith he, dwelleth in me, and I in him; and when Christ dwells in any Man, his Spirit dwells there too, so that he cannot want Grace sufficient to assist him, Joh. 6.56. And St. Paul alluding to the Power of Wine, whose Natural Vertue is to enspirit and enliven Men, says, That in the Eucharist we are all made to drink into one Spirit, i. e. we are all made to share in the same Holy Spirit, which is the same to our Souls that a Draught of Wine is to our Bodies, a Principle of New Life, Strength, and Vi­gour in us, 1 Cor. 12.13.

[Page 39]They convey to us, lastly, a Right and Title to Eternal Life and Happiness. The Blessed Sacrament was thought anciently to have a peculiar Efficacy in prepa­ring our Bodies for an Immortal State. Thus Irenaeus says of it: Quemadmodum enim qui est à terra panis perci­piens invocatio­nem Dei, jam non Communis panis est, sed Euchari­stia, ex duabus rebus constans, terrena & coele­sti: sic & corpo­ra nostra perci­pientia Euchari­stiam, jam non sunt corruptibi­lia, spem resurre­ctionis habentia. Iren. l. 4. adv. Haer. c. 34. As the Bread that springs from the Earth, after it is blessed is not Common Bread, but the Eucharist, consisting of an Earthly and an Heavenly Part, i. e. the Sensible Sign, and the Spiritual Thing signified; so our Bodies receiving the Com­munion, are not now cor­ruptible as they were be­fore, but are put in hope of a Resurrection. And St. Ignatius calls it [...]. Ignat. Ep. ad Ephes. the Medicine of Immortality, which is an Antidote to preserve Men from Dying, and give them a Life that is Everlasting. And to this, as 'tis not unlike, the Prayer at the giving of the Bread and Wine refers, That they may preserve our Souls and Bodies to everlasting Life, as it was [Page 40] long since in the Form of the Western Church, and as it is still in use amongst us. But whatever becomes of that Con­ceit, viz. its preparing our Bodies for it; 'tis plain, that a Right to Life and Immor­tality is conferred by it. Whoso eateth my Flesh, and drinketh my Blood, saith our Saviour, hath Eternal Life, and I will raise him up at the last day, Joh. 6.54: and a­gain, He that eateth of this Bread shall live for ever, v. 58. And if he had not in express Words declared it, in all Equity and Reason this might most justly have been presumed: For since in this Sacra­ment God gives us the Body and Blood of his own Son, than which nothing can be dearer to him; we may justly argue as St. Paul doth, and say, He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up, both for, and to us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Rom. 8.32.

Thus are all the Particular Blessings of the New Covenant, which Christs Blood has purchased, and which God has pro­mised and made over in it, conveyed to us in this Holy Sacrament. And since they are so, it must needs be a Federal Rite, and a Solemn Ceremony of Covenant­in [...] with God, because otherwise than [...] Federal Performances and Engagements [...] are not to be had. God has su­spended [Page 41] all these Benefits upon our Per­formance of certain Conditions; so that we cannot have them conveyed to us on his part, otherwise than by undertaking at the same time for these on our own. He will not forgive any Believers their Sins, unless they repent of them; nor help them to any Graces, unless they endeavour after them, nor reward them at last with Eternal Life, unless they have intire­ly obeyed him, as we have already seen. And therefore wheresoever those are be­stowed, these are either performed, or sincerely promised too.

So that from this Reason also, it ap­pears, that the Sacrament is a Federal Rite, and a Ratification of the New Co­venant, and of our Baptismal Ingagement; because all the Blessings of that Covenant are conveyed by it, which otherwise than by Federal Performances or Engagements are not to be had.

And thus we see, upon all these ac­counts, that the Sacrament of the Lords Supper is intended not onely for a Re­membrance of the Death of Christ, but al­so for a Renewal and Ratification of the New Covenant which was purchased by it. For so much the General Nature of Sacra­ments which are Covenant-Rites, of Baptism which goes hand in hand with it, and of [Page 42] the Passover which preceded and answered to it, do fairly intimate; and so much also the Words of Institution, at the Blessing both the Bread and Wine declare, and its being a Feast on Sacrifice infers, and its conveying all the Blessings of the Covenant proves concerning it.

And this is the second End of our Eat­ing Bread and Drinking Wine in the Holy Sacrament; namely, to renew our Baptismal Vow, and in most solemn sort to confirm the New Covenant with Almigh­ty God. So that when we come to re­member our Saviour Christ in this Feast, we must come also to give and receive Engagements with our Blessed Lord, pro­mising that we will believe all his Words, and endeavour after all Virtues, and obey all his Laws, and repent of all our Faults: and then hoping assuredly that his Mercy shall forgive us, his Grace and Spirit assist us, and his Bounty re­ward us with Eternal Happiness when we do.

But besides these Ends, of its being in Remembrance of Christ and his Dying for us, and in confirmation of the New Cove­nant which his Death procured us; there is yet another,

3ly, And that is, in Ratification of a League of Love and Friendship with those [Page 43] Brethren that Communicate with us, and with all others.

Eating and Drinking together at the same Table, and joyning in the same Feast, was always a Note of Friendship, and a Profession of Love and Kindness among Men. It is the common way of the World to compose Differences, to keep up Friendliness in Neighbourhoods, and to beget Endearment and mutual Love in all Fraternities. And this our Saviour in­tended it should be among us. He in­vites us all to eat of the same Loaf, and to Feast at the same Table, that we may embrace as Friends, and love as Bre­thren, and be knit together in the same Fellowship and Communion. We being many, says St. Paul, are one Bread, and one Body; for in the Sacrament we are all Par­takers of that one Bread, which is a firm Bond of Union to make us one also, 1 Cor. 10.17. It links us together by the most Powerful Arguments of our being Servants of the same Lord, and Sharers in the same Privileges, and Members of the same Body, which are all most strong Mo­tives to Peace and mutual Kindness; and besides all this, by our own Solemn Cove­nant and Engagement also. For in coming to this Feast, we are not onely excited to it by mighty Reasons which suggest it; [Page 44] but are to Covenant and Promise Love to all our Brethren, and to plight our Troth for it. And thus the Primitive Christians understood it, and accordingly made use of it, whose Judgment and Practice in this Point were so apparent, that the Heathens themselves, who looked any thing into their Religion, took notice of it. For Pliny in his Letter to the Empe­rour Trajan, wherein he gives an Account of the Christians Meetings, reports their Communicating to be a Religious Compact and Combination among themselves, to do no hurt to each other, but to love as Brethren, and live as Friends toge­ther. Soliti stato die ante lucem con­venire; carmen­que Christo, qua­si Deo dicere se­cum invicem: Se­que Sacramento non in scelus ali­quod obstringe­re, sed ne furta, ne latrocinia, ne Adulteria com­mitterent, ne fi­dem sallerent, ne depositum appel­lati abnegarent: quibus peractis morem sibi disce­dendi fuisse, rur­susque coeundi ad capescendum cibum, promiscu­um tamen & in­noxium. Plin. ep. l. 10. ep. 97. They assemble ear­ly in the morning, says he, and sing an Hymn to Christ as God; and then bind themselves mutually in their Sacrament, which is a sacred Oath, not to commit any wickedness like a pack of lewd Conspi­rators; but to be no Thieves, Adulterers, Inju­rious, False and Perfidious Persons: and having done these things, and given these Assurances of mutual Honesty and Kindnesses to [Page 45] each other, they depart home, and meet again at a promiscuous and Friendly Treat, where they innocent­ly Feast together.

This then is a third End of our Eating Bread and Drinking Wine in the Holy Sacrament, namely, to be a Solemn Profession of our Communion and Fellowship with our Brethren, and an Engagement of mutual Love and Friend­ship to those who Communicate with us, and to all others. So that when we come therein to remember our Saviour Christ, and to confirm the New Covenant with Almighty God, we must enter into a League of Love with all our Brethren, and promise an inviolable Friendship un­to them too.

And thus we see what is the meaning of Eating Bread and Drinking Wine in the Holy Communion, and what we must intend and understand by them, that we may, as the Apostle says, 1 Cor. 11.29. discern the Lords Body in them. When we Eat Bread and Drink Wine according to Christs appointment, we must fix our thoughts upon him, and remember what Love and Friendship he had for us, what Lessons, as our faithful Guide and Instru­ctor, [Page 46] he has taught us; what Commands, as our Lord and Master, he has left with us; and what inexpressible Things, as our most Precious Saviour and Benefactor, he has done for us, in being made Man, and leading a mean and necessitous Life, but above all in dying a most ignominious and painful Death for our sakes, and that he might pur­chase us the Favour of God, the Graces of the Spirit, and Eternal Happiness. We must renew that Engagement which we made when we were Baptized, and confirm again that New Covenant with Almighty God which his Blood procured; professing that we do, and will believe his Word, and repent of every Fault, and endeavour with his Spirit, and obey all, not wilfully trans­gressing any Commandment; that so we may have Right to that Forgiveness, Grace, and Happiness, which upon these Terms he has purchased. And lastly, we must confirm a League of Love and Friendship with all our Brethren, professing that we do and will forgive all that in­jure us, and be kind to all about us, and never fall into Hatred or cause Diffe­rence with any Persons, but be at Peace and live in Charity with all the World. The Bodily Eating is but the out-side, and the least part in this Feast; but the chief thing required is this Spiritual [Page 47] Work and Business which is to accompa­ny it. So that when our Saviour Christ calls us to Eat and Drink at his own Ta­ble, he calls us not barely to Feast our Bodies, for that is the least thing that he intends; but chiefly and principally to employ our Souls, in remembring him, his Laws and Benefits, and among them, above all, that of his Dying for us; in confirming the New Covenant with God, and a Covenant of Peace and Brotherly Love with his Members throughout all Mankind.

CHAP. II. Of the Worthiness of Communicating in the Sacrament.

The Contents.

To Communicate Worthily, is to do it with such Tempers and Behaviour as are worthy of it, and becoming the Things which are meant by it. The First End was to re­member Christ, both, first, As our Lord and Master, which calls for Honour and Reverence in our selves, and a Care to maintain his Honour among others. For mindfulness of his Commands, and Reso­lutions of Obedience. 2. As our most kind Friend and Benefactor, which calls for Love and an hearty Affection for him. For Joy and Gladness in what we receive from him. For Thankfulness for all his Kindnesses, particularly in Dying for us. And as this Death was a Sacrifice for our Sins, the Remembrance of it calls for a deep sense of our own Vnworthiness. An utter Abhorrence of our Sins, which caused his Sufferings. A Resignation of our selves to his Vse, as thereby we are become his own Purchase. The Second End was to [Page 49] confirm the New Covenant with God which his Blood procured. This calls for Since­rity and Faithfulness. A Third End was to confirm a League of Love and Friendship with all Christians. This calls for Peace and Charity to all Persons, and particularly for Alms to the Necessitous. A Summary Repetition of these Qualifi­cations. A Belief of these Things, which carries us on to these Tempers and Per­formances, is the Faith that makes us Worthy Communicants.

HAving shewn hitherto what is the meaning of Eating Bread and Drinking Wine in the Blessed Sacra­ment, I proceed now, in the next place, to shew wherein lies the Worthiness of Do­ing it. And this had need be clearly stated, not onely because the most consi­derable Scruple against Communicating lies in it, but also because really 'tis a Matter of great account, and there hangs a great weight upon it. For he that eats and drinks unworthily, says the Apostle, commits a Damning Sin, which will de­stroy him, unless he repent of it; he eats and drinks Damnation to himself, 1 Cor. 11.29; and is guilty of the Body and Blood of the Lord, v. 27.

[Page 50]Now to Do this Worthily, is to Do it with such Tempers and Dispositions as be­come it, and are worthy of it. For this Eating and Drinking not being to satisfie Hunger, but for Sacred Ends, 'tis fit we come to it with a suitable and a Sacred Carriage, and in that consists the Wor­thiness of the Usage. Were it onely a Feast on Common Food, we should behave our selves worthily at it, by thanking God for it, and being Temperate. But being a Feast wherein Religion is concerned, and whereat we are to remember the Death of our Lord, and to Seal the New Covenant with God, and a League of Love with all the Christian World; to the doing this worthily, and as 'tis fit we should, there is more required. For we deal very un­worthily in remembring the Death of our Lord, if we are not thankful for it; and in ratifying the New Covenant with God, if we are not sincere in it; and in promi­sing Love to all the Christian World, if we are in enmity and hatred. These Religi­ous Ends must be answered with a Reli­gious Temper, and a Devout Carriage, and then they are treated as they ought, and as their Worth requires. This is signified by several Copies, which in 1 Cor. 11.27. read not barely, Whoso­ever shall eat this Bread and drink this [Page 51] Cup Not meerly [...], but [...], as several MSS. partic. Coll. Linc. Coll. Nov. read the place. And this is followed by St. Ambrose, who reads thus —bibe­rit Calicem Do­mini indigne Do­mino, v. 27. and St. Chrysostom, who reads thus — [...], &c. v. 29. OF THE LORD VNWORTHILY; but whosoever shall eat this Bread and drink this Cup of the Lord VNWOR­THILY OF THE LORD, i. e. in a way un­worthy of him, which clearly shews the Un­worthiness to consist in the want of those Tem­pers wherewith 'tis sit our Blessed Lord, who is commemorated in it, should be treated. And this the Apostle plainly intimates, when he pla­ces the unworthiness of Eating in not Discerning, or rather Dis­criminating the Lords Body, and putting a difference between it and Common Food, by a different Carriage and Behaviour at it. He that eats and drinks unworthily, says he, eats and drinks Damnation to him­self for such unworthy usage, which lies in his not discerning, or rather not [...]. discrimi­nating the Lords Body, 1 Cor. 11.29.

Thus doth a worthy Eating of the Sa­crament consist in answering its Sacred [Page 52] Ends with Sacred and suitable Carriage and Dispositions. And therefore that we may see what Behaviour is worthy of it, 'tis fit we run over those several Ends, and inquire what Tempers every one of them requires of us.

Those Ends are Three.

1st, To Remember Christ our Blessed Lord and Saviour, and particularly his Dying for us; which call for Love, Joy, Gratitude, Obedient Resolutions, and such like Tempers.

2ly, To Confirm the New Covenant with Almighty God; which is not worthily done by us, unless we come to it in Since­rity and Faithfulness, and with full Pur­pose and Performance of that Repentance and Obedience which we profess and pro­mise.

3ly, To Confirm a League of Love and Friendship with all our Brethren and Fellow-Christians; which requires that we lay aside all Envy, Hatred, and Malicious Thoughts, and come to it in Peace and Forgiveness of all that have any ways of­fended us.

If we Believe all these things which Christ our Great Prophet has revealed to us, and our Faith shews it self in these Tempers, and carries us on to these Perfor­mances; we are Worthy Communicants, and [Page 53] have that Faith which will render us welcom Guests at the Lords Table, and acceptable to him at all other times.

1st, One End of our Eating Bread and Drinking Wine at the Lords Supper, is to remember Christ, not onely as our Pro­phet and Teacher (which I do not make a Distinct Head now, because the Belief re­quired to that is exercised thro' the whole Action, and falls in at all the other) but as our Blessed Lord, Saviour, and Bene­factor; and above all his Benefits, parti­cularly to remember his Dying for us: and this, to do it worthily, calls for Love, Joy, Gratitude, Resolutions of Obedience, and other such like Tempers▪

The Remembrance of any thing ab­sent, and long since past, brings it back into our Minds, and gives a sort of Pre­sence to it. And therefore when things are brought to our Remembrance, they should work upon us, and affect us, as if they were before us. When we remem­ber our Saviour Christ then, we must bear the same Mind towards him, as we should if we saw him, and were conversing with him: and that will consist in these Things that follow. We must Honour him, and resolve to Obey him, as he is our Lord and Master; and Love him, and De­light in him, and give Thanks to him, as he [Page 54] is our Friend and Benefactor; and be hum­bled under the sense of our own Vnworthi­ness, and abhor our own Sins, as they brought him to bleed and die for us; and resign up our selves, both Souls and Bodies, to his Vse, as we are bought with his Blood, and are thereby become his own Purchase.

1st, In Eating and Drinking in the Lords Supper, we are to remember Christ as our Lord and Master; and to do that worthily, we must remember him with Honour and Reverence, and with mindful­ness of his Commands, and Resolutions of Obedience, which are Duties we owe, and should pay to him, were he present with us.

1st, We ought to remember him our Lord and Master, with Honour and Reve­rence.

These Tempers Lordship and Authority always call for, whensoever they are lodged in any Persons. A Son honoureth his Father, saith God, and a Servant his Master: if then I be a Father, where is mine Honour? and if I be a Master, where is my Fear? Mal. 1.6. Honour the King, says St. Peter, and Servants be subject to your Masters with all fear, 1 Pet. 2.17, 18. And Render to all their Dues, says St. Paul, as Fear or Reverence to whom Fear, Ho­nour to whom Honour is due, Rom. 13.7.

[Page 55]But when this Authority is in the most absolute and full Degrees, and is joyned with the highest Excellencies, and tempered with the most Endearments, and guided by the most surpassing Goodness, as it is in Christ Jesus, it calls for them most espe­cially. For he is every way wonderfully accomplished, and has all those Endow­ments in their greatest Perfection, which of right can challenge, or are fit to ex­cite them. For he is bound­less in knowledge, he Joh. 21.17. under­stands all things; and infi­nitely Isa. 11.1, 2. wise in Counsel, able to suit Means to every End, and bring about every Purpose; and sur­passing in Isa. 9.6. & Rev. 3.7. Might, so that he may do what he plea­ses; and 1 Joh. 3.5. holy in all his ways; and Rev. 3.7. faithful in all his Promises; and Isa. 9.7. just and equitable in all his Deal­ings; and Glorious in his Divine Essence, being the very Heb. 1.3. Brightness of his Fathers Glory, and the express Image of his Person; and Su­pereminent in Power, having all Mat. 28.18. Authority in Heaven & Earth put into his hands: and yet in the midst of all these Excel­lencies, and the height of all this Great­ness, [Page 56] which are apt to puff us up with Pride and Contempt of others, he is unspeakable in 1 Joh. 3.16. Love, and wonderful in Phil. 2.6, 7, 8. Condescen­sions, vouchsafing to leave Heaven, where he was E­qual to God, and be made in fashion of a mean Man, for our sakes; and unwearied in Marc. 10.45. Act. 10.38. doing Services; and most prodigi­ous [...]y free in Bounty and Kindness, giving his own Joh. 6.51. Rev. 5.9. Hearts Blood to purchase Heaven and Eternal Life for us: for all which Height of Excel­lencies, and Plenitude of Power, and Depth of Love, he is most Rev. 5.11, 12, 13. profoundly Reverenced, and dearly Prized, and highly Exalted by Glorified Saints, and the pure and immortal Angels. All these adorable Excellencies are in their utmost Perfection in our Lord and Ma­ster Christ Jesus; and their Merit calls for all the Honour and Reverence which he can possibly receive from us. And this accordingly God has expresly required of us. He hath committed all Judgment to the Son, that all should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father, Joh. 5.22, 23; and highly exalting him, hath given him a [Page 57] Name above every Name, that at the Name of Jesus every Knee should bow, of things in Heaven, and of things in Earth, Phil. 2.9, 10. He incomparably deserves our utmost Worship and Reverence, and has a most absolute Claim to them; so that we must needs treat him with the most submissive and respectful Carriage, and should deal most unworthily by him, and do what utterly misbecomes us, if we should do otherwise.

Thus must we Remember our Lord and Master Jesus Christ with Honour and Veneration, if we would do it in such sort as is worthy of him.

Nay, we must not onely Honour and Reverence him our selves, but, if we would deal worthily by him, seek to make him Honourable, and promote his Honour among others. We must be rea­dy always to plead his Cause, and to vin­dicate his Precepts, and to side with his Servants, and express a just Distaste a­gainst those who transgress his Com­mands themselves (and much more against those who set up for the Party of Diso­bedience, and seek to draw in others) who prophane his Ordinances, or lightly and irreverently use his Name, or any ways vilifie any Person or Thing which he ought to be Glorified and Honoured [Page 58] in. And this we shall be sure to do, if we have any high Esteem, and Zeal of Love, and affectionate Concern for him. For when these are strong in them, every Servant will perform this Office to his Master, and every Man to his Friend; they will not sit still, and tamely hear his Name abused, or see his Commands sleighted, his Interest opposed, his Chil­dren or Dependents injured, his Appoint­ments disparaged, or his Person any way traduced or disgraced, without expres­sing a Discreet and well-tempered Zeal in his Cause, and concerning themselves in a sober and just Vindication. This, I say, they ordinarily will do, as I am sure they always ought to do, when they have an high Esteem for any Man. And if, thro' lowness of Spirit, or Cowardise of Temper, they draw back from the Trouble or Hazard they are like to run in his Vindication; they are very much wanting to their Friend or Lord, and deal unworthily by him. So that if we would deal worthily by our Friend and Master Jesus Christ, we must neither dis­honour him our selves, nor, if we can help it, at least not without expressing our dislike of it, suffer it to be done by others. And therefore to make this Sa­cramental Remembrance worthy of him, [Page 59] it must not onely be in shewing Honour and Reverence to him our selves, but in a readiness to maintain his Honour, and promote his Interest among others also.

2ly, We must Remember Christ our Lord and Master, with mindfulness of his Commands, and Resolutions of Obedience.

This is another Temper, which Lord­ship and Authority over us call [...] for. For the most proper Duty of Subjects towards their Sovereigns, and of Servants towards their Masters, is Obedience, or a Careful­ness to perform whatsoever they injoyn and require of them. Put them in mind, says the Apostle, to be subject to Principa­lities and Powers, and to obey Magistrates, Tit. 3.1. And Servants obey your Ma­sters in all things, not with eye-service, but in singleness of heart, fearing God, Col. 3.22. And Why call ye me Lord, Lord, says our Saviour, and do not the things which I say? Luc. 6.46.

Thus is Obedience the great Duty which we owe to all Masters and Gover­nours that have Authority over us. We must neither forget the Commands they have left with us, nor knowingly trans­gress them, but carefully call them into our Minds, and conscientiously practise them when we do.

And this we are then especially bound [Page 60] to, if they are not onely our Masters, but our Dearest Friends, and Noblest Benefa­ctors also. For these are Names that add new Bonds, and higher Obligations, which will have a great force so long as there is any thing of Ingenuity left in us. And therefore since our Blessed Master Jesus is not onely our Rightful Lord and Governour, but withal our most surpas­sing kind Friend and Benefactor, we ought in all Duty and Gratitude to be mindful of what he desires, and to do any thing that he would have us; and we deal most undutifully and unworthily by him, if we do otherwise. So that this also is another Instance of the Wor­thiness of this Remembrance, to be mind­ful of the Laws which he has given us, and to think of them with a Readiness and firm Resolution to obey.

These are the things then which must render our Remembrance worthy of him under this Relation. When we Eat and Drink in Commemoration of Christ our Lord and King, we must Honour and Re­verence him our selves, and be concerned to maintain his Honour and promote his In­terests among others, and be mindful of the Commands he has left with us, and ready and resolved to obey them.

2ly, In Eating Bread and Drinking [Page 61] Wine at the Lords Supper, we are to re­member Christ as our most kind Friend and Benefactor; and to do this worthily, we must remember him with Love of him, and Delight in him, and grateful Resentments and hearty Thanks for all the Kindnesses which we have received from him.

1st, We must remember him our most kind Friend and Benefactor with Love, and an hearty Affection for him.

This is due to him as he is our Graci­ous Lord, and indeed in every Relation that he stands in, since in all he is most wonderfully winning and obliging. For even there he seeks our own Good in every thing he commands us, and treats us with much gentleness, and encourages every thing that is well in us, and pities our unavoidable Infirmities, and bears our many and high Provocations with invincible Patience, and sends Messengers of Peace to entreat and sue for a Recon­ciliation with us upon any Difference, tho 'tis not his Interest but ours, and tho' not he but we are the Offenders; and, when he is forced to punish, doth it always with the greatest reluctance; but when he can take an occasion to reward, doth that with the greatest Joy and Chearful­ness; all which are strangely inga­ging, and must needs constrain all in­genuous [Page 62] Tempers to be heartily in Love with him.

But our Love is due to him more espe­cially, as he is our most kind Friend, that loves us as he doth his own Life; and our most noble Benefactor, who has so in­finitely obliged us, and done such Kind­nesses for us, as we are not able to ex­press.

He is our true Friend, who espouses our Interests as his own, and is sensible of all our Wants, and pained in all our Afflictions, and rejoyces in all our Joys, and seeks to make us share in his own Happiness, and would part with any thing he has to please us, nay, give his own Hearts Blood in any Case which were worth the while to do us a Kind­ness.

He is our most noble Benefactor, who has done us such Kindnesses as are beyond all Expressions, having procured for us the Favour of God, the Help of the Spirit, and the assured Hope of Eternal Happiness, when all these seemed irrevo­cably lost, and no ways attainable by us; and when he could not gain them at a less Rate, than by laying down his own Life for the Purchase.

And these are Endearments which pass all Imagination; they are such Argu­ments [Page 63] to a reciprocal Love and Kindness, as cannot be withstood by any Man. So that having received all this Love from him, we musts needs return the small Tri­bute of Love to him again, or else we should be the unworthiest of any Persons living.

And this is one Temper which is ne­cessary to a worthy Remembrance of so kind a Friend, and so noble a Benefactor as we have of our Blessed Saviour: We must love the Thoughts of him, and be most kindly affected towards him, or else we shall shew our selves utterly unworthy of him.

2ly, We must Remember him our most Noble Benefactor, and the Favours he has done us, with Joy and Gladness.

This is a Temper very necessary in us, when we would worthily Commemorate the Receipt of Benefits. For when we rejoyce in them, we shew what Rate we put upon them, and how much we are pleased in them, and how happy we think our selves in that Love which be­stowed them on us. And this will make the Person that conferred them think them well placed, and please himself in what he has done, concluding, that we, who are so sensible of a Kindness when 'tis shewed us, are worthy to receive one. [Page 64] And therefore the Scripture calls all good Men, who have received most [...]nvaluable Benefits, to Joy and [...] Re [...]oyce in the Lord, O ye Righteous, [...] the Psal­mist, for Praise is comely for the Vpright, Psal. 33.1.

And this we all ought to shew when we Commemorate those Blessings which our Blessed Saviour has conferred upon us. He has got all those things for us which our Hearts can wish, no less than the pure and perfect Joys of Heaven, and Eternal Happiness; and these he has taken the hardest Pains, and been at the greatest Cost to compass, laying down his own Life for them, rather than he would suffer us to go without them. And this we ought not at any time to think of, without Joy and Gladness. When we reflect upon so great Love, and such inestimable Benefits, 'tis most fit and rea­sonable we rejoyce over them, that there­by we may shew forth how happy we think our selves in them. And our Bles­sed Lord may well think he threw them away upon us, and repent that ever he bestowed, or took such pains for them, if after all he sees us insensible of what is done, and still as cold and unaffected as if we had received nothing. So that if we would worthily Commemorate the [Page 65] Receipt of so great Happiness, we must do it with joyful Hearts, and chearful Looks, and an open shew of Gladness; as we are told the Disciples did in the first Days, who, as St. Luke says, continued dai­ly in the Temple, and breaking Bread, eating it with Gladness of Heart, Act. 2.46.

3ly, We must Remember him our most Noble Benefactor with grateful Re­sentments and hearty Thanks for all his Kindnesses, particularly for that of his Dying for us.

In Thankfulness are implied two things.

1st, A grateful Acknowledgment of the Gift, and a Praising him that gave it.

2ly, A Readiness and Endeavour accord­ing to our Power to requite it.

It implies a grateful Acknowledgment of the Gift, and a Praising of him that gave it. For when we receive an undeserved Be­nefit, it is very fit that we let the Donor know we are sensible of it, and under­stand very well both our own Happiness in receiving, and his Kindness in bestow­ing it. We must give him the Praise of his Beneficence, and express a Sense of our own Obligations: For if we fail in this, we shew either that we contemn his Gift, and set no value on it; or that we think it onely a Tribute to our own Desert, so as that we are not beholding to him for [Page 66] it; or that we would be independent, and are too proud to be obliged by it; all which, had they been known to him be­fore-hand, would have made him and all men judge us most unworthy to receive it.

It implies also a Readiness and Endea­vour according to our Power to requite it. For Love should engage Love, and the Kindnesses which are done us, oblige us upon all Opportunities to do the same again. To encourage Benefits and be­stowing Favours, we ought to take care that they who gave them never have any just cause to repent of them, and to let them see, that if we had the Power and Opportunity, we would do as much for them. For Kindnesses should be a sort of Loans, which, upon any fit occasion, are to be repaid back to him who shewed them, that so all Men may be encouraged to abound in them, and never be hindred by a fear lest afterwards they should be offended with themselves for having be­stowed them. And if any Man is either so stupid, or so proud, that he will take no notice of them, nor endeavour after­wards to requite them, by the consent of all he is unfit to be dealt with in this ge­nerous way of Love, and is utterly un­worthy to receive them.

Thus doth Thankfulness imply, both [Page 67] an affectionate Acknowledgment of the Gift, and Praising him that gave it; and also a Readiness and Endeavour accord­ing to our Power to requite it.

And this we owe in the highest Mea­sure to our Saviour Christ, and must be sure always to pay him, when we Com­memorate the inestimable Benefits which we have received from him. We must not remember the great Things he has done for us, in delivering us from Eter­nal Death, and gaining us the Favour of God, and the Joys of Heaven, when it cost him no less than his own Hearts Blood for the Purchase, without affectio­nate Resentments, and Mouths full of Praise, and a fixt Readiness and Resolu­tion of Mind to make what small requital we are able in our Zeal for his Service, and our Kindness to his Brethren, whom he looks on as his own Members, resent­ing any Good that is done to them, as if it were done to himself, Mat. 25.40. And this Duty of Thankfulness is a most espe­cial Requisite to our worthy Commemo­ration of his Benefits in this Feast. For Praising God is reckoned as one Particular of the Disciples Carriage in their Break­ing Bread, Act. 2. They continued daily breaking Bread, says St. Luke, which they eat with gladness, praising God, v. 46, 47. [Page 68] Nay, so great a share has Thanksgiving and Praise in this Business, that the whole Action is called the Eucharist, i. e. the Giving of Thanks to God for those Be­nefits which are therein Commemorated.

And these are the Things which must render our Remembrance worthy of him, when we Commemorate him as our Friend and Benefactor in this Holy Supper. We must love him for his Kindnesses, and de­light in his Benefits, and be thankful for all his Favours, particularly for that which is therein especially Commemora­ted, his Dying upon our accounts, burst­ing out into grateful Acknowledgments and Words of Praise, and being ready and re­solved by our Zeal in his Service, our Ob­servance of his Laws, and our Kindness to his poor Members, to make him all the small Requital we are able, so that he may never have any cause to repent of what he has done for us.

But besides this Remembrance of his Friendship to us, and Benefits in general, which require in us these forementioned Tempers; we are especially to commemo­rate the Benefit of his Dying for us, which more particularly calls for certain o­thers.

In Eating Bread and Drinking Wine in the Lords Supper, I say, we are to [Page 69] remember his Dying for us, and shedding his Blood a Ransom for our Sins. And to do this worthily, we must be humbled un­der the sense of our own unworthiness, and abhor our Sins which brought him to bleed and die for us, and resign up our selves both Souls and Bodies to his use, as we are bought with his Blood, and thereby become his own Purchase.

1st, We must remember his Dying for us in an humble and deep sense of our own unworthiness, and in an utter abhorrence of our Sins, which brought him to these Suf­ferings.

We must remember it, I say, in an humble and deep sense of our own unworthi­ness. His Death was not for any thing that he had done, but onely for our Sins; and this shews what vile Wretches we are, and how unworthy Persons. It lets us see how hateful our Sins had made us unto God, and what they had deserved at his Hands. For he would not let them pass without inflicting the highest Shame, and the most exquisite Pain and Tortures. Yea, when his own onely Begotten Son would intercede for them, and b [...]ar the Burden of them in his own [...]son, so implacable was the [...] to them, and so indispensable [...]he R [...]sons that constrain [...]d him to punis [...] [...] that [Page 70] his most tender Love for him, whom he valued as his own Right Eye, could not hinder but that he should bleed and die for them. It lets us see also how trou­blesom they had made us to our best Friends, and how shamefully burdensom and expensive to the Blessed Jesus. For when he long'd and labour'd to redeem us from them, he could not be our Friend unless he would cease to be his own, nor do us any good at all, except he would give his own Life a Ransom. And what Man now can ever think of this, but he must hide his Face, and be quite buried in a shameful sense of his own Unworthiness? He may see how vile he was, when God was so highly offended with him, and thought no Punishment too heavy for him, and would not be reconciled at the Intercession of his own Son, unless he would die in stead of him; and it was so dangerous and costly a thing, no less than the laying down his own Life, for his Saviour to shew himself a serviceable Friend to him. And if this Sight doth not work shame and self-abasement in him, he will be concluded by all to be the basest Man alive, and utterly unworthy that [...]ver any thing of all this unparal­lell'd Kindness should have been done him.

[Page 71]We must also remember his Dying for us with an utter abhorrence of our Sins, which were the Causes of his Sufferings. For if we do not hate and abhor them, when we consider what Tortures he endured for them, we shew we are very little con­cerned for his Ease, nor have any feeling of his Pains, nor any Zeal at all against the Occasion of his Sorrows. And this is a very bad Requital of his undergo­ing all those Pains for our sakes, and a most unworthy Usage. So that if we would worthily Commemorate his Dying for us, we must be humbled and ashamed of our selves, at the sense of our own Unworthiness, seeing we had deserved such insupportable Punishments, and have put him to such exquisite and intense Pains; and particularly we must turn our abhorrence on our Sins, which cau­sed all this Mischief, and made him, if he would befriend us, to undergo such hea­vy Tortures.

2ly, We must remember his Dying for us, with a Resignation of our selves, both Souls and Bodies, to his use, as we are bought with his Blood, and thereby become his own Purchase.

He died in our stead, and his Blood was given to God for a Ransom, to buy us off from it, that we might not die also. [Page 72] The Son of Man, saith he, is come to give his Life a Ransom for many, Mat. 20.28. And since he has bought us, and paid so dear for us, to deliver us from Hell-tor­ments and Eternal Death, which is not his, but our own Advantage; in all Equi­ty and Reason he ought to have the Use of us, and we should be wholly devoted to his Service. And this the Scripture requires of us. The Love of God constrains us, saith St. Paul, to live to him, because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead; and that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him that died for them, 2 Cor. 5.14, 15. And again, Ye are not your own, ye are bought with a Price; therefore glorifie God in your Body and in your Spirit, which are Gods, 1 Cor. 6.19, 20. And since his Dying for us has made us his own Propriety, and acquired him an ab­solute Right over us to his own use, which we had infinite Reason to desire, but he had no need of; if we would remember it worthily, we must do it justly, by ho­nestly devoting our Souls and Bodies, and assigning them over to him, to be wholly at his Service.

And these are the Things which must render our Remembrance worthy of him, when in the Holy Sacrament we Comme­morate [Page 73] his Dying for us, and shedding his most precious Blood a Ransom for our Sins. We must be humbled with the sense of our own Unworthiness, and ab­hor our Sins, which brought him to these Sufferings, and resign up our selves, both Bodies and Souls, to be wholly at his use, and employed where and in what he pleases, as thereby they are become his own Purchase.

And thus it appears what Tempers are becoming us, and worthy of this first End of Eating and Drinking in the Ho­ly Sacrament, viz. the Remembrance of our Lord and Saviour Christ, and his Dying for us. We must remember him with Honour and Reverence, with a careful Con­cern to maintain and promote his Honour among others, with mindfulness of his Commands, and Resolutions of Obedience, as he is Lord over us: with Love of him for his Kindness, and Delight in his Be­nefits, and thankful Acknowledgments, and Words of Praise, and grateful Returns, in any thing he can receive, or we can give, for all his Favours, particularly his Dy­ing on our account, as he has so highly be­friended, and infinitely obliged us; and with an humble sense of our own unworthi­ness, and an utter abhorrence of all our Sins, which were the Causes of his Suf­ferings, [Page 74] and an intire Resignation of our selves, both Souls and Bodies, to his use, to be employ'd as his own Purchase in what he pleases, as his Death was a Sa­crifice for our Sins, wherewith he bought and redeemed us. All these are Duties, which, were he now before us, and con­versing with us, we ought to pay him; and which therefore in our Remembrance of him, which makes him present to our Minds, we must not deny him: and in them consists the Worthiness of this Re­membrance and Commemoration.

2ly, A second End of our Eating Bread and Drinking Wine in the Lords Supper, is to confirm the New Covenant with Al­mighty God which Christs Death procured: And to do this worthily, we must come to it in Sincerity and Faithfulness, and with full purpose and performance of that Re­pentance and Obedience which therein we solemnly profess and promise.

We must come to it, I say, in Sincerity and Faithfulness. The great Qualificati­on which is requisite in all Compacts, is Faithfulness. For they are the great Means of Security among Men, and the great Thing which, in their Expectations from each other, they have to depend upon: and therefore it is both pretended, and expected by all that make them, that [Page 75] they will not prove false and deceitful in them. Every Man that Covenants, expects those he Contracts with should mean what they profess, and perform what they promise; and makes shew also himself, that he will do so likewise. And if he doth not, he is a very dishonest un­worthy Man, such as the Gospel condemns, and will sentence, unless he repent, to eternal destruction: Covenant-breakers be­ing ranked among those who in the Judg­ment of God are worthy of Death, Rom. 1.31, 32.

And this Sincerity or Faithfulness con­sists in this, that we come in full purpose and performance of that Repentance and Obedience which we profess and make pro­mise of. In this Covenant, to all us Be­lievers, God offers at present a Right to Pardon, his Holy Spirit, and Eternal Hap­piness; and we again profess, and make offer to him of our Repentance and Obe­dience. And this Right he promises still to continue to us upon the same Terms; and answerably we promise to perform them upon that expectation for ever af­terwards. And both in these Professions and Promises we must deal sincerely with him, and neither pretend a present offer of them, when we want them; nor make Promises of them for the time to come, [Page 76] when we have no fixed Design and well-weighed Resolution to perform them.

When we come therefore to renew our Baptismal Engagement, and to confirm the New Covenant with Almighty God, giving him both the Profession and the Promise of these Duties, and receiving from him the Proffer and the Promise of these Graces, we must be hearty and un­feigned with him. Our Souls must re­ally be acted by that Repentance which we profess, and fully intend to make good that Obedience which we promise. And if we perform in both these, we are faithful and sincere in this Business; but if we fail in either, we are Dissemblers and Hypocrites, who act a Part, and go to impose upon Almighty God, which is a very unworthy part of us.

And this Sincerity God expresly calls for at this Feast, and requires us to be faithful with him when we come to con­firm the New Covenant by partaking of it. Christ our Passover, says St. Paul, is sacrificed for us, therefore let us keep the Feast, not with the Leaven of Malice and Wickedness, by adhering still to our for­mer wicked ways, which therefore we are to repent of, but with the unleavened Bread of Sincerity and Truth, 1 Cor. 5.7, 8. And as for Repentance particularly, [Page 77] which is the great Condition of the Cove­nant renewed in it; it is the great Quali­fication of all worthy Receivers, and is most indispensably required in this Sacra­ment. It is the chief thing that is looked at in every Confirmation of the Covenant, and therefore is so peremp­torily Act. 2.38. Luc. 3.3. called for when we are Baptized: it is the only thing that can Psal. 51.17. re­commend a Sacrifice, and therefore the main point that must fit us for this Feast upon it. And this the An­cient Church always thought of it; as it plainly shew'd, when at the Celebration of it the Bishop cry'd out, [...]. Con­stit. Apost. l. 8. c. 13. p. 484. tom prim. Concil. Ed. Par. Lab. These Holy Things must be taken only by Holy Persons; and as St. Am­brose clearly informs us, when he says, Ubique mysterii ordo servatur, ut prius per remissi­onem Peccatorum vulneribus medi­cina tribuatur, postea alimoni [...] mensae Coelestis exuberet. S. Am­bros. Comment. in Luc. l. 6. c. 9. This is the Order of dispensing this Mystery which every Church observes, that first upon their true Repentance their Sins may be forgiven them, and then this Hea­venly Food shall be ad­minister'd and reach'd out to them.

[Page 78]As this Eating and Drinking then is a Federal Rite, and in Confirmation of the New Covenant, it requires that we be Faithful and Sincere in doing it; and then we come worthily, and partake of it as we ought, when we truly Repent of all our Sins, as we profess; and are fully pur­posed, as we promise, at all times after so to do.

3ly, A third End of our Eating Bread and Drinking Wine in the Lords Supper, is, to confirm a League of Love and Friend­ship with all Christians: and this requires that we lay aside all Envy, Hatred, and Malicious Thoughts, and come to it in Peace and Forgiveness of all that have any ways offended us.

We must not come to it in Envy, Ha­tred, and Malicious Thoughts; for that were to give the Lye to our selves, and to contradict our own Professions. For when we come there to partake of that one Bread, we profess our selves, as has been shewn, to be all one Body, and that we are all the Body of Christ, and Mem­bers one of another. We solemnly declare, that we will be friends from that day for­wards with all persons, and fully recon­ciled even to our bitter Enemies, and those who have given us the highest Pro­vocations, though not for their own [Page 79] sakes, yet for the sake of Christ, who has bore a thousand times more from us, and deserves infinitely beyond what this comes to at our hands. We promise mu­tually that we will lay aside all little Piques, not fall out into Quarrels or Con­tentions, nor bear Ill-will, or be vexati­ous among our selves, nor seek our own Pleasure, Honour, or Advantage at our Brethrens loss; but that we will all have a compassionate sense of each others In­firmities, and a tender concern and dili­gent care for each others welfare; that we will live as Members of the same Bo­dy, which all feel what befalls any, and are all solaced with the same Joys, and all languish in the same Sorrows, and all unite in the same Ends, and all bear the Weaknesses, and supply the Needs, and seek the Good and Pleasure of each other, as they do their own. All this Good­will and Brotherly-kindness, Peace and Forgiveness towards all Persons, we pro­fess in eating together at this Feast; and therefore it is most unworthy dealing if we want them, and are even then acted by Hatred, Envy, and malicious Thoughts, which are most opposite and contrary to them.

Thus is it necessary when we confirm this League of Love and Friendship to [Page 80] our Brethren, that we lay aside all Envy and Ill-will, and have perfect Charity to­wards all men. And this Charity must be shewn, as in Prayers and Good wishes at all times, and in Courteous Carriages and good Offices as oft as we have opportunity, towards all Persons; so particularly in giving Alms, and affording Relief to such as want and are necessitous. For the League of Love whereinto we are then to enter, and which Christ exacts of us, is not only to bestow fair words, or com­passionate looks, or faint wishes; but, if we are able, to relieve as we have opportu­nity, and supply those who stand in need of our s [...]bstance. If a Brother or a Sister be naked, says St. James, or destitute of daily Fo [...]d; and one of you say unto them, Depart in Peace, be ye warmed or filled, notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are necessary for the Body, what doth it profit? Jam. 2.15, 16. My little Chil­dren, saith St. John, let us not love in word only, neither in Tongue, but in deed and in Truth: And hereby, i. e. by this useful o­perative Charity, we know that we are of the Truth, and shall assure our hearts be­fore him, 1 Joh. 3.18, 19. And thus the Ancient Christians constantly used to do in the Apostles times. For then at every Lords Supper, they had another of their [Page 81] own, which they call'd a Love Feast, or Feast of Charity, Jud. 12. This consisted of such Provision as every Communicant brought along with him; they that were Rich brought in much, and the Poorer sort less, but when it came, they all sate down in a Brotherly way, and shared in common. Which when the Corinthians failed to do, every one eating as they came without tarrying for their Brethren, and the Rich taking their own large Por­tions to themselves, and leaving the Poor to blush at the scantiness of theirs; the Apostle reproved them sharply, telling them how much they prophaned this Ho­ly Feast by such corrupt usage. In eating, says he, at this Feast, instead of joyning all like loving Brethren at a common Sup­per, every one taketh before other his own Sup­per, or that which he brought for his own share, and one, who brought little, is Hun­gary through his scarceness, and another, who brought much, is Drunken with the excess of his. Shall I praise you in this? I praise you not. 1 Cor. 11.21, 22. And when this way of being Charitable to the Poor at this Feast, by reason of abuses crept into it, was laid aside; another was still used, which to this day is practi­sed in many and the best of our Churches, as 'tis fit it should in all, and that is, ha­ving [Page 82] offerings for the poor at every Commu­nion, which may afterwards be distribu­ted among them. Which is a most pro­per way, and excellent opportunity, not only of exercising that Charity which therein we profess to them; but also of expressing our Thankfulness to our Bles­sed Saviour, for the invaluable benefits we have received from him. For in be­ing thus kind to his poor Members, whom he is so tenderly concerned for, we make some sleight return and poor requital un­to him, who puts their Receipts upon his own score, taking what we do to them as done to his own Person. In as much as ye have done it unto these my Brethren, ye have done it unto me. Mat. 25.40.

And these are the things which must render our eating and drinking, as it is in Confirmation of a League of Love and Friendship with all our Brethren, worthy of that signification. We must lay aside all Envy and Malicious Thoughts, and come to it in Forgiveness of all that have offended us, and in Charity to all our Neighbours, which we must express, as in other things, so particularly in giving Alms to such whose necessities require it of us.

And all these the Scripture it self marks out as necessary Qualifications in all wor­thy Communicants. Let us keep the Feast, [Page 83] says the Apostle, not with the Leaven of Malice, 1 Cor. 5.8. When ye come toge­ther into one place, says he again, I hear there be Divisions among you: And, when there are so, this is not to eat the Lords Supper, one End whereof is to unite you, 1 Cor. 11.18, 20. If thou bring thy Gift to the Altar, says our Saviour, and there remembrest that thy Brother hath ought against thee, leave thy Gift before the Altar, and go and first be reconciled to thy Brother, and then come and offer thy Gift, Mat. 5.23, 24. And as for the Distribution of Alms at this time; that, as we saw, was the Apostolical way in the Love-Feasts, as also in the Collections for the Poor as every Man had laid by him in store on the First day of the Week, (when they always had a Sacrament) which St. Paul mentio [...] ▪ 1 Cor. 16.2. And when these Feasts sail'd, yet these Collections and Offerings at the Lords Table still continued, and do in very many Places, which in this respect are sit to be Patterns to all others, unto this day.

And thus at last we see wherein consists the Worthiness of Eating and Drinking in this Holy Feast, and what Tempers and Dispositions in us are worthy of all those Ends which are signified and designed by it. We must Eat and Drink in Remem­brance [Page 84] of Christ, and of his Dying for us, with Honour and Reverence, with a careful Concern to maintain and promote his Honour among others, with mindfulness of his Commands, and Resolutions of Obedience, as he is Lord over us: with Love of him for his Kindness, and Delight in his Be­nefits, and thankful Acknowledgments, and grateful Returns for all his Favours, parti­cularly his Dying on our account, as he so highly befriended, and infinitely obliged us: and with an humble sense of our own unwor­thiness, and an utter abhorrence of all our Sins, which were the Causes of his Suf­ferings, and an intire Resignation of our selves, both Souls and Bodies, to his use, to be employed as his own Purchase in what he pleases, as his Death was a Sa­crifice for our Sins, wherewith he bought and redeemed us. We must Eat and Drink in confirmation of the New Cove­nant, professing our hearty Consent to it, and Resolution to stand by it, in all Sincerity and Faithfulness; coming to it with that Repentance of all our Sins, and those obedient Hearts which we profess; and with a full purpose afterwards to make good all we promise. And, lastly, we must Eat and Drink in confirmation of a League of Love and Friendship with all our Brethren, laying aside all Envy and Malice [Page 85] towards them, and making Restitution where we have wronged them, and for­giving heartily where we have any Grudge against them, and giving Alms as our Ability and their Necessities re­quire them, and so being in perfect Peace and Charity with all Men.

And if we believe all these things, and are thereby carried on to all these Tem­pers and Performances, we have that Faith which will render us Worthy Communi­cants, and acceptable to God at all other times. If we believe Christ to be our Lord and Master, and thereupon Reve­rence, Honour, and Obey him; if we be­lieve him to be our best Friend and Bene­factor, and thereupon love him, and de­light in him, and are thankful to him; if we believe he shed his own Hearts Blood for our Sins, and for the Redemption of our Souls, and thereupon are humbled with the sense of our own unworthiness, and ab­hor our Sins which were so mischievous, and resign up both our Souls and Bodies wholly to his use, as they are his own Pur­chase; if we believe his Death procured us the Grace and Blessings of the New Co­venant, which promises all Believers Par­don upon Repentance, and the Spirits Help upon their own Endeavours, and Eternal Life on their intire Obedience; and thereupon [Page 86] heartily consent to it, and perform that Repentance and Obedience which are the Condition of it, and are faithful and sincere in our Promises and Resolutions to stand by it: and lastly, if we believe he requires us to love, and live in peace with all the World, and thereupon in this Sacrament confirm a League of Friend­ship with all our Brethren, laying aside all Enmity and Hatred, and being in perfect Charity with all Men: If we have all this Faith, I say, which, as appears, is thorowly exercised in this Sacrament; and can shew all these Fruits of it, in these Tempers and Performances being effected by it; we have that true, saving, justifying Faith the Scripture speaks of, which purifies the Heart, Act. 15.9, and works by Love, Gal. 5.6, and is lively in Good Works, Jam. 2.20, 26; and this will make us Worthy Communicants at this Feast, and welcom to God at all other times.

CHAP. III. A further Account of this Worthiness.

The Contents.

These recited Tempers are all necessary in the Person Communicating, but not all neces­sary to be expresly exercised in the Time of Communion. A Direction in which it may be fit to lay out our Devotion at that time. All these are provided for in the Churches Prayers, so that we may exer­cise them worthily if we go along devout­ly at all the Parts of the Communion-Service.

IN the former Chapter I have reckon'd up those Tempers which render us Worthy Communicants, and fit us to be bid­den Welcome at the Lords Supper when­soever he invites and calls us thither.

But of them I must observe, that al­tho' they are all necessary in the Person Communicating; yet are they not all of necessity to be particularly and expresly exer­cised in the Time of Communion.

They are all necessary, I say, in the Per­son Communicating, and he is not worthy [Page 88] to remember such a Lord and Saviour, to sign the New Covenant with Almighty God, and a League of Amity and Friendship with all the Christian World, who wants any of them. They are altogether due from us, as we have seen, and may in all reason be expected of us, as we stand in these Relations, and are admitted to these Em­ployments: So that we act unworthily, and fail of our Duty, if our Souls are not endow'd with them, when we are in those Capacities, and about those Per­formances, which do so justly challenge and call for them.

But they are not all necessary to be par­ticularly and expresly exercised in the Time of Communion. They will be all implied, 'tis true, and virtually contained in what is then done; but they are not all ne­cessary to be particularly insisted on. And for this there is a very good Reason, because that Time doth not ordinarily allow sufficient Space for them. For most Communicants are not of such active Minds and quick Apprehensions, as that they can pursue so many Busines­ses, or work themselves up into an ex­press Fervour of so many particular Tempers at one Exercise. And those that are, chuse rather often-times to fix upon some few, that so, having the [Page 89] more time to stay upon them, they may raise themselves up to greater Degrees, and act them over in much higher Mea­sures. And because, where all cannot be exercised, it is of great use to know which are best and fittest to be singled out, I shall here set down which of all those Tempers I conceive it were most proper to stir up at that time, and vigo­rously to exert and heighten in our own Minds.

If any then, who come to the Holy Communion, find that they are either tired out with the length, or distracted by the variety of many Particulars, and that their Devotion in this Feast goes better on, and is more full and perfect when they restrain it to a few; I think they may do well to lay it out in these that follow.

In remembring our Saviour Christ, who, as then we are to believe, died for us, and purchased us the New Covenant by his Death, offering us the Pardon of our Sins upon Repent [...]nce, and his Grace and Spirit to help [...]ut our Endeavours, and Eternal Life upon our intire Obedi­ence: in remembring him, I say, we may do well to shew,

1. A joyful and affectionate Thankfulness for this his unspeakable Love and Be­nefits, [Page 90] particularly for his Dying for us.

2. An intire Resignation of our selves, both Souls and Bodies, to his use, as they are his own Purchase▪ In which two con­sists the main Worthiness of this Part, they being the Things which are most becoming us in this Remembrance.

And in confirming the New Covenant with Almighty God, whereto we must believe we are then invited, we may act,

3. Repentance of all our Sins, particu­larly of all those which we find are most apt to win upon us; and make him Promi­ses that in all the Instances of Duty, but in them especially, we will joyn our En­deavours to his Grace, and obey his Laws: and when we promise this, it must be with a sincere and faithful Heart, and with full Intentions of Performance, which are the great Duty incumbent on us in these Engagements.

And in confirming a League of Love and Friendship with all our Brethren, which we must think we are then called to likewise, we may exercise,

4. Charity towards all Persons, forgi­ving all that have any ways offended us, and laying aside all Envy, Strife, and malicious Thoughts, and resolving to shew Kindness both in Word and Deed [Page 91] to all about us, nay to all Men, as we have ability and opportunity, but the Poor especially, who ought not to be for­gotten at such times; which is the Great Thing required of us, and becoming us in this part of the Service.

So that when we come to the Holy Communion, where we are called to re­member Christ, particularly in his Death, to seal the New Covenant with God, and a League of Friendship with our Brethren; we may do well to express our selves joyfully and affectionately thankful for all his Kind­ness, especially that in Dying for us, and resign up our selves, both Souls and Bodies, to his Service, and repent of all our Sins, making him faithful and unfeigned Pro­mises of amending all our Faults, parti­cularly those wherein we are most liable to do amiss, and shew our selves in Peace and perfect Charity with all Persons. By these things we shall duly answer the Ends of this Feast, and in them lies the great Worthiness of our Carriage at it. And this our Church has sufficiently inti­mated to us in her Publick Catechism, when in return to that Question, What is requi­red of them that come to the Lords Sup­per? It gives this Answer; To repent them truly of all their Sins, stedfastly purpo­sing to lead a new Life; to have a lively [Page 92] Faith in Gods Mercy thro' Christ (which, as we have seen, is thorowly exercised from the beginning to the end of this Ho­ly Sacrament) to have a thankful Remem­brance of his Death, and be in Charity with all Men.

When we come therefore to the Holy Sacrament, whilst the Minister himself is Communicating, or whilst others are Re­ceiving, we may lay out our selves on these things, and spend the time in the Exercise of these Duties, acting them in Devout Prayers and Holy Meditations in our own Hearts. Or if we are not able of our selves, but need the Help of others to suggest Thoughts, and to go along with us in this Service, let us joyn hear­tily in the Churches Prayers, which it has appointed for this purpose. For in them we have an Exercise of all these Virtues, and they have excellently provided for our Needs in this Case; so that we may duly express these Tempers, if we are careful to joyn fervently with the Mini­ster in all the Parts of the Communion-Service. And because it may be of use to some to see how all these Duties are exercised in it, that so, being aware of it, they may particularly design them when they come to it; I will shew it of them all particularly.

[Page 93]1. It leads us on to an affectionate Thankfulness and joyful Praise, the first great Qualification, in a strain which truly to me is most transporting. For thus it helps us to give Thanks before Re­ceiving. It is very meet, right, and our bounden Duty, that we should at all Times, and in all Places, give Thanks unto thee, O Lord, Holy Father, Almighty, Everlasting God: Therefore with Angels, and Arch­angels, and all the Company of Heaven, we laud and magnifie thy Glorious Name, ever­more praising thee, and saying, Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts, Heaven and Earth are full of thy Glory: Glory be to thee, O Lord most High.

And thus again after it:

Glory be to God on High, and in Earth Peace, and Good Will towards Men. We praise thee, we bless thee, we worship thee, we glorifie thee, we give Thanks to thee for thy great Glory, O Lord God, Heavenly King, God the Father Almighty.

O Lord the onely Begotten Son Jesu Christ, O Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father, that takest away the Sins of the World, have Mercy upon us. Thou that ta­kest away the Sins of the World, have mercy upon us. Thou that takest away the Sins of the World, receive our Prayers. Thou that sittest at the Right Hand of God the Father, have mercy upon us.

[Page 94] For thou only art Holy, thou only art the Lord, thou only, O Christ, with the Holy Ghost, art most high in the Glory of God the Father.

