MENSA MYSTICA; OR A DISCOURSE Concerning the SACRAMENT OF THE Lords Supper.

In which the ends of its Institution are so manifested; our Addresses to it so directed; our Behaviour there, and afterward, so composed, that we may not lose the benefits which are to be received by it.

By Simon Patrick D. D. Minister of Gods Word at Batersea in Surrey.

1 Cor. 11.24.

Do this in remembrance of me.

LONDON, Printed by A. M. for F. Tylon; at the three Daggers in Fleetstreet, 1667.

To the Honourable Sir Walter St. John Baronet, AND THE Lady Johanna St. John his Wife.

THese Meditations being con­ceived and born in your House, I take it to be a piece of Justice that they should lay themselves at your feet, and come abroad into the world under your Name. (And long before this, had they come to tender their service to you, had the Press been favourable to them, and not let them stick longer there than they did in my mind, before they could be brought forth into the world.) Love hath as great a power to make ser­vants as any thing else, and no bondman [Page]is faster chained than he that is tied by the bands of his own affection. A Cap­tive of that quality I must needs profess my self, having such a feeling of the obli­gations you have laid upon me, that I am not free to love you, or not to love you; but am held under such a sweet tyranny, that I cannot so much as desire to recover my former liberty. These thoughts there­fore being the births of one so bound to serve you, both by your favours and his own affections;Exod. 21.4. according to the Law of the Hebrews you may challenge a right in them, seeing I am yours as much as my own. I know that I am writing to you, and not of you; and that you do not expect my commendation, but my Counsel; for if you did, you would not deserve Commendation. There is so much flattery many times in these ad­dresses, that men will not believe us when we say true, and so we displease while we study to please. The world likewise is so envious, that they never think more of our faults, than when we are praised. But yet to tell you of your kindness to me, though you do not expect it, methinks I might be allowed, were it not that then I should commend my self for a grate­full [Page]Person, after I have declined to commend you. But seeing that is no such great vertue that a man should be tempted to be proud of it, I shall say thus much: That of all the causes that are usually assigned of these Dedications, I can find the impulse of none so strong as that of love and gratitude. Which bids me bind my executors by these pre­sents (if these Papers can live longer than I) to acknowledge your love, and ever be mindfull of it to you and yours. And although I may justly suspect that they have not strength enough to live to any great Age; yet if they can increase your Piety but in the least degree, that is a thing that never dies, and will be an immortal witness of my endeavours to serve you. To the study of that it is, that I do most affectionately exhort you. Do well, and you shall hear well, though mine and all other Pens lie asleep. Piety is the truest and most Ancient Nobi­lity, as wickedness is the greatest and basest degeneracy. There is no such way to exalt your Family, as to make a strict alliance with God, and to draw him into your kindred. Nothing can so enrich your Bloud, as to contract [Page]an affinity with the Blood of Jesus. But if earthly honour be of any value (as it may conduce to the better serving of God) you have the favour granted unto you to be noble both in your soul and body, to be allied both to the Bloud of God, and of great Men. The Saint in your name, may put you in mind to be Saints in your selves. The two Mullets or Stars in your Coat of Armes, bids you shine like two Lights in the World. The occasion of your bearing them (which if I mistake not, was because your Progenitors warred in the Holy Land) may put you in re­membrance to strive and fight to be made free of the Heavenly Jerusalem, that City of God that is above. As these Stars were born in their Ensigns in that expe­dition in opposition to the Turkish Cre­scent; so let them put you in mind to keep the world still under your feet, and to scorn these mutable and moon-like things,See Cambden in Glamor­ganshire. Nympha. fluit propius. Fons refluit. Illa re­cedit. Iste redit. Sic livor in st & pugaa paren­nis. as much as you do Mahomet and the Turk. There is a Spring in that Coun­trey where your name first took root in Brittish soil, which is very low and empty of water, when the Sea flows and swells the neighbouring River Ogmar; and a­gain ascends and fills it self when the Sea [Page]retires out of the Channel. It will be a most lovely sight both to God and Man, to see you humble and lowly in the highest tides of a swelling fortune; and if your fulness should abate and draw back into the Ocean from whence it came, to be­hold the elevation of your spirit, and the greatness of your mind rising above all the reach of these worldly changes. Then would you most truly imitate those Stars in your Escutchion, which are not seen in the day; and shine most brightly in the night.

But your name bids you above all things to be full of love both to each o­ther, and towards all men. [...] For beside that John in the Hebrew Language car­ries in its signification graciousness and kindness; the beloved Disciple was the first of your name. Degenerate not, I beseech you, from so worthy a precedent, but imbrace with as dear an affection as two St. Johns would have done each o­ther. That great Saint had this alwayes in his mouth, Little Children love one another; the same have you alwayes in your heart, seeing you are not onely Chri­stians, but of the same Family, and of the same name which carries a remem­brance [Page]of that divine Person. The A­thenians promised themselves nothing but Triumphs in the Sicilian War, because their General Nicias derived his name from Victory, which in the opinion of men had a good presage in it. And some of the Ancient Philosophers did seri­ously Dispute whether there was not some secret fate or providence in it,Plato in Cra­tilo. that men should have names given them that did so exactly-agree with their after good or bad fortune. I hope you will not think me impertinent therefore that I have urged you so much with your name, and that you will not let it be given you for no­thing. And though that Nicias by his great overthrow did disappoint the hopes which his fellow Citizens conceived from his name, yet you will have a care that you deceive not the expectation both of God and Man from you, which is grounded upon a better foundation. [...] Euseb. Severus impe­rator gravis, & vir nominis s [...]i dicitur. Lamprid. I verily believe that you will endeavour to be [...], (as the Greeks call them) persons of your own name. And as the Apostle prays for his Thessaloni­ans, 1 Thes. 3.12, 13. you will encrease and abound in love one toward another and towards all men, to the end that you [Page]may establish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God even our Father, at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ with all his Saints. Let me speak to you and all others once more in the words of ano­ther Apostle:1 Pet. 3.8. Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of ano­ther; love as Brethren, be pitifull, be courteous. But what need I insist so long on this, who find you so full of love towards me? It is a delightfull Subject, and therefore you will pardon my vehemence in it. But though it be delightfull, yet I will refrain my self from enumerating my particular obli­gations, because I know (Sir) that you do not do your kindnesses that they should be talkt of. And for you (Madam) who carries kindness in both your names, I know also that you love to be con­cealed, and that your love should have none to speak of it but it self; and therefore I shall forbear to say how much (at least to me) you answer the double remembrance you have in them. It will be more acceptable I know to you both, if I turn this address to you into a Prayer to God, that he would do all this and much more for you. [Page]And to that God of Peace from whom all good comes, I humbly bow my knees, that he would make you perfect in every good work, to do his will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ,Hebr. 13.21. to whom be glory for ever and ever. The more particular petitions that concern you, I shall put up alone, and ever remain what I am much engaged to be

Your affectionate Friend and Servant Si. Patrick.

THE INTRODUCTION.
Shewing, 1. That God manifests himself to our sense. 2. That Bread and Wine are fit things for the representing our Lord to us. 3. The first reason of the celebration of this Supper, and the fit­test time for us to do this that Christ commands us. 4. Which is but a reiteration of what is done in Baptism. 5. As may be seen by what I have briefly writ on that subject. 6. And if we will extend this thing further, we may lose all. The Papists in dan­ger of this who speak not the language of the ancient Church. 7. The design of this present discourse. 8. The al­ledging of some Heathen Customes and Principles, need be no offence to any, but may be an help if they please.

GOd who is simple and removed far from all sense, considering the weakness of mans soul, and how unable [Page]he is to conceive of things spiritual purely and nakedly in themselves, and yet having a mind to be better known unto us, and to make himself more ma­nifest then ever; was pleased in his in­finite goodness to dwell in flesh, and appear here in the person of his Son, who was made like to Man, to shew what God is in our nature. This Son of his, being to die, and part with his life for great ends and purposes, which he would not have us to forget; was pleased to take the same course to convey to our minds spiritual notions by outward and sensible signs; and to impress on our hearts what he hath done and suffered, by a visible repre­sentation of it in bodily things, and not onely by a plain description of it in the Gospel. He knew very well that a Picture and Image of a thing doth more affect us than an Historical Narration; and that the more lively and express that Image is, the more lively motions it makes within us. A dead Corpse is but the shadow of a man, and yet we find that our souls are more assaulted, and all our passi­ons stirred by the sight of the face of a [Page]dead friend, then by all the reports that are brought us of his death. And long after his Corpse is mouldred in the Grave, if we see a Child of his that hath his exact features, manners, and carriage, it renews a fresh remembrance in us of that person, and stirs up the Images that are in our mind more powerfully, then we can do our selves by reflections upon them.

But though God was willing to teach us by outward and sensible repre­sentations,Sect. 2. yet he thought it both un­safe, and likewise unfit, and no ways conducing to the spiritual ends he in­tended in the Sacrament of Christs body and bloud, that we should have a picture of Christ, or an Image of him set before our eyes. There is too much of sense in the Tragical and The­atrical representations which are made by some Papists of Christs sufferings. The outward actions are in danger not onely to take place of all spiritual af­fections, but quite to thrust them out. The eye and the ear are so fully pos­sessed, that their objects work by their own natural strength, and not by the souls considering and meditating pow­ers. [Page]Our Saviour therefore, that he might both help the soul, and leave it something for to do in making of its own thoughts, and forming its own apprehensions and resentments, hath given us onely Bread and Wine as re­membrances of him: in which we see so much as to awaken our souls, but not so much as to keep them awake without themselves. They show Christ to our sences, but more to our minds; that so both may be employed, but the mind may do most by the help of the senses.

And indeed these are very fit things (upon other reasons) to serve our Savi­ours design,1 because

First of all, They are similiar bodies, and not consisting of Heterogenious parts, i. e. their parts are not of diffe­rent kinds, as the parts of our flesh are. The flesh of a man is composed of veins, and arteries, and nerves, and blood, and muscles, and divers skins; but every part of Bread and Wine is like the other, and hath nothing in it different from its neighbour. Every piece of the one, and every drop of the other, doth as much represent [Page]what is intended, as any other part doth; and all the parts together make one bo­dy of the very same sort.

And yet secondly,2 The parts of these bodies are easily separated one from a­nother, which makes them more fit to be communicated and divided among a great many, who all notwithstanding do receive (as it were) the very same thing.

And thirdly,3 They are constantly used at all feasts, and never omitted, whereas other things have their sea­sons, and cannot do continual service at our Tables.

To which you may add fourthly,4 That they were brought by Melchize­deck unto Abraham, as a part (perhaps) of the blessing of that High Priest, and as a signification of that Sacrament which God would have Abrahams seed to feed upon, when the true High Priest after that great mans order should come.

And fifthly,5 It is not to be forgot­ten, that they do best answer to some things whereunto Christ is compared in the holy Scriptures. For he is cal­led the Vine, and every branch that is [Page]in him, must bring forth fruit, as he doth, which may hereby be represent­ed. And he is called the Bread of life, which came down from Heaven, as the Manna in the Wilderness, who is to support our souls, as the staff of bread doth our bodies.

Sixthly,6 But it is most to be remar­ked, that these were part of the Passe­over-Supper, when Christ (as Cyril of Alexandria speaks) was typically eaten in Aegypt. [...]. For first, It is ac­knowledged by all, that the Bread was blessed, and the Cup also, and so went round to all the guests: And the forms of Benediction are still extant in some of the Hebrew Authors. And se­condly, The whole Feast after the Passeover-night, was called the Feast of unleavened Bread. And thirdly, It is the opinion (I observe) of some, that our Saviour at the time of instituting this Sacrament,Grot. did eat onely the Bread, and the bitter Herbs, but not the Lamb of the Passeover. For it is not said in the Evangelists, that his Disciples killed the Passeover for him, but onely that they made ready the Passeover, which might be nothing [Page]else but that bread of affliction, and the herbs which were attended with the cup of kindness that used to pass among them. For our Saviour died at the time the Passeover-Lamb was offered, being indeed the Lamb of God himself. And therefore S. John saith, Chap. 13.1. That the Supper was before the Feast of the Passeover, and he calls it eating of the Passeover, because this was a great part of it, a principal portion of this Feast. And this part was all that they could par­take of, who at any time could not come to Jerusalem, where only the Lamb was to be eaten, being first of­fered at the Temple. But supposing this to be doubtful, yet there is no question but that this Lamb was a Type of Christ; and that Bread and Wine was a part of their Supper. And upon search, I believe we shall find, that the Lamb of the Passeover was the only Sacrifice which the people did wholly eat (its blood being pour­ed out at the Altar) and it doth the bet­ter set forth Christ who gives himself wholly to us. To which, fourthly, may be added, that as the Paschal-Lamb [Page]did represent him, so the manner of its killing was very conformable to Christs death upon the Cross; which may make it more reasonable to bor­row from the Supper resemblances of him. For they hung the Lamb upon nails (much what as Butchers now do a Sheep which they have killed) and then fley'd off its skin that it might be dressed. While it hung in this posture, it was just like the scituation of Christs body upon the Cross, (as Buxtorf hath observed out of the Talmud) whose hands were so spread, and leggs so stretched out, as the Lamb was. 5. Un­to which I may add, That the Law of Moses was not to be wholly destroyed, but to be changed and altered by Christ: So the Apostle teacheth us to speak, in Heb. 7.12. And the malice of St. Stephen's accusers could prompt them to say no worse of him, then that he preached Jesus should change the cu­stoms which Moses delivered, Act. 6.14. Circumcision is commanded under the title of an everlasting Covenant, and it is not so much abolished, as impro­ved into a better Sacrament, and seal of greater blessings to Mankind. The [Page]Sabbath-day likewise was to be a com­memoration of Gods rest from all his works on the seventh day, and of his deliverance of them out of Egypt; and it is not cancelled, but changed into another day which contains the for­mer, and something else, even a re­membrance of the Resurrection of our Lord from the dead, that he might en­ter into his rest. So we may conceive, that this great Feast of the Passeover was not quite done away, but gave place to a better Feast, which is in me­mory of a greater deliverance than that from the thraldom of Egypt, and the iron Furnace. In this the Jewish Christians might still commemorate their ancient mercies, as well as if they had eaten of the flesh of their Lamb. Yea, because there was in it such a clear representation of Christs sufferings (e­specially in its first Institution, when the blood was sprinkled on the door­posts) part of it was thought fit still to remain, viz. the Bread and Wine, which they used to eat and drink in memory of that mercy, with solemn forms of thanksgiving unto God. And lastly, The Bread and Wine was more fit then [Page]the flesh to be retained, because now that Christ is come, all Sacrifices are to cease, and no more blood is to be shed for fin. This, I say, may be a good reason why Bread and Wine only are used, because they are unbloody things; and after the killing of the Lamb of God, there is to be no more life offered for our offences.

This Feast our Saviour did first of all celebrate with his twelve Disciples.§. 3. And it was but fit that he should do so, that he might the better answer to the Type, in Exod. 29. where we read that Aaron the High Priest, with his sons, was to eat the breast and shoulder of the Ram of consecration, whereby he was sanctified to officiate in the Priesthood. Even so our Lord being to be offered up in Sacrifice, and thereby to be conse­crated an high Priest, did institute this Supper, that together with his Disci­ples he might (as much as is possible) feast with them upon that Sacrifice. And seeing our Saviours Sacrifice answered both to the Paschal Lamb, and the pro­pitiatory Sacrifice on the day of Expia­tion, it will be no wonder if it were so compleat as to have reference to this also.

The time when it was first instituted was in the night when he was betrayed, (for at the Even they celebrated the Passeover) which makes some (I sup­pose) to keep the memory of Christs death in the close of the day. But if they think that they must exactly fol­low that precedent, they should do it after Supper. And I rather think that the manner of receiving about noon is most agreeable to the true pattern. For we do not remember the Supper of the Lord, but his Sacrifice on the Cross. And therefore as the Jews feasted at Even, because they came out of Aegypt at that time; so should we feast about Noon, because our Lords death began between nine and twelve, and ended about three of the Clock, as you will clearly see by comparing the relation of S. Mark and S. John together. It is said, John 19.14. that it was about the sixth hour, when Christ was condemned to be crucified. But S. Mark speaks of his sentence, and of the execution of it, as things done before the sixth hour, and saith (Chap. 15. 33.) That just when the sixth hour was come, then darkness spread over all the Land, [Page]till the ninth hour. They do very well agree, if we do but understand thus much; that the day being divided into four equal parts, consisting of three hours apiece; every part had the name of that hour when it did begin; and so the sixth hour was from twelve to three, and then began the ninth hour. Now S. John doth not say, that it was the sixth hour when Pilate gave him up to be crucified, but that it was about the sixth hour, i. e. it was between nine a clock (which was their third hour) and twelve, but nearer to twelve than to nine; or it drew near to Noon; yet not so near, but that we must al­low time for the leading him away to the Cross, for the hanging him thereon, and the rest. In so much that S. Mark saith expresly, vers. 25. That it was but the third hour, i. e. nine of the clock, when those things were done. Both of them say true, if we do but conceive that it was between nine and twelve, i. e. about half an hour after ten, when our Lord was hanged on the Cross. All the time between nine and twelve, be­ing called (as I said) the third hour, S. Mark saith, that that was the time: [Page]But it drawing toward twelve, S. John saith, it was about the sixth hour. And when the sixth hour was fully come, i. e. when it was just twelve a clock, and the Sun was in its Meridian, then (saith S. Mark) was it eclipsed, and the dark­ness continued till three, which was the time of the offering of the Even­ing Sacrifice, and just then our Lord expired, and gave up the Ghost. From whence we may clearly gather, That our Saviour was in the very midst of his sufferings a little, after twelve. Which renders it unreasonable, me thinks, to innovate and forsake the common form by receiving towards night, seeing our Saviour was in the middle and bitterness of his passion a­bout Noon (which is the common time of our Communions) and his passion was quite finished a good while be­fore that time, wherein some do cele­brate it.

But I do not intend that this Dis­course should beget any quarrels, and therefore I forbear the prosecution of any such observations, which you must not expect to meet withal in these Pa­pers: The first design of which is to [Page]shew you for what end our Blessed Lord did appoint this Sacrament.

And here I might be tempted to make use of that method which I ob­served in a little Discourse concerning Baptism,§. 4. for that which is done here, is but a further confirmation of what was then agreed on between God and us. As our knowledge and obedience in­creases, so doth likewise the Favour of God, and his testimonies of that Fa­vour: and the more his mercies are assured unto us, the more are we en­gaged and confirmed in our resolution of persisting in obedience. So that it is but one and the same thing that is thus frequently ratified, first in Bap­tism, and afterward in Confirmation, and lastly in the Sacrament of the Lords Supper. For there in the most solemn manner that can be devised, we profess our selves foederates of God, and he again owns us for his friends, and treats us kindly by entertaining us at his own Table. And this is no strange matter, that one thing should be so often repeated; for at the begin­ning of Friendship between God and Abraham, he only made him a promise, [Page](Gen. 12.1, 2, 3.) That he would make him a great Nation, and bless him, and all those that blessed him, and that all fa­milies of the earth should be blessed in him. But in process of time, when love was encreased between them, this Promise became a Covenant, when he and his received the token of Circum­cision, as you may read, Gen. 17.2, 4, 5. I will make my Covenant between me and thee, and will multiplie thee exceed­ingly, &c. But when he had walked longer with God, (as he there bids him, vers. 1.) and had perfected his obedience by offering up his Son, his onely Son Isaac, then God confirmed the Covenant by an Oath, and sware by himself, that he would do what he had promised and sealed; as you may see Gen. 22.16, 17, 18. By my self have I sworn, that in blessing I will bless thee, &c. This may be conceived as a good representation of Gods dealing with us now. At our first entrance into his family he gives us many promises which depend upon conditions; and after­wards he renews the Covenant with us, and doth further ascertain us of his favour, yet on terms of perseve­rance; [Page]and at last he swears unalter­ably, when we have given proof of our obedience to him, that he will not take away his mercies, nor his loving kindness from us. And it is observa­ble, that in every one of these, God re­turned something to Abraham for what he gave to God. When he left his own Countrey, he promised him the Land of Canaan: When he was circumcised, he promised to bless his seed, yea, he promised to him the Messiah: And when he offered Isaac, God again as­sured by oath, that his own Son should be really offered, as Isaac was designed to be, for a Blessing to all the Earth. Even so, in like manner, doth God confer new graces and blessings on us when we are baptized, and when we confirm our Vows, and when we partake of the Supper of the Lord; so that it is not in vain reiterate our acts of surrender unto God. And thus it is among our selves, when children are contracted in their younger years, and made sure to each other; they con­summate the Marriage, by their own consent, when they are of age, with fe­stival joys: And many of these mar­ried [Page]persons likewise renew the nuptial solemnity every year, and observe that day that they entred into such holy bonds with more than ordinary chear. Whereby they strengthen their faith unto each other by an open profession of their faith in the sight of their friends, and they indear their hearts unto each other by a remembrance of their promises, and they run more pas­sionately into closer imbraces by these new expressions of kindness. Thus do we at this Sacrament but tie the old bond with a faster knot; and press harder upon the former zeal to make a deeper mark, and a fairer Image of God in our hearts; we do but renew our Covenant which we have already made, swear most solemnly, by ta­king it upon the Sacrament (as we say) that we will be the servants of the Lord Jesus. And it is very easie to lead you through all the parts of the former me­thod, shewing you both how on our part, and Gods, it doth confirm a Co­venant between us.

And perhaps it will not be unpro­fitable to give some brief touches up­on those things,§. 5. which you can with­out [Page]trouble inlarge in your own thoughts. Which is one reason why I shall spare my self any long pains about them, and hold another course in this following Treatise.

For our part, we do here profess our selves of the Religion that Christ hath instituted and taught us, as you will see more largely in the ensuing Book. We do at once in this Feast both shew our gladness, and assure him of our af­fections.

Sin is here represented so unto us, that it cannot but make our wounds bleed afresh. The remembrance of Christs death doth pierce our hearts a­gain with godly sorrow, and revives the smart and pain which the sense of sin hath created in our souls.

Faith likewise here is as greedy of its food, as an hungry mouth is of its meat. And Obedience is hereby confirmed, because we receive lively nourishment into our souls, which will make us strong to execute the will of our Lord. Our suffering also with Christ, we pro­fess more lively than by Water, even by Blood it self. When our Saviour saith in the sixth of S. John, That we [Page]must eat of his flesh, he means, we must receive himself, and digest his Do­ctrine; but seeing the word flesh in Scripture-phrase signifies very fre­quently weakness and meanness, he in­tends that we must receive him so as to partake with him in his poor, low and suffering condition. And this we do most notably protest that we will, when we receive the signs of his broken body. For the Bread broken doth not only argue it to be fit for food, but that first we must be slain and mortified, and likewise receive such strength, that if he call us unto death, we must undergo it. We own hereby the Covenant of sufferings, and feed upon a dead Saviour. Which makes Theophylact give this as a reason why Christ gave thanks when he brake the bread, [...]. That so we might receive Martyrdom thankfully. It is a feast which we par­take of, and yet signifies sufferings. But let it not seem strange, for we must count it all joy when we fall into divers tem­ptations.

Neither doth it less signifie and seal on Gods part, being a manifest token [Page]of his great and inexpressible love, in giving of his own Son to death, even to the cursed death of the Cross for us. Here he takes us not only under his wings (as, I said, he doth in Baptism) but he takes us into his armes. He takes us to himself, and he gives himself wholly unto us.

And then for Remission of sins, it is manifest to be the purchase of his blood, and so must needs further here be assured to all good souls. And it is the very thing that is expressed in the Institution of this Sacrament: This is my blood of the New Testament that is shed for many, for the remission of sins.

And there are not so many spirits contained in the Wine, as there are lively influences of Gods good Spirit hereby conveyed to pious hearts. We have assurance likewise given by these things, That he will not take his holy Spi­rit from us, but that he will let it al­ways diffuse it self through all our powers.

And as for the Resurrection from the dead; We being made, as it were, of his flesh, and of his bone, and incor­porated into him, he can lose none of [Page]his members; but all that eat of his flesh, and drink of his blood, as they ought, shall be raised again at the last day. We eat of the tree of life, which will make us live for ever; and we re­ceive [...],Epist. ad E­phes. (as Ignatius speaks) an Antidote against death, a Medicine to preserve us from corruption. This the ancient Christians thought to be so fully assu­red to us in the Eucharist, that this is one of the Arguments whereby Irenaeus confutes the Valentinians, who denied the rising again of the Body after it is dead. How can that flesh be corrupted, L. 4. adv. hae­res. cap. 34. and not live again, which is nourished by the Body and Bloud of the Lord? Ei­ther let them change their mind, or else ab­stain from this Offering. For as the Bread which is of the Earth, perceiving the invocation of God, is no longer com­mon bread, but the Eucharist, consisting of something earthly, and something hea­venly: Even so our bodies perceiving this Eucharist, are not now corruptible, but have the hopes of a Resurrection. L. 5. cap. 2. Thus he, who hath more to the same purpose in another Book.

Herein likewise God gives us a fore­taste [Page]of Heaven, and the joys to come, as will be made more manifest in the following Discourse. And thus far we may grant the Bread and Wine of Melchizedeck to have been Sacramen­tal, that they were given to Abraham, as earnests, for to secure him of the Land flowing with milk and honey. By this Banquet or Entertainment which the Royal Priest made him, he took Livery of Seisin (as our Lawyers speak) of the promised Land. And in that very place (it is most likely) where God intended the Mother-City of the Kingdom should be, was this convey­ance made to Abraham's seed. This Bread and Wine were most certain evi­dences that his Posterity should eat of the fruit of that Land wherein now he was a stranger. And just in the same manner doth God give unto faithful souls this blessed Bread and Wine, as an Antepast of his eternal love; and hereby they do begin to taste of the heavenly Feast that they shall cele­brate above. They have herein a right made them unto Heaven, and a kind of delivery of possession which shall short­ly be compleated by an actual enjoy­ment.

They that would more than such things as these in this Sacrament,Sect. 6. are in danger to have nothing at all, as they should have. While they think that Christ is received coporally by them, they may neglect the spiritual eating; and while they chew him (as it were) between their teeth, their Souls may feel but little of him. [...] E [...] ­nap. in vita Jambl. For just as it is with those that would paint a beautifull person; while they think to add some­thing of their own to the face, thereby to make him look better than he is; they spoil the comeliness of the Picture, and miss both of his face, and likewise of his true beauty: So it is with the modern Church of Rome, which would make Religion seem as fair and beauti­full, yea, as gaudy and trim, as their fancies can devise; but by adding their own inventions, and novel fashions, they quite spoil both true Religion, and the beauty of it, which they study to adorn. Whilest they think to offer a proper Sacrifice, they many times offer none at all. And whilst they think it is a Sacrifice both for quick and dead, they rely so much upon it, that it proves to be for neither. By making it [Page]flesh, and blood, and bones, they make Christ the food of the foulest and pro­phanest mouths; And by using a mul­titude of Ceremonies, they are in dan­ger to take the mind off from all sub­stantial exercises.

The Ancients, I am sure, understood not the new language of the Transub­stantiation of the Bread and Wine into the Flesh and Blood of Christ. And though they would suborn those wor­thies to speak against their mind and conscience on their side, yet we find that they call the bread and wine fi­gures or symboles of Christs body and blood. Dionysius the Areopagite (or that ancient Writer who passeth un­der his name) calls them most fre­quently, [...]. * In Cap. 3. Eccles. Hie­rach. Symboles, Images, Antitypes, sensible things received instead of things intelligible. And Maximus in his Scho­lion upon him, interpreting what a Symbole is in his Language, saith it is, [...], i. e. A sensible thing which we par­take of instead of a spiritual; as for ex­ample, Bread and Wine in stead of the immaterial divine nourishment and glad­ness. [Page]And so Macarius calls it,Homil. 27. [...]. The figure and representation of his Flesh and Blood; and saith, That he who partakes of the visible Bread, doth spiritually eat the Flesh of our Lord. And he that will, may repair to Theodoret, who lived in later times, and he shall tell him, That they are [...] mystical repre­sentations, and that their nature is not changed, no more than the flesh of Christ ceases to be flesh now that it is in the Heavens. And in his Comment upon the 1 Corinth. 11.26. he saith,Dialog. 2. [...]. the Apostle uses these words, Till he come, because there will be no need of Sym­boles of his Body, when his Body it self shall appear.

The name of Antiquity makes a great sound in their mouths, [...]. and there­fore let the Reader remember, that there are many ancient Errors as well as Truths. If they have followed the Ancients in their Novel Doctrines, they are rather the Old Hereticks, [...], &c. Vide Ire­naeum l. 1. c. 9. than the Fathers of the Church. For it hath been well observed by some of our Divines, that Marcus a Magician is noted by Irenaeus for counterfeiting [Page]to consecrate in an Eucharistial man­ner, Cups of Water mixed with Wine to a strange purpose. He extended (saith he) the Words of invocation to a very great length, and then he made the liquor in the Cup seem of a purple or bloody colour. His followers believed that the divine Grace did drop down some of its own blood into the Cup at his request. And all that were pre­sent, were very greedy to taste of this Cup, that the same Grace which he called down, might showre it self upon them likewise. I can little doubt, but that this Cup, over which he gave thanks, was a counterfeit of that which the sound Christians drunk of, from whom these men were apostatized. And that he might gain greater applause by his followers, he would make them believe that he was more devout than any, and could give them more than the Christians pretended to do, even the very blood of Christ it self, which the Romanists now boast they have, and therein excel us. But we are con­tent with what holy men then enjoyed. and let them take heed that they fol­low not worse examples. I am sure [Page] Theodoret in his second Dialogue brings in a wild conceited man speaking the same things that they do.Cap. 24. The affir­mation of that Phantastick is this, That Christs humane Nature is swallowed up in the Divine. His Argument for it is this, As the Elements or Symbols, or the Lords Body and Blood are one thing before the Invocation of the Priest, but after Invocation are chang­ed and made another; so the Lords Body after his ascension is changed in­to a divine substance, though before it was not. Hereupon the Father saith, You are caught in your onw net, for the Symbols do not go out of their proper na­ture, but remain [...], in the former substance wherein they were. Let the Reader then judge with whom they speak; and who are the Masters of our language and assertions. And let him take heed how he leaves our Com­munion where he hath the holy Bread and the Cup both; whereas they some­thing like the Manichees of old, will not let the people drink of the Cup.

But let them believe as much as they will, so they will but quietly suffer us to believe as we see cause. Let them [Page]practise as they please, if it will do them any good; we doubt not but we be­lieve and practise enough to the recei­ving of as great benefits as they can en­joy. I confess I cannot be angry with them for believing more than I can do; but I desire they would not be angry at us (but rather pity us) that we can­not extend our faith so far. If a man will say that Snow is nothing but fro­zen milk, which drops from the skies, much good may it do him with his con­ceit; only let him not impose the same belief on others who intend not to trouble him for his fancy. And if they will believe that wine is the very Blood of Christ, I desire not that they should suffer the least harm for this opi­nion; but let them not damn us, be­cause we will not put out our eyes, and deny our taste, and abandon our rea­son, and the holy Scripture, to the no­vel fancies and interpretations, that they obtrude upon us. I know that if a mans soul be not made of solid rea­son, but consists of weak and credu­lous principles, they will fearfully a­stonish it with the dismal names of He­resie and Schisme, and such like bug­bear [Page]words, which every one applies as he pleases. But considerate souls are grown wiser than to be affrighted out of their wits by the noise of words (the great engine of this Age) and they know that damnation doth not depend upon mens mouths; for if it did, I know not who should go to Heaven. We cannot be so blind as not to see, that every party arrogates to it self the glorious names of Christ, and the Holy Ghost; and if we would be led by sounds, we must believe, no body knows, how many Christs. The name of Heretick, Schismatick, yea, and of Antichrist and Babylon, signifie but little to us, who hear them every day, so carelesly applied, that we are assured men know not what they say. Neither will we be amazed with sad re­lations of the miserable ends of those who have contemned their Sacra­ments; for we do not allow that any man should irreverently behave him­self towards any of Christs institutions, though there be something of mans in­vention mixed with it. And we can repay their stories of the contempt of this Sacrament as among them admi­nistred, [Page]with as sad and true relations concerning those, who have despised that, which in scorn and pride they are pleased to call Calvins Supper and Communion. V. Annot. of Rhemists in 1 Cor. 11.34. The memorable story which B. Morton relates, may quit scores with them for all of this kind.L. 2. cap. 2. of his Prote­stants Appeal. There was in S. Johns Colledge in Cam­bridge (Dr. Whittaker being then Ma­ster) one Booth a Batchellor or Arts, and an excellent Schollar, who in the time of his seducement by the Papists, had taken the Sacramental Bread (which he received because he would not be discovered, but yet reserved without eating of it) and in contempt had thrown it over a Wall. By the re­membrance of this sin afterward, when his eyes were opened, he was driven into so great remorse and anguish of soul, that not long after he threw him­self down headlong over the Battle­ments of the Chappel, and within four and twenty hours died, whereof there were many witnesses.Instit. of the Sacrament l. 2. cap. 2. seci. 6 Yea, this right Reverend Person saith in another Book, that he saw this thing, which now from him I have related. And it may put some in mind of what befel [Page]the Donatists, who casting of it to Dogs, they grew mad, and tare their own Masters in pieces as unknown Persons.

But if they will persist to damn all those that are not of their way, we will say to them as Diogenes did to an Heathenish Priest, that would perswade him to be of his order, that so he might be happy in the other world. Wouldst thou have me believe that Epaminondas; and other brave men were miserable, and thou, who art but an Ass, and dost nothing worthy, shall be happy, because thou art a Priest? Is it credible that they who exercise all piety towards the Father, Son and holy Ghost, and are ready to sacrifice their lives rather than consent to the least sin against them, shall be miserable, and that God will accept men meerly for being of their Communion? We know upon what easie terms men may go to Hea­ven as they believe; and they shall ne­ver perswade us that they whose hearts are full of God, and have his Image shining fairly in their souls, shall be the companions of the Devils and accursed spirits; when (as they imagine) men [Page]of soul lives may get possession of Pa­radise, and live with Saints.

And yet let all Protestants take heed how they do irreverently behave themselves in participation of these holy mysteries, lest we give them oc­casion to say, that we have nothing but common bread and wine, empty of all Sacrament. Let us as humbly and meekly address our selves to the Table of the Lord, as they can do, who believe the very substance of Christs body and blood is there. And indeed it is but natural to approach with a great deal of reverence and de­votion, unless we be of a make diffe­rent from other men, who use to be af­fected with every thing, that doth but relate unto that which is dear unto them.L. 5. [...]. The Man in Achilles Tatius who found a Treasure in the ground, [...], &c. He did honour to the place where it was found; he built an Altar, he offered Sa­crifice, he crowned that piece of earth. Such a passion of love it was (I be­lieve) that made the Ancient Chri­stians do honour to the very day of our Saviours Sufferings, to use the [Page]sign of the Cross on which he suffered, to look towards the place where he was crucified and buried; and much more should it make us highly to value the signs of his body and blood, and in a serious reverent manner receive them as the sweetest tokens of his love.

I have said the more of this here,Sect. 7. be­cause I shall not fill the ensuing Trea­tise with any Disputes. And because I intended it should be a Practical Dis­course, I have waved the Controver­sie concerning the Persons who are fit for to receive. Let it be suffici­ent here to say with Justin Martyr, Apolog. 2. [...]. i. e. We suffer none to partake of it, but him who believes the things that we teach to be true, and that is washed in Bap­tism for the Remission of sins and regene­ration, and that lives so as Christ hath delivered unto us. He therefore that is baptized, and instructed in the faith of Christ, and professes to live accord­ingly, and doth nothing that is de­structive to this profession, ought not [Page]to be rejected from our Communion. But as of the Passeover a stranger, or an uncircumcised Person, though an Isra­elite, might not eat; so neither may an unbaptized Person, or one that doth not profess our Religion, partake of this Supper. And as they were to cast out then all unleavened Bread, so are we to keep the Feast perpetually, and to purge our selves of the old leaven, that we may become a new Lump.

And that we may be well instructed in our duty, I have shown in the fol­lowing Treatise,

  • First, What is the end of this holy action.
  • Secondly, With what Preparations we must approach to the performance of it. And
  • Thirdly, What affections will best become us when we are performing it.
  • Fourthly, How we should behave our selves afterward. And
  • Lastly, What Benefits we shall reap thereby.

And because I know the great quar­rels are about the lives of men (which is the last thing in Justins words) I have said something in the end of the [Page]Discourse, which may tend to the sa­tisfying of us, who are those wicked persons that are to be excluded.

If in the first part of this Treatise I have interspersed a little of the Hea­then learning,Sect. 3. and endeavoured some­times to illustrate things out of their customes, it need not seem a wonder to any considering person: And let me make a brief Apology for it, and so put an end to this Preface. I can very easily demonstrate that no small part of the Heathenish Mythology and Di­vinity was fetcht from the Hebrew sto­ries and practices. As the Greek Poet saith of the Cretians, that they were al­ways liars; V. Euseb. l 10 prepar. Evang & Clem. Alex. l. 1. strom. so I may say of the Greeks themselves, that they were always thieves. Though they bragged that all Learning came from them, yet in truth they were but like the Crow, (as Tatianus his expression of them is) [...], not adorn­ed with their own Feathers, but with those they had stoln from their neigh­bours. That worthy Author hath well observed (toward the later end of his Oration against the Greeks) that they drew their Dogmata or asser­tions [Page](though unskilfully) from the Fountain of holy Writings; and ha­ving busie and inquisitive minds, what­soever they found in Moses or other Di­vine Philosophers, they endeavoured [...], to set another stamp upon it, and make it pass for their own. And this they did for two reasons (as he saith) first that they might seem to o­thers to have brought forth some new thing, that was not known before; And secondly, That what they did not understand of the truth, they might cause by their artifice of words to pass for Fables in the world.Marinus in vita Procli. And it is very considerable (me thinks) that Marinus reports of Proclas, though a Philosopher of younger times; how that he observed the Roman, the Phry­gian, and the Aegyptian Feasts, with all new Moons, [...]. and that [...] in a most splendid and ceremonious manner. And, in brief, he saith that he kept religiously the most famous Feasts of every Nation, after their own manner and custome; and composed an Hymn, which he sung, containing the praises of the God of several Na­tions. For he had this saying frequently [Page]in his mouth, That a Philosopher ought not to address his service to the fashion of one City, or some Countries rites, but to be [...] skilled in the sacra or holy offices of the whole world. And it is very likely that this was the principle of several Philosophers be­fore him, it being a Character that Pausanias gives of the Greeks in gene­ral, that they were [...],In Baot. strangely prone to have the things of another Country in greater admiration then those of their own. Which agrees very well with what the Scripture saith of them, that the Athenians were al­ways hearing or telling some new thing Acts 17.21. and that even in matters of their Religion they were [...], very apt to reverence every Dei­ty that they heard of. Hence it was that they worshiped the unknown God, which S. Paul tells them, was the true and living God which made all things. This God was worshipped among the Jews, and as Nazianzen saith, that when they speak of the Elysian fields, they were [...],Orct. 20. in a conceit of our Paradise, which [Page]they took out of Moses his Books, with the change of the name onely. So I may say, that when they invented the rest of their Poetical Divinity, their Dreams were the off-spring of some real things, which they had seen or heard out of the Book of God. I will instance but in four, which are not commonly observed, so far as I have read. Hercules is called by the Dark Poet,Lycophron. [...], &c. the three nights Lion, whom the sharp-tooth't Dog of Neptune swallowed up within his jaws. This Dog of Neptune, the Sea-God, (saith Isaac Tzetzes) is the VVhale, and Hercules hath the Epithete of Three-nights, because being swallowed, he lay three days [...], in the VVhale, which he calls nights, because the bel­ly of the Fish was [...], without all light, and black as the night. This seems to me to be but a corruption of the Story of Jonah, which might well be known to the Heathens, and easily applied to Her­cules. For it is observed by D. Kim­chi, that there is not so much as the name of Israel in all the Prophecy of Jonah, because he was sent onely to [Page] Heathens. And he was embarked in a vessel going to Tarshish, or Tartessus in Spain (as Bochartus hath proved) in which part of the world it is well known the Tyrian Hercules was most worshipped. Now it hath been the manner of the world to attribute all strange things, that were done by o­thers, to some one person famous a­mong them; as all witty stories and jests are at this day fathered upon him, that is most noted by us to abound with them; and so they might easily tell this story of their Hercules, when it was once noised among them, because they ascribed all wonders and miracles to him.

A second instance I may give in the Fables of Iphigenia and Julia Luperca. The former of which being to be sacri­ficed to Diana, an Hare, or as some say, an Heifer came running in the mid­dle (and thickets; as it were) of the Greek Army, which by the counsel of their Prophet, they offered instead of her. The latter having the knife just at her throat (as it was at Isaac's) an Eagle came, and [...], snatch­eth away the knife out of the Priests [Page]hands, and threw a young Panther near to the Altar, which they offered for her. These two stories are but a de­pravation of two in the Scripture con­cerning Isaac and Jeptha's Daughter, which they have jumbled together. And therefore the same Isaac Tzetzes in his Scholia upon Lycophron adds these words to these Stories; You cannot but remember [...], the Ram which instead of saac was caught in the bush Sabek, (so the LXX do read those words 22. & 13.) as I think I should have done, if he had not noted it to my hand.

But those Verses of Homer on which Porphyry writes his Book [...], [...]. are as like to Davids words in Psal. 139.15 as any thing can be, if we re­ceive Porphyry's Comment upon them. And according to Tatianus his compu­tation, Homer lived not long after his time, and so might have some know­ledge of his Songs. Davids words are, I am fearfully and wonderfully made, &c. and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the Earth. Where the word [...] (which we render curiously wrought) is by Val. Schindler interpreted Contex­tus [Page]sum, I am weaved: and the Verb doth signifie acu pingere, &c. to work curiously with a needle or otherwise. The words of Homer, which I say do answer to these, and describe the body of man as wrought in a loom, and rare­ly weaved, are in his Story of Ulisses, Odyss. N. where he speaks of a Cave, and saith,

[...]
[...].
There do the Nymphs, a wonder it is to see,
Their Purple Garments weave most curiously;
From off long Stones their threds are drawn—

And David saith, That he was wrought in the lowest parts of the Earth, i. e. the womb; so here he speaks of an Antrum or Cave, in which the Nymphs or souls making bodies, did re­side. The Instruments or Tools from whence they drew their yarn, which he calls great long stones, Porphyry in­terprets to signifie the bones of the body, which are hard like unto stones, [Page]which uphold the flesh, and unto which it is fastned; and these Purple colour­ed garments are (saith he) [...], the flesh which is wea­ved and wrought out of blood, which is (as it were) the Coat wherewith the soul clothes it self. To this an­swers that in David, that he was cu­riously wrought or weaved in the womb. And then [...], is ex­presly the same with those words of David, I am fearfully and wonderfully made, and marvellous are thy works. And it is a wonder (saith the same Por­phyry) whether we look [...], at the rare fabrick and composition of the body, or [...], or at the no less strange conjunction of it with the soul.