All which are words expressing joyful Praise and affectionate Thankfullness so mel­tingly, that better, I think, have not yet been thought of.

2. It leads us also to resign up our selves, both Souls and Bodies, to his Service, in the Prayer immediately after receiving in these words.

And here we offer and present unto thee, O Lord, our selves, our Souls and Bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and lively Sacrifice un­to thee; humbly beseeching thee, that all we who are partakers of this Holy Communion, may be fullfill'd with thy Grace and Heaven­ly Benediction.

3. It leads us in professing an humble and hearty Repentance of all our sins, and making God our Faithful Promises of new Obedience, in the invitation to Communi­cate, and the Confession of Sin before re­ceiving in these words.

Ye that do truly and earnestly Repent you of your Sins, and intend to lead a new Life, following the Commandments of God, and walking from henceforth in his Holy Ways; draw near with Faith, and take this Holy Sacrament to your Comfort, and make your [Page 95] humble Confession to Almighty God, meekly kneeling upon your Knees.

Almighty God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, &c. We acknowledge and bewail our manifold sins and wickedness, which we from time to time most grievously have committed, by Thought, Word, and Deed, against thy Divine Majesty, &c. We do earnestly Re­pent, and are heartily sorry for these our mis-doings, &c.

And to prepare us for this profession of Repentance in this place of the Ser­vice, I think it very adviseable to take what time there is, whilst the Bread and Wine are in preparing before the begin­ning of the Office, to recollect our particu­lar Sins which we are most liable to incur, and at every one of them to make God pro­mises, and six Resolutions of amending them in our own minds; after which we may the better say in General we Repent of them, and will no more Commit them, and thereupon beg Pardon for them, and receive Absolution, as it is in this part of the Service.

4. And lastly, it leads us to act Peace and Charity to all men, when in the Ex­hortation before receiving, it tells us we must be in perfect Charity with all Men; and in the invitation, calls such as are in Love and Charity with all their Neighbours: at [Page 96] which words our hearts may strike in with it, and earnestly profess they at present are, and are fully resolv'd at all times after so to be.

Thus doth the Church it self in our Publick Service, go before us, and lead us on in these great Duties of joyful Praise and Thankfulness, of Resignation of our selves, of Repentance and Faithful pur­poses and promises of Obedience, and of Charity to all Persons, which are to render us welcome Guests, and worthy Commu­nicants. Nay, it doth not only call us to, and bear us Company in these chief Duties, wherein above all consists a Re­ceivers worthiness: but also in most others mentioned above, so that scarce any Du­ty is requir'd in us at this Feast, but, if our Hearts go along with it, it puts in act, and makes a place for it.

It exercises our humble sense of our own unworthiness in the Prayer before Consecra­tion, in these words. We do not presume to come to this thy Table, O merciful Lord, trusting in our own Righteousness, but in thy manifold and great Mercies. We are not worthy so much as to gather up the Crumbs under thy Table. And so again in the Prayer after receiving in these. Though we be un­worthy, through our manifold sins, to offer up unto thee any Sacrifice; yet humbly we be­seech [Page 97] thee accept this our bounden Duty and Service; not weighing our Merits, but par­doning our Offences, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

It exercises our hatred and abhorrence of our Sins, which caused Christs Suffer­ings, in the Confession of Repentance in these. The remembrance of our mis-doings is grievous unto us, the burden of them is intole­rable.

And it exercises our Love, and Reve­rence, and Honour to Christ, either in words that express it, or in things that im­ply it, being real proofs and effects of it, in every thing that is done through the whole Service.

If every Receiver therefore that has these Tempers, doth but go along heartily and affectionately with the Churches Pray­ers, and joyn with the Minister and the Congregation in the Communion Service; he acts them over as he ought, and doth Honour to his Saviour, and is a worthy Communicant. He shews all those qua­lifications which God has required, and receives as a worthy Guest, if he can do nothing more than go along, and strike in heartily at every part of the Publick Worship. Which I speak, not for the ease of those who, either by their own in­vention, or the help of Books, can set their [Page 98] own Minds on work, and employ their own Thoughts in meditating and acting over all these Tempers, whilst the Mini­ster is distributing the Sacrament: I speak it not, I say, for the ease of these Persons, as if, beside what they do in the Churches Prayers, they should not more­over do what they can otherwise. But for the sake of others, who have not these abilities, that they may not be dis­couraged; and to let them know, that, if they are good men, and have these Tempers, there is exercise of them suffi­cient in the Publick Prayers, were there nothing else from the help of Books, or their own invention, to make them wor­thy Communicants.

And thus we see wherein lies the wor­thiness of receiving, and what Virtues are fit for him to exercise, who would be a welcome Guest at the Holy Communion. When he remembers the Death of Christ, and confirms the New Covenant with God, and a League of Love and Friendship with all the Christian World, by eating Bread, and drinking Wine according to Christs appointment; he must exercise himself in joyful Praise, and affectionate Thanks, and Resignation of his whole man, both Soul and Body, to Christs Service, and in Repentance of all his Sins, making God faithful Pro­mises [Page 99] of New Obedience, and in Charity towards all Persons: all which he may ex­press in joyning heartily with the Churches Prayers, besides what he doth, whilst the Bread and Wine are in preparing, or whilst others are Communicating, in his own Meditations. And if he believes these things, and is carryed on by such belief to these Performances; he is welcome to the Table of his Lord, and may justly esteem himself a worthy Partaker of this Blessed Sacrament.

CHAP. IV. Worthy Receiving not extraordinary difficult, and of unworthiness to Communicate.

The Contents.

To silence the Complaint of extraordinary difficulty in coming worthily to this Sacra­ment, three things noted. 1. All the par­ticulars of worthy Receiving, are necessa­ry parts of Duty, and of a good Man; so that no more is required to fit us for re­ceiving, than is required to fit us to dye, or to go to Heaven. 2. They are all ne­cessary Qualifications of an acceptable Prayer, Vow, or Thanksgiving; so that no more is required to it, than to a worthy discharge of all other Acts of Religion. 3. However they may be commended, yet are they not necessarily required in more in­tense, and transporting degrees in it, than in other instances of Devotion. The only unworthiness, which can put us by this Or­dinance, is Impenitence: if Repentance will [...]o down with any man, nothing else [Page 101] need stick with him. This Point of Wor­thy Communicating summ'd up.

HAving hitherto shewn wherein lies the worthiness of receiving, and what those Qualifications are which fit us for this Holy Feast: I shall now only note some things that may silence all good mens Com­plaints about the hardship of it, and shew plainly who are unworthy to join in it, and what they must do to fit and prepare them­selves for it, and so conclude this Point.

1st, I shall Note some things that may reconcile all good minds to this Feast, and silence their Complaints of the hardship, and extraordinary difficulty of coming worthily to partake in it. And this had need to be done, and may prove of great use when once it is; because one chief thing, which causes even good People to come so seldome, is the apprehended difficulty, and extraordi­nary▪ solemnity of the worthy receiving.

Now to satisfy all good Souls in this point, and to remove these hard though [...]s of it, I would suggest to them these three things.

1st, That all these Tempers, which are required to a worthy Communion, are ne­cessary parts of Duty, and of a good Man; so that no more is required of us to sit our selves for receiving, than is required to fit us to dye, or to go to Heaven.

[Page 102]2ly, That they are all required to a wor­thy Prayer, Vow, or Thanksgiving; so that no more Duties are required to our worthiness in it, than to our worthiness in all other Acts of Religion.

3ly, That however they may be commen­ded, yet are they not necessarily required, as some have imagined, in more intense and tran­sporting degrees in it, than in other instances of Devotion.

1st, I say all the Tempers, which I have mentioned as necessary to a worthy Commu­nion, are necessary parts of Duty, and of a good Man; so that no more is required of us to sit our selves for a worthy receiving, than is required to sit us to Dye, or to go to Heaven.

They are all necessary parts of Duty, and of a good Man. It is necessarily required of every good Man, who would serve God and be accepted with him, that he Phil. 2.9, 10. honour his Lord and Master Jesus Christ, and be careful to Luc. 6.46. obey him; that he be J [...]m. 1.12. affectionately sensi­ble of all the kindnesses he has done, particularly in dying for him, and most heartily E [...]h. 5.20. thank him for them; that he be M [...]t. 5.3. humbled under the sense of his own sins, and utterly [...]ov. 8.13. abhor them; and [Page 103] resign up himself both 1 Cor. 6.19, 20. Soul and Body, to his Saviours use, who by his own hearts blood has bought him; that, having first Marc. 16.16. Believed in Christ, he sincerely consent and enter into the New Covenant, perform­ing, and promising that Luc. 13.3. Re­pentance, Phil. 2.12. Good endeavours, and Heb. 5.9. Obedience which are required by it, in expectation of that Forgiveness, Grace, and Happiness which are proposed in it; and lastly, that he should Gal. 5.20, 21. lay aside all envy, and malicious Thoughts, and Mat. 6.15. forgive In­juries, Ezek. 33.14, 15. repair Wrongs, be at Rom. 12.18. Peace, and live in Col. 3.14. Charity with all the world. All these are Du­ties indispensably required by the Gospel of Christ, as appears by the places re­ferr'd to in the Margine; they are no in­different things, but absolutely necessary in every Christian, who would secure his Peace with God, and be sure at last to go to Heaven. And they, as we have seen, are the very things, which the Worthi­ness of Communicating consists of. So so that to be personally worthy for the Com­munion, is nothing more, than to be an ac­ceptably [Page 104] Good and Religious man: To have all those Virtues which constitute a Saint, and are necessary parts of that Obedience and Holy Living, which must get us all an Interest in Christ, and secure our Title to Salvation. And therefore if any man is contented with those Duties, which God exacts of him to make him a good Man; he has no cause to complain of those, which are necessary to a worthy Receiving. And if he doth repine at them, and refrain from the Lords Table, because he will not be at the pains to ac­quire them; 'tis plain that 'tis not the hardship of the Sacrament, but of an Holy Life that he is disturbed at; and the same difficulties that drive him from the Com­munion, if he understand himself, must drive him also out of his Religion and the way to Heaven.

2ly, These Duties, that are requi­red to a Worthy Receiving, are required also to every Worthy Prayer, Vow, and Thanksgiving; so that no more Duties are required to our worthiness in it, than to our worthiness in all other Acts [...]f Religion. For unless a man Repents of all his Sins, and is in Love and Cha­rity with all his Neighbours, and Be­lieves in Christ and all his Promises, and is ready and resolv'd to obey all [Page 105] his Commandments; and, in one word, un­less he is a Good man, which fits him for a worthy receiving; he is not more wor­thy to say his Prayers, to give Thanks, to make Vows to God, or seal Covenants, than he is to join in the Holy Communion.

He is not more worthy to say his Pray­ers; for to the acceptance of them all the same things are required of him. If I regard Iniquity in my heart, says the Psal­mist, i. e. if I do not Repent of it, and turn away from it, the Lord will not hear me, Psal. 66.18. And if men would pray as they ought, says St. Paul, and as they may hope to be heard, they must have both Faith, Peace, and Innocence to re­commend their Petitions, or lift [...]p [...]ly hands, without wrath, and doubting, 1 Tim. 2.8. If you forgive n [...]t men their Trespasse [...], says our Saviour, neither will your Hea [...] ­ly Father forgive your Trespasses So that when ye pray say—forgive us our [...], as we forgive our Debtors, Mat. 6.12, [...]. God says the same of an ill mans [...] that he doth of an ill mans [...], namely, that he is most unworthy in [...], and shall receive a Curse instead of a [...]l [...]s­sing. For as the Vnworthy, i. e. as h [...]s been shewn, the Wicked Receiver (the Wor­thiness required being only that of a good man) eats and drink [...] his own Damnation, [Page 106] 1 Cor. 11.29. So is it said of the Vnwor­thy, i. e. of the wicked Petitioner too, that he who turns away his Ear from hearing the Law, even his Prayer shall be an Abomina­tion. Prov. 28.9. and 15.8.

Thus is every man, that is Vnworthy to receive the Sacrament, Vnworthy also to pray to God, the same things being requi­red to both of them: an Impenitent ill man, being utterly unfit for both, but a truly Penitent Good Man, being such as he accounts worthy, and most affectionate­ly invites to them.

Nay he is not only unworthy to pray to God, but also whilst that impenitence lasts, to give him Thanks, to make Vows, to Cove­nant with him, or to have any Entercourse and Communication in any other actions of Religion. If he tells God he is Thank­ful for his Mercies, whilst in the constant course of his Life he disobeys him; his Actions plainly give the Lye to his Words, and proclaim him a most Vngrate­ful Person. If he makes him Vows and Promises, and Covenants to Repent of all his Sins, whilst he still lives Impenitent, and goes on in them; he only speaks him fair, intending no such thing, and therefore doth nothing else but abuse and provoke him. He doth nothing that Honours God as it should, so long as he is an un­godly [Page 107] man, nor must hope in any Servi­ces or Religious Performances to be own'd and accepted by him. For God will have nothing to do with ill men in any way, whilst they continue impeni­tent in their sins; Christ has purchased no Reconciliation for such, nor will he, till they change that course, have any Friendship for, or take any Complacence in them. He will hear the Prayers, and accept the Thanks, and trust the Promi­ses and Engagement of those only, who are fully resolv'd to amend their Lives, and become Good men; so that if any man persists impenitent, which unfits him for receiving, he is also unfit for every thing else, and unworthy to perform any other Actions of Religion.

As for this business of worthy Communi­cating then, there is no more cause of Complaint against it, for the difficulty and hardship of it, than there is against all Religion. The same Duties that are re­quired to a worthy Receiving, are no less required to make any of us a Good man, to confer a Right to Heaven, to a worthy Prayer, Promise, or Thanksgiv­ing. So that if any Man will not come to the Sacrament, because he is wicked, and will not be at the pains to attain those Vertues which are necessary to a worthy [Page 108] Communion: if he understand himself, he must for the same reason keep back from Prayer, and Praises, and all pre­tences to Religion. For unless he will la­bour after these Duties, and perform them, he is unmeet to come to God, and is very unworthy in all of them. And therefore so long as he is unfit for the Sa­crament, he is unfit for every thing else, and, if he resolves to continue so, may as well resolve to renounce his Baptism, and the whole Christian Profession.

And as these Tempers, which are re­quired to a worthy Communion, are no more than is required in every Good man, in every worthy Prayer, Praise, or other act of Religion: So is it to be observed,

3ly, That however they may be com­mended, yet are they not necessarily re­quired, as some have imagined, in more intense and transporting Degrees in it, than in other instances of Devotion.

That which has deterr'd good People from the Sacrament, more than any thing besides, is their too awful Sense and Vene­ration of it, and placing it at too great a di­stance from other parts of Worship. They think no Virtues are worthy of it, but what are expressed in Ecstasie and Transport; and that when it requires the same Duties with other parts of Gods Service, it re­quires [Page 109] them in much greater Perfection, and far higher Measures. So that they ima­gine they may be worthy to Pray, and Praise God, though they are unworthy to Communicate; and therefore they joyn in them ordinarily as there is occasi­on for them, when, through the excess of Reverence, they scarce ever joyn in this at all.

But this is a great Mistake, which, though it be well meant, has a very ill effect, and affrights good Souls from Per­forming this Duty and Service, and paying this Honour to their Saviour, when they have no cause to be afraid of it. For al­though it be commendable and desirable when it can be had; yet is it not absolutely necessary that so it should be.

It is very Commendable, I say, and much to be Desired, that we should exercise these Tempers in a higher Degree in this Holy Sa­crament, than in other Parts of Worship. It will be very well if our Prayers are more fervent, and our Praises more affectionate, and all the Virtues we have place to exer­cise, more full and flagrant then, than at other times. For there we have Christs Death represented, with the hainousness of our sins which c [...]used it, and the in [...]sti­mable Benefits that come by it; and we me [...]t on purpose, to f [...]x our Thoughts [Page 110] and Contemplations on it. And that is the Consideration which gives greatest Force, and adds most Strength to all our Duties; so that when we have most of it, as we must have when we come for that very intent, it very well becomes us for the Honour of it to excell in them. And upon this account it will be very Commen­dable, and much to be Desired, that we should be more vigorous in all our Vir­tues at this, than at any other Ordinance.

But although this be Commendable, and much to be Desired in us; yet is it not necessary, or indispensably required of us, but that we may Communicate worthily when 'tis otherwise. For if we have these Tem­pers in such a Degree, as is necessary to our Eternal Happiness; we have so much of them as will render us worthy and wel­come Guests at this, as well as at every other Ordinance.

And this is plain from hence, because when we have them in a saving Degree, which would procure our acceptance in other parts of Gods Service; they sit us for the Communion of Christ, and Glorified Saints in Heaven; and so cannot leave us unworthy to Communicate with him and them here on Earth. If we sa­vingly repent us of all our Sins, and are saving­ly thankful for all Christs Mercies, and are sa­vingly [Page 111] in Charity with all our Neighbours, and have a saving Faith in Christs Pro­mises; whether these Vertues be the pitch of the Strong, or only of the Weak in Faith, we are accepted with him, since he accepts both. And when once he ac­cepts us, we may approach to him in any Place; when he allows of the measure of our Graces, we may be welcome to shew them forth, and offer a Sacrifice of a sweet smell, when we send them up to him in any, or in all the Parts of his Worship and Service.

Let a man come then to the Communi­on, though it be without any thing of extraordinary and unwonted Transports, and only in that ordinary exercise of these Virtues, which gains him accep­tance in Prayer, or Praise, or other Reli­gious Actions; and then let him not doubt, but that, although more were bet­ter, yet is this good, and will render him a worthy Partaker of the Lords Supper.

And this we have great cause to be­lieve the Ancient Christians thought, be­cause they made it not an extraordinary and separate thing, as we do now, but an ordi­nary and constant part of the Christian Wor­ship. It went usually along with the o­ther Parts of the Service, and they that came to Prayers, came also to the Sacra­ment; [Page 112] the same Preparation, and the same Persons being admitted to it. Thus in the Apostles times, they met to Commu­nicate, as they met to pray every Day; and breaking Bread, was no less constant a part, than Prayer, and Praise, of their Communion and Fellowship. All the Disci­ples at Jerusalem, says St. Luke, continued stedfastly in the Apostles Doctrine and Fel­lowship, and in breaking of Bread, and in Prayers, Act. 2.42. And again, They con­tinuing dayly with one accord in the Temple, and breaking Bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness, and singleness of Heart, praising God, v. 46, 47. And af­terwards, when their Members increa­sed, and Stated Days were appointed for the publick Service of God; on the first day of the Week, when they met for other Worship, the Communion always went along with it. Thus 'tis plain it was in the Apostles Days, for then the Sunday Worship was expressed by breaking Bread; which shews it was an ordinary and constant part of it. On the first day of the Week, says St. Luke, when the Disciples came together to break Bread. Act. 20.7. And thus also it continued for a good while afterwards, as is evident from the Ninth of the Aposto­lical Canons. And to shew how fit they esteem'd all the Faithful, whether Weak or [Page 113] Strong in Faith, who were worthy to joyn in other parts of Worship, to joyn also in this; that Apostolical Canon requires all the Faithful, who come to the other Service, to stay the Communion, and joyn in that also [...]. Canon. 9. Can. Apostol.. All the Faithful, that come to Church and hear the Scriptures, but stay not to joyn in the Holy Commu­nion and the Prayers for that Service, ought to be separated and shut out from the Lords Table, as they that bring Confusion into the Church. And the like is also injoin'd in the Council of Antioch. [...]. Concil. Anti­och. Can. 2. All that come to Church, say they, & hear the Scriptures, but do not Communicate in the Peoples Prayers, but turn away disorderly from the Eucharist, shall be Ex­communicated and expell'd the Church, and not re­ceived again, till they con­fess their Fault, and shew Repentance for it.

[Page 114]And thus we see, however Commenda­ble it may be, that People come to this Holy Sacrament with more Intense Acts, and higher Preparation, than would serve to any other parts of Worship; yet is it not necessary they should do it. They may be welcome and worthy Partakers in this Ordinance, who are worthy to partake in others; so that they are fit for it, who are fit for any other Religi­ous Service. The same Virtues, and the same Degrees suffice to it. For they fit them to Communicate with Christ and Glorified Saints in Heaven, and so must needs fit them to Communicate with him, and them here on Earth. They fitted Chri­stians for it in the Apostles times, when the Eucharist was no extraordinary and se­parate, but an ordinary constant part of the Christian Worship. For then not only they whose Virtues were most high and perfect, but all the Faithful were call'd upon to Communicate, and they who were judg'd fit to meet at the Prayers and other Services, were thought worthy to meet at the Lords Table too; and since they fitted them for it in those Days, it cannot be thought but that they must needs fit us in ours also.

As for those then who have been wont [Page 115] to think more hardly of the Sacrament than of other parts of Worship, and, how frequent soever they were in them, to come but seldome unto it, by reason of the apprehended difficulty in a wor­thy partaking of it: If they duly consi­der these three things, they will see cause to change their mind, and forbear to com­plain any more against it. For the Vir­tues that are required of us in a worthy Com­munion, are all necessary parts of Duty, and of a Good Man; and are as much re­quired to a worthy Prayer, Vow, Thanks­giving, and every other act of Religion; and are not necessarily required in more intense and transporting Degrees in it, than in other in­stances of Devotion. So that no Good man has any cause at all to repine at it, or abstain from it; it lies hard upon, and can be blamed by none but those, who, for the same Reason, must blame every other Ordinance and part of Di­vine Service, which requires as much of a worthy Worshipper as this; and who, at the same Rate, as they cast off it, must renounce their Christianity, and throw aside all Religion too.

And thus having noted some things, that may help to reconcile all Good minds to this Blessed Sacrament, and si­lence the Complaints of hardship in a [Page 116] worthy receiving it: I shall proceed now

2ly, To shew plainly who are unworthy of it, and what they must do to fit and pre­pare themselves for it, and so conclude this Point.

Now these, in one word, are all that are impenitent, that have committed any Damning Fault; and are not fully set and purposed to amend it. For all the Virtues of worthy Receiving, as we have seen, are necessary parts of Duty, and of a Good man; so that if any Person would Repent of all his breaches of them, and take care thenceforward to endow his Soul with them, he would be worthy to be entertained at this Feast, and fit to be bidden welcome. Besides, if Repentance and forsaking all his Sins will go down with him, there is no man who pretends to Religion, but may perform every thing else, which is required to this Communi­on. For there would be no great diffi­culty in paying Christ Honour and Reve­verence, and following him with Love and Thankfulness, and resigning our selves up to his use, and abhorring of our Sins, if Re­pentance and Reformation were not annex­ed to them; men could Love Christ hear­tily, and Thank him freely, and Honour him abundantly, and resign themselves up to him wholly, and Believe in him chearfully, [Page 117] if he would not peremptorily require them to amend their ways, and forsake their sins, which are the things they place their chiefest Pleasure and Delight in: So that if any man will not fit himself for Recei­ving, it is not for the difficulty of o­ther Duties, as if he could not brook them, but only for the difficulty of Repentance, so that Impenitence is truly at the bottom. He will not satisfie those who have suffered by him, or forgive those who have injured him, or be at Peace and Cha­rity with all Men, or renounce that Inju­stice, Lasciviousness, Drunkenness, or o­ther known sin, which, in confirming the New Covenant, he must promise God he will depart from: It is because his Heart sticks to some of these, or some other such like Transgressions, and will not go off from them, that he is an unfit and unworthy man; whereas, were it not for this, he could do all things else that are required of him.

He therefore, that is unworthy to Communicate, and unfit to receive the Sacrament, is plainly one that is impe­nitent; that is guilty of some Damning Sin, and is not resolv'd to leave, but in­tends still to continue in it. He is either a careless man, that lives at large in a con­stant course of Sensuality and Worldliness, being wholly given to heap up Wealth, or [Page 118] aim at Honour, or follow Pleasure without Conviction, or making any pretence to serious Religion: Or, if he seems to look towards God, and is careful in ma­ny things to please him, he serves him not in all points as he ought, but allows him­self in some known Sin, continuing unre­claimed in common Swearing, Drunkenness, Vncleanness, Malice, Contentiousness, Fraud, Oppression, Slander, Censoriousness, Evil-speaking, or some other Damning Crime, which he will not be at the pains to leave for Christs sake, or for any thing that he either has, or would do for him.

Now if any of those, who read this Treatise, are such as these, and I put the matter to their own Consciences; I confess they are not worthy to come to the Sacrament till they turn away from such a known Fault, and Repent of it, and would sin against this Holy Feast and their own Souls if they should do it. But then I must tell them withall, that as they are not fit to come to this Ordinance, so, whilst they continue in that Estate, nei­ther are they fit to come to any other, or to any thing else that looks towards God, and their own Eternal Happiness. For so long as they thus espouse any Number, or any one Sin against God, and daily re­peat it when they have a Temptation to [Page 119] it, notwithstanding their own Hearts are sensible he has forbid it, or at least would have been sensible of it, unless they had been willfully blinded, or by long use harden'd in it: So long, I say, as they are thus Impenitent in any known Sin, they are not only unfit to come to the Com­munion, but also as unfit to Dye, or to go to Heaven, to Pray to God, to utter Praise, to make Vows, or to joyn in any other actions of Religion. For an Impenitent man, whilst he continues such, is Gods Profest Enemy, and is welcome to him at no time but when he Repents; so that till that is done, he is acceptable in no Service which he pays him.

This then is the danger of their State, who lye Impenitent in many, or in few known Sins: they are unworthy indeed to receive the Communion; but they are equally unworthy to joyn in Prayers, to give Thanks, or make Vows, or dye in Peace, or hope for Happiness, or do any thing else that shews them to be Chri­stians.

And if any mans Conscience tells him this is his State; his way is not to think there is no harm, if he doth but abstain from the Communion; for, as I say, he is as unworthy in his Prayers, and Praises, and every thing else that belongs to Re­ligion: [Page 120] but forthwith to Repent, and a­mend that Fault which shuts him out from the Sacrament, and every thing else that looks towards Heaven, that so he may be a worthy and welcome Guest in it, and all of them. This Repentance will restore him to the Favour of God, and gain him acceptance with him; and then he is fit for this, and for every other part of Gods Worship, and may worthily joyn in them.

And by this it appears who is unwor­thy of this Feast, and what he must do to fit and prepare himself for it. Every man that is Impenitent, is an Unworthy Communicant; but if he will Repent and Amend his ways, he will find no difficulty in other Duties which make up a Believers worthiness, but may then be a worthy and welcome Guest whenso­ever he has a mind to come to it.

And thus I have done with the Second thing I proposed, namely to shew wherein lies the worthiness of Eating and Drinking at this Feast; which I have stayed the longer upon, because both the irreverent approach of some men to it, and the scru­pulous abstaining of others from it, do both take rise from this head, so that it well deserves to be carefully Explained and clearly Stated. And the Result of [Page 121] all that I have said upon this Point is this:

When we come to Eat Bread and Drink Wine at the Lords Table, in remembrance that Christ dyed for us, and in Confirmati­on of the New Covenant which his Death procured us, and in Ratification of a League of Love and Friendship with all our Neigh­bours; we must be careful devoutly to Ex­ercise, and Act over these Tempers. We must remember our Dying Lord, with Ho­nour, and Love, and Joy, and Thankful­ness, and Resignation of our selves, both Souls and Bodies to his Service, and hum­ble Sense of our own unworthiness, and De­testation of our Sins which caused his Suf­ferings. We must confirm the New Co­venant which his Death purchased, in con­senting heartily to the Terms of it, Repenting of all our Sins, and Faithfully promising that intire Obedience which is required in it, and then Believing that for Christs sake we shall be saved by it. And we must Confirm a League of Love and Friendship with all the Christian World, in laying aside all Envy and Hatred, and forgiving those that have injured us, and making just amends to those who have been wronged by us, and giving Alms as our Ability and our Brethrens ne­cessity requires, and so being in Peace and Perfect Charity with all Persons.

If we are able to grasp so many par­ticulars [Page 122] in our minds, and to act them all over duly, and as we ought, at this Exercise; it may be fit to Solemnize this Feast in all these instances of Virtue. But if either our minds would be lost and burdened, or our Devotions enfeebled by the Number of these particulars; 'twill yet be fit at least to express our selves Joyfully and affectionately Thankful for his kindness, especially in Dying for us, and Resign up our selves both Souls and Bodies to his Service, and Repent of all our Sins, making him Faithful Promises that we will amend all our Faults, particularly those which oftest win upon us, and shew our selves in perfect Peace and Charity with all Persons.

All these, whilst the Bread and Wine are in preparing, or whilst others are Communicating, they who have Books to suggest Thoughts, or are able to supply them out of their own minds, may exer­cise by themselves. And they who can­not, as also they who can, may exercise them in joyning fervently with the Churches Prayers, all these Duties, as we have seen, being so well led on and ex­emplified in the Communion Service. Wherein, because there will be some in­terruption whilst others are Communica­ting, that that time may not lye idle up­on [Page 123] their hands, I think it very advisea­ble for them to joyn heartily in the Pray­er which is made at the offering of the Bread and Wine to their Brethren, (as they will be sure to do when it comes to their own turn) if their Devout Zeal is not otherwise taken up by the Psalm, which, at their Pastors Discretion, is wont to be Sung at that time for the employ­ment of those who have done Receiving.

These Virtues being in us, and, at the time of Receiving, being thus exer­cised by us, both in our own private, or at least in our Devout Concurrence with the Churches Prayers, make a worthy Com­munion.

And this no man who pretends to Re­ligion ought to Complain of, or think an hard Imposition. For all these Duties, which are necessary to a worthy Communi­on, are as necessary to make every one of us a Good man, or fit to Dye, or to go to Heaven; they are as necessary to a wor­thy Prayer, Thanksgiving, Vow, or any other Act of true Religion; and are not necessari­ly required in more intense Degrees and tran­sporting Measures in this, than in other parts of Worship and Devotion.

These things then are necessary to a worthy Receiving, and no Good man can complain that they are so, since they [Page 124] are equally necessary to all acceptable Goodness, to all comfortable Hopes, and to every other Ordinance, to all the parts of Worship and Religion, and to Gods being pleased with us in every thing that is either the Duty, or Priviledge of a Christian.

And as the Presence, and Exercise of these Virtues makes us worthy of the Com­munion; so doth the absence of them, but especially of Repentance of all our known Sins, (which is the thing, if any, that will be wanting, and which is the cause why others are, Impenitence, as we saw, being at the bottom of all Unworthiness) make us unworthy and most unwelcome. If we continue Impenitent in many, or in any one known Sin, we are indeed unworthy to Communicate; but then withall we are as unworthy to be thought Good men, to go to Heaven, to say our Prayers, to make Vows, or to have any Dealings with God in any other Actions of Religion. And the way for any Wise man in that Case, is not to take up with abstaining from the Communion, for he ought as much to abstain from Prayer, and Praise, and e­very other Office of a Christian, God being pleased with him in none of them; but forthwith to Repent and Abandon such ill Course, that so he may be a wel­come [Page 125] Guest, and worthy to partake of them.

And thus having endeavoured to give some help to all those who desire worthily to Communicate, by shewing what is the meaning of Eating Bread and Drinking Wine in the Blessed Sacrament, and wherein lies the worthiness of doing it: I shall pro­ceed now in the third Place to exhort and press men on to it, by shewing them how much it is every good Christians Duty to frequent it, and how great the Benefits are that come by it, which should make them seek to it of them­selves were it not commanded, of which in the next Part.

PART II.

CHAP. I. Of the Duty of Communicating.

The Contents.

To Communicate is a Duty incumbent on us, as appears, 1. From the obliging import of the Command about it. This Command of Christ shewn, and several Notes added, which greatly recommend and enforce it. viz. It is such an Instance, as best shews our peculiar Reverence and Love to him; the whole yoke of Jewish Ceremonies is taken away, and only it, and Baptism, two cheap and easie Rites, imposed instead of them; it was his last Command, he gave it the Night before he suffered; in St. Paul's Commission to Preach the Gospel, [Page 127] it was particularly specified; without greatest Danger to our selves it cannot be neglected, as appears from our Saviours words Joh. 6.53. which are sh [...]wn to speak of it; and from the Danger of Neglecting the Jewish Passover, which answered to it. 2. From the obliging Na­ture of those things which are meant by it, viz. Because therein we publickly own Christ and his Religion, and solemnly re­member him, and confirm the New Cove­nant with God, and a League of Friend­ship with our Brethren, and are vouchsa­fed the highest Honour, and receive To­kens of greatest Love, and enjoyment of present Graces, and pledges of future Glory from him: all which no Good man ought, and no Ingenuous man will Decline, when he is call'd to them. This Duty obliges those only who are of Age for it, and them too only at such times as they have an Op­portunity and a fit Occasion offered. An Objection against its being a Duty from 1 Cor. 11.25, answered. The Neglect of it is a great Sin. This God may excuse in thos [...] good Souls, who through Ignorance or Error are held back, and because of their over-high Veneration for it think them­selves unworthy to come to it, whilst in the honesty of their Hearts they thus mistake it. But he will not excuse it in them when [Page 128] they are better inform'd; and much less in others, who neglect it because they are careless of it, or too Wicked and Impeni­tent to receive it.

THE worthy receiving of the Sacra­ment, which I have hitherto De­scribed, is no Indifferent thing, which may either be done, or let alone according to Discretion; but an indispensable Duty, wherein God has straitly bound, and which he has peremptorily required of every grown Christian.

And this will appear these two ways.

1st, From the Expressness, and Obliging import of the Command about it.

2ly, From the Obliging Nature of those things which are meant by it.

1st, That every Christian ought to frequent the Holy Sacrament, and come to it when he is call'd and an opportunity is offered, appears from the expressness, and obliging import of the Command about it. For our Blessed Lord has given us his Com­mand for it, and that with such particular Notes and Circumstances, as shews he lays a great weight upon it, which must needs oblige all, that have any regard to him, to frequent it.

He has given us, I say, his express Com­mand for it. For thus St. Paul tells us [Page 129] he injoined, when he ordained this Feast. He took Bread, says he, and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat, this is my Body which is broken for you; this DO in Remembrance of me. And after the same manner he took the Cup, saying, This Cup is the New Testament in my Blood; this DO ye, as often as you Drink it, in remembrance of me. 1 Cor. 11.24, 25. And if we had nothing more than this plain Command for it, it were e­nough to make every man, who would please God and go to Heaven, to come to it when he is invited. For then ye are my Friends, says Christ, when ye do what­soever I Command you. Joh. 15.14. And he that shall break the least of my Command­ments, and shall teach men so, shall be least in the Kingdom of Heaven: i. e. he sha [...]l not enter, or have any share at all there. Mat. 5.19.

But besides this express Command which he has given for it, we have other Notes and Circumstances added, which greatly recommend it, and shew that he lays a particular weight upon it. For it is a thing, which is to be done purely upon his account, and has only our Love of him to enforce it; so that if we have any Love and Reverence for him, this is the best way to shew it: it, and Baptism, are the only [Page 130] positive Commands he has given us, in ex­change for the Numerous, and Expensive Jewish Ceremonies; so that in all Ingenuity and Thankfulness for so great a Benefit we ought to observe it: it was his Dying and last Command, he gave it the very Night before he Suffered; it was thought by him a Command so material, that in St. Paul's Commission to Preach the Gospel it was not o­mitted, but particularly specified: And lastly, it is a Command which, as the Scri­pture plainly intimates, without great dan­ger to our selves cannot either be unworthily kept, or neglected.

1st, It is a thing which is to be done purely upon his account, having no other Rea­son but his Command to bind and enforce it; so that if we have any Love and Reve­rence for him, this is the best way to shew it. As for the Duties of Humility, Tem­perance, Justice, Faithfulness, Gratitude, Charity, Peace, Prayers to God, and the like: Though Christ has told us of them, and expresly injoyn'd them, as well as this; yet is not he alone in that, but they were sufficiently proclaimed before he came, to the Jews by Moses and the Pro­phets, and to the Gentile World by Natu­ral Conscience. In declaring them, he had an open way made for him, and the Con­sciences of all men ready to strike in with [Page 131] him, which, among all good Minds, would much facilitate their Reception. But in this Command, he stands alone; for Natural Reason knows nothing of it, nor will the Conscience of any man, but a Christian, oblige him to it: So that here we have no Light but his Word, no Motive but our Obedience to him to per­swade it; and therefore if we do it at all, must be purely for his sake, without any other Inducement.

And this is a strong Bond upon all that Love their Lord, and have any peculiarity of Respect for him, to observe it. It is the true Cause and Reason, indeed, why some neglect it, who, because their own Conscience doth not startle at it, and check them so severely for absenting from this Feast, as for Drunkenness, Whore­dome, Lyes, Cheating, &c. which have not only Christs Laws, but Natural Rea­son also to exclaim against them, go on securely in their contempt of it. And if men have no Love for their Lord, no pe­culiar Regard for any thing because he has injoyn'd it, or are not duly inform'd of his Command about it, thus it will be. But if any that see he has made it their Duty, have any peculiar Love, and Re­gard to him; they will greedily embrace this as the best Opportunity of shewing [Page 132] their Affection to his Service, since there­in they can be sway'd by nothing else, and most readily Communicate, when he calls them so to do.

2ly, It and Baptism, those two cheap and easie Things, are the only positive Com­mands he has laid upon us, when he took off the heavy yoke of the Numerous, Expensive, and Laborious Jewish Precepts; so that out of Natural Equity, and to shew our Thank­fulness for such a gainful Exchange, we ought most readily to observe it.

The Jews were loaded with a Number of Troublesome and Expensive Rites, which had no Goodness discernable in them­selves, nor any thing, but the Revela­tion made by Moses, to recommend them to their Consciences: Such as the Lev. 11.7. forbearing Swine, and several sorts of Flesh; the washing of their Bodies upon their Num. 19.13. touching of any Dead Persons, and upon any Lev. 15. Corporal Vncleannesses; the bringing Offerings and Sacrifice of Fed Beasts at return of Thanks, and for Propi­tiation upon any Offences; and many other cumbersome and costly Rites, which the Apostle calls the Law of Carnal Command­ments, Heb. 7.16. and 9.10, and weak and beggerly Elements, Gal. 4.9, which [Page 133] were given them, not because the things deserv'd it, but only that they might be kept imploy'd, as useless Exercises are to Children to hinder them from more hurt­ful Work; and so were suited only to the Infancy, and Non-age of the World, Gal. 4.3.

But from all this Burden of Ceremonies, under which, as St. Peter says, they and their Fathers groaned and were oppressed, Act. 15.10. by the coming of Christ we are most graciously delivered. For he has abolish'd in his Flesh, i. e. by his Death, wherein he gave his Body for us, the Law of Commandments contain'd in Ordinances, Eph. 2.15. He has blotted out the hand­writing of Ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, (hedging in the Church within the Jews, and excluding all us Gentiles) and took it out of the way, nailing it to his Cross, Col. 2.14. All this Law of Jewish Ceremonies he has abrogated, and procured us a compleat liberty and exemption from it, injoining us only th [...]se two cheap and easie Rites, of Baptism and the Lords Supper, instead of it. And if any man has but Common Ingenuity, and will return Equitably for what is done, and much more if he has any grateful Re­sentments for so valuable an Exemption, he must needs submit with all Thankful­ness [Page 134] to this gainful Exchange and Imposi­tion, and run to it with as much for­wardness, as any man would to pay Twelve pence in full Discharge of twenty pound.

3ly, It was his Dying and last Command, he gave it the very Night before he suffered. The same night, says St. Paul, in which he was betray'd, he took Bread, and said, Take, eat this do in remembrance of me. 1 Cor. 11.23, 24. And this, had it come only in the Nature of a Request, and not with the Authority of a Command, must needs have made it of greatest Power with us. For it is great Inhumanity, and shews an hard Heart, to deny the last Suit of a Dying Person, though he were a Stranger to us; and base Ingratitude, and a Falsification of all Friendship to throw back the last Request of a Dying Friend, especially if he is before hand with us, and has done much more than his Request comes to for our sakes; and the greatest aggravation of all Disobedience to sleight the last Will and Words of our Fathers, or Masters, or others that have Right over us, and Power to Command us. And therefore since our Blessed Lord, who came upon Earth for no other end but to do us Service, yea even to lay down his Life for our sakes, after all the Pains and [Page 135] Cost he has been at for us, left this as his last Will, and both intreated and in­joyn'd at parting, that we should eat and drink in Remembrance of him; if we have any shame we cannot, and if we pro­fess any Duty we dare not, and if we have any Love for him we will not neglect it, but come to it out of mindfulness of our gone Friend and Departed Lord, as oft as we shall have opportunity so to do.

4ly, It was thought by Christ a Com­mand so material, that when St. Paul received his Commission to Preach the Gospel, it was by name inserted, and particularly specified; and this special Designation of it shews that he was more than ordinarily concerned for it. I have received of the Lord, says he, or by his Revelation, when I was call'd by him, that which I also delivered unto you, as from him, namely, that the same night he was betrayed, he took Bread, and said, Take, eat, this is my Body which is broken for you, this do in remembrance of me, 1 Cor. 11.23, 24.

5ly, It is a Command, which, as the Scripture plainly intimates, without great danger to our selves cannot either be unwor­thily kept, or neglected.

Without very great and apparent dan­ger to our selves, we cannot come Vnworthi­ly to the Sacrament. For he that eats and [Page 136] drinks unworthily, says St. Paul, eats and drinks Damnation to himself, 1 Cor. 11.29.

And without a like danger we cannot neg­lect, or keep back from it. Except ye eat the Flesh of the Son of Man, says our Saviour, and drink his Blood, ye have no Life in you. Joh. 6.53. This the Ancient Church, as is well known, understood generally of eating his Flesh in the Holy Sacrament; which is the great Reason they give for that Practice so common among them, namely, why Infants are to be Communica­ted. And of this there is great cause to understand it. For 'tis hard to think of any thing, that can support such full Ex­pressions, as eating of his Body, and drink­ing of his Blood; besides eating Bread, and drinking Wine in the Sacrament, which he calls his Body and his Blood when he insti­tutes it. Mat. 26.26, 27, 28. And be­sides, in this very place he directs us to his Body Crucified, and given for the Life of the World; to shew the Eating relates to it as so represented, which is no where done but in the Eucharist. I am the living Bread, says he, which whoso eats shall live for ever: and the Bread which I will give, i. e. to be eaten, is my Body Crucified, which under that Notion is represented only in the Sacrament, or my Flesh which I will give for the Life of the World. And [Page 137] except ye thus eat the Flesh, and drink the Blood of the Son of Man, ye have no Life in you, Joh. 6.51, 52, 53.

This Discourse, indeed, of eating his Flesh in the Sacrament, was before the Sacrament it self was instituted. But so was his Discourse of Baptism to Nicode­mus, before Baptism was appointed for the standing Rite, whereby all Mankind should be Christned, Joh. 3.5. And so was his Discourse to the People, of the Death he should dye, by being lifted up, before he was Crucified, Joh. 12.32, 33. And so was his Discourse of raising up the Temple of his Body after it should be destroyed, before he was raised from the dead, Joh. 2.19.21. And so in this very place was his Discourse of giving his Flesh for the Life of the World, which they understood not be­fore he suffered, more than they did this Sacramental eating of it before the Sacra­ment was appointed, Joh. 6.51. Our Sa­viour spake several things by Anticipati­on in sundry places, as, from this last instance, 'tis plain he did in this, which though his Hearers did not at that time fully understand, yet they would after­wards: so that when other Reasons e­vince him to have spoke in this place of the Sacramental eating of his Body and Blood; the Sacrament's not being yet in­stituted, [Page 138] is no good Proof or Argument against it.

Thus is this necessity of eating his Flesh, and drinking his Blood, as ever we would hope for Eternal Life by it, spoke of the Lords Supper, wherein we Feast upon it. And that it should be so, has no wonder in it: For it is no more than is expresly spoke of Baptism, which is but of equal Rank with it, both being alike Duties, and equally required. For of that 'tis said, He that Believes, and is Baptized, shall be saved, Marc. 16.16. And except a man be born again of Water, and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God, Joh. 3.5.

But besides this Proof of the danger of neglecting the Sacrament, because our Lord tells us we have no Life in us without it; it may also appear from the danger of neg­lecting the Jewish Passover, which answer'd to it, and was the same to them, as this Feast is to us, wherein 1 Cor. 5.7. Christ our Passover is Sa­crificed for us. And as for the danger of neglecting that, it was great indeed, no less than of being cut off from Israel, which was the punishment God had threatned to it. Whosoever, in the Feast of the Passover, eats leaven'd Bread, from the First day to the Seventh day, that Soul shall be cut off from Israel, Exod. 12.15.

[Page 139]Thus necessary is it for all men, who would please God, to frequent this Ordinance, and to come to the Holy Sa­crament when they are call'd to it. They have Christs express Command for it, who, by injoyning it, has required Obedience in such an instance, as best shews their particu­lar Reverence and Love to him; and to in­gage them the more to it, has freed them from all the load of Jewish Ceremonies, and imposed no heavier burden, than it and Bap­tism instead of them; and to make it have the more effect, has left it among the last words, which he spake to them; and to shew it was a matter of no small moment, would have it expresly specified in St. Paul's Commission; and tells them, That unless they come therein to eat his Flesh, and drink his Blood, they have no Life in them; and will punish the neglect, or abuse of it, as he did of the Jewish Passover which answer'd to it, with Excision: All which shew the Greatness of the Duty, and how much it is every mans Concern, who would hope to have the Favour of God, or go to Hea­ven.

And as this appears from the obliging Import, and Expressness of the Command about it; so doth it,

2ly, From the obliging Nature of those things which are meant by it. For there­in [Page 140] we publickly own Christ and his Religion, and solemnly remember him, and confirm the New Covenant with Almighty God, and a League of Friendship with our Brethren, and are vouchsafed the highest Honour, and receive Tokens of the greatest Love, and in­joyment of present Graces, and Pledges of future Glories from him: all which no Inge­nuous man will, and no Good man ought to refuse, when he is call'd to them.

1st, In the Sacrament, I say, we pub­lickly own Christ, and profess his Religion. This was always understood to be the meaning of Feasts on Sacrifices, both a­mong Jews and Gentiles; they that would eat of the Sacrifice offer'd to any God or Idol, were looked on to have Fellowship and Communion with him, and thereby to own their joyning in that Worship and Service, which was paid to him. Thus St. Paul tells us it was among the Jews, for they that ate of their Sacrifices were partakers of their Altars. And thus he tells us it was a­mong the Gentiles, and that they who Feasted in the Idol-Temples on the Sacri­fices made to Devils, did thereby declare their Communion with them, and had Fellowship with Devils. And the same is true of the Feast of the Lords Supper, which upon this account, he makes paral­lel to, and compares with them. In [Page 141] Israel after the Flesh, says he, they who eat of the Sacrifice are sharers in the Worship, or Partakers of the Altar. And in the things which the Gentiles Sacrifice to De­vils, they who Feast on the Sacrifices, have Fellowship with Devils. And there­fore you that Feast with the Lord at his Table, and thereby have Fellowship with him; must not mix Light and Darkness, Christ and Belial together, and by Feast­ing with Devils at theirs, have Fellow­ship with them too. You cannot drink the Cup of the Lord, and the Cup of Devils; you cannot be partakers of the Lords Table, and the Table of Devils; since that were to unite the most opposite Interests, by holding Fellowship, and professing your selves to be the Servants of Christ, and of the Devil also, 1 Cor. 10.16, 18, 20, 21. Our joyning in the Holy Communion, is our avow'd owning of Faith in our Cruci­fied Lord, and of our adherence to him. By eating at his Table of broken Bread, and Wine poured out, which are the Repre­sentation of his Death; we tell it out to all the World that we are the Servants of that Lord, and Worshippers of that Jesus, who gave himself to be Crucified and to Dye for us. As often as ye eat this Bread, and drink this Cup, saith St. Paul, ye do shew forth the Lords Death till he come. Ye [Page 142] shew forth his Death, i. e. ye [...]. tell it abroad, and profess to all the World, that he dyed for you, and is Lord over you, and that you own him so to be, 1 Cor. 11.26.

Thus is our eating Bread, and drink­ing Wine at the Lords Table, an open profession of his Religion, and a Token whereby we give out to all the World who see what we do, that we belong to him. It is a most solemn sign of our Relation to Christ, and a publick Badge of our being Christians. And this sure no man will decline when there is a fit occasion, who is not ashamed of his Lord, nor Repents of his Profession: But if he is really a Fol­lower of Christ, and would be thought one; he will let all the World know it by joyning in this Feast, which is the most Solemn Badge, and Authentick Mark, which Christ has appointed of it.

2ly, In coming to the Holy Sacrament, according to our Lords appointment, we solemnly remember him, and think of the Relation wherein we stand, and of the benefits which we have received from him. Do this, says he, in remembrance of me. 1 Cor. 11.24, 25.

And when he is call'd to remember his most precious Saviour, who has both [Page 143] lived and dyed to make God his Friend, and to do him Service; there is no man sure, that has any thing of Shame, or In­genuity left in him, who will shew back­wardness, and begin to make excuses. For has not he done enough for us, to de­serve to be thought of? Do not all the inexpressible Favours he has gain'd, and all the exquisite Pains he underwent for our sakes, most justly challenge to be held in remembrance? He left unutterable Glories, and submitted to all sorts of Earth­ly Calamities, and took unwearied Pains, and shewed Invincible Patience, and laid down at last his own Life to save our Souls: and must all this be forgotten now 'tis done, and quite buried in silence? What man of any Ingenuity, that has been hap­py in such a Friend, can be averse to re­member him? What man, that has been blessed in such a Saviour, can ever de­cline the Thoughts of him? Unless we will shew our selves grossly stupid, or intolera­bly proud, and both ways Monsters of In­gratitude; we must needs be ready to Ce­lebrate the memory of such a Person, when we are called to do that Honour to him: and none that would be thought a man, much more a Christian, must ever refuse to remember his Saviour Christ, and give him Thanks, when in [Page 144] the Sacrament he is call'd to it in Christ's own Name, and by his special invitation.

3ly, In eating Bread and drinking Wine at the Sacrament, we confirm the New Covenant with Almighty God. In this Feast, as has been shewn, we assure him that we will Repent of every sin, as ever we hope that he will forgive us; and will endeavour with his Grace after every Vir­tue, as ever we expect that he should assist us; and obey every one of his Command­ments, as ever we look that he should Crown us with Eternal Happiness; and believe that, for Christs sake, we shall have this Pardon, Grace, and Eternal Life upon these Terms, and not otherwise: for all these Duties we give him our Word and Promise; and, on that Condition, for all these Blessings he gives us his Seal and Assurance back again.

And what man is there, who pretends to the Name of a Christian, who will re­fuse to do this when he has an Authentick Summons, nay, even a Friendly Invita­tion? will he not Repent, that he may be forgiven? nor endeavour after such Graces as he wants, that Gods Spirit may help him to them? nor obey all his Saviours Laws, that he may be happy in Heaven? nor be­lieve, that Christ has purchased these Be­nefits for us at Gods hands, upon these [Page 145] Terms; but that without performing them we shall never have them? If he will not do all this, why doth he make any pretence to Religion? If he is unre­solv'd, and suspends about any of these Particulars, why doth he profess himself a Christian? For these things are the very substance of Christianity, and the Life and Soul of all Religion. No man can belong to Christ without them, and when he was Baptized and came to him, he solemnly undertook and ingaged for them. And therefore if any man will refuse to make God his engagement of this Faith, Re­pentance, and Obedience, when he is call'd to Promise and Profess them; he revolts from his Baptismal Vow, and, if he per­sists in that mind, may as well renounce his Profession, and turn his back on the whole Christian Religion.

4ly, In eating Bread and drinking Wine at the Lords Supper, we confirm a League of Love and Friendship with all our Brethren, this being one end, as I have shewn, of this meeting, to profess our selves in perfect Peace and Charity with all men.

And who now, that owns himself a Christian, can seek shifts, and shun this when God calls him? when his Saviour, that dyed to make God Friends with him, [Page 146] asks him to be Friends with all the World; can he refuse him? When he invites him to be at Peace with all his Members, and to embrace them all as Brethren; can he fly from him? If he shun this, he may as well shun every thing else, and quit all claim to his Religion. For by this, says our Saviour, shall all men know that you are my Disciples, if ye have Love one to another. Joh. 13.35. And unless ye forgive men their Trespasses, says he again, neither will your heavenly Father forgive you yours. Mat. 6.15. And he that says he Loves God, and yet hates his Brother, saith St. John, is a Lyar. 1 Joh. 4.20. And if it be possible, saith St. Paul, and as much as in you lies, live peaceably with all men. Rom. 12.18. Love, and Peace, and mu­tual Friendship and Beneficence, are the great Duties which Christs Law pre­scribes, and which all his Followers must be forward at all times to make professi­on of. And therefore if any man turns away from declaring them, when God calls him to them; he turns his back of the most Signal Duty of his Religion, and will not come to that, whereby, above all things else, he should declare himself a Christian.

5ly, In Feasting with God at the Ho­ly Sacrament, we are vouchsafed the [Page 147] highest Honour, and receive Tokens of high­est Love, and injoyment of present Graces, and Pledges of future Glory from him; and these no man ought to refuse, when he is call'd to them.

He vouchsafes us the greatest Honour. For he calls us to his own Table, and tells us he is most glad to see us there, and that the oftner we come, the welcomer shall we be to his Supper; he invites us as his own Guests, and thereby seeks our Company and Acquaintance, and treats us as his Friends and Confidents; which Ho­nour is so high, that greater cannot be shewed us.

He gives us the surest Tokens of highest Love. For he calls us to Feast upon the Body and Blood of his own Son, i. e. upon those Blessings which the breaking of his Body and shedding of his Blood procu­red for men; and shews us plainly that he is still of the same mind, and is glad that for our sakes he parted with him. For his inviting us to eat the Body, and drink the Blood of Christ in this Holy Supper, imports as much as if he should say to us. Lo! here my dear and only Son, whom I gave to shed his own hearts Blood a Ransome for your Souls. When I did it, your sins were most provoking, and render'd you utterly undeserving of it; and since you [Page 148] have received it, you have not been affected as you ought, but have shewed your selves most unthankful for it: but yet all this doth not make me Repent of what I have done, or grudge you the Benefit of him. I am come here freely to present you with him, and in­vite you, and exhort you, nay, intreat you to accept him. Eat his Body, and drink his Blood, i. e. those Benefits and that Expia­tion which was purchased by it; I freely give them without grudging, nay, I shall take it extreamly ill if you refuse them. For I would by all means have you receive the ad­vantage of him. I gave him once for you, and now again I give him to you; I am still of the same mind, to part with my own dear Son for your sakes, and to bestow him on you. I have nothing better wherewith to present you, but with him in this Holy Feast I do; and what higher Tokens can I give of the un­bounded Love I bear you?

He gives us present injoyment of many in­valuable Graces. For the Lords Supper is a Treasury of Blessings, conveying to all those, who worthily partake of it, the Pardon of their Sins, and Spiritual Assistan­ces, and Heavenly Improvements, and growth in all Virtues, and strength against all Temp­tations, as I shall shew under the next Head.

And lastly, He gives us the surest Pledges of future Glory. For when he offers us [Page 149] his own Son, we may be sure he will not stick at any thing else, since he has no­thing that is in any comparable Degree so precious and dear to him, as he is. This Gift is a Faithful Earnest, and certain Pledge of every thing else which he can give us. For he that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all; how shall he not with him freely give us all things? says St. Paul, Rom. 8.32.

Thus in the Blessed Sacrament, are we vouchsafed the greatest Honour, and receive Tokens of highest Love, and injoyment of pre­sent Graces, and Pledges of future Glories from Almighty God.

And what man now will refuse all these, when he is invited to them? Who can turn his back upon that Ordinance, wherein God calls him, that he may give Honour to him, and shew by the highest Tokens how he Loves him, and confer upon him present Graces, and give him Pledges of future Glories, and assure him what Regard he has of him, and how happy he intends to make him? Common Ingenuity, and Good manners, nay, every mans own private Interest and Self-advan­tage oblige him most readily to embrace, and not to sleight, or so much as slowly to accept of such offers. So that if any Per­son really believes, that all this Honour is [Page 150] shewn, this Love expressed, these Graces given, or these Glories assured to him in the Communion: he must needs think himself highly obliged to come to it, and never cast about to seek shifts, and make excuses, or express a backward and unwilling mind, when he has an Invita­tion and an Opportunity so to do.

And thus we see, that not only our Lords express Command for it, but also the obliging Nature of those things which are meant by, and of those employments which are imply'd in it, are a strong and an indi­spensable Obligation on all grown Christi­ans, who are capable of it, to frequent the Holy Sacrament. For therein they are call'd by their Saviour Christ, publick­ly to profess his Religion, and their Communi­on with him, and thankfully to remember him, and to confirm the New Covenant with God, and a League of Love and Friendship with their Brethren, and to receive Vouch­safements of highest Honour, and Tokens of greatest Love, and injoyment of present Graces, and Pledges of future Glories from him: all which are things that no Christian man ought to stick at, or de­cline, but with all forwardness to close with, as often as he has an Opportunity, and sit occasion for them.

And thus it appears now much all the [Page 151] Disciples of Christ, who are grown up to it, and understand it (for no Duty ob­liges an incapable Subject) are bound to frequent this holy Sacrament. It is their Duty to come to the Communion, as it is to come to Church, to be Chast, Sober, Hum­ble, Just, or to perform any other Precept of their Religion. For they have their Saviour Christs express Command for it, who by injoining it, has required Obedience in such an Instance, as best shews their peculi­ar Reverence and Love to him; and to in­gage them the more to it, has freed them from all the load of Jewish Ceremonies, and imposed no heavier burden, than it and Bap­tism instead of them; and to make it take the more effect, left it among the last words which he spake to them; and to shew it was a matter of no small moment, would have it expresly specified in St. Paul's Com­mission; and tells them, That unless they come therein to eat his Flesh and drink his Blood, they have no Life in them; and will punish the neglect, or abuse of it, as he did the neglect of the Jewish Passover, which an­swer'd to it, with Excision. And the Na­ture of those things which are meant by it, and of those Employments which are to be ex­ercised at it, most straightly oblige them to it. For therein they shew they have Fel­lowship with Christ, and appertain to his Re­ligion, [Page 152] and thankfully remember him, and Seal the New Covenant with God, and a League of Love and Friendship with their Brethren, and are vouchsafed the highest Honour, and receive Tokens of the greatest Love, and injoyment of present Graces, and Pledges of future Glories from him: which are things that every Ingenuous man will, and every Good man ought to do, and no man, when he is call'd to it, can honest­ly decline, that professes himself a Chri­stian.

Thus is it a necessary Duty in every man to come to the Sacrament, as it is to come to Church, or to other parts of Worship: And when once we are of Age for it, and have a fit opportunity and occasion offer'd; we are in strict Duty ingaged, and by a bond of many Cords, as we have seen, ob­liged so to do.

1st, I say we are bound to it, when once we are of Age for it. The Duty of this Holy Sacrament lies in such things, as sup­pose a competent Understanding, and due Knowledge of Religion in those who must discharge them. For therein we are to remember Christ, both what Com­mands he has left with us, and what he has done and suffered for us; and this we cannot do, till first we have learnt them. We must ingage to be at Peace, to do Ju­stice, [Page 153] and shew kindness to all our Brethren; and this supposes that we know first what Offices of Love, and Acts of Justice are due to them. We must consent to the Terms of the New Covenant, and this implies that first we should understand them. In Bap­tism, indeed, we enter'd into it before we had any knowledge of it; but that was because God, (who deals with us after the most favourable manner of Men, who allow grown Persons to bear the Parts, and federally to undertake for Infants, in things conducing to their Advantage,) admitted our Sponsors, that knew it very well, to stand as our Representatives, and in way of Proxies to Covenant and under­take for us. But the Sacrament of the Lords Supper is to be our own Act, and an express assenting in our own Persons to what they undertook; and this cannot be done till we are come to years, and are able of our selves to judge of it.

Till we are grown up then to the Age of Competent knowledge in Spiritual Affairs, we are not capable of discharg­ing aright the Duty of this Sacrament. And till we are so we are not obliged to it, since no Duty obliges an incapable Sub­ject. For 'tis in this Duty, as 'tis in that of making Peace, or giving good Advice, or any others; they bind us not till we [Page 154] are grown up to them, and are come to know rightly how to discharge them. For in all these Cases, God exacts an ac­count only of those Talents which he has entrusted with us, as we are told in the Parable of the men who had received the Talents, Mat. 25. and his Rule of pro­ceeding is this, unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required; and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more, Luc. 12.48.

2ly, When we are of Age for it, we are bound to it only when we have an oppor­tunity, and a fit occasion is offered. It is in the Communion at the Sacrament, as it is in our Communion in Prayers, and other parts of Worship; we are bound to join in them when they can be had, and we are not law­fully hindered and diverted from it. But if either there is no place for them, or we are justly hindered from attending on them; we have no obliging opportunity for that time, but may without sin omit them. And thus it is when we are hindred by some call of Providence, when at that time we are call'd away to do some necessa­ry Duty of Justice, or Charity, in another place. Or when we are detained at home by some Disease, or bodily Indisposition, un­der which it is not safe to go abroad, or venture out beyond our own Chambers; [Page 155] in which case God, who prefers Mercy before Sacrifice, when they thwart and in­terfere, i. e. Essential Duties before posi­tive Precepts, will excuse us. Or, lastly, when our minds are disturbed by great Grief, that cannot presently be cast off, or by sudden Anger or Discontent occasioned hard before, (which though ordinarily it be our own Fault, may yet sometimes be innocent;) at which time, since their Discomposure unfits them for so Divine a Service, they may omit it as being in­disposed for it. This St. Peter intimates of Prayers, (and the Reason is the same of this Ordinance) when he exhorts the Husband, by a discreet compliance, and patient bearing of his Wives Infirmities, to prevent all Peevishness and Dome­stick quarrels, that so they may have no need to omit or put by their Devo­tions; which, it seems, they would, if their minds were acted at that time by such undue Tempers. Ye Hus­bands, says he, dwell with your Wives according to Knowledge; giving Honour to the Wives, or treating them with Lenity and Care, as men do brittle Ware, because they are the Weaker Vessels, that your Prayers be not hindered by those Heats and Animosities, which very likely might arise otherwise, 1 Pet. [Page 156] 3.7. And this was once the case of St. [...]. Palla­dius Dalog de vit. Chrysost. p. 128. Chry­sostom, who, at the time of Administring the Sa­crament, being acciden­tally much discomposed in mind, by an unsea­sonable demand of Ju­stice made by Eusebius against Antonine in the Synod then Assembled, went out, and desired one of the Bi­shops then present to Officiate, declining the Communion at that Instant, because he had some Trouble upon his Spirit.

If then we either are not come to years to understand it, or have no obliging opportuni­ty for it, or some just hindrance that would excuse it; this Duty of the Sacrament may lawfully be omitted. It is like in it, as it is in our joyning in Prayers, or going to Church; it admits of the same Excuses, and obliges in the same Cases. But where these rare Contingencies happen not, to exempt from it; it is a strict Du­ty that is bound upon us, as we have seen, by a Bond of many Cords, and a peremp­tory Commandment. So that when we have an opportunity for it, and no just hindrance to put us by it, to Communi­cate is a strict Precept, and in all Duty we are obliged so to do.

[Page 157]But against this expresness of the Command, and strictness of the Duty to Communicate; some perhaps may urge the words of St. Paul, 1 Cor. 11. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me, v. 25. which words, as often, seem to limit the precept only to the Remembrance of Christ when we do Communicate, and to inti­mate, as if we had no Command to do this, and so with out sin might omit it when we please, but only to remember him when we do.

Now in Answer to this, I observe,

1st, These words, if we had no other proof of it, would not of themselves prove it a Command, and strict Duty to Communi­cate. But,

2ly, Neither do they infer the Contrary, and prove against it.

3ly, There are other Places enow, which sufficiently evince it.

1st, I say, these words, Do this, as often as ye drink it, in remembrance of me, if we had no other proof for it, would not amount to an obliging Command, and prove it a strict Duty to Communicate. For that which is plainly and indisputably expressed in them, is not that we should Communicate, but that we should Remem­ber Christ when we do it, and they might have their full Sense, if nothing more than this were intended.

[Page 158]But as of themselves they do not a­mount to such a Precept; so,

2ly, Neither do they infer the contrary, and prove against it. All that which they express, is only that we must remember Christ when we do Communicate; and this is done whether Communicating it self be a Duty, or whether it be not; and suiting thus equally with any side, as it doth not prove it a Duty to receive the Sacrament, so neither doth it prove there is no Duty in it. And of this we have still a further Argument, because if these words, as often, &c. infer there is no Duty to Communicate, the same may be infer'd of Prayer, since in another Place they are spoke of it, as here they are of the Sacrament. When, i. e. as often as ye Pray, says our Saviour, say, Our Father which art in Heaven, &c. Luc. 11.2. So that if they prove we are not bound to Communicate, but only to remember Christ when we do it; they will prove we are not bound to pray, but only when we pray di­rected to use this Form in Prayer too.

Thus are these words, Do this, as often as ye drink it, &c. neither an Argument that to Communicate is a Duty, nor an Argument against it. They are indiffe­rent, and equally incline both ways; so that when that is the Question, of them­selves [Page 159] they are no proof on any side, but other things must decide it.

And then,

3ly, Although this place do not prove it an express Duty to Communicate, yet there are other places enow that do sufficiently evince it. For in this very Chapter, the words of our Lord at the eating of the Bread are absolute, and imply an express Command for it: Do this, says he, i. e. Take and eat Bread as now ye do, in re­membrance of me; where not only the re­membrance is injoined, but also this par­ticular way of doing it, viz. by eating Bread, wherein he is to be remembred, 1 Cor. 11.24. And so 'tis also in St. Luc. 22.19. Luke, where the Words are Peremptory for the Apostles administring, and so an­swerably for the Peoples receiving it, without any intimation of the eating it self being indifferent and uncommanded; which that Evangelist would not so unwarily have ex­pressed, if Christ had so intended it. And our Lord shew'd us, not only that he has commanded this Sacramental eating, but that he has commanded it as a necessa­ry thing, when he tells his Hearers, that except they thus eat the Flesh, and drink the Blood of the Son of Man, they have no Life in them, Joh. 6.53. And this necessity of [Page 160] it is further manifested, from the necessi­ty of the Passover among the Jews, which answered to it; for at every Return of it, they were to be cut off from Israel whoso­ever presumed to omit it. Exod. 12.15. And if there were no express Command for it, yet are the things we are call'd to in it all of that obliging Nature, and such necessary Duties, that without Sin they cannot be declined. By all which, as we have seen, this Sacramental eating and drinking is evidently proved to be a plain Duty, and under a peremptory Command­ment.

When therefore in this place the Apo­stle says of our drinking of the Cup, Do this, as often as ye drink it, he doth not intimate that we may do it as seldome as we please, or as if it were under no Law, or express Precept. He uses the words, as often, not because 'tis an Arbitrary Act and there is no Duty in it; but because, though it be a Duty, we have not always opportunity for it, and so cannot always be performing it. For, as has been shewn, there is a Command to Communicate, and that, as all other Affirmative Laws, binds us to it at all times when a fit occasion is of­fer'd. When we eat and drink in the Sa­crament, we must remember Christ; and when we have an opportunity to eat and [Page 161] drink in it, we are obliged to it; as the Jews, we saw, were to the Passover which answered to it, who were to be cut off from Israel, when at any time they omit­ted it: So that to Communicate is no Ar­bitrary Act, but an indispensable Duty, and peremptory Command still.

And since it is thus necessary a Duty in every grown Christian to come to the Holy Sacrament; it must needs be a great and dangerous Sin in any of us, when we neglect and abstain from it. We must not think it an indifferent thing, but make Conscience of keeping off from the Holy Com­munion, as we do of keeping off from Pray­ers, of Swearing, doing Wrong, being Proud, Incontinent, or Drunken. For it is expresly and straitly forbidden by God, as well as they, and we incur his Anger, and, till we repent and do so no more, cannot regain his Favour, when we are guilty of any of them.

A neglect of the Lords Table there­fore is a Sin, which, although God may excuse in those good Souls, who, because of their over-high Veneration for it, and Fear of their own Vnworthiness to partake in it, in the honesty of their Hearts think they ought not to come to it: Yet will he not excuse in them when they are better inform'd; and much less in others who neglect it, be­cause [Page 162] they are careless of it, or too Wicked and Impenitent to receive it.

He may excuse it, I say, in those Good Souls, who in the honesty of their Hearts, through Ignorance or Error, were held back, and because of their over-high Veneration for it, and fear of their Vnworthiness to partake in it, thought they ought not to come to it. An innocent Ignorance, or mistake of an ho­nest mind, may plead our excuse before God in this, as well as in other Duties. For in all of them, Christ has such a Sense of our Infirmities, as that he can have Com­passion on the Ignorant, and those that err, or are out of the way, Heb. 5.2. So that if after an upright indeavour to be rightly inform'd in it, some Good Minds shall happen to mistake, their Error will not be imputed. It may be through the loose Discourses of some, or the general Practice of the World, who, by being so seldom at it, seem to set lightly by it; they think themselves not obliged to it. Or again, through the extream Rigidness of the Dis­courses of others, who require such ex­traordinary things to it as very few have attain'd, they think themselves always unworthy and unprepared for it, and that they should sin, and eat their own Damna­tion in it. But if they fall into these mi­stakes about it which make them abstain [Page 163] from it, after an honest indeavour to be rightly inform'd about it; their Igno­rance may plead their Excuse, and make their Neglect to be connived at. God will not account it to them as a sin, be­cause they knew it not, but were mista­ken. For in this, as well as in all other Cases, to him that knows to do Good, and doth it not, to him 'tis Sin, Jam. 4.17.

But though God may bear with this neglect of the Sacrament in Good men, whilst they are thus innocently misled: Yet will he not excuse it in them when they are better in­form'd; and much less in others, who neg­lect it because they are careless of it, or too Impenitent to receive it.

He will not excuse it even in them when they are better informed. Their only plea for their not doing of this Duty, is, that after the best search they could make, they did not know they were bound to it, or that with safety they could perform it: and when once their Understanding is inlightned, this plea is removed, so that afterwards they can find no relief at all from it. They abstain then, when they know, if they are truly Penitent, they might, and ought to come; and that abstinence is wilful, and, unless they re­pent of it and amend it, will end in their Condemnation. For to him that knoweth [Page 164] to do Good, and doth it not, to him 'tis Sin, Jam. 5.17.

And much less will he excuse it in others, who are careless of it, and too Impenitent to receive it. If they are hindred from the Lords Table out of Slothfulness, or are unworthy of it by Reason of their Impeni­tence; those are not their Excuse, but their own Damning Fault, and they must expect to bear the punishment of it. To tell God I did not come to the Sacra­ment because I would not Repent, is to tell him I would not come and promise to be Good, because I was resolved to con­tinue Wicked: and that is a very odd way of excusing it. Impenitence is no ex­cuse, but a most damning Sin; and there­fore if we have no other cause to give why we did not come, we must needs be liable to Condemnation.

If any of you therefore who shall per­use this Treatise, have refused Gods invi­tation formerly, and have kept back from this Feast: by what I have here said you may see your Fault, and how nearly you are concerned, as you tender your dear Saviours Honour, or the safety of your own most precious Souls, to amend it. You have offended God in not coming to the Commu­nion, as you would offend him in not com­ing to Church, in not saying your Prayers, [Page 165] in not giving Thanks for Mercies, in not be­ing humble, honest, and upright in your dealings, or in omitting any other Duties. So that you must not think all is well with you when you keep away, as if you had done nothing. If the true Cause why you abstain'd was your well meant mistake about it, and your not knowing, after all the search you had opportunity to make, that every Good man, who Re­pents of all his Sins, is worthy and fit for it: God will wink at your Ignorance whilst it lasted; but that will be no ex­cuse to you now you are better informed, so that now you will be Guilty of a Dam­ning Offence, if you still neglect it after you are told of it. But if you have ab­sented hitherto out of a careless Spirit, which would not attend the times, or be at the pains to come to it; or because you have an Impenitent Heart, which will not promise that Amendment and New Life, that is to be undertaken for and ingaged in it: Then has your Absenting been your Damning Sin, which has provoked God against you, as all other Acts of Dis­obedience and Irreligion. If this is your Case, you must look upon your selves all this while to have been in a great Fault, which God will not forgive till you Re­pent and amend it. For God will for­give [Page 166] you this Sin of neglecting the Sacra­ment, upon the same condition whereon he will forgive all others, namely, when you forsake it, and turn away from it, and, instead of absenting, learn to frequent it. So that if you would keep a Good Conscience towards God, and dye in Peace, and have no unrepented sins to answer for at the last Judgment: Every one of you, that has sinfully sleighted this Sacrament hi­therto, must come to it henceforward, and, according to your Saviour Christs Commandment, readily partake in it, when you are called thereto.

CHAP. II. Of the Benefits of Communicating.

The Contents.

The Sacrament is full of Blessings, which make it not only our Duty, but our Privi­ledge. In the General, it is the most ef­fectual means in all Religion to recommend our Prayers, and make them powerful; and so is the likeliest way to attain all Mercies. In particular, 1. It Seals to us the Pardon of our Sins for the Peace of our Consciences. 2. It encreases and Con­firms in us all Graces. Those are ordina­rily such as we bring along with us. It confers Grace, 1. By the Natural Virtue and Tendency of those Duties, which it both exercises and excites in us. 2. By those inward Assistances, which it conveys to us. Since on all these accounts it is so excellent a means of Grace and New Life, 'tis the best Rule any Person can observe who would go on in the Work of Repen­tance. [Page 168] All these Motives to Communi­cate, both from Duty and Interest, summ'd up.

HAving shewn in the former Chapter how much it is every Christians Du­ty to frequent the Holy Sacrament, who is of Age to come to it, and how greatly they sin against God who neglect it, both from the obliging Nature of the thing, and Christs express Commandment: I proceed now in this,

4ly, To shew what great inducements we have to it, and how great the Benefits are that come by it, which should make us press to it of our s [...]lve [...] were it not Commanded.

The Holy Sacrament has Blessings enow within it self to recommend it to our choice, if God had not interposed his Authority, and laid that weight up­on it which he has. It is fully stored with Benefits, which make it, not only a strict Duty, but an high Priviledge to come to it, as the Christian Church has always thought, whose great Penalty lay in a Separation, or Exclusion from it. It is not only a matter of Honour to God, but also of highest Advantage to our selves; so that in all Reason we ought to seek it, and heartily thank God that we may be admitted to it, out of a care of our own Happiness and pure Self-interest.

[Page 169]Of these Benefits I have mentioned some already, such as its being a vouchsafement of highest Honour to us, and a token of Gods greatest Love for us, and a certain pledge of our Future Glories, of all which I have Discoursed in the last Chapter. But be­sides them, it is full of many other sin­gular Blessings and present Graces, which I shall now treat of in this. And those, which I shall take notice of, are these.

1st, In the General, It is the most ef­fectual means in all Religion to recommend our Prayers, and make them Powerful with God; so that 'tis the likeliest way to obtain all Mercies.

2ly, In Particular.

1st, It Seals to us the Pardon of our Sins for the Peace of our Consciences.

2ly, It encreases and confirms in us all our Graces.

1st, In the General, It is the most ef­fectual means in all Religion to recommend our Prayers, and make them Powerful with God; so that 'tis the likeliest way to obtain all Mercies. And this it doth, by being a Commemoration unto him of the death of Christ, which is the only Argument that prevails with him to bestow them on us.

It is the common way of all men when they sue for kindnesses from others, and think they have not Interest enough them­selves, [Page 170] to use such Intercessions, and sug­gest such things, as have most Power with them, and are likeliest to incline them to grant their Desires. And as it is thus in our Requests to men, so is it in our Prayers to God too. We set those Con­siderations before his Eyes, and suggest those things to his Remembrance, which are fittest to move his Pity, and to make him favourable towards us. Thus the Holy men in the Old Testament in their Prayers are frequently putting God in mind of his Psal. 119.49.2 Chron. 6.42. Cove­nant and Promise; and making mention of his Servant Psal. 132.1.10. David, or Deut. 9.27. and Exod. 32.13. Abraham, or Isaac, or Israel, for whom they knew he had an especial kindness: and with their Prayers they used to joyn Sa­crifice, hoping to be the easier heard when they came with their Atonement in their Hands, and that the Life of the Beast being offer'd up in Commutation, and accepted instead of theirs, God would be the easier appeased, and more inclined to hear their Supplications. Upon which account, that their Prayers might have a Powerful Argument to recommend them going along with them, they were careful to offer them up at the hour of Sa­crifice, [Page 171] as appears from the Prayer of Ezra 9.5. Ezra, and of Psal. 141.2. David, at the Evening Sa­crifice.

Now that which Powerfully intercedes with God for us, and which was shadow­ed out by all the Jewish Sacrifices, is our Saviours Death. For it was his Blood that merited so highly at Gods hands, as to make him think of shewing Favour, and being kind to us. It is the Blood of Propi­tiation, Rom. 3.25; that makes peace be­tween God and Men, Col.1.20, and speaks better things than the Blood of Abel, calling for Life and Salvation, as that did for Destruction, Heb. 12.24. And 'tis the Representation of that Blood now in heaven­ly places, that gives Christ himself such ab­solute Power with God, and makes him sure to prevail whensoever he intercedes for us. For by it he entered into the Holy Place, where the Mercy-seat or Propitiato­ry was, Heb. 9.3, 5.12.24; and where he ever lives to make intercession for us. Heb. 7.25. So that the great Argument, which either Christ our high Priest now in Heaven offers for us, or which in our Prayers we can plead for our selves, is his own Death and Sufferings.

Now this is set before God in every Prayer, and in all Acts of Religion; in all [Page 172] which we use Christs Name, and desire to be heard, and hope to prevail through his Mediation. But in the Sacrament it is done more perfectly, and with greater So­lemnity, and that too by Gods own appoint­ment. For one chief end of the Holy Sa­crament, is to Commemorate the Death of Christ; i. e. to set it out in solemn shew, and make mention of it, not only before men, but also to Almighty God. This do in Remembrance or [...]. Commemoration of me, says our Saviour, Luc. 22.19. And as oft as ye do it, says St. Paul, ye shew forth the Lords Death, i. e. both to God and Men, till he come. 1 Cor. 11.26.

Thus do we no where so livelily and ad­vantageously set out this great Argument of being heard, as in the Holy Sacra­ment: which we may justly hope will be the more observed, and have the more effect, because it is not done of our own heads, but by Gods own special Directi­on and Appointment. And where the Argument is most advantageously set out, we may expect the better effect, and greater force from it. And this the An­cient Christians thought, accounting their Prayers were not like to be so Powerful at any time, as when this Commemorati­on [Page 173] of Christs Death, the only Plea for being heard, accompanied them. And therefore at the Sacra­ment they Thus 'tis in the form prescribed Constit. Apostol. l. 8. c. 13. & 15. p. 484, 485. tom. prim. Concil. ed. Lab. And this Eusebius testifies de vita Constant. l. 4. c. 45. used to pray, not only for them­selves, but also for all o­thers, and to recommend any Person or thing to God which was dear to them, thinking they could never so advan­tageously, as at that time, sue for them.

Thus in the General, is the Holy Sa­crament a most likely means to obtain for us all Mercies, because it is the most effectu­al course in all Religion to recommend our Prayers, which must procure them for us.

2dly, In Particular,

1st, It seals to us the Pardon of our Sins for the peace of our Consciences.

2ly, It increases and confirms in us all our Graces.

1st, It seals and confirms to us the Pardon of our Sins for the peace of our Consciences. In the Holy Sacrament God calls us to give us a full Pardon, by giving us that Blood which was Mat. 26.28. shed for the remission of Sins, and which is the Blood of Expiation: and [Page 174] having received that at his hand, if we are true Penitents, we need not doubt but that our sins are expiated, and he is reconciled. The Sacrament it self, as we have seen, is nothing less than a so­ [...]emn Confirmation of the New Covenant, which promises Remission of Sin to all that truly repent of it. So that when with Penitent Hearts we come to joyn in it, we come to stipulate and secure a Par­don of all our Offences, which will give us all the security of it that Covenants and Promises can make us. Whensoever we Repent, indeed, we have Gods promise of Forgiveness, which may com­fort our hearts after any Sin, not only in the Communion, but in every Penitential Prayer and Confession. But in the Sacra­ment this Promise is again repeated, and in most solemn manner Sealed and Con­firmed; to shew us that God is still of the same mind, and to give us a renewed and a sensible assurance of it. And when God has thus set his Seal to it, and a Pe­nitent Soul has just received his Word and Bond for it; it need not question but he is reconciled, and, unless it starts back from these penitential engagements, and falls afresh into new Provocations, will always continue so to be.

And thus the Sacrament is the most ef­fectual [Page 175] means, to calm the Fears, and quiet the Consciences of all true peni­tents. If once they make sure of their own Repentance after any Fault, it doth that in an ordinary way, which an Angel from Heaven, and a special Revelation would do in extraordinary, i. e. it lets them know their Sins are Pardoned, and that God is their Friend. For therein they receive from him the Blood of Expiation, a plain proof their Sins are atoned for and forgi­ven: and therein there is an express a­greement and solemn Covenant of Peace and Reconciliation between God and them, which is confirmed by this Feast of his own prescribing: and having this Instru­ment of his own appointment, which they may look upon as his Hand and Seal to it, they may chearfully depend upon it, and rest satisfied in their own mind.

2ly. It increases and confirms in us all our Graces.

These Graces are ordinarily such as we bring along with us, which we either have already practised, or are fully purposed and resolved so to do. For therein God gives Grace only to the Worthy Communicants; and those Communicants only are Worthy, who Repent of all their Sin [...] and are whol­ly determined to lead a New Life in Obe­dience to all his Commandments. It is [Page 176] not a Sacrament intended to give strength in Grace, to those that have nothing of it; for it is our Spiritual Meat and Bread, as our Saviour calls it, Joh. 6.51, 55. the use whereof is not to give Life to a Dead Person, but Strength and Nourishment to a Living. It is not designed to turn an Im­penitent Man into a true Penitent, or to make an Ill man Good; for every impe­nitently ill man is an Unworthy Receiver, and eats his own Damnation, which is a Curse and not a Blessing; so that he is not the better, but the worse by it. But it is intended to make a Good Man Better, to carry on Repentance in those that have begun it, and to confirm and enlarge e­very Virtue in those who are already possessed of it. If we come to it with Faith, or Belief of the Scriptures, particu­larly of Gods promises to pardon our Sins for Christs sake upon our Repentance, and to help us to any Graces upon our indea­vours, and to make us Eternally happy upon our entire Obedience; it strengthens and assures it: if with Love of our dear Lord, who dyed for us; it increases it: if with Thankfulness for his kindnesses, particu­larly that of giving his own Life for ours; it makes us more sensible of it: if with hearty Repentance, and full purpose of a­mending all our Sins; it makes us more [Page 177] unmoveable and settled in it: if with Peace, and Charity towards all our Neighbours; it fills us with a greater abundance of it. It augments all the Virtues of a Good man which he brings to it, making him more perfect in them, and strong in Spirit to persevere and go through with them. But these Effects it has not upon an ill man, nor produces this increase of Virtue in those, who bring nothing of it along with them: So that 'tis no disparagement to the Virtue of this Sacrament, if wick­ed Men find themselves wicked still, and not at all amended by their Receipt of it, since it was not ordained for their Im­provement. It was not meant to give Grace to those that are Graceless, or to give Repentance to Impenitent Persons: but to carry them through in their Repen­tance who have fully set upon it, and to enable them to lead a New Life who are resolved to do it, and to strengthen them to amend a Fault who are wholly bent to strive against it, and to confer Grace on those that have it, and make them more Gracious still.

And this the Holy Sacrament is to e­very worthy Communicant. It conveys Grace into his Soul, and makes him stand more firm, and increase in every Virtue of a Christian. It is an excellent means [Page 178] to make him a better man, and to carry him on to improve in Duty and Holy li­ving: So that every one who comes wor­thily, will gain a great increase of Grace and Strength, and be much set on in Spi­ritual growth by Receiving.

Now this it doth two ways.

1st, By the Natural Virtue and Tendency of those Duties, which it exercises and ex­cites in us.

2ly, By those inward Assistances, which it conveys to us.

1st, A worthy Receiving conveys Grace into our Souls, and confirms and increases us in all Virtues, by the Natu­ral Efficacy and Tendency of those Duties, which it exercises, and excites in us. For it excites, and therein we exercise several Duties, which help on a good Life, and set it forward; and therein we bind our selves by solemn Vows and Engagements to go on in it: both which are most power­ful to effect and improve it.

1st, It excites, and therein we exercise several Duties, that help on a good Life, and set it forward: All the Duties of worthy Receiving are instances of an Holy Life, as we have seen, and parts of a Good man: but several of them are not only particular Duties in the [...]selves, but with­all most powerful helps to the performance [Page 179] of all others: So that in performing and improving them, we do not only dis­charge and grow in some Virtues; but make a way for our easier Discharge and fuller growth in all others also. And these are a fixt Remembrance and firm Faith of Christs wonderful kindness to us, especi­ally in Dying for us; an intense Love, and hearty Thankfulness, and intire Resignation of our selves to his Service, and true Re­pentance and Abhorrence of all our Sins; all which, as they are much improved in a worthy Communion, so are they most Pow­erful in helping us to become Obedient and Good men.

1st. I say these Duties are improved in us by the Holy Communion. And this they are by being both exercised, and excited in us at that time.

They are all exercised in every Wor­thy Communicant at that time, because in them, as we have seen, consists the worthiness of Receiving. And the more still they are exercised, the more they are improved. For all Habits come by usage, and Custome makes those things, which at first seemed strange, to become, not only Easie, but Natural to us. So that in exercising them at the Sacrament, we shall improve and add to them, and go a­way with a greater measure of them, [Page 180] than we brought when▪ we came.

And this we shall more especially do, because therein they are not only exerci­sed, but mightily excited in us also. The Holy Sacrament suggests such Powerful Motives to them, and presents us with such obliging Reasons for them, as we can­not have any where else; so that we can­not take a better way, than by coming to it, to improve them. For therein we most solemnly and attently remember, how, when our sins had made us utter Enemies of God, and Heirs of Destruction, Christ laid down his own Life in our stead, and by that Ransome redeemed us from it. And this is not only the highest, but, in a manner, the sum total of all those inducements which can ingage us to these Virtues, or possess us with them. For what can possi­bly raise so warm a Love of Christ in an ingenuous Spirit, that is sensible of what is done to it, as to see how infinitely he has Loved us, and, when we were his bit­ter Enemies, gave his own Life in ex­change for ours? What can ever ingage us to so great. Thankfulness, as to think that a Person so far above us, and that stood in no need of us, and that was not sought to by us, and that was even th [...]n most highly disobliged and had received the greatest Provocations from us, should [Page 181] most frankly give his own self to do us a kindness? What can so powerfully move us to resign up our selves to any one, as to see that he has bestowed himself on us first to buy us off from our implacable Ene­mies, and that for no Self-Interests or By-Ends of his own, but purely for our Eternal Happiness? What can work in us so hearty a Repentance, and provoke us into so utter an Indignation and Abhorrence of all our Sins, as to behold in our dear Lords Agonies what they deserv'd, and how unmeasurably mischievous they pro­ved, and what inexpressible Tortures they brought on him, when he would put himself in our place, and undertake to answer for us? These things are most livelily set out, and powerfully suggested to us in this Blessed Sacrament, one chief business whereof is solemnly to Commemorate and make mention of them: and they are the most effectual means to raise in us a constant mindful­ness, a zealous and intense Love of him that dyed for us, and an hearty Thank­fulness for all his kindnesses, and a sin­cere Repentance and utter abhorrence of all our Sins, and an intire Resignation of our selves to his Use an [...] Service, that can be given us. And the Sacrament be­ing thus richly furnished with the most [Page 182] perswasive Motives, and thus vividly sug­gesting to us the most Powerful Reasons for all these Virtues; it must needs be the best Course to improve in them, and we cannot lay out our time upon them bet­ter, or to more effect, in any other way.

Thus are the Duties of a fixt Remem­brance and firm Faith of Christs dying for us, of an intense Love, and hearty Thankfulness, and Resignation of our selves to his Service, and true Repen­tance and Abhorrence of all our Sins; very much set on and improved in all worthy Receivers by the Holy Commu­nion. They will be heightned and in­creased by receiving, because they are both exercised, and, by an objective Repre­sentation of most forcible inducements to them, powerfully excited in them at that time.

And as these Duties are all improved by the Holy Communion; so are they,

2ly, Most Powerful in helping us to be­come Obedient and Good men. If we were but perfect in these Virtues, and they had once got the Ascendant over us, and ruled in our Hearts; they would have an Uni­versal influence on all others, and govern our whole Lives. For if, when we are temp [...]d to any sin, our minds, being fa­miliarized [Page 183] to it, would at that instant readily suggest to us that Christ dyed for it, and that it put him to all the pain and anguish he suffered; we should not endure to come near it: If we have any true Love and Zeal for him, we shall shew no man­ner of Favour or Compliance with it; if we are really Thankful for what he has done, for his sake we shall withstand it; if we are resign'd up to his use, we shall have nothing to do with it, because he is against it; and if we abhor it for the pains it put him to when he answer'd for it, and will at last put us to also if we con­tinue in it, we shall disdainfully reject and turn away from it. If we Believe and re­member always, as we have need, that Christ died for our Sins, and procured us Pardon for them upon our Repentance, and Grace to get quit of them upon our best indeavours; that Faith will make us Obedient, and carry us on to amend them. If we truly Love Christ, that Love will make us do something for him, and cast to please and Joh. 14.15. o­bey him. If we are Thank­ful for what is done, we shall never de­spite him by any Sin, which for all his Benefits were to return the greatest inju­ries again. If we are resign'd up to his use, we shall Faithfully serve him. If we [Page 184] are heartily Penitent, and abhor our Sins, we shall forsake them. If we have this lively Faith and Remembrance of Christs dying for us, and this intense Love, and hearty Thankfulness, and entire Resig­nation of our selves to his Service, and sincere Repentance, and utter Abhor­rence of all our Sins; If we have these Virtues, I say, and in these prevailing measures, they will carry us on to an Ho­ly Life, and make us Obedient to all Gods Commandments. And therefore since this Holy Sacrament, when 'tis wor­thily received, doth so much improve these Virtues in us; it must needs help us on, and improve us in all others, and in the whole course of a good Life too.

Thus doth a worthy receiving by its own Natural tendency confirm and increase us in all good Living, by our exercising, and its exciting in us such Duties, as help it on and set it forward: and so doth it,

2ly, By our binding our selves thereat in solemn Vows, and Ingagements to go on in it.

One chief end of our meeting at this Feast, and prime part of our Worthiness in partaking of it, is to confirm the New Covenant, as we have seen, and to make God our Faithful promises, that from that day we will amend all our Faults, [...] so we may attain that Pardon and [Page 185] Happiness, which, upon our true Re­pentance, he comes to offer and assure to us. And these solemn Vows and Promises are a fast hank upon us to make us leave our Sins, and do all that he requires of us. For every man ought, and thinks himself concerned to be as good as his word, and to perform what he has pro­mised; especially when 'tis to one, who is too Wise to be deluded, and too Just and Powerful to suffer any abuses of him to pass unrevenged, which all men, that understand any thing, believe of Almigh­ty God. When we Promise and Vow to him, we know that he cannot be deceived, and that he will not be mocked; so that we must needs see it stands us in stead, and is our highest concern to perform with him. And therefore, since in the Sa­crament we do in the most solemn man­ner Vow to amend our ways, and pro­mise an Holy Life to Almighty God; in Regard none that are honest will, and none that are wise and serious dare be unmind­ful of such sacred and solemn Compacts, it must needs be an excellent way to bind it fast upon our Souls, and fix it in our minds, and so help very much to esta­blish and imprint it in us.

And thus we see how a worthy recei­ving conveys Grace, and confirms and [Page 186] increases in us all Virtues by the Natural tendency of those Duties, which it exer­cises, and excites in us. For it powerfully excites, and therein we exercise several Duties, which help on a Good Life, and set it forward; and bind our selves by so­lemn Vows and Ingagements to go on in it, both which are most Powerful to improve and effect it.

And as it thus confirms and increases in us all Graces, by the Natural Virtue and Tendency of those Duties, which it excites in us; so does it,

2ly, By those inward Assistances, which it ministers and conveys to us.

This Sacrament doth not only confer Grace by its Natural Tendency, as other means; but moreover, by virtue of Gods Promise and especial Bounty to the Wor­thy Receivers of it, as it is an Instru­ment in his hands. He tells us that he will do great things at the presence of it, and be liberal in Spiritual Blessings to all that duly partake in it: So that besides what they do from the Virtues themselves, which are exercised thereat, they may promise themselves much Spiritual Grace and Strength from his Free Gift, and immediate concurrence with it. For in the Sacrament he offers them all that outward Grace and Spiritual strength, [Page 187] which Christs Death procured; and therefore, if they come to it worthily, so as their own unworthiness is no bar against it, that offer will be sure to take effect, and they shall undoubtedly re­ceive it. And this is plainly intimated to us, when our Saviour tells us of his Flesh that it is Bread, the true use and end whereof is for Psal. 104.15. support and nourishment, Joh. 6.51. And when St. Paul declares, that the Cup of Blessing which we Bless, is the Communion, or [...]. Com­municating to us the Blood of Christ, i. e. those Benefits his Blood procured us: and that the Bread which we break, is the Communion, or Com­municating to us the Body of Christ, i. e. those Graces which the offering of his Body obtain'd for us, a­mongst Gal. 3.13, 14. which are these Spiritual Assistances, 1 Cor. 10.16. And when our Lord him­self tells us, that the Bread he gives us is his Body, and that the C [...]p he reaches out to us is his Blood, Mat. 26.26, 28. By which, though he mean not that they are his Body and Blood in their Natures, yet the least he can mean is, that they are so in their Effects, so that when we receive them we receive all the Blessings of his [Page 188] Blood-shedding, and all that Grace which his Death has purchased for all Men.

And thus the Church of Christ has still thought concerning it. Ideo in simili­tudinem quidem accipis Sacramen­tum, sed verae Naturae gratiam, virtutemque con­sequeris. Ambros. de Sacram. l. 6. c. 1. In the Sacrament, says St. Ambrose, thou re­ceivest the similitude of the Body of Christ, i. e. the Bread and Wine which r [...]pres [...]nt it: but, together with t [...]at, all the Grace and Virtue which the true and real Body obtain­ed. Sed immor­talitatis alimonia datur, à commu­nibus cibis Diffe­rens, Corporalis substantiae reti­nens speciem, sed virtutis Divinae invisibili effici­entia probans ad­esse praesentiam. Cyp. de Cona Dem. sub in [...]t This Sacramental Food, says St. Cyprian, or whoever was the Author of that Tract, is in outward appearance a bodily Substance; but by invisible Efficiency it works all the Effects of a Divine Power and Pre­sence. [...]. Clem. A­lex. Paedag. l. 2. c. 2. p. 151. Ed Par. They that par­take of the Eucharist by Faith, says St. Cle­ment of Alexandria, are sanctified thereby both in Body and Soul. And [...]. Orig. cont. Cels. l. 8. p. Ed. Cant. 399. we eat the Bread, says Ori­gen, which by Prayer is made the Body of Christ, [Page 189] Holy in it self, and mak­ing those Holy who feed on it with Resolutions of New Life and Holy Pur­pose.

And this is another way, whereby the wor­thy Receiving of the Sacrament con­firms and Augments in us all Spiritual Graces; viz. As it is an Instrument in Gods Hands, who, at the presence of it, ministers and conveys them to us.

And by this it appears that the Holy Sacrament confirms and increases us in all Graces, both by the Natural Virtue and Tendency of those Duties, which it excites and improves in us; and also by those in­ward Assistances and Spiritual Aids, which it ministers and conveys to us.

And thus we see how the Holy Sacra­ment is full of Grace and a quickning Spi­rit, and helps mightily to set us on in an Holy Life, and in the work of Reforma­tion and Amendment. And therefore when any Persons turn Penitents, and re­solve to lead new Lives; one of the best Rules that can be given them is to frequent it. For it will carry them forward in their work, and, what by the Natural Ten­dency of the Duties themselves that are exercised in it, what by the Assistances [Page 190] that are conveyed by it, increase their Strength, and give them Power to go through with it. It will perfect them in Obedience by exercising, and exciting, and by both improving in them that Faith, Love, Thankfulness, Resignation, and Re­pentance, which are the most Genuine Principle and Effectual cause of it. It will bind it upon their Souls and ingage them to it, by their repeating every time they are at it, their solemn Vows and sacred Promises to go on in it. And it will in­able them to succeed in it, by bringing down from God those inward Helps and Spiritual Assistances, which shall bear them through it. So that if any man begins to look towards God, and longs to go for­ward with the work of Reformation and Amendment: He ought in all Reason to seek out, and press in to be admitted to the Holy Sacrament. For it is one of the best Rules that can be prescribed in his Case, and serves his end above any thing: and therefore he must not in any wise shun it, but lay out for it above all men living. A man that will not Repent, indeed, whilst he continues in that mind, must not come to it; for he would not receive Good, but hurt by it. But if he re­solves to amend his ways, and seeks out for help, and would make use of any [Page 191] means which would do him most Service in effecting it: let him be constant at the Lords Table, and frequently Communi­cate. It will quicken him when once he is in the way to become Good, and a­mend his pace where he has need to be set forward, and strengthen him in those Parts where he is weak and most lyable to be assaulted, as St. Ignatius told the Ephesians, when he advised them to be fr [...] ­quent in it; saying, [...]. Ignat. Ep. ad E­phes. Ed. V [...]ss. p. 25. Shew haste to assemble of­ten in the Eucharist; for the oftner you meet in it, the more your standing is secured, and the Power of Satan is destroyed. It will fortifye him in all Tryals wherein he is like to be most endanger'd; enlivening in him that Holy Zeal, and steady Purpose, and o­ther Graces, which must bear him through it; for which cause it was used anciently, and upon a like occasion would be so still, as a Preparation for the greatest Tryals, and to fit men to Dye Martyrs for the Cause of Christ. Quos excita­mus & hortamur ad prael [...]um, [...]on inermes & nudas relinquamus, sed protectione San­guinis, & Corpo­ris Christi muni­amus: Et cum ad Loc fiat Eucha­ristia, ut possit accipientibus esse tutela, quos tu­tos esse contra adversarium vo­luimus, muni­mento Dominicae Saturitatis arme­mus. Cyp. & alii Episc in Epist. Sy­nod. Eccles. Afr [...]c. ad Eccles. Roman. Ep. 57. Ed. Oxon. 54. Pamel. Those, says St. Cypri­an and the other Afri­cane Bishops, whom we [Page 192] would preserve safe and invulnerable against the fiercest Darts of the Ad­versaries, we arm first with the Lords Supper, wherewith they may be guarded as with a shield, and wherein they may be secured as in an impregna­ble fortress. It is an ex­cellent means of con­firming every Grace, and affording Spiritual Help and Strength to all that want it: and that is inducement enough, were there no Command for it, for every man, who desires to be intirely good and strong in Spirit, to resort to it.

And thus at last it appears what those Blessings are which come by the Sacra­ment, and which are sufficient to ingage all good Souls to press to it of themselves, though it had no where been com­manded. For it is a most effectual means to prevail with God in all their Prayers and thereby to obtain all Mercies, it Seals to them the pardon of their sins for the Peace of their Consciences, and Confirms and Augments in them all their Graces. So that [Page 193] if they have, I will not say any Duty and Service for their Saviour, but any Love of themselves and care of their own Souls, they will seek to be admitted, and come hasti­ly when they are called thereto.

To conclude this point then, the sum of what I have said to ingage mens pre­sence at this Feast, and to Communicate as often as an opportunity is offered, amounts to this: It is their Duty to come to the Communion, as much as it is to come to Church, to be Temperate, Humble, Just, or to perform any other Precepts of their Religion. For they have Christs express Command for it; who by injoyning it, has required Obedience in such an Instance, as best shows their peculiar Reverence and Love to him; and to ingage them to it, has freed them from all the load of Jewish Ce­remonies, and imposed no heavier Burden, than it, and Baptism, instead of them; and to make it take the more effect, left it among the last Words which he sp [...]ke to them; and to shew it is a matter of no small moment, would have it expresly specified in St. Paul's Commission; and tells them, that unles [...] they come therein to eat his Flesh and drink his Blo [...]d, they have no Life in them; and will punish the neglect, or abuse of it, as he [...] of the Jewish [...]ssover, which answered [Page 194] to it, with Excision. And the Nature of those things which are meant by it, and wherein they are to imploy their minds when they are present at it, most straitly oblige them to it. For therein they shew they have Fellow­ship with Christ, and appertain to his Religion, and thankfully remember him, and Seal the New Covenant with God, and a League of Love and Friendship with their Brethren, and are vouchsafed the highest Honour, and receive Tokens of the greatest Love, and injoyment of pre­sent Graces, and Pledges of Future Glo­ries from him; which are things that every Ingenuous man will, and every Good man ought to do when he is call'd to them, and no man can honestly refuse or decline, who professes him­self a Christian. These things oblige all those who are of Age for it, and have an opportunity and fit occasion offer'd, and have no lawful Let or Impediment, of Providential hindrances, sickness, or other thing, which would excuse their coming to Prayers or other Ordinances of Christ; they oblige all such, I say, to come to this Feast when they are call'd to it. And, if after they are shewn how much it is their Duty to [...] in it, and how Repentance make [Page 195] them worthy of it, through Carelesness, or Impenitence they stay away from it; they sin against God, and are Guilty of a Damning Fault, which will not be forgiven them till they Repent of it and amend it. But if there were no Guilt in the Neglect, and to Communicate had not been thus required; yet would the Blessings of the thing it self have ingaged every Penitent Good Man to press in to be admitted. For it is the most effectual course in all Religion to prevail with God, and to be heard in all their Prayers; it Seals to them the Pardon of their Sins, for the Peace of their Consciences; and Confirms and Aug­ments in them all their Graces; bringing down such help as may make them stand in all Tryals, and carrying them on, be­yond any means that can be prescribed, in the course of Repentance and new O­bedience: which to all that love the ease of their own Minds, and have any care of their own Souls, are invitation more than enough to ingage their presence at this Ordinance; and as for those that do not, they are neither to be won by them, nor by any others.

And thus having shewn what is the meaning of eating Bread and drinking Wine in the Blessed Sacrament, and wherein lies the Worthiness of doing it, and how much it [Page 196] is every Good Christians Duty to frequent it, and what great Benefits there are that c [...]me by it, which should make us press to it of our selves were it not Commanded: I shall proceed now,

5ly, In the last Place, to consider those Excuses, and to take off those Pleas, which are most usually made against it; of which in the next Part.

PART III. Of the Hindrances that keep men from the Communion.

CHAP. I. Two Hindrances from Commu­nicating.

The Contents.

One most General Hindrance, that keeps men from the Sacrament, is a Fear of their being Vnworthy and Vnfit to receive it. This Answer'd by shewing, 1. The Par­tiality of it, because they are not so scru­pulous about Neglecting, as about Vn­worthy Receiving, though there be the same cause for it. 2. That every true Peni­tent is worthy of it: Yea, he that has only fully purposed Amendment, though he has not had time to perform it. 3. Impeni­tence, [Page 198] which unfits them for it, is no Excuse for the Neglect of it. 4. Im­penitent men, who alone are unfit, if they understand the danger of their State, can­not continue in it but amend it, and then they may worthily Communicate. 2. A Second Hindrance is, because an Vnwor­thy Receiver eats his own Damnation, 1 Cor. 11.29. which makes not Receiv­in [...] seem the safer side. By Damnation is meant, 1. A Damning Sin, which is deadly till we Repent of it; and such are both unworthy eating and sinful abstain­ing, so that they are equal as to that point. 2. Temporal Penalties, which were in­flicted for their Intemperance at this Feast, and other Disorders peculiar to those Times, and are not now usual in ours, so that the fear of them need not discourage us from it.

SInce a worthy receiving of the Holy Sacrament is a Duty which our Bles­s [...]d Lord has so straitly injoyn'd, and from which we may all hope to reap so great Benefit, as has been shewed; it may well be expected, that all who would do Service either to their Saviour, or to themselves, should readily join in it when­soever an Opportunity is offer'd. And so, 'tis like, all that pretend to serious Religion would, were it not that they [Page 199] have some Exceptions in their own minds against it, which, till they are removed, make all Discourses of the Duty or Vseful­ness of it fall without effect, and per­swade them, that, however necessary or adviseable it may be to others, yet it is not so to them, who have so just an hin­drance to excuse or discourage them from being present at it.

To give this Duty as fast hold as I can therefore on the Consciences of all those, who shall peruse this Treatise; having al­ready set forth the indispensable Obligati­ons we have to it, I shall now proceed to remove those Hindrances, and to take off those Pleas, which are offer'd to excuse, and keep men back from complying with it. And as for them, the most weighty and considerable, which I have been able to learn, or have had opportunity to meet with, are such as follow.

Men are most ordinarily hindred from the Sacrament, notwithstanding it is so much both their Duty and their Interest to frequent it, by one, or other of these things.

1st, Because they think themselves un­worthy of it, and unfit to receive it.

2ly, Because of the great danger of Vn­worthy Communicating, Damnation being said to be eaten in it, which seems to make abstaining the safer side.

[Page 200]3ly, Because therein they are to promise concerning every Sin they find themselves guilty of, that they will no more commit it; and this Promise they dare not make, be­cause they fear they shall not keep it.

4ly, Because of the great difficulty they apprehend to be in worthy receiving, and their want of time and leisure to prepare for it.

5ly, Because they see others, or have found themselves, to be no whit bettered or improved by it; so that 'tis not worth their [...] to fi [...] themselves for it.

6ly, Because they have not that Charity for all the World, which is to be professed in it.

7ly, Because, though they be with others, y [...]t [...] are not in Charity with them; and therefore they fear they want that Peace which is required to it.

8ly, Because it is a Presumption in us to approach it, and therefore an humble man should abstain from it.

9ly, Because many Good People are sel­dom [...] or never seen at it, and therefore they may be Good too, and have Good Company, if they keep away from it.

10ly, Because others that are unworthy of it, are admitted to joyn in it.

11ly, and Lastly, Because though they ought, and would come to the Sacrament; yet they would not Kneel, which is the [Page 201] Posture appointed by the Church wherein they are to receive it.

These are such things, as do most ordi­narily hinder Good People from partak­ing in this Ordinance; but indeed they ought in no case to be their hindrance from doing their Saviour, and their own Souls this Service, as will more fully ap­pear from treating of all the Particulars.

1st, One Thing, that is the most ge­neral hindrance of all, and keeps back ve­ry many from the Sacrament, who other­wise are desirous enough to partake in it; is their thinking themselves unworthy of it, and unfit to receive it.

Now to silence this Plea, and to satis­fie the minds of those that make it, so as there may be no more cause for it; I shall observe,

1st, Their great Partiality in it; be­cause they are not so Scrupul [...]s about neg­lecting, as about unworthy receiving it, though there be the same cause to scruple it.

2ly, That every Penitent, who is resolv'd to leave his Sins, and has begun the change, is really worthy; so that the thoughts of un­worthiness [...] not to put him by it.

3ly, [...] Imp [...]nitence, the only thing which unfits them for it, is no excuse at [...] for their [...].

4ly, That Impenitent men, who are un­worthy [Page 202] of it, if they understand the danger and misery of their State, can by no means continue in it, but must forthwith Repent and amend, and then this hindrance is gone, and they may worthily approach to it.

1st, I say, They shew great Partiality in this Plea, because they are not so Scrupulous about Neglecting, as about the unworthy Re­ceiving it, though there be the same cause to scruple it. They shew all their niceness in doing what God bids them, but none in letting of it alone; they are afraid of of­fending in coming to the Sacrament, but have no Fear of giving Offence in staying away from it: as if God had only for­bid them to receive unworthily, but had no where forbid them to absent them­selves, and not receive at all.

But this, as I have already shewn, is a very wrong Judgment. For God doth as straitly injoyn a Worthy, as he forbids an Vnworthy Communicating. He has given us his Command for it, and that too with such Notes and Circumstances above-mentioned, as shew he lays a par­ticular weight upon it, and highly ex­pects to be obeyed in it. So that if we would not bring Guilt upon our selves by sinning against him, we must make Con­science of not coming to the Sacrament, as well as of irreverent Treating and Propha­nation of it when we come.

[Page 203]This then is very Partial and Vnfair dealing, to be scrupulous only about the manner of Performing this Duty, but to have no scruple at all about the Omission of it: as if, when God Commands us to do a thing, not to do it at all, were not as much a Fault as to do it wrong; and it were not equally transgressed when we Neglect, as when we Prophane it. And if all those, who are full of Fear about Vnworthy Receiving, would be but as Fear­ful of Sinful abstaining; this equal Fear on both sides would make them diligent in seeking satisfaction, and in carrying on the Work of Preparation: so that they might neither offend by coming, nor by staying away, but worthily approach the Lords Table, and be heartily wel­come to it when they do.

2. Every Penitent, who is Resolv'd to leave his Sins, and has begun the Change, is really worthy; so that the thoughts of un­worthiness ought not to put him by it.

He is a true Penitent, who considers of all Gods Laws, and is resolved to keep them; and of all his own Sins, and is resolved to leave them: and so, changing his former evil Course and Practice, becomes a New Man. And whosoever doth this, he is a fit Person, and worthy to come to the Holy Communion. For all the particu­lars [Page 204] of worthy Receiving, are Instances of Duty, as has been observ'd, and parts of a Good Man; so that every man, who turns Penitent and becomes Good, will be endowed with all of them. Nay, if any man were to learn them, there would be no difficulty in any thing else, if Re­pentance would go down with him: So that any Person who Repents, may do every thing else which God Requires of him. The great things expected of us at this Feast, as has been said, are these; namely, That we give thanks for Christs Death, and resign our selves up to his Service, and Repent of all our Sins, and be in Love and Charity with all Persons, and have Faith in Christ and his Merits: And all these are easie, and create no great diffi­culty to a Penitent Person. For is it not an easie thing for him to thank Christ, who verily believes he dyed for him? And cannot he readily resign himself up to his use, who has already given him­self up to an Holy Life, which is all the use that he would make of him? And is not he in Peace and Charity with all men, who has Repented of all his Sins, and then surely of Malice and Vnpeaceableness a­mong them? And doth not he believe in Christ, i. e. doth not he believe those things which his Saviour Christ has declared to [Page 205] him, viz. That he dyed for us to purchase Terms of Grace; and that now, for his sake, God will forgive us any Sins, when we Repent of them, and help us by his Spi­rit to any Graces when we indeavour after them, and give us Eternal Life in Hea­ven when we intirely obey him, but that otherwise, than upon these Terms, he will not give us any of them; which are those Declarations he makes to us in the Scri­ptures, and wherein he expects to be trust­ed and believed by us: doth not every Pe­nitent man, I say, believe all this, who is at the pains to live according to it, and Repents that he may be pardoned, and in­deavours that he may be assisted, and obeys that he may be graciously rewarded for it? All this Faith, which is required to the Communion, is necessary to Repentance, and is sh [...]wn in it; for we should not leave Intemperance, Fraud, Malice, or any other sin that is strongly recommended to us, unless we believed God had forbid it, and would now for Christs sake freely forgive, and eternally Reward those who Repent of it. And all this Thankfulness, and Resig­nation, and Peace, and Charity towards all men, which are likewise required, are not only easie after it, but are parts of it: for if we are unthankful for Christs Benefits, or unresigned to his use, or out [Page 206] of Charity with any Persons, we have not yet Repented of all our sins, but, as to these at least, are still Impenitent. So that where once Repentance of all our sins is, there is or may be in us, every thing else, which God requires at this Feast to fit us worthily to partake of it.

Thus is every true Penitent sit to eat at the Table of his Lord, and to be a wor­thy Communicant. And therefore when any Persons do from their Hearts Repent them of all their sins, and are fully pur­posed to lead new Lives thence-for­wards; let them not be afraid to come to the Sacrament, for they are tru­ly such as God accounts worthy of it. If they have not shaken hands with their sins, indeed, but live still in them, and are ready to repeat them on the next oc­casion; they will come unworthily whilst they are in that state, and not be made the better, but the worse for it. But if they have broke loose from them, and have been acted by Gods Fear, and led new Lives for some time; and are still putting out more indeavours, and praying for more Grace to do this yet more per­fectly: they are the Persons whom God calls to this Feast, and may justly ex­pect to receive an hearty welcome at it.