Neither is this the single conceit of Porphyry, In his [...]. but he that will read Joh. Protospatharius upon that Verse of He­siods, [...].’ will soon see, that he also thought Ho­mer to have described in those words the contexture and formation of our [Page]bodies in the womb. For he saith, by the web he advises the woman to weave on the twelfth day of the Moon, is meant a Physical Mystery concern­ing the generation of our bodies, which he there explains; and for a proof of what he saith, he directs us plainly to this place of Homer, which I have recited. But I have no list to prosecute this any further.

There is another instance that sug­gests it self to my thoughts, and I should have taken it for a corruption of the Story of Elias calling for fire from Hea­ven to consume his sacrifice, had not Pausanias assured us that he saw it with his own eyes. But it will clearly show how studious those false Gods were to imitate the God of Israel, [...]. Pausan. Esiac. [...] L. 5. and render what I have said very probable, which makes me think it fitting to be here re­lated. Some Priests he saith in Lydia (who worshipped after the Persian manner) used to call upon he knew not what God, in a barbarous form of words not to be understood by the Greeks, and presently the wood that was upon the Altar was kindled with­out any fire, and appeared all in a [Page]bright flame. I could easily show, that these barbarous words were Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Sebaoth and such like, and in all probability the God they in­voked was the unknown God, and the example they Apishly followed, was that great Prophet.

And indeed the Prophet Elijah did therefore call for fire from Heaven, be­cause all Sacrifices at Jerusalem were consumed and eaten onely by the Holy fire which God sent from above to them. The Devil therefore in this thing may have seemed to endeavour that his Offerings might sometimes correspond with those at the Temple of God. And so Pindar gives us ano­ther instance how that the Rhodians being about to offer Sacrifice to Ju­piter, had forgotten to bring fire along with them to his Altars, but he being loth it seems to lose this fat oblation,

[...]
[...].

did bring a yellow cloud over them, and rained much Gold upon the Al­tar. This Golden showre (as an excel­lent [Page]Person of our own doth interpret it) was nothing else but a showre of fire which devoured the Sacrifice,Dr. Cudworth. in imi­tation of the Sacred Story. No won­der then if in other things as well as these, they were forward to transcribe the holy Writ; and let it not be im­puted to a vain and affected ostentati­on of learning, if I sometimes use their customes for an illustration of Sacred matters.

But the following Discourse is in­terlaced with so few of their Authors, that perhaps it doth not merit this A­pology, and therefore I will cease it with this double desire: The one is to my Reader, that if he understand not every Line in the first part, yet he would not throw away the rest, which are fitted to his practice: The other is to God, that he would bless it to those Ends for which it is designed. Amen.

THE CONTENTS OF THE TREATISE.

SECT. I.

  • CAP. I. THe first end of this Supper is for a remembrance of Christ. What it is to remember. The Passeover appointed for that end. Two things it remembers us of. And two wayes we are to remember it. In two sences it may be called a Sacrifice. p. 3.
  • [Page]CAP. II. It is a remembrance with thanksgiving. This is explained in six particulars. And two other sences are given where­in it may be called a Sacrifice. p. 22.
  • CAP. III. Here the third end is discoursed of, and it is considered as an holy Rite where­by we enter into Covenant with God. This is explained in five things. p. 46.
  • CAP. IV. It is considered here as a sign and seal of remission of sin, and this is cleared in three considerations, but especially from this, that we eat of the sin-offering, and of that which was not made for one, but for many, i. e. the whole Congregation. p. 73.
  • CAP. V. It is a means of our nearer Ʋnion with the Lord Jesus. The Nature [Page]of this Union, and the effect of it is explained in five considerati­ons. p. 93.
  • CAP. VI. Here is shown how the Supper is a means of our Union one with another. And five General Observations are made to this purpose. The last of which treats of the holy kiss, the feast of love, &c. To which two things are added by way of conclusion of the first part. p. 115.

SECT. II. Concerning Preparation.

  • CAP. VII. An Introduction to the Discourse about Preparation, wherein those words of the Psalmist are opened, Psal. 93.5. p. 159.
  • [Page]CAP. VIII. This word Preparation is to be cautiously understood. Not a little time required for it. Three things are discoursed of, that tend to the fuller explication of it. p. 164.
  • CAP. IX. Four things more are treated of, which further open the Nature of this Prepa­ration. And so from a general Dis­course concerning it, way is made to descend to a more particular. p. 174.
  • CAP. X. Here is discoursed at large concerning those actions, wherein it is fit for us to be employed, before we come. Of the setting apart some portion of our time, and of our goods. Of Exa­mination, of Reconciliation, &c. The whole is digested into ten considera­tions. p. 195.
  • [Page]CAP. XI. Mistakes are removed. The Primitive Christians not too zealous. No reason for the neglects of the present worldly Christians. Good people may be su­perstitious while they take themselves to be great enemies to it. p. 235.
  • CAP. XII. Advice and Directions to those, who ne­ver yet received the Sacrament of the Lords Supper. Six things are said to them to prepare them and encourage them. The Conclusion of this Dis­course. p. 251.

SECT. III. Concerning the Deportment of a Soul at the Lords Table, &c.

  • CAP. XIII. Love is instead of all other Directions. Yet seeing it hath many wayes to ex­press [Page]it self; there is a necesssity to guide its motions so, that they may not hinder each other. p. 269.
  • CAP. XIV. Here therefore they are ranged and set in their right places. And, 1. The soul is directed what to do when it sees the Minister stand at the Table of the Lord. 2. What affections to express when the Bread is broken, &c. 3. When the Minister comes to give it to us. 4. When we take it into our hands. 5. When we eat. 6. When we see him give it to others. 7. When we receive the Cap. Every one of which is dis­coursed of in several Meditations. And then, 8. Meditations about the joys of Heaven. And 9. Psalms of Praise are shown to be very fit conclusions of the solemnity. p. 275.
  • CAP. XV. An entrance is made upon the Dis­course about our behaviour afterward. 4. Sorts of Christians are observed. We must strive to be of the highest, by [Page]keeping our affections alive that are begotten in us. p. 330.
  • CAP. XVI. Eight directions for the maintaining in our hearts those resolutions that are wrought in them, and keeping our hearts in a constant good temper. p. 335.

SECT. IV. Of the Benefits of holy Communion.

  • CAP. XVII. Holy men can best tell themselves how sweet this Feast is, yet for the invi­ting of others to this chear, a Dis­course is begun of the pleasures of it. p. 374.
  • CAP. XVIII. Three benefits we may receive by it. 1. Great pleasure which is brought to [Page]us sundry wayes. 2. Great nourish­ment and strength, as is proved by the three graces of Faith, Hope, Charity. 3. Great cures of our sicknesses and diseases. p. 382.
  • CAP. XIX. The danger of coming hither with a love to our sins, opened in several particu­lars. Yet it is a great sin not to come out of love to Christ. Mens excuses shown to be frivolus. p. 410.
  • CAP. XX. The great excuse of many unmasked, which is, that wicked men are per­mitted to come thither. p. 431.

Mensa Mystica.

THe Sacraments being not un­fitly called by an ancient Writer, [...]. Dionys. cop. 3. Eccles hierarch. The Garments that are cast about our Saviour; and it being the profession of Divines, to labour to see the naked face of truth; it is most worthy our pains, to open and re­veal those secrets that lie hid and vailed under symbols and sensible things.

And to say the truth, these Vest­ments are so thin and transparent, that the truth doth shine through them, and shew it self to well-prepared minds. They are but like to those thin clouds wherein the Sun is sometimes wrap­ped, which render its body the more visible to our weak and trembling eyes.

I cannot pretend to have conversed much with barefac'd truth, yet having [Page 2]been drawn to publish a few thoughts concerning Baptism, I shall now fur­ther endeavour to unfold those myste­ries that lie hid under the coverings of bread broken, and wine poured out, in the Sacrament of the Lords Supper, that men may not (Ixion-like) em­brace a meer cloud instead of God him­self.

My sight is not so sharp as to discern the very flesh and blood of Christ in those forms and shapes of bread and wine; no more could that Eagle­eyed Author I mentioned, though he thought he could see as far as the coe­lestial Hierarchy, which will appear to any one that shall be at the pains to read him. Yet I am so far from think­ing that they are meer signs of what Christ did for us, or onely represen­tations of the benefits we receive by him, but am perswaded that they ex­hibit our Lord himself unto believing minds, and put them into a surer pos­session of him.

The truth commonly lies between two extreams, and being a peaceable thing, cannot join it self with either of the directly opposite parties. And [Page 3]therefore I shall seek for her in a mid­dle path, not bidding such a defiance to the corporeal presence, as to deny the real; nor so subverting the fancy of a miraculous changed into a coelestial substance, as to level these things into meer shadows.

CHAP. I.

FIrst then this holy rite of eating bread broken, and drinking wine poured out, is a solemn commemora­tion of Christ, according as he himself saith to all his Apostles, Luk. 22.19. and particularly to St. Paul, who twice makes mention of this command,1 Cor. 11.24, 25. Do this in remembrance (or for a remem­brance) of me. His meaning is not, that we should hereby call him to mind (for we are never to forget him) but rather that we should keep him in mind, and endeavour to perpetuate his Name in the world, and propagate the memory of him and his benefits to the latest posterity. Now this is done by making a solemn rehearsal of his famous Acts, and declaring the inesti­mable [Page 4]mable greatness of his royal love. For [...] doth not signifie barely recor­datio, recording or registring of his favours in our mind; but commemora­tio, a solemn declaration that we do well bear them in our hearts, and will continue the memory, and spread the fame of him as far, and as long as ever we are able.

I hope that none will conceive so little to be meant by this word, remem­ber or commemorate, as a naked mention of his Name with our mouthes, or a dead image of him in our minds. For all these words, to know, believe, me­ditate, remember, and the like, are hearty words, and full of life. Though they seem to speak only actions of the mind, yet in holy language they include in their comprehension the affections of the heart. Cold, pale thoughts which have no feeling of themselves, nor leave any footsteps or memorials be­hind them, are as good as none at all. And therefore I understand hereby a very warm sence in the soul, which begets and stirs up such motions in the heart as the conceived object is apt for to raise.

Suppose you have been in deep love with any person, and have lost the half of your selves, when you remember the death of that friend, the image of him is ready to rob you of your lives, and make all the blood retire to your heart, as if death were about to sur­prize the main Fort of life. But on the contrary, if you think of that person as alive, the remembrance of him makes your spirits for to dance, and the blood to run into your cheeks, and smiles to sit on your forehead, and breeds a plea­sance in your whole man. Just so would our Saviour be remembred by you, that the thoughts of him may even kill you with grief, and transport you with love, and captivate your wills, and ingage all your affections, that they may be at his command, and issued forth at his plea­sure. As you think of a friend, of a father, of a wife or a husband, or any one that hath got the possession of your heart, so think of him.

By which examples you may see, that I intend not a natural passion, and a sensual commotion in the soul, but a well-grounded affection.

When we read a true History, or a [Page 6]Romance, we are apt to side with some persons in the story; and when we meet with a Duel, we favour one of the Combatants, and are sensible of his wounds, and sorry for his fall, as on the contrary we are glad he comes off a conquerour and wins the field. So may a man when he thinks of Christ and his Tragedy, conceive a natural ha­tred and indignation at the treachery of Judas, and the vile malice of the Pha­risees, and be much moved to see him used in such an unworthy manner; it may be fetch sighs from his heart, and tears from his eyes, and put him into such a huge passion as if he suffered with him. But if all this have non effect in his life, and produce no answerable fruits afterward, it is no more than a natural motion, and is void of the divine and heavenly spirit.

We must remember Christ therefore, as Nehemiah desires God to remember him, by doing good: or as we re­member our Creator, by a true sub­jection of all our faculties to his sove­raign will.

Then we remember him as we ought, when we get him formed in our [Page 7]hearts, and have a more living image of him left in our minds; when it stirs and is busie in our souls, and awakens all other images, and calls up all divine truths that are within us, to send them forth upon their several imployments into our lives.

Now for the fuller understanding of this matter, you must know that the Paschal Supper (which is called by Greg. Naz. very elegantly, [...], a more obscure type of this type) was instituted for a remem­brance, and was a Feast of commemo­ration, as will soon appear if you look but a while into the particulars of it. And first you must observe that the very day of the Passeover was [...] for a memorial of their miraculous de­liverance out of Egypt, as you may read Exod. 12.14. and therefore they are bid, Exod. 13.3. to remember this day in which they came out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage, &c. Thence it was that they were commanded to eat the Lamb with bitter herbs (Exod. 12.8.) for a remembrance of their hard bondage in Egypt, which made their lives bitter unto them, Exod. 1.14. So [Page 8]was the unleavened bread, the bread of affliction, in remembrance that they brought their bread out of Egypt un­leavened (Exod. 12.34.) and were there in great servitude (Exod. 13.3.) so that their soul was even dried and parched in them. The later Jews have added the charóseth, which is a thick sawce, in memory of the clay and morter which they wrought in; and they use red wine for a remembrance that Pharaoh shed the blood of their children. To which may be added, that God required there should be a rehearsal to their children of what the Lord had done for them, that so this feast might be for a sign upon their hand, and for a memorial between their eyes to all posterity, as you may see, Exod. 13.8, 9. And thence it is that the Jews call that section of the Law, or the Lesson which they read that night, the Haggádah, annunciation or shewing forth, because they commemo­rated and predicated both their hard services, and Gods wonderful salvation, and the praises that were due to him for so great a mercy.

It is easie now to apply all this to [Page 9]our present purpose, if we do but con­sider that this likewise is a holy feast. Whence it is called the Lords Supper (not only because he appointed it,1 Cor. 11.20. but because he was the end of its celebration) and an entertainment at the table of the Lord. 1 Cor. 10.21.

This Feast our Saviour first keeping with his Apostles who were Jews, he makes part of the Passeover-chear to be the provision of it. For he takes the bread and wine, which used to go about in that Supper through the whole family, to signifie his broken body, and his blood which was to be shed. Now this was to be in comme­moration of a deliverance wrought by him, from a greater tyranny then the Israelites were under, which made all the world to groan, and was ready to thrust us all below into the Devils fi­ery furnace. And therefore, as it is said, Exod. 13.8. thou shalt shew thy son in that day, saying, This is done, &c. So the Apostle (in a manifest allusion to that phrase) saith,1 Cer. 11.26. that when we eat this bread, and drink this cup, we do shew forth the Lords death until he come. So that we may conclude, that [Page 10]in this feast in honour of Christ, we are to make a rehearsal of his famous acts, to proclaim his mighty deeds, to speak of the glorious honour of his Majesty, and of his wondrous works, and to in­deavour that one generation may praise his works to another,Psl. 146.3, 4, &c. and declare his mighty acts, that they may speak of the glory of his Kingdom, and talk of his power.

And indeed it should seem, that the memory of a thing is by nothing so sen­sibly preserved, and so deeply ingraven in mens minds, as by feasts and festi­val joys. For it hath been the way of all the world, to send to posterity the memory of their benefactors or famous persons, by instituting of such solemn times, wherein men did assem­ble together, and by the joys and pleasures of them, more imprint the kindnesses and noble atchievements of such Worthies in their minds. So we find among the Greeks their [...] in honour of Aeacus, their [...] in ho­nour of Ajax, and in latter times their [...], and such like, in remembrance of the merits of such persons. and how highly they deserved of the places [Page 11]where their feasts were celebrated. In like sort the Jews had their feasts in memory of some great and rare passage of divine providence, though not of any particular persons, lest they should be tempted to worship them as their Saviours, according as the custom of the heathen was. But all worship being due to our Lord and Saviour, he thought fit in like manner to appoint this feast to be as a Passeover unto us, a holy solemnity that should call us to­gether and assemble us in one body, that we might be more sensibly im­pressed with him, and that all genera­tions might call him blessed, and he might never be forgotten to the worlds end.

Now of two things it is a remem­brance, and two ways we do comme­morate or remember them;

I. It is instituted [...],Justin Martyr Dialog. cum Tryph. &c. for a remem­brance that he was imbodied for those that believe on him, and became passi­ble for their sakes. The bread and the wine are in token that he had a true body, and that the word was made flesh. For thence Tertullian and Irenae­us [Page 12]do confute Marcion, who denied the truth of Christs flesh, and made his body to be a phantastical thing; be­cause then real bread and wine could not be a figure of it: and so Theodoret saith out of Ignatius, Dialog. 3. that some (Si­mon and Menander I think) did not admit [...], thanks­givings and offerings, (viz. of bread and wine in this Sacrament) because they did not confess that it was the flesh of our Saviour.

Now with what affection we should call to mind this love, that God would appear to us not by an Angel in a bright cloud, not in a body of pure air, but by his Son in our own flesh, I leave your own hearts to tell you. Me­think, we should wish that all the world could hear us proclaim this love; and that even the fields and forests, i. e. the most desolate and heathenish places might resound our joyful accla­mations to him. We should wish to feel something of extasie, and to go out of our selves, when we think of him. For

II.Just. Mart. Ib. It was instituted [...], in commemoration of his pas­sion [Page 13]and sufferings for us. As the bread and wine do commemorate the truth of his body; so do bread bro­ken and wine poured out, commemorate the truth of his sufferings for us, which those phantastical people in the first times did no less deny. And the bread and wine being given to us severally, not both together, do clearly tell us that he was really dead, his vital blood being separated from his body, and his veins and heart being emptied of it. This is that miracle of love which the Apostle saith we should shew forth till he come: this is that famous act which never ennobled the story of any person, that the Lord would purchase enemies by his own blood; yea by the blood of the Cross reconcile them to himself. The thoughts of this is able to wound a heart of marble with love, and to turn a rock into a fountain of tears, and to unloose the tongue of the dumb, that they may speak the honour of his Name, and shew forth his praise. And therefore because this was such a singular instance of love, and because it contains in it so many secrets (which we should have before our eyes) it is [Page 14]the chief thing that we are to make a remembrance of.

But, as I said before, there are two parts of this Commemoration, and it cannot be contained within the bounds of this world, but we must make it reach as far as Heaven. For,

1. We do shew it forth and declare it unto men, which is sufficiently clear by all that hath been said. We do publish and annunciate unto all that he is the Saviour of the world, and that he hath died for us, and purchased bles­sings thereby beyond the estimate and account of humane thought. And further the word [...] may im­port, that we do extol, praedicate, magnifie, and highly lift up in our prai­ses this great benefit, so that all may come to the knowledge of it, as far as is in our powers to procure. This com­memoration the Minister chiefly makes unto the people, and all the people together with him to all that are present, so that all may wonder at his love.

When our Saviour therefore saith, Do this in remembrance of me, the meaning is, do this in remembrance [Page 15]that I dwelt in flesh, in memory of what I suffered, in memory of the in­finite price of my blood which I shed for you, in memory of the victory that I have obtained by it over the enemies and tyrants of your souls; in memory of the immortal glory that I have pur­chased for you: celebrate this feast in memory of all these things, and when I am dead, let me alway live in your heart. Tell them one to another in a solemn manner, and declare them in the face of my Church. Let all ages know these things as long as the world shall last; that as the benefit is of infinite merit, so may the acknowledgement be an eternal memorial. Be so careful in doing this, that when I come again I may find you so doing.

2. We do shew forth the Lords death unto God, and commemorate before him the great things he hath done for us. We keep it (as it were) in his memory, and plead before him the Sacrifice of his Son, which we shew unto him, humbly requiring that grace and pardon, with all other bene­fits of it, may be bestowed on us. And as the Minister doth most powerfully [Page 16]pray in the virtue of Christs sacrifice when he represents it unto God; so do the people also, when they shew unto him what his Son hath suffered. Every man may say, Behold, O Lord, the bleeding wounds of thy own Son; remember how his body was broken for us, think upon his precious blood which was shed in our behalf. Let us die, if he have not made a full satis­faction. We desire not to be pardoned if he have not paid our debt. But canst thou behold him and not be well pleased with us? Canst thou look on his body and blood which we represent to thee, and turn thy face from us? Hast thou not set him forth to be a propi­tiation through faith in his blood? O Lord then suffer us sinful creatures to plead with thee. Let us prevail in the virtue of his sacrifice for the graces and blessings that we need; and hide not thy self from us, unless thou canst hide thy self from thy Son too, whom we bring with us unto thee. In this sort may we take the boldness to speak to God, and together with a represen­tation of Christ, we may represent our own wants, and we may be confident, [Page 17]that when God sees his Son, when we hold up him (as it were) between his anger and our souls, he will take some pity, and have mercy upon us. Just as a poor man, pleading with a King, commemorates to him the wor­thy deeds of some of his Ancestors, or makes mention of the name of some high Favourite, for whose sake he de­sires his Petition may be granted. So it is with us when we come before God to request mercy of him; we can hope to prevail for nothing, but through the Name of our Lord, whom we can never mention with so much advantage, as when we solemnly commemorate his sufferings and de­servings. For then we pray and do something else also which God hath commanded; so that there is the uni­ted force of many acceptable things to make us prevalent. And hence I sup­pose it is, that Isid. Pelus. calls the Sa­cramental bread [...],L. 1. Epist. 123. the shew-bread (as we render it) which we set before God, as that stood alway before his face in the time of the Law, that God looking upon it, might re­member his people Israel for good.

It will not be unprofitable to add, That this was one reason why the An­cients called this action a Sacrifice (which the Romanists now so much urge) because it doth represent the Sacrifice which Christ once offered. It is a figure of his death which we com­memorate, unto which the Apostle Paul (as a Learned man conceives) hath a reference,L'Emptreur. when he saith to the Galatians, Gal. 3.1. That Jesus Christ was set forth evidently before their eyes, cruci­fied among them. They saw (as it were) his Sacrifice on the Cross, it was so lively figured in this Sacra­ment. And it is very plain, that Chry­sostome understood no more,Hom. 27. [...], &c when as he thus speaks, upon the Epistle to the Hebrews; What then? do not we offer every day? yet, we offer by making a commemoration ( [...]) of his death. And we do not make another sacrifice every day, but alway the same, or rather a remembrance of a sacrifice. Such an unbloody Sacrifice, which is only rememorative, and in representa­tion, we all acknowledge. And if that would content them, we make no scruple to use Eusebius his words, who [Page 19]saith it is a remembrance instead of a sacrifice L. 1. Demons. Evang. [...]. : and in another place, We sacrifice a remembrance of the great sacrifice [...]. . And so every Christian is a Priest or a Sacrifice when he comes to the table of the Lord. For as our Lord saith to his Apostles, Luke 22.19. Do this in remembrance of me; so he saith to every private Christian the same words, 1 Cor. 11.24. onely there is this difference, that Do this, &c. in St. Luke, doth manifestly referre to those words before, To take bread, give thanks, and give to others (which is on­ly the Ministers work;) but in St. Paul, Do this, &c. referres to, Take eat, which immediately precedes, and this is to be done by all. So that both the one and the other, in their several kinds, do commemorate Christ, and represent him to the Father.

And that it is onely a memorial of a Sacrifice, and not a Propitiatory Sacrifice, the Arguments of a Divine in the Council of Trent will prove,Hist. Cone. Trent. in spite of all opposers: Our Saviour, saith he, did not offer sacrifice when he instituted this Sacrament, for then the oblation of the Cross would have been [Page 20]superfluous, because mankind would have been redeemed by that of the Sup­per which went before. Besides (saith he) the Sacrament of the Altar (as he calls it) was instituted by Christ for a memorial of that which he offered on the Cross; now there cannot be a me­morial but of a thing past; therefore the Eucharist could not be a sacrifice be­fore the oblation of Christ on the Cross, but shewed what we were afterward to do. From hence we argue, That if it was not so then, neither is it so now. We do nothing but what Christ then did; and therefore if he offered no sa­crifice, neither do we, but onely com­memorate that sacrifice which he was then about to offer. Therefore a Por­tugal Divine in that Assembly made a speech to prove that it could not be demonstrated out of the Scripture,Georg. de Atai­de. that this Sacrament is a sacrifice, but onely out of the ancient Fathers; and he an­swered all the arguments to the contra­ry so strongly, and the Protestants arguments afterwards so weakly, that the most intelligent were of opinion, that he did not satisfie himself. But of this perhaps too much, unless the [Page 21]state of things among us plead my excuse.

I will add but this one thing more, and so put an end to this Chapter. That it may be called a Sacrifice, be­cause with the Action we do offer Prayers to God for all good things.Epist. 59. ad Paulinum. And so St. Augustin expounds that place in 1 Tim. 2.1. concerning the Petitions put up at the Lords Supper. By Supplications he understands the Petitions put up before the bread and wine be blessed. By Prayers he un­derstands those whereby they are bles­sed and sanctified, and made ready to be given to the people. By Interces­sions he understands the prayers made for the people when they do partake, (for then the Minister, as if he were a kind of Advocate, doth offer them to God, and commit them to his hand) after which follow the [...] give­ings of thanks, which are made by all, for that and all other mercies that the good God bestoweth on us. Whatso­ever becomes of this interpretation, we need not fear to call the whole action by the name of a Sacrifice, see­ing part of it is an Oblation to God of [Page 22]hearty prayers; and it is not unusual for that to be said of a whole that is ex­actly true but of one part. But me­thinks it much unbecomes Christians to quarrel about Names, especially about the name of that which should end all quarrels; and therefore I only intended to shew how this word may be used (if we please) without dan­ger, and how the ancient Church did understand it.

CHAP. II.

THis holy action is to be next of all considered, as a remembrance or commemoration with thanksgiving, [...]. And thence it is called by the name of Eucharist, i. e. Thanksgiving, according to the phrase of Ancient times.Justin Martyr, Apolog. 2. For as the bread and wine, the breaking and pouring out, are representations; so our take­ing, eating and drinking, express our hearty resentments. This good cheer cannot but breed a certain cheerful­ness. This Divine Food cannot but fill us with gladness. After we have [Page 23]swallowed the sweetness of Heaven and Earth, after we have tasted of that which Angels desire to feed but their eyes withall, how can it choose but breed a spiritual joy in our souls, and make our mouthes break forth into singing? If there be any wine that makes glad the heart of man, this sure is it, which is pressed (as it were) out of the Coelestial Vine, and tasts not of the blood of the Grape, but of the Blood of God. This should send up our souls in songs of praise to Heaven; this should make us wish that we could evaporate our spirits in flames of love, and that our souls were nothing but a harmony and consent, that we might alwayes be tuned to his praises. And though the Angels have many strains of Praise that we are unacquainted withall; yet this is a note that they cannot sing,Rev. 1.5, 6. Unto him that hath loved us, and washed us from our sinnes in his own blood, and hath made us Kings and Priests unto God and his Father: to him be glory and dominion for ever.

Now for the fuller understanding of this, I take these six things to be consi­derable:

I. That as it is a Feast, it betokens joy, and all joy at such times is expres­sed by songs. If we will beleeve the wiser sort of Heathens, they lookt upon their publick Feasts, not only as times of ease and outward mirth, but as instruments to raise their thoughts to spiritual things, and fill them with an inward joy. So Proclus doth apply their customs in the [...], to intelle­ctual things, which, he saith, lay hid un­der such Ceremonies.Lib. 1. in Timae­um. [...]. And among o­ther matters, he saith, That their Feasts on the first day of those Solemni­ties, were an embleme of the perpe­tual quiet and tranquillity we should labour for in the World, knowing, that if we be filled with God, he brings in with him a never ceasing feast. Do I hear a Heathen speak? Dropt these words from the pen of a Pagan? O my soul that readest this, blush to think that thou shouldest celebrate a Divine Feast without a Feast, and come to the Table of God empty and void of God. For if they laboured to see something Divine under I know not what strange rites; how can we chuse but be fill'd with God, and Festival joys, when we [Page 25]sit with him at a Heavenly Banquet? And if we be, then there will be all the usual attendants and companions of such seasons;Luk. 15.25. the soul will begin to leap and dance for joy, it will awake Psaltery and Harp, and all the Instru­ments of Praise. And so the Apostle (speaking I suppose of the Christian Feasts and Entertainments) bids them not be drunk with wine, Ephes. 5.18, 19. wherein is ex­cess, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to themselves in Psalms, and Hymns, and spiritual songs, singing, and making melody in their hearts to the Lord. These two things did commonly finish the Heathen Meetings; After they were well liquored with Wine, they u­sed to sing and roar the Hymns of Bac­chus. The Apostle therefore opposes two sorts of heavenly pleasure unto that madness, bidding them not to gorge themselves with Wine, but to crave larger Draughts of the Spirit, not to fill the air with [...] to Bac­chus, (as the manner was) but with Hallelujahs unto God. Drunk they might be, so it were with the Holy Ghost: And chaunt they might, so it were Psalms and Thanksgivings to the [Page 26]Lord.Psal. 36.8. Inebriabuntur ubertate, &c. Vulg. They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thine house (saith the Psalmist) and thou shalt make them to drink of the River of thy pleasure. Even a heathen could say,Pramium vir­tutis esse perpe­tuam ebrteta­tem. That the re­ward of virtue is a perpetual drunken­ness. But then we must distinguish of drunkenness as Ficinius doth, who hath well noted, That there is one Earthly and Mundane,v. Argumentum dialogi 2. de Justo. when the soul drinks of Lethe's Cup, and is beside her self, and unmindfull of all divine things. This is it the Apostle speaks against, in the beginning of those verses, as a hea­thenish crime. But there is another coelestial drunkenness, when the soul tasts of Heavenly Nectar, and is indeed out of it self, because above it self: When it forgets these mortal things, and is elevated to those which are di­vine, feeling it self by a supernatural heat to be changed from its former ha­bit and state. This is it which the Apostle exhorts unto; this is it which we must long for when we are at the Supper of the Lord. This is that which the Spouse means (according to some ancient Expositors) when she saith, He hath brought me into his ban­quetting-house [Page 27](or Wine-Cellars) and his banner (or coveringFor they feasted upon beds. Cant. 2.4.) over me was Love. The Septuagint make it a prayer, and render it thus: Bring me into his wine-cellar, place love in order over me. Which may be conceived (saith one) as the voice of the Church to the Apostles or Ministers,Polychronius. Prepare for me the Supper of the Lord, [...]. set me down orderly at the [...], the feast of love. There is nothing that holy souls can more desire, then to be so satisfied with him, that their mouthes may praise him with joyfull lips. This is the fruit of the spiritual inebriation, that the soul meditate spiritual songs and hymns to God. And indeed the better sort of Heathens did in their feasts sing the praises of famous men; which good Criticks make the true original of the word Encomium. [...]. And so the Apostle exhorts the Christians, that they would break forth into their praises of God and Christ, who were most worthy of all their hymns.

Before I end this, let me observe, That every one may sing such Hymns as the Apostle calls for, and indite them in his own heart unto God, be­cause [Page 28]a Hymn is not (as we ordinarily think) onely praise in verse and metre, but any words of Thanksgiving that set forth the merits of him that we ex­toll. So a Heathen will teach us, if we be still to learn it. When a man (saith Libanius) hath any gift given him by God, [...] 32. [...]. he should by way of thankful­ness return something unto God: and some give one thing, some another: The Shepherd offers a Pipe, the Huntsman a Stags head, the Poet a Hymn in metre, the Orator a Hymn without metre; and in my judgment (saith he) a Hymn is more valuable with God then Gold, and far to be preferr'd before it.

Now Love will make any one elo­quent; if our hearts be full of God, they will run over. Thanksgiving and Praise is the natural language of a pious heart; and there is no such co­pious subject whereon to spend them as the Lord Christ; and in the know­ledg of Christ, nothing so admirable as his death; and therefore when we com­memorate that, the high praises of God must be in our mouths.

II. The Jewish Feasts upon their Sa­ctifices do more plainly instruct us in [Page 29]this matter. They that offered peace-offerings unto God were admitted to eat some part of them after they were presented to God, and some pieces of them burnt up­on the Altar. And this is called partaking of the Altar (which was God's Table,1 Cor. 10.18. Ezek. 41.22. Mal. 1.7.) where they did rejoyce before him as those that were suffered to eat and drink with him. So I observe, That where there is mention made of their eating before the Lord, (which can sig­nifie nothing else but their partaking of the Altar, and feasting at his table) they are said likewise to rejoyce before him, Deut. 12.7, 18. Deut. 16.11. in the later of which places, after he had given command concerning the three great Feasts, he adds ver. 14. Thou shalt rejoyce in thy feasts. And in the later end of King David's Reign, when So­lomon was crowned, there was sacrifi­ces offered in abundance for all Israel, (as you may read 1 Chron. 29.21, 22.) and the people are said to eat and drink before the Lord on that day with great gladness. But the Psalmists words are most to be observed to this purpose, [Page 30] Psal. 116.12, 13. where to the que­stion, What shall I return to the Lord for all his benefits towards me? he returns this answer, I will take the cup of sal­vation, &c. i. e. when I offer [...], sa­crifices for salvation or deliverance that God hath granted me out of trouble, I will remember the mercy of God with all thankfulness, as I feast upon the remains of that sacrifice. For it was the manner, that the Master of the sacrifice should begin a cup of Thanks­giving to all the guests that he invited, that they might all praise God together for that salvation, in consideration of which he paid these vowes unto him. And in those words the Ancients thought they tasted the cup of salva­tion which we now drink in the Supper of the Lord; expounding them in the anagogical sence to signifie [...],Chrysost. in Psal. 116. the participation of the Chri­stian mysteries. For in them we are to lift up songs of praise to Heaven, as we feast upon the Sacrifice of Christ, and we are to laud his Name who hath done such great things for us, and raised up a horn of salvation to his peo­ple. But

III. In the Paschal supper, when they eat the Lamb in memory of the sal­vation out of Egypt, these festival joys and thanksgivings are more ea­sie to be observed. At which time that 116 Psalm was one of those that used to be sung. For the Masters of the Jewish learning tell us, that besides their forms of blessing and thanksgiv­ing, when they took the bread and wine (which I need not recite) they like­wise sung a Hymn, beginning at the 113, and reaching to the end of the 118 Psalm. The former part of it (to the end of the 114,) was recited when they sat down to eat; and when the fourth and last cup went about, then they sung the later part, which con­cluded the solemnity. This Hymn was called [...] the Aegyptian Hymn,V. Buxtorf. in voc. [...] as Abarbanel relates, in me­mory of the great deliverance that God vouchsafed them, when he flew the first-born of Egypt, and brought them out of the house of bondage, that they might for ever serve him, and offer sacrifices unto him. And it may be noted, that the beginning of that Hymn, doth so clearly referre to [Page 32]that deliverance, and the later end of it so manifestly refer to Christ (who was in the Passeover represented) that there could not be one more fit­ly chosen for that commemoration. Which likewise may teach us (if we had no other light to guide us in the bu­siness) that our Lord is to be remem­bred with such Hymns and Praises.

It is likely the Heathens took their custom of drinking Cups of Praises to their gods after their Feasts,See the Schol. upon Aristoph. in Plut. & F­quit. but espe­cially in Iren. p. 642. [...]. from this Jewish Original. The first of which they drunk as soon as they had supped, and called it the Cup [...], of their Good Genius. The last which they drunk for a parting-cup, they cal­led [...], the Cup of Jupiter the Saviour: And in them they gave praise to their Tutelar Angel, and the greatest of their Gods, their prime Conservator. For that this drinking was a kind of Sacrifice of Praise, and joined with Hymns, Xenophon will teach us, who thus speaks; When the Tables were taken away, In Sympos. [...]. they offered a drink-offering, and sung a song of praise, and so departed. The Cup of Devils or Daemons which the Apostle [Page 33]forbids the Corinthians (1 Cor. 10.21.) are by some taken to be these,Delrio in Isa. 65.11. which I have mentioned, wherewith they concluded their feasts, after they had sacrificed unto them. It may well be so, and thus much we learn from them (who did but corrupt many good notions of Religion) that it was an an­cient practice in the world, to offer praises to God as the last and best of their sacrifices. And that this cup which our Saviour filled to his Disciples, was truly such a cup of salvation, you may see by his own practice. For,

IV. Our Saviour, in imitation of the Jewish solemnities, did institute this Supper of his with such joys as I am speaking of. For first he did [...],Matt. 26 1 Cor. [...] give thanks, or [...], bless and praise God. Which was not, because they were then going to supper, for St. Matthew saith distinctly, ver. 16. that as they were eating he took bread and blessed; and the cup he took after supper) but with a particular respect to this business, that he might reach us what the Minister should do, and all the people joyning together with him And Paulus Fagius thinks it not un­likely [Page 34]that our Saviour used some part of the form of benediction that is still in the Hebrew books,In Targ. Deut. 8. Verisimile es [...]Christum qui busdam, quae in his precibus continentur, maxime quod principium & fiaem attin [...]t, usum susse, non autem a­liis, quae a po­sierioribus Ju­daeis adaita sunt. blessing God after that manner that then was in use among the people of God, to which the latter Jews have made some addi­tions.

Secondly, They sung a Hymn be­fore they departed, which Paulus Bur­gensis imagines to have been no other than that Egyptian Hymn which I men­tioned before (called by some the great Hallet.) because his Disciples were best acquainted with it. And thus much seems to me confiderable, that there is not only much of Christ in that Hymn (as was noted before) but likewise that the whole multitude of Disciples not many days before, when they brought the Lamb of God which was to be offered at the Passeover into Jerusalem, did rejoyce and sing Praises to God, with a part or it; as may be discerned, if you compare Psal. 118.25, 26. with Mat. 21.9. and Luk. 19.37, 38.

The Paschal Lamb was to be taken up from the flock four days before the time of its offering,Exod. 12.3, 6. in conformity [Page 35]to which (it is like) our Saviour was solemnly now taken and brought to Jerusalem, just so many days before he was to be offered (compare Mat. 21, 17, 18. and Mat. 26.1.) and as the Hosanna which they sung at his prepa­ration to his sacrifice, was taken (as you have seen) out of that Hymn, so it is probable they used no other when he was represented to them as slain and eaten by them. It will not be out of our way for to observe further, that this Psalm was so remarkable, that the next day after these Hosanna's (when he saw they wrought nothing upon the Pharisees) he reades them their doom out of it, and declares to them his exaltation though they might kill him, Mat. 21.42. The stone which the builders refused, the same is become the head of the corner. This is the Lords doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes. But whatsoever become of this conje­cture, and supposing the Hymn to be unknown; our Lord, no question, taught us by this practice, what we should do when we celebrate his me­mory. And accordingly you shall find in the Scripture.

V. That the Disciples did eat this bread [...], with a glad­ness and leaping of their heart for joy; [...],Act. 2.46, 47. praising and lauding God, extolling of his Name with Hymns for all his benefits.1 Cor. 10.16. [...] [...] loc. Therefore the Apostle Paul calls it the cup of blessing, because (saith Chrysost.) when it is in our hands, we laud the Name of God with songs of praise, wondring and being astonished at this unspeakable gift: or as Justin Martyr doth ex­press it, because the Minister taking the cup, gave thanks, and blessed God, as our Saviour did, and all the people said Amen, making a solemn [...], or acclamation, and testifying thereby their hearts to be in that thanksgiving. But I need not have recourse to him; the Apostle himself in the same Epistle acquaints us with it when he saith,1 Cor. 14. v. 16, 17. When thou shalt bl-ss [...], &c. with the spirit (i. e. in an unknown tongue) how shall he that is unlearned say Amen at thy gi­ving of thanks, [...]. seeing he knows not what thou sayest? From these words [...], shalt bless, and gi­ving thanks: Beza thinks that he touches upon the Lords Supper,So the L. Mr. Thorndike also. for they are [Page 37]the very same words which are used concerning that action of our Saviour when he first celebrated this feast; as you may see Mat. 26.26, 27. And be­sides the Apostle seems in that Chapter to direct the Corinthians how to han­dle the whole divine service so, that it might be to edification. Now having spoken concerning Prayer and singing of Psalms, ver. 14.15. and instructing them afterward concerning teaching and interpreting of Scripture, ver. 19, 26. in all likelihood he here tells them how to behave themselves to the same profiting of others in the Supper of the Lord, at which there were many rude­nesses committed by the people. And that which he teacheth them,So Juct [...]n. [...]. is to give thanks in a known tongue, that so all the people when the Minister comes to [...], for ever and ever (as Chrysostome speaks) might assent with their wishes and say Amen From whence we may collect, that gi­ving of thanks is so considerable a part of this service, that in the Apostles stile it involves the whole of it.

VI. It may further be observed, that all Churches in the world have always [Page 38]used divine praises in this commemora­tion; and, (if we may believe an­cient Records) such as are very con­formable to the Jewish benedictions at the Passeover, [...], &c. Bles­sed art thou, O Lord, our God, the King of the world, who hast produced bread out of the earth: and blessed art thou, &c. who hast created the fruit- of the vine. And afterward, Let us bless him w [...]o hath fed us with his own, and by whose goodness we live, &c. For so we reade in Justin Martyr and others,Apolog 2. & Constit. Apost. that in their times the Church used to praise God for all things, and particularly for those gifts of bread and wine, and so for Jesus Christ, his Death, Pas­sion, Resurrection and Ascension; be­seeching the Father of the whole world to accept of the offering they made to him. And in after ages, Cyril of Hierusalem saith [...], &c. We make mention of the Heaven, the Earth, the Sea, and all the Creatures, reasonable and unreasonable; of the Angels, Archangels, and powers of Hea­ven, praising God, and saying, Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of Sabbath, &c. These do very much correspond with those [Page 39]Hebrew formes, which perhaps they were willing in part to imitate, for the greater satisfaction of the Jewish Chri­stians, who constituted part of their assemblies: One thing more seems to be very clear, that from the Hallel of the Jews it was, that some ancient Chri­stians used in the 50 days after Easter, to sing and ingemminate Hallelujahs in their assemblies,ut autem Hal [...]iujah per illos solos quinqua [...] ginta dies in Ecclesia cante­tur, non us­qucquaque ob­servatur, &c. Epist. 120. as a remembrance of that great Hymn which the Prince of the Church and his Apostles sung after this supper. This St. Aug. takes notice of, but saith, that in his days those Hallelujahs used to be sung at other times also.