[Page 207]Nay, if their Return to God has been so late, as that they have not yet had time sufficient for well-doing, but only for holy purposing that they will do well as of­ten as they shall have occasion: yet, if out of a serious Conviction of the detesta­bleness of every sinful Course, they are re­solv'd to leave it; and after a due Conside­ration of every part of their Duty, they are fully, and without all reserve resolved to practise it; I doubt not, but that this will and purpose, before the time and oppor­tunities for Practice come, will render them welcome Guests, and worthy to Communicate. For what [...]ver Rigors af­terwards came in, not from the Nature of the Sacrament it self, or the Necessity of the thing, but only through the Discretiona­ry Power of the Church, and the Rules of Discipline, thus I think 'tis plain it did in the Apostles times. For the three thousand Souls, whom St. Peter Converted at one Sermon, did not stay till they had oppor­tunities of performing; but were admit­ted that very day, upon their inward change and resolution, to the Apostles Fel­lowship, and therein to the Holy Sacra­ment, which was a part of it. They that gladly received his Word, says St. Luke, were Baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand Souls. [Page 208] And all these continued stedfastly in the A­postles Doctrine and Fellowship, and in break­ing of Bread, and in Prayers, Act. 2.41, 42. And when the Apostles went about to Convert the World, they admitted men presently to Baptism and the Christi­an Worship, upon their Profession of Faith in Christ and b [...]ing Penitent, without stay­ing to see them practise what they had promised, as appears in the Converts now mentioned, and the sto­ry of the Act. 8.36, 37, 38. Eunuch: and when they were admit­ted to the Christian Worship, they were admitted to the Communion too, because in the Apostles Days, as I have Part 1. Chap. 3. shewn, that was an ordinary part of it, and always went along with it.

If any Persons then have already left their sins, and do not willingly allow them­selves in any of them; if th [...]y have been striving long against them, and are daily gaining ground, and making a more per­fect conquest of them: Nay, if they, who, since their return to God, have not had time to perform all this, are yet fully and deliberately purposed, and without all Reserve resolv'd in themselves so to do; they are the Persons whom God invites [Page 209] to this Feast, they are worthy to come to it, and will be sure to meet with a kind and hearty entertainment. God and they are fully agreed in their own Thoughts, and the Terms of Reconciliation betwixt them are consented to on both sides: for he proclaims Mercy upon Repentance, and they thankfully accept it; he offers to return into Favour with every Sinner that will amend his Faults, and they are glad of the joyful News, and fully re­solve to do it. And since they are both agreed upon the thing, what should hin­der them from coming to the Sacrament, which he has appointed for this very end, that therein they may give their express consent to this Agreement, and mutually make this Declaration.

Thus is every man, who has left his sins, and begun to lead a New Life; or, who is fully purposed in his own mind, and absolutely intends so to do; a wel­come Guest at this Feast, and worthy to Communicate: so that no apprehensions of unworthiness ought to put him by it.

And as for those who neither have left all their sins, nor are determined in their own hearts, and wholly bent upon it; they are plainly Impenitent, and thereupon most unworthy to Communicate. But then,

3ly, That Impenitence, which unfits them [Page 210] for it, is no excuse at all for the neglect of it.

Impenitence will excuse a man in no act, but is it self a very great aggravation of it. It is no extenuating Plea, but a Damning Fault; so that no man must e­ver hope to escape the easier after he has omitted any Duty, by giving it as the Reason for it. When God calls us to the Sacrament, to promise him that we will amend our Faults, and lead new Lives thenceforward; if we return An­swer, that we come not because we are Impenitent, that is as much as to say, we come not as he bids because we will not, which is certainly the worst plea that e­ver was made for any offence, and can ne­ver render his Case better, but much worse that uses it.

As for those then, who keep away be­cause they are Impenitent; they are left without all Plea, and have no excuse at all to make for their not coming to the Holy Sacrament. The only thing that can stand them in stead, either as to it or as to any thing else, is their Repen­tance and Amendment; which they will not delay, if they consider in how great need they stand of it. For, as I said,

4ly, Impenitent men, who are unworthy of it, if they understand the danger and mi­sery [Page 211] of their state, can by no means continue in it, but must forthwith Repent and Amend, and then this hindrance is gone, and they may worthily approach to it.

If they understand the danger and misery of their state, I say, they cannot continue in it. For so long as they remain Impeni­tent in many, or in any one known sin, they are not only unfit to receive the Sacra­ment, as I have shewn, but also to say their Prayers, to give Thanks, to make Vows, or to have any thing to do with God in any other part of Religious Wor­ship and Service. They are shut out from all benefits of Religion, they have no Salvation by Christ, nor any hopes of Heaven: if they happen to dye suddenly whilst they are in this state, or are call'd away before the work of Reformation is finished, (as 'tis greatly to be feared they may, if they put it off for the present, and as in all likelihood they will if they de­lay it till their Death-Bed, at which time 'tis a very rare thing for any man to go through with it) they will go to Hell, there to be tormented with the insup­portable Anguish of a wounded Conscience, and unsatisfied Appetites, and a Raging Fire, and all the Terrors and Disconsolati­on of Darkness, and the utmost malice of Devils and Damn'd Spirits, and the high­est [Page 212] Shame and Confusion of Face; all which they must undergo without any Eye to Pi­ty, or Friend to Comfort them, or any one to refresh them, or any Abatement, or In­termission, for evermore: And this is a state of such Horrour and Astonishment, as no man, that looks upon it, can abide in: it is a condition of such extream dan­ger, as no one in his Wits can willingly indure. So that if any of those, who are Impenitent, will but be at the pains to lay to heart, and consider of the sadness of their state; they can by no means per­sist in it, but will run with haste to Re­pent, and instantly set about the amend­ment of their ways, that so they may be delivered from it.

And as soon as ever they do so, this hindrance is gone, and they are worthy to come to the Holy Communion. For that which fits us for it, is not an high Pitch and Perfection in saving Virtues, or Ecstatick Degrees and Transports in De­votion, as I have shewn; but such true Repentance and change of Life, either in Deed, or at least in Will and Purpose, as makes us acceptable and honest Christians; so that whatever we were before, whilst we continued impenitently wicked, we are meet Partakers of this Holy Feast, now we have Repented, and are fully re­solv'd [Page 213] to become Obedient, and need not scrupulously draw back, but come to it gladly when we are call'd, and expect a Friendly welcome when we do.

And thus I have consider'd this great, and most common plea, whereby so ma­ny are kept back from the Holy Sacra­ment, viz. their thinking themselves un­worthy of it, and unfit to receive it; and shewn plainly that no ill man can be excused, and that no good man ought to be hindred by it. And the Result of it is this. If any Person tells me he cannot come to this Feast, because he is unwor­thy to join in it: I must tell him again, That he must not only be afraid of unworthy coming to it, but also of unworthy abstaining from it; and that unless he is impenitent, and still unresolv'd to leave all his Sins, he is worthy of it; and that if such Impenitence is the cause of his not coming, it is no excuse for it; and that he must consider of the dan­ger and misery of that state, and so Repent and get out of it; and when once that is done he will be worthy, since every Peni­tent is welcome to it. If he is truly Peni­tent, he is worthy; and if he has not Re­pented yet, he must instantly Repent that he may be worthy; and then let him not hold off from this Heavenly Banquet, but chearfully approach to it when he is invited.

[Page 214]2ly, Others, who cannot positively say they are unworthy of it, are yet kept back from the Holy Sacrament, because of the great danger of unworthy Communi­cating, Damnation being said to be eaten in it, which seems to make abstaining from it the safer side. He that eats and drinks un­worthily, says St. Paul, eats and drinks Damnation to himself, 1 Cor. 11.29.

Now in Answer to this, I shall observe, that by Damnation is meant,

1. A Damning sin, which is deadly to a­ny man till he Repent of it; and such are both unworthy eating, and sinful abstaining, so that they are equal as to that Point.

2. Temporal Death and Punishments, which were inflicted on the Corinthians for their Intemperance at this Feast, and other Disorders which were peculiar to those times, and are not usual now in ours; so that the Fear of them need not discourage us from it.

1st, I say, By eating his own Damnation, the Apostle means not that he shall inevi­tably be damn'd for it; but only that he com­mits a Damning Sin, which will prove dead­ly to him unless he Repent of it: and this is true, not only of unworthy eating, but also of sinful abstaining, so that they are equal as to that Point.

He means not, I say, that he shall inevi­tably [Page 215] be Damn'd for it. And this is plain, because for Christs sake, God has pro­mised to forgive us all our sins upon Repen­tance, and therefore this of unworthy re­ceiving among the rest. Nay, as for this their unworthy eating, the Apostle tells the Corinthians in that very place, that when they are Judg'd or Condemned for it, it is not to consign them to, but to deliver them from Eternal Torment. When we are Judg'd, says he, or Condemn'd for this Fault, i. e. to be sick and weak, which God inflicted because of it; we are not in Anger Punish'd, but in Mercy Chastned of the Lord by present Sufferings, that we should not at the last day be Condemn'd with the World to Eternal. 1 Cor. 11.30, 31.

But only that he com­mits a So St. Chry­sost. understands it. Vid. Chrys. in v. 32.34. Damning Sin, which will prove deadly to him, unless he Repent of it. He that eats this Bread, and drinks this Cup unworthily, says he, shall be guilty of the Body and Blood of the Lord. i. e. Unless his Repentance, that Gospel Remedy for all sin, prevents it, he shall be liable to be punish'd, not on­ly for an abuse in Meat and Drink, as if it were only Common Food; but for vio­lating and prophaning the Body and Blood of Christ, which he should have discern'd in it. 1 Cor. 11.27, 29.

[Page 216]And this is true, not only of unworthy eating, but also of sinful abstaining from it. For that our Lord has expresly for­bidden, as I have shewn, and that too in such sort as shews he lays a great weight upon it; so that we most highly offend him in it, and cannot expect to regain his Favour till we Repent and Amend it; and therefore they are both equal as to that Point. We shall be Condemned, without Amendment, for unworthy eating, and so we shall too for sinful abstaining; and therefore if the Fear of Damnation be of Force with us, it must keep us off from both of them, and neither suffer us to neglect this Feast, nor to prophane it, but ingage us to come to it worthily, i. e. with Penitent Hearts, whensoever we are call'd thereto.

2ly, By Damnation the Apostle means Temporal Death and Punishments, which God did then inflict on unworthy Communi­cants. And this was not for all unwor­thiness, but particularly for their Intem­perance at this Feast, and other Disorders which were peculiar to th [...]se Times, and are not usual now in ours: so that the Fear of them need not discourage us from it.

By Damnation, I say, he means Tem­poral Death and Punishments, which God did then inflict on unworthy Communicants. This [Page 217] he plainly intimates, when he sets down weakness, and sickness, and death, as the Penalties, whereto they were Condemn'd for their unworthy usage. He that eats and drinks unworthily, says he, eats and drinks Damnation to himself, whereof you have many sad Examples now in Corinth, for for this very Cause of unworthy eat­ting, many now are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep, 1 Cor. 11.29, 30.

And this God inflicted, not for all un­worthiness, but particularly for some high and heinous Disorders, such as their open Schisms, and gross Intemperance crept in by occasion of their Love-Feasts, which Prophanations were peculiar to those times, and are not now usual, or any where to be seen in ours.

They came to the Sacrament in open Schisms, not eating all together when they met in the same house, but Scanda­lously dividing into f [...]ctious Clans, and se­parate Tables: When ye come together in the Church, and meet all in one place, says the Apostle, I hear there be [...]. Schisms or Divisions a­mong you, or that you bandy in Parties, and do not meet all as one Body, 1 Cor. 11.18, 20.

They came to it also in a most scanda­lous [Page 218] Excess and gross Intemperance, which Vice, though so confessedly loathsome in all other places, had yet, by occasion of their Love-Feasts, crept into this most solemn part of the Christian Worship and Service. St. Jude seems to charge the Gnosticks, those Sensual and Luxurious Persons, with some such Fault. They are spots, says he, in your Feasts of Cha­rity, when they Feast with you, feeding them­selves without Fear, i. e. so freely, as shews they have no Fear of God, or of the Solemnity and Religion of the Feast, Jude 12. And so doth St. Peter more plainly in his Description of the same men, 2 Pet. 2. They count it pleasure to riot in the day time, says he, Spots they are and Blemishes, sporting them­selves, or being [...]. Luxuri­ous with their own [...]. Decei­vings, as we read it; but in some Manuscripts of greatest Authority, particularly the Alexandrian, with which agrees the Translation of the It reads De­liciis affluentes, n [...]t Fraudibus. Vulgar Latin, it is being Luxurious in their [...]. Feasts of Charity when they Feast with you, v. 13. And with a like excess Socrates charges the Egyptians a good [Page 219] while afterwards. For [...]. Sec. Hist. Eccles. l. 5. c. 22. p. Ed. Val. 287. they, says he, Commu­nicate at Even after they are full fed, and have glutted themselves at their Love-Feast with all the Varieties of a choice Ban­quet. And because the Love-Feasts minister'd occasion for such excess, and made way for several abuses; they came in time to be wholly laid aside in Communions: and to prevent that Intemperance which they had introdu­ced, it was order'd generally that men should receive Fasting, contrary to what our Lord did at first, which was ratified by a Ut Sacra­menta Altaris nonnisi à jejunis hominibus cele­brentur, excep­to uno Die anni­versario, quo coe­na Domini cele­bratur. Concil. Carth. 3. Can. 29. apud Bin. Vol. prim. Concil. p. 711. Decree in the Third Coun­cil of Carthage held near 400 years after the Birth of our Saviour Christ.

Now this Intempe­rance, which had crept into the Love-Feasts, and so mixt with the Holy Sacrament which always went along with them, was another most shameful offence, which St. Paul reproved in the Corinthian Com­munions. They did not only change this [Page 220] Ordinance of Vnion into a Factious meeting, by falling into separate Gangs and Par­ties when they came to it: but also turn­ed this Pure and Holy Treat into a drun­ken Club, and a Riotous entertainment. In your eating, says he, every one as he comes sooner, takes before other his own Supper, and one, being poor, is hungry, through the smallness of his Provisions, and ano­ther, being Rich, is Drunken through the excess of his, 1 Cor. 11.21. And upon this Schismatical and intemperate eating, he lays the danger of that Judgment or Condemnation, which God was wont in those days to inflict on them. If any man pretend hunger, says he, for this Greedi­ness and Intemperance, let him eat at home, that so ye come not together at the Lords Supper, as now ye do, to Condem­nation ▪ v. 34.

Now these scandalous Irregularities, but especially this Intemperance at the Lords Table, for which God was so [...] up­on the Corinthians, is no Crime in the Communicants of our Days, when among all the Unworthy Receivers, none are so by reason of excess; but was peculiar to theirs, when with the Sacrament they al­ways joyn'd their Love-Feasts, that were lyable to be ab [...]sed to Gluttony and Drun­kenness. And as the Fault, so also the [Page 221] Punishment took place only among them, but is not usual now with us, who do not see our unworthy Communicants smitten by the hand of God, and struck down by Miracle into Death or Diseases. And therefore the apprehension of this Judg­ment need not at all discourage us from the Holy Sacrament; since, from our observation of the World, we have no reason to expect, that, if indeed we come unworthily, we shall fall under it.

As for this Damnation then, which the Apostl. charges on [...]rthy eating, it ei­ther signifies a [...] S [...]n, and that is true of willful abstai [...]g as well as of un­worthy receiving; or a Temporal Punishment miraculously inflicted for their Drunken­ness and Intemperance, wherewith at that time they polluted and prophaned it, which was a thing peculiar to those days, and is not now derived down to ours, so that we have no just cause to be deterred by it.

Thus it is, if really we should come unworthily to the Sacrament, we only commit a Damning sin, as we should do by willful abstaining, which will be forgiven us afterwards upon the same Terms whereon God forgives us all other sins, i. e. our Repenting of it, and amend­ing [Page 222] it. But if we are truly Penitent, and have broke off all our evil ways, in­tending fully to lead new Lives thence­forwards; then we may assure our selves that we are worthy and welcome Guests, and are not concerned in this Damnation threatned to unworthy Communicants at all.

CHAP. II. Of three other Hindrances from Receiving.

The Contents.

A Third Hindrance is, because therein they are to promise concerning every sin, that they will no more commit it; which Pro­mise some dare not make, because they fear they shall not keep it. If this be suf­ficient to hinder any man from the Com­munion, it ought also to hinder him from Prayers, and being Baptized a Christian. But it must not hinder men from any of them. 1. Let them Promise this Amend­ment, and keep it, and then the Doubt is answered. They ought to make it. And by Gods Grace they may perform it, if they have a mind to it. 2. If after some time they happen to break it in any Instance, they have the Benefit of Repentance afterwards. A Fourth Hindrance is the great difficulty supposed to be in it, and want of time and leisure to prepare for it. This lies not more [Page 224] against the Communion, than against an Holy Life and all Religion. But it must not put us by from any of them. For, 1. If it required all that time and pains which is supposed, that would be no excuse for any of us to neglect it. To true Peni­tents, the time and pains is not so great as is imagined. It requires more of ill men, but less of Good, who may prepare for it in a less time, yea, if used to Self-examinations, upon a few minutes warn­ing. 3. The poorest and most imployed have time sufficient if they would use it to that end: and where they have fewer helps, and less time, the less preparation is ac­cepted of them. A Fifth Hindrance is, because they see others, or have found themselves to be no better by it; so that 'tis not worth their while to fit themselves for it. If this have any Force, it is not to be restrained to the Sacrament, but holds stronger against Prayers, and other parts of Worship. But it ought not to hin­der any Persons. For, 1. Where it is true there is no excuse from it. 2. In all good mens case 'tis false, for they are really better by it; many by improving in their goodness, all by continuing in it, for which it is richly worth their pains to come to it. 3. Where they are not bettered at all, or not so much as might be expected; that [Page 225] is purely through their own Fault, in not using the means of improving by it: so let them amend that, and this Hindrance is removed.

A Third thing that keeps back several from the Sacrament, though both in Duty to their Saviour, and in tender­ness to their own Souls, they are most straitly bound to frequent it, is be­cause therein they are to promise concerning every sin they find themselves guilty of, that they will no more commit it; and this Pro­mise they dare not make, because they fear they shall not keep it.

Now as for these Persons, I would de­sire them to consider, that if this be a sufficient hindrance to keep them from this Ordinance, it is equally so to keep them from their Prayers, nay, from their very Baptism, and being inroll'd Chri­stians. For God will not hear their Prayers for the Pardon of any Sin till they Repent of it, and resolve within them­selves and make him Faithful promises that they will never more commit it. Nor did he admit them to Baptism, to be list­ed Members of his Church, till they had Renounced the Devil and all his works, with all the sinful Lusts of the Flesh, and pro­mised to keep his Holy Will and Commande­ments, [Page 226] and walk in the same all the days of of their Lives. If we stick at these Pro­mises then, we must scruple saying our Prayers, and boggle at all Religion, and, if we were yet unbaptized, upon this account refuse our Baptism, since therein we did, and ought to make as large and express promises of leaving all our sins, as we can, or are required to make in the Holy Communion.

But to those, who are afraid of the Ho­ly Sacrament upon this account, I have these two things to add.

1. Promise this Amendment, and keep it, and then the Doubt is answer'd.

2. Though after some time they should forget themselves, and break it in some in­stance, yet still have they the benefit of Re­pentance afterwards.

1st, I would advise them to promise this amendment, and keep it, and then the Doubt is answered. When the Objection against promising, is only the danger of performing, when they both can and ought to perform: it is an objection that lies only against themselves, in a suspicion that they will be wanting to their own bounden Duty and Service; and that is better removed by their care faithfully to discharge it, than by any thing that I can say to it. They ought to perform it, [Page 227] and if they will they may do it; and there­fore let them be careful to do that, and this difficulty is ended.

They ought, I say, to perform this A­mendment which they promise to Almighty God, and leave every sin which former­ly they have committed. God will not forgive us any Fault, whilst we persist Impenitent, and continue to repeat it; but requires first, on our part, that we forsake and amend it. Sin no more, says our Saviour to the Woman taken in Adultery, and then will not I condemn thee, Joh. 8.4.11. And let the Wicked man forsake his ways, says God by Isaiah, and return unto the Lord, and then he will have mercy upon him, and a­bundantly pardon. Is. 5.7. It is no indif­ferent matter that is left to our own choice, whether we will leave our sins, or no; but the thing must of necessity be done, if ever we hope to appease God, or go to Heaven: so that we must not be less forward to promise, for that is our Duty, but more careful to perform.

And as they ought to perform this a­mendment, which they promise to Al­mighty God; so by his Grace they may perform it, if they will and have a mind to it. When at this Feast they say they will never commit this, or that sin any more, as God has required; they say not that [Page 228] they will never be surprized into it, but that they will never act it willfully, i. e. when they see and are aware of it; or, if at any time they do, that they will not persist in it, but amend it, Repentance al­ways going along from the beginning to the end of the Gospel Covenant. And this by Gods help they all may do, if they make it their serious business, and lay out their utmost care and pains upon it. For when a mans Conscience tells him that the thing is sinful which he is about to act, or at least he could readily see it, if he would direct his Eye to it: he need not go on unless he will, but, if he please, may in­stantly turn away from it. This, I say, he may do; for if he will not be wanting to himself, God will not be wanting to him in it, but inable him effectually to abstain from it when he duly indeavours it. If once we are careful to work out our own Salvation ▪ St. Paul assures us that he will work in us both to will, and to do, Phil. 2.12, 13. To him that hath, i. e. im­ploys what he hath, our Saviour promi­ses that more shall still be given, Mat. 25.29: and elsewhere again, God will give the Ho­ly Spirit to those that ask him. Luc. 11.13.

And since they may p [...]rform this Am [...]nd­ment if they will, and ou [...]ht to perform it if ever they hope to be accepted; let them [Page 229] but be careful so to do, and then this hin­drance will give them no more trouble, but be quite removed. They will have no cause to be slow to promise, what they will be thus honestly careful to perform.

2. Though afterwards they should forget themselves, and break this promise in some instance; yet is not their case desperate there­upon, but they have still the benefit of Repen­tance afterwards.

Indeed, if they break it as soon as ever they have made it, and run constant changes in sinning and repenting, perform­ing this time, and transgressing it the next: that Repentance will be of no avail with God, because it rests only in fair Words and Promises, or at best in some faint attempts, without any real Reforma­tion and Amendment. Nay, if they fall a Second time into some sins, which lay waste the Conscience, such as Murder, Adul­tery, willful Perjury, and the like, which few good men can ever incur at first, and fewer can afterwards Repeat, when once they have smarted for it: it may still give cause why the sufficiency of their Re­pentance should be questioned. But if in sins which are more ordinarily incurred, as Discontent, Pride, Revenge, Backbiting, Passion, &c. which are generally meant by those who are kept back by this Impe­diment: [Page 230] If after they have promised to leave these sins, I say, they go on for some due time to make good their word, and avoid the fault in several opportuni­ties that lead them to it, but at last hap­pen to forget themselves, and break it in some Instance: yet doth not that null their former Repentance, or make their Case desperate thereupon; but they have still the benefit of Repentance afterwards, and by amending what they have done amiss, may be perfectly r [...]stored and made whole again. For God will par­don us upon our Repentance, not only Once, or a Second time, but as often as there is occasion. So that if after we have promised in the Sacrament, that we will never more be guilty of any particu­lar sin, we yield to it at length, and are a-new overcome: let us but Repent of that Breach, and fully resolve against it a second time, and then we are made whole as we were in our former station.

As for this Hindrance then, whereby some are kept back from the Sacra­ment, viz. Their promising therein con­cerning every Fault that they will no more com­mit it, which promise they d [...]e not make, because they are afraid they shall not keep it: it need not stick with them, nor ought to hinder any man that pretends to Re­ligion. [Page 231] For let them promise this Amend­ment, and keep it, and then the Doubt is answered. Or, if after they have kept it for some time, they happen to fail up­on some occasion; let them Repent of that Breach, and make new Promises and Reso­lutions, and then they are whole again. And all this has nothing in it that can be avoided, or ought to be feared, but is all necessary and desirable to be done: for it is their Duty thus to promise, and their Du­ty to perform, and their great Priviledge, that, if they fail in any instance after­wards, upon repeating their Repentance they shall receive a Pardon. It is what every man must do, not only to be a worthy Communicant, but to be a Christian. For the same things are promised in Prayer, and in Holy Baptism: so that if any man draw back from them, and sticks to promise them; he must not pray to God, nor pretend to Religion, nor, were he to chuse again, be baptized into the Chri­stian Profession.

4. A Fourth thing which keeps back several from the Sacrament, Is the great difficulty they apprehend to be in a worthy Re­ceiving of it, and their want of time and leisure to prepare for it. They fancy it is a very hard thing for any man worthi­ly to Communicate; and since 'tis hard, [Page 232] in must needs require much time and ap­plication to prepare themselves for it: and as for their parts, they have little leisure from their business, and are not made to master Difficulties; so that they must be content, and hope they shall be excused, if they abstain from it.

This objection many are ready to make against coming to the Communion. But every Christian will be much ashamed of it, and slow to urge it a second time, when once he considers, that it lies not more against it, than against an H [...]ly Life, and all Religion. For all the particulars of worthy Communicating, as I have shewn, are equally parts of in­dispensable Duty, and a good man. God has required no more Virtues in us at the time of Receiving, than he requires at all other times to render us acceptable Christi­ans, to fit us to say our Prayers, or to give us any hopes of Eternal Happiness. So that if any man says the work of the Sa­crament is over-hard, and therefore he is not willing, or wants time to fit himself for Receiving: he may as well say he is not willing, or wants time to be a Christian, or to go to Heaven, and upon that Plea may with equal Reason bid adieu to all Religion.

But to answer this more particularly, I must observe to them,

[Page 233]1. That if it did really require all this time and pains to prepare for it, yet would that be no sufficient Reason or Excuse for any of us to Neglect it.

2. That to all true Penitents it is not so difficult, nor requires so much time as is imagined; so that they have not so much as this Discouragement to make them backward in it.

3. That all, even the poorest and most em­ployed, have time sufficient, if they will use it to that end; and that of those, who have less lei­sure and abilities, so as that they cannot fit themselves in great Degrees, God expects the less preparation, and accepts it at their hands.

1. I say, If it did really require all this time and pains to prepare for it which is sup­posed, yet would that be no sufficient Reason or Excuse for any of us to negl [...]ct it. For when God bids us do a thing, can any man think it a good excuse to say, I would if it were not troublesome, or long a doing? Must we perform those things only at his Command, which are easie, and soon over; but neglect all others, which imploy more care and pains, and require to be attended longer? How we may like such Masters, I will not say, but I am sure God will entertain no such Ser­vants as will pick and chuse with his Com­mands, and obey them no further than [Page 234] their own ease and occasions will suffer them. No, he expects we should do him Service, though it be with difficulty and loss to our own selves. And this in all Reason he may very well require of us, because we our selves, who can plead no such Deserts, nor make any such Re­compences as he propose, do all look for it from our Servants, in any business they are to do for us. For if we set them to any work, we shall think it a very odd Answer, if they tell us they would do it for us, but that they are unwilling to be at so much pains, or to spare so much time as it requires.

Although a worthy Communicating then would require much time and pains to prepare for it, yet would not that be a just excuse for any Person to Neglect it. For since God Commands it, nay, Commands it urgently, and lays a great weight upon it; we are bound in all Duty to perform it, though it cost us both time and pains so to do.

But,

2. To all true Penitents it is not so diffi­cult, nor requires so much time as is imagined; so that they have not so much as this Discou­ragement to make them backward in it.

The Difficulty of worthy Receiving lies not in giving Christ Thanks, or believing [Page 234] the Scripture and all its Promises, as I have shewn; but only in Repenting of all our Sins. And this, indeed, has more dif­ficulty in it, and requires more time to ill men, who are held Captives by them; but not very much to good, who are already set free, and have broke off from them.

1. I say, Repentance of all their Sins, and amendment of their Lives, has more difficul­ty in it, and requires more time to ill men. For they have many Lusts to pare off which are very dear to them, and many things to set straight, which cannot all be done upon the sudden. When they come to enter upon a good Life, who as yet are strangers to it; they must consider particularly of all Gods Laws which are the Rule of it, and examine their own Hearts at every one, to see against which of them they have offended, and there make their particular purposes, and full resolutions of Amendment. They must spend time and pains upon this examination, to bring them to a Penitent purpose, and a deliberate well-weighed Resolution: and when that is done, it will cost them more time and pains still in frequent Tryals, as in the course of Life and Business they meet with oppor­tunities to practise and perform what they have resolv'd upon. For, when upon a strict Review of their whole Lives [Page 236] they find they have several sins to amend, they must not think, after they have re­solved against them, to get perfectly quit of them on the sudden. But they must withstand the Temptations to them once and again, and pass through frequent Tryals, and exercise themselves in many Conflicts, before they will have got the Conquest, and be indeed reformed from them.

Thus will it require both much time and pains for an ill man to become good, and not only to Resolve that he will amend all his ways, but to put in practice and perf [...]m it too.

'Tis true, indeed, I cannot say the actual amendment of every Fault, and the performance as well as purpose of obeying in every Commandment, is necessary to a worthy Communicant. For a full Resolu­tion of amendment, without staying for time and opportunities to fulfill it, is sufficient to fit us for this Feast; as I have observ'd it did in the Apostles Days, when, upon their first Conversion and becoming Penitent, before they had time to perform what they had promised, men were admitted to the Sacrament, as to o­ther parts of Worship. So that the Re­pentance required of us to a worthy Com­munion, will not take up all that time, [Page 237] which is necessary to amend a whole Life, and to practise all the Duties of a Good man.

But although it will not call for all that time which is necessary to a New Life and Practice; y [...]t will it require all that, which is necessary to beget and actuate a New Heart and Purpose: and that will be much more in [...]ll, than it will be in good men. For wh [...]n ill men examine themselves, to find out all their Sins, that they may resolve agai [...]st them: they have many more sins to Repent of, and imploy their minds upon; and are more Strangers to their own Hearts and Lives, having never observed or looked into them, and so need the greater La­bour of Recollection; and more hardness of Heart and coldness of Spirit, so that they do not so easily renounce them, nor can so readily and fully Resolve against them, when th [...]y have discovered them, as good men can.

A [...] for this Repentance of all their sins then, which consists not in an actual amendment of them, but in full Purposes and Resol [...]tions never more to commit them, which is sufficient to a worthy Communion: it has more difficulty in it, and requires more time than ordinary to ill men who are held Captives by them.

[Page 238]But,

2. It doth not require very much to good, who are set free, and have broke off from them.

The great thing which they have to do, is to examine what are their Faults, and to find out their own miscarriages: for if once they discover them, they are so ha­bitually set to amend every thing that is amiss, that they will quickly resolve a­gainst them. And this discovery they will make much easier, and sooner, than ill men can. For their Faults being few­er, are sooner run over; and their Con­sciences being tender, and used to observe them, they do better remember them, and are the readier, when they are ask­ed, to give in an Information of them, than the others are. Indeed, if they do not accustome themselves to Self-examina­tions, they will find the more to do, and need a longer time, when they come to them: But if they are much vers'd in them, especially if they take an account of the Day past every Evening; having daily discovered and acknowledged all their Faults, they will bear them still in mind, and have an habitual sense of them; and so be able at any time, to tell what acts they are to promise and resolve up­on, at a few minutes warning; as we [Page 239] may well suppose they did in the first times, when they Communicated every day, and, under the pressing wants and distractions they conflicted with, could not set apart whole hours for preparation.

Thus is the work of Preparation for the Communion, not so difficult to true Penitents, nor requiring so much time as some have imagined. It may cost them some time whilst they imploy their Thoughts in actuating their Love, and Thankfulness, and other Graces, before they come; but if they have little leisure for it, this need not be long a doing; for most good minds are so inclined and habituated to these Tempers, that they can express them, and that too, answerable to the Degree of Warmth their Complexion▪ allows in other things, with Fervor and Intension, upon any warning. But the great Work, which may seem to have length and trouble in it, is Repentance of all their Sins; and this will not be either long, or troublesome to them. For the only thing that will give them trouble in it, is the Work of Self-Examination, to find out what their sins have been; their Hearts being so good, that they can quickly resolve against them, when once they have discovered them: and this they will not find tedious, but may dispatch in convenient time. If [Page 240] they were yet to begin the work of Re­formation, indeed, they must spend more hours, or days upon it, and be held to it so long, till they could run over all Gods Laws, and all their own actions, and work themselves up into firm purposes of amendment at every thing they find was done amiss through their whole Lives, which would be a more tedious and painful business: So that when ill men come to prepare themselves for the Sacrament, they must set out more time for it, and expect to pass through greater hardship. But then they must remember not to charge this upon the Communion, but up­on a New Life and Regeneration; it not being for the work of worthy Receiving, but of Repentance and Reformation, which they must go through with whether they receive or no, that all this time is spent, and hard pains taken. But if they have begun to Repent long ago, and have indeavoured carefully to become good men; a much less time will serve their turn: for they will be able presently to resolve against a [...]y Fault they see, being habitu­ally set against all already; and also see all they have to repent of, upon a small Examination. If they have not been used to frequent Examinations, so as to have all their sins at hand before them; it may [Page 241] hold them a longer time: but if they have examined often, especially if they have reviewed and acknowledged every Night their every Days Transgressions, they will be able to do it at a few minutes warning. So that if they should happen at any time to be surprized with a Com­munion, which it is not decent for any good Christian to s [...]inch from, though all would desire a more solemn prepara­tion where they have time for it, yet can they fit themselves for it in that strait, and know what sins to resolve against up­on a few moments Recollection.

But besides that it would be no sufficient excuse to any Person to neglect the Holy Sa­crament, though it required all that time and pains which is supposed; and that to all true Penitents it is not so tedious, or diffi­cult as some have imagined, so that they have not so much as this discouragement in make them backward in it: I proceed now,

3. To sh [...]w that all, even the poorest and m [...]st impl [...]yed, have [...] sufficient, if they will [...] it [...] that end; and that [...]f those who have less leisure and opp [...]rtunities, so as that th [...]y [...] fit themselves in great De­grees, God expects the less preparation, and [...].

[...] [Page 242] imployed, have time sufficient to prepare for the Communion, if they would use it to that end.

That which makes them apprehend they have no time for it, is a perswasion, that all preparation must be carried on in the Closet, when they are sequestred from all worldly Affairs, and have set themselves apart for Devotion and Religious Meditati­ons. And for doing this, they who are full of business, who must labour all the day long, till they have quite tired them­selves, for maintenance, or whose time is not at their own disposal, but at the will of others, complain they have no leisure, or vacant time to spare.

But now, besides that no persons must pretend they can find no time for set De­votions, and separate Thoughts, since the most imployed of all can find it sometimes to throw away on Vanity and Diversions: this conceit, that all preparation ought to be carried on in the Closet, is a mistake; for, when any Persons are so minded, it may go on whilst they are held at work, and inga­ged in the course of their imployment. For the great business of preparation, as has been shewn, lies in examining our own hearts, to find out what our sins have been, and in resolving particularly against them. And this a man may carry on in any place, [Page 243] where he has Liberty for thought and Re­collection. He may call to mind his own ways as he is on a Journey, or busie at his work; for thought is free at all times, and every man may consider and reflect whensoever he has a mind to it. And so long as he can find time for this, he has time enough to prepare himself, let his Condition be as Dependant, or his time as much taken up, as it will.

And as for for those, who have less lei­sure and opportunities, so as that they cannot fit themselves in great Degrees, God expects the less preparation, I say, and accepts it at their hands.

Thus much he expects of every man, and that all may and must perform, viz. That they examine themselves about all those things which they know are sinful, and, wheresoever they find themselves Guilty, re­solve stedfastly to do so no more, and hum­bly ask his Pardon; and that they have an affectionate thankful sense of Christs Death, and of all that he has done for them. But as for the Degrees of these Duties, how high they shall be in their Detestation of e­very Sin, how ardent in their Acts of Re­signation, how Passionate in their Love and Thankful Affection; though he is well pleased with it where he finds it, yet he exacts not the utmost height, as I have [Page 244] Part 1. Chap. 3. observed, in those who are fitter for it; nor looks for more in any, than that e­very man return according to the oppor­tunities which he has given him. Some have Naturally much flame, and great ve­hemence in all their Passions, and much time in their own hands, and much help from good and inlivening books, or great quickness of Wit and parts, which can rea­dily and advantageously represent to their own minds the motives to these Dis­positions; and these Persons are able to imprint an higher measure of them, and affect their own Hearts more deeply with them, than others of cooler tempers, and less leisure, and fewer helps, and slower understand­ings, can ever hope to do. But when men have less time and abilities for them, God ex­pects the less perfection and Degrees of them. For in these Cases, his Rule is this: Vn­to whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required; and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more. Luc. 12.48.

And thus I have considered this Fourth Hindrance, and sh [...]wn that the difficulty of the thing, or the want of time, can be no just Reason or Excuse to keep any man from Receiving. And the sum of what I have sug­gested in this bu [...]iness, is this: If it requi­r [...]d [...], [Page 245] that is no sufficient ground for any person to neglect it; because when God commands us to do a thing, as he has done most strictly in this Case, we must be willing to spend both time and pains upon it. But in reality, it is neither so pain­ful nor tedious to good men, as is ordinarily imagined. It costs more, indeed, to ill men, because they have more faults to ex­amine after, and more backwardness to re­solve against them; but this expence of time and pains they must not impute to the Communion, but to an Holy Life and Regeneration, which, whether they Com­municate or no, if they Love their own Souls they must labour and manfully in­deavour in. But as for Good men, their great work is Self-examination, it being an easie thing for them to resolve against any sins when they see them; and this will not be long or tedious to them: nay, if they have been used to examine often, and to call themselves to an account every evening, if necessity so requires, it may be dispatch'd at a few minutes warning. It is a thing which all men, even the poor and most imployed, may find time for, yea, when there is need of it, without hindring or neglecting any other affair, if they are careful to use it to that end; and when they have less leisure and abilities, so as that [Page 246] they cannot fit themselves in great Degrees, there God expects the less preparation, and accepts it at their hands. To Com­municate, is a most necessary Duty, which will not be excused; and a most equitable and easie one, which need not be declined; so that no pretence of hardship, or of want of time ought ever to be urged, or can e­ver be allowed to put us by it.

5. A Fifth thing, which hinders seve­ral from the Sacrament, and makes them carelesly to neglect it, is because they see others, or have found themselves to be no whit bettered or improved by it; so that 'tis not worth their while to fit themselves for it.

This is a plea, which some, who are pretty constant in other Ordinances, are wont to make for their great neglect of this. But if there be any weight in it, they are much to blame in restraining it to the Sacrament, since it would hold much stronger for their not coming to Pray­ers, or the publick Assemblies, or other parts of Worship. For these same persons that make this Complaint, of being lit­tle better'd or improved by it, could say the same of them too if they had a mind to it. For they are much more frequent in reading the Scriptures, in saying their Prayers, in hearing Sermons, and in joyn­ing [Page 247] in all other parts of Worship at the Publick Assemblies, than they are at this Ordinance: so that if they are no ways better'd under the means of Grace, that unfruitfulness ought least of all to be char­ged upon the Sacrament, for alas! it is but very seldome they are seen at it, but much more upon praying to God, and hear­ing the Word, and other parts of Worship. And therefore if unfruitfulness under any Ordinance be a Reason, not of using greater care in it that they may get profit by it, but of a negligent abstaining from it; they are to blame in confining it to the Communion, since it would serve much more to excuse them from Prayers, and Sermons, and all other parts of Worship and Devotion.

But that none may be hindred by it from coming to this Feast, I shall ob­serve,

1. That where it is true, there is no excuse from it.

2. That in all good mens case 'tis false, for they are really better by it.

3. That where they are not better'd at all, or not so much as might be expected, that is purely through their own Fault, and they must mend it.

1. Where 'tis true that they are no better by the Sacrament, that is no excuse for their [Page 248] neglect of it. And this is plain, because we are not bound to Communicate only in Interest, so as when that ceases we might be free from it; but in Duty too, our Lord having most expresly required and injoin'd it. Had we nothing but our own benefit to ingage us to it, then in­deed it would be a good Reason not to trouble our selves with it, when we found we were no better by it. But God has made it our Duty to come, as we have seen, by an express and indispensable Commandment: And when there is Gods Law and Precept in the Case, it is an ill excuse for any man who neglects it, to say he did so, because he could not hope to be a gainer by it. If we refuse to do what he bids us, when it brings in no Advantage to our selves, we cast off his Service, and begin to be acted by other Principles; we do as good as tell him that we will do all things out of Interest, and with an eye to our own profit, but no­thing for his Pleasure, and in obedience to his Commandment; which is as much as to say, we will only serve our selves, but not serve him at all.

2. In all Good mens case 'tis false, for they are really made better by it.

They are not better perhaps in what they expect, because their expectations [Page 249] are not right, but they look for such benefits from the Sacrament, as God ne­ver intended by it; nay, such, it may be, as in this world he never means to convey to them, either by it, or by any other Instrument. And thus it is when men hope, after they have Communicated, to be fill'd with sensible joys and transports, to be absolutely assured of Gods special Love and Kindness, to be freed thenceforward from all further Fears and Doubtings, to have a removal of some troublesome tempta­tions, to get quit of all Thoughts and De­sires, and the very first motions to ill things, of all dulness and distraction in their Devo­tions, of all sinful surprises and involunta­ry escapes, and such like. These are be­nefits, which although God out of his abundant Grace and Indulgence may some­times allow to us, yet he has no where pro­mised us, nor sees always fit for us; nay, some of them in this Estate do not agreee to us, being Exemptions from such infir­mities as are inseparable from our Natures: and therefore, when we come to the Sa­crament, they are not to be expected in it. They are not of the number of those blessings which are inseparably made over to it, or of those effects which are always wrought by it; so that we have no Reason to complain of its being a bar­ren, [Page 250] and unfruitful Ordinance, because they are with-held from us.

But although they are not benefited in these Respects, yet are they in others, which make it richly worth their while to fit themselves for this Feast, and are an abundant Recompence for all the pains they take in it. For, besides the quiet­ing of their Consciences, though not with an absolute Assurance, (a pitch of hope that is very rarely found in any, even of the best Persons) yet with a very comfor­table sense of Gods Love and Friendship; which is an effect it will have in those good minds, who consider that therein they confirm'd the New Covenant with God, wherein he promised them pardon if they would Repent, and they profess'd to do it: Besides this effect, I say, of quieting their Consciences, it benefits them further in their Graces and Virtuous indow­ments. For, though some of them fear they are not, yet in reality all Good men▪ are bettered by the Sacrament, some by im­proving, and all by continuing in their Good­ness, which they are to ascribe to it.

1. Some Good men, I say, (and those, I hope, the greatest Part) are better'd in the Sacrament, by an Improvement of those Graces which they bring along to it: They thank Christ more freely, and Love him more [Page 251] affectionately, and are resign'd to him more intirely, and watch against those Temptations which were wont to win most upon them more carefully after every receiving, than they did before. It spurs them on, where their pace was slackned; and makes them more mindful of any Duty, when they had forgot it; and brings them back to it, when they had strayed from it; and makes them Circumspect to discharge it, when they had been more remiss and careless of it: it helps Husbands, to be more ten­der and affectionate; Wives, to be more dutiful and observant; Children, to be more respectful, towardly, and obedient; Servants, to be more Faithful, and Dili­gent; and all men to be more concerned to Honour God, to be more Humble and Temperate, True and Faithful, Just and Charitable, Meck and Peaceable, than they were before they partook of it. All these Virtues, Tempers and Dispositions, as there is need of them, and they can at­tend and apply their minds to them, are quickned and set on by it. And though this Holy Flame, which was kindled in their minds at the Altar, will burn dim, and grow cool again; and this Religi­ous bent of Heart will slacken and be more remiss in time: yet being a fre [...]h in­livened and intended by a new approach [Page 252] to this Feast, the former Ardors will be revived, and the same bent establish'd, and so they will be always advancing for­ward in a continual improvement.

This increase of their Graces, and Augmentation of all virtuous Dispositi­ons, especially of those wherein they are most defective, the Sacrament works in many good persons, and 'tis very fit it should do it in all. And although I dare not say they are unworthy of it, or unbetter'd and unfruitful under it; yet I will say they are very much wanting to their own Souls, who are not careful to carry on, and attain this improvement by it. And if they examine their Growth in Grace and Goodness, by a growth in these points; I believe the greatest part of careful and devout Receivers, will find they are really made more perfect, and impro­ved in Virtue by frequenting it.

Yea, I add further, they may be thus improved by it, though upon Examina­tion they themselves should not be able to point out Determinately in what, or make a clear Discovery of it. For very few Persons do so strictly observe the Degrees of their own Attainments in any Virtues, with what ease they do them, and how seldome they sin against them; as may ina­ble them to compare exactly the pitch of [Page 253] their present Graces, with the pitch of the same Graces sometime afterwards. And if they should very narrowly observe them, yet would they not be able nicely to judge of every small increase; for little things are no more discernable in Grace, than they are in Nature, nor can be easier seen in growing Virtues, than in a growing man, or Tree, or other Natural improve­ments. And besides, since the Grace which the Sacrament is to improve in us, is so diffused, and extends to so many in­stances; when really we have gain'd and advanced in it, yet may it be hard for us to recollect, and shew determinately in what, and specifie it in the Particulars.

It is so I am sure in knowledge, which is another thing wherein the instances are so infinitely numerous. For although it be very plain, that the longer any man lives, the more ordinarily he understands and improves in Knowledge; yet if most of us were asked how much we are wiser now than we were a Month or two Months since, it might often puzzle us to answer it, and, though it be plain we are impro­ved, to particularize in what, as well as it is to particularize our improvements by the Sacrament. So that not only those good men, whose growth is apparent; but al­so several others, who have not particu­larly [Page 254] discovered it, are bettered in Com­municating, by an improvement of those Graces which they brought along to it.

But if any Good men are not bet­ter'd in the Sacrament, by improving; yet are they all,

2. By continuing in their Goodness, which they must ascribe to it, and for which it is most richly worth their pains to frequent it.

It is one great Grace and Benefit to all Good men, that they can maintain their present station in Goodness, and not Re­lapse and fall back into their former sins again. Their Natural Lusts are only kept un­der, not quite extinguish'd in them, and will grow bold, and strive for Mastery upon any fair occasion. And they are daily in the way of manifold Temptations, which awaken them, and give more strength and advantage to them. And they are many times either wearied out with watch­ings, or lull'd asleep in secure carelesness, which makes them lyable to become a prey to them. They are closely beset with Powerful Enemies, and much in­danger'd by continual Temptations, and oft-times unguarded and fit to make but a very weak Defence; which are things that would hinder them from standing where they are, as well as from improv­ing and going further. So that it is a [Page 255] very great benefit, and they are much the better by it, if any thing can help them to keep what Grace they have got already, as well as inable them to gain more. This continuance in Goodness, is less indeed than Improvement; but yet it is a most valuable thing, and of so great account, that, were there nothing more to be had by it, for its sake alone it were most richly worth any mans while to come to the Holy Sacrament.

And this Benefit, which all good men hold, since they would cease to be good, should they fall from it, all worthy Re­ceivers ought to ascribe as much to the Communion, as to any other thing. They owe it not to it alone, indeed, but to other means also, viz. to hearing and reading the Word, and meditating upon it, which puts them in mind of their Duty, and of the great motives to it; to Self-examination, which shews them their Falls and Deviations from it; to solemn Vows and Promises, which bind them to be careful in it; and to fervent faithful Prayers, which bring down Gods Grac [...] and Spirit that inables them to perform it. All these, and o­thers, are great means of securing their standing in an Holy Course, amidst all their Temptations to depart from it; and therefore to every one of them they [Page 256] they must in part ascribe it. But the Sa­crament contributes to it as much, at least, if not more than any thing besides; so that in accounting whence they re­ceive this great benefit, it ought not in any wise to be excluded. For therein they remember and fix in mind the Death of Christ, which is the highest motive to it; and exercise that Faith, and Love, and Thankfulness, and Resignation, and Repen­tance, which are the best means to set it forward; and make God solemn Vows and Promises, which are the straitest bond to ingage them to it; and put up many fervent Prayers, which are the best course to make way for it; and receive those inward Graces and Assistances, as I have shewn, which inable them to dis­charge it. So that when worthy Com­municants continue after the Sacrament to hold their present pitch of Goodness, and do not slide back again into their former sins; they must not say they are no better by it, for this benefit of stand­ing in a good state, they receive from it. Though it doth not improve and bring them forward, yet it helps mightily to continue and keep them where they are.

Thus are all good People really bet­tered by the Sacrament. For, besides the Peace of Conscience, which is thereby [Page 257] much settled in those Penitents, who un­derstand and consider, that therein they have seal'd the Covenant of Pardon with Almighty God: Besides this effect, I say, in those who rightly understand it; the Graces of some are much improved, and the standing of all is greatly maintain'd by it, which last, were there no other ex­pectation from it, is a most valuable be­nefit, and such, wherefore it is highly worth any mans labour to frequent it.

3. Where they are not bettered at all by the Sacrament, or not so much as might be expected, that is purely through their own Fault, and they must amend it.

Where they are not bettered at all by the Sacrament, I say, or not so much as might be expected, that is purely through their own Fault. If they examine their own hearts about it, they will find that they have been wanting in those things, which should have made it a lively means and help to their improvement. It may be, after they have felt in their own Souls that they have renounced all evil ways, which might fit them for it; they do not yet perceive any affecting peace of mind, and comfortable sense of the Love of God to be wrought by it: but then that is because they do not consider, how there­in they confirmed a League of Love, and [Page 258] received assurance of his Favour to the Penitent. Perhaps they are not improved in an Holy Life, nor prevail more against their sins after they have joyn'd in it; but then that is because they are wanting in those things, which are necessary to such Improvement. They did not in­quire what their particular sins were, and deliberately resolve against them before they came to it: nor are careful to bear in mind what they have promised, and to watch the opportunities of performing it, af­ter they have been at it. Had these things been done, and this care been shewn, both before and after it; they may be assured, as I have shewn, both from the virtue of Gods Promise, and the Na­ture of the thing, that they would have been the better by it. But when these means are not used, but omitted, they cannot expect it should have its effect in making them obedient. For the Sacrament helps us to grow in Grace and Good­ness, as a moral means, which works on­ly in concurrence with our own care, but not without it. It makes us leave our sins, by ingaging us to examine after them, and particularly to resolve against them, and to strive as the opportunities come to get quit of them; and by bringing down such gracious Assistances to us, as will serve [Page 259] our turn when we indeavour with them. But if we will be wanting to our selves in these Self-Examinations, and particular Resolutions, and after-care and good indea­vours; then can it do us no good, be­cause we will not suffer it: and therefore, as we were before, so we shall continue, the same unreform'd, and unimproved persons still.

Thus is the want of being bettered by the Sacrament, either at all, or so much as might be expected, altogether our own Fault; namely, because we come not to it with that particular sight and considera­tion of all our sins, and resolution against them, nor are afterwards so mindful of it, and shew that care to perform what we have resolv'd, which is necessary to our amendment: nor have that consideration of its being a sealing of the Covenant of Peace and Reconciliation, which is as necessary to our Comfort and Peace of mind from it. So that whensoever we fail of that benefit, which should accrue by it, it is purely through our own Neglect, and we must thank our selves for it.

And since this want of being bettered, is wholly our own Fault; let all those who are kept back by it, take care to amend that, and then this objection is answer'd. When they receive no benefit from it, [Page 260] they themselves are to be blamed for o­mitting those things which are necessary to it; and if they will take care to use them the next time, they will be bene­fited by it: So that this hindrance lasts no longer than they are pleas'd it should, and when they will, need be no hindrance to them at all.

As for those then, that urge this for their not coming to the Sacrament, viz. Their not being better'd or i [...]proved by it: My Answer to them in sum is this. If there be any force in it, it will hold much stronger for their not coming to Prayers, or the Publick Assemblies, and ought not so much to hinder them from this Feast, as from all other parts of Worship. But, indeed, it is no just hindrance, nor is there any sufficient excuse at all from it. Where 'tis true, there is no fair excuse in it; because we are not only bound in Interest, but in strict Duty also to Com­municate. But in the case of all good men 'tis false, for they are really the better by it, tho' perhaps they do not think or un­derstand it. For it either improves them in their Goodness, as 'tis highly fit it should and will do all, who are not wanting to themselves: or at least it continues them in it, which, where there is nothing more, is of it self most richly worth all [Page 261] the pains they bestow upon it. And where they are not better'd at all, or not so much as might be expected; that is purely their own Fault, and will hinder them no longer than they have a mind to it; for when they please they may amend it. If they are good men, they are better by it; and if they are ill, their being no better doth not excuse their Neg­lect of it; and they may be bettered the next time, if they will take that care which is necessary to it: so that this ought not in any wise to be an Hindrance, and keep them from it.

CHAP. III. Of want of Charity.

The Contents.

A Sixth Hindrance is a Fear lest they want that Charity, particularly towards Ene­mies and those who have given them Pro­vocations, which is required to it. An account what Love is, and what is not due to such Persons. 1. We are bound to shew them all the Offices of general Chari­ty, which are due to our Neighbour at large, or to all others. This Love con­tains in it all the Particular Offices of Ju­stice, Charity, and Peace, which are due to all mankind: It is transgressed by all the opposite Instances, but by nothing more than hard and uncandid Censures and Sus­picions. The common [...]ess, and sinfulness of this Carriage. Th [...] want of this Cha­rity unfits men for this Feast; but so it doth for Prayers, and all other Religious Worship. 2. We are not bound to shew them all the Offices of special Esteem, Trust, and Confidence, which are not fit to be placed on all men, but on such only as are [Page 263] qualified for them. When they sufficient­ly shew Repentance of their Fault, they are to be re-admitted to the same state of Favour and Friendship. We must be Candid in Judging when their Repentance is sufficiently evidenced. An humble Con­fession is ordinarily a sufficient Proof of it for the first Fault; but not when it has been oft repeated. Luc. 17.4, which seems to affirm it, answer'd. Several Cases clear'd, which are sometimes thought by Pious Souls to be a breach of Charity to­wards Enemies, but in reality are not. As, not forgetting Injuries or Vnkind­nesses, but still retaining a Remembrance of them. Thinking the worse of those who offered them. Being troubled at the sight of them, as that puts them in mind of the great Losses they have sustain'd by them. Shewing more reserve, and car­rying a greater distance in Conversing with them, than with other men. These are no breach of Charity towards them, nor can be a just Hindrance from the Communion.

A Sixth Hindrance, which keeps back several from this Feast, is their fe [...] lest they want that Charity which is re­quired to it. They have some profest Ene­mies, that own Hatred and a mischievous [Page 264] inclination in all their Carriage; or some false Friends and Confidents, who, though not out of Malice, yet to serve a particular turn or interest, have proved very unfaithful or injurious; or some im­prudent and unwise Dependants, who, when they meant well, perhaps, have done things very disadvantageous and displea­sing to them in their business. From the Malice of some, or the Falseness of others, or the folly of a third sort, they have re­ceived those Provocations, which they cannot yet cast out of their minds; and when they remember them, they feel their hearts are much estranged from those who offered them; and whilst they are so, they fear they love them not as they ought, nor have that Charity to­wards Enemies and injurious Persons, which God requires in all Communi­cants.

And this want of Charity for Enemies and offensive Persons is urged, not only by those, who either do, or wish ill to them, who indeed have just cause to say they want it: but also by others who in­cur neither of them, and therefore have no sufficient cause at all for it. For ma­ny Good People, who requite no inju­ries to those who have provoked them, [...], [Page 265] Charity, and Peace, which God re­quires of us towards all men, and which are all that is due to them: are yet afraid that they have not so much Charity for them as the Law injoyns, because they still remember their Injuries or Vnkindnesses, or think the worse of their Persons, or keep a greater distance from them in their Car­riage, or forbear to use them, as former­ly they did, in the quality of particular Friends and Confidents, or with-hold some other special Favours, which are not due to them, nor are any breach at all of that Charity, which they ought to have for them.

This is a great cause of Scruple to ma­ny honest minds, who are really troubled with it: and particularly it is a most common hindrance from the Holy Sacra­ment; there being no Duty, I think, which the generality of men believe more indispensably required, than Peace and Charity in every worthy Communicant. And therefore that they who want this Love of Enemies, which unfits them for this Feast, may quickly set about the at­tainment of it; and that they who have it, may not be troubled, or held back from receiving as if they had it not; I shall here indeavour to give a plain state of it, and shew, both what is, and what [Page 266] is not imply'd in it. And this I shall do in these two particulars.

1. We are bound to shew our Enemies, and any others who have provoked us, all the Offices of general Charity, or all that Love which is due to our Neighbour at large, and to all other Persons. So that whilst we allow ous selves in the breach of this, we are un­fit for this Feast, and must instantly a­mend that we may be fitted for it.

But,

2. We are not bound to shew them all the Offices of special Esteem, Trust, and Confi­dence, which are not fit to be placed on all men, but on such only as are qualified for them. So that when we fail only in these, we are in no Fault, nor have any need to be troubled, or kept back by it.

1. I say, We are bound to shew our Ene­mies, and any others, who, by their un­kind, indiscreet, or injurious carriage, have provoked us, all the Offices of General Charity, or all that Love which is due to our Neighbour at large, and to all other Persons: So that if we allow our selves in the breach of it, we are unfit for this Feast, and must instantly amend that we may be fitted for it.

We are bound to shew them all the Offices of general Charity, or to treat them with all that Love which is due to our Neighbour at large, and to all other Persons.

[Page 267]How hardly soever they might be treated either among Jews or Gentiles, yet in Christianity our Enemies are Neigh­bours and Brethren, and ought to share in all that Love, which God requires of us towards the promiscuous Multitude of o­ther men. For it takes off all that hatred and spiteful Resentment, which would exclude them from all good Offices; and sets them in the Rank of Neighbours, whom God commands us to treat with all those instances of Kindness, wherein consists the loving our Neighbour as our selves. This is plain, from its not per­mitting us to hate, as the Jewish Law did, but strictly injoyning us to Love them, Mat. 5.44, 45; for where Love is, it naturally issues out in all of them as there is occasion, upon which account it is call'd the fulfilling of the Law, i. e. of that part of it which concerns us to­wards men, because working no ill, as St. Paul says, to our Neighbour, it leads us into all of them, Rom. 13.9, 10. Besides, that our Enemies are to share in all that Love which is due to our Neighbours, our Saviour plainly declares, when he singles out a most bitter Enemy, and sets him forth as the Neighbour whom the Law mentions, making the Samaritane a Neighbour even to a Jewish man, be­tween [Page 268] whom there was the most invete­rate and inbred Enmity and Opposition. For when the Lawyer asked him, who is my Neighbour; he tells him by the Para­ble of a Jewish man, who being left wound­ed by the Thieves, found a Neighbour of the good Samaritane, that 'tis any one he meets with, though a Stranger, though an Ene­my, yea, though of a Party and Profession in Religion most odious unto his, which or­dinarily causes the highest and most im­placable Enmities, as it did between the Jews and Samaritanes, who stood at so great a distance, as that they would not give or ask so much as a Joh. 4.9. Cup of Water of each o­ther, or have any sort of entercourse together. This was his Neighbour, says he, and so must thou be in a like Case, go, and do so likewise, Luke 10. v. 29, to 38.

Thus are all we Christians bound to hold our Enemies, and those who have provoked us, in the same promiscuous Rank with all others, and notwithstan­ding all their unkindness, or injurious Carriage, to look upon them as our Neighbours, whom we are to Love as we do our selves.

And that Love contains in it all the particular Offices of Justice, Charity, and [Page 269] Peace, which we owe to Mankind at large, even to all Persons.

1. It contains in it all the Duties of Justice; as namely, that we be true to them in all our Speeches, and faithful in all our Promises, and just and equal in all our Dealings, never seizing, hurting, or detaining any thing which belongs to them; nor any ways perverting, obstru­cting, or infringing any Right, because 'tis theirs.

2. All the Duties of Charity, as that we honour them for their Virtues, and pi­ty them in their Miseries, and relieve them in their Wants; and, when they will take it, not passionately and publickly (which shews not any Love of them, but our Wrath and Spleen against them) but with great Privacy and Friendship, reprove them for their Faults, and Congratulate with them in their Joys, and conceal their De­fects, and vindicate their injured Reputati­ons, and be Courteous and Condescensive, Meek and Gentle in our Carriage, Candid in putting a good Interpretation upon all their Words and Actions, especially such as relate to our own selves, placable or easie to be intreated after any Offences, and apt to forgive and requi [...]e them with lost Speech, fair Carriage, good Offices, and the like.

[Page 270]3. All the Duties of Peace, in main­taining Vnity and Quietness, and avoid­ing all Strife and Variance, Clamour and Brawling with them, as with all Man­kind.

All these, as I have Meas. of Christ. Ob [...]d. B. 2. elsewhere particular­ly shewn, are such Du­ties as we owe to our Neighbour at large, and to all men: and then to our Enemies among them, since in Christianity they are Brethren and Neighbours too, and have a claim to them. And these, Love and Brotherly kindness, when once it is seated in us, will be sure to effect, and make us pay them. For he that Loveth ano­ther, as St. Paul saith, hath fulfill'd the Law. Because this, thou shalt not commit Adultery, thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not bear false Witness, thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other Commandment, i. e. respecting others, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, Thou shalt Love thy Neighbour as thy self. Love works no ill to his Neighbour, therefore Love is the fullfilling of the Law. Rom. 13.8, 9, 10.

And since we are bound to Love our Enemies, in paying them all this Justice, Charity, and Peace, which I have menti­oned as due to all Persons: 'tis plain that [Page 271] we fail of it, whensoever we act against it in any of these Particulars.

1. We fail of it if at any time we do any wrong, or shew any acts of Injustice towards them. As if we falsify and lye to them, or break our Faith and Promise with them, or raise Calumnies, or report false and slanderous Stories of them, or bear false witness against them, or wrongfully with-hold what is due to them, or oppress, cozen, or defraud them, or take away their Lives, or maim their Bo­dies, by Secret Arts, or open Fight, or Assassination, or the like.

2. We fail of it, if in any instance we are uncharitable, or break the Peace with them. As when we envy and r [...]pin [...] at their good, or rejoyce at their hurt, or, when we could wipe them off, suffer false stains to stick upon them without any Vindication, or speak all the ill we know of them, and backbite and revile them, especially if we do it with Aggravation, Triumph, and Scorn, when any fall of theirs has given us an occasion, or openly upbraid them with our kindnesses, or reproach them with their own sins, or mock and deride them with their Infirmities, or af­front them in our Carriage, or are Passio­nate, and burst out into bitterness and [Page 272] brawling, strife and debate upon any pro­vocation, or are unthankfully forgetful of their former favours, or implacable after their injuries, or thirst after revenge, and are hasty to punish, or rigorous in exactions, or such like.

All these are a Breach of that Love and Duty, which we ought to bear to­wards our Enemies in common with all other persons, as might be proved, were there any need of it, of every one of the particulars. And by reason they have deserv'd ill of us, and given us great pro­vocations; unless we are very circum­spect, and keep a strict Guard upon our selves, in all our Discourses and Carriage towards them, we shall be in great dan­ger to incur them.

But among all the instances of uncha­ritableness to our Enemies, there is none whereto we are more obnoxious, and a­gainst which we ought to watch with greater carefulness, as we tender the safety of our own Souls, than hard Cen­sures and Suspicions, or fancying the worst Designs, and putting the worst Interpretati­ons upon all their words and actions when they come before us.

This, God knows, is a most general and Reigning sin among all Adversaries, and is daily seen, not only among the noto­riously [Page 273] ill and irreligious, but also among those, who are otherwise very sober and devoutly serious. For even the gene­rality of men, when the Actions of their Enemies come to be scann'd before them, are very apt to turn them to an ill sense, and to make the most of them to their prejudice, and judge of them, not as in­different and unconcern'd persons, but as they who desire to find Faults, and to pick out something which they may ac­cuse in them.

And this has been every where done, not only against particular persons, but, on all hands, against whole Bodies and Parties of Men, who, in any thing rela­ting to the Times, are of different Per­swasions, and either think or act not after their Projects and Opinions. For how apt have, not only private men been in the case of particular quarrels; but many al­so in the heat, and at the top of all Par­ties, in judging of their opposites to mis­trust ill Designs even in their good Acti­ons, and to impute all their ill to unmixt Malice, without making any allowances of forgetfulness, over-sight, impetuous heat, or other humane Frailties; to take every thing by the wrong handle, and where it might, and would b [...]ar a good, were there any Love to construe it, to [Page 274] fix upon it an ill Sense, and to interpret it to their disadvantage. In arguing up­on all their words and actions, they suck'd out nothing but the venome, and turn'd every thing into a sore about them, and were strangely rash in bestowing op­probricus and ill Names upon them, and laid about them at that rate, as if they fancied they could not exceed, either in thinking, or in speaking evil of them. In all which, instead of being check'd with any Remorse for it, their Consciences ra­ther countenanced and encouraged it. For since, as they apprehended, the cause they contended for was good in their own Party, and bad in the Party that opposed it: This Carriage they call'd not wrath and spite, but Zeal, and thought accordingly that God would own and accept it.

But this is a very sinful and unchristian Carriage. It is utterly contrary to the Love of Enemies; for Love is always in­clinable to think the best, and leans, so far as the thing will bear, to the side of Favour, both in judging, and speaking of all their A [...]tions. It is plainly contrary to our L [...]ds Rule, who warns us not to judge that we be not judged, i. e. not to be forward in passing Sentence against o­thers, that God may not pass Sentence a­gainst [Page 275] us: for with what measure we mete in judging of their Actions, he will mete out to us again, Mat. 7.1, 2. It is a direct Breach of that Charity which St. Paul de­scribes, and makes of absolute necessity to our immortal happiness. For Charity, says he, thinks or surmizes no Evil, it believes all things, so far as in any reason it may, to other mens advantage. And without this Charity, though we have the spriteliest Zeal for the best Parties, [...] though we give our Bodies to be burned [...] Martyrs, it profits us nothing, i. e. towards Gods acceptance, 1 Cor. 13.3, 5, 7. Since it is a Zeal, which is not peaceable as well as pure, since it is not full of Mer­cy and good Fruits, but issues out in a bit­ter and invenom'd Spirit, which turns all things to the worst, and is bent in all points to the hurt of those who fall un­der it; 'tis plain it can never come from God, who, being Mercy and Love it self, can never be the Author of so much Cru­elty and Hatred; but must be ascribed to our own Lusts, and the infernal Spirits, as the true Parents and Abettors of it. And this St. James expresly says of that bitter Zeal, which takes not a tender Heart, and bowels of Love or Charity along with it. If it were that from above, saith he, it would first indeed be pure, but then it [Page 276] would next be peaceable, gentle, easie to be intreated, full of Mercy and good Fruits. If God kindled it, since he is Love it self, and requires us to Love our Enemies as our selves, these Fruits of Love and Mer­cy would be sure to accompany it. But if all these are shut out, and it dwells in an hurtful and imbittered Spirit; if that be a bitter envying or [...]. Zeal, that dwells in your Hearts: then, adds he, glory not in it; for this descends not from above, so as to have God for the Author of it, but is sensual, i. e. arising from your own Passions, nay, Devillish, being set on by the malicious Agency of Infernal Spirits, Jam. 3.14, 15, 16, 17.

And thus it appears when really we are out of Charity with any persons who have provoked us, and fall short of that Love of Enemies, which Gods Law re­quires of us: For then we Love them not as we ought, when we are any ways unjust to them, or apt upon every little occasion to strive and contend with them, or deal uncharitably by them in any Con­versation, particularly in malicious Sur­mizes and Suspicions, and uncandid Cen­sures, which are so general in all, but more abundant in our times, when the Nation is divided into Parties, and men [Page 277] seem to have forgot that there is any Re­ligion towards Enemies, or any Love due to them who have given them personal Pro­vocations, or side with a Party oppo­site to what they espouse.

And if upon a survey of our Carriage in these particulars, we find this to be our Case, and that we are thus out of Cha­rity, and have not forgiven any who have provoked us: 'tis very true, whilst that lasts we are unfit for the Sacrament, since he that worthily joyns in it, must come in Love, and have freely forgiven all the World. But then we are also equally unfit to pray, or ask the forgiveness of our own sins at Gods hands; since, if we pray in Wrath and Enmity, he will not hear us. Nay, this not forgiving others turns all our own Prayers into a Curse, and makes them a dreadful and down-right Imprecation against our selves. For when we say this Prayer—forgive us our trespasses as we forgive them that trespass a­gainst us, with malice in our Hearts: the plain English of it is, that God would revenge our Trespasses on our heads, as we are ready to revenge their Trespasses on theirs: which is so bold, and Fool-hardy an Ad­dress, as no man, I presume, will put up to God, who considers what he says.

When really we are out of Charity [Page 278] therefore, and have not forgiven others; we are not only unfit to Communicate, but to the full as unfit to make any Pray­ers, or place any Hope in Almighty God. And when once he is sensible that this is his State, there is no wise man will continue in it, but will forthwith re­solve to lay aside all his Resentments, and get out of it.

This he may find difficult, indeed, when he sets about it; but it is absolutely necessary to be done, and unless he would incur the Wrath of God, and [...] [...]ter­nal pains of Hell, which [...] thou­sand times more difficul [...], [...] go through with it. But [...] considers how much he himself needs to be forgi­ven, and how he has infini [...]ely more provoked God, than his Brother has provoked him; he will find it no very hard matter to forgive him for Christs sake, though it might be hard to do it for his own. And besides, if he will not dwell upon the injuries or unkindnesses which are so provoking, but cast them out so soon as he perceives they are enter'd into his mind; it will yet be much easi­er to him. He cannot quite forget them, it may be, so as that he shall never think of them: but when without his leave they start up in his thoughts, he can chuse [Page 279] whether he will harbour and give way to them. And if he will be careful to do that, the great difficulty of Forgiveness is removed. For it is our dwelling upon an injury received, and hearkening to ill suggestions that aggravate the deed, and the malice or unworthiness of him that offered it, which heightens our Resentment of it to that Degree, that we have much ado before we can bring our selves to be reconciled. So that if we would not har­bour and entertain the thoughts of it, the forgiveness of an injury would have much more ease in it. And this Reme­dy St. Paul prescribes to prevent all Wrath and Revengeful Carriage. Let not the Sun go down upon your Wrath, neither give place to the Devil, or to a [...]. Calumniator and Accuser, i. e. to exaspe­rating Thoughts and Insinuations, whe­ther suggested to us by our own minds, or by the whisperings of others, Eph. 4.26, 27.

And thus having proved that we are bound to shew our Enemies, and those who have provoked us, all the Offices of general Cha­rity, or all that Love which is due to our Neighbour at large, and to all other Per­sons; so that whilst we allow our selves in the breach of them we are unfit for [Page 280] this Feast, and must instantly amend, that we may be fitted for it: I proceed now,

2. To shew that we are not bound to shew them all the Offices of special esteem, trust and confidence, which are not fit to be placed on all men, but on such only as are qualified for them: so that when we fail only in these, we are in no fault, nor have any need to be troubled, or kept back by it.

We are not bound to make an Enemy a familiar Companion, or a particular Friend, a Partner of our Secrets, a Sha­rer of our Trust, or an Officer in our bu­siness: but may be more afraid of him, and keep more at a distance from him, and use more Caution and Reserve in con­versing with him, than with other men. As for all the instances of general Cha­rity, indeed, they are due upon a Rea­son which is common to our Enemies with others, i. e. their being Men and Christi­ans: so that they ought to share in them, and we fail of our Duty to them, when at any time we with-hold them from them. But as for these marks of special esteem and confidence; they are founded on par­ticular reasons and fitness of Persons, as likeness of humour, Fidelity of Affection, aptness for our affairs, or the like; so that in them we are not bound to our Enemies, who are plainly unfit through their pro­fest [Page 281] Enmity, or treacherous falseness; nay, nor to any one among others; but are left at Liberty to make such choice as shall seem best to our Prudence. This Liberty must in all Equity and Reason be allowed us, because upon a right choice of these Persons the innocence, ease, and safety of our Lives, most nearly depends; and without being left to discretion in it, we must unavoidably throw our selves in­to inextricable Snares, and numberless Calamities. And that it is allowed, our Saviour clearly intimates, when he re­commends to us the wisdom of Serpents, bidding us shew all the prudence we can devise, so long as no unrighteousness mixes with it, but it is wholly guided by the Doves innocence, Mat. 10.16. And in this he has gone before us in his own Pra­ctice. For though he loved those who believed on him, Joh. 2. with all that Love which his Law requires, i. e. with a gene­ral Affection: yet, as the Evangelist tells us, he did not trust or commit himself to them, because he knew all men, v. 23, 24.

So long then as we requite no Injuries upon our Enemies, or others that have offended us, nor are wanting to them in any point of Justice, Charity, or Peace, which is due to all Persons; we are not uncharitable to them, in thinking the worse [Page 282] of their persons, or carrying our selves towards them at a greater [...], or forbearing to use them, as forme [...] we did, in the quality of particular [...] and Confederates, or with [...] some o­ther special Favours, [...] Fault has justly forfeited, an [...] [...] have no more claim to.

Indeed, if afterwards they Repent of their Offence which makes the breach be­tween us, and amend that Fault which unfits them for our Business or Converse, when only we our selves are concern'd, and the thing is not of that weight as that we may be jealous over it, and we have no other cause but that offence to exclude them from it; 'tis a Christian Part, not only to retain them in a general Charity in common with all other Persons, but al­so to re-admit them to the same State, which formerly they held with us.

When the concern is not purely our own, but we are set to secure higher and more publick ends; there, 'tis true, we are not bound presently to re-admit to the same state upon Repentance. And thus it is in the point of Discipline, wherein the Sin is not presently pardoned so soon as the Crimi­nal has Repented of it: but the punishment is oft-times continued, (as it was in the lasting Excommunications of the Primitive [Page 283] Christians) that the durableness of the smart may both more terrifie others from it, and amend themselves by begetting a more lasting memory and abhorrence of it. And thus 'tis too in point of Publick Trust, when we act not for our selves, but pursuant to our care of others: for there we may lay aside Penitents, because they have once sinn'd, thinking there is more safety in those who have still stood firm, and been always innocent. And thus St. Paul did with Mark, who had Act. 13.13. once declined the toil and peril of Con­verting the Gentile World; for after he had freely forgiven it, yet, says St. Luke, in the dispute betwixt Barnabas and him, he thought not good to take him for a Com­panion, because he once deserted them, and went not with them to the work; but prefer'd Silas, who had never slinch'd from it, Act. 15.37, 38, 40.

But when only we our selves are con­cerned; and the thing is not of that weight as that we may be jealous over it, (in which case, indeed, a greater Cauti­on is requisite;) and we have no other Cause but that Offence to exclude them from it: (for if upon other accounts the choice at first was ill made, and either already is, or may be altered to our Benefit, since [Page 284] the fixing on any man for a Friend or Dependant is not a necessary Duty, but a discretionary free thing, we are not blame-worthy in correcting it:) when the Case, I say, is thus, 'tis a Christi­an act to admit returning Penitents to the same state they held before they offended us. For when once they have Repented of a Fault, they are as fit for our Affairs or Friendship, as they were before they committed it. So that if any marks of our displeasure remain still after that, which in the present state of things might conveniently enough be alter'd, it is not their unfitness, but our Resentment which is the cause of it. And when we go so to ease our offended minds by their loss, this looks not like forgiving a Tres­pass, but Revenging it. And this Re-ad­mission to their former state, is accord­ing to St. Pauls Direction, Col. 3.13. to forgive others, even as Christ forgives us; for he admits Penitents to the state of innocent Persons, pardoning with­out upbraiding, and quite Heb. 8.12. forgetting, as if the sin had never been done: and ac­cording to what he prescribes, 1 Cor. 14.20. when he bids us in malice to be Children; for after once they are made Friends, they forget all, and return to [Page 285] the same degree of Love and Confidence again. The wise Son of Sirach says, in­deed, that for four things, viz. upbraid­ing, and Pride, and disclosing of Secrets, and a Treacherous wound, every Friend will depart, and never more be reconciled, Eccles. 22.22. But he speaks only of what ordinarily is done, or of what might have been done among the Jews; not of what may now be done among us, of whom God expects an higher forgiveness, af­ter the manner of Children, and the ex­ample of Christ Jesus. So that when once they have sufficiently Repented, 'tis fit that we forgive them to as full purpose, as if they had never sinn'd at all.

And in judging of this Repentance, we ought not to be strict and rigid in stan­ding upon exact proofs; but to be can­did, and apt to interpret all signs of it to the best Sence, leaning to the side of Love and easie Admittance. If they take shame to themselves, and are so far humbled as penitently to confess it: 'tis a great Argument of their being set against it, and, in the case of the first offence especially, a strong Presumption that they will no more commit it. Although, when once these Confessions become Customary, and are still made and broke [Page 286] anew upon every fresh occasion: it is a sign only that they mean well, and would amend if they could; but no Presump­tion that they will do it, since their peni­tent Resolution plainly is too weak, and their Lusts prove still too strong for it. And since these Confessions are manifest­ly an incompetent proof of their having thorowly R [...]pented; we cannot be bound to believe them, or obliged there­upon to a return of Friendship.

Our Saviour indeed tells us, That if our Brother Trespass against us seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn a­gain, saying, I repent; we must forgive him, Luc. 17.4. And here, if by for­giving, were meant restoring to the same state of Favour and Affection; this would infer his Profession of Repentance, tho' never so often broke, to be a sufficient Demonstration of it, and a just Ground of his return to Friendship. But this, I suppose, speaks only of such Forgiveness, as admits him, not to the same state which before he held with us, but only to the state of a Neighbour at large, or of all other Persons. And albeit this is due to him, whether he say, I Repent, or no; yet doth our Saviour here injoin it upon his Rep [...]ntance, not because the thing required it, but that he might more di­rectly [Page 287] oppose the Jewish Doctrine in this point, which was too scanty in forgiving even a returning Penitent. For this they limited to a small number of times, it being a received Rule among the Rabbins, that Dr. Lightf. Hor. Heb. in loc. è Jom. after he has forgiven any Person thrice, he has gone as far as he needs, and that no man is bound to for­give the fourth offence.

To forgive an injury then so far as not to return it, nor to be wanting in any Neighbourly office towards him that of­fered it, is a plain Duty, upon his saying he Repents of it: yea, as has been shewn, whether he Repents or not. But to the evidencing of such Repentance as would oblige us to confide in him again, and leaves no imputation of unfitness in him, but only our Resentment for a Reason of our distance from him: we may require more than his saying he Repents, and giving us his bare word and promise, after they have several times deceived us. For no wise man would trust to that which is oft­ner wrong than right, as every such Per­sons word is, who hitherto has always failed in it: and Christianity in no case forbids us to be wise in our own Concerns, but directs us to be as subtle as Serpents, so long as we are careful withal to keep [Page 288] as innocent as Doves, Mat. 10.16. It commends us for being prudent in business, and seeing before-hand to prevent other mens sins, by cutting off from them all op­portunities; and it may be our own too, by putting by those Temptations, which would always trouble and molest our Peace, and often-times indanger our inno­cence. So that although we are to be ve­ry favourable in construing the sufficien­cy of our Enemies Repentance; yet may we be discreet withall, and are not to be foolishly blind and unreasonably easie in ap­proving it. We must only lean to the side of Favour, when there are such signs, as to a Wise man look towards it; but not rashly conclude it, when there are no likely signs at all of it. But the fault of men seldom lies on this side, of be­ing over-easie to be fully reconciled; so that the other, of being over-rigid, is that which the generality of men ought to guard them­selves against. And therefore in judging of the sufficiency of their Repentance, this is the great Rule we are to take along with us, viz. That as it is one part of Charity fully to forgive our offending Bro­ther, and re-admit him to our former favour on his Repentance: So 'tis another to be favourable in judging whether he has sufficiently Repented, and given such [Page 289] proofs of it as ought to be believed, or no.

As for these further effects of Love to­wards Enemies, and those who have pro­voked us then, viz. our not barely retaining them in a general Charity and Affection, as we do all other men, but re-admitting them to special Trust, Familiarity and Friendship, which they had in their former Station; they are not always due to them, nor are at all proper to be placed on them, but only when they Repent and Amend those Faults which made them unfit for them. So that whilst their Impenitence lasts, or that change doth not sufficiently appear to us, we are not obliged to express our Love in these at all.

And since we are not bound to them, nor are guilty of any sin in omitting them; that omission can never unfit us for the Holy Communion. So that whilst we shew them all the Offices of general kindness, and are wanting in nothing but special Favours, which belong not to them in their present Circumstances; we have all the Charity for them which our Lord requires, and therefore, if we have nothing else to hinder us, may readily join in this Feast of Love when God in­vites us to it.

And this might serve for a sufficient Answer, to those supposed instances of un­charitableness [Page 290] mentioned above, which hinder several fit and worthy Persons from partaking in this Ordinance. But for their fuller satisfaction in these points, I will add something concerning each of the Particulars.

1. They fear they have not that Cha­rity for Enemies and offensive Persons, which Gods Law requires, because they cannot forget as well as forgive, but still remember their injuries or unkindnesses.

But did not our Saviour himself, that perfect pattern of For­giveness, remember Jo. 21.15, 16, 17. Pe­ters Denial of him after he had bitterly Repented of it? Did he not sufficiently hint it to him, by questioning him three times about his Love of him, answerable to his having three times denied him; that by calling it over upon his Remembrance, he might increase his care and watchfulness against it afterwards? So that 'tis not the bare Remembrance, but remembring them to evil purposes, which is to be blamed in us. When they bear in mind the ill they have received then, let them consider whether they do it to any ill effect. Do they think of it to upbraid them with it, or to do them a shame for it, and sit as Spyes up­on their Actions only that they may find [Page 291] Faults, and aggravate Miscarriages, or to return the ill to them again in trans­gressing any of those instances of common Justice or Charity above recited? If their Remembrance of it doth not provoke them, into any of these sinful expressions of hatred and ill will against them, they need not be troubled at it, for there is no hurt done by it. It is not in their Pow­er, it may be, perfectly to forget it; for when the knowledge of things is once fix'd in our minds, though we can for­bear to reflect on it, wherein lies the great danger of it, yet can we not lose it when we have a mind to it. So that after we have received an Injury, we are not to be blamed barely for remembring it; since we are no more able always wholly to forget what has past, than we were at first to be wholly ignorant and insensible of it. Nay, in many Cases, if we could, it is not advisable that we should do it: for whilst the injurious Person is Impenitent, and ready to repeat the same again, the Remembrance of it will do us good, in quickning our care, and making us more wary and watchful to prevent it. But if once he has Repented of what he did, so as that he ought to be admitted to his former state; then, indeed, it may seem very desirable, that as much as in us lies, [Page 292] we should forget it, by giving no enter­tainment or incouragement to the Thoughts of it. For the Remembrance then can serve no good ends, but may prove a very great snare to us, in making us backward in kindness, or fit to catch fire on small Provocations, or uncandid in in­terpreting his words, or actions afterwards. It will not be our sin till these, or some other ill effects are wrought by it; but it will be our Temptation, whereby 'tis very like, we shall sometimes be much indan­ger'd; so that then it may be very fit to lay it aside, for fear of receiving hurt by it.

2. They fear that, after an unkind­ness or injury received, they are not so Charitable as they ought, because they think the worse of him that offered it.

Now if they are uncandid in judging of the injurious action, i. e. if they impute it to the worst cause, and make not those Allowances of forgetfulness, over-sight, and the like, which it would well admit, and which Love would fix upon it were it to construe it: 'tis true, they are so far wanting in it. This, indeed, is hard for us always to avoid, and therefore we must be sure to take the more care, and keep the stricter watch against it. And if after all, through unwariness, through [Page 293] an Accusers laying out only the interpretati­ons of the ill side, or our own suspicious tem­per insensibly leaning towards it, we are in­gaged in an uncandid Construction e're we can discover it; there our inconsidera­tion and unadvisedness will be our excuse for it. But so soon as ever we can ob­serve it, or are shewn how the action is equally capable of a favourable Sense, we must strike in with it, and correct our hasty Judgment. So that if by thinking worse, they mean that they think worse than needs of the Action, and incur an uncandid interpretation; this is the Sen­tence they are to pass upon it. Either it was an innocently inconsiderate escape, and then their haste and unadvisedness must excuse it: or it was a known sin, i. e. it either was, or, had they not been grosly partial and evidently bent to think ill, would have been committed with ob­servation; and then their Repentance and Amendment must atone for it.

But if by thinking worse, they mean, that, when the Fact is evidently ill, they have a worse opinion of the Person; there is no want of Charity in that, because they have just cause for it, and cannot in Rea­son think better of him. They judge only according to the plain Truth of things, and that the best Souls may [Page 294] safely do, and it is no uncharitable part in any of them. For thus our Lord thought of Judas, when he most affectingly Luc. 22.48. suggest­ed to him the baseness of [...]is B [...]tr [...]ying him, and that too with a Kiss, the sign of Friendship and Affecti­on. And thus the Apostles thought of the Jews, whom they looked upon as Act. 2.23. and 7.52. wicked Murder­ers for our Saviours Cruci­fixion. And thus St. Paul thought of Peter, when he blamed him for his Gal. 2.11, 12, 13, 14. sinful complyance and dissimulation. And thus God himself thinks of us upon our miscarriages, for he sees them, and dislikes us for them, and thereby Luc. 6.35. magnifies the Honour of his Patience and loving Kindness, in that he is good even to the unthankful and the evil, and shews us Favour notwithstanding them. And thus also may we very innocently, and charitably too think ill of any others, when they have evidently deserv'd it, and given us just occasion for it. For the work of Charity, or Love to others, is not to make us blind in a plain Case, and see no Faults in them when they are clear before us. For this is Love without [Page 295] Eyes, which is by no means the Love of wise men, or the Charity of Christians. It is not always possible in Nature, nor could be shewn if we should attempt it; for, when others Faults are evident, there is no way of being dark against the Sun, or shutting out the Light whilst our Eyes are opened. But if it always could be done, yet is it not in any wise proper to be advised: for if we must see no hurt in a­ny Persons, it unavoidably destroys all wise choice of Friends and Companions, Relati­ons and Dependants; all seasonable Coun­sel and Instruction, Reproof and Admoniti­on; and so produces most sad effects, both in Conversation and Religion. The work of Charity to others then, is not to wink against a Fault when 'tis apparent; but not to be quick in discerning, and forward in presuming it, when there is no just Cause for it. So that if we would be Charitable to our Enemies, we must not believe ill of them, till it is sufficiently made out to us; nor conclude them faulty in a doubtful case, when there are Reasons on both sides, and they are as likely to be otherwise; nor presume they had an ill design in that which lies as o­pen to a good, and might have no hurt at all in it. In these Cases, where their offence is not clearly proved, it is uncharitable­ness [Page 296] in us to be hasty in believing it. But when their Enmity is profest, and their Vnkindness, or Injurious dealing is evident; 'tis no Duty in any man to shut his Eyes against the Light, nor any Uncharitable­ness at all to esteem them the less for it. We may think him a Dishonest man, that has injured us; and him a False Friend, that has betrayed our Secrets to our Preju­dice, as our Saviour Christ did Judas; and that he is not so kind as he professes, who, when he might, refuses to do good to us. When we judge of Persons, not from rash Surmises, but from clear Evi­dence and Experience, we may judge as we find cause, and, if we judge ill of them, it is not because we are inclined to it, but because they have deserved it; so that our ill Opinion is owing purely to their Faults, and not to any want of Charity in our selves.

3. Some Persons of Passionate Natures fear they have not that Charity for Ene­mies, which is required of all Good men, because, when some have been most mis­chievous to them, their hearts are troubled, and they are inwardly moved as often as they see them; not with any Angry or Revenge­ful Passion, which would do hurt to them; but only with a sad Remembrance of their own Losses, which they have sustained by them.

[Page 297]Now where this is really the Case, (and they who are concerned must be faithful to their own Souls in judging whether it be or no) if there be any Fault in it, it is not want of Charity towards them, but want of Patience towards God, and Contentment in their own Condition. They shew no uncharitableness towards them in it, since they have no wrathful intent to seek their hurt, nor have the least desire to return the Injuries which they have suffer'd. They are troubled at the sight of them, indeed; but that is only as they put them in mind of their own Miseries, which they have occasion'd. They are grieved to see them, as they would be to see the Picture of a Departed Friend, whose Death went very near to them; i. e. only as it calls into their Thoughts that loss which is very afflict­ing. And this Grief, whatever it may be with Impatience, is not chargeable with any Vncharitableness towards our Ene­mies. For it is no part of the Charity. we owe them, to be insensible of what befalls our selves; so that they cannot complain of us for lamenting our own miseries. Nor can they complain of us for doing it at their presence; because they being the cause of all, the sight of them may well bring it to our Remem­brance: [Page 298] and if we may be sorry at all for our own unhappiness, we may be allowed to grieve then especially, when we have those things before us, which are most apt to represent and suggest it to us.

So long then as they are careful so to moderate their Grief for what is lost, (and they must be watchful in this point) as that it doth not make them distrust God, nor repine at what he has order'd, nor settle into an habitual Discontent, nor is otherwise sinful or intemperate; it need be no scruple to their minds, nor hinder them from the Holy Sacrament. They may indeavour to prevent it, both for their own ease and safety, that they may neither be pain'd nor tempted with it: and to this end it may be very adviseable to avoid the Presence of the injurious Person, till they have so well digested their Loss, as that they can look on him without be­ing troubled. But if at any time they meet, and their Hearts are sorrowful at the sight: so long as this Grief is not in it self sinful or intemperate, nor has any angry motions and expressions of Revenge accompanying it; they need not be put into doubts and scruples with i [...], since their state is not disturb'd, nor their Souls at all endanger'd by it.

[Page 299]4. They are afraid they have not such Charity for their Enemies as they ought, because they are not so free with them, nor repose the same Trust in them, but carry themselves with more Reserve and at a greater distance from them, than they used to do before the breach betwixt them.

But so long as their Enemies are Im­penitent, all this has no hurt in it: So that they ought not to be hindred from the Sacrament, or affrighted by it. For this wariness in Conversing with our E­nemies, is no more than Christ himself shew'd in Conversing with the Jews: who would not walk openly among them, be­cause they sought to kill him, Jo. 7 1. and c. 11.53, 54. It is no more than he taught his Disciples to use, when he sent them forth as Sheep in the midst of Wolves; for then he bid them take to themselves all the many Wisdom and prudent Care of Serpents, Mat. 10.16. Indeed, if any one that injures or of sends us, expresses himself sorry for it, and sufficiently Repents of it; we ought, as I have shewn, to admit him to his former state, and to treat him, now he is a Penitent, as God doth us, or as Children do their Play-Fellows, i. e. as if he had never sinn'd, but had kept [Page 300] always innocent. But till we see that, we may very lawfully, and very wisely too, withdraw from him our particular Familiarity, Trust, or Friendship. If we find a Person Dishonest once, till we see him a New man, we are not bound to trust him a second time; for that were to give him an opportunity of committing, and put us into the danger of suffering the same again from him. If 'tis his Temper to fall foul upon us in Discourse, or to be passionate or re­proachful upon light occasions; till it appears that he has learned to act o­therwise, we are not bound to use his Company and Acquaintance: for that were not only to throw away our own ease, but to indanger our own Meek­ness, Peace, and other Virtues, by cast­ing our selves upon Temptations; when­as we ought to be so far from seek­ing them our selves, that we are Mat. 6.13. taught to pray daily against those, which Gods Providence might allot for us. If he lays wait to over-reach, or is industrious to vex, or is any ways un­easie, or prejudicial to us in his Con­versation, we may lawfully carry our selves at a distance from him, till he has reformed those Vices, or corrected [Page 301] those ill▪ Tempers which harm or an­noy us, and shew'd us that now with safety to our selves we may come nearer to him. This distance we may use towards any Persons that offend against us, out of a Natural Love and Care for our own selves; but if they are our Children or Servants, or any ways Subject and Dependant on us, there is still a more obliging Reason for it, and that is their Amendment and Reforma­tion likewise. For when the Fault is great enough to bear it, these marks of our Displeasure are a necessary part of Discipline, and altogether fit to be used, to make them duly sensible of it, and afraid ever after to repeat it. Which is so far from being an unkind part towards them, that in reality it is the truest way of shewing kindness, be­ing the most proper course to amend them, and to bring them back at once to their former state of innocence, and all expressions of our Favour too.

And thus it appears, that so long as we are careful to shew our Enemies all that Justice, Charity, and Peace, which is due to our Neighbour at large, and to all other Persons; we have as much Love for them as God requires, though we still remember their Injuries, [Page 302] and Vnkindnesses, or think the worse of their Persons as we have just cause, or use more Reserve, and keep a greater di­stance towards them in our Carriage, and the like, than we did before they had provoked us. We shew all the Love which is expected, when we are not wanting to them in any Offices of common Charity and Neighbourhood: this makes us accepted with Almighty God, and so fits us for the Holy Sacra­ment; so that although we do not ad­mit them to our particular Esteem and Friendship, whilst they have not suffi­ciently evidenc'd that Repentance which should qualifie them for it; that ought not to put us back, and hinder us from partaking in it.

As for these Hindrances then, which detain some good People from this Feast, viz. their remembring injuries, or thinking the worse of their Enemies, or carrying themselves towards them at a distance, or excluding them from all particular Trust and Confidence, and the like; so long as they shew them all that Love which is due to all men out of Com­mon Charity and Neighbourhood, and are ready to shew them more when their Re­pentance fits them for it; they ought not in any wise to put them by it. They are [Page 303] no Breach of that Charity which God has required, and therefore do not unfit them for the Holy Sacrament; so that when they are all their hindrance, they need not stay away, but may chearfully approach to it.

CHAP. IV. Of Law-Suits.

The Contents.

They are an Hindrance from the Communi­on, when there is sin in them. They are not sinful in themselves, which is shewn, 1. From the necessity of them. 2. From the Magistrates Office being appointed for them. 3. From Gods taking Legal De­terminations upon himself, as if he were the Author of them. 4. From Courts e­rected by consent in the Apostles Days, which ministred to them. These St. Paul prescribed to the Corinthians, 1 Cor. 6. They are the Assemblies mention'd Jam. 2.2. 5. From our Saviours, and St. Pauls Practice, who, in claiming the Benefit of them, warranted and authorized them. An objection from Mat. 5.38, 39, 40. consider'd; which is shewn not to condemn defending our selves in any case when o­thers implead us; nor moving Suits in all, but only in case of lighter L [...]sses and In­dignities, such as our Saviour there men­tions, or making them minister to Revenge [Page 305] in any others. And 1 Cor. 6.7. an­swered, which makes them not a Damning sin, but only, when some Virtuous ends do not require them, a Defect and Dimi­nution. But they are sinful, 1. When they are begun upon an unjustifiable Ground. Such they always are, 1. When they are Vindictive, not Reparative; as when we sue insolvent Persons; or others upon such Words or Actions, for which, besides costs, no Dammages that are valuable are like to be allotted us. 2. When they are for Reparation of small things, which coun­tervail not the evil and hazard of a Suit, but ought to be a matter of Patience and Forgiveness, and so be quietly put up without recourse to it. In judging of this smallness, we must not estimate by our own Pride and Passions; but by the reali­ty of things, and the Judgment of indif­ferent, humble, and dispassionate Persons. This is true, not only in case of Injuries to our own selves, but also in case of Trust, when we have the charge of others. 2. Suits are sinful when they are carried on by a sinful management: As they are, when they make us Transgress any of those Duties towards our Adversaries, which oblige us towards all Persons. To avoid all these in suing is an hard point: So we must be slow in coming to it, and [Page 306] very circumspect when we are forced upon it. The Answer to this Hindrance summ'd up.

BEsides those Particulars, which I have considered in the last Chapter, there is another want of Charity, which may seem of greater weight, and which is most commonly pleaded in Excuse of mens abstaining from the Holy Sacra­ment; and that is the point of Law-Suits. For this is very frequently given as a Reason why men dare not receive the Communion, because they have a Legal Controversie with their Neighbours, and a Suit depending.

Now as to Law-Suits, when they have no sin in them, they are like all other in­different things, and need not hinder men: but when they are sinful, they are like all other sins, i. e. they unfit us till we shew Repentance, and ought to hinder us so long as we continue in them. But as then they are an hindrance to a worthy Receiving; so are they equally to a worthy Prayer, and to all just hopes of Heaven. Whilst we go on with them, we cannot pray to God, or think to have our sins pardon'd, or, should we be snatched away to Judg­ment in this state, expect to be happy in another World. And this is a state, [Page 307] wherein no considerate man will persist for one moment; but when he sees his Suit is so offensive to God, and brings his Eternal welfare into so great hazard, he will either manage it more innocently, so as that there shall be no offence in it; or break it off without delay, and instantly put an end to it. And when once he has done this, or is fully purposed in his own mind so to do; he is again a Friend of God, and fit to joyn in the Holy Sacra­ment, as well as in Prayers, or in any other part of Worship.

Thus doth the weight of this Hindrance from the Communion, lye in the inno­cence or unlawfulness of the Suit which is depending. And therefore that Persons at Law may know when they are unfit to Communicate till they have put a stop to it, and when they may do it notwithstand­ing it; I shall here state the case of Law-Suits, and shew when a Tryal is our Fault, and when 'tis innocent, that so we may know when we need not, and when we ought to be hindred by it.

In pursuit of this, I shall endeavour to clear up these two Particulars.

1. A Suit at Law is not a thing unlawful in it self, but may be innocent, if nothing else comes in to make a sin of it. But then,

[Page 308]2. It is our sin and a matter of our ac­count, when it is either upon an unjustifia­ble Ground, or carried on by a sinful ma­nagement.

1. I say, a Suit at Law is not a thing un­lawful in it self, but may be innocent if no­thing else comes in to make a sin of it.

It is no unlawful thing barely to dis­pute a Title, or to bring an Action; it is in some Cases allowed, as well as in o­thers it is prohibited: so that a man may be Faultless that has a Suit, unless some­thing more comes in to make him a Transgressour in it. The offence lies not in the Nature of it, so as to be in­separable from the Thing; but only in the Cause, or in the manner of Suing: for as St. Paul said of the Law of God among the Jews, so may we of the Laws of our several Countries, the Law is a good thing if a man use it lawfully, 1 Tim. 1.8; it is no sin to use it or take the be­nefit of it, but only to transgress some o­ther Precept, or join some other sin with it when we do.

Now this may appear,

1. From the necessity of it.

2. From the Magistrates Office being ap­pointed for it.

3. From Gods taking a Legal Determi­nation upon himself, as if he were the Author of it.

[Page 309]4. From Courts being Erected by con­sent in the Apostles Days, to minister to it.

5. From the Practice of our Blessed Sa­viour, and St. Paul who claimed the Bene­fit of it, and thereby plainly warranted and authorized it.

1. It appears, I say, from the ne­cessity of it. A Tryal at Law must needs be innocent in it self when no­thing else corrupts it, because it is a thing we cannot want, and there is no living in the World without it. For take away Law, which should secure in­nocent mens Properties, and bridle all En­vious, Angry, Spiteful, Covetous, Inso­lent, and Ambitious mens rapacious and encroaching humours: and, since all places are fully stored with these injurious Tem­pers, the Wicked being by far the greatest numbers, the Quiet and Consci­entious must flee into Woods and Desarts, or, if they stay to Associate with others, become every where a Prey to their gree­dy and usurping Neighbours. If there were no Laws to protect them, there were no living in this World for good men; and in effect there would be none, if it were a sin in them to try a Title, or Right themselves by them. For no man that had a mind to it, would be aw'd [Page 310] from doing wrong by a Law that is al­ways to be a Sword in a Scabbard, and must never be pleaded against him, or executed upon him when he transgresses it. The use of Law then in this World is ab­solutely necessary to all Society, to keep Peace and Justice in all Converse, and to protect and encourage all such as desire to serve God and to be Conscientious. And since there is that necessity of it for Gods Service, and all Virtuous Ends; it can­not in its own Nature be a thing offen­sive, and unlawful to us. It cannot be it self a Sin, which God has made so absolutely necessary to keep all others out: it must needs be allowed by him, since without it his own ends of Peace and Ju­stice cannot be attain'd; it is at least sure an innocent, if not a good thing, which gives the only protection to all Goodness, and without which there is no living for Good men in Societies, where they may do God publick Service, and draw in others, nor indeed any safe abode for them upon the Earth at all.

2. That a Suit at Law is not sinful in it self, but may sometimes be innocent, ap­pears from the Magistrates Office being ap­pointed for it.

One part of the Magistrates Office lies, indeed, in protecting his Subjects against [Page 311] all Foreign Force and Invasions. But his most ordinary and constant work, is to ad­minister Justice, and maintain Peace among themselves; which is done by hearing Causes, and judging in all Controversies and Arraignments, giving Sentence on the side which the Law favours, and where the Right Lies. Thus is [...]t the Magi­strates Office to hear Causes or Suits at Law, and to decide them. And this work he doth not assume to himself, ei­ther without, or against Gods liking; but according to his appointment, and altoge­ther with his approbation. For by me, says Wisdom, Kings Reign, and Princes Decree Justice, Prov. 8.15. And the Powers that be, says St. Paul, are appointed of God, they are Gods Ordinance, Rom. 13.1, 2. And since God himself appoints them to hear our Causes, we may well presume he will not look upon it as our sin to bring them to their hearing. For God would never appoint an Ordinance to minister only to Mens sins, and to put them in a way of multiplying Offences; so that since he has appointed Officers to hear it, a Suit at Law in it self must needs be in­nocent, and capable to be carried on without any sin at all.

Nay, God has not only appointed the Magistaates Office for it: But more­over,

[Page 312]3. When a Legal Determination is gi­ven, he takes it upon himself, as if he were the Author of it; which is still a further Evidence that we do not sin barely in seeking to it.

He takes a Legal Determination, I say, upon himself, as if he were the Author of it. In the Jewish State, God was their Political Prince and Soveraign, and the Judges among them were as much his De­puties, and did represent his Person, as now the Judges do the Person of their several Princes in all other Nations. And there­fore Moses told them when he appointed them, that the Judgment was God's, and that they gave Sentence only as his De­puties, and judged not for themselves, but for the Lord, Deut. 1.17.

Now, tho' other Nations cannot look upon God as their Secular King, and State-Head in all those Points which the Jews could, for he gave them Laws in Civil Affairs, and issued out Directions in State Exigencies, and the like: yet as to this they can, that all their Governours are but Substitutes under him, and that he owns what is legally and justly De­termined by them. For the Magistrate he looks upon as his Minister and Vice­gerent, who doth all things in his Name and Stead; the Power, says St. Paul, is [Page 313] the Minister of God, Rom. 13.4. And since he acts as his Servant, he takes his judicial Determination upon himself, as if it were his own, and he were the Au­thor of it. For this he doth plainly in Criminal Causes, and the Case is the same in all other Judicial that are not Criminal. When any man is wrong'd, saith he, let him not avenge himself, for Vengeance is mine, I will repay it; i. e. by the Magistrate who is my avenger to Exe­cute Wrath, so that when he punishes, you may look upon it as if I had done it, Rom. 12.19. and 13.4.

And since a Legal Determination is owned by God himself as if he were the Author of it, we may be sure, whilst all things else are right, that there is no hurt barely in our seeking of it. It can be no sin to ask what God grants, for he hears not Sinners in their Sins, Joh. 9.31; nor can it give any Offence in a contro­verted Case, to appeal to his own Sen­tence. So that since in all Legal Deter­minations it is God himself, who by his Ministers passes Judgment; we may be assured that we do not displease him in applying our selves thereto, when there is just cause for it.

4. That a Suit at Law and all Judici­al [Page 314] Process is not in it self a Sin, appears from Courts being Erected by consent in the Apostles days, for the Management and Conduct of them.

Now that such Courts were then E­rected, I shall shew from two places; one of St. Paul, wherein he prescribes them; and another of St. James, wherein he makes mention of them.

1. It appears from one place in St. Paul, wherein he prescribes them; and that is 1 Cor. 6. where he orders the Corinthians to appoint Courts of Judgment among themselves, that so they might have no need to expose their Religion, by im­pleading one another before the Heathen-Tribunals. Do not ye know, says he, that the Saints shall judge the World? And if the World shall be judg'd by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters, or unworthy of the smallest [...]. Judicatures? If then ye have Judgment of things pertaining to this Life, or if ye have recourse to [...]. secular Judicatures; go not before Unbelie­vers, but set some, yea, rather than In­fidels, those that are least esteemed, or [...]. set at nought in the Church, [Page 315] set them, I say, to judge, or in the [...]. Chair of Judg­ment, v. 2, 4.

Thus doth he advise them to erect a­mong themselves standing Courts by con­sent, when, the Power being in Heathens hands, they could not otherwise be sup­plied in their own Body with Seats of Judgment.

2. It appears also from another Place in St. James, wherein he makes mention of them. And that is Jam. 2.2, 3, 4. If there come into your As­sembly or [...]. Synagogue a man with a Gold Ring, &c. Into your Assembly, i. e. your Judicial Court, where the respect of Persons was not to be permitted.

That the word here rendered [...]. Assembly or Synagogue, signifies sometimes more particularly Court Assem­blies, and Judicial Consistories, appears from Mat. 10.17. where our Saviour tells his Disciples of being delivered up to Consistories, and scour­ged in their [...]. Synagogues i. e. in their Judgment Halls. And so also Mat. 23.34.

And that it ought to signifie such Con­sistories [Page 316] and Court Assemblies, (which were then used both in Ecclesiastical and Civil Affairs) in this place, appears both from the thing it self, and from several parti­culars here spoken of these Assemblies which seem so to determine it.

The thing it self, I say, seems so to re­quire it. For in these Assemblies St. James condemns all Respect of Persons, and discrimination of Rich and Poor, by giving Honour according to Peoples Qualities: which was unlawful only in Judicatures, but is a Duty in Conversation and Common Carriage. For it is an Apostolical Pre­cept, to give Honour to whom Honour is due, Rom. 13.7. And those Servants, who have believing Masters, are forbid to with-draw any thing of their Respect, presuming upon their Spiritual Kindred, or to Honour them the less, because they are become their Brethren in being Be­lievers, 1 Tim. 6.2. So that although in Judgment-Seats, not mens Qualities, but Causes only ought to be respected; yet in other Assemblies a regard may be given to their Persons, and 'tis commen­dable so to do.

And several Particulars here spoken of these Assemblies seem so to determine it. For the Offenders here taxed with Respecting Persons in them, are said to have a Foot-stool, [Page 317] which belongs to Chairs of State and Judicatures; to give Evil Judgment; to pass Sentence against the poor M [...]ns Cause, without deliberating on it, or deba­ting it; and to transgress the Law in mak­ing a difference according to mens Qualities, particularly in bidding the Rich to sit, and the poor to stand, which was expresly forbid by a Canon of the Jews to all that sate in Judgment: all which shew that Courts of Judicature are the Assemblies here specifi­ed.

The Offenders here taxed, I say, for respecting Persons in these Assemblies, are said to have a Foot-stool. For so the A­postle expresses himself, v. 3. Ye have respect to him that wears the gay clothing, and say unto him, sit thou here in a good Place; and say to the Poor, stand thou there, or sit here under my Footstool. And this is a proba­ble intimation of their Dignity and Autho­rity in the place where they sate; for Foot-stools ordinarily are Appendages only of the Chairs of Great Persons, who have Power and Superiority over others, as of Princes on their Thrones, and Judges upon Tribunals.

They are said to give Evil Judgment, i. e. to pass Sentence on the wrong side, as he is like to do who tries not Things but Persons, and determines from By-respects, [Page 318] not from the merits of the Cause which is to be decided. By this respect of Persons, says he, ye are become Judges of Evil Thoughts, i. e. you give Evil and Perverse Judgments, v. 4.

They are said to pass Sentence on the Poor mans Cause, without deliberating on it, or debating it. Ye say to the Rich, saith he, sit thou here, and to the Poor stand that at a distance there: So the Greek is literally to be ren­dered The words are [...], and ye have not disputed it among your selves, [...], are ye not parti­al in yourselves? by way of Interro­gation, as we tran­slate it. For [...] is w [...]nt to ask a que­stion, only wh [...]n it is [...] first, n [...]t w [...]n it h [...]s anoth [...]r [...] it, as [...] is here. And [...] in the [...] have made a difference, or act [...], which is exp [...]ess [...]d by the Active [...] but ye have n [...]t been in doubt or d [...]spute [...] that ordinarily agrees [...] Mat. 21.21. Mar. 11.23. Rom. 4.2. Jam. 1.6. and in other places. and ye are not doubtful or debate his Cause in or [...]. among your selves, but are Judges of evil Thoughts, or give per­verse Judgments; for so the words are most natu­rally rendred, and not, as we do, are ye not partial in your selves, and Judges of Evil Thoughts? v. 3, 4. And this shews plainly that their respect of Per­sons was expressed in Ju­dicial Process, in giving rash Sentence in favour of [Page 319] the Rich, without ever staying to hear the Plea, or weigh the Reasons of the Poors Cause.

They are said to transgress the Law in this regarding Persons, and treating them differently according to the difference of their outward State and Condition; when in this different carriage towards Rich and Poor, ye have respect of Persons, says he, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the Law, which plainly forbids such pra­ctice, as Transgressours, v. 3.9. And this seems clearly to restrain it to their Court-Assemblies. For in Judgment there is a Law forbidding all respect of Persons, Ye shall not respect Persons in Judgment, but you shall hear the small as well as the great, Deut. 1.17. and Levit. 19.15. But there is no Law that forbids it, yea, rather, since St. Paul injoins us to give Honour where Honour is due, and directs Servants to pay never the less, but rather more Re­verence to their Masters, because they are Be­lievers, and would not have 1 Cor. 14.33. Confusion introduced, but Order kept in the Church as well as in other places; there may seem enough, not only to warrant, but to re­commend it in all other Cases. Besides, what is still a further Evidence of this point, they are said particularly to trans­gress [Page 320] the Law in bidding the Rich to sit, and the Poor to stand, v. 3, 9; which, as a Dr. Ham. An­not. in loc. great man observes, was a thing ex­presly forbid by a Canon of the Jews to all that sate in Judgment. For that required in all Suits and Judicial Tryals betwixt Rich and Poor, that either both should stand, or both should sit; which is a thing, as he adds, that the Jews ob­serve at this day in hearing Causes; for then, if one presuming upon his quality take a Seat, the Judge presently says to the other, sit thou down also.

And thus I think it appears, that the Assemblies, which in this intricate place St. James mentions, are Court-Assemblies and Judicial Consistories; both because the Nature of the thing seems to require it, since in them he forbids all respect of Persons, which elsewhere is not prohibi­ted; and also because several particulars here spoken of them seem so to determine it. For they are said to be such Assemblies, wherein is a Foot-stool, the usual Appen­dant to Chairs of State and Seats of Judg­ment; wherein men were Judges of Evil Thoughts, i. e. judged wrong, and gave per­verse See [...]tnce; wherein they Condemned the Poor mans Cause without deliberating on it, and debating it; wherein to respect [Page 321] Persons, was against a plain Law forbid­ding it, as we find there is a very express one in Judicial Proceedings, but none at all, nay, rather the contrary in all other Cases; and, lastly, such wherein to bid a Rich man sit, and a Poor man stand, was a transgression of a Precept, as in Court As­semblies it plainly is, being against an express Canon of the Jews in Judgment. By all which I suppose it may appear, that Judicial Consistories are the Assemblies here intended.

Thus were Judicatures prescribed, and ordinarily used in the Apostles Days. St. Paul appoints the Corinthians to ere [...]t them; and St. James makes mention of them as of an ordinary thing among them; and that too without passing any mark of dislike upon the Courts them­selves, when he blames that partiality and respect of Persons which they shew­ed in them. These Judicatures, indeed, were erected by their own consent among themselves; and were not imposed on them by Power and Authority, as other Legal Tribunals are: but they serv'd for the same end of hearing Causes, and pas­sing such Sentence as should take effect and put an end to Controversies, as other Judg­ment-Seats; so that the same thing was done by them in suing in their Courts, [Page 322] which is done by us in ours. In our Judgment-Halls, 'tis true, where things are managed by Advocates, that often­times seek Conquest and not Justice, and ransack all Reserves of Law to support, as long as Craft can do it, an unrighte­ous Cause; there is more room for ill Arts, which bring more sin into our Pleadings. But that is not a Fault inse­parable from Suits, but is the sin of Managers; it lies not naturally upon the thing, but only upon the Contingent circumstances and manner of doing; so that if we are careful to keep it free from them, a Suit in it self may still be inno­cent, and carried on as lawfully in our Courts, as it was in those of the Apostles Days.