From all which we may discern a farther reason why they called this Sacrament by the name of a Sacrifice;Ia isto aut [...]m sacrificio, gra­tiarum [...]ctio & commemo [...]atio est carnis Chri­sti quam pro [...] obtulit. Fu [...]g. de side. 1 Pet. 2.5. because they did offer unto God thanks­giving as the Psalmist speaks, Psal. 50. [...]4.) which is one of the spiritual sacrifices which every Christian is con­secrated to bring unto him. It is con­fessedly true, that there never was any festival instituted by any people of the world, but one part of it was a reverend acknowledgment of God, and a thanksgiving to him for his benefits. [Page 40]And there never was any solemn feast either among Jews, Persians, Greeks, Aegyptians or Romans, without some sacrifice to their Gods. Christians therefore are not without their sacri­fice also, when they keep this feast, and such an one as is very befitting God; and which no rational man can deny to deserve the name.L. 2. [...]. For Por­phyry disputing against the eating or sacrificing of beasts unto God, denies that thereupon any ill consequence could be grounded, as if he denied all sacrifices to him. No saith he, [...], we likewise sacrifice as well as others, [...], only we will sacrifice according as is most meet. And there he assigns to every Deity its proper homage and acknow­ledgment belonging to it; saying, that to the great God who is [...], He above all, we sacrifice nothing but pure thoughts, and speak not so much as a word of him. But to those that are the off-spring of God, the coelestial inhabitants, [...], we give Hymns and praises, which are the conceptions and expresses of our mind; and so he proceeds to the more [Page 41]petty tributes paid to lesser Gods. Ac­cording then to this Heathen Divine, the praises of God may well pass for the most proper sacrifice; and he makes account that there is none better but onely silent adorations. A soul breath­ing forth it self out of an ardent affe­ction in holy Hymns, is more accepta­ble to God then the richest gumms, or the sweetest wood that can fume upon his Altars. But a whole soul full of pure thoughts, too great to come out of the mouth, and more clear then to be embodied in words, is transcendent to all oblations.

But yet I would not be so mistaken, as if I thought the Christian thanksgi­ving consisted only in inward thoughts, and outward words; For there are Eu­charistical actions also whereby we per­form a most delightsome sacrifice unto God.

We must not when we come to God, appear before him empty; but we are to consecrate and offer unto him some of our temporal goods for the relief of those that are in want, which may cause many thanksgivings to be sent up by them to God.2 Cor. 9.11, 12. It hath [Page 42]been said before, that our whole selves ought to be offered as an holocaust to God, and our love should be so great, as to spend our souls and bodies in his service; now in token that we mean so to do, we must give something that is ours unto him for to be imployed to his uses. We are to give God an earnest of our sincere and intire devo­tion to him, by parting with some­thing that we call ours, and transferring it to him. Of this the Apostle speaks, Heb. 13.15, 16. where the serious Reader (that can stay so long as to per­use those Scriptures which I cite) will find both praise, and likewise commu­nication of our goods to others, to be called sacrifices. So that the spiritual sacrifice of our selves, and the corpo­ral sacrifice of our goods to him, may teach the Papists that we are sacrificers as well as they, and are made Kings and Priests unto God. Yea they may know, that the bread and wine of the Eucharist, is an offering (out of the stock of the whole Congregation) to this service, according as it was in the Primitive times,Apolog. 2. when (as Justin saith) they offered bread and wine to [Page 43]the [...] chief Minister of the bre­thren, who took it, and gave praise and glory to the Lord of the whole world, and then made [...]) a large and prolix thanksgiving to him that had made them worthy of such gifts. We have [...], (as Origen his phrase is) a rational and unsmoaky sacrifice, we offer our selves, and our prayers, and our praises, and our goods; so that if you please, we may call the table of the Lord [...] (in Theodoret's stile) a rational table, where as God provides, for us, so we provide for him in those that are his members, and offer upon it those sacrifices which are most befitting either him or rational creatures. And that you may see we are engaged to this kind of offering; it is to be ob­served, that the eating of the Lamb was not all the solemnity of the Passe­over, but they sacrificed likewise of­ferings of thanksgivings in abundance, that there might be provision for the poor. You may understand this and a difficult place of Scripture both to­gether. It is said (according to our translation) in Dent. 16.2. Thou shalt [Page 44]sacrifice the Passeover unto the Lord thy God, of the flock and the herd (or sheep and Oxen) in the place which he shall chuse, &c. It is well known, that the sacrifice of the Passeover was to be a Lamb (Exod. 12.5.) taken from the sheep or goats, and might not be of any other kind. Therefore by [...] Oxen, or of the herd, in this place, Aben Ezra, and others, understand the Eucharisti­call sacrifices, which we find 2 Chron. 35.7, 9. were offered in great abun­dance. Or as Abarbanel will have it, Moses speaks briefly of the Passeover (as having sufficiently told them the manner of it before) so that we are to understand [...] to be wanting before [...] (i. e. and to be wanting before of the flock) and thus we read them: Thou shalt sacrifice the Passeover to the Lord, and sheep and oxen: whichsoever way we take them, they tell us thus much, that they were other sacrifices to ac­company the Lamb. For the Jews were bound at the three solemn feasts, to be very liberal and bountifull, and offer according to their abilities, that so the Levites and strangers, the Fa­therless and Widow might feast and [Page 45]rejoyce together with them, as you may see, ver. 10, 11, 16, 17.

Now Christ at this feast having no­thing else to offer besides the Lamb; he did offer himself, which was more then if the cattel upon a thousand hills had been burnt unto God, or all the world had been laid on its funeral pile. In this he dealt the greatest charity to the world, and by his poverty made us rich. So that we are the more ingaged, not onely by their example, but by his, to offer up something unto God beside praises, that may supply the wants of those who may justly look to be re­freshed by us.

To conclude then this Chapter; We must remember always when we ap­proach to the Table of the Lord, that we are to bring hearts full of thankful­ness, and mouths full of praises, and hands full of Almes; and that we may bring all these, we must bring our selves to be offered to him. Our hearts must flame with love, our minds must reek with holy thoughts, our mouthes must breathe forth praises like clouds of incense, and our hands must not be lifted up with nothing in them; but [Page 46]we must pay such acknowledgements unto God, that may really testifie that we and all ours are his. We are to think that we come solemnly to bless the Lord for all his mercies, and espe­cially this great and rich one, that he hath given his Son to die for us, and that he hath purchased forgiveness, re­pentance, grace and salvation by his death on such desireable terms; and we must think likewise, that blessing of him includes in it self such good works as will provoke others for to bless him.

If you would briefly understand therefore what the meaning of this ho­ly Rite is, remember, that it is a Comme­moration of Christ and his death, with hearty thanksgivings for all the benefits we receive thereby.

CHAP. III.

THere will be no such cause of joy as the former discourse hath spoken of, if we be not faithful unto God and his Son Christ. And therefore we must further consider this action, [Page 47] as a Rite whereby we enter iuto Covenant with him. This is included in our ta­king the bread and wine, as well as in our eating and drinking of them; and was expressed before, when I said, we must offer our selves to God as, the greatest act of our thanksgiving. That offering of our selves is such a thing; that it puts us out of our own power; and besides, we enter here into strict ingagements never to resume or draw back our selves again, never to chal­lenge any right to have our selves in our own disposal. We make a so­lemn agreement with the Lord Jesus, that he shall dwell in us, and possess himself of all our faculties, as the sole Lord and governour of our souls. Though this have been done once al­ready when we were baptized, so that we cannot reverse the deed, nor can­cel the bond that is between us, yet seeing the matter of the Covenant is alway to be performed, and more than one world depends upon it; God thinks fit to take new security of us, and strengthen our obligations, left we think of letting the debt run on un­paid one day after another, till we be [Page 48]quite bankrupts, and have nothing left whereby to discharge it.

We are also apt to think, that we stand indebted unto God in no great sum; and that though we should spend prodigally till the latter part of our life, yet we should have enough to pay him, and give him very good con­tent. Therefore it is but necessary that we should often be remembred of our huge engagements, presently to perform our word to him: and when we begin again to fail, and not to keep our credit with him, it is no less neces­sary that he should call again upon us, and have us enter into more solemn bonds of a stricter performance.

And truly these that know what it is to enjoy God, long for no better entertainment from him when they come to his house and table, then that they may be tied faster to him with new cords of his love, and that it may be made more impossible for them to unloose themselves from his service. What is there more in the desire of a holy soul, then to cease to be its own? what greater pleasure doth it feel, then in parting with it self? To what would [Page 49]it be more engaged, then to the pleas­ing of him whom it heartily loves? Let me be bound hand and foot (saith such a soul) that I may never stirre from him. Let me seal to him a thou­sand Deeds to convey my self unto him. If he would have me sign the Covenant with my Blood, every vein in my body shall leap to do him that honour. But rather let him come and seat himself in my heart, and let him take my dearest life-blood, if it will do him any service. I accept of a suffer­ing-Saviour: I take him as he is, all broken and bloody. If he will have me follow him with a Cross upon my shoulder, I refuse no conditions; behold O Lord thy servant, do with me as seems good in thy sight.

Thus we are to address our selves to this Feast, as will be better under­stood if we consider these five things:

I. If we look upon this action onely under the general notion of a holy rite which God hath appointed as an act of his Worship; yet the very using of it is an acknowledgment of him and his Religion, and an engagement of our selves unto him as our God. He that [Page 50]was circumcised, was bound to observe the whole Law; and so was he that offered sacrifice to the God of Israel at his Altar, engaged to own him that had appointed that Worship. Just so the performing but of one thing which God hath appointed as a ceremony in the Religion of Christ, doth tie us to observe the whole Religion which he requires, who did appoint that Rite. And you may likewise observe, That there being a mutual action in this Sa­crament, of Gods giving something, and our taking, it doth express, that we are fast bound in that Covenant, of which this action is a part. So the giving and taking but of so small a thing as a straw, doth bind persons firmly to that thing whereof they are agreed, and which they conclude in that manner. Stipulation (one of the strong­est words which we have to signifie the confirmation of a Bargain by) was an­ciently made by no stronger thing, as the very word doth import, which car­ries a straw in its name. And so any other thing in the World may be used to the same purpose. The giving and taking of six-pence to strike up a con­tract, [Page 51]doth lay as fast hold of a man, as ten thousand pound in hand. Much more then, this solemn giving and take­ing of Bread and Wine, being a piece of Christ's Religion, and he so repre­sented by them, doth bind us as fast to him, as if we should repeat every word that he hath said, and profess our consent unto it. We are supposed to know the tearms of that Writing that Christ hath left us, containing our duty and his promises; and it is presumed we are willing to enjoy those promises, and so to perform those duties; this Action then doth but more solemnly conclude the agreement, and we here­by stand engaged as strongly as if Co­venants had been drawn between us, and our hand and seal were affixed to them.

II. But then if we consider this Action as a coming to Gods Table, and partaking of his meat, we shall presently discern that thereby we pro­sess our selves of his Family, and de­clare to all that we are his Followers and Retainers, and that we own the Re­ligion of the crucified Jesus. I confess that coming to Christian Assemblies in [Page 52]the first times, was an owning of Christ, because it was very dangerous; but this Action which was in those Assemblies performed, was a more ex­press profession of their belief in him, and friendship with him. For the great stumbling-block of the Jews was the Cross of Christ; and it was foolish­ness to the Gentiles. To declare therefore this death and Cross of his, to eat of his dead body, and drink of his blood, was as much as to say, I be­lieve in this suffering-Saviour, I am a Christian, and will live and dye in this Religion. A stranger may come unto a mans house, but the friends onely are they that sit with him at his board; and he that is not true to him of whose bread he eats, is the worst and basest of all Enemies. The Psalmist could put no worse character upon an enemy then this,Psal. 41.9. That he who put forth his hand to eat of his bread, had lifted up his heel against him. By coming then to Gods Table, we profess our selves his familiar friends, in whom he reposes a trust; and we can put no greater scorn upon him, then by being false to him that doth admit us to such [Page 53]a nearness. You may observe there­fore in Scripture these two things: First, That eating of bread together, is spoken of as a token of friendship and agreement, as these two places among others will satisfie you; Job 42.11, Jer. 41.1. Bread is never wanting at any Feast; and so they expressed by it a friendly entertainment. Whence Py­thagoras gave this Lesson to his Scho­lars, [...]. Do not break bread, i. e. ne dirimas amici iam, ne­ver break friendship, but let it remain inviolable. And so likewise Salt be­ing never absent from any Meal, and placed upon the Table, it hath been used as a symbol of friendship; and to have eaten Salt with a man, at this day, is proverbially as much as to be well acquainted with him: which was a word as usual in ancient times among other people; [...]. Aristot. l. 8. Ethic. cap. 3. according to that speech of Aristotle; We cannot know one ano­ther, till, according to the Proverb, we have eaten a quantity of Salt together. The TurksKnolles in the life of Mah [...]met 1. at this day joyn both together; and to say, I have eaten Bread and Salt with sueh an one, is an expression of having good acquain­tance [Page 54]with him. All which I but briefly touch upon, to make it more sensible to us, that this participation of Gods bread, is a token that we are of his acquaintance, and we do tell the World hereby, That we profess all love and friendship to him.

The second thing I would have no­ted, is, That Covenants (in Scripture story) are made by eating and drink­ing together: For which I need pro­duce no other places but those in Gen. 26.30. Gen. 31.44, 46. where Isaac and Abimelech, Jacob and Laban con­clude their Compacts with a Feast. But you may add (if you please) that in Josh. 9.14. where it is said, the people took of the victuals of the Gibeonites, and asked not counsel at the mouth of the Lord; i. e. They made a Cove­nant with them before they consulted with the holy Oracle, whether they were what they pretended to be; for so some good Interpreters both Jewish and Christian, expound the words, be­cause else we cannot understand why it should be a crime to tast whether their bread was so dry as they said (as others think the meaning is) without [Page 55]going to enquire of God the lawful­ness of such a fact. It is very likely also, that from this original that phrase is derived, of a Covenant of Salt, Numb. 18.19. 2 Chron. 13.5. which in Scripture-stile signifies an everla­sting and unalterable Settlement; be­cause such Leagues which are made with the profession of the greatest friendship (as if men were cohabitants and familiars) ought to be held most sacred, and religiously observed. Now this Bread and Wine in the Sacrament is Gods, both as it is offered by us unto him, and as it is consecrated to represent his Son Christ unto us; and therefore we by partaking of it, do solemnly engage our selves unto, and promise our fidelity in his service, as those that are his domesticks, and de­sire always to remain in his familiarity. But suppose any person should give us his very blood to drink, that we might the more firmly be obliged to him; what could there be devised more strong to tie our hearts together? So the conspirators with Cataline did com­bine and joyn themselves together by drinking of their own blood, that they might be bound in a Covenant exceed­ing [Page 56]the strength of all others which are made by eating of common food. And so doth Christ take us into his society, and bind us to him, by giving us the representations of his own flesh and blood to eat and drink, that so we might never think of departing from him who hath admitted us to that Food, which is as much beyond all o­thers in its obligatory vertue, as it is in its own proper worth and excel­lency.

And that you may see it more fully verified, that this eating and drinking is a foederal rite between God and us, let it be considered.

III. As a Feast upon a Sacrifice (in which notion it is most rarely ex­plained by an excellent Doctor of our own) from which it will evidently ap­pear to be intended as a solemn profes­sion of Christs Religion,D. Cudworth. and a renewal of our Covenant with God.

For the understanding of this, you must know, That Jerusalem being the Holy City in Gods Land, Matt. 4.5. Psal. 85 1. 1 King. 6.1. Psal, 135.1, 2. and the Temple being the house of God, where he dwelt; and the Priests Gods Ser­vants, and the Altar his Table (as was [Page 57]said before) there was a constant pro­vision brought in for the keeping of Gods house, and maintaining of his ser­vants. And beside those of the morn­ing and evening, there were a great number of occasional Sacrifices (which were his flesh) together with their meat and drink-offerings (which were his Bread and Wine) that came in to be his Food, as the expression is, Levit. 3.11. These common Sacrifices were of three sorts: The first were Holo­causts or Burnt-offerings, so called be­cause they were consumed wholly up­on Gods Altar by his fire,Lev. 1.9, 13 (which at first came from Heaven, and was ne­ver to goe out) none eating of them but himself. The second we may call expiatory, because they were to make atonement, and reconcile; which were of two sorts, Sinne-offerings, and Trespass-offerings: These the Priests did eat of (if they were not such whose blood was carried within the holy place) as you may read in Levit. 7.7, 9. Numb. 18.9, 10. For they be­ing Gods servants, were to be main­tained and kept in his Family, and beside hereby did take the mans guilt [Page 58](as it were) and carry it away:Lev. 6.25, 26. But none else were permitted to eat of it, being supposed to be in a state of guilt, and not fit to have familiarity with God. The third sort were Peace-offerings, which were made to God for some benefits received (which go among the Hebrews under the name of Peace) to testifie their gratitude unto him. The fat of these offerings being burnt upon the Altar to God, (Lev. 3.3, 4.) and one breast with a shoulder being given to the Priest, for his portion, (Lev. 7.34.) the remainds were the owners share, that he might eat of Gods meat, and so feast with him (if he was not in any Legal un­cleanness) as you may see Lev. 7.20.

The Examples of such sacrifices are numerous in the Scripture, not here to be amassed together, and wrapt up in these sheets. It may suffice to note two places which lie close together: They were sacrifices of this sort that Elkanah offered when he went yearly unto Shiloh, 1 Sam. 1.4, 5. giving portions (viz. of the sacrifice) to his whole Family that went with him, but to Hannah a dou­ble portion.

Those offerings likewise which the sons of Eli made men to abhor, were of the same kind, 1 Sam. 2.17. and their sin consisted in these two enormities: First, That they were not content with that portion which was assigned them by Law (viz. the breast and shoulder) but they took what, and as much as they list (ver. 13.) And se­condly, That they took their portion before God had his, i. e. before the fat was burnt upon the Altar (ver. 15, 16.) a rudeness which the Gentiles would not have been guilty of, except some belly-gods and Atheistical glut­tons. For when they would set forth the intemperance of such a man, they could say no worse then this, Haut immolata, sacra devorat; he devours the sacrifices before they be offered to God. This I mention, because they were not strangers to this kind of sacri­fice (no more than to the rest) but did offer them frequently to their gods. You may take one example out of a multitude, which expresses both this custom of eating part of the sacri­fices, and likewise their forbearance to take any part till God had his. The [Page 60] Egyptians (saith Herodotus) while the Sacrifices were burning, In Euterpe, [...]. did beat and knock themselves; and after they had done so, then they made a feast of the Reliques of the sacrifice. We may learn thus much by the way of these Heathens, That God is to be served be­fore our selves, and there is no true joy but that which arises out of true sorrow.

Now that this eating and drinking was intended as a rite of covenanting with that Deity to whom the Sacrifices were offered, or else as a profession that they were in the Covenant, and did remain Gods Friends (if they were already of the Religion) you may di­scern from these two places, which will lead me to that for which all this is said. When Moses had rehearsed to the people Gods Laws (Exod. cap. 20, 21, 22, 23.) which he gave on Mount Sinai, and then came to strike the Covenant between God and Israel, it is said, Exod. 24.5. that Moses sent young men (i. e. some of the first-born who were the Priests hitherto) to offer Burnt-offerings and Peace-offerings of Oxen, and half of the Blood he sprinkled on the Altar, which repre­sented [Page 61]God, and the other half he sprinkled on the people, (ver. 6, 7, 8.) as a token of the Covenant between them: But for compleating of the Compact, the chief of the people went up nearer to God, and saw that bright appearance, and did eat and drink, ver. 11. which sure must be understood of their feasting upon the Peace-offerings which had been sacrificed unto God, whereby they professed to own that Covenant he had given to them.

Not long after, this people made to themselves other gods, and offered not onely burnt-offerings, but also peace-offerings to them, Exod. 32.6. and then sate down to eat and driuk, and rose up to play, i. e. to be wanton, and commit uncleanness with each other. Now that this was an associating of themselves with the Egyptian gods, we may learn from the Apostle, who reciting of this passage, and speaking of their Idolatry, makes no mention at all of their sacrificing to these new gods, but onely of this eating, &c. which did conclude the Ceremony, as if the Idolatry did formally consist in this, and that hereby they did devote [Page 62]themselves to that strange Worship. Neither be you Idolators, (saith he, 1 Cor. 10.8.) as were some of them, as it is written, the people sate down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play. By which words you may see the Apostle makes account, that this eating and drinking of the sacrifices, was a renouncing of the Covenant of their God, and joyn­ing of themselves to idols. Now because it was the manner (as it seems) of some of the Corinthians, still to feast in the Idols Temples, and per­haps in the Temple of Venus, famous in that City, which makes the Apo­stle add those words, ver. 8. Neither commit fornication, as some, &c. He tells them that this was a plain forsa­king of Christ, and utterly incompa­tible with his Profession. For the vouching of which assertion, he re­minds them what the Sacrament of the Supper of the Lord doth import, viz. a [...], participation or com­munion of the Body and Blood of Christ, ver. 16, 17. which is as much as to say, it is a profession that we as one body, partaking of one bread, do hold communion with Christ, and adhere [Page 63]unto him as our Lord and Head, and that to his Worship and Service we do consecrate our selves. For just as Israel by eating of the sacrifices par­take of (or have communion with) the Altar, ver. 18. i. e. profess to be of that Religion, and adhere to that way of Worship. So it is with Chri­stians, when they eat of the Body and Blood of the crucified Saviour which was offered for us. And therefore by a likeness of Reason he concludes, That to partake of the Table of De­vils, and eat of things sacrificed to them, was to profess to have commu­nion with those impure spirits, and thereby to desecrate themselves; it being impossible for them at once to be devoted to things so quite contrary as Christ and the Devil, ver. 20, 21.

From all which discourse we may thus reason, That this holy Sacrament is a Feast upon the Sacrifice which Christ offered, as the Jewish Feasts were made with the flesh of those sacrifices which they offered to God. For the Apostle makes the Communion of the Body and Blood of Christ, ver. 16. par­rallel to eating of the sacrifices, ver. 18. [Page 64]And therefore it is a rite whereby we solemnly addict our selves to the ser­vice and Worship of Christ, and take upon our selves strict engagements to be faithfull in that Covenant that is between us; which is the thing that was to be proved. As Israel joined themselves to God by feasting in his house of the Sacrifices; so we joyn our selves to Christ, by feasting in the place of his Worship, and at his Table, upon the remembrances of his body and blood. And our obligations to cleave unto him do as much excel all other tyes in their sacredness, strength and vertue, as the Sacrifice of Christ excels the Sacrifice of a Beast, or the eating and drinking of his Body and Blood, is beyond all participation of the meat of the ancient Altars. Yea it is supposed that we are the friends of God before we come hither, and that we are not in any willing unclean­ness (else we should be shut out from partaking of this offering.) And there­fore our approach to his Table is but more strongly to tye the knot, and to bind us in deeper promises, to continue friendship with him.

If more can be said then this, I may add, that the eating of this sacrifice is a solemn Oath, that we will be true and loyal to him. For even Heathens themselves did use by sacrifice to bind themselves in Oaths. From whence it is that [...] signifies that sacrifice which was slain when they made a co­venant, [...] Hom. and (in regard of its relation to [...]) may be rendred, the Oath-sacrifice. And [...], to cut this sacrifice (in Homers phrase) is to make a Covenant, which it is likely may be taken from the Hebrew cu­stome, mentioned Jer. 34.18. And to swear [...], upon the warm in­trails of the beast, was the greatest Oath that could be made. When we lay our hands therefore upon the body of Christ that was sacrificed for us, (and much more when we eat of it) we do solemnly take our Oaths, that we will be his faithfull foederates, and rather die then shrink from those duties to which we bind our selves.

IV. If there be any that look upon eating and drinking of this bread and wine, onely as symbols of beleeving in Jesus Christ, the matter draws to [Page 66]the same point; for faith is the condi­tion of the Covenant of Grace, and comprehends in its signification all that God requires. So some of the Ancients expound those words, Joh. 6.ver. 54. He that eateth my flesh and, drinketh my blood, hath eternal life, to signifie thus much; He that is made partaker of my wisdom, through my incarna­tion and sensible life among men, shall be saved. For flesh and blood (saith Basil) he calls [...],Epist. 141. ad Caesar. all the mystery of his incarnation and conversation here in the flesh amongst us, together with his doctrine which he hath taught us, [...] &c. by which the soul is nourished and fitted for the sight of coelestial things; and therefore eating and drinking of these must denote em­bracing of all Christ, so as to be con­form to him and to his doctrine. If then we take the body and blood of Christ in this Supper represented to us, to signifie the same, and eating and drinking to be onely believing, yet you may easily see to how much we are engaged if we do really believe.

But it is manifest to me, that eating [Page 67]and drinking here, must comprehend more then it doth in St. John: for else we shall do nothing at the Lords Sup­per, but what we might do at any other time as well. If it be onely beleeving, and meer spiritual eating that here is exercised, then we may feed so with­out this food. And when Christ com­mands so frequently, Do this in remem­brance of me, it would be no more sence then if he had said, Do this, which yet you may do, without doing this.

This eating and drinking therefore must be a profession of our faith; a co­venanting solemnly with God, and a receiving and giving of those pledges of love, which we cannot have any where else.

V. And indeed the old Christians did so sacredly bind themselves hereby to their Saviour, that Heathens were ready to suspect them of dangerous combinations, and such conspiracies as might prove mischievous to the Com­monwealth. From which imputation whilest Pliny doth acquit them,L. 10. Epist. 97. he like­wise instructs us for what end they met together at this feast. They assemble themselves (saith he in a Letter to [Page 68] Trajan the Emperor) before day break, and sing a Hymn to Christ as if he were God, and then they do sacramento se ob­stringere; bind themselves with a Sacra­ment or Oath, not that they will do mischief to any, but that they will not rob or steal, nor commit adultery, nor falsifie their words, nor deny their trust, &c. And then after they have eat together, they depart to their own homes. Of more then this they pro­tested to him he should never find them guilty; and this was the crime of Chri­stians in those first ages, to engage them­selves to commit no crime; which they bound themselves unto by this Sacra­ment of Christs body and blood.

The Greek Christians at this day,Christop. Ange­lus, rit. Eccles. Graec. when they take the bread or cup into their hands, make this profession; Lord I will not give thee a kiss like Ju­das; but I do confess unto thee like the poor thief, and beseech thee to remember me when thy Kingdom comes. If we do touch the body of Christ with trai­torous lips, and embrace him with a false heart, we stain our souls with the guilt of that blood which can one­ly wash them from all their other sins. [Page 69]And therefore we must come unfeign­edly to bewail our neglects; and to settle our former resolutions of strict obedience. It is grown even to a Pro­verb (as Joseph. Accosta relates) a­mong the poor Indians that have en­tertained the faith,De procur. Ind. Sal. L. 6. that Qui euchari­stiam semel susceperit, nullum amplius crimen debet committere: He must ne­ver be guilty more of any crime who hath once received the Eucharist. And if they chance to commit any, they be­wail it with such a sorrow and com­punction, that (he saith) he hath not found such faith no not in Israel. But it would be very sad if we should be sent to school as far as India. There are, I make no doubt, many pious souls among our selves, that look up­on it as a blessed opportunity to knit their hearts in greater love to God, and that are more afflicted for an evil thought after such engagements, then other are for a base and unworthy action.

Whensoever therefore we come to celebrate the memory of Christs death in this manner, we must remember with our selves, that we are assembled [Page 70]for to renew our baptismal vow and league; and in the devoutest manner to addict our selves to a more constant love and service of the Lord Jesus, We must look upon this feast to which we are admitted, as a disclaiming of all enmity to him, and a profession of our continuing a hearty friendship, so as never to do any hostile act against him. And thence indeed it is called a Sacrament (according to Tertullian and others with him) because we here take an Oath to continue Christs faith­full Souldiers, and never to do any thing against his Crown and dignity as long as there remains any breath in our bodies. We do repeat our Oath of Allegiance, and swear fealty again to him, or (as we ordinarily speak) we take the Sacrament upon it, that we will be Christs faithfull servants and Souldiers, against the Devil, World and Flesh, and never flie from his ser­vice.

Every act of sin then after such pro­mises, is not onely treason, but perjury; not onely the breaking of our faith, but of our Oath; yea not onely the viola­tion of a simple Oath, but of Oath [Page 71]upon Oath; which we ought more to dread, then we do to break our bones.

We esteem it an impiety of a high nature, for a Minister to give a cup of poyson into a mans hand instead of the blood of Christ; and we do deserved­ly abhorre that Priest that poysoned Pope Victor the 3d.Venenum sub specie sacramen­ti dedit, vertens calicem vitae in calicem mortis. with the Sacra­ment, and him that poysoned Henry the 7th. Emp. turning (as Nauclerus his phrase is) the cup of life into the cup of death. But whilest our hearts swell in indignation at such a crime, let us consider with our selves, what a treasonable act it is, to poyson our souls with our own hands, and by a base treachery to God, to swallow down curses and woes into our selves. Better were it for us to be choaked with the bread of life, or to feel the venome of Asps boiling in our veins after the holy cup, then to take an Oath which we take small care to keep; then to go on in a course of sin, after such sacred professions of our duty and service unto Christ. We are amazed to hear that men can touch the Gospels before a Magistrate, [Page 72]and kiss the book, or lift up their hand to Heaven, and yet make good never a word that they swear. We are apt to think, that either these men have no souls, or that they do not value them at the price of a rotten nut. O let our very flesh then tremble to think, that we should lay our hand upon the body of Christ, and take it into our very mouths, and solemnly swear un­to him, and yet not be faithfull in his Covenant, nor heartily indeavour to perform our promises unto him. For there is no forsworn person hath such a black soul, as he whose soul is foul­ed even by the blood of Christ him­self, which washes the souls of others. The world cannot but shrink at the thoughts of that fearful act of one of the Popes, who making a League with Caesar and the French King, divided the bread of the Sacrament into three parts, with this saying (scarce tolle­rable) As the holy Trinity is but one God, so let the union indure between us three confederates; and yet he was the first that broke it and started from the agreement. Far be it from us then after this action wherein we joyn our [Page 73]selves to God, and unite our hearts to fear his Name, and become as it were one with him, to rescind our Cove­nants, or stand again at tearms of de­fiance. But let us have a care to ob­serve this Vow far more religiously then we do an Oath to any mortal man, which yet no person of credit and conscience would break for all the world.

CHAP. IV.

TO all those that are thus faithfully in Covenant with him, this Sa­crament is a further sign and seal of re­mission of sin.

For the Law of Covenants doth re­quire, that where one party doth pro­fess friendship, and ingage to fidelity; the other person in the agreement should make assurance of his love, and confirm his promises. And therefore when we come with hearts full of love to renew our friendship with God, we may beleeve that he doth embrace us also with the dearest affection, and gi­veth [Page 74]us greater testimonies that he hath cancelled all the bonds wherein we stood indebted to him: Bonds able to break the whole world, if payment were exacted; Debts which all men and Angels cannot possibly discharge; which yet he is so willing to acquit us of, that he hath appointed this holy action for that end, that we may have more pledges of his love, and more assurance that we are not bound over to eternal punishment. Well may we run into the armes of Christ where we expect to receive such favours. It is no wonder if we be forward to tye our selves fast to God (as I said in the last Chapter) when he binds him­self as fast to us. We need not stand so much upon it to promise even to die for him, when it is but the way to life. We may be glad to lie in the wounds of Christ, when we find a cure there for our sins. A crucified Saviour should be most dear unto us, and we should most joyfully kiss his cross, seeing we hope thereby to have our iniquities crossed out, and stand no longer upon our account.

Methinks all that hear of such a [Page 75]Covenant of Grace should be desirous to enter into it (and so they would if they had not as trifling conceits of the evil of sin, as they have of the worth of their souls:) And all that are in that Covenant should be glad of an op­portunity to reiterate it, that they may have stronger grounds whereon to hope for pardon. And it is to be ac­knowledged to the singular mercy of God, that we can never come to pro­fess any love to him, but he will return back a great deal more to us; and that when we give thanks to him, he will give us more cause to thank him.

Now for the full clearing of this thing, I shall propound but these three considerations:

I. That our Saviour in the institu­tion of this Sacrament, doth tell us, what was a great end of it, when he saith,M [...]th. 26.28. Luk 22.20. This cup is the new Testament in my blood; or this is my blood of the new Testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. In which speech you must note, that the word This, doth stand for the action of giving and receiving, not for that which is given and received in and by it: For the Cup [Page 76]or the Blood cannot be a Testament or Covenant, but the giving and recei­ving of the cup or blood is; and there­fore by This is the new Testament, &c. must be meant, this action is a Cove­nant between you and me, made in the blood of the Lamb for the forgiveness of your sins.

The Doing of this doth necessarily presuppose a Covenant of Grace which God hath made, and which we own in Christs blood; but besides, it doth im­port a profession (both on Gods part, and on ours who do receive) of per­forming and making good that which we are respectively bound unto: so that God doth there tender all that which he promiseth in the Gospel com­we by receiving do bind our selves (as you have seen) to all the Gospel, and mands. Now this is the great thing that God promiseth in his Covenant, I will be mercifull to their unrighteous­ness; and their sins, and their iniquities will I remember no more.

This Action therefore is appointed by him, not onely to be a symbol of his sufferings which did ratifie the Cove­nant of forgiveness, but to be an ex­hibition [Page 77]of himself, for to put us in possession of the great thing purchased by his blood, which was pardon to all penitent sinners.

The blood of the Paschal Lamb (as Chrysostom observes) was shed [...],In Matth. 26. for the saving of the first-born of Israel, but Christs blood (who is our Passeover) was shed for the remission of the sin [...], of the whole world. Now though the shedding of the blood, and sprinkling of it on the door posts, were the cause of the delive­rance; yet their eating of the Lamb was that which did entitle them to it, and gave them a right to that salvation. So though the blood of Jesus shed upon the tree be that which procures the pardon, and be the price of our re­demption; yet that remission is so­lemnly exhibited and given unto us, or (as we speak) applied to our per­sons, by the eating of this bread, and drinking of this cup, which are as ef­fectual as Deed or Instrument for the conveying of this mercy unto us. We may see this well explained to our hands by an ancient Author. The Sa­crament [Page 78](saith Bernard) is a sacred sign or secret,Serm. de Coena. as may be illustrated by a common example. If I give a Ring to a friend, it hath no other significancy, but that I love him: but if I give him a Ring, ad investiendum de haereditate aliqua, thereby to invest him in the right of some inheritance, then it is both a Ring and a sign also. In like manner, though Bread and Wine set before us, do denote nothing more then the kindness of a friend that would refresh us; yet given and ta­ken as a religious rite, and in token of a Covenant, they are turned into an­other thing, and are both Bread and Wine, and likewise the instrument of a conveyance. And this is the change which the Ancients mention of the Bread and Wine into the body and blood of Christ: a change, not in the substance, but in the accidents; not in their nature, but in their use; not in any natural quality, but in their significan­cy, application and divine efficacy. As when the wax is imprinted and made a seal, or silver stamped and made a coin, they remain the same in substance, and yet are changed in re­gard [Page 79]of their use and value also. So it is with the bread and wine when they are offered unto God, and delivered by him again to us, and received as a representation of the Lord Jesus: they continue what they were, if we look onely at their matter; but are changed by Gods appointment into divine things, if we respect the end to which they are applied, which is to make o­ver to us the blessing of the Covenant, viz. remission of sins.

This is all that Theodoret means by his [...] or transmutation, and Cy­ril by his [...], change of one thing into another; and Nyssen by his [...], translation; or Theophylact by his great word [...], transele­mentation. For that this last word doth not amount to a change of one substance into another, we may be clearly satisfied from himself; who as he saith, [...]. the bread is transelementated into Christs body; so likewise affirms, that we are transelementated into Christ. Now as by this later ex­pression, he can intend no more but our mystical incorporation with him, so by the former nothing else is to be [Page 80]understood, but the conversion of the bread to no other use, so that in effect it is made the body of Christ.

In short; he that hath the picture of a King in his Chamber, hath but a bare sign which may make him think of him, and no more: but he that hath the Kings great Seal, which confirms him in the possession of all the land he injoyes, hath his picture and some­thing else that comes along with it, which instates him in a real good. And though the wax affixed to the writing be the same for substance with that which is in a mans shop, yet for vertue (as it is made use of) it is much diffe­rent, and far better then all the wax that a whole County can afford. Even so it is in this case before us; Bread bro­ken and Wine poured out, are but bare signs of Christs sufferings, if we consi­der them nakedly in themselves: but if we look on them as a foederal rite, and as they are given to us, and eaten and drunken by us in remembrance of the death of Christ, so they are seals and further confirmations of Gods great love towards us. And though they are still the same for substance, [Page 81]with the most common Bread and Wine which we use at our Meals; yet in regard of the use to which now they are converted, they become Sacred and of great vertue to convey unto us the things expressed in the Covenant, which are of more worth then all the World.

II. It is further manifest that we are hereby confirmed in the state of par­don and forgiveness, because we do here put forth the most solemn act of Charity and Forgiveness to all our ene­mies. For it is a Feast of Love (as you shall see afterwards) and this is the ve­ry condition upon which our forgive­ness depends, that we forgive others;Matt. 6.14, 15. and therefore when we here pray for all men, and put away all enmity out of our hearts, never to return any more, God is engaged to express him­self to us as a friend, and to let fall all differences that have been between him and us. I know that we are ne­ver to harbour any hatred in our hearts, and that we cannot pray suc­cessfully at any time, unless we lift up pure hands without wrath; and I like­wise wish the Doctrines of Love were [Page 82]most frequently and severely pressed and practised; but yet there is no time when we do more narrowly search our selves to find out the reliques of that sowre leaven, and when we are more powerfully moved to extinguish even the least spark or seeds of fire that are in our souls, then when we consider Christs death, and remember how he prayed for his Enemies upon the Cross. And therefore I conceive, that upon this account, the Sacrament of Christs Body and Blood, may be a means of assuring our pardon, and strengthning of our title to Forgiveness. But not­withstanding I consider with my self, that this duty of pardoning others, is not so peculiar to this Sacrament, but that it may, and must be done (as I said) at all other times; and for that cause I shall pass it by, and proceed to that which I would have most of all observed, for the understanding of this part of my Discourse, and that is this:

III. This eating and drinking is a feast upon a sin-offering, and therefore is a greater pledg of remission of sin. That you may conceive of this aright, [Page 83]it must be remembred, That though the people of Israel used to feast upon their peace-offerings which were made at the Altar (as hath been said alrea­dy) yet they were not admitted to eat of any else. The whole Burnt-offerings indeed had Peace-offerings at­tending alway upon them; and so they did partake of the Altar, when they were offered, by eating of the latter; but of the former none tasted but God himself. The Offerings for sinne (as you have seen) were the portion of the Priests, and the people were ex­cluded from them, unless you will say that they eat by them as their substi­tutes and mediators: But now you must further note, That though the Priests were to eat of the sin-offering for particular persons; yet of the sa­crifice made for the sinne of the whole Congregation, whose blood was car­ried into the holy place; the Priests themselves might not eat (and so con­sequently nor the people by them) but they were to burn its flesh without the Camp. And whether it were up­on the day of general atonement, (Lev. 16.27.) or at any other time when [Page 84]the whole Congregation had commit­ted a sin through ignorance (Lev. 4.13.21. Lev. 6.30.) that an offering was to be made for them; they were not permitted to have the least share of it. Now Christ made his soul an of­fering for sinne,Isa. 53.10. and such an offering, that with his blood he entred into the holy place, and suffered without the Camp, and therefore was most illustri­ously set forth by that sacrifice, which was for the whole Congregation. Ac­cording then to the Law, none was to feed upon the Sacrifice; and yet our Lord hath indulged unto us the privi­ledg of feasting upon this great Sacri­fice of Propitiation; according as the very words of the Institution of this Sacrament do intimate, when our Sa­viour saith,Mark 14.24. This is the blood of the New Testament which is shed for many, i. e. which is like to the Sacrifice on the great Day of Atonement, which was not made for one person, but for the whole Congregation; and of this I give you leave to drink. This was a favour never granted to the World be­fore; and besides what the Law of Moses speaks, it is remarkable what [Page 85]is delivered by Porphyry, as the sence of all the Heathen Divines in the World,L. 2. [...]. [...]. All Divines consent in this, That it is not lawfull to touch so much as a bit of those Sacrifices which are for the averting of wrath. Though it was never lawfull (you know) to eat the blood of any Sacrifice, whether Peace-offering, or other (but it was to be poured out at the Altar) and though the flesh of those that were offered for sin, by the Laws of all people, were not to be tasted; yet we may drink the blood of the Sacrifice, yea of this great Sacrifice for all the people, and we may eat the flesh of it by the command of our Saviour. This things sure must contain in it some great mystery: for the Apostle seems to take notice of it, when he saith, Heb. 13.10. We have an Altar whereof they have no right to eat which serve the Tabernacle, &c. Altar in this place is by a Metonymie put for a Sacrifice, and the sence of the Apostles discourse in that and the following verses is this: Go out of the Synagogue, and never [Page 86]meddle with the Jewish Religion; though you may endure persecution by them, as Christ did; for you enjoy this special priviledg, of eating of the sacrifice of Christ which was made for sinne without the Gate, and whose Blood was carried into the holy place, a thing which no Jew could ever have any right unto, in those sinne-offerings that were made among them. The true intent of this grant which Christ hath made us, contrary to the manner of all the World, may be to shew our union with his Sacrifice, and that the righteousness of it is as truly imputed to us, as if we could have made satis­faction our selves. And (as the A­postle saith, Act. 13.39.) it shews that we are justified by him from all those things which we could not be justified from by the Law of Moses. This difference therefore is remark­able between the legal Sacrifices and this representation of Christs sacrifice: In them was made [...] (Heb. 10.3.) a commemoration of sinne every year, they were a plain confession of sinne, that it remained still in force, and that they could not [Page 87]take it away, else they needed not to have been repeated; and so St. Chry­sostome saith very elegantly, [...]. Hom. 17. in Hebr. The Le­gal Saerifices were rather Accusations then expiations; a confession of their weakness, rather then a profession of their strength, because, as the Apostle saith, they were a remembrance that sinne still was in power. But this sa­crifice of which we partake, is an [...], a commemoration of the re­mission of sinnes; a remembrance that it is quite taken away, and hath quite lost all its strength; and so seeing Christ hath made a perfect satisfaction, though they might not eat, yet we may, of the sacrifice of Expiation. They might not, because sinne was acknow­ledged thereby to remain; we may, because by Christs offering to make expiation, it is abolished, and utterly destroyed, so as to have no force to oblige us unto punishment. And if that be true which is delivered in Pirke Eliezer and other books,Cap. 29. that Abraham was circumcised on the day of expia­tion, (Gen. 17.26.) and that this day was a remembrance of the Covenant of Circumcision, then it is still more [Page 88]clear, that onely by the new Cove­nant forgiveness could be obtained, for the greatest of their Sacrifices (ac­cording to the Apostle) made a re­membrance of sins, and not of the for­giveness of them.

To shut up this then, you may thus take a very brief sum of it. Before the flood they onely offered Holocausts or whole burnt offerings, (for then they eat no flesh:) After the flood they sa­crificed Peace-offerings also for mercies which they received; and these they all eat of. But we read of no sin-offering till the Law was given; and those the Priests onely eat of, but not of all. Till the Gospel came, never did any eat of a sin-offering that was carried within the vail to reconcile withall; but now both Priest and People partake of it.Rev. 1.6. We are all made Priests unto God in this regard, that as the Priests of old had the favour to eat of the body and so have all the people of God now, by communicating of Sin-offerings, blood of Christ, who offered up him­self unto God for us. And it must be added,1 Pet. 2.9. that we are more then Priests, even Kings and Priests, or a Royal [Page 89]Priesthood, for there is nothing denied unto us, and we have power to eat of that which the High-Priest himself might not tast of, which is the Sacri­fice of general Atonement, whose flesh was burnt without the Camp. And if we well consider, we shall see that they had no reason to feast upon it, seeing the guilt did still remain which their sacrifice could not remove; but that we have, because our offer­ing for sinne hath made a compleat expiation, and given us the greatest ground of joy and peace. Now by our eating of it, we must needs be con­cluded to partake even of that Altar, and so to have remission of sin.

To draw then the Chapter to a Conclusion; If we take a review of what hath been said in this and the foregoing Discourse, we may be suffi­ciently informed what Divines mean when they say, That the Sacrament is a Seal of the Covenant of Grace. We set our Seal to it, as we give up our selves to God; and God sets his Seal again to it, by delivering the body and blood of his Son to us. The death of Christ there represented, and com­municated [Page 90]to us, doth seal to us par­don of our sinne, and all blessings; if we do heartily set our seal to the coun­terpart, and by taking and receiving Christ under these signs, promise and engage most firmly to lead a life ac­cording to his Will revealed to us. God seals when he gives; and we seal when we receive. If we mean as re­ally as he doth, then we have a right to all things specified in the Covenant. By which you may discern, that it is not a seal that we are pardoned, and our sinnes are forgiven; but that God remains firm in his purposes of Grace, and if we do so too in our purposes of obedience, we may thence conclude that we are pardoned. Our assurance then of our particular pardon, is a thing that results from another act of ours, which is a serious comparing of our seal and Gods together, or a re­flecting upon what we and God have done. When we know our own since­rity and heartiness in our profession, as we are assured of Gods reality and truth in what he promiseth, then we may conclude well of our selves, and rest assured of a pardon.

Yet our pardon is not sealed so cer­tainly as God seals the Covenant, be­cause the certainty that we have in our selves of our being pardoned, relies up­on a thing far more dubious then the certainty we have that God will par­don. Our judgment concerning our selves, is onely an humane act grounded upon the true knowledg of our selves, whereas our beliefe of the promise, is a divine faith, grounded upon the word of God to which he sets his seal; and therefore the conclusion we make (which still follows the weaker part) or the assurance we attain of our being pardoned, can be onely an act of hu­mane faith: It can never be so sure as one of the premisses is, unless we could be as sure that we say true of our selves, as that God saith true of himself. If it were as certain that I beleeve, as it is that God will pardon all that beleeve, then the Conclusion would be as certain as either, that therefore I am pardoned. But seeing the first Proposition is grounded on a fallible judgment (and it is possible I may deceive my self) therefore I can­not make a conclusion of equal cer­tainty [Page 92]with the second proposition, but, That I am pardoned, will be no stronger then this, That I beleeve. Yet not­withstanding, if a man find no cause to suspect his own reality, he may have a belief of his pardon free from doubt­ing, and may rest well satisfied that he is in a good estate, because nothing appears to the contrary, but that he sincerely doth the Will of Christ. Though he attains unto this perswasion not by a direct, but a reflex act of faith, i. e. not meerly by a belief of Gods Word, (which no where saith that I am pardoned) but by a serious examination of himself according to the tenor of the Word; yet seeing he discerns a conformity between himself and it, he may have a very good and strong (though not infallible) assu­rance that his sinnes are blotted out, and shall not be imputed to him.

Whensoever then we approach to the Lords Table, we should come with a belief, that God makes over unto us the greatest blessings, if we receive them as he requires. Now all that he requires is, That we would love and obey him (as we said in the former [Page 93]Chapter;) when we heartily engage to this, we have hereby a conveyance made to us of all that Heaven contains, which is included in this phrase, for­giveness of sinne. For you may ob­serve that in Scripture-stile, the ta­king away of Gods Wrath is the do­ing of some favour. His kindnesses are not meer negatives or removals of evil; but when he forgives sinne, and inflicts not the punishment, he con­ferres the contrary blessing, and re­stores us to the inheritance.

CHAP. V.

THE distance being taken away between God and us, this Sacra­ment must be considered as a means of our nearer union with our Lord Christ. He doth not onely embrace us when we come to his Table, but he likewise knits and joins us to himself. He not onely ties us with Cords of Love, and binds us to his service by favours and blessings conferred on us; but in some sort he makes us one with him, [Page 94]and takes us into a nearer conjuncti­on then before we enjoyed. And who would not desire to be infolded in his arms? Who would not repose himself in his bosome? but who durst have presumed to entertain a thought of be­ing married unto him, and becoming one with him? And yet who would refuse such a favour now that it is of­fered to us, but they that neither know him, nor themselves?

This Covenant into which we enter, is a Marriage-Covenant, and our Lord promises to be as a Husband to us, and we chuse him as the best beloved of our souls. It is none of the common friendships which we contract with him by eating and drinking at his Table, but the rarest and highest that can be imagined; and we are to look upon this as a Marriage-Feast. What this union then with Christ is, it need not be disputed; we may be sure that it is such an one as is between a man and his wise, the Vine and the Branches, the Head and the Members, the Build­ing and the Foundation, as hereafter will more fully appear) yea far beyond all sorts of union, whether moral, na­tural [Page 95]or artificial, which the world af­fords example of. That which I am to shew, is, That by these Sacramental Pledges of his Love, and this commu­nion with Christ our Lord, we are fa­ster tied unto him, and the Ligaments are made more strong and indissoluble between us. This will be manifest upon these considerations:

I. Seeing we do after a sort eat Christs flesh, and drink his Blood, we must needs thereby be incorporated further with him. I dispute not now in what sence we eat and drink his bo­dy and blood; but so far as we grant that we do that, so far the other is likewise done. Our union is of the same kind and degree with our com­munion and participation. And there­fore when the Apostle speaks of a communion with them, 1 Cor. 10.16. that adhaesion and cleaving to Christ, signifies, That in some sort we are made one with him. So Chrysostome observes, That the Apostle useth not the word [...], which is participation, but [...], Communion, because he would shew the near conjunction that is between us, and that we are knit [Page 96]and united to him by this partaking of him. So likewise Oecumenius upon the place observes, That Christs blood uniteth us to him as our Head, [...], by our receiving of it. And indeed as it is contrary to all analogy of speech, to call the Bread and Wine by the Name of Christs Body and Blood, if they be not at all so; in like manner it is incongruous to use the phrase of eating and drinking, if there be no union between us and that which we eat and drink.

II. Faith and Love bearing a great part in this holy action, and Christ being by them embraced, it must needs be a means of our nearer union. For union (you know) begins in our consent unto him; and therefore the stronger that grows, and with the greater dearness of affection that is ex­pressed; the stronger and closer our union to him becomes. Now Faith and Love (which are our consent) re­ceive here a great encrease of strength, by the most intense operation of them, which is apt to perfect and compleat them. No man comes aright hither, that doth not from the bottom of his [Page 97]heart (as you have seen) put himself into the will of Christ to be moved and governed at his pleasure. He must run into Christs heart, to have no mo­tion but according as that beats, so that his whole life should be put to a pulse answering to the heart of Christ. And so Cyril brings in Christ calling up­on men, and saying, I am the bread of life; [...],Hom. in myst. Caen. take me in as a leaven to diffuse it self through your whole mass. Be you even leavened with me, that every bit of you may taste of me. This can be effected by nothing else but a hearty conjunction of our wills with Christs. We must put our selves whol­ly out of our own power, as the wife doth, when she gives her self to her husband; and the more we can get out of our selves, so as to have no pro­per will of our own, the more we be­come one with him. When we feel not our selves to be any thing at all, nor to have any interest different from that of his, then we and he are made per­fectly one, or rather we are not, but he is All. Now this abolition of pro­priety, and self, is much promoted by [Page 98]the remembrance of Christs death and his unvaluable love, whereby we be­come dead, and are even snatched and ravished from our selves. Whatso­ever other unions there may be, they all wait and attend upon this which lays the foundation of them. Yea by this faith and love our hearts are more inlarged, the vessels of our souls are rendred more capable, and the Temple of Christ is much more amplified to re­ceive more of Gods presence. And that is the next thing.

III. The holy Spirit is here confer­red on us in larger measures, which is the very bond and ligament that ties us to him. For this union is not onely such a moral union as is between hus­band and wife (which is made by love) or between King and Subjects (which is made by Laws) but such a natural union as is between head and members, the vine and branches, which is made by one spirit or life dwelling in the whole.

For the understanding of this (which I shall insist on longer then therest) you must consider these things;

1. That our union with Christ is [Page 99]set forth by many things in Scripture, or in St. Chrysostom's phrase, [...], He unites us to himself after many patterns. I think there is not a better collection of them, then we meet with in him. He is the head (faith he) we are the bo­dy;Hom. 8. in 1. ad Cor. He is the foundation, we are the building; He is the vine, we are the branches; He is the bridegroom, we are the bride; He is the sheepherd, we are the sheep; He is the way, we are the travellers; We are the Tem­ple, and he is the inhabitant; He is the first-born, we his brethren; He is the Heir, we the coheirs: He is the life, we are the living, &c. all these thing [...], do shew an uni­on, and such an one that will not ad­mit the least thing to come between them.

2. Observe, that the highest and closest union is that which is made by one spirit and life moving in the whole. And therefore I take notice that the Scripture delights most frequently to use the two first examples of a body, and a building, and those that are near­est to these. Now because a building [Page 100]hath no life, but yet by its firmness and strength doth notably set forth the firmness of the union that is between Christ and his people; therefore the Apostle puts both these together, and calls Christ a living stone, and those that come to him, lively or living stones, which are built up a spiritual house or temple, where they offer spi­ritual sacrifices unto God, 1 Pet. 2.4, 5. That union therefore is most perfect which is made by life, though others may be of great est strength, and there­fore the Apostle applies it even to things without life, that he might the better shew, that the union between Christ and his members by one life, is in strength more like the solidness of a Temple then any other thing, whose parts are so cemented as that they would last as long as the world.

3. We must observe, That things at the greatest distance may be united by one spirit of life actuating them both, and so may Christ and we, though we enjoy not his bodily presence. It is truly noted by a most Rev.A. usher. Person, that the formal reason of the union that is made between the parts of our [Page 101]body, consists not in their continuity and touching of each other, but in the animation of them by one and the same spirit which ties them all together. If the spirit withdraw it self from any part so that it be mortified, it pre­sently remains as if it were not of the body, though its parts still touch the next member to it. And so we see in trees, if any branch be deprived of the vegetative spirit, it drops from the tree as now no more belonging to it. On the other side, you see the toes have an union with the head (though at a distance) not onely by the intervening of many parts that reach from them unto it, but by the soul that is present in the farthest member, and gives the head as speedy notice of what is done in the remotest part, as if it were the next door to the brain. And this it doth without the assistance of the neighbouring parts that should whisper the grief of the toes from one to the other till the head hear, but without the least trouble to any of them, which do not feel their pain. If you should suppose therefore our body to be as high as the Heavens, [Page 102]and the head of it to touch the throne of God, and the feet to stand upon his footstool the earth, no sooner could the head think of moving a toe, but presently it would stir; and no soon­er could any pain befall the most distant part, then the head would be advised of it. Which must be by ver­tue of that spirit which is concei­ved alike present to every part, and therefore that must be taken likewise to be the reason of that union which is among them all. Just so may you apprehend the union to be between Christ our head, and us his members; Although in regard of his corporal presence he be in the Heavens, which must receive him untill the time of the restitution of all things, Act. 3.21. yet he is here with us always, even to the end of the world (Mat. 28.20.) in regard of his holy Spirit working in us. By this he is sensible of all our needs, and by the vital influences of it in every part, he joyns the whole body fitly together, so that he and it make one Christ, according as the Apo­stle saith, 1 Cor. 12.12. As the body is one, and hath many members, and all the [Page 103]members of tha [...] one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. And that this union is wrought by the Spi­rit (which every true Christian hath dwelling in him, Cor. 6. 7. Rom. 8.9.) the next verse (ver. 13.) will tell you, we are all baptized into one body by one spirit, &c. Which will lead me to the fourth thing for which all this was said.

4. We receive of this Spirit when we worthily communicate at the Sup­per of the Lord, according as the A­postle in that 13th. verse is thought to say, We have been all made to drink into one spirit, i. e. we have all reason to agree well together, for there is but one spirit that animates the whole bo­dy of us, which we receive at the Ta­ble of the Lord when we drink the cup of blessing. One Christian doth not drink out of the same cup a spirit of peace, and another Christian a spi­rit of contention; but as Chrysostome expounds it, [...], &c. We all come to be initiated in the same secrets, we all enjoy the same Table, and though he doth not say, (as it follows in him) that we [Page 104]eat the same body and drink the same blood, yet since he makes mention of the spirit, he saith both. For in both we are watered with one and the same spirit, even as trees (saith he) are wa­tered out of one and the same foun­tain.V. Ch ysost. & Theoph [...]l. Or if we understand the A­postles words of the spirit received ( [...]) after Baptisme, but ( [...]) before the Sacrament of the Lords Supper, whereby he fur­ther waters (so the word [...] is used, 1 Cor. 3.6, 7, 8.) that which he hath planted; yet still it will be true, that at this time good Christians do receive larger irrigations from that fountain of life, that they may shoot up to a great­er height, and bring forth more fruit. For this spirit is always needfull, be­ing that which maintains our life, and it is given in the use of those means that God hath instiruted for increase in grace, of which means this holy feast being one of the chief, that life­giving spirit must be conceived to lay faster hold of us, and knit us more unto our head. It is the vis vicaria of the Lord Jesus, that power which supplies his place here in the world, by which [Page 105]he is present to our souls. Now when shall we conceive it more present, then when we remember him whose spirit it is, and when he doth exhibit him­self unto us under these shadows of bread and wine? These are tokens of his presence, and represent him to us; the spirit is that whereby he is present, and therefore here it must be again conferred on us. Here it doth take a stronger seizure of us; here it posses­ses it self more fully of all our facul­ties; here it gives us more sensible touches from our head, and makes us feel more vital influences descending thence unto us; and so (it being the bond of union) must needs strengthen and confirm us in an inseparable con­junction with him. Christ doth not descend locally unto us that we may feed on him; but as the Sun toucheth us by his beams without removing out of its sphaere, so Christ comes down upon us by the power of the holy Ghost, moving by its heavenly vertue in our hearts, though he remain above. And this vertue coming from our Head the man Christ Jesus, it doth both quicken us to his service, and tie [Page 106]us to him, and likewise we are said to partake of his body and blood, be­cause we sensibly feel the vertue and efficacy of them in our selves.

And do not wonder that I say we are more strongly united to Christ hereby; for unson is not to be con­ceved without all latitude, but to be looked on as capable of increase or di­minution, and as that which may grow loose and slack, or be made more per­fect and compact. As it is with the foul and body, so it is between Christ and his members. Though the soul be not quite unloosed from the body, yet by sickness the bonds may become rotten, or by fasting they may grow weak and feeble, so that it may have but a slender hold of its companion, and a little violence may snap them a­sunder. Even so though our souls be tied to Christ, yet by our daily infir­mities, or the frequent incursions of our enemies, or by long abstaining from this holy food, and other negli­gences, we shall find a kind of loos­ness in our souls, and that we are go­ing off from Christ, and tending to a dissolution, unless we gird up the loyns [Page 107]of our mind, and be vigilant and so­ber, watching unto all holy duties. And therefore as in the former case we must betake our selves to our physick, and food, and good exercise for the ma­king the bonds sound and strong; so in this we must have recourse to the holy feast we are speaking of (which is both meat and medicine) and we must stir up the grace that is in us, and beg more of the Spirit of God that may strengthen the things that remain and are ready to die.

To receive the Spirit not by mea­sure, is the priviledg of none but our head. We that receive from his full­ness, have not our portion all at once,Phil. 1.19. but must daily look for a supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ. And so the A­postle saith,Rom. 1.17. The righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; and we must grow up into him in all things which is the head, even Christ. Which shews that we may be made one with him in a more excellent manner then when we were first born, because the Spirit of Christ grows unto a greater strength within us, as we receive more of heavenly nutriment into our souls.

And this is all that is meant by the real presence of Christ in this Sacra­ment, which the Church speaks of and believes; as it is one reason like­wise of the change which is so much noised, because by his power these things become effectual to so great purposes, when they are holily recei­ved. Our Lord doth call these signs by the name of the things they sig­nifie, because in a spiritual manner his body and blood are present to us, viz. by the communication of that to us which they did purchase for us. From the sacred humanity of Christ, life and spirit is derived unto us, as motion is from the head unto the members. And the power of the Godhead doth diffuse the vertue or operation of the humane nature, to the enlivening the hearts of men that rightly receive the Sacramental pledges. Manna is called spiritual bread, and water that came out of the rock is named spiritual dirnk,1 Cor. 10.3, 4. and the rock is said to be Christ, because they did signifie him, and were tokens of his presence; and therefore much more may this bread and wine be called his body and blood, [Page 109]and spoken of as if they were himself, because they do more lively represent him, and he had annexed his pre­sence more powerfully to them. Or as one of the Ancients saith, they are called his body and blood, not because they are properly so, sed quod in se my­sterium corporis ejus & sanguinis con­tineant, but because they contain in them the mystery of his body and blood.

And this (as I said) is all the change that we are to understand in them, ac­cording as Theodoret doth excellently express it: [...]. Dialog. 1. Christ (saith he) calls them by the name of the things they repre­sent, not changing the nature, but ad­ding grace unto the nature. And what that grace is I have already told you in this Chapter. So that the real presence is not to be sought in the bread and wine, but in those that re­ceive them, according as Learned Hooker speaks. For Christ saith first, Take and eat; and then after that, This is my body. Before we take and eat, it is not the body of Christ unto us; but when we take and eat as we ought, then he gives us his whole self, and [Page 110]puts us into possession of all such fa­ving graces as his facrificed body can yield, and our fouls do then need. The change is in our souls, and not in the Sacrament; we are though not Transubstantiated into another body, yet Metamorphosed and transformed into another likeness, by the offering up of our bodies to God, which is a piece of this service, Rom. 12.1, 2. And so some observe that all other meat is received as it is in it self, and no other­wise; but this meat is divers, as it is received. Other meat affecteth and altereth the taste, but here the taste al­tereth the meat. For if it be worthily received, it is the body and blood of Christ; if unworthily, it is but bare bread and wine.

But yet this must be cautiously un­derstood when we thus speak; for his presence is with the bread, though not in it. Though it be onely in us, yet it comes with it unto us if we will receive him; because else we shall not know how unworthy persons are said to be guilty of his body and blood, 1 Cor. 11.27. if he be not present with his body and blood to work in mens souls.

This likewise is to be further obser­ved for the better under standing of it; that the Devil who loves to imitate God, (that he may the better cozen and cheat) doth seldom manifest his power to any great purpose, but when he is called by some of his own ceremo­nies and sacraments that he hath ap­pointed. This doth but tell us that Christ is then most powerfully pre­sent, when we use his rites which he hath instituted and hallowed as special remembrances of his love, and testi­monies of our love unto him. So that we may come hither, and expect that we shall feel more at such a time, and in the use of such means, then at or in others, because he hath made them his body and blood in such sort as I have declared.

Other union then this (by Christs spirit) I know no use of, though we should believe that which we do not understand. I can conceive great things concerning the power of Christs humane nature; and it is not for us to tell how far it may extend its influ­ences through the inhabitation of the Deity. That it is brighter then the [Page 112]Sun, Saint Paul saw when the Lord appeared to him, Acts 26.13. And as the Sun we see, communicates his beams a vast way, and twists it self about us by silver threads of light, though seated in the Heavens; so may we conceive that the sacred hu­manity of Christ doth tie us to it self by cords of love, and now embrace us in its outstretched armes after a more affectionate manner, when we come to remember him. But to what pur­poses this should serve, I do not well understand, and without the Spirit of Christ dwelling in us, the flesh can pro­fit nothing at all though never so glo­rious; and therefore I lay aside such thoughts, and content my self to know, that they that are joyned (or cleave) to the Lord,1 Cor. 6.17. are one spirit.

5. Now from this secret union that is here made between Christ and our persons, it comes to pass that this Sa­crament hath been accounted an earnest and pledg of the resurrection. For nothing that is made one with Christ can die and be lost, but he will raise it up again at the last day. His spirit can find out all their dust after a [Page 113]thousand changes; it can gather all their dispersons, and renuite their scat­tered crums, and knead them again in­to a goodly body. And this it will do;1 Cor. 6.19. for their very bodies are the Temples of the holy Ghost; therefore he will quicken their mortal bodies,Rom. 8.11. by his Spi­rit that dwelleth in them.

Hence it was that Cyril so earnest­ly invited guests to this feast, [...], &c. Hom. [...] L. [...]: say­ing, Come eat the bread that renews your natures; drink the wine that is the smile and cheer of immortality. Eat the bread that purges away the ancient bitterness; drink the wine that asswa­ges the pain of our old sore. [...], This is the very resto­rative of nature, an healing plaister for the bitings of the Serpent, a power­full antidote [...], ainst all his poyson he hath infused into us. And so several of the elder times speak not without reason; for seeing our Lord gives to these things the name of his body and blood, we need not fear to attribute to them the vertues and efficacy of his death, which we know was the resto­rer of life.

We should think therefore when [Page 114]we go to the Table of the Lord, that we go to joyn our selves more closely to our head, and to unite our hearts more firmly to the fountain of our life. That we go to receive of his holy Spi­rit, which like wine running through our veins, should diffuse it self into all the vital powers of our souls, and make us more able and strong, active and quick, ready and forward in the service of our Saviour. We should think that hereby we may get greater victories over our enemies, if we do not betray our succours, that we may more compleat our conquests, if we use the power that is sent unto us. We should look upon this bread, as the bread of life, and conceive that we take the cup of immortality into our hands, and that the next draught may be in the Kingdom of God, when our bodies shall be raised to feast at the eternal supper of the Lamb. For this is but a just consequence of forgive­ness of sins (which the former Chap­ter treated of) that our bodies should live again which became mortal through sin. And therefore as Christ here seals unto us the one, so he like­wise [Page 115]wise assures us of the other, and gives unto us the earnest of the Spirit. What joy then must these thoughts needs create in our souls? What better chear can we desire? What greater dainties would we taste then this holy feast affords? or what cause would we have of thanksgiving more then hath been named? If we desire a con­sort in our thanksgivings, and to have an harmony of souls while we sing his praises; if we would hear some voice besides our own that might fill up our joys, and lift them to a greater height; That is not wanting neither, as the next Chapter shall declare. For here is an union of minds begot; and a sweet consent of hearts is the result of this entertainment.

CHAP. VI.

AS this Sacrament is a means of uniting us to our Lord by faith, so likewise of uniting us to our bre­thren by love. It knits us not onely to our head, but all the members also thereby are more indeared unto each [Page 116]other. We enter here into a strict league of friendship with them, as well as into a Covenant with God.

For all true Christians are not onely of the Family of God, but his chil­dren and nearest relations; so that we cannot profess any love unto the father of them all, but we must at the same time embrace his whole progeny, as bearing his character, and having in them those very things which we love in him. When we take the bride­groom, we contract a kindred also with all the friends of the bridegroom. And love indeed is of that nature, that it is not onely diffusive of it self, but it runs forth with a certain pleasure, and tickles our heart as it passeth from us. So that no man would be excused from loving of his brethren, nor willingly want that part of this Christian feast. We all grant that this food would not be so full of juice and sweetness, but that it tastes of the Love of our Lord; nor would this cup be so pleasant, but that it is the cup of Charity. Now when the heart is once filled with love, it wants nothing but objects whereon to empty it self, and it is like new [Page 117]wine that is ready to burst the vessel, unless it find some vent. And there­fore one good man is glad at such a time to ease himself into the bosome of others, and to express himself to them in such charitable actions as can­not be done to God who is all sufficient of himself. This adds to the grace of this entertainment, that there is no­thing but love to be seen in it. The food is love; the Master of the Feast glories in no greater name, then that he is Love; all the guests are Brethren; they are all in their Fathers house; they all receive the tokens and pledges of the Love of their Elder Brother; and his love is so great that he is con­tent to share his inheritance among them. It must be therefore against na­ture, and the course of things, not to love, and to let our Brethren share in our affections, who have a portion in the same Saviour.

But to make it plainly appear, that one end of the institution of this Sacra­ment was to advance love and kind­ness in our hearts to each other, let these things be considered:

I. As it is a common feast, it carries [Page 118]in it the notion of love and good will that is between all the guests. It is well known that eating and drinking together was anciently such a sign of unity, conjunction of minds and friend­ly society, that the word Companis, and Companio, in old Latine, is the same with Socius. Our English retains them all, and expresseth a more then ordinarily familiarity between persons, by the names of companions, company and society, which are first made and afterward maintained by a friendly converse at the same table, and eating of the same Bread. And hence it is that all our Companies and Fraterni­ties in Cities have their Guild-halls where they meet, and their feasts like­wise at certain times for the maintain­ing of love and amicable correspon­dence. From which kind of meet­ing it is that the holy Sacrament was called Synaxis, a convention or coming together in one, which the Apostle expresseth when he saith, 1 Cor. 11.20. [...], &c. When you come to­gether into one place. It is a phrase for their assembling and convening at an appointed time to feast together, [Page 119]and maintain mutual charity which Christ had commended so much unto them. And this Aristotle in his Poli­ticks makes the [...],L. 1. Polit. the first of all communions, which is be­tween those that live under the same roof, and eat and drink at the same ta­ble, as Parents and Children, Bre­thren and Sisters, from whence all other societies and communions are derived. Christians are called in Scrip­ture by the name of those near rela­tions, and therefore their love is fitly expressed and upheld by this kind of intercourse and sweet converse. And the frequenter it is, the more would it approach to a likeness to the most an­cient and prime communion in nature. For this is a maxime in that great man, [...]. lb. An every day communion doth naturally make a house. We are the house of God, and the first converts to the faith do seem to have maintained such a daily communion; that they better deserved that name then any people that ever were; and testified that they looked upon one another as Children of the same parent, and were spiritual brethren and sisters in the Lord. It is [Page 120]so natural to give tokens of friendship by this thing,In Muscovy the Bride­groom pre­sents a loaf of bread to the Priest, and he to the friends, who break it, and eat of it, in token of fidelity and love. V. Hist. of Russia by G. Fletcher, cap. 24. that in some places peo­ple have made their sponsalia, or con­tracts of marriage, by each persons drinking of the same cup. And per­haps for the same reason it is, that in many places of England they use after marriage to break a cake over the head of the bride, as she enters into the doors, either shewing that they must live together in the most intimate so­ciety, or that they and all their friends eating of it, may signifie the great love that is between them. Now the more sacred our food is whereof we partake, and the body of Christ being broken before our eyes and ad­ministred unto us, the more strongly are we engaged to brotherly love, and the rarer friendship do we contract be­yond all that the word companion can express.

II. The Paschal supper among the Jews was a feast of love, as well as of remembrance. For it was not onely ce­lebrated between the members of the same family, but by the whole Na­tion who came together from all parts at the same time, and in one place; [Page 121]which did intimate to them that they were but one body. For this cause it is likely God ordained that they should have one whole Lamb for every fami­ly,Exod. 12.46. and not divide it into portions a­mong several companies; as also he forbids that a bone of it should be bro­ken by them. It did well represent the unity that was among them, seeing they all did the same thing without any division, and made not the least fraction in those parts that were most compacted. The bread likewise with­out leaven might have some such sig­nification in it, that they should not swell by the fervency of any passion, nor be sowred by any malice or ill-will to each other who eat of the same un­leavened bread. And so the Apostle bids us to keep the feast (now that Christ our Passeover is sacrificed for us) not with the leaven of malice and wickedness, 1 Cor. 5.7, 8. but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. And it may be observed, that though the stranger that was uncircumcised might not by the Law eat of the Lamb (Exod. 12.43, 45.) yet their Masters tell us that they permitted them to [Page 122]eat of the unleavened bread, and bitter herbs, &c. which was a token of some love unto them, though not of such a dear affection as they had for their own Nation.

III. But the Lords Supper is much more a feast of love, because it is a remembrance of the greatest love that ever was, which our Lord shewed in dying for us. This love of his must in all reason be compensated with a great love from us, and he hath made our Brethren to be his proxies and receivers; he hath transferred the debt that is owing him unto them, that we may do them those kindnesses for his sake which we cannot do immediately unto him. It is worthy our notice, that the first person that ever received this holy Sacrament, was (in all like­lihood) St. John the beloved Disci­ple, he that lay in Jesus his breast (and is therefore called by some Greek Wri­ters [...], he in the bosome) whose heart was so full of love to the Bre­thren, that he breathes little else in one whole discourse which he left to his little children. And you may ob­serve also that immediately after this [Page 123]Supper (spoken of Joh. 13.) our Sa­viour entertains his Disciples the rest of that night till he went into the gar­den, with those heavenly discourses which you read in the 14, 15, 16, 17, Chapters of the same Gospel. A great part of which contain the Command­ment of brotherly love, of living in peace, and being one with each other even as He and his Father are one; which may well suggest to our medi­tations, that one intent of this heavenly repast is to breed in us a kind of coele­stial charity, and make us all like that Disciple who first had the favour to taste of it.

IV. This Supper is the more signifi­cant of Christian charity and peace that is to be between all the guests, because they all eat of one loaf, as the Apostle speaks, 1 Cor. 10.17. where [...] which we render one bread, more properly may be translated one loaf, of which all the company do partake, and thereby are made one body, mem­bers of the same Christ, and members one of another. As the flour though consisting of many little parts, is ming­led and knealed into one loaf; so are [Page 124]all Christians united and compacted into one body, by partaking of that one and the same individual loaf. And therefore we may by the way take no­tice, that the bread provided for our Communions (though never so great) ought to be but one loaf; and like­wise that all should communicate (if it may be) at the same time, and not one part of a Congregation to day, and the other at the next meeting; for this doth not so well signifie the union that is among all Christians who live together in the same society. And to render this contesseration the more manifest,Joseph de Vice­com. L. 2. de M [...]ssae rit. cap. 10. in some ages of the Church (though but in some particular places) every family that did receive offered a quantity of flower, with which the Communion-bread was made. This mixture of one mans meal with ano­thers, and the combination of all the particles in one paste, did well denote that they were but one body of men mingled together by such a common affection that they were made one lump, and did lose themselves in one another, not knowing any difference between each other. And indeed [Page 125]there never was any society of men so strongly united and kneaded together, as the first body of Christians were. Though their union may well be re­presented by the little Atomes of flower all glewed together in a loaf; yet the strength of their union may be better compared to the stones of a Temple so cemented, that the hand of man is of no force so much as to move them. And to such stones the Apostle St. Peter compares them, when he saith (1 Ep. Cap. 2.5.) that as lively stones they are built up a spiritual house, &c. Living stones they were, because they were so many souls or hearts joyned together into a spiritual temple, making one great heart beat­ing with the same love: and be­cause likewise they had all drunk into the same spirit of life, Act. 2.32. which was the common vinculum, tie, or bond that thus united them together, and made this one bread to be like the strength of stones rather then bread. As the little particles of meal were by the help of water wrought into one paste; [...], 1 Cor. 12.13. so were all particular Christians by this spirit wherewithall they were watered, form­ed [Page 126]into one spiritual body to be no more many, but one.

V. The ancient Christians likewise had many significant customs and pra­ctises whereby they did notably ex­press at this feast the love which was a­mong them. The most remarkable of which are these:

1. There was the Holy Kiss where­with they saluted each other, as a to­ken of the dear affection wherewith they embraced, and of their desire that their souls might pass (as it were) into each others bodies. There are many places of Scripture which mention this kiss (as Rom. 16.16. 1 Cor. 16.20, &c.) and the best Writers near the times of our Saviour, tell us, it was u­sed to be given at the holy Commu­nion, as the fittest season to express such an innocent and sincere love. When we have done prayers (saith Justin Martyr) [...],Apolog. 2. &c. we salute each other with a kiss; and then immediately the [ [...]] chief Minister takes the bread and wine from the hand of those that offer them, &c. At this feast then they did salute one another; and when [Page 127]they fasted, De Orat. cap. 14. it began to be a custom (saith Tertullian) that after prayers they should forbear the kiss of peace, quod est signaculum perfectionis, which is the sign or seal of perfection, i.e. of love and charity (I suppose he means) which is called by the Apostle the bond of perfectness. That it was a custom among the Jews to salute with a kiss at their prayers, is the affir­mation of Drusius; In Generosia. but a greater man then he was, saith, that he finds no such thing in all their writings, and shews that in all likelihood he was deceived, by mistaking the word Tiphluth for Tepilloth, the former of which signi­fies foolishness, and the latter prayers. Buxtorf. Lex Tal. in voc. [...] And so he observes that it is said in the great Bereschit (upon those wvrds Gen. 29.11.) every kiss is [...] to folly, i. e. a wanton kiss, except those three to which one adds a fourth. First, The kiss of homage, such as Sa­muel gave to Saul, 1 Sam. 10.1. (and such I may add, as we are bid to give to the Son of God, Psal. 2.12.) Se­condly, The kiss of meeting, such as Aaron gave to Moses, Exod. 4.27. Thirdly, The kiss of departure, such as [Page 128] Orphah gave to her mother, Ruth. 1.14. And fourthly, The kiss of kindred, such as Jacob here gave to Rachel, be­cause she was his Cousin. VVe must seek therefore for no other reason of this kiss, but that it was a sign of kindness and love by the custom of all the world, and therefore it is called the kiss of charity, 1 Pet. 5.13.

And for this cause saith Chrysostome, the Apostle bids the Corinthians (in the place forecited) to salute each other with an holy kiss, 1 Cor. 16.20. because there was such vehement contentions and great differences among them. For one said I am of Paul, another said I am of Apollo, another called himself after Peter, and another after Christ. One was drunken at their sacred feast, and another hungry; they went to Law with one another; and there was a great deal of pride and envy and confusion about their spiritual gifts: And therefore having exhorted them, ver. 14. to let all things be done in love; he now commands them to be joyned to­gether also by the holy kiss, [...], for this unites and be­gets one body. And so likewise he [Page 129]observes, that the kiss doth not onely unite those that are divided, but it likewise makes an equality between those that are unequal, which is a ne­cessary thing to all friendship. By this peace saith he (in Rom. 16.16.) the Apostle takes away all that disquieted them, and makes that the great will not despise the less, [...]. nor the less will not envy the great, but both pride and envy will be cast out; this kiss being of that nature, that it sweetens, smoothes, and equals all things.

And I may observe also, that the very next words of the Apostle, ver. 17. are an entreaty to mark all them who cause division among them. As if he should have said, Salute one ano­ther, and so embrace; that he may be looked upon as no Christian, that cau­ses divisions and offences among you.

And so in another Sermon he most admirably discourses of this Christian Charity, which is signified by the kiss. ‘Do not say (saith he) that such an one hath done me harm,Homil. 21. in Epist. ad Rom. and no man can put up the wrong; but think with thy self what Christ saith to him that betrayed him with a kiss to the [Page 130]death of the Cross, and minde how notably he reproves him.Luk. 22.48. Judas betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss? Who would not be softned with these words? What heart would not such a Voice bow and encline unto it? What wild Beast, what Adamant is there that would not be moved? Do not say unto me hereafter, Such an one is a Murderer, or the like, and I cannot a­bide him. I tell thee, if he be ready to thrust his Dagger into thee, and to baptize his right hand in thy throat, kiss that right hand of his, for Christ kissed the very mouth of his Mur­derer. Thou art the servant of him, I say, that kissed the Traitor (for I will not cease to repeat it again and again) of him that spake words to him softer than a kiss. For mark it, he doth not say, O thou villain, thou traitor, dost thou make me this re­quital for all my kindness; but he onely saith, Judas, (calling him by his proper name) canst thou find in thy heart to betray me on this fa­shion. Yea I may observe, that he calls him Eriend, Matth. 26.50. which [Page 131]are words of great sweetness to such an unworthy person. And after this he doth not say, Why dost thou betray thy Teacher, thy Master, thy Benefa­ctor; but why betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss? If he was not thy Master, yet wilt thou betray an ordinary man, who deals so cour­teously with thee, and vouchsafes to kiss thee, even when thou betrayest him with that kiss? O blessed Lord! what an example hast thou given us of humility and forgiveness? And how kindly and graciously he treats likewise those that came to take him, you may see if you read what fol­lows, which will make any man asha­med to be cruel to his Brethren. What though they be guilty of a thousand faults? They cannot be greater then this of Judas to our Sa­viour. Wilt thou not kiss him, when our Saviour kissed and embraced the Traitor? How canst thou receive the holy offering, if thy tongue be red with the blood of men? How canst thou give the Peace (he means the kiss, which was accompanied with good wishes) if thy mouth be full of [Page 132]War?’ Thus that excellent man, from whose mouth I desire my Reader to learn, if not from mine. And there­fore he expounds this word [...] Holy to signifie,O Cum. & The­ophylact. that the kiss should be sin­cere, and without all hypocrisie, or false­ness of heart, in which he is followed by other ancient Expositors. But it may likewise signifie the purity of it, and that it should be onely out of Chri­stian love, and not with any other ba­ser passion. And it was a thing so constantly used, that it is likely indeed the Heathens did hence reproach the Christian meetings, as if they did burn with some filthy fires. But the true Christians could not be impeach­ed of any such Crime: Their flames were so pure and bright, that they left no foot nor blackness at all in the soul behind them. There were indeed some base pretenders, the impure fol­lowers of Simon Magus, 2 Pet. 2.14. whose eyes were full of Adultery, and whose lips gave strange kisses; but they were abominable in their Doctrines too, and separated themselves from the Flock of Christ,Jude 19. being sensual, and having not the spirit. These men bragging [Page 133]that they were the onely spiritual men, and calling all others meer animals, might give occasion to the Heathens and the Enemies of our Religion to say, that Christians assembled for such actions as they practised, but are not to be named. But the sound profes­sors did wipe off all these calumnies that were cast upon the whole Reli­gion for the fault of some Apostates, not onely by their most excellent Wri­tings, but likewise by their pure lives and cautious converses.Achill. Tatius. L. 4. [...]. The kiss of those that are in love (saith one that well knew) is [...], unlimited, unsatiable, and alway renewed. To shew therefore that their kiss was a token onely of coele­stial Charity, [...]. Athenagoras tells us that it was unlawfull for them to kiss any one [...] the second time to please themselves. And the Constitutions a­scribed to Clemens, tell us also, That the men saluted men, and the women those of their own sex, that so they might avoid all danger, and take off all offence. These kisses were as pure and innocent as the snow; they were no other then had been long used in [Page 134]the World among familiar friends, but onely that they were a token of a di­viner love, and denoted a more sacred affection being used in their solemn congresses with the Divine Majesty.Cyril. Hierosol. Mystag. 5. So Cyril saith excellently, This kiss is not barely such an one as is given a­mong familiar acquaintance, [...] as they meet in the streets, but [...], &c. they mingle souls to­gether, and promise an utter oblivion of all offences. Christian souls did sit upon their lips, and there embracing together, did pass (as it were) in­to each others bodies. As it was said of Jonathan, 1 Sam. 18.1. so it might be affirmed of them, their soul was knit to the souls of their brethren, and they loved them as their own soul. And there­fore Alexander the false Prophet, Lucian in Pseudomant. in imitation (I make no question) of these holy brethren, did entertain all his followers with a kiss; and those that were admitted to a near commu­nication with him, were called [...], they within the Kiss. There are several places I observe in holy Writ, where this kind of salutation is joined with weeping, Gen. 29.11. [Page 135] Gen. 33.4 Gen. 45.15. whereby the Scripture expresseth such a joy at each others sight, that it stopt all pas­sages for the present, but the eyes, and tears told that which the mouth could not yet speak but by a kiss. And in one place this salutation goes under the Name of falling on the neck (Gen. 46.29.) which denotes the Ardency of their embraces, and that they hang­ed on each others lips, as if they were loath to be two any more. But beside all this, it must be marked, that the kiss was usually accompanied with some form of Benediction or Prayer for their welfare; which plainly ap­pears in the salutations of two trea­cherous persons, Joab and Judas, 2 Sam. 20.9. Matth. 26.49. the one of which saith, Art thou in health my brother? (i. e.) I pray thou mayest be, as I hope thou art, &c.) and the other, [...], All hail Master, From all which we may be well assu­red, That these Christian embraces did onely melt them into tears, and not in­flame them into any distempered heats; that they did onely shew their dear af­fection, and heartily pray to God that [Page 136] all Peace might be with them, i. e. that all prosperity and happiness might be their portion.