And as this Lawfulness of Judicial Process appears from these Legal Courts erected in the Apostles Days to minister to it: so doth it yet further,

5. From the Practice of our Blessed Sa­viour, and St. Paul, who claimed the bene­fit of it, and thereby plainly warranted and authorized it.

Our Blessed Lord himself, I say, claim­ed the Benefit of it. For when the Officer in the High-Priests presence struck him with the Palm of his Hand, he openly complains of the illegality of the Act, [Page 323] and expostulates before him for a redress of it. If I have spoken Evil, says he, testify against me, and bear witness of the Evil: but if well, why smitest thou me? Joh. 18.22, 23.

And after him St. Paul was not afraid to plead his own Cause, and serve him­self of Law, when others went about to use him with Violence contrary to it. For when the Chief Captain ordered him to be scourged uncondemned, he pleads the Legal Priviledge of a Roman, who ought not to be so treated, Act. 22.24, 25. And when the Magistrates of Philippi, contrary to all Law and Priviledge, had scourged him and Silas, without any hearing of their Cause; he threatens them for it, and would not put it up, unless in Compensation they would come themselves in Person to release them out of Prison, and do them Honour before all the Multitude: Act. 16.36, 37, 38, 39. Nay, he uses all wise Arts of Law to main­tain a Righteous Cause, and when he was not like to have Justice done him in one Court, protests against it, and claims the Benefit of appeal to another. For when Festus willing to do the Jews a Pleasure, would have had him go up to be judg'd be­fore him at Jerusalem, in the way whereto the Jews design'd to murder him; he an­swered, [Page 324] I stand at Caesars Judgment-Seat, where I ought to be judged; if I have com­mitted any thing worthy of Death, I refuse not to die; but if there be none of these things whereof these accuse me, as thou very well knowest, the Law of the Empire is my Protection, and no Man may deliver me un­to them, I appeal unto Caesar, Acts 25.3, 9, 10, 11.

And thus from all these Considerations it appears, that a Suit at Law is not a thing unalterably evil, and unlawful in it self; but may very innocently be carried on, if no Sin mixes with it to turn it into a Transgression. It is a thing which God has allowed when we have just cause for it, and are guilty of no Vice in the Course and Conduct of it. For he himself has put us into a necessity of it, and has appointed the Magistrates Office for it, and takes upon himself the just Judgment which is given in it; and when Christians became a distinct Body, Courts were set up by the Order of the Apostles themselves to Mi­nister to it; and, as it fell in their way, our Blessed Lord, and St. Paul too have serv'd their own turns by it: By all which 'tis plain that a course of Law may some­times innocently be used, since otherwise God and these Good Men, could never have been thus concerned about it.

[Page 325]But against all this some may urge two places, which seem to take away all Suits a­mong Christians, and to forbid all legal Defence, by requiring a patient Sufferance of all Losses and Indignities which should occasion them. One is, Mat. 5.39. in point of Indignities; the other is, Mat. 5.40. and 1 Cor. 6.7. in point of Losses and spoil of Goods: And if both these must be suffered with Patience, without any Legal Defence or Righting of our selves; what is there left to be matter of Civil Causes for us to Sue and Contend for?

These Pleas seem fair, and therefore it is fit they should have an Answer.

One Place seems to forbid all Suits and Legal Righting of our selves, in case of Af­fronts and Indignities; and that is, Mat. 5.38, 39. Ye have heard, says our Savi­our, that it hath been said in the Law of Moses, an Eye for an Eye, and a Tooth for a Tooth: i. e. When any one had of­fered these Violences to them, they were allowed by judicial Process (this Law of Retaliation being directed to the Judges, Exod. 21.23, 24.) to inflict the very same on them again. But in op­position to this, I say unto you, re­sist not Evil, or the Evil [...]. Man, not only forci­bly by Private Violence, [Page 326] but also legally by publick process, for so the [...]. word rendred Resist as, Jer. 49.19. who will appoint me the time, or, as it is rendred in the Margin, con­vent me to plead; which the 70 ex­press by [...]; And so again, Chap. 50.44. some­times signifies, and its opposition to these Le­gal Retaliations among the Jews here imports. But whosoever shall smite thee on the right cheek, turn to him the other. And so again in case of Losses and spoil of Goods, ver. 40. If any Man will Sue thee at the Law, and take away thy Coat or [...]. inner Gar­ment; rather than con­tend with him for that, hazard a fur­ther Loss, and let him take thy [...]. Cloak or up­per Garment also. Con­formable whereto the Apostle tells the Corinthians, that they are utterly in a fault, in not suffering themselves to be De­frauded, but seeking Remedy by a Suit or going to Law at all, 1 Cor 6.7.

Now in Answer to these places, I ob­serve,

1. That [...] are not meant literally and absolutely, [...] [...]urning our Cheek to all Smi­ters, or [...] our Goods to all ravenous Encroach [...]s: [...]ea, that they do not forbid [Page 327] us at any time to serve our selves of Law, when others implead us; nor at all times to seek unto Magistrates, and implead others.

2. That they are meant proverbially, and only forbid moving Suits in lighter Losses and Indignities, such as our Lord there mentions, or making the Law the Mini­ster of Revenge in any others.

1. I say, they are not meant Literally and absolutely, of turning the Cheek to all Smiters, or yielding our Goods to all rave­nous Incroachers; nor forbid us at any time to serve our selves of Law, when we are brought before Tribunals. For this our Blessed Lord himself did, as we have seen, when the Officer struck him before the High-Priest; he offers not himself for a­nother blow, but argues against the ille­gality of what he had already received, Joh. 18.22, 23. And this St. Paul did, when the Chief Captain would have scourged him uncondemned; he pleads the priviledge of a Roman, which ought to secure him from being so hardly treated, Acts 22.25. And this he did a­gain, when Festus would have sent him to Jerusalem to be Tryed; he appeals to Caesar, and claims the Benefit of his Judg­ment-Seat where he ought to be judged, Acts 25.9, 10, 11. They did not invite fresh injuries, by laying themselves open to [Page 328] them; but stood upon their own De­fence, and Legally withstood them. So that these Precepts are not to be taken in the Literal Compass, (in which sence St. Paul, yea, and Christ himself too, would have been Transgressors,) nor so as to forbid us at any time to serve our selves of Law when we are brought before Tribunals: since St. Paul, who very well understood them, nay, our Blessed Lord, who to the height fulfilled them, have taught and authoriz'd us by their Example so to do.

Nay, they do not forbid us in all Cases to bring others before Magistrates, and seek unto Judicatories to Right our selves. For St. Paul did something towards this in his Contest with the Philippian Ma­gistrates; where, though he was an Of­fender against the Laws, yet in regard they had treated him illegally, in scourg­ing him and Silas uncondemned, against the Priviledge of Romans; he terrifies them with it, and would not put it up, till they Compounded with him upon his own Terms, and brought him honou­rably out of Prison in the Eyes of all the Citizens, Acts 16.36, 37, 38, 39. Besides, as I have already shewn, that this is sometimes lawful among Christians, is evident from the Law-Courts in the Apo­stles [Page 329] Days, which were prescribed by the Apostles themselves for this very pur­pose. It is clear from the necessity of it, since there is no living in this World for honest and Conscientious Men without it: From Gods having appointed an Officer on purpose, the Magistrate I mean, to take care of it; and from his taking a just Law-Determination upon himself, a [...] if he were the Author of it: So that some seeking unto Courts, and judicial en­deavors to Right our selves, are still in­nocent; and therefore all cannot be here prohibited.

As for these Places then, they are not meant Literally and Absolutely of turning our Cheek to all Smiters, or of yielding our Goods to all ravenous Encroachers: They do not forbid us at any time to serve our selves of Law when others unjustly implead us; nor at all times to seek unto Magi­strates, and implead others.

But,

2. They are meant Proverbially, and only forbid MOVING Suits in Lighter Losses and Indignities, such as our Lord there mentions; or making Law the Minister of Revenge in any others.

They require Patience, and forbid MO­VING Suits in lighter Losses and Indigni­ties. To turn the Cheek to a Smiter, is a [Page 330] Proverbial Speech, which denotes our calm endurance and patient bearing of inju­ries. And so the Afflicted Mans Patient carriage is expressed, Lam. 3.—he giveth his Cheek to him that smiteth him, v. 30. And to let him that Sues for the Coat, i. e. the [...]. Shirt or inner Garment, take the Cloak also, is a Proverbial Phrase too, (for in the truth of the Letter, a Shirt is no likely matter of a Law-Suit,) and signi­fies an uncontesting sufferance of such small Losses, tho that may expose us to bear some others, and those more weighty ones. So that when our Saviour bids us give the other Cheek to the Smiter, and the upper Garment to him that has taken away the in­ner, i. e. to venture the inviting him to a second injury by his success, rather than to ingage in variance: His meaning is, that in these, or such other light injuries, which either leave no permanent effect, or only such as may be born without any great Prejudice; we should exercise our Pati­ence, and not go to Law, either to recom­pense the past, or to prevent future suffer­ings. And therefore if in these smaller matters we enter Actions and implead o­thers, that indeed is our Sin; since here he enjoyns us Charitably and Patiently to bear, and not to Sue for them.

[Page 331]And as they forbid all Suits in these, so do they all Malice, and making Law the instrument of Revenge in any others. Ye have heard, saith our Saviour, that it hath been said an Eye for an Eye, and a Tooth for a Tooth: i. e. they were allowed in course of Law to return ill who had suf­fered it, when as in these instances men­tioned, they had no other benefit by it, but only the pleasure of seeing him smart who had occasioned it; which is proper­ly Revenging it, for to Revenge an inju­ry is in hatred to return it. But in oppo­sition to this, I say unto you, (so that Re­venge being the thing there allowed, it must in the opposition be here prohibi­ted) resist not evil, i. e. in any kind of Resistance, which is Revenging it as they might: But whosoever shall smite thee on the right cheek, turn to him the other, &c. i. e. Be readier to suffer another injury, than spitefully to commence a Suit, or in any sort to Revenge what is received already, v. 38, 39, 40.

As for this place in St. Matthew then, it forbids us not to defend our selves by Law in any case, nor in all to bring an Action and implead others: But it only forbids Suits in lighter Losses and Indig­nities, such as our Lord there mentions, and making the Law the instrument of Revenge in weightier matters.

[Page 332]But even in those Cases, where it is no Sin to use Law, and our Saviour Christ has not forbid it: Yet if it is only our own concern and no point of Trust, it is a more noble thing, and a greater pitch of Christian Perfection, to abstain from it.

When we are in trust for others, in­deed this is not to be advised; for we must not be Generous in Charities at their cost, nor affect heights in Patience when they are to pay for it: lest whilst we aim at a great pitch of Passive Virtues, and Love towards Offenders, we be found wanting in Justice and Faithfulness to­wards our own Charge. And this is to be extended not only towards Strangers, who are voluntarily committed to us; but also in due measure, to our own Chil­dren and Families, for whom we ought to 2 Cor. 12.14. provide con­venient support, and whom God and Nature have intrusted to us.

But when the Loss is only to our selves, and doth not any way Defraud others of what they might in Reason claim from us, or, as in the Case of Pious or Charitable Works, of what we had allotted them in our own Designs: tho without Sin we might Sue for it, yet doth it shew more of that Charity which 1 Cor. 13.5. seeks not her own, and is [Page 333] a nobler attainment in a Christian, Pa­tiently to sit down under it; as Athe­nagoras tells us the Christians in his time usually did, who Their way is, [...]. Athen. Legat. p. 12. when their Goods were violently seized would not draw the inju­rious Persons into Judg­ment. And this St. Paul affirms of it, 1 Cor. 6. There is utterly or [...]. al­together a fault or a [...]. de­fect among you, because ye go to Law at all one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? Why do you not rather suffer your selves to be defrauded? v. 7. He doth not condemn it as a Sin; but only as a defect, or thing that lessened them. Their Suing before unbelievers, he tells them was a sinful Course; because as their Case stood, who impleaded each others, and that too for injuries, it was a Scandal to their Enemies, and exposed the Christian Cause, v. 1.6. But as for their bare going to Law it self, it was not so. For he tacitely intimates they might do it before the Saints—Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to Law before the unjust, saith he, and not before the Saints, much rather? v. 1. Nay he orders them that they should do it, [Page 334] and erect Judicatures among themselves for that intent. Go not before Infidels, says he, but set those who are least esteem­ed among your selves to Judge, or set them in the Seat, or [...]. Chair of judgment, v. 4.2, 3. This was ordinarily done in other places, where they had Judicial Assemblies, as I have shewn from Jam. 2.2. Yea, and where they had not, but must implead before a Gen­tile Judgment-Seat, when the Scandal that now accompanied their Case was not in­curr'd, he himself had given Countenance to it, and threatned Legally to Right him­self before the Heathen Magistrate, Acts 6.37, 38, 39. But altho their Suits at Law in weightier Cases were no Sin, yet he tells them they were their Lessening and Diminution: And that albeit they might with a safe Conscience use them, yet would it shew more Contempt of Earth­ly Things and Mortified Passions, more Ge­nerous Charity, and Stronger Patience, and a greater height of Christian Perfection, to retain. It is, says he, alto­gether not a [...]. Sin, but a [...]. Lessening and Diminution to you, that you go to Law one with another. And because there is only a Defect, but no Transgression in it; he doth [Page 335] not absolutely condemn, but only compa­ratively disswade from it. Why do ye not rather take wrong? Why do you not rather suffer your selves to be defrauded? 1 Cor. 6.7.

As for these places then, which seem to forbid Suits either on Losses or Indig­nities, they do not forbid them absolutely, and in all Cases. They only forbid us to fly to them in smaller matters, such as our Saviour mentions; or to make them a means of Revenge in Great ones; or say of Suits in General, where a publick end or some other Virtue doth not require them, that they are, although not our sin, yet our Defect and Diminution: So that whensoever they are sued at Law, the best men may serve themselves of it; and when they are greatly injured, though 'twere better to let it alone, yet may they safely seek to it, and, without any of­fence to God or wrong to a good Consci­ence, implead others still.

And thus it appears that Suits at Law are not sinful in themselves, but may lawfully be used, if there is no unlawful­ness in the Ground, and way of manage­ment. The thing it self has no sin in it, and so may be innocent if we take care that no other sin adhere to it. So that barely to try a Title is no matter of any [Page 336] mans account, nor has any offence at all in it.

But although Suits at Law are not thus unlawful in themselves, but may some­times be innocent; yet as I said,

2. They are our sin and a matter of our account, when they are either enter'd upon an unjustifiable Ground, or are carried on by a sinful Management.

1. I say Suits at Law are our sin, and a matter of our account, when they are begun upon an unjustifiable Ground.

It is not every cause that usually begets it, which can warrant before God, and Justify a Law-Suit. For sometimes men are led on to it only by Revenge, when they have no lasting Dammage to be re­paired, but seek only their Brothers smart, and to be even with him who of­fered it: and then the Suit must needs be unlawful, having a sin at the bottom of it. And at other times, when there is a real Dammage, yet is it so trivial as that the making of it up will not countervail the Evils and Temptations of a Suit; and then it will be sinful still, as wanting a Ground of so much weight, as can bear the burden of it. For a Tryal at Law, besides its being a costly and painful thing, is also a very perillous State, and a dange­rous Temptation. It will be sure to put [Page 337] him we sue to much trouble and pains in Collecting and Examining Evidences, pre­paring Witnesses, informing Advocates, and attending Courts, which is toyl in it self, and an hindrance to better business: and in the whole Course and Conduct of it, it will put him to constant Charges and Expence. And it will be a State of great Temptation, both to him and to our selves, insnaring us, unless we are very circum­spect to prevent it, into covetous Wishes, or delays of Justice, or vexatious Arts, or uncharitable Surmizes, and revengeful Thoughts, or deceitful Suggestions and Fal­sifications, Hypocritically disguising the weakness of our own Cause, or unreasona­bly aggravating those of our Adversaries to our own profit and his prejudice, and the like. These sins are ever before men whilst a Suit is depending, they have constant opportunities for them, and are perpetually provoked into them; and it must be a great Conduct, as well as a great Care that must preserve them from being ingaged in them. And since there is so much Toil attending it, so great Charge occasioned by it, and so many Temptations and great Dangers, both to our own Souls and our Brothers, laid in the way of it: it must not be a light thing, but a weighty Cause indeed, which can over-balance [Page 338] all these Considerations, and justly draw us to commence it.

But in this point to be more Particu­lar. Suits are unlawfully entred when they are begun, either,

1. For Revenge, and not for Reparation of Damages.

Or,

2. When for Reparation only of small things, which cannot countervail the evil and hazard of a Suit, but ought to exercise our Patience and Forgiveness, and so be put up without Recourse to it.

1st. I say, Suits are unlawfully entred, when they are Vindictive not Reparative, and are begun only for Revenge, not for Repair of Damages. And this they always are, when they are commenced either against insolvent Persons; or upon such words and actions against others, for which, besides Costs, no Damages that are valuable are like to be allowed us.

They are not Reparative, but Vindictive, when they are commenced against insol­vent Persons. When we sue a poor man, who cannot pay what he ows, or recom­pence what he has wrongfully done to us, it is not that our own Sore may be heal'd, but only that his Smart may be wrought by it. For the Law doth not make him Coin Money that has it not, but only [Page 339] forces him to pay it, who has it, but will not part with it. To put a Beggar in Prison, and run him out at Law to the utmost, is not the way to put Money in his Pocket; so that when we have to do with such, it is only Revenge upon him, and not the Compensation of our own Loss, which can be sought by it. If we go to right our selves by Law then upon an insolvent man, we go only to return the hurt which he has done, and to be even with him. And this is a great in­stance of an hard Heart, and a spiteful Spirit; and is quite contrary to that Bro­therly-kindness, Compassion, and Forgive­ness, which, how unworthy soever he may be of it, yet so long as the misery of his case requires it, God has injoyn'd us to use towards him. It is exactly to deal with him, as the wicked man did with his insolvent Brother in the Parable, which provoked God to return the same Rigour upon his own head again. For when he ought his Lord ten thousand Talents, he freely forgave him that great Debt, because he was not able to pay it: But when his Fellow-Servant, who ought him only an hundred Pence, could not tender down that small s [...]mm when he demanded it, he shew'd nothing of that Compassion towards this poor man which God had shewn to him, [Page 340] but laid hands on him, and cast him into Prison till payment should be made. But when the Fellow-Servants told this to their Lord, he resolves to deal with him in his own way, and strictly exacts that Debt, which otherwise he intended freely to have acquitted, delivering him, as he had done his Brother, to the Tormentors, till all should be discharged. And so likewise shall my Heavenly Father do to you, says our Saviour, if ye from your Hearts for­give not every one his Brother their Tres­passes, Mat. 18. v. 24. to c. 19.

But if they are commenced against responsible Persons, they are not Repara­tive but Vindictive still, if they are upon such Words or Actions, for which, besides Costs, no Damages that are valuable are like to be allowed us. A great number of Suits are for abusive Words, or a Box on the Ear, or some other trivial matters, which leave no Permanent ill effects, but if our Passions may be with-held from esti­mating them, pass off without making. us the worse, or doing us any Prejudice. And in all these, since there is no Da­mage sticks to us, there is no need of any Reparations: so that if we begin Suits, it is not to indemni [...]ie our selves, but to be vexations and afflict others who have af­flicted us, wherein consists the very Na­ture of Revenge.

[Page 341]And this is always unlawful, and most expresly forbidden to all us Christians. To the Jews, indeed, it was allowed in the Old Testament: For they were permitted to return ill for ill, and to demand an Eye for an Eye, and a Tooth for a Tooth, when thereby their own lost Member was not restored, but only their Adversaries sent after it, and, bating the Pleasure of Re­venge, they reaped no other Benefit by it, Mat. 5.38. But this is most strict­ly forbidden to all us Christians in the New. For we are taught to recompence to no man Evil for Evil, but to overcome Evil with Good, Rom. 12.17, 20, 21: to forgive those that Trespass against us, i. e. not to return their injurious, or hard usage, as ever we expect forgiveness of our own Trespasses at Gods hands, Mat. 6.12, 14, 15. And particularly in opposi­tion to this going to Law for Revenge, our Saviour forbids us Judicially to resist the Evil man, as has been shewn, i. e. in course of Law to return the Evil on him, as by Virtue of that Rule An Eye for an Eye, &c. the Jews did; but in stead of that, by the Phrase of turning one Cheek to him who has struck the other, requires that we patiently submit and sit down under it, Mat. 5.38, 39, 40.

This then is the first thing which [Page 342] God requires to the Lawfulness of all Ju­dicial Tryals; they must never be Vin­dictive, but Reparative, and we must not Sue another in order to his Smart and Pre­judice, but only to heal or secure our own selves, either by holding the Goods which he cl [...]ims, or repairing the Loss, which he has [...] us.

2. Suits for Reparation of Losses are un­lawful, when the Reparations are only of small things which cannot countervail the evil and hazard of a Suit, but ought to exercise our Patience and Forgiveness, and so be quietly put up without Recourse to it.

In the Course of secular Wisdom, in­deed, which looks only to secure the Concerns of this World, when men are Rich or Potent, and have Wealth or In­terest enough to go through with it, the smallest Affronts or infringement of their just Power and Priviledge, are often-times esteemed a sufficient occasion of a Law-Suit. For thereby they think they stop the first Breach in their own Right, which if it be suffered to be once made, as it is in the Breach of a Water-Bank, or a fortified Wall, 'tis after that a much easier thing to widen it; they cheek an incroaching [...] in the bud, before it has got Heart or Ground enough to make a greater [Page 343] Contest; and they shew the World they are not of a yielding Temper that will be wrong'd or baffled, and thereby strike an awe, which will keep all others from at­tempting them, and purchase their own quiet. Upon these, or such like secular Maxims, when nothing but the interest of this World guides them, they many times conclude the sleightest wrongs are not to be put up, and therefore, when in any trivial thing their Right is inva­ded, betake themselves to course of Law for Maintenance and Vindication of it.

But in Religion the Case is altered. For that seeks not only what is fit to secure our selves, and maintain our worldly Rights; but what is fit to maintain an Vniversal innocence, and to shew Charity towards others. Its main work lies in lessening the Love of this World, and making us easie to part with any injoy­ment of this Life, when it is inconsistent with any Duty, and indangers our Pas­sage to a better. And therefore although secular wisdom would perhaps sometimes advise us, yet will true Religion altoge­ther forbid us to go to Law for trivial Losses. For a Suit at Law, as I have no­ted, will put our Adversary to great Cost and Pains; and since in Christianity he is our Neighbour and our Brother, this we [Page 344] ought not to do for little things, whereby we shall not gain near so much as he loses, for this is not according to the Mat. 22.39. Com­mandment, to Love him as our selves. Nay, it will be a great snare, both to his Virtue and ours; for although it be no state of direct sin, yet is it a state of very dangerous Temptation, there being so many ways to offend whilst a Suit is carrying on, and it being so very hard to avoid them without great Conduct and Circumspection. And this also we ought not lightly to cast, either in the way of our own Souls, or of our Brothers; yea, we shall not do it, if we have any of that tender Love and Care for Souls which Christ has shew'd, and which he requires us to shew, when, up­on a prospect of saving them, he com­mands us, not only to bear a Reproach, or to part with our Substance; but even to lay down our own Lives for others, 1 Joh. 3.16.

Thus, when the Damages to be re­paired are but of small account, and the trouble and charges of the Suit will take much more from him, than we are like to get by it: out of our tender care of all Per­sons, whom God commands us to Love as we do our selves; and out of our Love to each others Souls, and desire to keep, [Page 345] both our selves and them from dangerous Temptations, which would rob us of our Innocence, a thing that ought not to be hazarded for trifling Regards; we ought patiently to bear the Loss, and not seek out by Law to redress it. And this, as I have intimated, is what our Saviour ex­presly commanded Mat. 5. If one smite thee on thy right Cheek, which is a tolera­ble affront, turn to him the other also, or expose thy self to be smitten again, ra­ther than judicially resist it. And if a­ny man sue thee at the Law, to take away thy Coat, or inner Garment, a thing that may easily be spared, hazard an higher Loss, and let him take thy Cloak also, ra­ther than sue to regain it. v. 38, 39, 40. So that rather than sue to recover little matters, and enter Actions for small Reparations, we must be content to want them, and sit down without any Repairs at all.

And in rating when things are thus little and frivolous, we must not judge by our own Pride and Passions, which count nothing little, but aggrandize every affront or injury that is done to our own selves: but by the reality of things, and according as we our selves should judge were we humble and dispassionate, or as they would be judg'd of by other Holy [Page 346] and Indifferent Persons. Our own Pride, and the Opinions of the World would whis­per to us, that every Trespass against us is intolerable, and deserves a Process; e­very imputation of a Lye, a Stab; and e­very actionable Affront, a Suit at least, if not a Challenge. But Pride, and Passion, and the Opinions of the World, must not be our Councellors: for we renounced them at our Baptism, when we were first made Christians; and if we would please God, they must not sway, but ought daily to be mortified and subdued in us. And since they are so much our Sin, and so directly against our Baptismal Vow and Profession: it will be no excuse for going to Law on little Losses and Indignities, to say we thought them Great through their being our Advisers. In judging then what are little things, we must not be go­verned by our own Pride and Passions, but by the reality of things, and the Judg­ments of dispassionate, humble Persons. And this our Lord plainly shews, by set­ting down a Box on the Ear, (which in reality doth no hurt, nor leaves any per­manent effect behind it) among those light Indignities which ought not to be a matter of a Suit, though every where the Pride, and Passions of men, and par­ticularly at th [...]t [...], the haughtiness of [Page 347] the Jews, thought it a great thing, which ought by all means to be recompenced. For this, as a Dr. Light [...]. Hor. Heb. in Mat. 5.39. Learn­ed man observes, was their Rule about it. Doth any Person give his Neighbour a box on the Ear? let him give him a Shilling, yea, says Rabbi Judah, a pound; or if it were upon the Cheek, let him give him 200 i. e. in Eng­lish [...]in 6. l. 5 [...]. Zuzes to make amends for it. Nay, if he give him another Box, he ought to give him 400 to recompence it. So great did they think the Indignity to a Jewish man, esteeming all their own Nation, as he observes from Maimonides, even those of the most beg­garly condition, to be Gentlemen, because they were all the Children of Abraham.

And thus it appears when a Suit is un­lawful upon this first account, viz. its entring upon an unjustifiable Ground. For such it is in all Cases, when we bring an Action only for Revenge, and not for Re­paration of Damages; or when for the Reparation of such small things, as ought not to expose us to all the Evils and Temptations of a judicial Process, but to Exercise our Patience and Forgiveness: which smallness of things is to be rated, not by mens Pride and Passions, which e­steem [Page 348] no ill small that is done to them­selves, but by the reality of things, and the Judgment of Humble and Dispassionate persons.

And this holds true, not only in Los­ses and Indignities offered to our selves; but also in the Case of Trust, when they are offered to others who are committed to us. For when Suits are Sinful, as we have seen they are in the Case of Re­venge, and of lighter affronts and injuries, which Christ Commands us not to re­dress by Law, but to bear with Patience: I see no difference, but an equal unlaw­fulness, whether we Sue upon our own, or upon their Accounts. For surely our taking of a Trust doth not ingage us to Disobey our Lord, or do any evil thing; but only to do all that which we can, for those committed to us, as Good Chri­stians and Honest Men. And therefore in lighter matters when Suits are sinful, we may no more Sue for them, than we can tell a Lie, or Swear an Oath, or O­ver-reach in their Cause, or be guilty of any other Transgression. If they were come up to Act in their own Name, in these cases a Judicial Tryal would not be lawful, but a sin in them: And where they themselves could not Sue, we must not think that we, who Act only as their [Page 349] Proxies and Representatives, may do it for them. If these Losses and Indigni­ties which are shewed to them were of­fered to our selves, we ought not to com­mence an Action, but to be patient un­der them: And they have no Reason in the World to think us wanting either in our Trust, or Friendship, when we do all that to the utmost in their Case, which we durst do in our own.

So far then as Suits are Sinful, and to put up injuries without entring Actions for repairs is a strict Duty, as it plainly is in case of lighter Losses and Indigni­ties; it equally obliges us in Trust for o­thers, as in our own Business. Where 'tis no Duty, indeed, and a Suit is not a Sin, but only a Defect and Diminution, as it is in the Case of greater injuries, there is a Difference, and tho it were commenda­ble still to refrain in our own Case, yet 'tis not in theirs. In the former Instan­ces, to forbear is a necessary point, ha­ving an express Precept for it; and ne­cessary things may be done for them by those that represent them, without their own consent and approbation. But in these Cases where 'tis no sin, to forbear is no necessary Duty, but a voluntary Act: And it is no part of our Trust to per­form voluntary heights, and unrequired [Page 350] Generosities at their cost: but if ever these be done, they must be left to them­selves, when, by making it a matter of their own choice, they themselves may have the Virtue and the Reward of it. So far then as the putting up an inju­ry without a Suit is no Strict Duty, but only a Free-will Offering, and a Voluntary Act, it must not be done in their Case, tho in our own it were much to be com­mended. But when Patience is a Duty, and Suits are sinful, whether it be their concern or ours it matters not, for both are equal. We must be faithful to our Lord, and observe the Duties of Pati­ence, Peace, Forgiveness, and all other Laws of God, in acting for others as well as for our selves; so that when there is no justifiable Ground of Suit, we must ab­stain from it, whether it be for Publick or for Private ends, whether our Charge or we that are concerned in it. And this I have noted for the use of those, who, I think, are greatly out in this point: For there are several, that would, or at least pretend thy would bear much in their own Business, who will bear nothing at all, and yet think they are not litigi­ous in commencing Suits for every trifle, when they are in Trust for others.

But as some Suits are thus unlawful, be­cause [Page 351] they are upon an unjustifiable Ground; so, when the Grounds are good, are others unlawful,

2. Because they are carried on by a sin­ful management.

A Suit at Law is a very dangerous state, and has strong Temptations to several sins accompanying it: And if, when there is just Cause for it, any of these are incurr'd in the management, it is our Sin still, and we shall be put to answer for it.

To shew what these are, and when Suits are unlawful upon this account, I ob­serve, that when we have an Action a­gainst any Man, we must for all that look upon him as our Neighbour, and love him as our selves, paying him all that Justice, Peace, and Charity, which is due to all Persons. And this is hard to do when Men persue any controversies wherein their Interest is concerned, especially when they are Publick, and if they do not succeed, the Eyes of the World look on to see them worsted, as it is in Law-Suits. For then Conquest is the end that is ordi­narily sought, and in prosecution of that Mens Passions generally are ingaged; and both these are opposite to the Love of o­thers, and seek only to please our selves, and so push us on to transgress this great Law of Charity in several instances. [Page 352] For where Conquest is the end, there is much Emulation and Strife to gain it, and where Envy, or Emulation, [...]. and Strife is, saith St. James, there is confusion and every evil work, Jam. 3.16. And where Passi­on is high, and Anger is once moved, there a Law of Love is not like to be observed; for, as the same Apostle says, the Wrath of Man worketh not the Righteousness of God, Jam. 1.20. And since Law-Suits gene­rally have both these attending them, they do too often lead the Litigants, God knows, into many breaches of Justice, Peace, and Charity towards each other, particularly into these following.

If their Cause is bad, they use delays to tire out their Adversaries; they feign Pleas to gain time for themselves, and insist upon Punctili [...]s in his Proceedings wholly forreign to the merits of the Cause, to make him begin all afresh, and hunt out all Reserves of Law to prolong the Suit, and suspend the Sentence. And this, be­sides its being most opposite to Love and Brotherly-kindness, and being a course most uncharitable and vexatious, is also a most unjust thing, being a doing wrong as far as in them lies, and endeavouring, what they can, to put an hindrance and stop to Justice.

[Page 353]And whether it be good or bad, they generally incur many Sins in pursuit of it, and fall into sundry instances of In­justice and Vncharitableness to succeed in it.

They have a longing desire to overcome, and to have the Verdict pass for them, be it right or wrong; which is coveting other Mens Goods, against the Law of the Tenth Commandment, Exod. 20.17. And this disposes them to Judge all in Favor of their own Right, and to fret and murmur when they have lost the Verdict, and to suspect (if not complain) of Inju­stice in the Judge and Jury, who were con­cerned in it; against the plain Duty of Patience, Reverence to Governours, and meek submission under Judgment.

They watch their opportunity to take Advantage of their Adversaries over-sight, or to bring the Tryal on at a time when he doth not expect, or is unprepared for it: which is not only against the great Law of Charity, that, as St. Paul saith, seeks not her own at others Mens hurt, 1 Cor. 13.5; but also against Justice, which forbids Defrauding or going beyond our Brother in any matter, when we can Over-reach and Out-wit him in it, 1 Thess. 4.6.

They suggest False Pleas, or supply Circumstances out of their own Heads [Page 354] in favour of their Cause, and when a little more would do it, stretch be­yond the Truth to ech out an Evidence, and make the matter fall to serve their purpose; which is clearly against the Duty of Simplicity, and speaking the plain Truth with our Neighbour.

They have an inward hatred against their Adversaries, which makes them envious when any good (especially in the Process of the Cause) befalls them; and glad when any ill has happen'd to them, and apt to surmise ill things of them, and de­fame them as often as they can find a fit occasion, and to watch all opportunities of being Revenged on them, and to burst out into Anger and exasperating Carriage, Strife and Variance, Clamour and bitter Words against them, upon any the least Provocation: all which are directly con­trary to the Great Duty of Love and Charity, which Rom. 12.15. re­joyces with them that do re­joyce, and weeps with them that weep; which 1 Cor. 13.4, 5. suffers long and is kind, which thinketh no Evil, which Rom. 12.17, 21. renders Good for Evil; which Eph. 4.31. puts away all Bitterness, and Wrath, and Anger, and Clamour, and Evil-speaking, with all [Page 355] Malice; and ingages us, so far as 'tis Rom. 12.1 [...]. possible, and as much as in us lies, to live peaceably with all men.

Lastly, They Love to be vexatious, and cut out work for their Adversaries, defer­ring a Tryal several Terms for no other end, but to make them throw away both their Mony and Pains in attending to prevent a Surprise; or putting them to prove needless things, which influence not the merits of the Cause; or insisting on every fetch of Law, that may be an hindrance in their way, though 'tis no way necessary to the main business; or studying other mischievous Arts of crea­ting them trouble, and being vexatious; which is absolutely against the Loving of our Neighbour as our selves, and having a Brotherly-kindness, and Gal. 6.10. doing Good as we have opportunity to all Persons; and is that very sin which St. Paul menti­ons, and which he expresses by wickedness or mischievousness, i. e. a studying to do mischief, and make [...], Suid. work for others, Rom. 1.29.

Thus, to mention no more, are all these Pro­longations of Suits, and [Page 356] delays of Justice, these Covetous Desires and Acts of Impatience, these Arts of Circumvention and going beyond our Adver­saries, these deceitful Suggestions and Falsifications in Pleadings, these mischie­vous and vexatious ways, this Hatred, Envy, Evil-speakings and Surmises, Anger, Bitterness, Strife, Clamour, Revenge, &c. which are so ordinarily the Concomitants of Judicial Causes, most unlawful and forbidden things; so that whensoever we have any Suits depending, we sin in them, if any of these intrude and mix with them. A Judicial Controversie that is begun upon a Justifiable Ground, will not be innocent if 'tis carried on by so unjustifiable a management. And there­fore to clear our Consciences in all Le­gal Tryals, we must take care not only that, after all other means of righting our selves have fail'd, the Suit be Com­menced for a thing of weight, which is a justifiable Ground; but also that it be pur­sued in all this Justice, Charity, and Peace, which makes a justifiable manage­ment: For 'tis not enough that the Cause be good, unless the manner of maintain­ing it be good too.

This, I must confess, is an hard Point, because in managing a Suit we are in the way of so many sins, and meet at every [Page 357] turn with strong Temptations, which must needs very much indanger us. For all the way these sins lye before us; so that unless we have a constant care, we shall step into them. They generally serve our ends, and set on the cause; so that we are still under a Temptation to them. And, what through our own Interest and the desire of Conquest; what through the opposition that is made; unless we are very Circumspect, our Passions will be ingaged; and then, more or less, we shall be hurried into the Commission of them. So that if no Suit be innocent where the Ground is good, except all these sins be avoided in the management; it will be a very hard thing, may some say, to sue innocently, and appeal to Courts at all.

This, indeed, is very true, and I am ready to confess so too. For though some even-temper'd men, who are endow­ed not only with great goodness, but also with great Discretion and Government of themselves, may do it with some ease, and not find it very difficult: yet are those men very few in Number, who are so well set out and qualified for it. But ordinarily it is a very difficult task, and there is great danger of offending God attending it. For I think there is hard­ly [Page 358] any thing that shews more the Con­duct and Goodness of a man, than to be able to keep innocent whilst he is put up­on contending, and so to manage a Suit, or other Contest, as that, when he has done, his own Conscience shall have no cause to accuse or condemn him for it. But then the effect of this can be nothing else, but that men be very slow in coming to it, and very Circumspect in all they do, when in a thing of weight, after other means have been tryed in vain, they can­not avoid it. It must make them slow in coming to it, I say; and this, besides its quitting them of the hazzard, will, I believe, make also for their ease; for they will generally find less difficulty in bearing Loss, than in keeping innocent, whilst they seek Judicially to repair it. But when the thing is of so great weight, that a Suit cannot well be avoided; it must make them very Circumspect and Watchful over themselves all the time it is going on, lest they incur any of these sins in pursuit of it. The greatness of their Care must answer to the greatness of the Danger, so that they must resolve to set a strict Guard upon themselves in suing, or else not venture to begin any Suit at all.

And thus it appears, that although in [Page 359] it self a Suit at Law be an innocent thing, yet when 'tis either begun upon an unjustifiable Ground, or carried on by a sinful management, it is not innocent, but defiles the Conscience of a Christian. It is our sin, and we must account for it, when we seek Revenge by it, or Re­paration of a thing so small as cannot bear it, or of a weighty matter by delays of Justice, Falsifications, Vexatious Arts, or any other Instances of Injustice, or Vncharitableness, which is a sinful way of managing it. When this is the state of it, there is a great offence in it; and whilst that lasts, it deprives us of the Fa­vour of God, and ought to exclude us from the Holy Sacrament: whereas, were it free of these, there would be no hurt in it, nor any Cause at all why a good Soul should be hindred by it.

As for this Hindrance then, whereby Devout minds are oft-times with-held from coming to this Feast, viz. their be­ing ingaged in a Law-Suit; we see now at length what weight is to be laid upon it, and when indeed they ought to be hin­dred by it. For if there are no Dama­ges to be expected in the Cause, but we sue only for Revenge; or if, when there are, they are so small as will not bear a Suit, but ought to be a matter of For­giveness; [Page 360] or if, when the Loss is of that moment which would justifie a Suit, we transgress any instances of Justice or Charity in managing the Process: our Suit is our sin, which will not be forgiven us till we shew Repentance. When 'tis un­lawful upon the unjustifiableness of the Ground, we sin in it till we put an end to it; and when upon some particular Inju­stice, or Vncharitablness in the way of ma­nagement, we sin in it till that particular is Corrected and Amended. And so long as we are Impenitent in either of these, we are unfit for the Holy Sacrament, since no man, who allows himself in any sin, is worthy to partake of it. But then we are equally unfit to Pray, or perform any other Religious Service, or hope for the Forgiveness of our Sins and Eternal Hap­piness; because, as I have formerly ob­serv'd, Justice, Peace, and Charity, and other Virtues, are equally necessary in all these Cases. If our Suit then is either upon an unwarrantable Ground, or sinful in the way of management; so long as this sin lasts and is unamended, we are unwor­thy to Communicate. But then that is not all, for so we are also to Dye, to Pray, or to have any Spiritual Peace or Comfort. And this is a state which no wise man will persist in for one moment, but, whenso­ever [Page 361] he lays it to Heart, forthwith Re­pent and get out of it; and when once that is done, this Hindrance is removed, and he may be welcome to it. But if it is innocent in both these Respects, and none of these sins adhere to it; if there is a weigh­ty Loss to be repaired, or a weighty Right to be got by it; and we are in all Points Just, Charitable, and Peaceable in looking after it, or, when we fall in any instance, do in that, as in all other slips of our dayly Converse, watch better the next time, and immediately Repent of it: then has a Suit no offence to God, nor any hurt at all in it; and so unfits us not for any good thing, and then surely not for the Blessed Sacrament. When this is our Case, a Tryal at Law depending need no more hinder us from Communicating, than from any other business; so that if there is nothing else to discourage us, we may safely come to the Lords Table, and expect to be kindly entertain'd by him when we do.

CHAP. V. Of three other Hindrances.

The Contents.

A Seventh Hindrance, is because others are not in Charity with them, so that they are afraid they want that Peace which is required to it. As for other mens uncharitableness, it is their sin, and so unfits them; but not being ours, it un­fits not us for Receiving. If that ought to exclude any from the Sacrament, it had excluded Christ and his Apostles, and the Primitive Christians, since none had ever such implacable Enemies as they had. Care to be taken that their Enmity be not continued through our Fault; so that if we have given just occasion, we must endea­vour a Reconciliation; and if we gave none, be careful not to hate them again. An Eighth Hindrance is, because 'tis a Presumption in us to come to it, and there­fore an Humble man ought in all modesty to abstain from it. But, 1. 'Tis no Pre­sumption to come when we are call'd, and to do what we are bidden. 2. 'Tis a very [Page 363] great Presumption to stay away, and leave it undone. 3. If the height of Priviledge and Honour in it be sufficient to make an humble man refuse the Communion; it will also carry him to renounce the whole Christian Profession. A Ninth Hin­drance is, because many good People are seldom or never seen at it, so that they have good Company, and may be good too, if they abstain from it. But, 1. In in­quiring after our own Duty, we are not to ask whether others practise it, but whether Christ has any where enjoyn'd it. 2. If any Good People keep from the Sacrament, that is no part of their Goodness, so that there­in they are not to be imitated. 3. Though they might be acceptably Good, whilst through innocent Scruples and honest Igno­rance they were afraid to come to it: yet will it be a very great Fault even in them to Neglect it after they are better informed, which will not be forgiven, but upon their Amendment of it.

A Seventh Hindrance, which keeps back several Persons from the Holy Sacrament, is, because, although they be with others, yet others are not in Charity with them; and therefore they are afraid they want that Peace which is required to it.

[Page 364]Now if this ought to hinder them from the Communion, it ought equally to be their hindrance from Prayers, and all De­votion; since there is the same necessity, as I have noted, of Peace and Mat. 5.23.24. Reconcilation with our Brethren, in all of them.

But if this be really their Case, it need not hinder them. For if other men will hate us, do what we can, that is our un­happiness indeed, whilst we suffer under it; but it is not our Fault, nor renders us ever the worse in the Eyes of Almigh­ty God, since we have done nothing to deserve, nor is it in our Power to help it. God commands us to Love our Enemies, so that if we hate them we sin, and are justly kept back by our own uncharitable­ness: but he no where Commands us to make our Enemies Love us, so that if after all they will still bear Enmity to­wards us, that is only their own Sin, and therefore whatever it do with them, ought not in any Reason to be our hin­drance.

And indeed if it ought, it would much more have hindred our Saviour Christ and his Apostles from Communicating, than now it can any other Persons; because none of those, who stick at this Impedi­ment, have any Enemies so bitter and im­placable, [Page 365] as they found theirs. For the Jews hated him so far as to seek his Life, and at last in most barbarous sort obtain'd their Purpose. And he tells his Disciples, that the time was coming, when everyone that kill'd them would think that therein he approved himself a Friend of Religion, and did God good Service, Joh. 16.2. And this they all found by sad Experience, be­ing accounted, as St. Paul says, the very filth of the World, and the off-scouring of all things, i. e. Nuisances as necessary to be swept away, as Dirt out of the Streets, 1 Cor. 4.13; and accordingly being Per­secuted in every place, till they had laid down their Lives for Christs sake and the Gospels. Thus were they reputed as Publick Enemies of all Countries, and ha­ted of all men as the vilest Miscreants, that breath'd Infection wheresoever they came, and were the common Pest of all Places. And therefore if this be a suf­ficient Hindrance from the Communion, that others hate us, it should always have hindred, and utterly Excommunicated our Saviour Christ, and his Apostles, and all the Christians of the first Times, who, being always implacably hated, and most spitefully Persecuted, upon this account ought always to have abstain'd, and not to have receiv'd at all.

[Page 366]As for others being out of Charity with us therefore, that ought not to be our hindrance. But then we must take care that we be in Charity with them, and that their Hatred to us be not continued through any Offence or Fault of ours, else shall we be kept back through our own Vncharitableness. So that if we gave just Cause for their Wrathful Indignation, by confessing our Fault, and repairing the Wrong, we must indeavour a Reconciliati­on: or if we gave none, we must still be careful to love them, though they will not be perswaded to love us, and not harbour any Enmity or Hatred towards them a­gain.

If we have given just Cause, I say, for their wrathful Indignation, through any Injuries, or Offences we have offered them; by con­fessing our Fault, and repairing the wrong, we must indeavour a Reconciliation. When we have done any thing whereat they are displeased, if they have no Reason for it, we must seek to inform them better, and rectifie their mistakes about it: but if they have, we must give them all pro­per satisfaction, and make a just amends for it. If we have given them just Of­fence, by Affronts, or contumelious Car­riage; we must acknowledge our Fault, and promise to do so no more, and ask Forgive­giveness: [Page 367] and if we have injuriously pre­judiced them in their Estates, Good Names, or Business; we must, as far as in us lies, repair the loss which they have sustain'd by us. And this God expects from us, be­fore he will accept our Offerings, or be pleas'd with us in any Ordinance. When thou bringest thy Gift to the Altar, says our Saviour, and there remembrest that thy Brother hath ought against thee, go thy way, first be reconciled to thy Brother, and then come and offer thy Gift. Mat. 5.23, 24.

But if they hate us when we gave no Cause for it, nor have in any wise deserv'd it of them; yet must we still be careful to Love them, though they will not be perswaded to Love us, and not harbour any Enmity, or Hatred towards them again.

We must Love them, I say; not with that Degree of Love, indeed, wherewith we embrace our particular Friends, and those who have better deserved of us; but with that which we owe in common to all Persons. We must have so much affecti­on for them, as will restrain us both from doing and speaking Evil of them, and make us exercise all that Justice, and shew that kindness towards them in all Conversation, which is due to the pro­miscuous multitude of other men. For all these Instances of general Charity, are [Page 368] due to our very Enemies, as I have already sh [...]wn: so that when they are unmove­able in their Hatred, and persist in their malicious ways; yet must not that pro­voke us into any spiteful Returns, or chase us into any hard Speeches, or in­jurious or unkind Carriage towards them again.

And thus it appears what is to be thought of this Hindrance, viz. the im­placableness of some ill Neighbours, and their unconquerable Enmity against us. For when 'tis our hard hap to fall among such Persons, we must still Love them, and be at Peace with them in our own minds, though we never gave them any just Cause to be angred; and if we did, by confessing of our Fault, and repairing of the Wrong which makes the Breach, we must indea­vour after a Reconcilement. But if after all, they are obstinate, and unmoveable in their hatred; that is their own Fault, which may justly hinder them, but ought not to detain us from the Holy Sacrament. For although God requires a worthy Receiver to Love his Enemies, yet he no where requires him to make his Enemies Love him; and if no Person could Com­municate worthily, whilst he has an un­reconciled Enemy, our Blessed Saviour, and [Page 369] his Apostles, and all the first and best Chri­stians, had been most unworthy, and could never have received at all.

An Eighth hindrance, which holds back several Persons from coming to this Feast, notwithstanding it is so much both their Duty and their Priviledge, as I have shewn, to join in it; is because it lo [...]ks like an high Presumption in us to Feast on the Body and Blood of our Sovereign Lord, and to eat at the same Table with Almighty God; and therefore an humble man ought in all modesty to abstain from it.

I have already considered that unwor­thiness which respects the manner of re­ceiving, and answered those who urge that they are unworthy to Communicate, meaning thereby that they want that height of Vir­tuous and Devout Tempers, which they ap­prehend God has required to it. But this unworthiness is not from the want of such due Dispositions, or from the In­decency in the unsuitable Receiving; but from the inaccessible height and greatness of the thing, which they think is so far above us, that fit, or unfit, no Person is wor­thy of it, but that 'tis boldness and pre­sumption in any one to touch things so surpassing high and excellent. But to satisfie these Persons, who think it a piece of Arrogance and Presumption to [Page 370] come to this Holy Sacrament, when their Lord not only Requests, but Commands it, I shall suggest to them these three things.

1. It is no Presumption to come when we are call'd, and to do what we are bidden. But,

2. It is a very great boldness and presump­tion to stay away, and leave it undone.

3. If the height of Priviledge and Honour in it, be sufficient to make an humble modest man refuse the Communion; it will not rest in that alone, but carry him on equally to re­nounce the whole Christian Profession.

1. I say, It is no Presumption to co [...]e to this Feast when we are call'd, and to do what we are bidden. If we should intrude of our own accord, and come uninvited, we might be too bold, indeed, and very rudely Arrogant. But when we are parti­cularly sent to, and call'd to come, e­specially if there be, as in this Case there is, great earnestness and importunity in the Invitation; it is the part of an hum­ble man to comply with it, and he is not Guilty of the least shew of Arrogance and Ill-breeding in so doing. There is Ci­vility shewn sometimes in accepting, as well as in offering kindnesses, and it is Good manners to receive what God would have us, yea, indeed, to accept any thing from the hands of our Betters. So that in all Civility [Page 371] and inoffensive Carriage we were bound to come, had we nothing more than a Friend­ly Invitation. But besides that, God has expresly injoyn'd, as I have observ'd, and peremptorily required it of us: So that now we must approach to it, not only out of Civility and Respect, but also out of Obedience to his Commandment. And true Humility is no hindrance, but the greatest furtherance in the World to such a Service, it being not the part of a Presumptuous, but of a truly humble man to do what he is bidden, and to please those whom he is bound in Duty to o­bey.

It is no Presumption then to come to the Sacrament when we are call'd, and to do what we are bidden: but,

2. It is a very great Boldness and Presump­tion to stay away, and leave it undone. He is no proud man who accepts a kindness when 'tis offer'd, and he is earnestly invited to it: but he may shew Pride and Haughtiness e­nough, who slights and despises it. And he is no bold man, that doth what he is Commanded; but he shews Boldness and presumes indeed, that dare venture to Transgress it. There are no men so bold and Presumptions with God, as they who will act what he forbids, and refuse to do what he injoyns them: So that it is tru­ly [Page 372] an high Presumption to stay away, when he has expresly charged us, both upon our Duty and our Love for him, to joyn in the Communion.

3. If the height of Priviledge and Honour in it, be sufficient to make an humble modest man refuse the Communion; since his whole Religion is made up of high Characters and honourable Priviledges, it will not rest in that alone, but carry him on equally to re­nounce the whole Christian Profession. What thinks he of Holy Baptism, wherein he was made not only a Servant, but a Child of God; not only a Friend, but a Brother and Joint-heir with Christ; and an Inheri­tor, not of a small Estate, but of a King­dome, and that no cheap or fading one nei­ther, but of the Kingdom of Heaven? What thinks he of the happiness of another Life, wherein God will fill us with unutter­able Joys, and adorn us with Crowns and Scepters, and take us, as our Saviour Rev. 3.21. says, into the same Throne with him­self? What thinks he of his Redemption being purchased at so dear a rate, which could not be obtain'd, unless Jesus Christ, Gods only Son, would come down from Hea­ven, and be made man, and pay down his own Life for it? Are not all these as super­latively high things, and as much above [Page 373] us, as Feasting with God in the Communi­on is? Is it not as great a Presumption in us to become Gods Sons, and to inherit Kingdoms, and to hope for Crowns, and Thrones, and Scepters; as it is to sit down with him as his Guests, and to eat and drink in his own Presence? Is it not as high Ar­rogance to admit that Christ should dye for us, as it is to come and remember his Death, and to accept those Benefits which are there­by convey'd to us? All these things are infinitely above us, and we could not have had the Face to have asked any of them, if God had referr'd it to our own choice, and bid us name what we would for our own selves. But yet, since in his unbounded Love and Kindness he has freely offered them, we must have the good manners in all forward Thankfulness and Humility to accept, and not out of a sh [...]w of Modesty and unreasonable Self-abasement refuse them. When God calls us then to Feast with him in the Holy Sacrament, and to feed upon the Body and Blood of our dear Lord; we must not hold back because there is so eminent a Priviledge, and high an Honour in it. For we re­ceive no greater Favour or higher Honour therein, than in being made Gods Children, as we were in Holy Baptism; than in Christs Incarnation, Death and Suf­fering; [Page 374] than in the offers of Crowns, and Thrones, and the other Glorious Priviledges of our Religion: So that if the Fear of receiving too much honour from God ought to put us by the Communion; it ought as much to the full to pu [...] us by our Baptism, and the whole Christian Profession.

As for those then who are hindred from the Sacrament, by the fear of being too Bold and Presumptuous with God in com­ing to a Feast, which has such height of Priviledge and Honour in it: they are hin­dred without any just Ground, and kept back by what they ought not. For it is no Presumption, but the part of humble men, to come when they are call'd, and to do what they are bidden; but it is a very great Boldness and Presumption to stay away, and leave it undone; and if the height of Priviledge and Honour in it, be sufficient to keep back humble Souls from this Feast, it must also keep them back from Baptism, wherein the same Honours are conferr'd which are in it, and carry them in the same guise of Modesty to refuse Christs dy­ing for them, and all the hopes of Heaven, and, in a word, their Christianity and whole Religion too.

A Ninth Plea, whereby several Per­sons are wont to excuse their not coming to the Sacrament, is because many Good [Page 375] People are seldom or never seen at it, and therefore they may be good too, and have good Company, if they keep away from it.

Now, as for those who urg [...] this in ex­cuse, I would desire them to consider, that when they are inquiring after their own Duty in any matter, it is no right way to ask whether others Practise it, but whether their Lord has any where Com­manded it. For mens Practice is not al­ways fully answerable to their own Duty, and so is a very false Rule whereby to judge of ours. All Persons have their Faults, and though no Good man can continue in any willful ones, yet will even they be subject to several Ignorant slips, and unadvised miscarriages. But when at any time they either willfully break any Commandment, or ignorantly mistake it; that is no warranty for us to do so like­wise. So that if we would truly under­stand whether we are bound to Commu­nicate, our way is not to inquire whe­ther others do it, but whether our Lord has any where injoyn'd it; for if he has, we are certainly obliged to it whether others observe it or no.

But in more Particular Answer to this Plea, I must tell them,

1st, That if any good People keep away from the Sacrament, that is no part of their [Page 376] goodness, but their blemish, so that therein they are not to be imitated.

2ly, That although they might be accepta­bly good, whilst through innocent Scruples, and honest Ignorance, they were afraid to come to it; yet will it be a very great Fault even in them to Neglect it, after they are better inform'd, which will not be forgiven, but upon their amendment of it.

1. I say, If any Good People keep away from the Sacrament, that is no part of their Goodness but their Blemish, so that therein they are not to be imitated. For we have Gods express Command to come, and that we cannot slight without being disob [...]di­ent, and guilty of a plain Transgression: We are call'd therein to shew our selves thankfully mindful of our Blessed Saviours Death, and of all that he has done; and this Call we cannot deny, without pro­claiming our selves most shamefully un­thankful towards him: We are summon'd in to profess Repentance and Amendment of all our sins, and this we cannot honestly decline, if really we are resolv'd to leave them: We are invited to declare our selves at Peace with all the Members of our Lord, and reconciled to all the Chri­stian World; and this Invitation no man can fairly refuse, who in very deed is in Charity, and an hearty Friend to them Gods [Page 377] Law peremptorily injoyns, and the things therein imply'd straitly oblige us to partake of the Sacrament when an oppor­tunity is offer'd; so that every man, who makes Conscience of his Duty, and regards Obedience to his Lord, must be careful to join in it. And it is the Greatest means of a good Life, and Obligation to A­mendment that can be prescribed; so that every one who has a just care of his own Soul, and is earnestly desirous of Vir­tuous Improvements, will seek to be ad­mitted to it. A Good mans Duty binds him, and the care of his own Soul ingages him to Communicate; so that there is neither Virtue nor Prudence shewn in staying away, nor is it any part of Good­ness to Neglect it. And therefore if a­ny Persons otherwise Good are seldom seen at the Blessed Sacrament, that is no part of their Goodness but their Fault, so that therein they are not to be imita­ted.