2. The first Christians having the Blood of Christ as yet warm upon their hearts, burnt with such Charity to each other that they instituted fre­quent Feasts which they kept at the same time after they had received the Sacrament of Christs Body and Blood. At this sacred Meal the poor were feasted together with the rich, upon those offerings which the rich had made. And they sate down as it hap­ned, without any distinction, either in higher or lower forms, to shew that they looked on themselves as equals in Christ, and fellow-heirs of the same promise. These Feasts were called [...], Feasts of Love or Charity, and are mentioned in St. Jude ver. 14. and by St. Peter, 2 Pet. 2.13. So denomi­nated they were, as Anastasius Sinaita will have it, from their end and purpose; which was [...], to draw all together to an unity and agreement. Tertullian gives a better reason, but tending to the same sence: Our Supper (saith he) carries its [Page 137]reason in its Name, Coena nostra de nomine ratio­nem sui osten­dit. Vocatur [...] id quod dilectio penes Graecos est Tert. in Apol. for Agapae signifies love in the Greek Language. We find no Divine Institution for these Enter­tainments, yet they have (as a Learn­ed man speaksMontag. a­gainst Sdden.) Divine Toleration. And they had a good beginning, though in process of time they nourishod dis­orders. In the first simplicity they fed the soul as well as the body, and Charity was no less nourished then their Carcasses; though in after-times it must be confessed they made greater expences then formerly, but did far worse employ them. And therefore in Justin Martyr's dayes (about the year 160) as far as one can guess by his Apology, they left them off, and disposed the offerings more advanta­giously into a common Bank for the poor and distressed persons. For they were not like men now that take a­way abuses, and save their money; but they reformed the mispence of that Charity which they still continued. And therefore those Agapae which after-Authors mention, were but rarely ce­lebrated on their Birth or Marriage-dayes: or at their Funeral Obsequies, whence a dole is at this day used to be [Page 138]given to poor people. But they were so approved of in the Apostles dayes, that the phrase of breaking bread in the New-Testament seems to have refer­ence to this whole Feast, and not one­ly to receiving the Sacrament of the Lords Supper. For so the phrase is used among the Hebrews for a Feast, and so in the Acts of the Apostles, cap. 27.35. St. Paul is said to take bread, and give thanks, and break it, which was not a celebration of the Eucharist, but a common meal together with the passengers in the same ship. And in like sence the [...] the Lords Supper is to be understood,1 Cor. 11.20. for the whole Feast including both the Agape, and the Eucharist also, being so im­mediately joined together. Whence it is that Ignatius speaking of this un­der the name of [...], to make an entertainment, he saith they should never do it [...],Epist. ad Smyrn. without the Bishop or Overseer of the Congregation. And the reason sure was, because this Sacrament was alwayes joined with that Feast, and both understood by one name; which Sacrament none might celebrate without the presence of him [Page 139]that was appointed by God to bless and sanctifie the offerings that were brought.

So Mr. Thorndike testifies,Review of Rights of the Church. That he finds in a MS. (expounding divers Greek words of the Bible) this glofs, [...], The Lords Supper, is to dine in the Church. This common Entertainment being made for poor and rich, out of the stock of the Church from the offerings that were brought, the seaven Deacons were first appointed to attend upon the making of this provision, and relie­ving the poor otherwise, which the Apostles had not leisure for to mind; as you may read, Acts 6.2. Where by [...], serving Tables, we cannot well understand any other thing then providing for the poor this Table at the Feasts of Charity, which maintained a singular love and kind­ness among them all. So great a kind­ness it was that hereby was nourished, that the Heathens could not but take notice of it, as inviting many to be Christians. You shall find,In Frag. saith Ju­lian, among the Galileans, (by which name they called Christians) [...], [Page 140]their Feast of Love, which they call Agapae, their entertain­ment, and their serving of Tables, which draws many to their Religion. And this is the great thing which the Apostle reproves the Corinthians for, that though the Sacrament and this feast were appointed to preserve love, yet they rudely abused them to the very contrary end.

The Gloss of Oecumenius (if it be perused) will make this very clear. When you come together (saith the A­postle, [...], &c. 1 Cor. 11.20.) into one place, This is not to eat the Lords Supper, &c. i. e. Your very coming together signi­fies love, but it doth not work it; for whereas you should have a common Table (as our Lords was) you make it your own pleasure, and exclude the poor from it. But I will tell you what the Lord delivered to me, that he in the night he was betrayed entertained not onely his holy Disciples, but even the Traitor Judas, that wicked enemy of his, at his Table; and how dare you therefore refuse the poor, and exclude them from your Feasts. Or thus: If [Page 141]the Lord gave both to poor and rich his Body and Blood, darest thou sepa­rate any from thy table, and cast a scorn upon them? If he gave thanks who delivered and divided his own Body, shalt not thou thankfully, and with the greatest joy, make the poor thy com­panions and guests at the things that are given from him to thee, &c. I tell you once more, (ver. 27.) that who­soever eats and drinks in this unworthy and base fashion, contemning the poor for whose sakes you meet together, he is guilty of Christs Body and Blood, and doth the greatest dishonour unto them by handling them with such im­pure hauds. And at last (ver. 33.34.) he adviseth them, that they would stay one for another; and if through hun­ger they could not well expect long, he bids them eat at home, and not come together for condemnation. Up­on which words the same Author thus glosseth: ‘You come together to the Supper for love; and if that be in your hearts, you had better take a refection at home, then by casting a contempt upon your brethren, shew that you have no love at all.’

It is very likely also, That first from these Feasts they sent portions to those that were absent, to testifie their love unto them; and so afterward (as is most certain) the custom grew to send from the Eucharist some of the blessed bread to those that could not come unto their assemblies. So Justin saith, That [...], they carry away some part to those that are not present. Which I suppose arose in imitation of the Jewwish manners, who in their Feasts sent portions one to another, that they might more ex­press their friendship which they desi­red to continue. The Heathens like­wise were not strangers to this cu­stome, as one example out of many will bear sufficient witness: When Agesilaus offered his [...],Plut. in vita Agesilaus. sacrifices for glad tydings of a victory, he sent pieces of the flesh to his friends, that he might make them partakers in his joyes. All which I mention onely for this end, that we may see how desi­rous they were, in the beginning of our Religion, to keep up a mutual charity as the greatest honour of it, which made them omit no custom that had [Page 143]been obliging among the Jews, if it might help to promote the love and unity of the Church.

3. Then they had their collections for the poor, which ensued their parti­cipation of Christs Body and Blood. This the Apostle mentions, [...], Oecum. in loc. 1 Cor. 16.1, 2. when he bids them on the first day of the week (when the mysteries were celebrated) to lay by something for the use of distressed Christians, which was the practice of other Churches. And Justin Martyr's words may be a good Comment up­on that Text, when he saith, After these things (i. e. receiving the Sacra­ment) we alway remember one ano­ther of them, and [...], &c. They that have, Apolog. 2. do help those that want, every man give­ing [...], according as he himself thinks fit to do. And that which is gathered is laid in the hands of the President (i. e. the chief Minister) wherewith he helps the Orphans and Widows, relieves those that are sick, or in prison, and those that travel, and all strangers; and to be short, he is the Curator of all that are in need. You [Page 144]may perceive likewise by the Apostles words, that their charity was no less large then the world; and that it was not impaled in a particular Church, but did stretch its hands to the farthest parts, by sending relief to Jerusalem, from whence the Gospel came unto them. But besides these, there were other offerings (as we call them at this day) which the people brought both for the celebrating of the Eucha­rist, and the maintenance of the Mi­nisters of the Gospel. These gifts (as an Adversary confesseth) were called Sacrifices, Dionys. Petav. diatrib. in Sy­ness. cap. 3. though coming from the hands of the people. Whence it is that Cyprian chides the rich people, that they threw nothing into the Cor­ban: and came into Gods house sine sacrificio, L. de Opere & Eleemos. without a sacrifice; yea did eat part of that sacrifice which the poor had offered. With these sacri­fices the Apostle saith that God is well pleased, and they that did offer them did it to testifie their love to God who had given them such good things, and their love to their Brethren, who they desired should share with them in Gods blessings. They were both a piece off [Page 145]Gods worship, and gave glory to him, (Psal. 96.8.It was accoun­ted a favour to be admit­ted to the of­fertory, i. e. to have their money accep­ted which they gave to the poor. And it was a pun­ishment to communicate [...] with­out offering; as a perfect communion was called [...], a communión with offering. Petavius Ib. Epist. ad Diog.) and likewise a piece of great charity that made others glorifie his Name. By these and all other wayes they expressed such an affection, that it was the talk of the Heathens, and that whereby they were known by all men to be his Disciples. And there­fore when Diogenetus sent to Justin Martyr, to know something more par­ticularly concerning the Christian way, he enquires not onely, what God they trust in, and how they worship him, and what makes them contemn the world, and despise death, &c. but also [...], what was that their dear affection which they did bear unto each other? This was more famed in the world then the noble band of lovers that died at each others side, and were ready to receive those wounds into their own bodies, which were dealt to their companions. For they did not onely impart their goods, but their own selves, and were prepared to lay down their lives for the Brethren. And if the relief they bestowed on each other were like in­cense and sacrifices to God (Phil. 4.18.) [Page 146]then the giving of themselves, was something like the love of Christ, and too great a charity to be resembled to any thing but his sacrifice.

4. And there was another thing that was sometime in use, which testified their love to all Christians throughout the World. One Church sent a loaf of bread to another, as a token of their consent in faith, and their consort in affection; which they that did receive, might consecrate (if they thought good) and use at the ministration of the Sacrament, and thereby testifie their union with the rest of the body of Christ that were distant from them.Aug. Epist. 31. So Paulinus wrote to St. Aug. Panem unum quem unanimitatis indicio misimus charitati tuae, rogamus ut accipiendo be­nedicas; i. e. That loaf of bread which I sent to your kindness as a token of our unanimity, I beseech you to re­ceive and bless. Such wayes did those holy men study and devise to engage themselves to each other, and repre­sent the brotherly kindness that was between them.

Beside all this, the present Greek Church (and I know not how ancient [Page 147]such a custom is) do in express words (when they are at the Communion) profess charity to all men, even to their enemies, and make a solemn declara­tion of the love that is in their hearts, before the whole Assembly of Gods people.De rit. Eccles. Gr. cap. 24. For so Christoph. Angelus re­lates, That when they go up to the ho­ly man for to receive, they turn them­selves first to the West, and then to the South, and next to the North, and say to the brethren that stand on all sides, [...]: Christians, we pray you pardon us all our offences either in word or deed. And they all answer again when they are thus spo­ken unto, [...], Brother, God grant thee his pardon. This Pe­tition they make unto the Company upon their knees, and seldom were any so wicked, as to dismiss them un­pardon-d; if they did, then were they themselves excluded from commu­nion.

We must think then when we ap­proach to this heavenly banquet, that we are about to remember the dearest love that ever was, and to engage our selves in the greatest affection and [Page 148]strictest friendship that can be in any hearts unto each other. VVe must think that we enter into a mutual co­venant with our brethren, by eating of the same bread, and drinking of the same cup. And we must resolve never to fall out any more, much less to hate, malign, or do despight and in­juries to one another; but to live more then ever in the peace of God, by a brotherly unity and affection. Let us think it as unnatural after such an uni­on to fall out, as for the hands to scratch the face, or any one member to beat and tear the other inpieces.

And if there be any thing hitherto treated of in this discourse, which men cannot or will not understand to be meant by this Sacrament, yet let us all apprehend that it is a bond of charity, and doth engage us not to quarrel a­bout such things. For it is a great policie of the Devil, to make that a bone of contention, which should be the Bread of Love and Peace. It was intended to be a contesseration and union of Christian Societies to God, and with one another; but mens evil taking of it; (as One well saith) di­vides [Page 149]us from God, and the evil under­standing of it divides us one from another. Thus much notwithstanding the weakest mind may conceive, that it is a feast of love; and it is not weak­ness, but wilfulness, nor shortness of understanding, but perversness of heart that makes men senseless in this parti­cular. And therefore let us use one another as friends, and think our hands and tongues, and our very hearts are bound with cords of Love, which we cannot break without apparent vio­lence to our selves. Remember always that a Rupture in this Sacred Bond of Brotherly Love, doth disunite us like­wise from our Lord himself. For there are not two cups whereof we drink at his Supper, the one containing the Love of Christ, the other the Love of our Brethren; but we drink both at one draught, and engage to both at one breath. So that he who unties the one knot, at the same time dissolves the other, according as the beloved Disciple speaks, He that loves not, 1 John. 4.8. knows not God, for God is love.

Conclusion.

WHen I consider all these admi­rable uses of this holy food, I do not wonder if some devout persons in the elder times, out of an excess of love, did by their daily bread (which we petition for in the Lords Prayer) understand this divine bread; and so out of a spiritual hunger, and a for­wardness of affection, did eat of it every day. For you see that herein we commemorate both to God and man the death of Christ; we publish it to the world, and plead it with God in our own behalf and others. Then this we have nothing more prevalent, so that our hearts begin (while we are commemorating of it, to burn with heavenly fires; and our tongues here tast such things, that make them sing the praises of Angels. We seal In­dentures between God and us. We give entertainment to our Lord Christ, and let him into our hearts; yea, we profess to all the world, that we are of his Religion and Communion. We are confirmed likewise in his favour: [Page 151]he opens unto us his very heart; he lets us into his secrets, and knits us unto himself with a more inseparable affection. We likewise associate our selves with the Disciples of our Lord, and make a firmer League of a holy friendship with them. All which may well make us say with the Disciples, Lord, evermore give us this bread, But though it be so desirable to feed alwayes on such sweetness, yet you cannot but discern, that this is a busi­ness that requires the greatest inten­tion of our mind, and the strongest af­fections of our heart, and layes the most weighty engagements upon us for our eternal good; and therefore must be well understood, and solemnly performed in our approaches to it.

For which cause, before I direct your Addresses to this Table (which is the next thing to be done, having opened to you the secrets of it) I will observe to you these two things for a conclusion of this part of my discourse. The one, to quicken your appetite that you may feed heartily: The other, to guide your minds, that you may not feed upon shadows.

1. This must needs be the most nourishing and strengthning food of all others that a Christian hath, because there are so many ends and purposes to which it serves. It feeds all our Graces at once (as you shall hereafter see) and it sends a nourishment (and that most plentifull and copious) to every part. It encreases our love to God, and our love to man, which is the sum of all our duty: It engageth us in the most sacred bands, by the dying of Christ, by his dearest love, by all the blessings which he hath bestowed, to do that duty, and faithfully perform it. It is a little Epitome of the whole Gospel, for it shews what God will do for us, and what we most do for him, and it affords strength unto us for to do it. And therefore it is called the New-Testament or Covenant in his blood, because here the whole New Covenant is represented, God give­ing his Son and all Blessings unto us, and we giving of our selves and our best service unto him, as hath been al­ready discoursed. By this God sets to his Seal, that all things contained in the Covenant shall be done for us; [Page 153]and we do set to our seal, and openly profess our selves to belong to the Co­venant, and that we esteem and highly value all those blessings, and will do any thing for to obtain them.

Now who would not long for such a food that will satisfie our whole de­sire? Who would refuse an invitation to that Table where all things are in one dish (if I may so speak) and God and Man meet together in one Bread and one Cup? But I doubt I may add, Who is there that would not have all these things, so that this Bread and Wine without any labour will convey them unto him? And therefore I must give you another short information, which was the second thing that I pro­mised, and that is this:

2. This copious Food doth not nou­rish us, without some actions of our own, even such as I have already men­tioned in this Discourse. It doth not feed us in a natural, but in a moral and spiritual manner. It reiresheth us by our consideration, by our faith, our love, our prayers, our covenanting and thanksgiving. But all the cunning in the world will not draw a drop of [Page 154]blood out of it without these; no, it draws out the blood of our souls, and wasts our strengths by a careless and prophane eating of it. The Papists talk of great things that their Priests give in this Sacrament by their power, and they would make the world believe, that they communicate more then we can do: But we must solemnly averr, That our Ministry conveighs as great things as they speak of, onely men must do something more of the work them­selves. We pretend not indeed to send wicked men to Heaven with a word; but we can help the thoughts and affections of all pious souls, as much as they with all their skill and power. Nay, if the people do nothing, we give them more then they; for they feed them with hungry accidents, they give them a bit of quantity, and a cup of colours; yea the Laity have not so much as a sip of these figures; whereas the worst man among us hath at least Bread and Wine; so that the best among us enjoy as much in effect and vertue as they can pretend unto, and the worst (by their own confes­sion) enjoy much more. But the [Page 155]truth of it is, that men have heightned these things to such incomprehensible mysteries, because they would do no­thing, and these should do all. They have advanced these sacred Rites of Christs appoinment, into a degree of vertue beyond all his other commands, that so by these easie and facile rites of Baptism and the Lords Supper, men might go to Heaven by a compendious manner of doing little or nothing to­wards their salvation. And they have not left these Rites as naked as Christ brought them into the world, but they have changed the manner of their ob­servance, and cloathed them in a great many strange dresses, lest the genuine simplicity of them should reprove their false hopes which they conceive from them. They could never put men so soon into Heaven, nor get so much money, as they do by the bargain, if they did not make men believe great­er things of this Sacrament, then of all the eternal Laws of Christ; and they could not make men believe so much more of it, if they did not transform it from its native simplicity, into an uncouth mystery. These two [Page 156]things, the love of mens lusts, and the love of the world, have made men stretch these things so far, as to defie all reason, to damn all those that will not speak non-sence, and to send those to hell (though of never so holy lives) that will not discredit their eyes and ears. What strange things will men believe and do, so that they can but believe contrary to the Go­spel? They hope to go to Heaven they know not how, by the Magick of words, and by the secret efficacy of a Religion that they do not under­stand, and this makes them willing to entertain such Doctrines. And then others have a respect to their own in­terest (and having little else to sup­port their greatness) would be reve­renced and esteemed for their extra­ordinary power in making the body of Christ, and that makes them willing to maintain them. So the Author of the History of the Council of Trent, saith very truly,L. 6. When men began to place Heaven below Earth, good insti­tutions were said to be corruptions onely tollerated by Antiquity; and abuses brought in afterward, were canonized [Page 157]for perfect corrections. But we wil­lingly acknowledg that we have no power to save men without them­selves. We celebrate no such My­steries that shall convey the wicked to Heaven. We cannot deliver those that are dead from their pain and tor­ment, who whilst they lived made little reckoning either of this or any other Divine Command. No, we pro­claim to All men, that this food must nourish us by our own stomachs, that it affords strength by the vital opera­tions of our own souls. And if we our selves will do what God requires of us, then we shall find it as full of vertue as we can desire, and it will be a means to put us in Heaven while we re­main here upon the earth. Sometimes they will needs blame us as doing too little, and denying the use of good works; but this is such a falsity, that we call for more of mens labour then they seem to make necessary, and pro­fess that we hope not by any power of ours to do them good, without the ex­ercise of their own powers. And therefore let us put forth a lively faith, let us heartily covenant with our Lord, [Page 158]let us make a sincere profession of our Religion, and exercise such other acts as I have been treating of, and so will this Feast be of great force, and full of efficacy to our souls health.

And that you may feed with an ap­petite, and hereby get an encrease in strength, it is necessary that I next of all direct your Addresses to Gods Table, and shew how you should pre­pare your selves to be his worthy Guests; and that shall be the Subject of the following Discourse.

Mensa Mystica.
SECT. II. Concerning Preparation to the Table of the Lord; being a Discourse upon Psal. 93.5.

CHAP. VII.

IT is a known saying of the Psal­mist, Holiness becomes thy House, O Lord, for ever. The corner-stone upon which that Affirmation is built, is no other but this, That God is essentially holy. And that is a truth which hath such a foundation in our natural un­derstanding, a notion that springs so clearly from every mans mind, that all the deductions and consequents that flow from it, must needs be evident, and find no resistance but onely from the wills and perverse affections of men.

If we consider therefore with our selves a while, and look upon him that dwells in pure light, we shall soon be perswaded that they ought to be holy that approach near to him, that no prophane foot ought to tread in his Sanctuary, and that an unhallowed mind cannot be the Temple where he should dwell. A short explanation of the Psalmists words will make it ma­nifest, that our minds do rightly per­swade us, when we so conclude. The house of God (which he speaks of) was the Temple at Jerusalem, where God was worshipped; into one part of which none but the High Priest might enter, and that but once a year, being void of Legal uncleanness. Into a second the Priests only might ap­proach for to Minister, but not with­out the like state of purity. And the people who were admitted into the courts of Gods house, could not be ac­cepted to feast with God (as you have heard) unless their offering was with­out blemish, and they themselves at that time free from any pollutions which their Law prohibited. Which to any wise man must signifie thus much; [Page 161] that God is greatly to be feared in the Assembly of his Saints; Psal. 89.7. and to be had in reverence of all that are about him: and that nothing becomes his presence but what is seperated from the world, and cleansed from carnal affections.

And so Plutarch (a grave Heathen,)In Polit. prae­cept. tell us that into some ancient Tem­ples none might come with any money or weapons about them, but were at their first entrance to lay them down at the doors, and so approach unto the Altars. This was to signifie not one­ly their poverty and weakness, and that they look upon themselves as desti­tute of all succour except divine; but their contempt of the world also, and their forsaking of all earthly things, that they might be fit for divine con­verses. Cunaeus I think hath most happily conjectured, that the Temple which he speaks of, was no other then the House of God at Jerusalem. L. 2. de repub. Heb. cap. 12. For no man (saith Maimon) might come [...] into the mountain of the House with a staff, or with his shoes, with his purse or wallet, or such like things. Which surely was significant of their divesting themselves of all earthly [Page 162]things, and laying aside all employ­ments and worldly thoughts, that they might present themselves naked and simple, pure and holy before the God of holiness, who alway said to his peo­ple (both under the Law and Gospel) be ye holy, Lev. 11.14. 1 Pet. 1.16. for I am holy. This is a truth at tested so much unto by Heathens, that I may be confident I said true, when I affirmed it to be the issue of a first notion,Dion. [...] Hesiod. L. 1. [...] &c. [...] i. e. [...], &c. v. Moscho pul. & Pro­clum. that they should be holy persons who converse with a holy God. Who­soever thinks otherwise, [...], saith a grave Author, is by this very thought (if there were nothing else) an unholy person. And it is still ingrafted so much in every mans mind, that none will venture to make any of the more solemn addres­ses to God, but they think of some repentance, and purgation, of some more devout disposition of mind, how unholy soever the rest of their lives have been.

Now though the Psalmist intend more then a fit of Religion, and can­not be thought to mean so little as a holiness that hath onely its set and ap­pointed times, its new Moons and so­lemn [Page 163]assemblies, or in our phrase, the monthly Communions and the week­ly Sabbaths; yet it may justly be asked, whether besides those two things I have already mentioned (viz. The holiness of God, and the constant ho­liness of those who converse with him) there be not also a third included in them, which is, that at some times we are ingaged to a higher degree of ho­liness, and ought more solemnly and religiously to purifie and cleanse our selves?

Are we not to raise up our hearts to a greater fervour in devotion, to search our selves more curiously, and cast out all the leaven when we come near to God in the highest duties of our Reli­gion? Or, in short, it may be asked, Whether we are not to use a greater preparation, and bring a greater holi­ness to Gods Table, then at other times, when we approach to him in other duties? I shall not certainly de­termine how far the Psalmists words do favour such an assertion, that there ought to be a greater regard to our selves when we go to the house of God then at other times; But I shall endea­vour [Page 164]to illustrate all the truth that is in it, and in the former also in these fol­lowing Propositions.

CHAP. VIII.

ONely let it be premised, that it is my design so to state this matter of Preparation, that we may come to Gods Table in a very reverend manner, and yet not use him unreverently at other times. A great deal of care is to be used when we go to feast with the King of Heaven, but that is not the greatest, much less all the care of a Christian. If God prepare a Supper, we should prepare our selves to be fit guests (so much is resolved upon by all) the onely danger is, lest we do not think this preparation looks so far back as really it doth.In Sept. Sap. Conviv. I like Thales his resolution very well which we meet withal in Plutarch, [...]. As he that entertains us at a feast makes great preparation for us beforehand, so should they prepare themselves who are invited to the feast. And the Syba­rites [Page 165](he saith) were wont to invite their women a year before the feast was, [...]. that they might at leisure pre­pare themselves with good apparel and brave ornaments, &c. to come unto it. But truly, saith he, in my judg­ment, there is need of a great deal more time, to fit one for to feast in such a manner as he ought, then this comes to. The manners and carriage are to be righly formed; his mind is to be apparelled, and his soul trimmed with brave notions, that his behaviour may be handsomely composed. Now it is far more hard to adorn the mind, then to adorn the body; to get a deport­ment befitting our selves, then to ap­pear richly and gaylie clad. And therefore longer time then a year will be required to dress up a mans self for to feast like a wise man or a Philoso­pher, even so much, till we can [...], get a becom­ing conversation, and find out those Ornaments that sute best with a vertu­ous life. What he saith in that mat­ter is but my very sence in the thing we are treating of. God makes an invi­tation, and calls us to his board; we [Page 166]must therefore trim up our selves to meet the bridegroom of our fouls. But this preparation is not such a busi­ness that can have any set quantity of time allotted wherein to make it (as of a month, a year, or the like space) but so much is necessary as will com­pose our souls to the image of Christ, and make us fit company for so holy a God. It is not the washing our cloathes a little before, the sprucing up of our souls (as I may say) and the putting on of a fine and demure behaviour when we come thither, though we be never so filthy and ragged at other times: But a holy life is the true time for preparing our souls to be Gods guests. Whatsoever care and exact­ness we use, and whatsoever extraor­dinary ornaments we put on immedi­ately before our approaches to him; yet that a constant good behaviour to­wards God and man is the main thing we are to look after, is the sum of what I have to say in the following par­ticulars.

I. The first of which I have already begun, and it is nothing but this, That holiness is to be a Christians constant em­ployment, [Page 167]and the great business of his life. It is not a quality of which we have use onely at certain times nor is it a strictness at some seasons that gets us a liberty in the rest of our lives to be loose and careless; nor a solitary reti­redness now and then, that shall make an amends for all our wandrings: But it is a walking with God, a patient running of the race which he hath set us, and a daily dying unto the world, insomuch that the Apostle saith, we must be holy in all manner of conver­sation. 1 Pet. 1.15 We are not to put on the Lord Jesus as we do a cloak which we throw off at our pleasure, and again cast about us when there is occasion; but as we do our inner garment which we never go without, nor lay aside, no not when we have none in company but our selves. Our Religion is not the feast of unleavened bread which the Jews observed but for seven days, except you take the number seven to denote perfection, and to be a token that they should rejoyce always in a constant course of holiness before God. And in this sense I confess the Apostle is pleased to call our life a feast of un­leavened [Page 168]bread, 1 Cor. 5.7, 8. which he bids us ob­serve now that Christ our Passeover is sacrificed for us, but without any limi­tation of time, because it is to last al­ways. And the reason of it is, be­cause Christians themselves are be­come [...] unleavened (ver. 7.) i. e. they are separated by their profession from the wickedness wherein formerly they lived, and therefore were to be made [...] a new mass or lump, that should never admit of any of the old prophane mixtures that formerly had defiled their hearts and lives. We are not onely to make a solemn stir against a Sacrament, and then light candles to search for the old leaven that it may be thrown out; but being by Christ become unleavened, we are constantly to maintain such a light shining in our hearts, that not we may live, but Christ may live in us, and the life that we lead may be by faith of the Son of God. Before a great festival the worst of Heathens had their Votivae noctes, their severe and pure nights (as their Authors call them) ten of which together used to precede the feast of Isis, in which time (as if they had imi­tated [Page 169]the command to Israel when the Law was given, (Exod. 19.15.) they abstained from the most lawfull enjoy­ments and chaste embraces. But what an heathenish life notwithstanding was, you all know, or else the Apostle will tell you, 1 Pet. 4.3. They walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, abominable Idolatries. And therefore their own sober Authors reproved this great fol­ly, of thinking holiness and purity to be the actions of a few days, and not the course of a mans life. Orat. in Timoer. An illustrious place there is in Demosthenes to this purpose, which I cannot but mention because it will testifie so much against the Christian world. ‘Before men come (saith he) to their holy offices, they abstain for a certain number of days from all filthiness and vile acti­ons; whereas they who go about holy things, should not onely for some space of time, [...], but for their whole life have purified themselves of such kind of practices.’ Hear O Christian what an Heathen saith, and please not thy self in thy separate and [Page 170]strict devotion before thou comest to the Table of the Lord, or against an holy time. But think that every day is to be holy to the Lord, though every action in the day be not equally holy. Learn not onely [...], (as his phrase is) to purifie thy self for a set number of days, as if thou hadst appointed or ordered so much time to be spent in holiness, and so much in sin; but to behave thy self as if thou didst account thy whole life an opportunity of serving God, and a season of cleansing thy self from all that filthiness which will not let thee see the face of God. When I think of the Persians (who they say) every year had a feast where­in they destroyed all the Serpents that could be found, and then let them multiply as fast as they would till the same solemnity returned again; It puts me in mind of the Religion that is most in fashion among them that are named after Christ. They are very angry at the Devil and all his cursed brood, they are in some mood at a so­lemn feast, mightily incensed against the old Serpent; but afterwards they [Page 171]patiently suffer him to take his rest and his lusts increase like the spawn of fish­es without any considerable distaste or opposition. These men are as much mistaken in the Christian life, as they that mistake a Serpent for an Eele, or a stone for bread. God expects (and so he justly may) that we should abound in all the fruits of righteousness that are by Christ Jesus to his praise and glory,Phil. 1.11. and that we should pass the time of our sojourning here in fear,1 Pet. 1.17. abstaining as pilgrims and strangers from fleshly lusts that war against the soul.1 Pet. 2.11.

II. The second thing that I would have observed is, that this holiness con­sists of actions of divers sorts, and is expressed in different manners. It is diversified not onely by the objects about which it is imployed, but the state of the subject wherein it is will not permit that all the acts of it should be of one kind and value. And there­fore it was that I said, the Actions of a holy life are not equal in their holi­ness. Some of them respect God, others our neighbours, and the rest our selves; and all these we can do at some times with a better understand­ing [Page 172]and greater devotion, then at other times it is possible for us to do. For we begin this life of holiness when we are baptized into the Christian faith, and take upon us those sacred ingage­ments to be his servants.

We are ever after this under a reli­gious tie and vow; and the next step which we take to the discharge of it, is to be catechized and instructe in Christs Religion, which is all that a child is capable of. And then when we come to years of discretion, we are to advance still forward to a serious profession that we stand to our first Covenant, and will be true and faith­full to our Lord. Now all our life after is but an asserting of our truth and sincerity in this holy Covenant, and a making good our promise and oath wherein we have bound our selves. Which when we labour con­scientiously to perform, then do all the actions of our lives become holy. And so a man may be holy in his shop, by diligence and justice; and at his board by temperance, thankful­ness, and sending portions to the poor. A friendly, innocent and useful con­versation [Page 173]will make him holy abroad; and meditation and prayer mixed with the former, will make him so at home. Yea, prudence, and the ends of health and cheerfulness will make his sports and recreations, his sleep and all such actions to be holy, and not be reckon­ed among pastimes, but the necessary seasons of doing little or nothing, that afterward we may do something and be worthily employed. As to the dis­position then of his heart, a Christian is alway alike holy (because he seri­ously desires, intends and endeavours to be undefiled in all things) onely the matter about which he is necessarily employed will not bear it, that all his actions should alway be alike excel­lent.

III. There is another thing likewise that must be confessed, That though all actions of holiness have a regard to God as they are parts of our obedience to his commands; yet some of them have a more particular respect to him, and are more industriously intended to his honour. Though all holy actions look towards him; yet some of them are a looking him directly in the face. [Page 174]Though we may always fit under his shadow with great delight, yet some­times we are under the light of his countenance it self; his glory is to be alway our end, but sometimes we are said more particularly to glorifie his Name. As when we advance him highly in our own thoughts, or when we proclaim his excellencies to the world. When we pay our acknowledg­ments to him for blessings received, or wait on his bounty for things that we need. In brier, prayer and praises, meditation of him, and desires after him, reading and hearing of his holy Word, with such like actions, me of that sort wherein we behold his face, and do more sensibly taste of his good­ness, and are both more satisfied with him as the greatest sweetness, and transformed into him as the purest beanty.

CHAP. IX.

IV. NOw to draw nearer to the main scope of this discourse; It must in the next place be consider­ed, [Page 175]that those actions which respect men or our selves, and those which im­mediately respect God, are mutual pre­parations each to other. As an holy behaviour in the works of our calling, in our converses with men, and the use of Gods blessings, dispose us unto prayer, meditation, and such like du­ties: so prayer, &c. again requires them, and returns the kindness upon their own heads, by disposing and preparing us to such like holy deport­ment for the future in these matters. These two are [...] in an insepa­rable brotherhood, like Hippocrates his twins, that grow or decay both together. Prayer makes a Christian live holily, and a holy life makes us fit to pray servently. And both the one and the other are not onely parts of our duty which God commands, but instruments and helps to doing our duty. Such a combination there is between all the things that God re­quires, to make them easie and fami­liar, desirable and pleasant, and to make us intire and compleat, impar­tial and universal in our obedience to him. VVe cannot do one duty that [Page 176]he bids us, but the rest become more easie to be done; nor love sincerely one command, but the rest will draw us unto their love. The holiness of our conversation is it self an invitation of God to our souls, much more when we second it with the attractives of holy prayers and affectionate desires: And both the sweetness of such con­verses with God, and the power of his grace that is consequent upon our hearty desires, will ingage and inable us to continue an holy conversation. As impurity brings us into familiarity with the Devil, so holiness brings us into fellowship with God; and the happiness of that is so great, that we shall not be tempted easily to leave it, but be excited to do all we can for to maintain it. Psellus I remember tells us, that the mad fellows of Manes, and others, frantickly and diabolically acted, used to eat the excrements of a man; and being asked the reason of it, they made no answer but this, that to those that eat such things [...], the spirits were made friendly and benevolent. I am sure the Devil delights in those who [Page 177]feed upon the filth of the world; and the very prayers of such persons are but a strange charm or spell that have a force to hold them faster in the De­vils arms. While men pray with any affection to sinne, or with no disaffe­ction to it, they will but the more certainly continue in it, and never think of forsaking that which they hope their prayers have despoiled of all power to do them any harm. They think they have conjured out all the bitterness, all the sting and the fire that is in sin by that holy breath, and so they take the confidence to embrace and kiss it as an harmless thing. But a holy man (as I said) is Gods de­light, and he takes pleasure in those that fear him. And therefore all the Religious acts of a pious soul, make his ordinary Employments to be reli­gious and pleasing unto God, and they again have an influence upon his acts of Worship to make them more full of devotion and true fervour. As wic­ked actions do nourish in some most passionate prayers for forgiveness, and those prayers they hope obtain leave for them to do wickedly upon no [Page 178]greater charge than to ask forgiveness: So good actions do beget in men a greater longing after the divine grace, and these desires make them still do well out of a hope to have more grace. When a good man lifts up his hands to God, he draws down God into his soul that he may work with his hands that which is good in his employment, and he is not so busie in that employ­ment, that his hands should grow so heavy or dirty by it, as to be unwil­ling or unfit to lift them up again to Heaven.

We are to look then after such a demeanour, that we may be fit at all times when God shall give us an oc­casion to wait upon him: our life must be so framed, that one piece of them may well fit and fall in with ano­ther. And as it is with a Table or some such thing that is taken in pieces and disjointed upon occasion, but may presently be set together, and all the parts will come into their proper places without much noise and trouble; So it should be with our lives, though one piece of them be distant from ano­ther by reason of our various busines­ses; [Page 179]yet when our necessities do re­quire, we should be able without much labour to join the most different parts together with the rest, and not be forced to spend our time, to plain and smooth, and knock (as I may speak) our hearts together, when we should be in a holy frame, and be spending our time in the enjoyment of our greatest good. I mean by all this, that our worldly employments must not hinder our Re­ligion, but rather be a means to fur­ther and promote it; so that where they end, it may take its place, and fall in as if that room were prepared for it.

V. It is to be acknowledged, that even of those holy actions which respect God, some are necessary, and some vo­luntary, i. e. some are of that nature, that unless we do them, we cannot be Christians; but others of them will make us excellent. Some are so neces­sary that we cannot be saved unless we do them; others are aspirations after a greater glory. Those that are un­der an express command, are indispen­sibly necessary to our happiness, and those actions of piety that are free and [Page 180]uncommanded, I look upon as secu­ring our happiness, and without which we may be much in danger to neglect the most necessary. By these Acts which are voluntary, (that I may avoid all quarrel) I understand on­ly the higher degrees of those acts which are necessary, unto which I imagine that no man will take himself to be at all times absolutely engaged. And yet if at some seasons they be not performed, it may hazard our estate, though not certainly expose it to ruine. Such Free-will-offerings there were among the Jews, which were onely larger expressions of their gratitude in the same things wherein at other times they did use to manifest it. And that they were a piece of Gods Worship and Service, though not particularly com­manded by him, is apparent from the direction that God gives about them when they should be brought unto him. But these Laws that God makes for their right and acceptable perform­ance, do again show, that he expected them from his friends, though he did not absolutely enjoin them. To pray then, or to meditate and give praise to [Page 181]God, are things of an unavoidable con­cernment: But by longer study and pains to raise our hearts to a greater intention of mind, to greater expres­sions of love, to higher and more sub­lime admirations, &c. is that which I call free, but yet fit at some seasons. As it is in Almes-giving, so it is in these other holy duties. There seems to be a certain portion which we are bound to give to poor people, or else we de­fraud them of their due; but it is fit also that we should enlarge our Charity beyond the bounds of meer necessity, lest by being Niggards, at last we be­come Thieves, and by doing no more than is due, we be tempted sometimes to do less. And so the Jews distinguish­ed Charity into two sorts, one of which they called Righteousness, which was exactly according to the Law of Moses, and the other they called Mercy or Bounty, being above the proportion the Law required. According to which notion, he that performed the first sort was named a Just Man; and he that performed the later was named Good. The Priests lived upon Gods Almes, and he assigned unto them a great part [Page 182]of that Maintenance which the Jews brought to him; and though I might give other instances of Charity, yet I shall chuse to instance in one that con­cerned them, because less observed. The Law required that they should give the first-fruits of their Land unto the Priest as his receiver, Numb. 18.12. Deut. 38.4. Though the quantity of them be not there determined, yet because Ezekiel saith (Ezek. 45.13.) that they should offer the sixth part of an Ephah of an Homer, their wise men have resolved that they were bound to bring at least a sixtieth part to God for his Ministers; for an Ephah is the tenth part of an Homer.V. Seld. Hist. of Tythes. cap. 2. Ainsw. in Numb. 18.12. But not­withstanding this, they account him but a covetous man that brought no more; and they called this a Terumah (or Heave-offering) of an evil eye. For thus Maimon writes; A good eye, (i. e. a liberal person) brings one part of forty, a mean eye (i. e. a man that hath some goodness) one of fifty; and an evil eye (i. e. a niggard) one of sixty; less than which it was not lawfull for him to give. Therefore the Son of Syrach thus exhorts, Give [Page 183]the Lord his honour with a good eye, Eccles. 35.8. and diminish not the first fruits of thy hand, i. e. do not stint thy self to a meer Le­gal righteousness in giving God his first fruits; however grudge not to give him so much as the Law requires. This Doctrine of theirs is a good rule for us to square such actions by. We must do what Justice reduires, and give so much as we in conscience think God absolutely exacts of us, but we should sometimes extend our hand beyond that which the Scripture calls righteousness, and by liberality come up to the degree of good men. V. D. Ham. Sermon of Poor mans Tything. Now we cannot well think that God requires a less portion of us then he did of the Jews, who once in three years gave a tythe to the poor; and therefore if any one will bind himself to a thirtieth part of his yearly encrease (which is the same with a triennial tythe) yet it will be fit that he make some free-will offerings, and not confine himself to such a scantling, which he hath tied his hands unto, lest he should fall short of them through his carelesness. And the one of these he looks upon as ne­cessary, because else he may be worse [Page 184]than a Jew, yea than a Jew of an evil eye; and the other as a voluntary ob­lation to the honour of God, who doth for us not onely more than we deserve, but more than we desire.

Now Prayer and such like duties, may be drawn within the compass of the same reason.Acts 10.2. So [...] is rendred by continual. Rom. 9.2. And fince the Scrip­ture tells us that we should pray al­way, Luke 18.1. and that we should pray continually, or without ceasing, 1 Thes. 5.17. it is most necessary that there should be some considerable por­tions of our time allotted to it. And though it be not said in the Bible, how often in the day we should be upon our knees; yet all good men (that I know or ever heard of) do think, that nothing less than a morning and even­ing-Worship can denominate prayer continual or without ceasing. As the Lambs that were offered every morn­ing and every evening throughout the year, were called in Moses his Law the continual burnt-offering, Exod. 29.42. Numb. 28.3. So the offering un­to God our Morning and Evening Sa­crifices, even the calves of our lips, for what we want, and what we have [Page 185]received, may be called our continual prayer, which must be alwayes joined (according to the Apostle) with thanks­giving. From their practise we fetch the best explication of these expressions concerning prayer, that I know of, and so we may of such things as I before mentioned, and many others also. These solemn Addresses then we may by no means omit, but look upon our selves as necessarily bound unto them. And as among them there were two Lambs more offered upon the Sab­bath day, over and above the conti­nual Burnt-offering, (Numb. 28.8, 9.) So we cannot but think our selves most strictly enjoined to enlarge our pray­ers and praises upon the Lords day, to a greater length than at other times, and to offer as many more sacrifices as other days require. Several other times there were wherein God requi­red more than the ordinary offerings of them (as may be seen in the same Chapter) but yet he left room for some voluntary Oblations, which (as I said) he thought they would be so kind as to bestow upon him, or else he would never have made mention of [Page 186]them, nor given any Laws about them. Even so hath God left it to our love and good will we bear to him, to make choice of some seasons (beside those he hath appointed) wherein to pay him larger acknowledgments, and te­stifie a more abundant affection to his service, both by the fervency of our souls in what we do, and by the great­er proportion of time which we allow for the doing of it.Pral. 119.164. and in the 108 verse, he prayes God to accept the Free-will-offerings of his mouth. And therefore it will be highly accepted of God, if sometimes we pray with David seven times in a day, and make some addi­tion to the daily sacrifice. Charles the fifth, though a person of a high em­ployment (as David was) used to continue so long at his private devo­tions, and was so sparing in his ordi­nary speech, that his Courtiers were wont to say,Chytreus Orat. de eo. he did saepius cum Deo, quam hominibus loqui, speak oft­ner with God, than he did with men. The more pious sort likewise among the Jews, seem to have prayed at least four times in a day, twice at the Tem­ple, if they were at Hierusalem, and twice in their own private houses. At the third hour when the Disciples were [Page 187]together (at the Temple it is very probable, because all Nations that were at Jerusalem took notice of it) the holy Ghost came down upon them, Acts 2.15. which was the time of the morning sacrifice, about nine of the clock, according to our reckoning. On the same day (in all likelihood) two of the Apostles went into the Temple at another hour of Prayer, which was the ninth, (viz. three of the clock in the afternoon, [...]. the time of the evening-sacrifice) as you read Acts 3.1. where the words are so placed, that they intimate another hour of prayer to be usual besides that. From the constant observance of these appointed times, they are said in Luk. 24. ult. to be [...], continually in the Temple blessing and praising God. But be­side you may find that Peter prayed at twelve of the Clock in his own private house, which was the sixth hour of the day in their language, Acts 10.9. and therefore it is probable that the twelfth hour, or six at night, was another hour for private prayer among them. And if it should be said, That he being not at Hierusalem, but Joppa, might omit [Page 188]the hours of prayer at the Temple, that will be confuted by the practise of Cornelius (in the same Chapter, ver. 3, & 30.) who being at Caesarea, prayed at the ninth hour, and the ho­ly Apostle cannot be thought to be less devout than him. There is no­thing lost by going unto God; and the oftner we perswace our selves to it, the better success we shall have in all other things, according to a good Pro­verb (of the Dutch I think) which saith, Thefts never enrich, Alms ne­ver impoverish, Prayer hinders no work. Our Saviour hath given us an example of extraordinary devotion in his own practise, Luke 6.12. where you read that he continued all night in prayer to God, or (as [...], is by some rendred) in one of Gods places of Prayer: Thither he retired from company, and passed the night in holy meditations and conver­ses with God. He did not sin when he slept other nights, but this was a more illustrious act of holiness, and a more fervent expression of love to his Father, above that which the precept requires. And concerning such devo­tions [Page 189]the Mahometans say, Preces no­cturnae sunt splendor dici; Night-prayers are the light of the day. So in Luke 22.41. we find that our Lord fell upon his knees and prayed; and not long after, ver. 44. [...], he prayed more earnestly and fervently than before. He did not fail of his duty in the former prayer, because it was not in such a vehement degree; but in this later prayer he expressed a more ex­cellent zeal and ardor of spirit then he was absolutely tied unto. All these things are written for our instruction, that we may learn to lay hold on the occasions that are presented to us, of in­tending our spirits, & raising our hearts beyond their common pitch and tem­per. I remember Strabo saith concerning the ancient Venetians, that they used to sacrifice to Diomedes [...], a white Horse, which might both signifie the purity, and also the strength and speed of the service that they owed to God. We must alway be holy and pure in our Addresses to the Divine Majesty; but we have examples in Scripture (and it will be highly plea­sing unto him) to put to greater [Page 190]strength sometimes, and press for­ward with a greater speed; to collect all the forces of our souls, and strain them to the noblest degree of desire and love that we are able.

VI. You may likewise consider fur­ther, That one act of Religion is pre­parative to another. The daily sacri­fice makes the weekly more acceptable. Continual prayer makes us more fit for prayer on the Lords day. The morning and evening spent well, make us ready to spend a whole day better. And these constant sacrifices keep the Altar warm, and maintain a fire to kindle our free-will-offerings. And one free-will-offering inflames our heart to a forwardness to present God with another. So likewise back again, these extraordinary devotions make us more solemn in our ordinary duties; and the Lords day employed well, makes every day to be spent the better.

Meditation and retired thoughts fit us for prayer; and prayer again nou­risheth and feeds our meditations. Both those fit us to receive holy exhorta­tions, and usefull instructions in Ser­mons; and they again stir us up to [Page 191]more frequency and fervency in pray­er and meditation. And these toge­ther with all the former that I have mentioned, prepare us for the Eucha­rist, and the keeping the holy Feast of Christians in the Supper of the Lord. This again affords such nutriment, that it makes us strong in the Grace of Christ, and to perform all other duties with a greater gust and relish, with more delight to God, and unto our selves.

VII. But it must also be acknowledg­ed, That there is some other prepara­tions requisite to holy duties, beside all this that I have mentioned. For though fervency in any one duty of our Religion, doth but fit us to be more fervent in all the rest; and though the works of our employment conscientiously discharged, do fit us for the duties of Religion, yet to the doing of them fervently, it is needfull that we lay out of our mind all other thoughts that concern not them. Now the works of our ordinary employment being about a different matter from the works of devotion, and the mind full of one thing, not being able pre­sently [Page 192]to be void for other company, we must spend some time to discharge our thoughts of such objects as are alien to these holy duties we go about. Constancy in our lawfull business doth hinder many indispositions and ill ha­bits in our minds, that else would grow up in us; but yet they them­selves may leave some little indisposi­tions in us, at least to such a fervency in devotion as we would arise unto. They therefore must be turned out of doors, and the thoughts of them must be laid aside, that God may come in and possess himself of us. The Altar of God (Exod. 27.4, 5.) was made with a grate in the midst of it, that let the ashes fall through, so that the fire might burn hotter and more purely. But yet for all this, it is most likely that the sacrifice would need some stir­ring, that so the ashes might be shaken off more perfectly, and it more entirely consumed (and therefore you read of flesh-hooks among the Utensils of the Altar, wherewith the Priest ordered the flesh while it burn in the fire:) Just so it is with our hearts, in which a con­tinual fire ought to burn; though [Page 193]they be like a grate or seive, and let worldly thoughts pass through and run out of them, which else like ashes would make the flame to be dimme and pale; yet besides this care, there will be need of some shaking and stir­ring up of our selves, that we may more fully clear our hearts of all those earthly cloggs that will stick and cling unto us. Now the higher that holy act of worship is which we are to per­form, and the seldomer it doth return to be performed, and the more vehe­ment that expression of love is which we would make in it; the more so­lemn must be our preparation, and the larger time there must be allowed, for taking our minds from other things, and bringing them to a serious inten­tion upon this alone. And therefore since our approaches to the Lords Ta­ble are of such moment, and since they profit us not without the operation of our own mind, and that benefit like­wise so great when we come aright, it cannot be thought but that we should use a great care and circumspection to fit our selves for such near converses, especially since they are not so fre­quently [Page 194]performed as other duties. And yet in this preparation there is also a latitude, so that I cannot well determine how much is of absolute necessity to be done; and if I should, still we may go beyond those limits, and perform more acceptable service unto God.

If you would know now after all that hath been said, wherein prepara­tion to his holy duty doth more par­ticularly consist; I may briefly resolve you about it thus; We must deny to our selves lawfull things, by sequestra­tion of our selves from our ordinary business, by abstinence from food, and from the most chast embraces which the Apostle speaks of 1 Cor. 7.5. And this must be done for no other end, but that we may more fully know the estate of our souls (which I suppose we are already acquainted withall) and be more deeply appre­hensive of the evil of sin, and more sorrowfully bewail it, and more ra­tionally resolve against it. That we may pray with greater appetite, and praise his Name with a more delicious relish when we distast all other things: [Page 195]and in short that by disburdening of our bodies, we may ascend up to Heaven with greater felicity in our thoughts and meditation.

And because preparation to the Sa­crament of Christs body and blood is the prime end of this discourse; I shall next descend to treat of that, and in the following Chapter consider what greater degree of holiness may be con­ceived requisite to the right perform­ance of that Christian duty.

CHAP. X.

I. THat we are to lay aside (some time before we come to the Lords Table) all our worldly employ­ments though never so innocent, hath been already suggested. We must so order our affairs, that they may not hin­der us in any of those acts which I am about to mention. And if they prove to be of great weight, then this thing must needs be premised. For every act must have some time allowed wherein it is to be done, and we cannot do two things at one time, especially when [Page 196]they are of such a distant nature as spi­ritual an carnal things. We find in our selves that when one faculty is in act, we cannot intend the acts of another. [...]. Porphyr. We cannot at the same time operate according to the brutal part, and contemplate the things of a ratio­nal life: Much less can one faculty mind two objects at once; or can our mind be busied both about our earth­ly affairs, and our spiritual concern­ments.

And besides this, Seeing it is the design of a Christian in this duty, to get as near to Heaven as he can, it is the more necessary that he not only lay aside his business, but his body too. He is to endeavour to strip himself of his cloaths, to put off his outward man, that he may have a more naked and open sight of future glory, and render his mind more sensible of God, and fit to receive a deeper impression from his hand. At this season we are to put forth the strongest acts of faith, to excite the hottest flames of love, to renew our resolutions; to bind the obligations that are upon us faster a­bout our souls; which cannot be done [Page 197]but by a solemn heart. So that this separation from our business before­hand, seems to come within some de­gree of a necessary duty.

And give me leave to tell you, that it would be a thing of singular advan­tage, if those that have so much room in their houses, would set some little place apart for holy duties, and let it be acquainted with no other thoughts, but only of God and their own souls. This would be an easie way of put­ting all our employments out of our thoughts, which would all leave us when we came to that place where they were strangers. None of them would be so bold as to tread in that place, which is washt with tears; they would not draw breath, nor live in that place where there is no aire but Sighs and Prayers; they would never abide in that room where no inhabitant is but God alone. For we find that if we come to any place where something of note and concernment hath been done by us, though it be slipt out of our mindes, the very sight of the place revives the image of that thing, and stirres it up again in our memories. [Page 198]If therefore we had a place of privacy, where we did nothing but read and pray, and invite God into our compa­ny, as soon as ever we did but look into it, the face of God would meet us, and we should be struck with a certain awe and reverence from his presence that uses to be there with us. And a sweet remembrance also of what pleasure hath passed there either in joy or sorrow, would by a kind of natural way be revived. But if a man pray in his Counting-house, the thoughts of his money will be apt to meet him as soon as he steps in at the door, his bills and bonds will thrust themselves into his mind as soon as the Book of God, so that he will find it more difficult to drive away such im­pertinent thoughts. Let us therefore resolve on this as the first step to the Lords Table, to separate our selves at least from all worldly employments, if not from worldly places. If we cannot have a little Chappel in our own hou­ses, yet let us look to that in our own heart, that nothing now but God do enter into it. Say thus in your own meditations; Be gone you vain things, [Page 199]for I am going to my God. Yea Lord, do thou bid them to be gone, and not dare to appear in thy presence. Wel­come holy thoughts and pure desires! O happy time wherein I may embrace my dearest love, and solace my self in the armes of my Saviour! I charge you O my companions, that you haste away as fast as the Hinds or the Roes, and that you stir not, or disturb the beloved of my soul. Come not near I charge you; make no noise to dis­please him, or to call me away from his enjoyment. It is the voice of my beloved; I hear him inviting of me to his house of banquets, I see him com­ing to entertain me; let all flesh there­fore be silent, and not be so bold as to whisper in his presence.

II. When you are thus at leisure, set your self to consider what is the end of this Rite, and what lieth hid under the Ceremony. This one thing seems to me to call for some solemn thoughts beforehand; because it is a piece of our Religion that is cloathed with an outward garment; it hath something of a positive institution in it, and re­tains something of the ceremony, the [Page 200]signification of which is to be studied, lest we should not discern the Lords body. 1 Cor. 11.19. If we look not beyond the sha­dow, we shall feed nothing but our bo­dy; or if we draw aside the veil but half way, we shall lose a great part of the food of our souls, which are in­structed by every part of this holy action. You must therefore labour to uncover the face of this mysterious food, and consider it in all those no­tions wherein I have laid it open be­fore you. This I judge to be the more needfull (together with the rest of those directions which I have to add) because now this Feast doth return more seldome then it did in ancient times; and so our minds may have let slip the remembrance of many of the ends of it, or at least may retain but weak and dark notions of them. For those things that are not of natural light, do not use to stick so close to our souls, as those that are engraven upon them; but by the intervening of other images they may be either blotted out, or else look more pale, and lose the liveliness of their colour. And there­fore we had need the oftner to medi­tate [Page 201]on them, that so by a new impres­sion they may keep their form, and then especially when we are going so near to God, lest our acquaintance with them be decayed through the mul­titude of other things that we have converse withall. Let every man then remember himself when he intends to remember Christ, and say after this sort, O my soul! whither are we going? What is that Table which I see yonder spread for us? What means that broken bread that is provided? For what end did his precious blood run out of his side? Do men use to drink a cup of blood? O my soul! let us enter into this secret, and know the bottom of this mystery! Let us look into his wounds with joy and gladness, to see how his heart doth beat with love to us. Let us open our heart to him; let us shew him how sorry we are, and how our heart is pierced, that we have pierced him. Let us lay our hearts together, and tye our selves in an everlasting Covenant, that he may dwell in us, and we in him. Such as these are most seasonable meditati­ons, to dispose our minds the better to feast with him.

III. And then thirdly, We should con­sider with our selves, what acts are most proper when we shall be at Gods Table. We should think with our selves, what hatred of sin, what desire, what love to God, and what Charity to our bre­thren is then to be expressed; what prayers and intercessions, what prai­ses and thanksgivings are then to be offered. For we shall scarce spend our time well there, unless we be pro­vided with some matter for our thoughts, and have put them into some method and order that they may not hinder one another. And there­fore it is good to consider with our selves, what disposition of soul doth best agree with every part of this sa­cred action. How the mind is to be af­fected at the breaking of the bread, and the pouring out of the wine; how it is to be moved when the Minister bles­ses and presents them unto God; and how when he gives and distributes them unto us and the rest of our bre­thren.Sect. 3. Of which and such like things I shall treat hereafter.

IV. And when we have diligently pondered of this, let us begin to stir [Page 203]up those affections beforehand, which will prepare us to a more lively expression of them when we come there. Begin to admire at Gods goodness; that he will send an invitation to such a poor wretch as thou art. Render him many thanks, for that being a Lord of such Majesty, he would vouchsafe with so much cha­rity to come and dwell in such a hole as our flesh; and that he would love us better then his life, and that he will not forget us now that he lives in Heaven. Shew him what a pitiful poor creature thou art, and crave him humble pardon that thou shouldest put him to much pains and trouble. And intreat him now that he will not be offended at all the noisome smells and loathsome sights that are in a soul so sick and diseased as thine into which he is entring. Declare to him freely all thy maladies, and beseech him that he will not disdain thee, but come and cure thee. Profess to him sincerely all the love that ever thou canst, and importune him of all loves that he would make thee love him more. And then imagine with thy self that he is graciously come to such a nasty place [Page 204]as thy heart is, and so begin to bless and praise his Name for so high a fa­vour; resolving likewise that thou wilt never cease to praise him as long as thou hast a day to live, and that when thy tongue shall falter, thou wilt think his praises.

These meditations and holy aspira­tions after him, will be like to the sweet incense and odoriferous exhala­tions that perfume the house before the entrance of so worthy a guest. Or rather they will be as the harbingers of the King of Glory, that come to pre­pare the rooms, and make them clean and sweet for his entertainment. For as you see the Sun doth not onely illu­minate the world when he is above the Horizon, but a whole hour before his rising, and as much after his setting, affords his comfortable light unto us: So the Son of Righteousness, who is under these clouds of bread and wine, doth not only irradiate our minds when we actually receive this Sacrament, but doth appear before unto us (if we will look toward him) and makes it day in our souls by hopes and desires to re­ceive him; and again he leaves some [Page 205]sweet beams behind him afterward, by a remembrance how kind he hath been unto us in satisfying our desires.

V. And then (to speak more parti­cularly) every man should consider with himself, how God hath prospered him in his estate, and so lay aside such a portion for the poor, as bears some proportion to the blessing God hath afforded upon his labours. This was a great piece of this solemnity in ancient times, as hath been already said from the Apostles mouth, 1 Cor. 16.2. which place I heartily wish every man would more serionsly peruse. This practise I know continues in the Christian Church, though I fear it falls short both of the liberality and open-heart­edness that was then in use, as also of the gain and increase that God makes to our estates. Let me therefore here­in mind the pious Reader, that every mite that is given to the poor, is a grain of that incense that perfumes the house of God; and therefore such charity is called an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well plea­sing unto God, Phil. 4.18. And so the Angel saith unto Cornelius, that his [Page 206]prayers and alms were come up [...], for a memorial before God. Three remarkable forms of speech there are in those words, to denote that they are a sacrifice or oblation which we make to the giver of all good, espe­cially when they are given in the hands of prayer, as at the holy Eucharist they ought to be. First, They were for a memorial, which is an expression we read in the Law of Moses (Lev. 2.9. and many other places) to denote that part of the meat offering that was burnt upon the Altar for a sweet sa­vour unto the Lord. Secondly, They are said to come up or ascend, which was proper to the Sacrifices that were burnt on the Altar, and went up to Heaven in pillars of smoak and va­pour. And thirdly, They did come up before God, which signified their acceptance, and that they were a wel­come sacrifice unto the Lord.

From heace it was that the Ancients sometimes call the Lords Table by the name of an Altar, because they laid upon it these Sacrifices or Offe­rings (which at first were bread and wine, &c. and afterward changed into [Page 207]money) part of which did furnish the Table, and the rest relieve the poor and those that did minister unto the Lord. For then the custom was for Christians to make the Minister their Almoner or steward, to distribute their Charity as his prudence thought most fit. Now if we think it not conve­nient to intrust them, yet we should judg it most necessary when we go to this holy feast, to lay aside some con­siderable portion, as a just expression of our great engagements unto God, and the charity which he hath exerci­sed towards us. For since Almes are a sacrifice, there must be some time to fit them and prepare them for the Al­tar; and since they are so acceptable to him as to be accounted a memorial by him, we should be the more liberal, and consider upon some free-will offe­rings to be brought into his treasury. And the truth is, no man can be called liberal that is not so upon advice and deliberation. These acts of Charity are to flow from counsel as well as any other. And therefore beforehand we should determine what to give; and not throw in a piece of money as [Page 208]it happens into the poor mans stock. If we could but believe, that this giving to God is a beneficial trade, and that he who soweth bountifully, shall reap bountifully, (2 Cor. 9.6.) and that the more we have in his bank, the better we shall thrive; then we should cast in our minds how to make an improve­ment this way, and be desirous to have a stock going in his hands. Then there would not need so much intreaty that men would cast up their accounts in some measure before they go to the Table of God, and consider how God hath blessed them and encreased their estates, and consult how they may further augment them in such an easie and sure way as this appears to be. Sit down then I beseech you, in a seri­ous manner, and look over your wealth, and think with your self, how much land or money you are intrusted withall. Spread it before your thoughts, and say, All this hath God given me, and long preserved it from thieves and fire, and other violences; he is daily ad­ding unto this heap, and giving more; what therefore out of all this, shall I return to him? I assure you it is a [Page 209]piece of spiritual employment for a man to think on his baggs, if it be in order to filling the poor mans box. Say therefore thus to thy soul when thou art alone, God hath blessed us as thou seest very fairly, what canst thou find in thy heart to give to him? what use shall we pay him for all that he hath lent unto us? shall we not give one or two out of a hundred that he hath added to our Estate? Shall men demand more of us, then we will give of our own good will unto our God? Shall not love engage us faster then any other bands? Hath not God given unto us the principal, and requires nothing back again but a little small pittance for his poor? Alas my soul, we are too much behind-hand with him already; and have run too far in arrears. For how many years have we lived in the world, and given nothing considerable unto his uses? we are so much indebted that way, that we had need now to be more open-handed, and make satisfa­ction for our unjustice.

But then what shall we give him for himself and for his Son, if we be so much bound unto him for these tem­poral [Page 210]things? O my soul, once more consider what gift we shall present our Lord withall? Are not thy first thoughts below the proportion of his love? Is it not too little that thou hast consecrated to his service? Come my Soul, and open thy heart; it is to a good friend, even unto thy God; ne­ver stand upon it, but double the summe, and for every peny thou first thought of, write down two, for God hath prospered us beyond all our thoughts. Or if we have not thri­ven, perhaps it is because we gave no more. Let us try therefore this way of thriving, by offering liberally unto God, and see how he will improve our goods for us. And I wish heartily that men would try, not onely for their souls sake, but for the good of their bodies, and the welfare that I wish un­to their posterities. For there is no such sure way of enlarging or preser­ving an estate, as doing good with it, and giving out of it to those that need. By this means we do not so much leave God in trust for our children, as make him become their debtor, who will pay them back again with large use and advantage.

I would not have writ so many lines of this subject, if I did not fear that mens Charity comes from them by drops, and those drops likewise are expressed by accident and chance, ra­ther then by any advised thoughts; And therefore I desire that this part of our Religion may be made more se­rious, and have a deeper foundation in our hearts, so that we should study what sum of money God may just­ly expect from us, to whom he hath given so much. Now a fitter time there cannot be to meditate of this, then before our approaches to the so­lemn remembrance of Gods bounty and liberality towards us.

VI. We are likewise to endeavour, that all the passions and affections of our souls may be quieted and stilled. We must take some pains with them, that they may be so mortified and deadned to the world, that then they may not be too quick and lively, and hinder our Meditations of heavenly things.

For this (as you have seen) is a spi­ritual banquet, and the food gives no nourishment, but what we receive by meditation, by serious thoughts and [Page 212]affections, which can find no place, but onely in still and quiet souls. When the body feasts, a great part of the good Cheer is pleasant discourse, and innocent mirth; and there is no welcome unless there be some noise. But the soul feasts in silence; it eats its morsels in a deep and calm thought; its pleasure is in conference with its self and God; and all the sound is one­ly the voice of thanksgiving in hymns or Psalms of Praises to God, into which at last it breaks and utters its self. [...], &c. Dost not thou know (saith Chrysostome) that thy soul ought to be big with a calm at that season, when thou goest so near unto God? There is need of a great deal of peace and tranquility, and there should be no tumults of anger, and such like passions, since thou thinkest of the God of Love. The Sun of Righteousness shines so hot up­on thee, that thou shouldest be as smooth and fair, as the face of the water in the brightest day. Thou shouldest labour that there may not be a wrinkle upon thy brow, that all thy [Page 213]storms may be so husht and lay'd, as if thou heard'st thy Saviours voice, saying, Peace, be still. And therefore all holy men have taken an especial care, when they were going to the Table of the Lord, to renew their acts of forgiveness, and passing by all inju­ries and offences, to reconcile them­selves perfectly to their Brethren, and repair any wrong that they could pos­sibly conceive themselves to have done to others, which before they had not observed. I have in the beginning of this Discourse prevented all mistakes, so that none can reasonably think that he may harbour malice in his heart, and bear a grudge in his mind unto his neighbour, with sufficient safety at o­ther times, so he do but discharge all these black passions when he approach­es unto God. And my meaning now is, That seeing we come to this Feast, that we may more encrease our love, we ought to search if there be but any spark of anger that lies buried in our souls, and take care that it be per­fectly quenched. And seeing there will be many occasions of differences among Neighbours, that we ought [Page 214]now to consider if there were any heats in the management of them, and if any seeds of fire yet remain, that they may utterly be extinguished, and never break forth again. [...], &c. [...] &c. Chrys. Orat. 60. ad Pop. Antioch. Vid. etiam Hom. 3. in Epist. ad Ephes. Dare a man touch this holy Sacrifice with unwashen hands? How dare he then approach with an unwashed and polluted soul? Now there is nothing that doth more soot and black a soul, then an abide­ing anger, which causeth the holy Spi­rit to flie away, and (as I may say) driveth it out of its lodging, as fire doth us, to seek some other habitati­on. Valerius Maximus tell us,Cui praeter cog­natus & affines nemo interpo­nebatur, L. 2. c. 1. Sect. 8. that there was a solemn Feast appointed by their Ancestors, which they called Charistia, to which none but those that were of kin, or had some affinity, were permitted to approach: I am sure to the Eucharistia, the Sacra­ment of Love and Peace, none shall be welcome but those that are the friends and kindred of Christ, and are allied to each other in a brotherly affection. We must all (as you have seen al­ready) come hither as children to feast with our Father; and if there be any displeasure in our hearts to one ano­ther, [Page 215]he cannot be well pleased, nor give us such an entertainment as we ex­pect. [...]. Proc [...]s in He­siod. [...]. Strom. l. 5. which Heiasius saith is in some e­ditions of the LXX. in Isa. 24.16. Remember that then which Clemens Alex. saith he found in some Gospel; My mysteries or secrets are to me, and the children of my Family. Unless you be the children of Peace, think not to penetrate into his secrets, and to know the pleasures of his heart; for they are so still and calm, that they cannot be perceived where there is any storm. And indeed there can be no thoughts more fit for our preparation, then these of forgiveness, because we call our selves now to account for our offences against God; and alas [...] they are so great, that they may well drown the remembrance of all offen­ces that others have given us, and wash them out of our thoughts, as if they had never been. Seeing then you go to beg pardon of God when you remember his Sonnes blood; if you have offended any man, first go and lay your selves at his feet, and so approach to take hold of Christ, and kiss his feet in an humble acknowledg­ment of your offences. Say to every one of your passions and corrupt af­fections, [Page 216]Come forth, for I am resol­ved you shall be slain. Methinks you should begin to dye at the very thoughts of a dying Saviour. Me­thinks you should swoon away at the very sight of yonder blood; that you should not stay till you come to the Cross of Christ, but give up the ghost before you see but the image of his death. Do you not feel the power of his death afar off? Do not his pier­ced sides strike to your heart before you behold them? Oh you bloody things! What have you done? What wounds have you made in the body of my Lord? Do not think to live any longer, oh you bloody things. Nay, never struggle, nor resist; for I have vowed you in sacrifice unto him. Lay therefore your necks quietly upon the block, and prepare your selves for death which is approaching. Ask your evil hearts if they be not affright­ed: Wonder that they should hold up their faces: Tell them that these are but the Addresses to their Execution; and protest folemnly, That none of these vile desires shall live a day lon­ger; and then they will begin to grow [Page 217]pale, sick and languishing, before you come to the Altar, and there the slaughter will be more easie. In par­ticular, say to thy self, O my soul, wipe out the remembrance of all offences that any have done unto thee; let not one tittle of them remain, but be blot­ted out. Thy fellow-servant hath affronted and contemned thee, but thou hast oftner contemned thy God, thy Lord and Master himself.V. Ch ysoft. Orat. 60. [...]; and what equa­lity is there between a fellow-servant and thy Master? Perhaps he hath been insolent towards thee once or twice, when he was provoked or wronged by thee; and thou behavest thy self base­ly towards thy Lord every day, though he be so far from wronging thee, that he is thy continual benefactor. O my soul, do but collect with thy self how oft thou offendest in one day, yea but in one duty. What sloth is there in thy Prayers? With what strange ir­reverence and disregard dost thou stand before God when thou speakest to him? Never did a servant speak so carelesly to his Master, nor a Souldier to his Commander. Yea, when thou [Page 218]speakest to a friend, thou mindest what thou sayest; but when thou art treat­ing with the Lord about so many sins, and art begging of him pardon and forgiveness, thou art too often like a man asleep; and though thy knees be upon the ground, yet thy mind is in the Market, or in the Fields, and thy tongue blatters thou knowest not what. Away then all you angry thoughts, stay not to aggravate of­fences. Be gone as clearly out of my heart, as I desire my Lord to remem­ber my sins no more. If we could bring our hearts thus bleeding to his holy Table; if the execution were begun before we came to him; then would our anger and malice, our love of pleasures and all other worldly af­fections, receive a deadly and incurable wound from our Saviours hand when we did receive him.

VII. As a most necessary Instrument to all these, the Apostle directs us to ex­amine our selves. This is indeed a daily duty, but now should be adverted with a greater intention and ardency of affection, when we are about these sacred things. We should examine [Page 219]our selves even about our neglects in the review of our selves, about the coldness of our prayers, the smallness of our sorrows, the weakness of our ser­vices, and our daily unavoidable infir­mities. We should make more deep reflections into our selves, now that we are at more leisure, and have so solemn­ly designed more time from other em­ployments; we should open a greater vent for our tears, and cut a larger pas­sage for our sorrow, and affect our heart more deeply with our needs, and the certainty of supply; and so raise our souls to a greater height of humili­ty, of desire, and of confidence altoge­ther. Our Saviour seems to intimate, that before our approaches to God in any holy duty, it is a fit and proper time to call our selves to an account for the trespasses we are guilty of, when he saith, Mat. 5.23, 24. If therefore thou bring the gift to the Altar, and re­member that thy Brother, &c. It should seem by this expression that this is a season of remembring and calling things to mind that are past and gone, which must be done by an examination of our selves. And you may consider [Page 220]thus much to quicken you to this duty, that the better we know our selves and our own wants, the more hungry we shall be; and the more knowledge we have of our own sincerity, with the greater comfort and sweetness shall we eat. Now we know both the one and the other by self-examination. For this word [...], which we render examine, hath two meanings, which are to prove and try, and to approve after trial.

So that in brief I may thus state the whole business of examination.

We are to use an every-day-over­sight over our selves. And this ge­neral and daily examination, is nothing else but such a caution and diligence in all our actions, through the whole frame of our life, that our own Con­science may approve them upon exa­mination; as accordant with the will of God. Or more briefly, it is a Chri­stian care, to do every thing so, that God and our own Conscience may al­low of it. And it must needs consist of two parts, First, A Consideration of what is our duty to do; of what is lawfull, and what unlawfull, of what [Page 221]is expedient, and what inconvenient;Socrates used always to say to every thing that present­ed it self to his mind, [...], what art thou, and whence com­est thou? or as the Watch­men use to do, [...] shew me your ticket, let me see your Pass, that I may know you are a friend, Arrian. L. 3. cap. 12. or an information of our selves, upon due advice and search what is incum­bent upon us as our duty, through our whole life. Then secondly, This fore-handed examination, must be fol­lowed with a serious consideration of what we have done, and whether we behave our selves according to the Rule which we have laid down to our selves, as the guide of our life. From these two arise the whole of that, which is necessary to be done continually, for the approbation of our selves, to be such persons as have a care to please God. Now this may be the prime and first sense of the Apostles words, when he saith, Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat, &c. i. e. let him have a care that he lead such a Christian life, that his own heart may approve of him as one of Christs Dis­ciples. This you may be best satisfied out of another place where this word is used, Gal. 6.4. Let a man prove ( [...]) or examine his own work, &c. The meaning of which is, Let every man make his work so ap­proved, and behave himself in that [Page 222]manner, that both God and his own Conscience may judge it to be right, and according to the Word of God. That this is the sense of the phrase in that place, will appear from the whole context, where the Apostle speaks of bearing the infirmities of the weak, and not thinking our selves to be godly, because we do not fall like them, by any temptation. And so saith he, Thou shalt have glory or rejoycing, [...] toward thy self, and not in regard of another, i. e. thou shalt take comfort simply in thy self, that thou art a good man; and not only be pleased with comparing thy self with others, and being better then they; for so thou mayest be, and yet not be good. From this it appears, that he speaks not of something that should follow the actions of our life, viz. a searching whether they be good or no; but of such an institution and ordering of our lives beforehand, that we may not fall into those sins which we reprehend in another, nor be be­holden to their sins to make us seem godly.

And the next words, v. 5. plead for [Page 223]this sense: For every man shall bear his own burden, i. e. Thou oughtest to make thy work good and approved, for every man sins at his own peril. One mans sin will not excuse thee who dost not sin in that fashion, but thou art to do thy own duty heartily to God, ac­cording to thy Conscience, or else thou shalt suffer as well as he.

And that the Apostle may have re­spect unto this examination, before we come to the Sacrament; in that place before-mentioned, there is another phrase following, v. 31. which may perswade us, [...]; For if we judge our selves, &c. i. e. if we do discern our selves, and discrimi­nate our actions, and determine our duty, and live in conformity to it, we should not be judged nor punished of God in this sort. But whether this be the proper meaning of examining or no, I shall not be overmuch solicitous, seeing I have already made this good, that he must be a holy person that comes to Gods Table.

And that there is beside this, a more particular examination to be used, when the time is near of communica­ting [Page 224]with our Lord, I willingly grant. And it consists of two parts, accor­ding to the two-fold use of the word [...], which we render examine. The first is a proof, trial and search into our own souls, that we may know our estate, and in what condition we stand before God. So the word is used, 1 Thess. 5.21. [...] prove all things, i. e. make a trial of them, and consider what they are, and then hold fast that which you find to be good. This examination (considering that I suppose a pious life to precede) must chiefly consist in a review of those failings, or of those wants which our every-day proof of our selves doth present us withall. If we should never examine our selves but when we come to the Lords Sup­per, we should not know what we are, nor what we need, but in a confu­sed heap of things many would be un­observed; and yet if we should not also examine then, we should not have such a lively sense of what we are to ask, and for what we ought to plead the bloud of Christ: But then this exa­mination is but a serious reflection up­on [Page 225]the Notes which we take every day of our selves.

Unless it be needfull that we exa­mine our selves, whether we have not forgot any of the ends for which we go to the Table of the Lord; and though that be a great part of the A­postles meaning, yet I have already taken notice of it. In short, we are to search rather in what state our Graces stands, than whether we be in a state of Grace or no.

Then secondly, We must approve and allow of our selves, and bring the trial to such an issue, that we pass a verdict on our souls. So the word is used, Rom. 2.18. thou approvest, ( [...]) the things that are excel­lent, i. e. Thou professest to like and embrace them. And so when the A­postle bids the Children of the light to prove what is acceptable unto God, Ephes. 5.8, 10. He doth not mean a bare inquisition, but that act which follows it, which is embracing. For they cannot be deemed Children of the light, who do not so enquire after the pleasure of God, as to pursue and practise it.

The meaning likewise of the A­postle, Rom. 14.22. is this: Happy is he, that when he uses an indifferent thing, doth approve himself, as doing that which is lawfull, and acts not a­gainst his Conscience. Or this, Happy is he, that when he is resolved that he may do such a thing lawfully, and with the approbation of his Conscience, yet doth it with such a care, that he hurts not others by the use of it.

There is one place more, 2 Cor. 13.5. where you have both these parts of examination together, Try your selves, whether you be in the faith, prove, (i. e. approve) your selves. When you know your estate by trial, then pass a judgement upon your selves, to be what you profess and pretend unto. Now all the approba­tion that a good man is to give of him­self before he go to the Lords Supper, is this; 1. He ought to judge himself, to continue a friend of Christ, and to remain (as far as he can find) in Co­venant with God. And 2. He ought to find that he hath used some godly care and diligence, that he come not in [Page 227]a rude, unbeseeming, and drowsie man­ner, into so holy a presence. And this is plainly another part of the Apostles meaning, when he saith, Let a man examine himself, and so eat, &c. i. e. Let him approve himself to come for pious and holy ends, and with a due regard to the Lords most sacred body and blood.

Lay thy hand then (Christian Rea­der) upon thy heart, before thou com­est to this Table, and feel how the pulse of thy soul beats: mind whether it beat evenly, or after a distempered sort. Doth it move three times as quick, when thou thinkest of the World, as it doth when God is in thy heart? When art thou all in a heat? When thou art in pursuit of the World, or when thou followest after God? Ask thy heart, whom dost thou love most? What is it that thou dost most constantly desire? In what Company is it thy pleasure to be? Dost thou love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy mind, and all thy strength? Hadst thou rather dye than displease him? Are thy graces not only alive, but lively? Come then, [Page 228]let us go to this holy Feast, and thank the Lord for this Grace, and for all his other favours.

VIII. If we find by examining, that we have fallen into any sin, and through neglect or ignorance broken our reso­lution, since the last Communion; Let us make most serious reflections upon it. Besides all the sorrow that I must suppose it hath cost a good heart, presently after its commission, besides its hatred of it, and affliction of it self for it, with a most speedy amend­ment of the fault: This is a fit time to bewail it over again, to call our selves to a new account for it, to drown it in another flood of tears, more firm­ly to strengthen our resolutions against it, and to prepare it for to receive ano­ther wound, a mortal stroak from the wounds of Jesus, that it may never live any more. Say therefore thus to thy self, when thou art in thy meditations, What didst thou mean, O my soul, to be so treacherous unto God, and to break thy resolution? Was there ever a better Master? Were ever any tyed to another by such sacred Bands and Oaths? O perjured wretch that thou [Page 229]art! What was in thy heart to break loose from God? dost thou not blush to think of it? or rather art thou not pale and wan, and ready to dye, to think of such a horrid thing? Well, I see these sins are not quite dead, but still they stirre and move; or though they seem to be stretched out, and to have no life, yet they may recover. But I am resolved, if Christ can kill them, that they shall not live. Come along with me (if you dare live so long) into his presence, and there re­ceive your mortal wound from his hand, seeing you will not be killed by mine. There shall you all be slain at his feet, you shall be nailed to his Cross, and I will leave you hang­ing there, till you be asham'd to live.

IX. But if the commission of such a sin have brought any timerousness (as well it may) upon the heart, so that it trembles to set one foot forward un­to the Lords Table, and its hands shake with a paralitick fear, so that it can­not stretch them to receive such Pledges of Gods Love; It is most ne­cessary that a man advise with his spi­ritual [Page 230]Pastor and Director in the way of life. I wish it were better understood, for what ends God hath set Pastors o­ver the flock; and that men would look upon them as a kind of Parents, to whom they should go in all their needs: But now the subject of my Discourse leads me to say no more but this, That there are two necessary times of receiving the benefit of their counsell. The one is, when a mans sin oppresseth him so sorely with the sense of the guilt it hath contracted, that he can receive no comfort. And the other is, when it oppresseth him so heavily with its strength and power, that he can get no conquest over it. There is a third season when it is at least convenient to repair unto them; and that is, when a man is in doubt whether he have passed a right judge­ment upon himself, which should make him desirous to have the opini­on of those persons, that can neither be deemed to be deceived themselves through ignorance, nor to be willing to deceive others through flattery and partial Judgement. If any one there­fore be in the perplexity of such like [Page 231]cases, when he thinks of coming to this holy feast, let him dis-imbosome his soul unto him that hath the care of it, and desire him, that out of the ten­der love a Father ought to have unto his Child, he would be his guide in this Affair. And so shall a man know how to use these spiritual weapons better, when he is taught by a skil­full Commander; and the more solid comfort shall he have, when his Phy­sician assures him that (as far as he can discern) he is in a state of health.

X. And yet when we have done all this, then we should pray to God that he would prepare us better than all our preparation. As when a King comes unto a City to stay there for some space, he doth not expect that the Citizens (if they be poor) should provide all the furniture for him, which is a thing above their power; but he sends the Grooms of his Chamber be­fore with such Hangings and Orna­ments, as may make the house they have prepared, most befitting his Ma­jesty. So let us entreat the Lord, that after all our endeavour to set apart our hearts for him, to sweep the house as [Page 232]clean as we can, and fit it to receive such a glorious Guest; he would be pleased to send his holy Spirit, that may prepare the place for him, and a­dorn our souls with such Graces, that His Sacred Majesty may not disdain to come and make his abode with us. Say thus unto thy gracious God: Oh Lord! thou seest how much dirt I have left behind after all my diligence, to cleanse and purifie my soul. Alas! all my thoughts of thee are but dreams; all my desires but a vapour; my Love is but a flash; my Prayers are but a breath; my Tears will scarce fill a bubble; and my Sorrow is no bigger than a Sigh; all that I do, I am ashamed of it my self, and therefore thou maist much more loath it, and despise it. Come thou,Psal. 139 23, 24. O Lord, therefore, and search my heart; try me, and know my thoughts, and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way ever­lasting. Do thou awaken in me most lively thoughts; do thou inkindle a burning affection; open thou the flood-gates of my eyes; and open thou my lips, that my mouth may shew orth thy praise. Seeing my heart [Page 233](Lord!) is so strait and narrow, that it is not fit to entertain thee, do thou widen and enlarge it, and then come and fill me with thy self, and say, Here will I dwell, for I have desired it; this is my rest for ever. Yea, O my graci­ous God, unless thou interpose thy Power, I am very much afraid I shall not keep this little goodness till the next morning, which now seems to be in me. These weak Thoughts, these faint Desires and sickly Affecti­ons that are in my soul, I doubt will not live a night, unless thou find wayes for to preserve and cherish them; my inveterate habits of evil will smother and choak these new Resolutions. I am in fear that all these meditations will be flown away while I am asleep, and my house will be foul again before I awake, unless thou keep me. Ah my dear God! seeing I have bestowed some small pains upon my heart, and have conceived some little hopes, suf­fer them not to be all dashed in pieces in a night! Spread the wings of thy goodness over me, and maintain that which not I, but thou thy self hast wrought. Lord! let me find when I [Page 234]awake, that my affections and desires are grown beyond the strength of man, and that thy power rests up on me. Oh let me find a greater fervour than e­ver in thy service; let that spark which I feared would go out, be grown to a flame that will never expire; and so shalt thou draw mine eyes towards thy self alone, who workest such wonders; so shall my heart be filled with nothing but thy sweetness; and my lips shall o­verflow with thy praises. Lord! if I may beg this grace of thee, I am ve­rily perswaded I shall languish after none but thee, and seek for no other pleasures but to please thee. There­fore my good Lord! I leave my self in thy hands, hoping that either I am or would be such as thou wouldst have me. And if I be arrived but as far as a will and desire to be what thou wouldst have me, that will is thine; and therefore seeing that will is mine too, and we both conspire together, I take the boldness to say, Lord! let thy will be done. Oh my sweet Savi­our! I was going to say that I am sick of love, that I cannot live unless thou love me, and make me better. But I [Page 235]correct my self, and it is enough if I be sick because I cannot love thee. Do thou make me sick, or rather make me well with love unto thee; so shall I come to thy Table with joy and glad­ness, hoping that thou wilt kiss me with the kisses of thy mouth, for thy love is better than Wine. Draw me, and I will run after thee; yea, we will run after thee; for I will proclaim to others the loving-kindness of the Lord.When one bad Socrates prepare him­self for his trial, he an­swered, [...], &c. Do not I seem then to thee through all my life, to be prepared for this thing? It hath been my care neither before thee, nor alone, to do any evil. A [...]rian. lib. 2. cap. 2.

CHAP. XI.

WHat preparation there should be besides this, I do not un­derstand, it being directly contrary to the first thing that I propounded, for any to imagine that we ought just be­fore the Sacrament, to have a greater care of not sinning, than at other times. We are alwayes pilgrims and strangers, and so ought to abstain from fleshly lusts that warre against the soul. These lusts are alwayes poyso­nous, and not onely when we are go­ing to take the Cup of the Lord into [Page 236]our hand. And therefore it is a grand deceit to think that we and our sins must be severed only then, when we more nearly embrace our Lord; for holiness is our profession afterward, as much as before we communicate with his Holiness. Or rather all the time after one Communion, being before the next which doth succeed, it is the time of Preparation for it. We are to keep our selves in a constant purity, and to labour to keep close to the Covenant of our God; only when the time doth nearly approach, that we may enjoy such another repast, we should excite our appetite, raise our thoughts and meditations, imprint the ends of the institution more fairly in our memo­ries, voluntarily offer more of our time and our thoughts to religious ex­ercises, and do all that over again with a greater zeal, which we have been doing every day since we were last in his Sacred Presence. You may observe, that as just before this solem­nity, our thoughts are more deep and serious, and our hearts lifted up to a greater fervour, and we have strong­er longings after Christ and his Bles­sings [Page 237]which prepare us for the enjoy­ment, so the enjoyment leaves us for some time afterward in a great de­gree of heat, in more lively appre­hensions, and more vigorous affections. But these through multitude of busi­ness, and many occasions, may languish by little and little, and may abate of that degree and ardour wherein they were, (which I look upon as the weak­ness, rather than the sin of a good heart) and therefore our work is to re­cover our souls before the next Com­munion, to the same, or rather an high­er degree of zeal. And then though afterward there may be again some a­batement and fall in our affections, yet it will be less; and more fervency and heat will remain, than would have been, if we had not got up our hearts by that Preparation, and that Commu­nion, to an higher pitch of spiritual love.