2. Though they might be acceptably Good, whilst through innocent Scruples, and ho­honest Ignorance, they were afraid to receive it; yet will it be a very great Fault even in them to Neglect it after they are better in­form'd, which will not be forgiven, but upon their Amendment of it.

A Good Man cannot indulge himself [Page 378] in any known Sin; for he ceases to be good and acceptable to God, if he persists in any of them, after he is plainly told of them, and his Duty is evidently set be­fore him. The Wrath of God is revealed from Heaven against all unrighteousness, saith St. Paul, Rom. 1.18. And he that breaks one Law, saith St. James, is guilty of all, i. e. of that Eternal Punishment which is denounced, not barely to some one, but to all, Jam. 2.10. So that when once this Great Duty of coming to the Sacrament is clearly laid out, and his Conscience is inlighten'd and possessed with a Sense of it; he can be no Good man who willfully holds off still, and re­frains to come to it. Whilst he was per­plex'd with Doubts about it, indeed, and either through the loose Discourses of some, thought himself not obliged; or, through the unreasonable Rigour and Seve­rity of others, after all his Repentance and full purposes of Amendment, thought himself still unprepared to come to it: for the pitiableness of his Ignorance and un­will'd mistake, so long as they lasted, his Neglect of it may be excused and con­nived at. But if after all his Doubts have been solv'd, and things have been set in a clearer Light, he continue still to slight it; then he is Guilty of a very great [Page 379] Fault, which will not be forgiven till he Repents and Amends it. To him that knows to do Good, and doth it not, says St. James, to him 'tis Sin, Jam. 4.17. And when any willfull sin stands charg'd on our ac­count, it will not be struck off till we for­sake and turn away from it. For to all such Sinners, Gods Declaration is this, Except you Repent, you shall all perish, Luc. 13.3.

As for those then who urge this in ex­cuse for their not coming to the Sacra­ment, because several Good People are sel­dom, or never seen at it: My Answer to them in sum is this. In judging what is our Duty, we must not take our measures from other mens Practice, but from our Blessed Lords Commandments; since, if they disobey any Precept, that is no excuse to us, nor gives us any warranty for compa­nies sake to disobey likewise. And as for the Sacrament in particular, if any Good People keep away from it, that is no part of their Goodness; so that therein they are not to be imitated. Nay, if they continue in this Neglect, after their Con­sciences are rightly instructed and informed about it; they cease to be Good and com­mit a Damning Fault, an Impenitent con­tinuance in any one known sin putting any Person out of a gracious State. Whilst [Page 380] they were held back purely by Doubts and Scruples, and wart of Knowledge without their own Fault; their Omission was fit to be connived at, and they might continue acceptably Good notwithstanding it. But if still they persist in it, after they know more, and are better instructed; they are Guilty of a very criminal Neglect, which will not be passed over, but upon the same Terms as all other known sins are, i. e. their Repentance of it. If they stay away out of Ignorance and Mistake, all they can expect is to be pittied, but not to be commended for it; and if out of willfulness after their Conscience has been set right, they will be severely pu­nish'd unless they are reclaim'd from it: So that no man must ever hope to justify himself in refraining the Lords Table because he has good Company, and knows of several others, whom he takes to be very Holy Persons, that are wont to refrain it too.

CHAP. VI. Of two more Hindrances.

The Contents.

A Tenth Hindrance is, because others who are unworthy of it, are admitted to join in it. But, 1. They ought not to be for­ward in judging others unworthy, lest they be mistaken in it. 2. When some, who, as they have great cause to think, are un­worthy, do receive, yet ought not that to hinder them from joining in it. For if it be a sufficient Hindrance, it had e­qually hindred our Saviour Christ, and the Primitive Christians. It ought not only to hinder us from the Communion, but also from being Members of the Chri­stian Church and Profession; but 'tis plainly of no Force for either of them, since one man shall not bear anothers, but every man his own burden. 3. If still any are really offended at the Communion of the Wicked, upon complaint made in the Congregation they are to be suspended from the Holy Table, and denied the Sacrament. An Eleventh Hindrance is the Gesture [Page 382] of Kneeling, which is required to it. When any are absent upon this account, there is no excuse from it. Three things insisted on to prevent their being hindred by it. 1. Kneeling is no unsuitable Posture in receiving, so that if we were lest at Li­berty, we might have enough to justifie our selves in making use of it. 2. It is appointed by our Governours, whom God Commands us to obey in all lawful Things; so that every Good man ought to ob­serve it. But if it neither had Authori­ty to injoyn, nor Reason to recommend it, but another Posture might be better used: Yet, 3. Since it may lawfully, though not so well, be used too, for the Sacraments sake, which is not otherwise to be had, we should at least comply with it. No Hindrance to this Complyance, because the Gesture of Kneeling is different from what our Sa­viour used. For so is sitting too, and therefore they and we are equally concern­ed to answer it. The Posture he used was no part of the Institution, so that the In­stitution is not broken when the Posture is altered. Neither it, nor any other, has any Command of God for it; so that none is necessary, but all are still indifferent. When a Posture, different from that at the first Institution, was introduced in Sacraments, our Saviour himself, and [Page 383] they too have submitted to it. Again, no hindrance to it from the fear of worship­ing the Bread, or its being a Popish Rite. A conclusion of this point.

A Tenth Cause which many Persons are wont to Assign for their absent­ing from this Feast, is, because others, who are unworthy of it, are admited to joyn in it. Tho this be a very good thing, yet they fear they should give offence in do­ing it with all Partners, and how worthy soever they may be in themselves, would be defiled by the unworthiness of others; so that unless they can receive in an un­mixt Company, and only with the pure and true Believers, they think best to stay away, and not receive at all.

But that they may not be kept back by this hindrance, I shall observe to them these three things.

1. That they ought not to be forward in judging any others unworthy, lest they be mi­staken in it.

2. When some, who, as they have great cause to think, are unworthy, do receive, yet ought not that to hinder them from it.

3. If it happen that any are really Scan­daliz'd at the sight of such as are notorious­ly Wicked, or have done any wrong to their Neighbours, either in word or deed; up­on [Page 384] complaint made in the Congregation, they are to be suspended from the Holy Table, and denyed the Sacrament.

1. I say, they ought not to be forward in judging any others unworthy to communi­cate, lest they be mistaken in it. For every Penitent Man, who is fully Resolved to leave all his Sins, is really worthy to receive the Sacrament: and whether the Person they think unworthy be so resol­ved or no, is very hard for them to judge, since no Man can see into anothers Heart, and only God and his own Soul are pri­vy to it. When he comes to the Lords Table, every Communicant professes to Repent, and promises to lead a New Life thenceforward: and when he so­lemnly declares he is thus resolved, 'tis hard for another Person, who cannot see into his Soul, to say he is not, but is still impenitent. Tho all Good Men there­fore may be free in judging of them­selves, yet ought they to be very wary how they pass a Judgment on the un­worthiness of others: They must not be forward to pronounce of it, because 'tis hard for them to know it; so that when they give Sentence against their Brethren in this point, 'tis venturously done, and they are liable to be deceived in it.

2. When some others, who, as they have [Page 385] great cause to think, are unworthy, do Re­ceive the Sacrament; yet ought not that to hin­der them from joyning in it. Our Business should not be to move Questions and Dis­putes about the preparedness of others, but to be careful duly to prepare our selves; and when once we are sitly quali­fied for it, we ought to come whether they be so or no. Their unworthiness will have all its effect upon themselves, but will not hinder our acceptance, nor ought to put us by from doing both our Saviour, and our own Souls this Service.

To shew this, I shall observe these three things.

1. If the company of ill and unworthy Per­sons be a sufficient hindrance, it would equal­ly have hindred our Saviour Christ, and the Primitive Christians.

2. It ought not only to hinder us from the Communion, but also from being Members of the Christian Church and Profession. But,

3. One shall not bear anothers, but every Man his own Burden; so that if not we, but only they we unworthy, we are safe, and may freely come, and they alone are to be debar­red from Receiving.

1. If the Company of ill and unworthy Persons be a sufficient hindrance, it is not so barely unto us, but would equally have hin­dred our Saviour Christ, and the Primitive [Page 386] Christians. For when our Lord eat hi [...] own Supper, it was not with a Select Com­pany of worthy Receivers, but with a mixt multitude of Saints and Sinners. Thus he found it in the Jewish Passover; for all the Congregation of Israel, both good and bad, were to eat of it, and none but Foreiners and hired Servants were ex­cluded from it, Exod. 12.45, 47. And the like mixture of Guests he allowed, when he instituted this Feast instead of it. For in great likelyhood Judas, who, as the Scripture says, was a Joh. 12.6. Thief, and the Joh. 17.12. Son of Perdition, was one of the twelve that Communicated with him, Mat. 26.20, 25, 26. Luc. 22.20, 21. And in the first times, all Christians, as I have shewn, who came together to pray to God, met also to receive the Holy Sa­crament, that being then a constant part of their Publick Worship. The Num­ber of Communicants in those Days, was the same with the number of Christians or Baptized Persons; for all Men then met in the Communion, who were made Members of Christs Mystical Body the Church by Baptism, and were not cut off again by Excommunication: as St. Paul plainly intimates, when he says of all those many, who make up the one Bo­dy, [Page 387] that they are all partakers of that one Bread, 1 Cor. 10.17; and of all those who have been Baptized into one Body, that they have been all made to drink into one Spirit, 1 Cor. 12.13. So that their Com­munions, as well as ours, were mixt As­semblies, which were made up of wor­thy and unworthy Receivers; and there­fore if other Mens unworthiness ought to be our hindrance, it should also have hindred our Blessed Saviour Christ, and his Apostles, and the Primitive Christi­ans, who, if this be a good Reason for it, should all have forborn the Sacrament, because Judas, a lost man, and other unprepared, and unworthy Persons, met also with them at the same time to par­take in it.

2. If the Company of unworthy Persons be a just impediment from the Communion, it ought to hinder us also from being Mem­bers of the Christian Church and Profession. For the Church it self is a mixt multi­tude of fit and unfit, of holy and unholy Persons. It is compared to a Net, where­in Fish of all sorts are caught, both good and bad, Mat 13.47, 48: to a Field, where both Wheat and Tares spring up, and wherein both must grow together till the Harvest, v. 24, 25, 30. All Christi­ans are not such as their Saviour Christ [Page 388] was, and such as their Religion requires they should be: and therefore if we re­fuse to share in any holy thing whilst some unworthy Persons pretend to it, and will not joyn in any Act or State wherein ill men participate; we must not only shun the Communion, but cease also to be mem­bers of the Church, or Profess the Chri­stian Religion. Nay, I might add fur­ther, since all Communities have some Cor­rupt Members, and in every Body of Men there are some Vicious as well as Godly Persons; if we decline all Socie­ty and fellowship which has ill Men to partake in it, we must not stop in avoid­ing the Communion, and leaping out of the Christian Church and Profession, but, if we run on so far as this Princi­ple will lead us, become Out-Laws to Families, Townships, Kingdoms, yea to all Mankind.

3. One shall not bear anothers, but every Man his own Burden; so that if not we, but only they are unworthy, we are safe, and may freely c [...]me, and they alone are debarr'd from receiving. God will not punish one Soul for anothers fault, or be angry at this, because that Person has deserv'd it. But every Man shall stand or fall by his own Work, and either be approved or [...]ject [...]d as it prepares him for it. Let [Page 389] every Man prove his own Work, saith the Apostle, for every Man shall bear his own Burden, Eph. 6.4, 5. So that if we take care to come worthily our selves, we shall be kindly treated and accepted by him, and not any ways prejudiced or frown'd upon, for the unworthiness and undue Preparation of other men.

Thus ought not the sight of some un­worthy Persons joyning in it, to strike any Terror into us, or drive us from the Holy Sacrament. There is a great Sin, and a great Danger in unworthy Receive­ing, which is enough to discourage all impenitent unworthy men from offering at it; and where the Censures of the Church are held in any esteem, and are likely to gain their end through the Awe and Reverence men have for them, the Governours of the Church, both out of Compassion for their Souls, and concern for the honour of this Ordinance, may see cause to remove them from it. But if neither the Danger of the thing, nor any Affectionate and fair Warning, nor the enfeebled Hand of Discipline, when it is be­come impotent, and of small account, through the Number of Offenders, who are too strong for it, or through the multitude of Schisms and Divisions, one party en­tertaining what another excludes, which [Page 390] cuts off all the Force of it: If notwithstand­ing all these, I say, unworthy men will still press in, and presume to Communicate; yet is their unworthiness only to them­selves: but as for others, who are truly worthy, they have no hurt at all by it; they shall not suffer for their Brethrens sins, nor are incapacitated by their un­fitnesses; so that whilst they have no un­worthiness in their own Souls, they may approach the Holy Table, and chearful­ly receive still.

But yet further.

3. If any should be really scandalised at the Presence of those who are notoriously wick­ed, or who have done any wrong to their Neighbours, either in word, or deed; upon Complaint made in the Congregation, they are to be suspended from the Holy Table, and denied the Sacrament. For this Care our Church has taken in this Case, to pre­vent all those, whose wickedness gives publick Scandal and Offence, from sha­ring in these Holy Mysteries. If any Com­municant, says the Rubrick before the Communion-Service, be an open and notori­ous evil liver, or have done any wrong to his Neighbour by Word or Deed, so that the Congregation be thereby offended; the Cu­rate having knowledge thereof, shall call him, and advertise him, that in any wise he pre­sume [Page 391] not to come to the Lords Table, until he hath openly declared himself to have truly Repented and Amended his former naughty Life, that the Congregation may thereby be satisfied, which before were offended; and that he hath recompenced the Parties to whom he hath done wrong, or at least declare himself to be in full purpose so to do as soon as conveniently he may.

As for those then who are kept back from this Feast, because they see some unworthy Persons are admitted to it, my Answer to them in brief is this: That they ought not to be forward in judging any others unworthy, because 'tis hard for them to know it, and they are liable to be mistaken in it. And that when they have great and plain cause to conclude others unworthy, yet ought not that in any wise to hinder them, who are truly worthy, from coming to it. For if the Company of unworthy Receivers were a just Hin­drance, it would have hindred our Blessed Lord and the Primitive Christians, since it lay in their way as well as now it doth in ours; it would not rest in with-holding us from the Communion, but serve equal­ly to put us by from being Members of the Church, or professing the Christian Reli­gion; but it is plainly of no force for either of them, since one man shall not [Page 392] bear anothers, but every one his own Bur­den. But if still any are really scanda­lised by the Company of such as are notoriously wicked, that offen [...]e may be removed when they have a mind to it; for upon complaint made, those unworthy Persons are to be suspended from the Ho­ly Table, and denied the Sacrament.

An Eleventh Hindrance, whereby se­veral persons are kept back from joyning in this Feast, is the Gesture which is requi­red to it. For though right-gladly they would be admitted to the Sacrament, yet they dare not Kneel, as the Church appoints all men to do, when they receive it.

Now when any Persons refuse the Ho­ly Sacrament upon this account, they have no sufficient Plea, or just Excuse from it. When our Lord shall ask them at the last Day, why they did not Commu­nicate according to his appointment? It will be but a bad Answer in them to say, it was because they could not sit, or use some other Posture which they thought convenient: For since he has only required the Thing, but has no where injoyn'd the Gesture we are to receive in; he will have just Reason to reply to such Men, That then it seems they would not do what he bid them, un­less at the same time they could do that also which he had not bidden, nor perform [Page 393] his will, unless withall they should be al­lowed to have their own; which justly merits a severe Reproof, but is far from being a matter of Commendation.

But that they may not inexcusably Neglect so great a Commandment, up­on so weak a Reason for it, I would of­fer to their Consideration these three things.

1. Kneeling is no unsuitable Posture in receiving the Holy Sacrament; so that if we were left at Liberty, we might have e­nough to justifie our selves in making use of it.

2. It is appointed by our Governours, whom God Commands us to obey in all Law­ful things; so that every Good man, who is under Authority, ought to observe it.

But if it were not our Duty when Au­thority has thus required the use of it, and it had no Reasons from it self to re­commend it, but it were much better that some other Posture should be used: yet,

3. Since it lawfully may be used too, tho' not so well as another, if men have any due value for, and desire of the Sacrament, for its sake, and rather than miss of it, they should at least comply with it.

1. Kneeling is no unsuitable Posture in receiving the Holy Sacrament, so that if [Page 394] we were left at Liberty, we might have enough to justifie our selves in making use of it. For the Sacrament, as I have already shew'd, is a Religious Feast, wherein we are set in the Presence of, and are concerned with Almighty God: and when we have to do with him, 'tis no ways unfit sure to use such Posture as is Humble and Reverent. It is a Feast wherein we receive the great­est Benefits, no less than our Saviour Christs Blessed Body and Blood, i. e. those Bene­fits which his Bloody Death procured: and when we receive Gifts, especially of that infinite Price, and from our Betters and Supream Governours, it cannot mis­become us to use such Carriage as ex­presses most Respect and Thankfulness. It is a Feast whereat we confirm the New Co­venant, and solemnly give Thanks and Praise to Christ, and pour out many Prayers and Promises to our Heavenly Lord: and when we are exercising Repen­tance, and uttering Praise, and making so­lemn Prayers and Oblations, it is not certain­ly improper to use such Gestures as best be­come Devotions. In the Sacrament we have to do with Almighty God, and receive most no­ble Gifts, and act most humble Repentance in shamefully confessing and renouncing of our sins, and give most hearty Thanks, and put up most ardent Prayers: and therefore that Po­sture [Page 395] must needs suit well with it, which becomes these Services; and that Kneel­ing will be allowed to do by all Persons, since it has been ordinarily well liked in all times, nay, preferr'd before others for the Posture of Devotions. As it is a Sup­per and a Feast, some are apt to think sitting, which with us at least is the ordi­nary Table-Posture, to be most conveni­ent. But as this is not a common, but a Religious Feast, wherein we have to do with God, and perform so many things whereto all inward Reverence and Humility is required, there are Reasons enow that most justly Authorize Kneeling too; so that if we direct our Eyes to them, we shall soon see that it may very reasonably be used, and is in no wise unsuitable or improper for it. And therefore if we were left at Liberty to receive it as we pleas'd, we might have enough to justify our selves in making use of it.

2. Kneeling is appointed by our Governours, whom God commands us to obey in all lawful things; so that every good man who is under Authority, ought to observe it: God re­quires us to be subject to Principalities and Powers, and to obey Magistrates, Tit. 3.1. and to obey them that have the Rule over us, and to submit our selves; for they watch for our Souls, as they that must give an ac­count [Page 396] of them, Heb. 13.17. Now to o­bey, is to do what we are bidden; so that when they command this Posture, we are bound in all Duty and Submission to com­ply with them. Before they injoyn'd it, we were at Liberty to use either it, or another, according to our own Discretion. But when once they have interposed their Authority, St. Paul tells us, that Obedi­ence in all Lawful things, such as Kneel­ing is, is our Duty; so that although we think another might be better used, and, were we left to our selves, would make use of it; yet when once they have in­joyn'd this, must we deny our selves, and submit to it.

But if Kneeling had neither any Au­thority effectually to injoyn, nor any Rea­son from it self sufficient to recommend it; but that sitting, or some other Posture were much fitter to be used: yet,

3. Since it may at least lawfully be used too, though not so well, if men have any due value for, or desire of the Sacrament; for its sake, and rather than miss of it, they should at least comply with it.

When we are hindred from the Sacra­ment by little things, and refuse to Com­municate unless we can have it ordered according to our own liking in all Points, 'tis a sign we do not think we greatly need [Page 397] it, nor are very desirous of it; for if we were, 'tis certain small matters would not put us by it. Were we fully sensible how much it is both our Duty, and our Privi­ledge to partake in it, and thereupon did earnestly covet and long after it, we should be glad to be admitted to it in any Posture, and, so we might joyn in the thing, submit to any Gesture to receive in. If a man refuse a Present of a thousand Pound, because it is brought to him in an homely Purse, that is course and much de­cay'd; or if he will throw back the con­veyance of a fair Estate, because 'tis seal'd with a common Stamp, that wants a Coat of Armes to it; all the World would say he would not be so curious, if he stood in a­ny great need of it. And if any Person should turn away from the most savoury and choicest meat, because it is dish'd up on Pewter, not on Plate; the By-standers would all conclude he is full enough al­ready, and has no great edge of Appetite. And the case is just the same, when any of us shew niceness about the Posture of the Holy Sacrament. For did we really think we were in very great need of it, and had such an ardent desire, as that we might be said to hunger and thirst after it; we should be glad to have it in any Posture, as we could be allow'd it. So that al­though [Page 398] Kneeling were a Gesture whereto we were no ways obliged, nay, though it were justly to be disliked, not as un­lawful indeed, but as inconvenient; yet when the Sacrament is not otherwise to be had, there is no man, who is duly desirous to receive, but will comply with it. He had rather, it may be, Communicate sitting, or standing, or after some other manner which he fancies better, were it left to his own liking; but yet, if he de­sires it in such measure as he ought, he will submit to receive Kneeling, rather than miss the opportunity, and not receive at all.

And this is the great thing, which I would urge upon all those who are kept back by this Hindrance; namely, that although for its own sake they would not chuse it, yet for the Sacraments sake, which is not otherwise to be had, they would at least comply with it. In my Judgment it is their Duty to Kneel, since their Governours require it; and the Posture is so suitable to the Feast, that were it not required, they might have enough to justifie themselves in ma­king use of it: and if, upon the Reasons I have here given, they are convinced of these things, that clears the Case without more ado, and is the best Solution of it. [Page 399] But if their prejudices stick still after all, and in those Points they happen not to be of my mind, but think themselves free from it, and that sitting is much better used: yet at least, since Kneeling may be used too, for the Sacraments sake, which, if they value as they ought, they would gladly accept, though in a Posture less convenient, let them condescend and sub­mit to it. Though they had rather re­ceive sitting when they may be allowed, yet they may receive kneeling when there is need of it; and they must needs think it better to kneel to it, than, by stopping at a thing so innocent, though less signifi­cant, to be quite put by, and go without it.

But against this Compliance they may, perhaps, object, and it is the fairest thing which I know said against it, That they cannot comply with this Injunction of Kneeling, because it is cross to our Savi­ours Institution; for as he instituted the Holy Sacrament, so they think we ought to adhere to it.

But to clear this point, which I shall do as plainly as I can, because it seems to have some weight in it, I shall observe,

1. That if using a Posture different from what our Saviour did, be a breaking his Institution, sitting no less than kneeling [Page 400] is a breach of it, so that they and we are e­qually concerned to answer it.

2. The Posture he used was no part of the Institution, so that the Institution is not broken when the Posture is alter'd: yea, nei­ther it, nor any other has any Command at all for it; so that no Posture is necessary, but all, both theirs and ours, are still indiffe­rent.

3. When a Posture different from that at the first Institution, was introduced in Sa­craments, our Saviour himself, and they themselves too, have submitted to it.

1. I say, If using a Posture different from what our Saviour did, be a breaking his Insti­tution, sitting no less than kneeling is a breach of it; so that they and we are equally concerned to answer it.

The Posture which our Saviour used, was neither sitting nor kneeling, but ano­ther different from both of them. In the Passover 'tis plain he used lying or leaning down, which was the Banquetting Gesture of that time, when they used to eat at their Feasts lying upon Couches. And thus the Evangelist expresses it; When Even was come, says St. Matthew, he sate down, so according to the custom of these Coun­tries we render it, but the word is, he [...]. lay down with the twelve, Mat. 26. [Page 401] 20. And in the 21 of St. John's Gospel, St. John is said to have lean'd on Jesus Breast at Supper, according to the Fashion of those Days, when at Meals they lay one within another, v. 20. And this Posture in great likelihood he continued at his own Supper; for they were both Religious Feasts, and there was no more Reason why it should be excluded from the one than from the other. But if when he altered his Gesture, according to the Jewish Custom, at giving Thanks, he con­tinued in that all the time of his own Sup­per, as some suppose; yet was not that either kneeling or sitting, but a standing Posture. So that the Gesture our Savi­our used was as different from sitting, as it is from kneeling; and therefore if the use of one different from his be a breach of his Institution, it is equally broken on all sides, and one cannot urge it against another, but both are alike in Fault, and equally obliged to answer it.

And if any say, That albeit in sitting they do vary from the Posture he used, yet is it still to another Table-Gesture, which is of the same Nature, and may be h [...]ld Equivalent: I desire them to consi­der, that then they are plainly gone off, as well as we, from the Example of our Lord, and from the Mode he used, since [Page 402] whereas he lay along, they sit upright, and only stick to such a Gesture as agrees to the Nature of the Feast, and the Notion of the Communion being a Supper and a Banquet. So that their sitting is not Authorized by our Lords having used it at first, for that he never did, but by its being a Table-Gesture, which becomes a Feast, and is thereby suited to the Na­ture of the Sacrament. And when once this Ground is admitted, it will make way for kneeling too, since there is much also in the Nature of the thing to render it very suitable and convenient. For, as upon the account of its being a Feast, whilst they direct their Eye to that, they may be embolden'd to sit down at it: so also upon account of its being a most Venerable and Religious Feast, where­at all inward Reverence and profound Humi­lity is required, they may see just Rea­son to use another more lowly mode, and kneel when they receive it. But if still they should think sitting the more agree­able mode, and that, it being a Table-Gesture, a Supper is best suited by it: yet would this be no Reason why they cannot comply with kneeling, but only why, if they were left to their own Li­berty, they would not make choice of it. For though they would not chuse it, yet [Page 403] are they at Liberty for all that to forbear sitting, and either to stand, or lye, or kneel at a Feast when need so requires it; so that whatever it may be to their own free choice of it, this can be no hindrance to their submission and compliance with it.

But since both in their way and ours, the Gesture of our Lord, being now out of date thro' the different usage of the World, is quite reilnquish'd; for a full Vindication of them as well as of our selves in this Point, I observe,

2. That the Posture he used was no part of the Institution, so that the Institution is not broken when the Posture is alter'd: yea, neither it, nor any other, has any Precept or Command at all for it; so that no Posture is necessary, but all, both theirs and ours, are still indifferent.

The Posture wherein it is first received, I say, is no part of the Institution of a Sacrament, so that the Institution is not broken when the Posture is altered. It is only the Thing which is appointed; but as for the Po­sture, or the Time, or the Place, or the Company, they are lit [...]l matters that are unworthy of a particular appointment, and are left at Liberty to be order'd as mens Discretion shall judge most conveni­ent. And, indeed, if the Gesture our Lord used were any part of the Instituti­on [Page 404] of this Holy Feast, the Time, and Place, and other Circumstances would be so too; for they seem all of equal weight, and were all equally used at first, which is all that the Gesture has to plead for it. So that if it be a Part of the Institution to receive in the leaning Posture, because our Lord used it; it is equally a Part of it to receive after Supper, which is the time he chose for it; and in an upper Room, which was the place wherein he Celebrated it; and only with m [...]n, who were the Com­pany he invited; and those no more than twelve, which was the Number he selected. All these can plead the same Title for be­ing parts of the Institution, which the Gesture can, i. e. their being used at the first appointment of it, which is all the claim it can make to it: and therefore since the Time, and Place, and Number, and Persons are no part, but may be alter'd without any breach of the Institution, as 'tis on all hands concluded they may; the Posture is no part of it, but may be alter'd without any such Infringement also.

And to shew this more fully, it really has been done, and that too in the Judg­ment of our Lord himself without any wrong to the Institution; and that was in the Jewish Passover. For the Posture wherein it was first Celebrated, was in [Page 405] that of Travellers, with their Loins girt, and their Staves in their hand, and their Shoes on their Feet; yea, and what makes this Circumstance more considerable in their Case, it was by Gods own Order and Appointment. For thus shall you eat it, saith God, with your Loins girded, and your Shoes on your Feet, and your Staff in your Hand; and you shall eat it in haste, it is the Lords Passover, Exod. 12.11. But afterwards, in compliance with the course of Times and the Custom of other Countries, this standing Posture of Tra­vellers was changed into the leaning or discumbing Postu [...]e of men at ease, which change our Saviour himself most evident­ly allowed, by his own usage and obser­vance of it. For when he ate the Passover with his Disciples, it was not in the tra­velling Posture used at first, but in this Discumbing Posture, which was then intro­duced instead of it. When even was come, Jesus sate, or rather [...]. lay down to Supper with the twelve, Mat. 26.20.

Thus is the Posture which our Blessed Lord used in the Sacrament, no part of the Institution; so that the Institution is not broken, when it is alter'd. And if it had been any part of it, his lying could no more be changed i [...]to sitting, because [Page 406] it is another Table-Posture, than the Bread and Wine into any other Food or Liquour, because they are a Table-Furniture; for the parts of the Sacrament must be kept the same as our Saviour left them, and we must not go about to alter and put in o­thers instead of them, lest we be thought to cancel his, and institute a New Sacra­ment of our own.

Yea, neither it, nor any other, has any Com­mand at all for it; so that no Posture is necessa­ry, but all, both theirs and ours, are still Indif­ferent. It is not at all injoyn'd by our Saviour Christ, for he only Commands the Thing, bidding them take Bread and eat it, and Wine and drink it, Mat. 26.26, 27; and to do this in Remembrance of him, Luc. 22.19; but says not a word prescribing the Gesture, Time, or other Circumstances which they are to use in so doing. Neither is it at all mentioned by St. Paul, who, as our Lord had done before, commands only after the mention of the Bread, that we should do that in remem­brance of him; and after the mention of the Cup, that we should drink that in remem­brance of him; but gives no Command at all concerning Posture, or any other such inconsiderable and outward thing, 1 Cor. 11.24, 25. And yet he delivered all that to them, which he had received in com­mand [Page 407] from Christ relating to the Holy Communion: I have received of the Lord, saith he, that which I also have delivered unto you, v. 23. So that altho' God has most strictly commanded the receiving of the Sacrament, yet has he no where com­manded any Posture to be used in it; and therefore none of them is necessary, but all, both theirs and ours, are still indifferent.

Thus then is our Kneeling Posture at the Communion, as also others Standing, or Sitting where that is the Fashion, no unlawful thing, nor any Breach of the In­stitution, tho' our Saviour used a diffe­rent one. The Posture he Communica­ted in, was no part of the Appointment; so that there is no Breach of it when that is altered: and neither it, nor any other, has any Command for it; so that none of them are either necessary or unlaw­ful upon this account, but all may still be used, as Publick Authority or Private Pru­dence shall determine it.

And as the Posture used at first, with­out any Breach of the Institution, or of any Law of Christ, may be altered, and a New one lawfully brought in, in stead of it; so,

3ly, When a Posture different from that at the first Institution was introduced in Sa­craments, our Blessed Lord himself, and they themselves too▪ have submitted to it.

[Page 408]As for our Blessed Lord, the matter is plain of him in the Case of the Passover already mentioned. He found the Po­sture different from that which was at first used in Egypt; for then, as I have noted, they stood, like Travellers; but now they lay down, like Men at rest and ease. But since Common Vsage and Publick Au­thority had altered the former Mode, and setled this later in stead of it, he would not go to dispute, but readily conformed himself to it. For when he came to eat the Passover, says St. Matthew, he sate, or rather lay down with the twelve, Mat. 26.20.

And as for themselves, they do the same thing too, in Sitting where that is the Posture Law or Custom has intro­duced among them. For Sitting is a Ge­sture very different from what our Savi­our used, who did not sit, but lie down at the Sacrament. But when the Assembly of Divines had brought in this Mode amongst us, notwithstanding its being a Deviation from what was done at first, they did then comply with it, and would still adhere to it.

If they will be guided therefore either by their Saviour's Practice, or their own, in this Point, when Vse and Publick Autho­rity have setled any Posture of Commu­nicating▪ they must submit to it. The [Page 409] Gesture which they find among us, is not more different from what our Saviour used, than the Gesture he found in the Passover, was from what the Jews first used in Egypt: But yet he made no scruple of this Posture, so plainly novel and of a later date, but readily complied with it. In conformity to which Example, the Apostle teaches us in lesser things to make Common Usages our Rule, for the pre­vention of all Disputes and Variance;— If any man seem to be contentious, in the case of Womens being unvail'd in the Publick Assemblies, we have no such custom, nor the Church of God, 1 Cor. 11.16. And the Sitting which they think well of, is as different from our Saviour's Posture, as Kneeling is; but yet they readily embra­ced it, when once the Assembly had dire­cted it. So that if they are but free to follow our Saviour's Practice, and St. Paul's Rule in this Case; or if they will go as far with the Churches Order, as formerly they did with the Assemblies; since Com­mon Vsage and Publick Authority have set­led Kneeling at the Sacrament among us, they ought not to stick out, but to submit to it.

And thus it appears that their Compli­ance with our Use of Kneeling in the Communion, is not at all against our Sa­viour's [Page 410] Institution; so that the fear of wronging that, ought not to hinder any of them from it. It is, indeed, a diffe­rent Posture from what our Lord first used; but if that be a Breach of his In­stitution, Sitting no less than Kneeling is a Breach of it: so that they and we are equally concerned to answer it. But in behalf of both 'tis easily answered, That the Posture he used was no Part of the In­stitution of the Sacrament; so that the Institution is not broken, when the Po­sture is altered: That neither it, nor any other, has any Precept for it; so that none of them is necessary, but all indiffe­rent, and lawful to be used, according as Mens own private Judgment and Discre­tion, where they are left to it, shall di­rect, or Publick Authority and Custom shall any where prescribe it: and that when these have in any Place introduced a Po­sture different from what he used, he him­self, by his own Practice in this very Case, and they too who make this Objection, by theirs, have taught us to comply with it.

But against this Compliance it is by some still further urged, That Kneeling in the Sacrament is Worshipping the Bread, and a Popish Rite, and therefore they dare not yield and conform to it.

Now in Answer to its being a worship­ping [Page 411] the Bread; I would observe to them, that there is no fear of that, because we do not kneel to the Bread, nor have any in­tent to worship it: and if really we did in­tend it, without which there is no Adoration paid to it, we should worship it whether we kneel or sit; so that their mode and ours are equally concern'd, and it must be own'd on all sides, that not the Posture but the In­tent is to be blamed for it.

1. In kneeling at the Sacrament, I say, there is no fear of worshipping the Bread, be­cause we do not kneel to it, nor have any in­tent to worship it. If we should kneel down to the Bread, indeed, and, submitting our selves before it, pay Divine Honour and Homage to it; this were really to worship it. And this the Papists plainly do in that Reverence which they shew to­wards it. For they verily believe it to be Transubstantiated, i. e. that the sub­stance of the Bread after the words of Consecration is passed into the Natural Body and Blood of Christ: and upon this Belief they fall down to it with a design to Reverence it, and to give as much Adoration to it, as they would to Christ himself were he visibly present. But although this be their intent, yet is it in no case ours in kneeling at the Sa­crament. For we kneel not to the [Page 412] Bread, to give any Homage and Ado­ration unto it, as our It is hereby declared that there­by ( [...]iz. by kneel­ing) no Adoration is intended, or ought to be done, ei­ther unto the Sacra­mental Bread and Wine there bodily received, or unto any Corporal pre­sence of Christs Na­tural Flesh and Blood. For the Sa­cramental Bread and Wine remain still in their Natu­ral substances, and therefore may not be ado [...]ed (for that we e [...]dola [...]ry, to be abhor'd of all Faithful Christians) And the Natural Body and Blood of our Saviour Christ are in Heaven, and not here; it being against the Truth of Christs Natural Bo­dy to be at one time in more places than one. Rub. at the end of the Com­mun. Service. Church has most ex­presly declared in the Rubrick; so that if any Persons intend any such thing, they must not say they follow the Church in it, since in the most earnest and express words it utterly dis­claims, and warns us all against it. But we use kneeling to a quite different end; viz. only as it is a Reverential Which Order [of Kneeling] is well meant, for a signification of our Humble and Grate­ful acknowledgement of the Benefits of Christ therein gi­ven to all worthy Receivers. ib. Humble Posture, where­in we may very decently receive Gifts, and make Confession of our sins, and give Thanks, and pour out our Prayers to Almighty God; So that our kneeling is only unto God, who is the proper object of our worship, but not at all to the Bread, which is [Page 413] never intended to be serv'd, nor receives any Homage or Submission by it. This, I say, is all we do in kneeling at the Sa­crament, as the Church requires, and as our own Consciences bear us witness, which are the only sure Judges in this Case, since they alone do throughly un­derstand, and are privy to our own In­tents and Purposes. And when both our Church and we do thus openly profess, that we kneel not to the Bread, nor have a­ny intent thereby to worship and submit our selves to it; there is none sure will be so rash and unchristianly Censorious, as to charge us with it. But if any do, they are thereby Guilty, not only of an o­pen uncharitableness, in imputing the worst things to us without any just Cause; but also of great Presumption and high Arro­gance, since therein they take upon them to teach us our own thoughts, and to tell us our own Hearts and Intentions better than we can tell our selves.

2. If in kneeling at the Sacrament we should have any such intent, without which there is no Adoration paid to it; we should worship it whether we kneel or sit; so that their Mode and ours are equally con­cerned in this doubt, and it must be own'd on all sides, that not the Posture, but the Intent is to be blamed for it. For when [Page 414] we designe worship to any Object, we can give it by a bare inward Homage and submission of the Mind, without the help of any outward act; or, if we would make it a worship of the Body too, that may be done by any Posture wherein we design to express it. It may be done sitting, as well as in a more humble mode; for tho' that seem to shew more of Familiarity than Respect, yet has it sometimes been used for the Posture of worship. Thus the Gentiles worshipped their Gods, as Cum pe [...]inde [...] Nationes adoratis Si [...]illa­ribus suis r [...]si­d [...]ndo, vel prop­te [...]ea in nobis [...] mere­ [...]r [viz. sitting at Prayers] quod a­pud [...]ola cele­bratur. Tertul. de Orat c. 12. 1 Sam. 9.13.22. Tertullian tells us, —the Nations, says he, worship their Ima­ges sitting: And thus al­so the Jews sometimes worshipped in their Re­ligious Feasts, when they fed upon their Sacrifices: for so it was plainly in the worship of the Gol­den Calf, where, after they had offer'd their Burnt-offerings and their Peace-Offerings, they sate down to eat and to drink upon what they had offer'd, Exod. 32.6. So that if any of those that kneel are Guilty of worshipping the Bread, their kneeling must not be accused for it, since, when giving worship is their in­tent, [Page 415] they would be Guilty of the same thing if they sate; and therefore it is not the Posture, which were very commen­dable were it directed unto God, but the mis-applying it to the Bread, and using it with that irreligious intent, which is to bear the blame of it.

As for those then who are afraid to kneel at the Sacrament, for fear lest there­by with the Papists they should worship the Bread; my Answer in brief is this. To worship the bread as the Papists do, is to kneel down to it, and to pay Divine Honour and Adoration to it, because they believe Christ bodily present in it; and this may be done in any Posture, either sitting or kneeling, when any Persons so intend it; and without such intent, 'tis not done by kneel­ing in the Holy Sacrament; and they are best able to tell themselves whether in Recei­ving they intend any such thing or no, and, if they say they do not, 'tis great Ar­rogance as well as Vncharitableness in others to charge them with it; and if they have a­ny such design, they must not say it is to comply with our Church, because it expresly declares against it, and warns them of the danger of it: If they worship the Bread, their kneeling is no cause of it; and they may use that Posture only to confess their Sins, and give Thanks, and make Prayers, [Page 416] by all which they worship God, if they are so minded; and if still they will worship the Bread by it, they go off from the Injun­ction of the Church, which would de [...]er them from it: So that their Submission to the Churches Order in this Case, can put them in no danger of worshipping the Bread; and therefore in complying with her, they have no cause at all to be afraid of it.

And then as for this Kneeling in the Sacrament being a Popish Rite, if they mean that the Papists use it, they may call their own Sitting a Popish Rite too, upon the same ground, because that also is sometimes used by them in receiving. For the Benedictine Monks, as Hodie in Ca­thedralibus Ec­clesiis & Mona­steriis Benedicti­norum, in Die Coenae Domini ante Parasce [...]en, &c. Evangelium Johannis a Dia­cono publice prae­legitur, & dul­cissima illa collo­quia Christi, quae abiturus cum Di­scipulis habuit, recitantur: interim ordine dispo­sitis mensis, convivae assident, panem azymum fran­gentes, &c. Didocla [...]. Alt. Damasc. c. 10. p. 746. Didoclavius, a zealous Asserter of the Sitting Mode, has observed from Bullinger, sit at the Com­munion sometimes. Nay, so doth the Pope himself, as William Thomas, an Eye-witness of it, in the Year 1547, says the Quench Coal, p. 12. Quench-Coal, in his History of Italy, plainly [Page 417] testifies; and as —Summus Pon­tifex ad sedem ascendens, ibique confidens, uni­versis cernenti­bus, majorem partem oblatae suscipit de Pate­na quam Subdia­conus apportave­rat de Altari, ipsamque Denti­bus subdividens, unam particulam ejus sumit, & ali­am in Calicem mittit, &c. Du­rand. Ra [...]ion. Di­vin. Offic. l. 4. c. 54. Nu. 4. p. 203. Du­randus also clearly af­firms; and as the —Imperator retrahens se ad partem dextram, stat usque quo Pontifex ad se­dem eminentem communicaturus revertatur, quem Imperator sequl­tur. Lib. Sacr. [...] ­rem. S. Rom. Eccl. l. 1. sect. 5. c. 3. p. 59. Book of the Sacred Ceremonies sufficiently intimates in one Case, viz. at the Coronation of the Empe­rours. Sitting and Kneel­ing then are both equal as to this Point, that the Papists use them: but that need not make us throw them away as Popish Rites, or be any Disparage­ment to either of them. For the Papists have ma­ny harmless things, and many very good, as well as many bad among them. They have the Scriptures, which are ne­ver the less the Word of God because they read them; and the Creed, and the Lords Prayer, which none of us will cast aside because they use them; and kneel at their Prayers, which yet we ought not to disclaim for fear of symbolizing with them: So that both Sitting and Kneeling [Page 418] may be good things among us, tho' both are used by them too.

But if by a Popish Rite, they mean that it is one of the Corruptions of Popery, whereby they have depraved Christiani­ty; that is a great Mistake, which has no colour of Reason or Ground at all for it. For Kneeling is not onely a very inno­cent, but a very decent Posture wherein to receive Gifts, and make humble Confession of our Sins, and put up Prayers and Supplicati­ons to Almighty God; all which we are to do in the Holy Sacrament. It is probably a much more Ancient Rite, and either it, or some other Posture of Reverence and Ado­ration, which is of the same account with it, was used in the Communion long before Popery, i. e. the Popish Errours and Corrup­tions, which are a novel and upstart Re­ligion, had any Footing.

As for this Objection then against Com­plying with the Injunction of Kneeling in the Sacrament, viz. its being a worship­ping the Bread, and a Popish Rite; there is really no weight in it. For they cannot worship the Bread in complying with the Church, since it forbids it; nor do any thing that is truly and culpably Popish, tho' the Papists use it, as indeed they do Sit­ting too, which yet is never the worse for it, because it is no Corruption of Popery, [Page 419] but either it, or some other Posture of Adoration which is of equal Danger with it, was in use in Christianity before the Po­pish Errours were introduced. So that al­tho' they cannot see Reason enough to desire it, nor would receive Kneeling were another Posture allowed; yet since the Sacrament is not otherwise to be had, they may very safely and wisely comply with, and submit to it still.

And thus I have considered this Impedi­ment, whereby many good Minds, who are sensible of the Duty of it, and are otherwise very well prepared for it, are yet unhappily kept back from the Holy Sacrament. And the Result of all is this, That when they stay away upon this ac­count, because they will not kneel in recei­ving it, they refrain upon a most unjustifi­able Ground, which will afford them no Excuse, nor ought in any reason to be their Hindrance. For Kneeling is really no unsuitable, but a very decent Posture; so that if we were left at liberty to re­ceive how we would, we might have enough to justifie our selves in making use of it. And it is appointed us by our Gover­nours, whom God commands us to obey in all lawful things; so that in regard to their having prescribed it, every good Man among us ought to observe it. And if nei­ther [Page 420] Authority could impose, nor it had any Reason from it self to recommend it, but that Sitting were on all accounts much fitter to be used; yet since in their own ccount it may lawfully be used too, and is onely a less decent Mode, but has no Sin or Offence in it, if they have any earnest de­sire for the Sacrament, which is not other­wise to be had, for its sake they will at least comply with it. If they rate things truly, since Authority has injoyned it, they will see themselves obliged to use it; but how­ever, since their Saviour has laid no weight upon it, but accepts a Devout Mind in any Posture, tho' they had rather use another, yet is there nothing to hin­der their Compliance and Submission to it: So that there is no just pretence for any, upon this account, to refrain coming to the Sacrament.

CHAP. VII. Of some other Hindrances.

The Contents.

An Account of some other Hindrances. One abstains because the day before he was at a Feast. Another, because his Child is sick, or he himself is lighty indisposed. A third, because his Wife or Husband cannot come along with him to joyn in it. A fourth, because he has a Visit to make, or a Friend come in, who in all civility must be attended. A fifth, because of a Showr of Rain, or a sharp Air abroad, so that he must endure a piercing Blast, or wet his Foot, to go out to it. These are no Excuse from it, but still Men are bound to Communicate. Some Devout Meditations and Prayers to help them in a Worthy Discharge of it. After they have received, they must be careful to make good those holy Vows and Promises which they made to God in the Holy Sacrament.

HAving hitherto consider'd those Pleas which seem to be of most weight in hindring Men from the Sacrament, [Page 422] and possess them either with a Scruple that they dare not, or with an important Reason why they should not chuse to come to it; before I dismiss this Head, I shall take notice of some others, which, tho' of less moment, may yet seem fit to be con­sidered.

Men oft-times give such Reasons for their Neglect of the Sacrament, as are Reasons to themselves for neglecting no­thing else that is of half that moment. The Vnseasonableness of the Weather, the Sickness of a Child, the paying a Com­plement to a Friend, or the like, is thought a sufficient Hindrance from the Commu­nion: Whereas it would not hinder them from any Business which either Friendship, their own Pleasure, or their Profit requires of them. For how cogent soever they may account them in keeping them back from it, they would not be with-h [...]ld by them from pursuing any Sport, or from driving an advantageous Bargain, or carrying on any End or Interest, or serving their Friend in any Business or Af­fair of moment. And can any Man now have the Face to give that for a Reason to Almighty God, which he would be ashamed to offer as a Reason to any one else? Can he expect to excuse the Neg­lect of a weighty Duty unto him, by such [Page 423] trifling Apologies as would not excuse the Neglect of a Bargain, nay of a Pastime to himself; nor of a Concern of weight, or, perhaps, of a Complement to his Com­panions? Those Men are surely in a sad Case, who are forced to seek shelter under such thin Pretences; and rather than make such trifling Pleas for any Act of Disobedience, it were by much their wi­ser course to be wholly silent, and not seek to defend themselves at all.

When these Pleas are made then, there is no Excuse in them. And indeed they would not be made by any Men, if once they were convinced how much it is both their Duty and their Interest to come to the Communion. For when they are de­tained by such frivolous Reasons as would not either be urged or admitted in excuse for any other Business; they shew onely their great Indifference to it, and how they esteem it less than any other Mat­ters: and this they could not do, if they held it either as a valuable Privilege, or as a Point of Conscience. The best way therefore to remove these Hindrances from the Sacrament, is to possess Men with a Belief that God has peremptorily injoyn'd it, and that 'tis infinitely their own Interest and high Privilege to be ad­mitted to it. And having shew'd these [Page 424] very largely in the Second Part, I shall re­fer the Reader unto that, as a very likely way, not onely to answer these, but also to prevent all other such like Pleas against it.

But that such Persons as are serious in these Hindrances, may not think them­selves slighted, besides this general An­swer, I shall say something to the Parti­culars.

1. One keeps away from the Sacrament because the day before either he himself has made a Feast, or has been treated by his Neighbour at a Noble Entertainment. But why, I pray, must this excuse it? For if at the Feast he was guilty of any incapaci­tating Fault, or any ways intemperate; 'tis not the Feast, but such Offence or Intempe­rance which is to be alledg'd for it. But if the Entertainment was Friendly in the Design, Temperate at the Table, and every way harmless and charitable, hurting no Man's Fame, nor disturbing any Man's Quiet in the Conversation; wherein was his Lord offended, or his Soul unfitted by it? The Primitive Christians received it as a Friendly Treat, for in those days their Love-Feasts always went along with it; so that an Hospitable Entertainment the day before, yea or the same day, doth not unfit Men to Communicate; but if [Page 425] in all things else they are duely qualified, they may worthily receive still.

2. Another abstains from this Holy Feast because his Child is sick, or because he has taken Cold himself, or has some aking in his Head, or is otherwise lightly indisposed.

But what if his Child is sick? Doth he attend it? Or is it advisable for him to be so far disturbed at it, till his Mind is unfit for those Religious Tempers which he is to exercise at the Holy Sacrament? Perhaps his Child fares the worse because of some Sin that he has committed; and will he not then instantly repent of it, and come to the Lord's Table, there to have his Pardon seal'd, that so this Load being taken off, it might be eased by it? But whether that be so or no, if he has any sense of Religion either in his Childs Case or his own, he will be earnestly de­sirous to make God his Physician, and call out to him for help; and that he cannot do so effectually, or prevail in it so cer­tainly at any other time, as I have shew­ed, as in the Holy Sacrament. For God is never more inclined to hear us, nor are we ever more likely to have our Prayers granted for any thing that he sees fit for us, than when we send them up along with this Solemn Commemoration of our Saviours Death, which is the only Argu­ment [Page 426] that has Authority and Power with him, to obtain any thing on our behalf. So that if a wise man longs to have his Child recovered, he cannot do a more unwise thing, than either to grieve so far till he is unfitted for this Feast, or, when he might be fit for it, to neglect it; since his Prayers there would a be most probable and prudent course to obtain it.

And then as for his own indisposition, if indeed it has brought upon him such heaviness as unfits him for any Spiritual Act, or if it is in that Degree, that 'tis not safe for him to stir abroad with it; God prefers Natural and Essential Du­ties before Positive Institutions, and Mer­cy before Sacrifice, so that it will be a just excuse for it. But if it cannot hin­der him from looking after business, and going among his Neighbours, or ven­turing out upon any appearance of doing either himself or his Friend a kindness; why must it excuse him from attending upon God, and doing him this Service; except that be thought sufficient to ex­cuse our attendance upon him which excuses nothing else, which is a thing, I presume, they would be loth to own, who stay away by reason of this hindrance.

2. Some again refrain the Holy Sacra­ment, because their Wife, or Husband [Page 427] cannot bear them Company, and join in it. One of them is either accidentally pre­vented that they cannot, or sinfully negli­gent and unprepared that they will not come to it; and therefore in Complyance and for Companies sake the other also keeps away at present, and defers it to ano­ther time when both together can par­take of it.

This I think is a popular, but it is a ve­ry weak excuse. For the receiving the Communion is an indispensable Duty, concerning which every Person must give account of themselves unto Almighty God; so that one near Relation can no more talk of neglecting it for the others sake, than of neglecting to say their Prayers and serve God because the other doth it not, or of being irreligious to sym­bolize with some dear Friends, and ca­sting away their precious Souls out of Com­plement. Nay, if he had not thus injoyn'd, but only Friendly invited us to Communi­cate; yet would it be a very rude and dis­obliging thing to refuse his Invitation up­on this account, because some others, who are very dear to us, have not either the opportunity, or good manners to accept it. For if an Husband or a Wife will not receive, unless the other also will consent to joyn it; it is a sign they come not [Page 428] so much for their Lords, as for each others sake, so that they and not their Saviour have the Service and the Honour of it: and this is an odd account for any man to give to Christ of his neglecting this Feast, when he is most affectionately and ear­nestly invited to it.

When any Persons stay away from the Sacrament then, because they cannot have their Bosom-Friend to joyn in it: they are Guilty of a great sin, since they are bound to it whether the other come or not, and pass a great affront and dishonour upon their Lord; so that this is far from having any excuse in it. Nay, instead of being a Reason why they should abstain from it, the neglect of one dear Relati­on lays a greater obligation on the other to Communicate. For when one cannot come, so that there must be a defect on that part, that is too much already since neither ought to be wanting in it; and therefore there is the more need the other should receive, not only to shew their own Duty in it, but also to supply their Friends defect as well as they can, and make amends for it.

4. A Fourth absents himself from this Holy Feast, because that day he is to visit a Friend abroad, or has a Friend acciden­tally come in to dine with him, who must in all Civility be attended.

[Page 429]But why must our Respects to our Savi­our and our other Friends be made thus to interfere, so that one must needs be a Temp­tation to omit the other? How comes it, that of all the days in the month we fix upon that for visiting or entertaining of our Friends, when our Blessed Lord in­vites us to his Table there to entertain us? Or if by accident a Friend then breaks in upon us, why must that detain us when Christ calls us? Is it any part of his Friendship to make us disobey our Lord, or to put us by embracing this high honour and most advantageous op­portunity when 'tis offer'd? Or if he be Gods Friend too as well as ours, is it not very fit that he should go also and joyn with us? When to Communicate is a Duty in both of us, is it any wise Rea­sonable that he should make us stay away, and not go himself along with us? But if it happen that a Friend who is unwilling to Communicate falls in to be entertained, or a visit at that time would be expected: Since our Saviour and they cannot be at­tended too, which ought in Reason to be prefer'd? Is there any to whom we owe more Respect and Observance, than we do to Christ Jesus? should we Affect the Company, or Court the Conversati­on of any Person, more than his? Are [Page 430] there any who ought more highly to be valued by us, or have better deserv'd of us, or whom we should study more to make our Friend, than him who has gain'd us Eternal Life, and that by lay­ing down his own Hearts Blood for the Purchase? When more Honourable Per­sons, or better Friends invite us, let us turn our backs upon his Table, and pay them Attendance: but since he can have no Competitors in this Case, where is the Justice, the Honour and Respect to him, when this is given as the Reason of our Absence?

5. A Fifth neglects the Holy Sacra­ment, because of a showr of Rain, or a sharp Air abroad; so that he must indure a piercing blast, or we [...] his Foot if he goes out in it.

But is he thus tender of himself in a­ny other matters? a [...]d would these dread­ful Scare-Crows put him by any other Concerns which frigh [...] him from this Or­dinance? If they stood in the way of his Pleasures, would he r [...]frain th [...]m? If they lay between h [...]m and his worldly Interests, would he be discouraged by them? If th [...]y met him in the way as he were going to [...] Friend a kindness, would they cause him to turn ba [...]k again? Though they would not just [...]fie it, yet when they hinder him from th [...]se and [Page 431] such like matters, they may with more colour be pleaded in excuse of his absence from the Lords Supper. But are not men much at a Loss for excuses to shift off this Duty, when such as this, so full of palpa­ble Contempt and a careless Spirit, must serve their turn, and be thought sufficient? And have not we an hard task to Conduct them on to Eternal happiness, which must▪ put them upon Fighting and Striving, and giving all Diligence, and denying them­selve [...], and taking up the Cross, and pluck­ing out right Eyes, and cutting off right Hands, &c. when they stumble thus at Straws, and are beat back by the force of every Feather which is blown in their Faces; and such trilles as these can dis­courage their going on in the most weigh­ty Duties, and make them recoyl again upon our Hands?

As for all these Excuses then, which careless men, who make no Conscience of the Sacrament, give for their Absence from it; they will not stand them in a­ny stead, nay, they are such as no wise man dare own when once they are exa­mined. They shew nothing else, but the dis-regard men have of Christ, their unaffect [...]dness with all that he has done and suffer [...]d, their absolute indifference to have it remembred, and their utter Con­tempt [Page 432] of this Duty which he has command­ed them. They are a good Evidence of their own careless, undutiful, and ir­reverent mind, and manifest how little they set by their Blessed Lord; so that the urging of them is a ready way to give more offence, but not to make any excuse at all.