The Primitive Christians who communicated every day (as some passages in the Acts of the holy Apo­stles would make us think) or at least every Lords Day, had need of less of this Preparation that I have mentioned; [Page 238]for as soon as ever the flame began to decay, there was new fewel added; and that degree of warmth (to which they were raised) was scarce gone from their hearts, before a new fire was kindled. But now the cu­stome is so, that this Feast returns more seldome, and we cannot say with Basil, [...], &c. Epist. 2. ad Caesarcam Patritiam. In the beginning of which E­pistle he com­mends an eve­ry-day Com­munion, [...], as good and profitable. We Communicate four times in a week, besides all Festival dayes, but it is very much if men be so devout as to Communicate once in four weeks; and therefore because many things may be slipt out of our minds, and former im­pressions may be grown weak, we had need more solemnly to recollect what we have learnt, to stir up our remembrance, to renew a sense of the ends of its institution, of our own wants, of the wants of the poor, and the rest of those things which I have in the former Chapter recommended to your thoughts.

If men understood these things, they would neither wonder that the anci­ent Christians communicated so oft, nor would they have any excuse left for their own neglect.

First, I say they would not wonder [Page 239]that the fervour of those primitive souls was so great, for they had a huge care to lead an holy life, and that made them both fit and desirous to converse with God every day. VVe judge of them perhaps by our selves, and think that it was superstition rather than Re­ligion, that made them so forward to this Office; and by casting a blot up­on their Piety, we hope in this frozen age to be accounted Pious. If super­stition can be believed to have grown up so early, then we may be thought with less zeal to be more devout. If they did only flatter Christ with such a busie devotion and frequent resort un­to him; we may hope to pass for bet­ter Friends, that are not so forward, but more discreetly reserved and spa­ring of our company. So handsome­ly do our deceitfull hearts teach us to cover our own nakedness, by calling all that superstition which creates any trouble to us, and crying out upon that as a spice of Will-Worship, which doth not sort with our humour. For it too plainly appears, that if a Child of our own brain do please us well, we are as fond of it, as any of our Neigh­bours [Page 240]can be thought to be of their conceptions, and would have the world embrace it as a divine Ordinance, form­ed in Heaven. The very truth is, Men lend to God, and their Devotion, only such Offices as flatter their passi­ons. There is much of pleasure in having the ears tickled with a Ser­mon; and it makes a great noise a­mong our Neighbours, to keep dayes of Fasting and Prayer; and therefore these are accepted with a greater ap­plause, than the sad Meditations of Christs death, and the frequent re­membrance of the Wounds of a Cru­cified Saviour, which prick too deep, and make too wide gashes in our hearts. Though this be more expresly com­manded than many other things that men perform with a great noise, and spend much zealous breath upon; yet they cast but a cold and heavy aspect on it, because it humours not their ease, and speaks not kindly to their covetousness, but makes too busie and narrow a search into their souls. And really I doubt that mens endea­vours to be removed as far as they can from Rome, have done our Religion a [Page 241]great deal of harm. They still re­tain the custome of celebrating every day, but the Priest doth it alone, and they make it a Sacrifice for the quick and dead. Now some men, so that this false notion was destroyed, and private Masses abolished, did not care though the frequent Communions were de­stroyed also together with them; and it is our manner to pay this honour to Christ but twice or thrice in a year. And so because they speak of Justifi­cation differently from us, men are apt to live as though good works were a piece of Popery, and as if Alms-deeds and Charity to the Poor, were a scan­dalous thing in Religion. Though men Communicate very seldome, yet their Offerings are as sparing as if they Communicated every week, and so their souls and the Poor, are both de­frauded and starved together. Idle­ness and covetousness are mens dar­lings; they are the brats of all new devices in Religion, and these two are nursed up and dandled on the knees of this trifling conceit, that zealous de­vout Christians do bear too great a re­verence to this Sacrament, and hope [Page 242]to go to Heaven by their charitable deeds. Well! let sloth and avarice pride themselves a while; it will not be long before God take down their Plumes, and make it manifest, that it was not superstition which prickt for­ward the first Christians to such fre­quent Communion, nor vain-glory which made them so prodigal (as the modern stile is) in their liberality. Methinks I see how the lazy and worldly Christians do thrust them­selves into the Arms of Christ, and do even melt and dissolve into his bosome in raptures of love; their mouthes can relish nothing but Christ, and his Name is so sweet that it is ingraven up­on their lips; they court him as if they would ravish his heart, and they exceed the strains of all Romantick lovers; If he will not bestow himself upon them, they cannot imagine who should be taken into his heart. They cannot believe but he will take it very ill if they will not trust him for their salvation, without troubling them­selves whom he is so tender of, that he would have them void of all care and thoughtfulness. It is a piece of [Page 243]self (think such men) to be so strict and curious; Alas poor ignorant souls! men would fain be doing something to procure salvation; they would pur­chase Heaven, and give something to attain it, but we will give Christ the honour of doing all, and only cast our selves upon him, that he may save us. You cannot imagine now how these mens hearts are tickled and ravished with these Liquorish thoughts; and the pleasure of them, doth but make them believe that they are in greater favour. In this transport of fancy they do veri­ly conceive that they have the testimo­ny of the holy Ghost, bearing witness to them that they are the Sons of God. But how fearfully these persons will one day fall, is a great deal further from all our conceits. The Lord will shake off all these men with a great deal of disdain, who offer but to touch the very skirts of his Garments. O you vile and adulterous souls (will he say) who think that I am altogether such an one as your selves, depart from me, for I know you not, ye work­ers of iniquity. Down you arrogant spirits that thought to build your nests [Page 244]on high, and by the wings of fancy to flie up unto Heaven; I have no room in my heart for such flatterers, nor can my foul love such Hypocrites and Unbelievers. But come you blessed of my Father, (you who have loved me, and kept my Commandments, you that did what I bid you in remem­brance of me,) and inherit the King­dom prepared for you. Then shall there be great wailing, and men shall groan for anguish of spirit. Then shall the worldlings say, this is he whom we had sometimes in derision and a Proverb of reproach. We fools ac­counted his life madness, and his end without honour. How is he numbred among the Children of God, and his lot is among the Saints? I wish all men would lay it to heart betimes, and not think that it is preciseness to endeavour to observe all the commands of our blessed Lord. Which if we did, then this command would not be so sligh­ted, of commemorating his death in the way he hath appointed, nor should men be so unmeet for it as now they seem to be.

For Secondly; What excuses can [Page 245]men find to palliate the neglect of this duty, but what arise from an unholy or careless life? Many pretences there are, I know, to keep me from waiting upon our Lord, and accepting of his kindness, but they all grow upon this bitter root of loving the world and the lusts of it. We put him off with the excuse of too much boldness, and rudeness that we should be guilty of, if we should give him frequent visits. Truly as the case stands, most men would be too full of confidence if they should approach; but the only reason is, because they have a mind to live as strangers to him, and not to be his houshold Servants and Domesticks; for then they might alway come unto him. Men plead their unworthiness, but it were well if they were more sensible of it, for then they would not remain so unworthy. They think they must not come so oft, because it costs them so much time to prepare themselves once; but if they would spare so much time as to lead an holy life, and be at so much trouble as to please God in other things, they would not find it so labori­ous to please him well in this. If they [Page 246]did alwayes keep a fear of God in their souls, then they would without much pain be fit to approach with fear and reverence into his presence. One saith he is incumbred with business, and hath not time to prepare himself; another hath differences with his Neighbour, and is not reconciled; a third intends it very shortly, but for some reasons must at present omit it. None of these men fear to live in the known sins of worldliness, enmity, delayes, and yet fear to do a known duty which our Lord a little before he died, did com­mand us. If these persons would but fear to do that which God hath forbid­den, then they would not fear to do that which God hath commanded. But while they refuse to obey him in one thing, it is not to be expected that they should yield subjection in another. Nay, the world shall do more with them, than God can do, while they re­main such strangers to him. For if there were a reward of an hundred pounds annexed by some Benefactor to every Receiving; this golden rea­son no man would be able to resist, but all business would be thrown aside [Page 247]upon so rich an account. So base and deceitfull are the hearts of men, that they pretend fear of displeasing God, when it is but a fear of being engaged too strictly for to please him. They say this is the most excellent food, but they are loath to taste it, because they would not be at the pains to get them­selves a stomack to it, and digest it.

They keep it for a good bit at last, till sickness make them hungry, and will give them no leave to sin after it. They look upon it as a strong Cordi­al, that must be used only in desperate cases, when soul and body are parting and taking their leave of each other. But if it have such a power to make men happy, then why could it not make them holy? and why did they not use it all their life long to that purpose, but because they had no love to holi­ness? Therefore as Antisthenes said to the Priest of Orpheus his mysteries, who perswaded him to be initiated in his Religion, because all such should re­ceive eternal felicities; Why then dost thou not dye, man? if thou believest so, why lovest thou this life so well thy self? So say I to these men, if there be such [Page 248]vertue in the Sacrament to carry you to Heaven, so that you would receive it when you die; Why do you not use it that it may carry you thither while you live? why would you not be in Heaven now, if you think it such a de­sirable thing? and why do not you va­lue that which you account a means to bring you thither?

And as for godly people who are afraid to come, because they find not themselves so prepared as they would be; they had best take heed lest they turn truly superstitious by fearing more than needs. Do you make it the bu­siness of your lives to please God? do you daily live upon the Lord Jesus, and feed on him in your hearts by a lively faith? is he before your eyes as the di­rector and example of all your actions? Why should you think then that he will not be pleased with your compa­ny at his Table? Would you have a thought as strong as an Angel? would you be able to flie as swiftly as a Che­rubim, and love with such a flame as a Seraphim? And will you stay till you be as richly adorned as a glorified Saint, before you think it be fit to attend on [Page 249]him? Methinks it should be some comfort to a good heart that it hath such enlarged and noble desires. But if it may not feast with God till it have what it would, why do not men trem­ble to pray without such perfections? why do they not dread to hear and read the Word of God; and turn a­way their faces when they look up to Heaven in any Meditations? Are these such trifling duties? or do not these constitute the prime and vital parts of this which they so dread? Doth not the soul feed it self at the Sacrament by holy Prayers, affectionate thoughts, devout thanksgivings, and a hearty ob­lation of it self to God? I doubt while we cry out justly against the superstiti­on of Rome, many of us have that too near our very hearts, which is the ve­ry root and life of all superstition. For [...], or superstition, is a cause­less trembling arising out of our own mind, when there is nothing in the object on which we look to breed such an affrightment. If we make this Sa­crament such a [...], terrible mystery, that we dare not do the duty which Christ hath commanded us, then [Page 250]it is plain our minds are filled with Heathenish terrors, and we affright our souls with our own childish imaginati­ons. Take heed therefore of whatso­ever it be that would make you run a­way from your duty, and do not breed up your souls in such a dread of your Father, that you should turn reverence into horror, fear into affrightment, and the cup of gladness into the Wine of asto­nishment. Why should you turn your backs when God invites you to him? why should you feed on scruples, when you may feed on the bread of life? why should you go and weep alone, when God would have you to rejoyce with your Brethren? I can imagine no reason of it but this, that some have little care to live godlily; and those that have, understand not well the terms of the Gospel; and one reason why many understand them no better, is, because this duty is performed so seldome wherein they should renew their Covenant with God. Men have but little acquaintance with this thing, and that makes them to be a­fraid of it; and they seldome come to God in this manner, and that makes [Page 251]them more fearfull when they have a mind to come. If this Feast should be kept every day, it might be apt to grow into contempt; but now being rarely observed, it breeds in our igno­rant and weak natures a strange and panick fear. And therefore the best advice that I know of to be given to all good people, is this; 1. That they throughly understand what the ends are for which this remembrance of Christ is appointed: And, 2. That they believe the chiefest preparation to it is a holy life.

CHAP. XII.

BUt some perhaps will say, that I have only directed those that are already in a state of grace, and it may be asked, whether there be not another sort of preparation for those that are not yet entred upon Religion, and what qualifications will dispose men for their first Communion with the People of God.

I answer, That supposing they are Baptized, and have been Catechized and instructed in the Christian Faith, the duty of such Persons is,

First, To own and profess their Baptismal Covenant now that they are attained to years of discretion and un­derstanding. Let them own it in the se­crets of their own soul, and let them profess it unto him that God hath set over them, and so desire to be admit­ted for to strengthen their resolution, by adding a new Sacrament to the former Engagement. That which they should have done at Baptism, if they had been men, let them do now that they understand their Baptism, and enter their protestations against the lusts of the world, the flesh, and the Devil.

Secondly, As they must well ex­mine themselves before they make such a profession, so now intending to receive this holy Sacrament, they should make a new search into all the parts of their soul. Let such a man therefore first bring his understanding unto tryal, and examine it what it ap­prehends concerning Christ and all his Offices. What knowledge it hath of the ends of his death, and the benefits that come thereby unto us, as also of the nature of the new Covenant, and [Page 253]of this Sacrament whereby we come to partake of those benefits. Then se­condly, Call thy Judgement before the Barr of Conscience, and ask it how it prizes and esteems of Christ and all his benefits, and whether it count all things but dung and dross for the ex­cellency of his knowledge, and whe­ther it value the deliverance wrought by him, from the power as well as pu­nishment of sin, more than a Kingdom bigger than the world.

Then thirdly, Take thy will under examination, and ask it if it heartily consent to believe all that he saith, to do all that he commands, and to expect in such a way all that he promiseth. Here thou must be very inquisitive, lest thy heart should be divided be­tween two Masters. And it is necessary that thou represent unto thy self all the dangers thou mayest undergo, and the hazards thou mayest run, if thou cleave to Christ, and not unto the world; and then ask thy soul if it chuse Christ with disgrace, if it embrace him and a stake both together; and in one word, if it sincerely love a crucified Savi­our.

Fourthly, Then next of all, Let thy affections be called to an account, which are but several motions of thy will. See what sorrow, what pain and grief thou hast conceived for offending of thy Lord. What hunger and thirst there is in thee after righteousness. What desire after the Blood of Christ, to quench the fire of Gods anger that is kindled in thy soul, and to wash a­way all that filthiness which makes him angry. See that thou be in love, in charity with all men, that there be no hatred nor enmity, no wrath nor dis­pleasure against any of thy Brethren. See that there be such affections in thy heart as befit that duty which thou thinkest to perform, ex. gr. Ask thy soul, why did thy Saviour bleed? was he a Malefactor? or were thy sins the Traytors which delivered him to these horrid torments? What hatred then dost thou find against them? how canst thou find in thy heart to use them. Ask again, Was thy Saviour overcome by death, or did he over­come it? O think what triumph it should raise in thy soul (if thou dost consent unto him) and what joy it [Page 255]should create in thy heart, that he hath destroyed sin, death, and the grave, and opened the gates of life. Ask it once more, What are those glorious things that he hath purchased by his Bloud? And what love dost thou feel in thy self towards him? What sym­pathy hast thou with his dear affection? and what canst thou find in thy heart to do for the Holy Jesus?

Fifthly, And then after all this, let all the actions of thy life be brought a­gain before the same Tribunal, and arraign thy self for all the villanies thou hast committed against thy Lord, for all the breaches of thy faith and sa­cred Oath unto him. Yea, if there be but a little passion, a rash word, a vain thought, whereby thou hast given him the least prick of a wound, find them out as near as thou canst, and let them be brought forth to be slain before him.

Then lastly, Dive most seriously into the bottome of thy heart, and fetch up all the resolutions that thou thinkest lye there, set them in the ve­ry face of thy Lord, and ask thy heart before him, and bid it say true, as it [Page 256]will answer it at the day of Judgement, What are thy purposes for the future? for what ends wouldst thou approach to the Lords Table? Yea, go so far as to examine thy self about thy intention in such things as thou thought'st former­ly could never be done, or never a­voided from being done. Ask thy heart about the faults of thy nature, of thy temper, and those which through humane weakness will occurre; about thy foolish thoughts; thy little passi­ons, which none discern to swell but thy self, &c. Art thou resolved to be more watchfull against these, to use more industry to suppress them, to redeem thy time, to avoid all occasions of evil, to guard thy self more strongly where the temptation used to come? Re­solve thy self, and be satisfied about all these particulars, and so accordingly proceed forward when thou knowest thy self, and thy heart hath told the truth concerning thine estate. For examination is not commanded for it self, but in order to something else that is to follow after this search.

3. Therefore thirdly, Let every man approve himself in these particu­lars, [Page 257]and judge that he is a person that means really to live godlily, to for­sake all other Masters, and cleave to Jesus only, having an understanding of the conditions of his Service. Let thy soul give thee a good Answer up­on the foregoing examination, and then I have little more to say. But be sure of this, That thy judgement of thy self (i. e. of thy Understanding, Will, Af­fections, &c.) be impartial and unbi­assed, and do not incline to any favou­rable construction of thy self, but let the Word of God be thy Rule, and thy spiritual Pastor be thy Guide, if thou doubtest that thou flatterest thy self.

But fourthly, If thou hast lately committed some great and scandalous offence, before thy heart began to be thus pricked and stimulated to ransack it self, make some trial of thy self be­fore thou comest to the Lords Table. Two sorts of Converts there are. Some have not behaved themselves towards God as they ought, but lived carelesly without the exercise of Piety and De­votion to him; yet have not committed any gross sin, which might cast a blot [Page 258]upon the Sacredness of this Feast, if they should presently come to it, nor offend the flock of Christ who have Communion with them. If they be touched with a sense of their private neglect, if their sins against God be a burden to them, though men know them not, if they heartily abhor them, and betake themselves to the work of godliness with all their might, and do firmly determine with themselves, that they will hereafter be more care­full and diligent in their duty, and de­sire to come to the Sacrament, that they may be more strongly engaged and tyed to do as they resolve, I think they may have a comfortable hope that there is a change wrought in them, and so should approach unto it.

But there are others whose sins are notorious and ill favoured, known to all the Neighbourhood. And perhaps they have been reeking in a sin a few dayes before the holy Communion, but their hearts begin now to smite them, and they find such severe reproofs in their souls, that prick them to some good resolutions. I would wish these persons seriously to advise with them­selves, [Page 259]whether this may not be a start which comes from some sudden spurre; and to make trial how they can like to travell in the wayes of God. There are certain pangs of devotion that come upon men against a solemn time, and when their souls are at a little leisure, they speak very freely to them, and their sins being great, ugly and sta­ring, they may much affright them: Therefore it is the safest course to stay till this fit be over, and the next day to look upon them with the eye of a ra­tional consideration, and see whether they have not recovered their old com­plexion, and begin to smile again. For else we may adde one sin to another, if we come to this holy duty with a re­lish of our sins, and a likelihood to return again unto them, after some little falling out which may conclude in a greater kindness. It is monstrous­ly unseemly and dangerous for a man to come from the last dayes vomit, and his yesternight surfeit to sit at the Ta­ble of the Lord, though he seem never so much ashamed. It is that which destroyes Religion, for men to think, that they can leap so instantly from one [Page 260]state to another, and change a state of fin for a state of Grace, at a dayes warn­ing. Such Crimes must be purged with a great sorrow, and in a deep hu­miliation; which if it be true, will make a man think himself unworthy to be presently entertained by God in so near a Communion, yea to be below the least good look from his gracious eye. With many tears will such a man seek but for the hope of a pardon; many punishments will he inflict upon himself for such intemperance, or un­cleanness, or covetousness, or what­soever other gross sin it be that he is guilty of, and he will think it but a just punishment, that though he were invi­ted, he should keep himself from the enjoying of God at his Table, and from such good company of Gods People. Shall I who am a Beast (will such an one say) go among the People of Gods Pasture? A meer Wolf go and feed among the Sheep of his hands? I who have wallowed in vice, like a Swine in the mire, go and sit me down in so ho­ly a place? I whose meat hath been ordure and filth, to put the Bread of God to my lips? Far be it from me; [Page 261]let me rather eat ashes, the bread of af­fliction, and take my tears for my drink. No! let my tongue rather cleave to the roof of my mouth; let my lips rather be sowed together, than that I should presume to drink of the Cup of Blessing, who have deserved such a curse from the hand of God. I sit down with God at his Table! A Dunghill is a more proper place for such a bruit. Come, let us embrace the dust, let us kiss the earth, and think it is a strange mercy that we live; and let us stay a while to see if the Lord will let us live and hope to live for ever. Sit at the Table of the Lord! Alas! I am not fit to lye up­on my own bed. I dare not sleep, for fear I die. And oh! that I could give no rest to my eyes, nor slumber to my eye-lids, till I had prepared a place for him to dwell in. Oh that we were but friends, though he would not use me as his friend.

I have but represented to you the sad and pathetick groans of a heart, that knows what it is to sin. It can­not tell how to move forward so bold­ly to God, as men are apt to do; it [Page 262]stands still, or rather it lyes down, and knows not what to do. It won­ders at the security and carelesness of offenders; and if sleep come to stroak its head with the hopes of a slumber, it can scarce tell how to welcome it, by receiving its kindness, and suffering its blanditions. But then all this sad­ness tends to joy; and is but like the Clouds which gather about the Hea­vens, which having wept as much as they can, make them look the clearer. This humility and modesty doth not make a soul run from God, but makes him to approach to it. And when a man perceives really that he hath left his sin, and is become a new Creature, then let him entreat the favour of God, that he who hath done him so much good, would grant him the liberty to be in the number of those whom he feeds at his own Table.

Fifthly, When thou findest that it is the sincere resolution, and likewise en­deavour of thy soul to please God, though in some things thou shouldst break thy resolution against the very purpose of thy heart; yet let not this hinder thy coming to the Supper of the Lord. [Page 263]When notwithstanding all our dili­gence, we still offend, it is a sign that we must use some other diligence; and therefore we should be induced ra­ther to fortifie our resolutions by so powerfull a means, than to abstain from it. For they that neglect it be­cause they are weak, may justly fear lest they be therefore weak, because they live in neglect of a known duty. Let it be the endeavour then of all those that study to live godlily, though they be feeble and tottering, to understand the true use and benefit of this duty, and then to perform it for this end, that they may be strengthened and confirmed.

6. Yea sixthly, If thou breakest thy resolution after thou hast received these holy Pledges, and feelest but little strength; yet let it not deterre thee from receiving, but rather make thee frequent it the more, that the re­petition of this action may do that, which a single act was not able to do. For this Sacrament was instituted for the weak, more than for the strong, though it be necessary for both; and it is likely men remain therefore weak, [Page 264]because they seed so seldome, and let the received strength decay, before they give it a fresh repast. But if they still forbear when they are sensible of a consumption, what can be expected but a dangerous languishment? If thou hast not got the victory by the use of this weapon, thou canst not think but to be worsted and foiled by the neglect of it. If thou hast received no more strength against thy lusts by this strong food, how shalt thou hope by a weaker and thin diet, to be able to wrestle with them? Approve then thy resolutions to be smcere, and stir up thy hunger more frequently; awa­ken thy appetite, that thou mayest feed more heartily; and so come with hopes through the Grace of God, thou mayest get further ground of them, and give them (at least) a deeper wound, though they may not presently be trod­den under thy feet. But if still thou findest no encrease of strength, nor their prevalency abate, I dare not ad­vise thee that thou shouldst stay away, but search thy heart more narrowly, if thou wast not too sleight in thy former resolution, and bearest not some se­cret [Page 265]favour to thy sinne, and hast not some latent unwillingness that they should be slain. And be assured, that if thou constantly use the means (that God hath appointed) of Prayer and Watchfulness, calling him in daily to thy assistance, thou shalt at last get the better. For nothing can mortifie us, if the death of Christ cannot; and never is the power of his death more felt, than when we thus solemnly re­member it. Therefore do not ima­gine that thou must wait, till by some other means thou canst effect that thing, which is to be done chiefly by those means which thou art afraid of.

To conclude then this Discourse, Let me entreat all serious Christians, that they would more attentively heed their own encrease in Grace, by this food, that so they may encourage the weaker sort to make use of it, when by their own experience they can tell them what Life and Spirit it doth com­municate. And what the heed and care is, which you should take, I have already told you: The summe of which is this: Excite your hunger, [Page 266]quicken your thirst, and sharpen your appetite after righteousness, and all the benefits that are to be enjoyed by Christ. Labour to remove all ob­structions and stoppings that may hin­der the free distribution of the nourish­ment into all the parts. Sound men may sometimes be so clog'd with colds and distempers which they have caught, that their meat may do them little good, but only engender more rhumes and oppilations, and make them more indisposed. And there­fore some Physick will do well to pre­pare and cleanse the wayes for their food, that it may freely pass and dis­perse it self through the body. Even so may & good man happen to be so loaded with some Worldly Business, and his thoughts may be so mixed with some Affairs, that a damp may be cast upon his affections, and his spirits may move but sluggishly, and at that time be may perceive but little re­lish in any Heavenly Food. And there­fore he must take some time to re­move these impediments, and cast off these weights. He must blot these worldly Images (as much as he can) [Page 267]out of his fancy, and discharge him­self of his earthly thoughts and cares. And then having emptied himself of those ill humours that he had insensi­bly contracted, he may with the greater clearness of soul, and more profit to himself, partake of this spi­ritual nutriment. We may compare the best of men to a Clock, which though it commonly go true, and be constantly wound up, and lookt after, yet must sometimes be more exactly cleansed and new oyled, or else it will begin to move more slowly, and not to keep time so evenly; and moist sea­sons, you know, and bad weather, are apt to foul it, and to clog the wheels in their motion. There will be dust falling upon our heart, which we must often be brushing off; rust will be growing, while we are exposed to such variety of seasons and occasions in the world; and examination, with an ap­plication of severe truths to our hearts, will be as a file to brighten them, and furbish them again, without which they will be unfit for the use and ser­vice of our Master, and unprepared for any duty that we are to go about. [Page 268]But to keep more close to the Meta­phor of Eating and Drinking, you know that the strongest and most healthy person that is, had need some­times to have the natural heat excited, the vital spirits rouzed and awakened by exercise and stirring, else he loseth his appetite, and his meat makes him but more sluggish, by oppressing those spirits more heavily, which before were too much burdened. Even so before we come to this Table of the Lord, though we be sound in his wayes, and upright before him, yet we must by the exercises of examination, me­ditation and prayer, by the discussion of our Consciences, and by the stirring up the Graces of God that are in us, put our selves into a meet temper for to eat, and by quickening of our hun­ger, receive the more nourishment, and get the greater strength by this food of our souls. For this you must remember, that as this food nourished the soul only by its own actions, and as it nourisheth only the new man, which can put forth proper actions; so it is not likely to yeild any considerable strength to that, without some fore-going moti­on and good exercises.

Mensa Mystica.
SECT. III. Concerning the Deportment of a Soul at the holy Table, and afterward when the Solemnity is past.

CHAP. XIII.

A Devout person being once de­manded, What was the most forcible means that by long Experience he had proved, to help a man to pray well and fer­vently: He answered, An holy life. And to their Enquiry, What he found available next to that: He still returned the same Answer, An holy life; which is both second, third, and all means else of praying devoutly. The like I have said concerning Preparati­on to the Supper of the Lord: By a [Page 270]constant exercise of piety, we shall be more fit without other labour, to at­tend upon our Lord, than he that is at the pains of a Muscovite Christian, if he do not live holily. It is reported of them, That eight dayes before the receiving of the Sacrament, they drink nothing but water, and eat no­thing but bread as dry as a bone. But if any of us could find in our hearts in this delicate Age, to use our selves with the like rigour, such abstinence would not make us so hungry, and ve­hemently desirous of this Heavenly Food, as a daily abstinence from all for­bidden things, and a care to perform such holy duties, as will maintain a lively sense of God in our souls. Our aptness to heavenly converses, confists not in some austerities, and sowre de­votions, before we come to receive this sweet food; but in a daily morti­fication and severity towards our selves, and in a strict watch over our own hearts. Such persons hearts are like to dry wood, and they can soon stir up the Grace of God that lodges there, and with one blast (as it were) kindle the flame of Love. Whereas the [Page 271]hearts of other men having been soak­ing in the World, are like green sticks, that with all their puffing, blowing, and prayers, will scarce catch any fire.

If any now should make a demand of the nature with that I mentioned, and enquire concerning the next thing that is to be treated of, How a good man should order his behaviour and deportment at Gods Table? I might answer in one word, Love. Do but love, and that affection is instead of a thousand Masters, which will teach us all decent carriage, and beseeming ex­pressions, to the person whom we love. You need not tell one that is in Love, what he shall say, or how he shall make his Addresses, &c. but Love it self is his Tutor, which is full of wit and invention, which forms it self into apt expressions, and puts on become­ing gestures, and turns it self into all arts of insinuation. I have read in an Anonymous Author, That he knew some Religious persons, who all the while they were at this feast, did no­thing else but only cry with heart and tongue, I love thee, O my Jesus, truly [Page 272]I love thee O my Jesus; reiterating this above an hundred times, and professing that they found a singular comfort and consolation, in these throbs and beat­ings of love in their heart unto him. It seems their love taught them, that their Lord would be best pleased, if they threw themselves into his arms, (as it were) and told him that they were so full of love, that they could not hold; and yet were so inebriated, that they could not tell what to say, but only that they loved him. But he saith he knew others that would say nothing, but endeavoured to keep their soul from all thoughts whatso­ever, that they might hear the voice of Christ within them, when all their affections were husht and still. It should seem that their Love taught them, that it would be best to be so modest as to let their Lord speak first, or rather speak all, and they sit and hearken to his sweet voice within them, alluring them to himself. Thus Love guides every man accor­ding to the temper and complexion of his soul, to make his Addresses in that manner which will be most pleasing to [Page 273]his Saviour, and breed most content­ment to himself.

But this very love that is thus quick and sharp, and knows how to tell its mind, and obtain its end, is of that na­ture, that it will enquire of others, if they can afford it any assistance that may polish and refine it to a higher de­gree of purity. And as you have seen in the former discourse, That holiness consists of several actions of our life very different and various, so it is here to be considered, that love delights to break forth in several acts, and the soul finds vent for it self in divers man­ners, according as the objects present­ed, do open a passage, and make their way into our heart. Now it will be but fit that when we come to remem­ber the great love of our Lord, we should let the expressions of our love be as various as we can, and suffer our souls to burst out as many wayes as there are occasions offered. When there is an holy fervour inkindled in them, let them exhale in sundry thoughts, and divers breathings of a devout affection, that they may send up a perfume of many spices unto Hea­ven. [Page 274]Only if we feel our hearts ex­hale and evaporate in one thought or desire more than another, with such a freedome and pleasure, as though they had a mind to spend themselves in that alone; let us not stop the passage of those sweet odours, nor quench that ar­dency of our spirits, by turning them to any other thing. But rather let us help it forward, till we find it grow weak and languishing; and then it will be most profitable and pleasant also to open some other port at which the soul may sally forth upon a new object, and be encountred with fresh delights.

And truly, considering that I have al­ready led you by the hand as far as the Table of the Lord, methinks I might leave you there to your own Meditations upon that matter which I have prepared to your thoughts. Those minds that are impregnated with good motions, should be all ready (methinks) to teem forth themselves into most proper Meditations at the sight of their dearest Lord, without any further directions. But yet I consider again, that the strongest Army for want of Order and good Discipline, may do but [Page 275]little service; and that a throng of thoughts, if they be not well ranged and disposed, may thrust themselves forward to the disturbance and hin­drance of each other. And therefore I shall endeavour to set those thoughts which I conceive will be in all good minds, in their right place, that they may issue forth, and second each other to our greatest advantage, and the do­ing of us most acceptable service.

CHAP. XIV.

IT will be well becoming Christian Piety, to welcome the day that brings our Saviour so near unto us with acts of joy and thanksgiving, for the approach of so great a blessing. And since one night may breed too great a damp and chilness upon our spirits, it will be very wholesome to renew those thoughts and affections that we left there when we went to bed, and so go to the House of God in a sense of our unworthiness to enter­tain so glorious a Person, and in a sense of sinne, which is the cause of that un­worthiness [Page 276]together with a joy in our souls, and praises upon our tongues, that he will forgive them, humbly de­siring of the Lord that he will accept of us for his habitation, and that he will come and enlarge our souls by a holy love to him, and longing after him, that there may be room for his Sacred Majesty, and a place clean and dressed for to receive him.

And then when the time comes that this holy service begins, we must put on such affections as are most agreeable to the several parts of the action. As first, We must solemnly and devoutly joyn with the Minister in those Confes­sions, Prayers and Thanksgivings which he thinks fit to use. And, Second­ly, When he invites us in Christs Name to come and receive him, let us adore the goodness of God that will call us to his own Table, and let us compose our selves to a thankfull re­verence, that we may receive this Heavenly Food. And, Thirdly, We ought diligently to attend unto those Exhortations and Perswasions which he shall use, and to endeavour that our hearts may be affected with them. But [Page 277]these are such things as you can easily instruct your selves about, and there­fore I will apply my Discourse to more particular considerations.

I. When you see the Minister stand at the Table of the Lord to consecrate the Bread and Wine by Prayer, and the words of Christs Institution, then send up an act of wonder and ad­miration, that the Son of God should be­come the food of souls by dying for us. Then these words (so anciently used) Sursam Corda, Lift up your hearts, should sound in all our ears, and our souls should spread their wings, that by the divine inspirations they may be mounted unto Heaven in adoring thoughts. Nothing more be­comes this Sacred Mystery, than such a dumb admiration; and the love of our Lord is not better praised by any thing, than loquacissimo illo silentio (as Erasmus his phrase is) by that most talkative silence. When the appre­hensions of the soul grow too big for the mouth; when it lifts up it self in speaking-thoughts; and this is their language, That they are not able to un­derstand the Miracles of this Love, it [Page 278]shall not be long before it perceive how much God is pleased with its say­ing nothing. Let us therefore labour at the very entrance, to put our selves into some degree of wonderment, to think what manner of love this is wherewith he hath loved us. Won­der that he should dye for thee, when he was upon the earth, and that he should nourish thee with himself now that he is in the Heavens. Be asto­nished that Heaven should so conde­scend to Earth, and Man should be so united unto God. Lose thy thoughts in contemplation of the strangeness of this kindness, that God should dwell in flesh, and that this flesh should be our Food. Let it amaze thee that Christ can never think that he hath given himself enough to thee; but (as the Apostle saith) he gave himself to redeem us from our sinnes, and now he gives himself to be the strength and health of our souls. He gave himself when he was among men, he gives himself now that he is with God, and (as Dionysius relates the story) he told a pious man in a vision, That if it were necessary he [Page 279]would come and die again for the sons of men. This would be a rarely good beginning of this holy service, and we should be fitter for all following acti­ons, if we could put our hearts into a kind of extasie or admiration at the stupendious greatness of this mystery. If our thoughts were once got so high, we should be out of the reach of other things that are apt to thrust themselves in, and interrupt us. If we had once climbed above our selves, and were as­cended into Heaven, we should not be inticed while the Solemnity last­ed, to come down to the World a­gain.

II. When we see the Bread broken, and the Wine poured out, it is a fit season to entertain our selves with these three Meditations, which are big with a great number of other thoughts that they will bring forth.

1. Remember the pains and do­lours, the shame and reproach which our Lord endured. For which pur­pose imagine as if you were in Golgo­tha, the place where he was crucified, think that you behold him stretched forth upon a Cross, that you see his [Page 280]precious Bloud trickling down his side; and that you look into his gaping wounds; think that you see the pits that they digged in his hands and his feet, the furrows that they made in his back, and how miserably the Thorns scratched and harrowed his holy head. Think that you hear his dying groans, that the mocks and flouts of the Jews sound in your ears. Yea, think that you hear the groans of the Earth under the weight of his Cross; and that you see how the Sun shrunk in his head, as ashamed to look on such a spectacle, and affrighted with the horror of such a sight. And when you have meditated a while up­on these wonders, it will be greater wonder if there be no passion made in your hearts. Your own thoughts will teach you such resentments as befit so strange an object, and you will begin to tremble, and bleed, and desire, and rejoyce, and be in such a mixture of passions, as if you would imitate the confusion which was in the world at his Sufferings.

But when you have recovered your self a little, think that it will be most [Page 281]agreeable in the second place,

2. To remember with due affecti­on the great love of our Lord in sub­mitting himself to such pains and dis­grace for our sakes. Never did eyes behold such a strange thing, that the on­ly begotten of the Father should bleed like a Malefactor; that the glorious King of Heaven should dye for his own Subjects, Rebels I should rather call them, and Traytors to their Soveraign Lord. Was there ever any kindness like to this? Was there ever such a Furnace of Love burning in any heart? Could he do more for us, than dye for us? Was there any likelihood that the remembrance of such a Love should dye? That mens hearts should freeze over such a fire? Lest such a thing should happen, he hath left himself still among us in symboles and representati­ons, he sets before our eyes his bloody Death and Passion; he makes himself present to our faith; and as if he would do more than dye for us, he desires to live for ever in us, and be united to us. How can we chuse then but fall into his arms? Yea, how can we with­hold our selves from running into his [Page 282]heart? Can any heart refrain it self from tears of sorrow, to think of its un­kindness? and from tears of joy to think of his strange love? how can we be but overwhelmed both with floods of grief and gladness? Can we look upon him whom we have pierced, and not mourn? Can we see his bleeding wounds, and not be troubled? What heart can be so hard? It cannot but pain us to think that we love him no more, who put himself to such pains for us. It cannot but trouble us to think that but hearts should be so cold, when his was so hot with love, as to send out its life bloud for our redemption. And yet when we consider, that in this stream of blood our souls are washed, and that by his stripes we are healed, who can chuse but rejoyce in his love, and hope that he will accept of our poor acknowledgements? And let us but look upon him again as I described him on the Cross, and we shall find our love more large and vehement. Think that you hear him saying to you as he hangs there, Behold (my friends) how my flesh was torn and woun­ded for your sakes! See how your [Page 283]sinnes have used me: Look into my heart which was pierced first by love, and then by a spear for you. See how my hands and my feet were bo­red through: look how my blood runs out to fetch you home to God. Was there ever any sorrow like to my sor­row? Hath any one loved you so as I have loved you? Behold here I give my self unto you, as once I gave my self for you. By these tokens of Bread and Wine, I conveigh unto you all that I have, and make over to you all that Inheritance which I have pur­chased by my Blood. My Self, and all that I have, I freely give unto you. Need any one (now) that hath such Me­ditations, be taught with what affecti­ons he should behave himself towards his Lord? Needs there any piercing words of him that ministers to wound mens souls with sorrow and grief? Is any artifice of speech required to wind and insinuate Christ into their hearts? Is any perswasive Language necessary to make them accept of the greatest and richest Blessings that all Heaven can afford? Me thinks I see the pricking and compunction that will be [Page 284]in a heart that thinks of these things. Me thinks I see such a soul running forth to meet and embrace its graci­ous Lord. Me thinks I behold it preparing a gift of its whole self to of­fer unto him; and such flames of Love seem to be kindling as if it would flye up to Heaven. But stay, it must first cast one look downward towards its sinfull self, before it can think of getting up so high, and of being a gift accepta­ble to God. It could not indeed but think of giving the best it had to him who gave all himself to it: But alas! the time of Sacrifice is not yet come, and it is not good enough for to begi­ven to him. It will try if it can make it self a little better (though never good enough) before it offer up it self, by making its sinnes feel the weight and sharpness of Christs Cross, that they may all dye. It will make a slaughter of them, and then a sacrifice of it self, which is the third Medita­tion I have to recommend to your thoughts.

3. Consider how odious, vile and intollerable every sin is, that brought our Lord to such miseries, and requi­red [Page 285]such a Blood to expiate it. This hatred of sinne proceeds from great Love; and the viler we see it is, the more will our love encrease to him that will pardon such a shamefull act. Think therefore, what is that which makes God so angry? What bloudy thing is it which drinks the Bloud of Christ himself? What hideous Monster that could not be satisfied with the flesh of all the World? What cursed thing that the Son of God became a curse for it? The thoughts of Christs Cross is enough to affright a man out of the very Arms and pleasant Embraces of a Lust; it is enough to rescue a soul that is in the mouth of Hell, and ready to go down the throat of the bottom­less pit. If it can but find any place to take hold of, it can drag a man out of the very Jaws of the Monster; and it can Arm the revenge of the veriest doting Lover that ever courted sinne, and turn his wrath against it. But. then how amiable doth the goodness of God appear, that he would pass by so many offences, and require no satis­faction from us for such insufferable wrongs? How great was his love, that [Page 286]he would transferre the punishment from us unto his Son? and how great was his Sonnes Love, that he would bear our iniquities, that by his stripes we might be healed? Nay, none can tell, nor think how great the love was; but the more hainous and grie­vous our offences seem, the more glo­riously will it shine in our eyes; and again, the more lovely God appears, the more shall we hate sin that does any injury to so good a God. Let us therefore stay our thoughts here a while, and think we hear Christ say to us, You have lookt into my wounds, and have seen into my very heart; if you have any eyes, sure you cannot but discern what hath put me into this gore. Do you not see how sinne ra­ked in my sides, and tare my very heart? Do you not see how greedily it suckt my bloud? Behold the very print of its nails; see here the very place where it hath thrust its Spear. You say you are my friends, will you not take my part against your sins? Have not all these Wounds mouthes enough to entreat you to fall out with sin? Would you have me used thus [Page 287]again? Could you find in your heart to see me once more upon a Gibbet? Why then can you not be perswaded by the remembrance of my sufferings for you? Why do you not spit in the face of your sinnes? Why do you not buffet and beat them, and do all the despight you can unto them? yea, why do you not revenge me perfectly upon them, and cry crucifie them, crucifie them; not these, but Christ only? Why do I not see them here nailed to my Cross, never to be taken down till they be quite dead? If you would have me embrace you, say, None but Christ, none but Christ; Christ and Wounds, Christ and a Cross, Christ and Death (if he will) shall be our por­tion.