And thus I have done with all those Pleas, which are wont, I think, most generally to keep men from the Communion, and would be most apt to hinder those things which I have said about the Duty and Advantage of it in the second part, from having their due effect upon them. Among these there are some, perhaps, may seem to be little objections; but little as they are, they are an hindrance to some minds; and since it is not below them to stop at them, I am far from thinking it too trivial and low a thing for me to answer them. And upon the whole matter it appears, that to Communicate is a great Duty, and a great benefit, and that none of those Pleas which are ordina­rily urged for it, can in any just sort excuse their neglect of it. For neither their unwor­thiness to partake in it, nor the danger of Damnation threatned to every unworthy Com­municant, nor the Fear of breaking that promise of New Life which is made in it, [Page 433] nor the apprehended Difficulty and want of leisure to prepare for it, nor their being un­bettered and unimproved by it, nor the wan [...] of that Charity which is to be profess'd at it, nor the having some Enemies, after all their Endeavours for Reconciliation, unre­conciled, nor the seeming presumption of joyning in it, nor the Customary Absence of many good People from it, nor the Admit­tance of Vnworthy Receivers to it, nor the Imposition of Kneeling at it: neither these, I say, nor any other Impediment whereby Men are apt to excuse it to their own Minds, can justifie and bear them out in absenting themselves▪ when they are in­vited. No ill Man can be excused, and no good Man need to be h [...]ndred by them; so that every Man, as he tenders our Blessed Lord's Command, and his own Souls-Interest, must be careful reverently and devoutly to partake in this Holy Feast, when he has an Opportunity, and is called so to do.

And now I have gone thro' all those Particulars which I proposed at first, and which I thought most proper to be insi­sted on to ingage Men to a Worthy Re­ception of the Holy Sacrament. I have shewn what is the meaning of Eating and Drinking in this Feast, and wherein lies the Worthiness of doing it, and what strict Ob­ligati [...]ns [Page 434] us we have to it, and how great Bene­fits we are like to receive by it, and answered th [...]se Pleas which are most generally given [...]ut to excuse the Neglect of it; and this with all honest Minds, who are desirous and free to hear, and will have the patience to consider, may seem sufficient to inforce a due Attendance on it. And when once Men are so disposed, and seriously re­solv'd to communicate, I shall add a few things to assist them in a right Discharge of it, and so conclude this Subject.

When we come to the Holy Sacra­ment, to commemorate the Death of our Bleeding Lord, whose Body there is repre­sented as broken, and his most precious Blood as shed, on our account; we are to shew forth an affectionate and hearty Thankfulness for so invaluable a Kindness, and an intire Resignation of our selves to his Vse, and Repentance of all our Sins, fully purposing to amend them all thencefor­wards, and an universal Peace and Chari­ty towards all our Neighbours; all which we must excite in our own Souls by due Considerations.

1. We must shew forth an affectionate a [...]d hearty Thankfulness for so invaluable a [...]ndness. And what Soul can be slow to [...] this, who considers how infinitely our [...] Lord has deserved of us? For he has [Page 435] got us the most precious and glorious things which Heaven it self could afford, that all our Sins should be freely pardoned, and that the Holy Ghost, that Immense, Eter­nal, and All-sufficient Spirit, should come in at all times to our help, and that we should be in no less Quality than the Sons of God, and Heirs of a Kingdom, who are assured of eternal Joys and Glories in another World: And ought not Gifts so august and superlatively excellent to be most affe­ctionately acknowledged? He has bought all these, to bestow upon us, at the dearest Rate, not onely taking the most unwearied Pains, but also paying the highest Price, and laying down his own most precious Blood for the Purchase. And must not such astonish­ing Kindness, which was affrighted by no Hazards, nor stopt at any Difficulties, nor declined any Sufferings, not the Suf­fering of Death it self, for our sakes, be always held in a most thankful Remem­brance? And in all this he had no Ends of his own to serve of us, but was led on purely by the Pleasure he takes in our Happiness; he was not won by our De­serts; for, alas! we were his profest Ene­mies, who had nothing to shew but high­est Provocations; he was not wearied out with the importunity of our Intreaties, for it came, as undeserv'd, so altogether un­ask'd, [Page 436] whatsoever he did for us: he was [...]ot moved by the Medi [...]ti [...]n of Friends; [...]or whom, alas▪ had we to intercede for [...] ▪ And shall not such amazing Love and Goodness, so frankly shew'd, without any Eye at [...] or Private Interests, with­out [...] or Deserts, nay, in spite of all Disc [...]u [...]ag [...]me [...]ts and highest Provocati­ons, be entertain'd with greatest Joy and grateful Acclamations? He has been an infinitely endearing and entire Friend to us, without any Inducement but his own most generous Kindness, and against all Discou­ragements, and beyond all [...], and under the most frightful Hazards, and at the highest Expences, giving his own Soul even to Death, for a Ransom to redeem ours: And whensoever we hear or think of this, I am confident it will not be difficult for any of us to embrace him with Hearts full of Love and high Desires, and pay him most intire Thanks, and burst out into Songs of Praise, and find it a most joyful Business so to do.

What am I, my dear Lord, will a de­vout Mind then say, that thou shouldest leave the Right-hand of God, and come to visit me? Hadji thou no Ease in thy own Breast, so long as I lay plunged in Misery? And couldst not thou be Happy in Heaven, nor enjoy thy self amidst all the Joys and [Page 437] Glories of that Blissful Pla [...], unl [...]ss I were there too to b [...]ar th [...] Company? How [...]arnest thou, being so highly exalted, and the Eter­nal Son of God, to have any Affectionate Concern at all for me? Was n [...]t I a de­f [...]rred, p [...]lluted Wretch, and thy profest Enemy? And weren [...]t either of these enough to turn away thy Face from me? But if, notwithstanding all this, thy overflowing Goodness would put th [...] [...] something for my sake, why must thou come thy self upon the Earth, nay, come to bleed and die, to Redeem me? Am I dearer to thee than thy own Life, that thou shouldest part with it to save me? Dost thou love me better than thou lovest thy self, that thou wilt shed the last Drop of thy own Hearts Blood to make me happy? Blessed Jesus! how unfa [...]mable is thy Grace, and what an unsearchable Depth of Love is this which thou hast opened to us! O how happy do I think my self in it, and how doth my Heart rejoyce at the Remem­brance of it! Lord! I love thee dearly, and long to love thee more. Would I had the Heart [...] of a Seraphin, that I might be all over Love, and neither wish nor think of any thing besides thee. Would I could feel my Soul affected to that degree which I desire, and thou infinitely deservest of me. I wish no greater Pleasure, than to be found per­fect in thy Love, and to have thee so dear [Page 438] unto me, that I can contemn all the gilded Vanities and Allurements of the World at the thoughts of thee. O! do thou fill me with an Affection full and absolute, like thine own, that I may love thee infinitely, as I am be­loved by thee! Possess me with such a Sense of thy Love, and such Thankfulness for all thy Favours, as is worthy of thee; tho' should I offer the utmost Acknowledgments which the most affected and enlarged Heart can pay, I should not give the thousandth part of what I owe thee. Let all the Angels adore thy glorious Goodness, and all the Sons of▪ Men, so long as they have a Tongue to speak, set forth thy Noble Praise: for thou, O sweetest Jesu, art the Son of the Blessed, the Joy and Glory of the World, the Lamb of God, and the Saviour of Mankind, who wast slain for our sakes, and art alive again, and sittest now for ever at the Right-hand of Power, in the Glory of the Father, that An­gels may submit to thee, and all the World may worship thee, sing of thee, and praise thy Goodness, Power, and Glory, to all Eter­nity.

2. We must shew our selves reconciled to all who have any ways offended us, and that we are in Peace and Charity with all Persons. And this we shall not think much to do, if we consider how highly our dear Lord is concern'd for them, and [Page 439] how earnestly he sues in behalf of them; for then we shall be readily brought to it on his account, tho we might be more averse to it on their own. He has loved them so well, as to shed his precious Blood for them; and can we find in our Hearts to hurt any Person, when we see him gi­ving his own Life to save him? He owns them as his Friends and Brethren; and is not that enough to make us kind, to see that he is so near akin to them? He has made them Members of his Body, and thereby Parts of his own self; and can we study Revenge against them, when he comes in at last to bear the stroke, and i [...] reach'd in so doing? He becomes a Peti­tioner to us in their behalf, and intreats us by vertue of all that he has done to be Friends again; and can we have the face to deny him, who has so infinitely obli­ged us, and ought to command us in every thing? Shall we refuse so small a Suit to him, who died for us? or stick to throw away a sinful Resentment for his sake, who has parted with his own Hearts Blood for ours? Tho' they are most un­worthy to be pardoned, yet is he most worthy of it; so that when he intreats, we must not be backward in it. Nay, we stand daily in a thousand times more need of his Pardon, than they do of ours; so [Page 440] that we block up the way to our own Forgiveness, if we refuse it. For what if they have injured us? Have we been altogether innocent, and have offered him no Injuries? What if they have most ungratefully abused us, after they had re­ceived the most endearing Kindnesses? have we been duely thankful unto him, and never offended against all his Mer­cies? Do not we owe him Mat. 18.24, 28. Ten thousand Talents? whereas their Debt to us is but a Trifle of an hun­dred Pence? And since we are daily ask­ing him the Forgiveness of these vast Sums, can we at the same time stick at his Instance to remit these smaller Matters to our Neighbours? Have we the Face to ask Pardon, whilst we have not the Heart to grant it? Or can we hope that Christ should give it us, for the most heinous Sins, at our Request, when we deny it to our Brother, for the smallest Trespasses, at his? Or rather, since he most frankly forgives us, and that too without up­braiding us, shall not both our own Ne­cessity, and the Example of his Mercy, en­gage us to forgive our offending Neigh­bour also?

Lo! here, my Blessed Saviour, will a Devout Heart then say, how I cast by all [Page 441] angry Thoughts, and am Friends with all the World as thou requirest me! They shall all be dear to me, because I see they are so to thee, who hast given thine own Life for their Ransom. Thou ownest them all as thy Brethren, and therefore they shall evermore be mine; for I desire to have the same Friends, and to go along with thee in every Relation. No Member of thine whom be­fore I had never seen shall ever be a Stran­ger to me, but I will embrace him as a part of my own Body. Nay, even my bitterest Enemies shall have no hatred, or hard usage at my hands, but I am Friends with all the World since thou wilt have it so. Shall not I forgive other men, who am undone my self unless I be forgiven? Shall not I have pity on their Souls, as thou, Blessed Jesus, hast on mine; and freely Pardon them, when thou becomest their Advocate to sue and inter­cede for them? O! my Dearest Saviour, I do from my heart forgive them, and will never yield to return their Injuries or Vn­kindnesses upon them. Nay, I most humbly beseech thee, and that by thy own most precious Blood, that thou wouldest forgive them also. Give them Grace to Repent of what they have done, and impute not their Trespasses unto them, but receive them, I ear­nestly intreat thee, into thy Favour, as here I do truly and unfeignedly into mine. Hear [Page 442] me, O Blessed Jesu! both for my self and them, that we may all be one with thee, and among our selves, being united to thee by a Spirit of Holiness, and to each other by a Spirit of mutual Charity and Brotherly-kindness, that so all the World may know we are thy Disciples by that Spirit of Love which thou hast given us.

3. We must Resign our selves up to our Saviours use, and Repent truly of all our sins, promising him Faithfully that we will amend them all thenceforwards.

We must Resign our selves up to our Sa­viours use, that he may dispose of us as he pleases. And what man can stick at this, who considers that he has bought us, and would put us to no use but what is infi­nitely for our own Advantage? Has any Person a better claim to us, than he who bought us with his Blood, and gave his own Life for the Purchase? Should not he have the benefit of all our Service, who has paid so dear for it, by dying himself instead of us? But if we were at Liberty, and he had no Power over us; is there any better way to dispose of our selves, or could we desire to be in o­ther hands rather than in his? Can we hope for more Wisdom in any one to direct, or more Power to bring our Hap­piness about, than in him who knows [Page 443] and governs all things? Durst we trust more to the Faithfulness and Affection of any Heart, than of that which dyed for us? Or can we think our selves hap­pier in any Hands than his, who is in all things studious of our Advantage? For our Blessed Lord seeks no other ends by us, but our own Eternal Happiness; he imposes no Duties on our Consciences, but what he has done himself before us, nay, what, had we the understanding to discern it, we should all have imposed upon our selves: So that in committing our selves to his Conduct, we do not give but seek a Benefit; and dispose of our selves in that way which is incomparably our highest Interest. We are absolutely his own Right, and 'tis infinitely our own Interest to be wholly given up to him, and govern'd according to his liking; and therefore every considerate man will freely resign his Heart to Christ, and ne­ver suffer the World, or his own Lusts to pull it back again.

‘Come then, my Dear and Rightful Lord, will a poor Soul say, and take Possession of me. Thou hast bought me with thine own Blood, a strange Price for so despicable a Purchase; and here I come in all Humility to present thee with what thou hast so dearly got, [Page 444] and without all reserve to give up my self unto thee. I know, O Lord, I am a Deformed, and Polluted Crea­ture, most unworthy to be offer'd to so excellent a Majesty. But gladly would I be thine that thou may'st make me better, and so adorn me with thy Grace that I may be sitted for thy self, and therefore I earnestly beseech thee to accept me. I humbly beg to be de­livered from my self, for I am my own most mortal Enemy. O! that thou wouldest give thine Holy Spirit Power over me, and not let my own Corrupt will any longer govern me, nor my false heart any more deceive me, nor my unbridled Passions any more to reign in me, which alas! have tyrannized too long already! O! that thou wouldst purge my understanding from all foolish Principles, and all dark­ness and Ignorance of Holy Things; and cure my will and affections of all their stubbornness, and opposition to thy Laws; that thou wouldest first take them as thine own Propriety, and then fit them for their Masters use, that I may never hereafter live to my self, but unto thy Glory! wilt thou throw back a Soul that would hang it self upon thee? wilt thou disdain an [Page 445] Heart that is desirous after thee, and would fain be no longer its own, but thine, that thou mightest use it as it may best serve and honour thee? O Blessed Jesu! do not reject it, for it is the Purchase of thy Blood. Let not all that be thrown away which thou hast already done for it, for want of thy further Care and Conduct of it. Ac­cept me, Good Lord, who here un­feignedly devote my self unto thee, that both my Soul and Body, and all I have, may be employed as thou seest fit to order me. I am nothing, I have nothing, and I desire nothing but to be with thee, to be filled with thy Grace, and obey thee perfectly; that so I may have nothing of my self, but do all things thro' Christ dwelling in me.’

And when we thus Resign our selves to our Saviour's Use, we must heartily re­pent of all our Sins, faithfully promising never more to yield to them, but to amend them all thenceforwards. To Repent par­ticularly of all our Sins, we must first di­scover them, by taking some Catalogue of Christian Duties, and examining our own Hearts at every one, Whether we have consented to transgress them? And where we find we have, there we must [Page 446] bemoan our selves, and fully resolve, That if God will be pleased to pardon what is past, we will never yield to do the like again. And what Man will not thus sted­fastly resolve to leave all his Sins, that has the patience to consider what will be the End of his Continuance in them? For by that we shall infinitely offend our Saviour Christ, who gave his own Life for ours, and whom therefore we are bound to please above all Persons; we shall certain­ly lose the Joys of Heaven, and Eternal Happiness, a Loss which the whole World put together cannot recompence; we shall unavoidably be d [...]med to Hell-fire and Eternal Torments, which is the utmost heighth of Misery that can possibly befal us. This will infal [...]ibly be the Effect of our Perseverance in any Sins we find our selves guilty of. And now let us ask our own Souls, Whether we love them so well, that we will [...]ndure all this, rather than for [...]go them? Shall I prize my Sin to that degree, as for its sake to act de­spite to my dearest Lord, who died for me? Must it be dearer to me than his Love, that I should dishonour and of­fend him whensoever it bids me? Is this the Return I make to my tru [...]st, dearest Friend, to side with his professed Ene­my? Is this my Thankfulness for all his [Page 447] Kindness, to stick to a Lust that aims at nothing but my Destruction, rather than to him who gave his own Life to save mine? Thou lovest it dearly, O my Soul; but canst thou value it at such a Rate, as to part with Everlasting Life for it? Hadst thou rather have it, than enjoy the Face of God, and be for ever Happy? Art thou content, for the short and unsatis­fying Pleasures it affords, to lose all the Joys and Glories of a Blessed Eternity? Wilt thou die sooner than be divorced from it? and accompany it even into the Flames of Hell, and the midst of Eter­nal Torment? God forbid, will every May say whose Heart is thus particularly posed, that ever I should be so desperate­ly mad, and unaccountably wicked. I cannot despite so dear a Lord, or throw away the Eternal Joys of the Heavenly State, or endure the Smart of Hell, and the insupportable Load of Everlasting Torment. No Man can bear it, and I stand amazed to think of it: And therefore since this will be the Effect of my wicked ways, I am resolved from this Moment to re­nounce them, and by the help of God will never return to them any more.

Thus let the Drunkard think with him­self on his Cups, the S [...]earer on his Oaths, the unjust Man on his unlawful Gain, the [Page 448] Contentious on his Quarrels, the unclean Person on his Fornication and forbidden Pleasures, the Revengeful Man on his spite­ful Carriage, the Slanderer and Evil-speaker on his reproachful Words, Back-bitings, and Defamations, and every other Sinner on his particular Sins: and when they seriously consider that this Saviour must be lost, this Happiness of Heaven forfeited, and this eternal Anguish and Extremity of Pain en­dured, if they persist in it; they will in­stantly resolve to forsake it, and never yield to be guilty of it again.

This may be used [...] a Penitential Confession of our Sins after Self-ex­amination. ‘O Blessed Lamb of God, who hast redeem'd me with thy Blood, will every Contrite Heart then cry out, I am utterly ashamed to look thee in the Face, considering all the cruel Usage I have brought upon thee. This Sentence may be omitted, when this Confession is not before a Sa­crament. I scarce know how to think of Feasting on thy preci­ous Blood, now I am most earnestly invited to it, since mine own Sins have shed it. I am, alas! a most polluted Creature, who have daily offended, in Thought, Word, and Deed, against thy Divine [Page 449] Majesty. My Here mention your particular Sins. Pride, and contempt of God, and Sensual Lusts, and Covetous Desires, and uncharitable Practices, have cried aloud for Vengeance on me, and that Cry would not be silenced, unless thou my dearest Saviour wouldst die in stead of me. Of all these Offences I am guil­ty, and the horrour of that Guilt would fright me from thee, were it not that thou freely callest me to accept of Mercy. I come, Lord, in obedience to thy Word, and with an humble and a penitent Heart most earnestly entreat thee to have pity on me. I am sensi­ble of these, and all my Errours, and utterly ashamed that ever I committed them. I am weary of them, and fully purposed by thy Gra [...]e to become a New Man, or else I durst not ask to be forgiven. My Heart shall never more joyn with them, nor will I ever here­after yield to live in such ungrateful and wicked ways again. They nail'd thy tender Hands and Feet to the ac­cursed Tree, and thrust the Spear in­to thy Side; and can I then endure to see, or any longer side with them? They made God, who is the Author of all I have and hope to enjoy, my utter [Page 450] Enemy; and shall I then be still a Friend to them? They would bring me to eternal Destruction both of Body and Soul; and whilst I consider this, is it possible I should have any more to do with them? No, Blessed Lord, I hate them, and am utterly re­solved from this time forth for ever to abandon them. They have been the Shame of my Life, and are now the Sorrow of my Heart, as, alas! when thou enduredst such Anguish for them on the Cross, once they were of thine. I loath my self by reason of them, and will never consent any more to live in them; and with an humble and a con­trite Heart beseech my Heavenly Fa­ther, that thro' the Merits of thy Blood I may be forgiven. And wilt not thou, O God, who sentest to seek after me whilst I was an open Rebel, now meet me graciously, as thou didst the Prodigal Son, when I return again to my Duty? Wilt not thou, my sweet­est Saviour, who diedst for me whilst I was thine unrelenting Foe, now inter­cede for me, when I come to serve thee? O speak Peace unto my poor Heart, and let me know and feel that thou forgivest me! Send thy Holy Spirit to take possession of it, to keep [Page 451] it true unto thy self, that it may never more start back from thee. Thou hast promised thy Grace to those that ask it, and endeavour in expectation of it: O! I desire it, and will do what I can to be assisted by it; and there­fore humbly hope this Promise shall be made good unto thy Servant. What­soever thou doest in other things, de­ny me not this Grace, O Heavenly Fa­ther, for Jesus's sake, who is infinitely dear to thee, and who died for me. Amen.

Thus may we Discharge the Duties of this Feast, and excite and actuate in our own minds that Faith, and Thankfullness, and Charity, and Resignation, and Repen­tance, which are to render us fit and wor­thy of it. If any are destitute of other helps, they may make use of these Medi­tations and Prayers to affect their own Hearts, and to shew forth these Virtues of worthy Receivers. They will not al­ways find room for all these Devotions whilst the Sacrament is Administring; but they may go thro' with all of them before they come, for then they may al­lot what space they please for them; and make use of such of them as the time allows when they are receiving. And for [Page 452] a more actual adorning of their Souls with them at that time, whilst the Mi­nister himself, or others before them are Receiving, they may express them all in one Continued Devotion, by lifting up their Hearts to God in the words fol­lowing.

‘O Blessed Jesu! who gavest thy self to die for my sake; how near have I lain to thy kind heart, when the precious Blood that streamed thence was not so dear to it! I am utterly ashamed of my self, that ever I should put thee to part with such a price, and to endure such exceeding smart and tortures to b [...]friend me. I blush to think of it, and abhor my sins which brought thee to it. But since my need required, and thy Boundless Love would make thee undergo what thou didst, in the utmost thankfulness of an humble heart, I gladly accept the in­estimable benefit; for which I love thee most Affectionately, and will serve thee most Faithfully, and praise thee most joyfully, evermore extolling thy boundless Goodness and glorious Ex­cellencies, and endeavouring that all others may do so too.’

‘Thou hast Bought me with thy [Page 453] Blood; and here with an unfeigned Heart I give up my Soul and Body, my Goods, and all I have to be em­ploy'd in thy Service, and disposed of as thy Providence shall order me. Take Possession of me by thy Spi­rit, that my Body may always be the Temple of the Holy Ghost, my Soul and all its Faculties intirely Devoted to thy Behoof and Interest, and all [...] worldly Goods acquired so inno­ [...]ntly, injoyed so thankfully, spent so [...]perately, and laid out so charita­bl [...] [...]s becomes thy Faithful Steward. I [...] not hence forward call any things my own when once my Lord has need of them, I freely resign all up unto thee, since thou hast paid so dear for me.’

‘I have grievously offended thee by many sins, particularly by Here name such Sins as you know your selves most guilty of. &c. I am per­fectly asham'd of them, and sorry at my heart that ever I committed them, and would never do it were they to do again; and faithfully promise, that wittingly I will never more yield to them; and humbly beg, that for Christ's sake, in whom thou offerest Pardon to every penitent Heart, thou wouldst forgive them.’

[Page 454] ‘Thou hast purchased the Holy Spi­rit for all those who are ready to la­bour in an Holy Life, and take pains with it; and offerest him to all such industrious Souls in this Sacra­ment. I desire, O Lord, to amend all these Sins which I have here acknow­ledged; I am fully bent upon it, and will endeavour what I can towards it, and depend upon thy Grace and Aid to carry me through it: Be it un­to thy Servant according to thy Word.’

‘I am at Peace, O Lord, with all Persons, and forgive all Offenders against me, as I expect Forgiveness of my own Offences at thy Hands, and am fully resolved to be kind to all the World, but especially to all the Mem­bers of thy Mystical Body, for thy sake, that by these Returns of Chari­ty I may in some sort answer that Infi­nite Love and Kindness I receive from thee.’

‘Thy Blood, O Blessed Jesus, has procured; and thou, Holy Father, for Christ's sake, hast promised, Pardon of any Sin to every one who repents of it, and the Assistance of thy Spirit to every one that endeavours with it, and Eternal Life to all that are entirely Obedient; and callest us to receive [Page 455] Assurance that thou art still of the same mind, and wilt make all this good, in this Holy Sacrament. Lord, I hearti­ly repent me of all my Sins, for Christ's sake do thou pardon me; I am fully resolved to shew Care, and to la­bour in the Amendment of all my Faults, let thy Grace and Holy Spirit come in to assist and enable me; I am stedfastly purposed to keep thy Com­mandments, do thou then graciously accept me for the sake of my Crucified Saviour, whose Death I now most thankfully commemorate, and who is here offered unto thee as our Atone­ment, on this Table.’

Or shorter, thus:

‘O Blessed Jesus, who diedst for my sake, and daily still renewest thy Kindness, by shewing thy self well-pleased with what thou hast done, and calling me to meet thee in this joyful Commemoration of it: I come at thy Command, to shew my self humbly and thankfully mindful of so Infinite a Be­nefit. Blessed, yea for ever Blessed be thy Love, which made thee think upon when I lay in misery; nay, forget thy self, and throw away thy own Life, to [Page 456] save mine. I humbly adore thy mar­vellous Goodness, which shall ever be the Joy and Praise, the Wonder and Astonishment of Men and Angels. And O that I may always love thee better than I do my Life, that so I may not flinch even to die for thee, as thou hast done for me, if ever thou shalt call me to it for thy Glory! I see in this Bread that is broken, and this Wine which is poured out, what cruel Pains my Sins brought to my dearest Lord, Here name Par­ticulars. and how they stand guilty of his Bo­dy and Blood. I come with shame and a troubled Heart to confess it; I utterly abhor them for what they have done, and declare, since they have proved th [...] [...]ruel Ene­mies, they shall evermore be m [...]e, and that I will never from this day admit of a Reconciliation. I am here to as­sure thee, that I will not live unto my self or them, but unto thee, and freely devote all I have to thy use, since thou hast bought me. I love all Men, and will embrace them as my Brethren, be­cause they are thine; and freely for­give all the World, even as I desire to be forgiven. O Holy Jesus, according to thy boundless Mercy accept of these [Page 457] small returns of thy poor Servant, which though very mean, alas! are yet the best I have to offer thee, and supply me with a more abundant mea­sure of thy Grace, that I may be able to pay back something more worthy of thee. Let this Holy Sacrament be the Comfort and Refreshment of my Heart, conveying Pardon and Peace to it, and the Enriching and Establishing of my Spirit with all the Benefits of thy Blood: make it a great increase of pre­sent Grace to me, and a certain pledge of Immortality, to assure me that I shall even live with thee, and be near to that Heart which Dyed for me. Be it even so for thine own sake, Blessed Jesu! Amen.

In these, or such like words, may we act over all those Virtues which are to render us worthy Communicants, before the Holy Mysteries are brought to us. And at the receipt of them, we may lift up our Hearts to God in these or the like Expressions.

After the Receiving of the Bread, we may say to our Dearest Lord with an Affectionate Heart.

[Page 458] ‘I Receive this, O! my Lord, in remem­brance of thy Death, and thank thee most intirely for laying down thine own Life for me. O! how I rejoyce in thy marvellous Love, and in this Remembrance of it! I will always live to thee, and utterly renounce every sin whereby I have most ungratefully pierced thy bleeding Heart, and am Friends with all the World for thy sake, and will extol thy matchless Bounty whilst I have a Tongue to speak, giving all Honour, Glory, and Praise to thee the Lamb of God, who wast slain, and now sittest upon the Throne for evermore.’

And in like manner after the receiving of the Cup.

‘THe Remembrance of thy Blood-shedding, O! sweetest Saviour, is dear to me; I can never forget it, since it was altogether for my sake, and I owe my very Life to it. In all the Affection of an infinitely obliged heart I humbly thank thee for what thou hast done, and gladly consent to those Terms of Life and Mercy which were purchased by it, and will never will­fully [Page 459] yield to do any thing that is unwor­thy of so great a Benefit, and embrace all my Brethren with open Arms, since thou so requirest it, and desire after this sort to fulfill thy will in all things, and adore thy Glorious Goodness, and shew forth thy boundless Praise to my Lifes end.’

‘O! keep me unalterable in this mind, may a Devout Soul then go on, and never suffer my own Corrupt Lusts to turn me from it. I have now, O! Holy Saviour, taken thee into my Heart. O let thy Presence banish them away, that they may never pretend to it again, since now 'tis Holy to the Lord, nor ever appear to pollute that place wherein so Divine a Guest is lodged. Now thou art pleas'd to en­ter under my Roof, have me always in thy keeping, for I am safe in no other hands. Preserve the place thou hast ta­ken possession of, and let not thy Enemies and mine any more invade it. Pour into my Heart all the Benefits of thy Crucified Body and Blood, since now by thy wonderful Grace I am made Partaker of them. Thy Blood was shed for the Remission of sins: O! let me know and feel that mine are all for­given. It obtained the Assistance of [Page 460] thy Spirit and Grace; O! let me e­ver enjoy that as I stand in need of it! It was the Price thou payedst down for Eternal Life; O! let that finally be my Lot, since thou hast paid so dear for it! Bid me hope assuredly, O Blessed Jesu! that all this shall be made good unto thy Servant, because now thou hast given thy self to me, and fed me with thine own Body, whereby mayest thou ever dwell in me, and I in thee.’ Amen.

And when this is done, whilst others are receiving, we may employ our selves in some of the foregoing Devotions; or, when we have enough of them, joyn heartily in the Prayer which is made at the Delivery of the Bread and Wine to others; or strike in affectionately with the Psalm of Praise, which for the ease and exercise of all, but of those parti­cularly who have already received, is wont at that time to be sung in most Places.

After this sort then may we lift up our Hearts to God, and discharge all those Duties which are required in every worthy Communicant. When we have no other helps, we may acceptably ex­press them all in a Devout Concurrence [Page 461] with the Churches Prayers; since in them, as I have Part [...]. Chap. 3. shewn, there is an actual exercise of all these Duties. But when we can do more, either by the help of Books or our own invention; we may act them o­ver still more fully in these or such like forms of Devotion.

And when all this is done, and this solemn Feast is concluded, we must not think tho work of worthy Receiving is at an end; for one thing still remains that must employ us always afterwards, and that is a careful performance of all those Promises which we made to God in this Ho­ly Ordinance.

In the Sacrament, as has been shew'd, we seek not only a Pardon for what is past, but also vow and promise Amend­ment for the Future, and these Promises must be made good afterwards, and it must be our care whilst we Live to ful­fil them.

This we are higly concerned to do, and it will greatly increase our Guilt and Condemnation if we fall short of it. For if we return to our former sins again, af­ter we have thus solemnly vow'd to for­sake them: We are false to our Word, and treacherous where we seem to be most sincere, and seek more especially to [Page 462] be trusted. We break our Faith with God, and go about to delude his Ex­pectation, had he been capable to be imposed upon and believed as we would have had him: which is as great an abúse as we can well put upon him. And this doubles the sin which we commit, and sets God further off from being intreated; for now we have not only the Fault it self to answer for, but also this Perfidiousness, and breach of Vows, which adds a new one to it, and makes it greater. So that after every Sacrament, if we still continue Im­penitent, our Guilt is aggravated, and our Souls more endanger'd, and we are greater sinners than we were before.

Thus highly are we concerned to per­form the Promises which we made at the Table of our Lord.

And this we shall be very like to do, if we think often of them every day, for some time especially, after we are gone from it. Indeed, if we forget all we did, and all the Vows we made there to Almighty God; we are like to be the same men still, and must not expect that it should amend us. For the Sacrament, as I have shewn, doth not better us without our own Care, but by helping and ingaging us to Good endeavours after it is over. It works not as a Natural, but as a Mo­ral [Page 463] means, and improves none but such as remember what they did thereat, and labour after their own Improvements. So that if we think all our work was done at Church, and fall into a careless and secure state of mind when we get home again; we shall be held still in the same sins, and the matter is not like to be much mended with us by such Receiving. But if afterwards we frequently remember what we promised there; if we set our own Vows every day before our Eyes, and call to mind our own ingagements: that remembrance will give them Force, and make them have their effect upon us. For the thought of our having promised and solemnly undertook for any Duties, is the readiest way to have them all per­formed.

To reap that Benefit then which God design'd, and which we expect by it; we must dwell much in our own Thoughts upon what passed there after the Feast is ended. We must maintain that Ac­quaintance with our Blessed Lord which then we begun, and look upon it, not as a transient Act, but as an entrance on a lasting State, which ever after we are to continue in. We must bethink our selves daily, that when last we were with our Saviour, we cut out work for our [Page 464] whole Lives, and in that hour made ma­ny Promises, which through all the re­mainder of our days are most Religiously to be performed by us. This course will render it an Ordinance full of Grace and Heavenly Benefits, which will set us on mightily in our virtuous Attainments. And when we reap this profit by it, it will cure all our Indifferency and Aversa­tion to it, and make us run to it the next time with edge of Appetite, as we would to a most delicious and enlivening enter­tainment. We shall no more account it a fruitless work, when once we have ta­sted these sweet and wholesome effects of it; but desire to share in it oftner as it can be had, and bless the time that ever we came thereto.

The End.

HEADS OF SELF-EXAMINATION, FOR The Use of those who would find out what Sins they have to Repent of, either before a Sacrament, or at any other Times.

The Particulars of Duty towards God and Men, as they are briefly summ'd up in the Church-Catechism.

MY Duty toward God is, to Believe in him, i. e. to believe the Scrip­tures, which are his Word, taking all the Laws of Humility, Charity, &c. there recited, for his Laws; and the Promi­ses of Pardon and Happiness to the Pe­nitent, &c. and the Threatnings of [Page 466] Eternal Death to all impenitent Sin­ners, &c. for his Promises and Threat­nings, which he will see fulfilled upon us: To Fear him, as every Man doth, who dare not do any Evil thing which he sees is offensive to him: To Love him with all my heart, &c. as those Persons do, who for his sake do every thing which he bids them: To Worship him, to give him Thanks, to put my whole Trust in him, i. e. both in his Providence, for outward Supplies, as I need them; in his Mercy, for Pardon of Sins, when I repent of them; and in his Spirit, for Grace and inward Aid, when I endeavour together with him: To Call upon him, to Honour his Holy Name and his Word, and to Serve him truly all the days of my Life.

My Duty towards my Neighbour is, to Love him as my self, or to do to all Men as I would have them do to me: To Love, Honour, and, when need is, Succour my Father and Mother: To Honour and Obey the King, and all that are put in Authority under him: To submit my self to all my Spiritual Pastors, and all my Governours: To shew Reverence to all my Betters: To bear no Malice or Hatred in my Heart: To hurt no body by Word or Deed: To be True and Just in all my Dealings: To keep my Hands from Picking and Stealing, [Page 467] and my Tongue from Evil-speaking, Lying, and Slandering: To keep my Body in Tem­perance, Soberness, and Chastity: Not to covet other Mens Goods: To be Diligent in my own Calling, and do my Duty in that Re­lation, State, or way of Life, unto which it has pleas'd God to call me.

A Particular Enumeration of Sins, whether against God, our Neigh­bour, or our selves; taken out of the Measures of Christian Obe­dience, which are all there explain­ed in the Second Book.

SIns against our selves are Pride, i. e. too high a Conceit of our selves, and Contempt of others: Arrogance, i. e. Assuming too much to our selves, in setting off our own Praise: Vain-glory, i. e. Intemperate Affectation of the Praise of others: Ambition, i. e. A restless Pur­suit of Honour and Great Places: Haugh­tiness, in contemptuous, scornful Carri­age: Imperiousness, i. e. A Lordly way of Behaviour, in commanding Men no way subject to us: Worldliness, i. e. An over eager Care of Worldly things: Glut­tony, [Page 468] Voluptuousness, Drunkenness, Revel­ling, Inconvinence, Lasciviousness, Filthy or Obscene Jestings, Vncleanness, Sodomy, Ef­feminateness, Adultery, Fornication, Inoest, Rape, Covetousness, i. e. Unsatisfiedness with our own, and an impatient Desire of more, or of what belongs to others: Refusing the Cross, i. e. Deserting a Duty to avoid it: Idleness, Sensuality, i. e. An industrious Care to gratifie our Bodily Senses: Carnality, i. e. Subjection to our Fleshly Lusts and Appetites.

Sins against God are, Atheism, Denying Providence, Blasphemy, Superstition, Idola­try, Witchcraft, Foolishness, or gross Igno­rance of our Duty, Vnbelief, Hating God, Want of Zeal, Distrusting him, Not praying to him, Vnthankfulness, Discontent in our present Condition, or Repining at his Order­ing, Fearlesness, or Venturing on any thing, tho' we know it will offend him; Common Swearing, Perjury, Prophaneness, Disobedience.

Sins against our Brethren at large, where are Sins of

Injustice; as, Murder, False-witness, Slander, i. e. Defaming them with False things: Lying, Vnfaithfulness, or Breach of Promise; Theft, Oppression, i. e. Wrong­ing one who cannot cope with us in Contention: Extortion, or Depressing in [Page 469] Bargaining: Circumvention, or going be­yond our Brethren.

Vncharitableness; as, Wickedness, i. e. A Delight in doing Mischief, and ma­king others Work: Despising and hating them that are Good, Giving Scandal to Weak Brethren, i. e. Laying in their way an Oc­casion of Sin: Envy, Rejoycing in Evil, Vncharitableness in Alms, Suffering false Stains to stick upon them, when 'tis in our power to vindicate them: Evil-speaking, or Divulging any Ill we hear or know by them: Censoriousness, i. e. A proneness to Blame or Condemn them: Back-biting, Whispering, Railing, Vpbraiding them with our Kindnesses, Reproaching them with their own Faults, Mocking them for their Infirmities, Difficulty of Access, Affronting them, Vncourteousness, Vncondescention, Vnhospitableness towards Strangers, Sur­liness, Malignity, or putting the worst Sense on what is said or done by others: Vnquietness, Vnthankfulness, Anger, Vari­ance, Bitterness, Clamour, Hatred and Ma­lice; Implacableness, or Difficulty in being appeased after any Offences: Revenge, or Returning Ill for Ill: Cursing Enemies, Hastiness and Rigour in exacting Punish­ments.

Discord; as, Vnpeaceableness, Emulati­on, or Provoking one another: Pragma­ticalness, [Page 470] or being Busie-Bodies: Tale­bearing, Not satisfying for Injuries, Con­tentiousness, Division and Faction, Heresie, Schism, Tumult.

Sins against our Brethren in Particular Relations.

Sins against Sovereign Princes; as Dis­honour, Irreverence, Speaking Evil of Dig­nities, Refusing Tribute and Taxes, Traitor­ousness, Neglecting to pray for Kings, Dis­obedience to them, Resistance and Rebel­lion.

Sins against Bishops and Ministers; as, Dishonour of them, especially for their Works sake: Irreverence, Not providing for them, Sacrilege, or taking away either by Force or Fraud those Just Dues which are given to God for their Support: Not Praying for them, Disobedience.

Sins of Married Persons; as, Vncon­cernedness in each others Condition, Not bear­ing each others Infirmities, Provoking each other, Estrangedness, Publishing each others Faults, Not praying for each other, Jea­lousie. Of the Husband against the Wife; as, Not maintaining her with convenient Supplies, Not protecting her from outward Annoyances, Imperiousness, or a harsh and magisterial exercise of Commands: Vn­compliance with her Reasonable Desires, and Vncondescention to her Pitiable Weak­nesses. [Page 471] Of the Wife against the Husband; as, Dishonour in inward Esteem and Opi­nions, Irreverence in outward Carriage, Vnobservance in not forecasting to do what may please him, Disobedience to his just Commands, Casting off his Yoke, or Unsubjection.

Sins of Parents and Children; as, Want of Natural Affection, Not praying for each other, Imprecation. Of the Parents against the Children; as, Not providing for them, Irreligious and Evil Education, Provoking them to Anger by Imperious Harshness, and needless Severity in Governing. Of the Children against the Parents; as, Disho­nour in their Minds, Irreverence in their Behaviour, Being ashamed of them, Mock­ing them, Speaking Evil of them, Stealing from them, Disobedience to their Lawful Commands, Contumacy, or Casting off Sub­jection to them.

Sins of Brothers and Sisters; as, Want of Natural Affection, Not providing for our Brethren, Not praying for them, Pray­ing against them.

Sins of Masters against their Servants; as, Not maintaining them, Not Catechising or Instructing them, Vnequal Government, or Injustice shewn in requiring Unlawful, Wantonness in requiring Superfluous, and Rigour in requiring Unmerciful things of [Page 472] them: Immoderate Threatning, Imperious­ness, or Contemptuous, haughty treating of them: Defrauding, or keeping back the Wages of the Hireling. Of Servants a­gainst their Masters; as, Dishonour, Irre­verence, Publishing or aggravating their Master's Faults, Not clearing, when they can, his injured Reputation, Vnfaithfulness in what he intrusts with them, shewn ei­ther by their Wastefulness, i. e. Spending it for their Pleasure; or Purloyning, i. e. Diverting it to their own Profit and se­cret Enrichment: Disobedience, Non-observance, Answering again, Slothfulness, Eye-service, Resistance, Not praying for him, Praying against him.

To all which, add two other Sins, which are peculiarly so among Christi­ans, viz. The Neglect of Baptism, and Ab­senting from the Lord's Supper.

When we are desirous to discover all our Sins, that we may truly repent of them, we may examine our own Hearts in all these Particulars, trying our selves either by the former Catalogue when we have less, or by this latter when we have more Time, according to our own Di­scretion. We may ask our selves at eve­ry one, Whether we ever wittingly yielded to it? and if we have, Whether since [Page 473] that we have amended it? And noting all those whereof we stand guilty before God, affect our own Hearts with a sor­rowful sense of what we have done, from such Considerations as are before laid down; and then renew our Vows, and make God our humble Confession, and Engagements that we will never have more to do with them. For which end, they who are not otherwise supplied, may make use of the Devotion p. 448, which may serve as a Penitential Prayer and Confession.

A PRAYER Before the SACRAMENT.

O Father of Mercies, who hast once given thy Son to die for me, and art now ready in the Holy Sacrament to offer him to me again; I humbly adore, but am utterly at a loss when I would duely prize so inva­luable a Mercy. What am I, poor wretched Creature, that I should sit down to eat with my Blessed Lord, when the Glorious Angels at a distance adore and pay him Homage? Why should I be call'd to feed upon his Sacred Body and Blood, when my Sins had a hand in all he suffered, so that I deserve to be ranked among his Mur­derers, who were guilty of that horrid Fact, which nothing but the Blood they [Page 475] shed could ever expiate? But since it is thy Glorious Excellency, O Blessed Jesu! to love those that hate thee, and to save their Lives who barba­rously took away thine, and accordingly to call to this Heavenly Feast so un­worthy a Wretch as I am; I am rea­dy to come at thy Command, but would fain come Worthily, and leave all my Sins behind me, seeing it is no Feast for them. Oh! I loath them, and would never yield to commit them, were they to do again; and humbly in­treat my Heavenly Father, that for thy sake he would freely forgive me what is past, and rid me of them for the time to come. Slay them, Good Lord, for they have slain thee, and will slay mee too in time, if they are suffer'd to reign in me. Meet me in this Heavenly Banquet with a full Pardon of all mine Offences, and a per­fect Cure of all mine Infirmities, that I may be cleansed by thy Blood, and quickned by thy Spirit, and assured of that Eternal Life which for thy sake God has promised to all his Elect ones.

[Page 476]All this thou art ready to do for me, if I come worthily; and therefore my humble Request is, That thou wouldst assist me acceptably to perform the Du­ties of this Feast, that so I may enjoy all the Blessings of it, and feel it a Communion of thy very Body and Blood. I would gladly remember thy Dying Love with the most Devout Affections, with a Heart that is full of Thanks, and intirely devoted to thy Service, and quite weary of my Sins, and most desirous of thy Grace, and throughly prepared to seal a lasting Covenant of Repentance and Reconciliation with thee and all my Neighbours. All this I desire to do, and to do it fervently: But, alas! I cannot do it as I ought, unless thou wilt graciously come and help me. My Apprehnsions of this amazing Love are very low; O do thou exalt them. My Heart is still in­sensible of what thou hast done for me, and my Affections dull and heavy; O do thou quicken and inflame them. Make me love thee as much as thou deservest, and desire thy Grace as high­ly [Page 477] as I need it, and be set against eve­ry Sin as irreconcileably as there is cause for it, and love all my Brethren as I am beloved, that I may be fit to receive the abundant Communications of thy Grace in the approaching Sacra­ment. I earnestly ask, and humbly hope for all this, O Good God, only be­cause I infinitely need it; and thy Grace is Infinite, which will not suffer thee to see the Necessities of thy poor Servant unsupplied; and unworthy as I am, I am still the Purchase of thy Sons Blood: O then do not despise me for thine own Mercies, and thy Sons sake; in whose Holy Name and Words I further pray as he hath taught me.

Our Father which art in Hea­ven, &c.

A Prayer and Thanksgiving After the SACRAMENT.

I Thank thee most intirely, O! my God, for calling me this day to thy own Table, to shew me how thine on­ly Son freely dyed in my stead, and to assure me that now for his sake thou art fully Reconciled, and wilt live in me by thy Grace now at pre­sent, and raise me up to be Eternally happy with thy Self at last; of all which thou hast given me the surest Pledges in his precious Body and Blood. What can I render to thee, Holy Father, or to thee my dearest Saviour, for so incomprehensible a Be­nefit? I admire thy marvellous Love, and magnify it above all things. Thy Praise shall ever be in my Mouth, [Page 479] and I will tell out thy wondrous works with Gladness. And may all Hearts adore, and every Tongue con­fess that thou, Holy Jesus, art the Saviour of the World, and the Son of the Father, whom Heaven and Earth must Honour, and call Blessed for e­vermore.

Pardon, O! Good God, the unaf­fectedness of my dull Heart, in the receipt of so inestimable a Treasure; and fill me with Desires some way sui­table to my needs, and the richness of thy Mercies, that whenever this Cup of Blessings shall again over-flow, my Heart may run over with Joy and Thankfulness also. Let me never for­get the Love I have received, and the Peace I have Seal'd, and the Pro­mises of New Life I have made this Day; but as thy Grace has help'd me to them, so keep me in a lively sense of them, and inable me always to ful­fill the same to my Lives end. Now thou hast given me the Blood of Expia­tion to shew we are Friends; O! ne­ver let me be guilty of any thing to [Page 470] break the Peace, which is now so so­lemnly ratified betwixt us. Now I have vow'd Obedience to thy Laws, to be Humble, Chast, Temperate, Just, Chari­table, Patient, Devout, Here mention Virtues particu­larly Vow'd at the Lords Table. and entirely resign'd to thy Will and Plea­sure; O! let me not start back again from these Holy Promises for ever! Now I have received my Blessed Lord, ne­ver suffer me to do any thing unwor­thy of him; now I am Partaker of his Body and Blood, let his Holy Spirit go along with them, and then I shall be what I ought when I am in his keep­ing. My sins, which I have renoun­ced, will return again, except he chase them away; and my false Heart, which now seems fixt for God, will revolt, unless he establish it. O! Sweetest Sa­viour, let thy Body be my Food, thy Strength my Guard, thy Spirit my Life, and the sense of thy Favour my greatest Joy and Comfort. Go on Graciously to accomplish what thou hast now begun in me, and let me ever be [Page 481] secure and happy in thy Custody. Be it e­ven so, for thine own sake, Blessed Jesu!

And then, where there is time for it, or afterwards, where the [...] is not, may they go on, and say.

Give thy Grace, O Holy Jesu! to all the World, and let all who were Redeemed by thy Blood acknowledge thee to be the Lord, and become thy Worshippers and Faithful Servants. Make all Christians Conscientious Practisers of that Holiness which they profess; and above all, inspire them with uniting Principles and charita­ble Hearts, that by their loving one another, as thou hast loved us, all the World may know they are thy Di­sciples. Let all Governours Rule with Wisdom and Justice, and Subjects obey with Love and Chearfulness: Let the Priests of the Lord be Exemplary in their Lives, and Discreet and Dili­gent in their Labour [...], having a most compassionate Love for Souls; and let the People be Humble and Toward­ly, most desirous to hearken, and fully bent to follow wise Instructions. Be [Page 482] a help at hand to all that need and are afflicted. Send supplies to all that are in want, and assist them contentedly to depend upon thee. Raise Friends to the Widow and Fatherless, the Pri­soners and Captives, and all that groan under Oppressors, who are thrown upon thy Mercy. Give Repentance, Patience, and Resignation to all that are sick, and Ease when thou seest it convenient for them. Be a Comfor­ter to all troubled Consciences, helping them to an acceptable Holiness, and en­lightning their minds about all cause­less Scruples, that they may not fear where no Fear is. Succour all that are tempted, with such a measure of thy Grace, as may inable them to stand in all their Tryals. Think particularly on all my Friends, who are especially indeared to me by their Kindnesses or Acquaintance; on all my Relations in the Flesh; on all that Pray particu­larly for me, or desire my Prayers. Teach us all to desire what thou ap­provest, and then grant us whatsoever as desired: Prevent us in all our Acti­ons, [Page 483] and Guard us against all Dangers, and Relieve us in all Straights, and grant that we may always make thee our Stay and Confidence, and take all things well which thou orderest for us. Shorten all our Sorrows, and prevent all our Sins, and fit us all for that Eternal Kingdom which thou hast pre­pared for us, for Jesus's sake, in whose Holy Name and Words I further pray unto thee.

Our Father, &c.

Being sensible how plain minds, who are ready to do it so far as they are in­abled, are oft-times at a Loss for their Daily Devotions; and not knowing but this Treatise may fall into some such Hands; I have added two Prayers, which such Persons may say Morning and Even­ing in their Families.

A Morning Prayer FOR A FAMILY.

O God, who art the Giver of all good Gifts, and the Father of Mercies; We thine unworthy Servants intirely desire to praise thy Name for all the Expressions of thy Bounty to­wards us. Blessed be thy Love, that gave thy Son to die for our Sins, to put us in a way of being happy, if we would obey thee; and after all our wilful Refusals of thy Grace, still hast patience with us, and hast added this one Day more to all we have mis-spent already, to see if we will finish the Work thou hast set us to do, and fit our selves for Eternal Glory. Pardon, Good Lord, all our former Sins, and all our Abuses of thy Forbearance, for which now we are sorry at our Hearts; [Page 485] and give us Grace to lead more holy Lives, and be more careful in impro­ving all future Opportunities. Make thy self present to our Minds, and let thy Love and Fear rule in our Souls, in all those Places and Companies where our Occasions shall lead us this Day. Keep us Chaste in all our Thoughts, Temperate in all our Enjoy­ments, Humble in all our Opinions of our selves, Charitable in all our Speech­es of others, Meek and Peaceable un­der all Provocations, Sincere and Faithful in all our Professions, and so Just and Vpright in all our Deal­ings, that no Necessity may force, nor Opportunity in any kind allure us to defraud or go beyond our Neighbours. When thou bestowest Good on others, let not us envy but rejoyce in it; and when thou addest any to our selves, let us own thy Mercy, and humbly thank thee for it. Afford us convenient Sup­plies in all our reasonable Necessities, and protect us against the approach of all Dangers: make us diligent in all our Business, and give such Success to [Page 486] our Endeavours as thou seest most ex­pedient for us; and teach us content­edly to submit, and not to repine at any thing that happens by the Allot­ment of thy Providence. In all our Passage thro' this World, and our ma­nifold Concerns in it, suffer not our Hearts to be too much set upon it; but always fix our Eye upon the Bles­sed Hope, that as we go along we may make all the Things of this World mi­nister to it, and be careful above all things to fit our Souls for that pure and perfect Bliss, which thou hast pre­pared for all that love and fear thee, in the Glories of thy Kingdom.

Extend thy Grace, we further be­seech thee, to all Men, in all Places; especially to the Governours and Sub­jects, to all both High and Low, Rich and Poor, that pray for it, or need it, in these Kingdoms. Bless all our Re­lations who are near us in the Flesh, and all our Friends and Benefactors who are endeared to us by their Kind­nesses. Forgive all our Enemies, give them Hearts to fear thee, and to be [Page 487] kind to us. And supply all us, and all others, with whatsoever else thou seest proper for us, for Christ his sake; in whose Blessed Name and Words we still recommend our selves unto thee, saying,

Our Father, &c.

An Evening Prayer for a FAMILY.

O Most Gracious God, who daily multipliest upon us thy Mercies, notwithstanding we every day renew our Provocations; Accept, we beseech thee, of our most humble and hearty Thanks for thy unspeakable Kindness towards us. Blessed be thy Goodness, which has this day supplied us with Food and Necessaries, and preserved us in Health, the chiefest of all out­ward Enjoyments, and prosper'd the Work of our Hands, and lent us our Friends to be still a Support and Com­fort to us. Adored be thy Love and Patience, which hast allowed us one [Page 488] Day more to amend our Ways, and as­sisted us by the Suggestions of thy Spi­rit, and thy gracious Providences, to make up that Resignation, Humility, Contentedness, Chastity, Sobriety, Meek­ness, Charity, and other Virtues, which are yet wanting in our own Souls. We desire to shew our selves duely sensible of these endearing Benefits, by learning to depend upon thy Providence, which has been so watchful over us; and to be contented with thy Orderings, which are so wisely fitted to our own Advan­tage; and applying all Opportunities to the increase of that Righteousness and Holy Living which thou requirest at our Hands. We fain would do it, and are here sincerely resolved to en­deavour it; and thou hast promised to aid all those who labour in so good a Work: Be it then, O Lord, unto thy Servants according to thy Word, and enable us by thy Grace and Holy Spi­rit so to do.

We are sensible, O God, how highly we have offended thee, altho' we stand thus indebted for all we have or hope [Page 489] to enjoy, to thy Bounty. How many ways have we dishonour'd our Profession, and revolted from the Vows we made in Baptism, by Pride, and Envy, and Anger, and Discontent, and Evil-speaking, and serving divers Lusts, which then we utterly renounced, and promised never to live in again? We are heartily grieved and ashamed for these and all other our Misdoings, and are fully resolv'd by thy Grace hereafter to amend them: We unfeignedly repent of them, and for Christ's sake humbly beg to be forgiven, and that thy Grace and Holy Spirit may rid us of them for the time to come. Our full purpose is to endeavour it, and thy Promise is to help us in it: O let thine Arm be our Almighty Aid, and then we shall re­turn to them no more.

Keep us in thy good Providence this Night, make our Sleep safe and re­freshing to us: Fit us for our great Change, that it may not surprize us unawares, but that having led holy Lives, we may be happy in our Deaths, and have Comfort and well-grounded Hope in thee.

[Page 490]Give all Men Grace to repent, and become thy Servants. Let all Christi­ans live up to the Laws of that Reli­gion which they profess. Especially bless these Kingdoms wherein we live. Let our Governours Rule with Justice, and our People Obey with Chearfulness: Make the Rich and Prosperous Tempe­rate in Vsing, and Charitable in Di­stributing of their Substance; and the Poor and Afflicted, Patient and Con­tented under their Burdens: And cause us all to love as Brethren, to be Pitiful and Tender-hearted towards all Men. Preserve our Friends in their Souls and Bodies; forgive our Enemies, and make them kindly affe­cted towards us; and do whatsoever thou seest fitting for us all, for the sake of thy Son, our Advocate, Jesus Christ, who has taught us in his own Words thus to pray.

Our Father, &c.

FINIS.

Books printed for Robert Ket­tlewell at the Hand and Scepter in Fleetstreet.

  • 1. THe Measures of Christian Obedi­ence: Or, A Discourse shewing what Obedience is indispensibly necessary to a Regenerate State, and what Defects are con­sistent with it. For the Promotion of Piety, and the Peace of Troubled Consciences. By John Kettlewell, Fellow of Lincoln-Col­lege in Oxford. In Quarto. Price bound 8 s.
  • 2. A Journey into Greece, by Sir George Wheeler, in Company of Dr. Spon of Lyons. In Six Books. Containing, 1. A Voyage from Venice to Constantino­ple. 2. An Account of Constantinople, and the adjacent Places. 3. A Voyage thorow the Lesser Asia. 4. A Voyage from Zant, thorow several Parts of Greece, to Athens. 5. An Account of Athens. 6. Se­veral Journeys from Athens, into Attica, Corinth, Baeotia, &c. With Variety of Sculptures. In Folio. Price bound 15 s.
  • 3. A Vindication of the Primitive Christians, in Point of Obedience to their Prince, against the Calumnies of a Book entituled, The Life of Julian, written by [Page] Ecebolius the Sophist. As also, The Do­ctrine of Passive Obedience cleared, in De­fence of Dr. Hicks. Together with an Ap­pendix, being a more full and distinct An­swer to Mr. Thomas Hunt's Preface and Postscript. Vnto all which is added, The Life of Julian, enlarged. In Octavo. Price bound 2 s. 6 d.
  • 4. A Sermon Preached at the Worce­ster-Feast, by George Walls Master of Arts, and Student of Christ-Church, Oxon. Quarto. Price stitcht 6 d.
  • 5. The Treasures of the Sea. A Ser­mon Preached to the Mariners, by William Thomson. In Quarto. Price st [...]itcht 6 d.

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