What, I beseech you, would our hearts eccho back again, if we thought that we heard him groaning such words from the Cross unto us? What a fury and a rage would it put us into against these bloody sinnes? With what a forwardness should we arm our selves against them? With what a revenge should we flye upon them? We could not but with all speed drag them to [Page 288]the Cross, and torture them to death. We could not but pass sentence, and do the severest execution upon them. Though they begg'd never so much for life, the voice of Christ would drown their cryes. Though all their friends & familiars entreated for them, their Petitions would be cast out. Though our eyes should pity them, and beseech that they might be spared, though our Tongues and Pallates should plead for their life, though all our senses, though every part of our flesh should solicite in their behalf, yet we should never endure that our Lord should be disgusted and affronted any more by them. When Caesar was slain by Brutus and his Complices, An­thony took his Bloudy Garments, and spread them before the eyes of the people, as if every hole which their Daggers had made, would speak an O­ration unto them. Behold (said he) the Bloud of your Emperor, see here the wounds they have given unto him. Can you love these Paracides that have stickt him like a Beast? Can you look with patience upon the Butchery they have committed? Can you look [Page 289]through these Clothes, without fire in your eyes? And immediately he so moved the multitude by that artifice, and the vehemency of his Oration, that they run upon the houses of the mur­therers, as Tygers or Wolves upon their Prey, and would as certainly have torn them in pieces, as a Lion doth a Kid, in the heat of his anger, but that they were before fled from the danger. Cannot then the representation, not of the rent Garments of our Saviour, but of his very broken Body, more move a considerate heart against sin, which was the slaughterer? Cannot the very sign of his sacred Blood pierce with greater Rhetorick into his soul? Think that thou hearest Christ himself say, Behold my Wounds: See here the breaches in my Body; Look upon me whom they have pierced: Read in me the cruelty of thy sins. Canst thou hug and imbrace these bloody Parricides? Canst thou shew any kindness to so vile an e­nemy? Hast thou the patience to hear me ask any more Questions, and rea­son with thee any further? Sure­ly in the middle of such thoughts as these, the heart of a man could not but [Page 290]take fire, and be so incensed and pro­voked against all his sins, that he would leave them all dead at the foot of Christ. Not one of them could es­cape, but every mans hand would be a­gainst his particular lust, and there they should lie bleeding as so many sacrifices at the Altar of the Lord. For who could lie under the load of sin when he beheld Christ groaning upon the Cross for it? whose heart could remain unbroken, when he saw his bo­dy broken for us? who could with­hold his eyes from tears, when he saw the Wounds of Christ weeping blood for us? Behold O Lord! would such a mans soul answer unto him, I am sorry that my sins have liv'd so long. It was sore against my will that there should be any of them now to kill; fain would I have had their lives, but they are hitherto overstrong for me. O do thou strike my soul through with a sense of thy sufferings, and they will not be able to endure thy hand. Do thou transfix me first with a sense of my baseness, and then with a sense of thy love, and sure they cannot but die when they feel thy pains. I am resol­ved [Page 291]not to carry away one of them a­live. If they had a thousand lives, they should lose them all, that my soul may live to thee.

How it would delight our Lord to hear such language in mens hearts, it is not for me to express; nor can you imagine how you should please him better, and draw him more powerfully into your armes, then by such discourse within your selves. Nor can you e­ver think to get the victory over your sins, and bring them under your ha­tred and displeasure, if such a sight as Christ crucified before your eyes, be not able to effect it. Never will they be killed, if they can outlive the sight of a bleeding Saviour. Never shall we get them under our power, if they can escape with their lives, when we remember so solemnly his accursed death.

III. When we see him that ministers, come to give the bread unto us, let us employ our selves in these three Acts of Devotion:

First, It will well become a soul to sink into a very deep humility, and to a­base it self in the sense of its own un­worthiness. [Page 292]When thou seest that Christ is coming (as it were) towards thy house, Run forth to meet him at the door before he come in, and en­tertain him with an act of reverence, worship, and humble obeysance to him. Say, Lord, I am not worthy that thou should'st come under my Roof; I de­serve not the crumbs that fall from thy Table. Say as Ruth to Boaz, (Ruth 2.10.) after she had bowed her self to the ground, Why have I found grace in thine eyes, that thou shouldst take know­ledg of me, seeing I am a stranger? How comes it that my Lord should cast his eye upon me? What am I, that he should visit me, and come to marry himself unto me? And when thou hast depressed thy self a while at his feet; Then

Secondly, Rise a little up again, and mix some Acts of love with this humi­lity. Think of the infinite love of God, that would give his own Son; think of the infinite love of Christ that would so graciously come to save us, and would leave us these remembran­ces and tokens of his love. Wish that thou hadst a thousand hearts to cor­respond [Page 293]with so great a love. Say within thy self, Oh Lord! What am I that thou shouldest command me for to love thee? What compare be­tween me and thee, that thou should­est so much desire to make me a visit, and give to me an embracement? Whence comes it, that thou who art in Heaven, among them who know so well how to love and serve thee, wilt vouchsafe to descend to me, who know little else but how to offend thee? Is it possible, O Lord, that thou canst not content thy self to be without me? Did thy meer love draw thee down from Heaven for my sake? Dost thou still give thy self unto me, as if thou couldst never be mine e­nough? Who can abide the heat of this love? Who can feel thy heart and not be burnt up? There is none can dwell in such flames without being con­sumed. No soul that can abide in the body, if a great sense of this love do long abide. We must therefore en­treat our gracious Lord, that he would stay for the full measure of our love, till he hath made us able to do nothing else but love him.

And thirdly, Let us turn our Love into desire. Let us beseech him to fill us with his holy Spirit, and to dwell in us by all his divine graces. Say, Lord! since thou art pleased to come and offer thy self unto me, My soul thirsteth for thee even as the thirsty Land; I humbly stretch out my hands unto thee;Psal. 143.6. I open my mouth wide, that thou mayest fill me. O sa­tisfie my soul with thy likeness! O let me taste that the Lord is gracious! And you may be assured that the Lord loves a soul that lies in such a posture ready to receive him, that gasps and longs after him, and saith in its heart, Whom have I in Heaven but thee? Psal. 73.25. and there is none on earth besides thee. Stir up thy appetite therefore, and come to him as a chased Hart to the streams of water, as an hungry man unto a Feast, as a Bride unto her Wedding, a thousand times desired. Labour to feel something like to those longings, that so thou mayst taste and savour his love the more, and it may leave a sweeter gust and relish upon thy soul, and thy mouth may praise him after­ward with joyfull lips.

IV. When we take the Bread into our hands, it is seasonable time to do that Act which I told you was one end of this Sacrament, viz. Commemo­rate, and shew forth or declare the Death of Christ unto God the Father. Let us represent before him the sacri­fice of atonement that Christ hath made; let us commemorate the pains which he indured, let us intreat him that we may enjoy all the purchase of his Blood, that all people may reap the fruit of his Passion; and that for the sake of his bloudy sacrifice he will turn away all his anger and displeasure, and be reconciled unto us. Themisto­cles (they say) not knowing how to mitigate, and atone the wrath of King Admetus, and avert his fury from him, snatcht up the Kings Son, and held him up in his armes between himself and death, and so prevailed for a pardon, and quenched the fire that was break­ing out against him. And this the Molossians (of whom he was King) held to be [...],Plutarch in Themist. the most effectual way of supplication, and which of all others could not be resisted or denied. Of [Page 296]far greater prevalency is this Act, the holding up (as it were) the Son of God in our hands, and representing to the Father the broken body, and the Bloud of his onely begotten. Let us set this between the heat of Gods an­ger and our souls; let us desire he would have regard to his dearly belo­ved, and the Lord cannot turn back our Prayers that press and importune him with such a mighty argument. Say therefore to him, Behold, O Lord! the sacrifice of the everlasting Cove­nant; behold we lay before thee the Lamb that takes away the sins of the World. Is not thy soul in him well pleased? Is not his Body as really in the Heavens, as the signs of it are here in our hands? Hear good Lord! the cry of his Wounds. Let us prevail with thee through the virtue of his sa­crifice. Let us feel, yea, let all the World feel the power of his intercessi­on. Deny us not, O Lord, seeing we bring thy Son with us. Hear thy Son O Lord, though thou wilt not hear us, and let us, let all others know that he lives and was dead, and that he is alive for evermore. Amen.

And secondly, It is a seasonable time to profess our selves Christians, and that we will take up our Cross and follow after him. This taking of the bread, we should look upon as a re­ceiving the yoke of Christ upon our neck, and laying his Cross upon our shoulder, if he think fit. We em­brace a crucified Jesus, and we are not to expect to live in pleasures, unless they be spiritual; nor to rejoice with the world, but to endure affliction, and account it all joy when we fall into ma­nifold temptations. Protest therefore unto him, that thou lovest him as thou seest him, stript and naked, bruised and wounded, slain and dead; and that thou art contented to take joyfully the spoiling of thy goods, to be pleased with pains, and to count death the way to life.

V. When we eat, it is a fit season to put forth these two acts of faith:

1. Let us express our hearty consent that Christ shall dwell within us, that we will be ruled by his Laws, and go­verned by his Spirit, that he shall be the alone King of our souls, and the Lord of all our faculties; and that we [Page 298]will have no other Master but onely him, to give commands within us. Eating I told you is a foederal rite, and therefore when we have swallowed this bread, we should think that we have surrendred all up into his hands, and put him into full power over our souls. And we should think also, that we have given him the possession of our souls for ever, and engaged never to change our Master. For eat­ing is more receiving, then taking a thing with our hands: It is, as it were, the incorporating of the thing with the substance of our bodies, and making it a part of our selves, that it may last as long as we. So should we meditate, that we receive the Lord Jesus never to be separated from his service, for ever to adhere unto him as our Prince and Captain, as our Head and Hus­band, wheresoever his Commands will lead us. And as we open our hearts thus to receive him, so let us now fold him in our arms, and embrace him with a most cordial affection. Let the fire burn now, and make us boyl up, yea even run over with love to him. Now is the time not onely to [Page 299]give our selves to him, but to make a sacrifice of our selves, as a whole burnt-offering unto God. Now should we lay our selves on the Altar of the Lord, to be offered up intirely to him who made his soul an offering for sin. That there may not only be a repre­sentative, but a real sacrifice at this Feast, unto Heaven, i.e. that we may not only shew forth the sacrifice of Christ, and represent it before God, but we our selves may offer up our souls and bodies unto him, and send them up in flames of love, as so many Holocausts to be consumed and spent in the service of our God. Then let us wish for the flames of a Seraphim in the love of God, for the cheerfulness and speed of a Cherubim in the service of God, and for the voice of an Angel that we may sing the praises of God. Let us like our choice so well, and think that we are so beholden to him, that we may give our selves to him, as to begin to leap for joy that we have parted with our selves, and are become his.

And as a token that we give our selves and all we have to God, we should now think upon those offerings [Page 300]we intend to make for the poor mem­bers of Jesus Christ, and desire the Lord to accept of our gifts which we present him withall, as earnests of our selves, which we have consecrated un­to him. And perhaps now our hearts may be stirred with so great compassi­on, and our bowels may be so feeling­ly moved, that our Charity may over­flow the banks that we had set it, and the fire that is within us may require a fatter and larger offering then we de­signed. But howsoever we cannot but deal our bread to the hungry with a more cheerfull hand, and give our Almes with a freer heart, when we have received the Bread of Life into our hands and hearts, and felt what the huge Charity of our Lord was toward us most miserable and wretched Crea­tures.

2. A second Act of faith which we should now exercise, is this: Let us really believe that all the blessings of the New Covenant are made over to us by this giving and receiving of his sacred body. Let thy soul say, My beloved is mine, as I am his. Be confident and well assured, that if thou [Page 301]wast hearty in the former act of saith, thou shalt as certainly receive pardon, and grace, and strength, and salvation, as thy mouth thou art sure eateth the holy Bread.

The former Act was a receiving him as our Lord; and this as our Savi­our. Think therefore that now Christ dwelleth in thee, and thou in him, that as he must be Master of the house, so thou shalt partake of all his riches, of all his honour and pleasure. And so begin to ransack his treasures, desire him to spread before thee his inestima­ble riches; pray him to shew thee if it be but a little glimpse of the glory of the inheritance of the Saints. And what joy will this create in thy soul, when thou thinkest that thou and Christ are one; that thou art united to his most precious Body, and shall certainly receive all the benefits of his Death and Passion? O what ravish­ment should it be unto us, to believe that sin shall not have dominion o­ver us; that the Blood of Jesus cleanseth us from all unrighteousness; that the flames of Hell shall never touch us; that death is swallowed up [Page 302]in victory; that the grave is buried in the Wounds of our Saviour; that we are sealed with the mark of God, and consigned to a blessed immortality, and shall inherit the joys of our Lord! With what boldness now may we re­new our requests to him, and impor­tunately plead with him for a supply of all our wants? We may put up stronger cries now that we conceive he is in us, and intreat him since it is his pleasure to be so familiar with us, that we may be filled with all the ful­ness of God. O my Lord! (may a soul say) if thou lovest me so much, fulfill in me all the good pleasure of thy goodness,2 Thes. 1.11. and the work of faith with power.Rom. 15.13. Fill me with all joy and peace in believing. Let me abound in hope.Ephes. 3 17. Let me be rooted and grounded in love. If I have found favour in thine eyes, let me be filled with the holy Ghost. How sayst thou that thou lovest me, if I have no more love unto thee, no more life from thee, and if I be so barren and un­fruitfull in good Works? O my Lord, I take the boldness lovingly to com­plain to thee, and expostulate with [Page 303]thee. Why am I so dull and cold in thy service? why am I so unwilling to execute thy commands? why am I so weak and unable against the enemies assaults? If thou be with me, who can be against me; Surely the Lord God is a Sun and a Shield; the Lord will give grace and glory, no good thing will he withold from them that walk uprightly.Psal. 84.11. Through thee I shall do valiantly, thou shalt tread down all my enemies.Psal. 60.12. Psal. 57.2. It is the Lord that per­formeth all things for me. I can do all things through Christ which streng­thens me.Phil. 4.13. Psal. 20.5. I will rejoice in thy salvati­on, and in the Name of my God will I set up my Banners. Lord I believe,Mark 9.24. help thou my unbelief.

When we have done these things with the best devotion we can, it will be a great refreshment to the soul, if we turn it a little towards those who are the friends of your Lord. And there­fore,

VI. Sixthly, When we see him give the same Bread to others, let us renew Acts of Love unto our Brethren. Let us think that we being many, are but one body, and that we are made mem­bers [Page 304]one of another. Let us ardently therefore embrace them in our armes; let us clasp about them as our friends; let us love one another with a pure heart fervently. If we feel not the flame hot enough, let us stir up in our minds again the remembrance of the dear love of our Lord, and that will make us burn in affection to each other. That will utterly put out all the sparks of envy, anger, or malice, which are already buried, that they may never any more revive to glow in our souls. That will teach us a per­fect remedy against all such distemper­ed motions. Let us but resolve that our thoughts shall dwell in the fide of Christ, and Hell can never shoot any of its fires unto us. If ever any of those black and dark passions begin to reek, let us but presently enter into his wounds, and they will all be ex­tinguished. When we feel but the loving warmth of his heart, all our an­ger will turn into love, and all our e­nemies will find us friends. Let us resolve therefore now that we remem­ber his love to enemies, that we will never bear any hatred more. Let us [Page 305]resolve now that we see how he distri­butes himself to us all, that we will never contemn nor despise the meanest Brother, that the eye shall not say to the foot, I have no need of thee; that one member shall not strike another; that we will live in all peace and love, bearing one anothers infirmities, kind­ly accepting of reproofs, doing all the good we can to soul and body, that all men may know us to be Christs Dis­ciples. That we may do thus, let every man think as seriously as he can within himself: Did Christ dye only for me? Was his body broken for my sake alone? Are not other persons as dear unto him as my self? Have we not all eaten of the same Loaf? Are we not about to drink of the same Cup? How shall I hate those whom my Beloved loves? How shall I envy those to whom he is so liberal? How shall I offend one of these for whom Christ dyed? How shall I deny my self to him, to whom my Lord hath given himself? O my soul! hast not thou es­poused the same loves with thy blessed Lord? Must not all his friends and re­lations be thy kindred? Now he is not [Page 306]ashamed to call them brethren. And therefore let them lye in my bosome, let my soul cleave unto them, let us keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace.

Such heavenly Aspirations and Af­fections as these, would be as a sweet perfume in our souls, that would make our Lord to like of his habitation the better; they would be as the fragrant Oyntment poured on the head of Aa­ron, Psal 133 2. that would invite him to more ardent embraces, and give him the greater contentment in us. For so you read him saying in the Cant. 4.10. How fair is thy Love, my Sister, my Spouse; how much better is thy love than Wine, and the smell of thy Oyntments than Spices? She had said cap. 1.3. That his Name was an Oyntment poured forth, the savour of which made all Virgin souls in love with him; and now he saith the very same of her, That he was much ena­moured of her love (yea, even ravish­ed, as it is in the verse before) and that nothing was so beautifull or sweet un­to him as that love. Now by the mention of the Oyntments (to which [Page 307]the Psalmist compares the unity of Brethren) it should seem the Bride­groom commends not only her love to him, but to all his; not only to the head, but the whole body. And there­fore he compares her presently, [...]. Euseb. Pamph. (v. 12.) to a Garden, because (as one of the Ancients speaks) she did bring forth all the fruits of the spirit, which are Love, Joy, Peace, and the rest of their kindred: And to a Garden enclosed, [...], Id. because guarded against the enemy by the hedge and fence of the Command­ments; the summe of which is love to God, and to one another.

VII. Seventhly, When we receive the Cup, it is fit that we should again ad­mire the wonderfull love of God, that he would purchase us to himself by his own bloud. And we should consider the great and inestimable value of this bloud,Acts 20.28. that could make expiation, and give God full satisfaction for such a world of offences. The infinite vir­tue likewise, as well as value of this sa­crifice, should be taken into our thoughts, which lasts for ever, and is now as fresh and full of efficacy as if the blood were newly shed upon the [Page 308]Cross.Heb. 12.10. For so the Apostle saith, This man after he had once offered for sinne, for ever sate down on the right hand of God. And that you may wonder more at the excellency of this Offering. Consider how many sinnes you have committed, and then guesse how many the sinnes are which have been committed by all men that have been, are, and shall be in the World; and yet that this one Sacrifice is sufficient in Gods ac­count to take away all, being of an everlasting force and power. And the better again to conceive of this ad­mirable thing, compare it with the sa­crifices of old. One sacrifice could take away but one offence among the Jews, and that meerly against a car­nall Commandment, yet this though but one, can take away all offences even against the eternall Law of God. And the strength of a Sacrifice under the Law, continued no longer than just while it was offered, but was to be re­peated again in case of a new offence; but the bloud of Jesus endures for ever,Heb 10.14. and by one offering he hath per­fected for ever them that are sancti­fied. [Page 309]We that live at sixteen hundred years distance from that sacrifice, may be as much expiated, and receive as great benefit by it, as they that saw him upon the Altar, or as he that put his fin­gers into his wounds, and thrust his hand into his side. For the Lord laid on him the iniquity of us all; and he bare the sinnes not only of that ge­neration, but of all succeeding Ages. Think then now, that the Cup is in thy hands, now that thou drinkest of his bloud, that thou mayest receive as reall effects of his sacrifice, as if thou hadst been permitted to have laid thy hands on his head, and put all thy sins upon him, as Aaron did upon the head of the Beast that was offered for the Congregation of Israel. And so let thy thoughts slide to a second Meditation which is hereon depend­ing.

2. And consider with thy self how firm that Covenant is which is made with us in the bloud of Jesus, and how certainly God will perform whatsoe­ver his Sonne hath promised. It is called the bloud of the everlasting Co­venant, Heb. 13.20. which doth intimate, that he [Page 310]sealed the Covenant with his Bloud, that he died to assert the truth of all that he said, he took it upon his death that he was sent of God; and as he sealed to it by his death, so God did seal to it by his resurrection, which two put together, are the grand proofs which we have to shew for the truth of the Gospel. And then we may be confident that the mercy of the Lord endures for ever; for the seal of the Covenant is everlasting, and never fails. The first Covenant was made by bloud, as you may see Exod. 24.7, 8. yea, there is such an affinity be­tween these words, sanctio and san­guis, that in all likelihood their near­ness arise from hence, because by bloud all establishments and sanctions were wont to be made. But the Bloud of that Covenant vanished away, and never rose again, and so in time did the Covenant it self, as the Apostle tells us, Heb. 8.13. And therefore the Lord sealed the new Compact by a better bloud, which is quickned again to an eternall life, to assure us that the mercies of it shall never cease. Here therefore thy soul may again [Page 311]plead with God that he would put his Laws into thy heart, and write them in thy mind, and that thy sins and iniquities he would remember no more, which is the sum of the Co­venant, as it there follows in the Apo­stles discourse, Heb. 10.16, 17. Thou mayest grow confident, and rejoyce in God thy salvation; thou mayest desire him to remember, that it is the precious. Bloud of his Sonne which thou re­membrest; thou mayest tell him that is not the bloud of Bulls and Goats that thou pleadest, but of Jesus the Lamb of God, without spot and ble­mish. Thou mayest ask him if he do not see that Bloud in the Heavens; if he be not more pleased with it, than with the bloud of the Cattle upon a thousand Hills. Say, Lord, is the Bloud of Jesus dead? Doth it not cry as loud in thine ears as ever? Hast thou not made him a Priest after the power of an endless life? yea, hast thou not sworn, and is it not impossible that thou shouldst repent? Then I humbly crave that a poor sinner which hath nothing to offer thee, may be ac­cepted by that offering. Then let me [Page 312]live by his Life as so many already have done. Let me know that thou art well pleased with sinners through him: Let me know that I have found favour in thine eyes. Let all the Prayers that I have now made, be graciously accepted. Remember all my offer­ings and accept of my sacrifice of Pray­ers and Praises. Yea, remember his bloud, when I do not actually remem­ber it; and when I am silent, and do not pray, let that prevail for blessings upon me.Psalm 21. Doth not the King joy in thy strength? Hast thou not given him his hearts desire, and not with­holden the request of his lips? Thou hast set a Crown of pure Gold upon his head. He asked Life of thee, and thou gavest it him, even length of dayes for ever and ever. His Glory is great in thy Salvation: Honour and Majesty hast thou laid upon him. For thou hast made him most blessed for ever: Thou hast made him ex­ceeding glad with thy Countenance: And therefore since he lives, let us live also: Since thou hast heard him, hear us also for his sake: Send us help out of thy Sanctuary, and streng­then [Page 313]us out of Sion. Grant us ac­cording to our heart, and fulfill all our petitions. Save Lord! let the King hear us when we call.

3. Meditate likewise what danger there is in not standing to that Cove­nant that is here confirmed by bloud between God and us. They used when they made Covenants by bloud, to cut the Beast in sunder, and both parties passed between the two halfs, (as you may see Jer. 34.18, 19.) Which custome was as old as Abra­hams time, as Gen. 15.10, 17, 18. will inform you. This passing of both parties between the parts of the Beast, was as much as a wish, that so it might befall him that should break the Covenant which was made be­tween them. Now when we behold the Bloud of the Son of God poured out, and his Body broken, and so a Covenant stricken between God and us, by his receiving him into Heaven, and our drinking of his bloud, and eat­ing of his Body here on Earth, we should think what the danger will be of not being stedfast in his Covenant. God will require his Sonnes bloud at [Page 314]our hands. The Lord of that servant will come in a day when he looks not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, [...], and shall cut him in sunder, and give him his portion with the Hypocrites, Mat. 24.50, 51. I have often thought that he alludes to that custome of cutting the Beast in twain, and that the mean­ing is, All persons that are deceitfull and false,Luk. 12.46. or as St. Lukes phrase is, [...], unbelievers, unfaithfull souls, all that break their faith with Christ, and violate his Covenant, they shall be cut in two (as the word signifies) they shall have such an execution done upon them, as was done upon the Beast of old, and receive such a horrible doom as is fit for perjured persons. They shall be broken in pieces as his Son was broken. Yea, he will fall upon them as a stone, and grinde them to powder, seeing they would not love him as the Bread of Life bruised for them, Matt. 22.44. This sad Medi­tation may not be unseasonable at a Feast of joy, no more than a little vi­negar in a mixture of many sweets. And as dreadfull as it is, it may bring [Page 315]us the more abundant comfort after­ward, by making us firm to God, and establishing us in Faith and Obedi­ence.

But whether the Reader will think fit to meditate of this matter at that time or no; yet let me stay his thoughts a while now, and entreat him serious­ly to think what the doom of all those will be, who rebel against him to whom they have so often sworn subjection. The love of God cannot make them love him; the Bloud of Christ cannot make them bleed, notwithstanding the Death of Christ, they will dye; and all the bands that he can lay upon them, will not hold them fast. O what chains of Darkness are they reserved for, who break so many cords of love asunder! What a sacrifice must they be to the vengeance of God, whom the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross could not deliver! The wrath of God will utterly consume, and burn them up. They shall be a whole burnt-of­fering to his fiery indignation; they themselves shall satisfie for their fins, and then he can never be satisfied. These men take all the guilt of their [Page 316]sinnes upon their own souls, and fearlesly go to Hell, as though they could bear his indignation, or fave themselves from the fury of his anger. O let sinners consider what they do when they neglect so great salvation. So farre shall they be from being Christs and Saviours to themselves, that they shall be their own Devils and Tormentors. Their spirits shall turn into fiends, and they shall mise­rably rage and fame against their own selves, and eternally crucifie their own hearts, in vexing and racking-thoughts. Their anger and displea­sure shall burn against their own souls, for their contempt of the Covenant of Grace: the bloud of Christ will call for their bloud; the pardon that was offered, will plead for no pardon; and all the Expence which God hath been at, will be charged upon them. What then will they do, when they shall be rendred guilty of the bloud of the Lord, when the Love of God it self will be their accuser, when they shall be oppressed, and cast under an infinite debt which they can never pay? They must groan, and sigh, and cry under the [Page 317]burden to all eternity; and the Name of Christ which is so sweet to conver­ted sinners, will be a name of death and horror unto them, and the bloud of Christ, which is the life of all the holy Ones of God, will be like red and bloudy colours to some crea­tures, which will make them raging mad. If I could exaggerate this as it deserves, methinks I could af­fright a soul that is in the profoundest sleep in the Devils Arms. And yet why should I think such a thought? if the bloud of Christ cannot do it, but men will dye in secure-sinning, why should we think to prevail? O think of the bloud of Christ therefore, and let it not be shed in vain. Think how angry he will be that his dearest heart bloud should be spilt on the ground like water, to no purpose at all as to thy soul. Think how it grieves him to see his love so undervalued; how it pierces him to see his bloud trodden under feet; into what anger his love will at last turn, and this will move thee more than all that I can say. If a man could speak nothing but fire, and smoak, and bloud; if flames should [Page 318]come out of his mouth instead of words; if he had a voice like thun­der, and an eye like lightning, he could not represent unto you the mise­ry of those that make no reckoning of the bloud of the Sonne of God. The very Sun shall be turned into dark­ness (saith the Apostle out of Joel, Acts 2.20.) and the Moon into blood before the great and notable day of the Lord, viz. the day when he shall come to destroy the Enemies of his Cross. And yet he seems there to speak but of one particular day of Judgement upon the Jewish Nation, who crucified the Lord of Life, and that was but a type and figure of the last day, and came far short of the blackness and darkness of that time when the Lord will come to take ven­geance on all them that know not God, and obey not the Gospel of the Lord Jesus. How terrible would it be to see the Heavens all covered with clouds of blood, to feel drops of blood come raining down upon our heads; and next, showres of fire from the melting Sun, come trickling upon our eyes; and then sheets of flames [Page 319]wrapping about our bodies; to hear the earth groan, and the pillars of the world crack, as if the whole frame of Nature were a dying, and the world were tumbling into its Grave? All this would be but a petty image of that dreadfull Day, when the Son of righ­teousness shall be cloathed with clouds of wrath, when his countenance shall be as flames of fire; when he shall cloath himself with vengeance as a Garment, when the Lamb of God himself shall roar like a Lyon, and the meek and compassionate Jesus shall rend in pieces, and devour. There can be nothing more strange, than for a Lamb to be angry, for a sheep to tear and destroy. If he once gird his sword upon his thigh, and resolve to dip his feet in the blood of the wicked, it will be a dismall, a bloudy day in­deed, and woe be to all those on whom that dreadfull storm shall fall, when the God of Heaven himself shall come in flaming fire to destroy his Adversa­ries. For ever shall they lye wallow­ing in their own bloud, and all their bloud shall be turned into fire, and they shall bathe themselves in streams [Page 320]of Brimstone, and roll themselves in beds of flames, and their torment shall never cease. Much rather would I have a Lyon satisfie his bloudy Jawes with my flesh, or a cruell Tyrant rake in my bowels with the teeth of burn­ing Irons, or be prickt to death with Needles, or endure all the miseries that any ingenuous witty Devil can invent, than fall into the angry hands of a loving Saviour. Much rather would I see the Sun scowle, and all the clouds of Heaven come ratling down in a Tempest upon my head, than behold the least frown in the brow of the blessed Jesus. What anger must that be which shall lye in the bosome of Love? What fire burns like to Jealousie? Who so enraged as those whose love is abused, and grosly con­temned? All that the Apostle can tell us in Answer to this Question, is, that our God is a consuming fire, Heb. 12.29. Our God, even the God of Christians, the God of St. Paul, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus, the God of Love and Goodness, is a burning, consuming Fire. And who may dwell with everlasting Burn­ings? [Page 321]who may abide when he is an­gry? Lest any should say that the Bloud of Jesus shall quench the flames, and extinguish these angry heats, ob­serve to whom he speaks these words; not to men under the Law, from the fiery Mount, but to those who were come to Mount Sion, to Jesus the Mediator of the New Covenant, and to the bloud of sprinkling, &c. v. 22, 24. from whence he concludes these two things:

  • First, That greater punishment shall be inflicted on Christians than others, if they refuse obedience to Christs commands, v. 25.
  • Secondly, That therefore they should seriously betake themselves to the service of their Lord, with reve­rence and godly fear, v. 28, 29.

Wicked men conclude, O we shall escape well enough, take you no care, Christ hath died and done all for us. We need not be so scrupulous since he hath satisfied for our sins. But the Apostle makes just the quite contrary conclusion, We are come to the Bloud of Jesus, &c. therefore see that you refuse not him that speaketh, &c. [Page 322]The Bloud of Jesus speaks better things to those that accept of the Gos­pel and obey it, than the bloud of A­bel's sacrifice did; but to all that refuse it, it speaks more sadly than the bloud that cryed against Cain; and for ever shall such men be banished from the face of God.

The Apostle you see represents our God thus terrible after he had most highly magnified the priviledge of Christians; and that will apologize for me who have diverted to this sad dis­course, when I was treating of the joy­full Feast of Christians. But to that I shall now return again.

VIII. Eighthly. After all this, Let us meditate of the joyes of Heaven, of the Eternal Supper of the Lamb, and the blessed life that we shall live a­bove.

For the joyes of the other world are usually expressed among the Jewes, by eating and drinking, greater plen­ty of which chear was in their Coun­trey than any other, being a Land flowing with Milk and Honey. You may see a footstep of this in the New Testament, beside all those in the Old. [Page 323]One that sate at meat with our Savi­our, saith, (Luke 14.15.) Blessed is he that shall eat Bread in the Kingdome of God. Which some say was an or­dinary saying among the Rabbines. This is most certain, that there are strange things in their latter Wri­ters concerning the [...] Garden of Eden, or pleasure that is above an­swerable to that which was below. Where they speak of delightfull Ri­vers, of Tables furnished with Levia­than and Behemoth; by which it is likely their Doctors first understood some spiritual dainties, and under this mythology did hide an excellent meaning; but the great impostor Ma­homet hath from thence fabricated his carnal bruitish Paradise, taking them in a gross and unworthy sense. The like they speak of Wine kept from the beginning of the world in a certain place, i. e. excellent old Wine, of which their Messiah shall first taste, to­gether with the Leviathan, and then the Just they expect shall be feasted. So R. Hai, in his Book of the interpre­tation of Dreams, saith, that it is a sign of good to see in our sleep white [Page 324]Grapes, and the eating of them signi­fies the possession of eternal life, be­cause they shew the Wine that is kept in Grapes [...] from the dayes of the beginning. All which I bring for this purpose, that you may see, they used by eating and drinking to set forth the joyes of Heaven, and that you may better understand those words of our Saviour immediately af­ter he had given them this Sacramen­tal Bread and Wine, Mat. 26.29. I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the Vint, untill that day, when I drink it new with you in my Fa­thers Kingdome. Which is no more than to say, I shall never feast a­gain with you till we meet in Heaven, and partake together of those joyes that are figuratively expressed by new Wine. In some regard, and of some sorts, new Wine is the best, and in o­thers old is preferred; and so some­times by the one, sometimes by the o­ther, those eternal pleasures are de­noted. St. Luke also hath the same sence more fully, cap. 22.16. I will not eat any more thereof (i. e. of the Passeover) untill it be fulfilled in [Page 325]the Kingdome of God, i. e. I will not keep with you another solemn Com­memoration of Gods mercies (though he did eat with them when he rose a­gain) but the next festivity that we shall celebrate together, must be in Heaven, in the very presence of God, when the Devil your great enemy shall be overthrown and quite destroy­ed, as Pharaoh was. And again, v. 18. He saith, I will not drink of the fruit of the Vine, untill the Kingdome of God shall come. Which signifies no more but that he and they should not rejoyce together any more, till they came to drink of the Rivers of Gods pleasures. From all which we may well collect, that the Wine here in the Kingdome of the Son, is an em­bleme of the Wine in the Kingdome of the Father. In this world is the Kingdome of Christ, in the world to come shall be the Kingdome of God; and what is done here, is a shadow of what shall be done in a more excellent manner hereafter; and therefore this holy Feast should represent unto us those Heavenly delights. From this Wine of the Grape we should en­deavour [Page 326]to raise our minds to the [...], that which is apprehended by the mind, and tasted by the pallate of the soul, which flows from God himself. We should think that these are but some forecasts of those plea­sures that he will hereafter bestow up­on us, but the Antepasts of the eter­nal Supper, but the Vigils of the e­verlasting rest; and that now we rather fast than feast, if we compare these joys with those that are above. We should look upon these as assurance of better chear, where our appetites shall be satiated, and our thirst quenched; where we shall see the Lord Jesus in his Glory, and feast our eyes with the sight of his beauty; yea, where we shall be ravished with the sight of God himself, and shall drink of the plea­sures that stream from the light of his blessed face. And after those things in the world to come, should we strive to stir up the longings of our soul; We should desire to be in Heaven, we should thirst after larger draughts, to quench our thirst in the Ocean it self, and to pass from this dark Glass, and this vail of the Sacraments, to the clear [Page 327]vision of his brightness. For if God do here satisfie his faithfull Servants as with Marrow and fatness, much more in the world to come will he replenish and fill them with sweetness and joy it self.

IX. Ninthly, And in the conclusion, we should give God thanks for these great favours, for the hopes of his glory, for the tastes which he gives us before-hand, for all the fruits of his Sons death, and the earnests we have of the eternal inheritance. We should begin to praise him with the Heavenly host, and to joyn our hearts and voices with the celestial Quire; we should wish that we could make all the world ring with his praises, and that we could make all men hear from the East to the West the sound of our thanksgivings. We should sing that [...], which all the Churches of Christ throughout all ages have sung, saying, Holy, Holy, Holy, See the Learned Mr. Thorndike in his Relig. Assemb Lord God of Hosts, Heaven and Earth are full of thy glory. And so we read that as soon as our Saviour had spoken those words, that he would not any more drink with them till the Kingdom of [Page 328]his Father should come, they sung an Hymne, or Psalm of praise, and so went forth. And indeed who can suffici­ently praise his divine Majesty! The tongues of Angels stammer in utter­ing of his goodness, and we become dumb, the more we endeavour to speak of it. The highest of our praises is humbly and affectionately to acknow­ledge that we cannot sufficiently praise him; the greatest of our endeavours is daily to admire him; the furthest we can strain our souls, is to long for e­ternity, wherein it may be our im­ployment to admire and praise him. Call upon the Armies of Angels, and wish them to praise him, seeing thou canst not; call upon all men, and bid them praise him; wish thou couldst a­wake all the world, that all Crea­tures might praise him; and make thine own soul hear more plainly, call upon it more shrilly, call upon it again and again, call upon it e­very day to praise him. Say as the Psalmist doth,Psal. 103. Bless the Lord, ye his Angels which excell in strength; that do his Commandements, heark­ning to the voice of his words. Bless [Page 329]the Lord, all ye hosts: ye Mini­sters of his that do his pleasure. Bless the Lord all his works in all places of his dominion. Bless the Lord O my soul.

Mensa Mystica. The Postcaenium; or of our Deportment afterward.

CHAP. XV.

ANd now that we have had a sight of them, let us remember his love more than Wine; Let his name be engraven upon our hearts, and his Image remain fair and lively upon our souls. Let us find a kind of unwillingness to ad­mit of any other company, and say in the secrets of our mind, None but Christ, none but Christ. Yea, when we do return to converse again with o­ther things, let us still be looking back towards him, as one that hath got our hearts, and say, Lord, evermore give us this Bread. Let us labour that other objects may not come near our hearts, [Page 331]nor make any strong impressions up­on us, but that they may be sealed up by him, and so filled with him, that all things else may look upon themselves as having nothing to do there. Euse­bius Pamphilus hath a pretty Obser­vation on Cant. 5.12. where the eyes of the beloved are compared to the eyes of Doves by the Rivers of water washed with Milk. [...]. Milk (saith he) of all other moist things, hath this sin­gular property, that it will not admit of the image or picture of any thing to be reflected in it; and therefore it is a fit resemblance of his eyes, in which nothing vain, insubsistent & deceiving, doth cast its shadow, but they do al­wayes [...], behold the be­ing that truly is. Our souls should labour to imitate him as much as they can, and to endeavour at least, that the world may not deceive and cheat us with its shadowes and pictures of things, but we may see through them all to that being which is true and sub­stantial; and on that our eyes may be fixed as our only good and happiness. The Lord expects now that we should proceed to a greater strength by the [Page 332]higher food that he vouchsafes unto us, that our knowledge should be more bright, that our love should be more inflamed, that by our actions we should shine like lights in the world, holding forth the word of life. Many of the Ancients upon those words,V. Comment. trium Patrum. Cant. 6.10. do note, that there are four degrees of Christians. Some are but newly converted, and they do but look forth as the morning, with weak and trembling thoughts, being as it were in the twilight, and not far enlightned. A second sort have made some progress, and are fair as the Moon; they are much enlightned, but have abundance of spots still in them, and some discernable darkness still re­maining. A third sort are clear as the Sun, very full of light, very pure, un­blameable and bright in their conver­sations. The world can take notice of no common failings, yet sometime there may be a partial eclipse, and if they mark themselves, they will ob­serve many weaknesses, as the mo­dern Astronomers that have pried more narrowly, have discerned spots in the body of the Sun. A fourth [Page 333]sort are they that are become such strong Christians, that they are as ter­rible as an Army with Banners, and all their enemies flie before them. Few temptations are able to worst them, but they are [...], as the appearance of an Agnelical Host, that are so strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might, that they o­vercome the world, and tread Satan under their feet. Now in which soe­ver lower form and rank we be of these, we should strive to advance to that which is higher; and seeing we have more than Angels food, we should labour to do the will of God on earth as they do in Heaven. We should put on all the Armour of God, and gird it closer to our loins, and shew greater valour to the perfecting the conquests we have begun. We should labour to be so full of Christ, that the Devil may be afraid of us, and run a­way, when he sees us grown so sted­fast in the faith For we must not judge of the state of our souls by our fervency in this duty, but by the holi­ness of our lives, which is the fruit and effect of it. Unless our lives be bet­ter [Page 334]than they were before, we our selves are not made better. We are but like some of the Sect of Pythago­ras, who held that a man took a new soul, when to receive Oracles he ap­proached to the images of their Gods; but it was such a new one, as was lent him but for a time, and then he re­turned to the same man he was before. Such a new soul men seem to have some time when they come to the so­lemn duties of their Religion, they are inspired with strange and unusuall af­fections, and moved beyond them­selves. But it is a soul that lives but for a day, and then they fall to their old dulness; and as for their own soul, it gives no sign of its amendment and further renewal after the Image of God.

It is fit therefore that I should next of all consider what is fit to be done for the keeping alive, and feeding these flames of love when they are kind­led in our souls. And that shall be the business of the next Chap­ter.

CHAP. XVI.

FIrst, I conceive it will be a fit ex­pression of our love afterward, to invite the poor the next meal un­to our Table, or to send some por­tion of our good things unto them. When God hath feasted us at his House, it is agreeable that we should feast others at ours, or relieve them more plentifully, than at other times. The Jews used to send portions one to another, and gifts to the poor upon a good day, (as they call it) i. e. at a festival or time of rejoycing, as you may see Esth. 9.22. The Portions (I suppose) were part of the sacrifice of Peace-offerings, which they had offer­ed, and which they sent unto friends that were absent, and could not be with them; and gifts to the poor likewise accompanied them, that they might rejoyce in God also. And so you read that the first Christians, Act. 2.46, 47. after they had broken bread, did eat their meat [...],Dr. Ham. in singleness, i. e. liberality and openness [Page 336]of heart, [...], having favour, &c. i. e. doing acts of charity (as an excel­lent Critick notes) unto all the peo­ple. It may be said, that we make an offering at the Sacrament, and so need not now renew our charity. But those that think so, forget that I am perswading to keep the heart from cooling, by laying on new fewel. And therefore as we praise God again in our private houses, so it will well become us, and will much assure our good dis­position to us, if we again express our bounty as we are able, unto others. For our charity is to be a running stream through our whole lives, and there­fore this advice is good to keep the passage open, that it may not be sud­denly stopped, now that it hath new­ly found a vent for it self. The Apo­stle bids the Christian Jews to offer the sacrifice of praise to God conti­nually, that is the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to his name, Heb. 13.15. whereby in all likelihood he under­stands their offering of Almes (instead of the fruits of their herds and flocks) joyned with praises and thanksgivings to God at the Eucharist. Which offer­ings [Page 337]he calls the fruits of their lips, be­cause they were such as they had vowed and consecrated to God, in token of their gratitude. And this place of the Apostle seems exactly answerable to that of the Psalmist 50.14. Offer un­to God Thanksgiving, and pay thy vowes to the Most High. But then after he had given them this exhorta­tion to perform these two duties of Thanksgiving and Almes-doing at the Sacrament, he adds v. 16. But to do good, and communicate, forget not, for with such Sacrifices God is well plea­sed, i. e. Do not think it sufficient to have payed your vowes at that solemn meeting of Christians, but over and above that, you must be carefull to ex­ercise continuall Charity, and not to o­mit any season or occasion of doing o­thers good; and this is a kind of daily sacrifice wherewith God is much de­lighted. As the Jewes had their con­tinuall Burnt-offerings, beside those extraordinary Peace-offerings, when they gave thanks for some great mer­cy; so Christians besides these offer­ings at the Table of the Lord, must be mindfull daily to be beneficiall unto [Page 338]others, according as they have ob­jects presented unto them. And that they may not forget, it will be wis­dome to keep themselves in doing, and presently after this Divine Food, to think of feeding others that stand in need.

II. Secondly, Let us not presently re­turn to our worldly Employments (if it be not upon the Lords day that we re­ceive) but let us spend the after-part of the day in entertaining our Lord with acts of Love and Delight, with Thanks and Praise unto him for his favours. Let us admire his Perfections and Graces; let us talk with him a­bout the Affairs of our Souls; let us open to him every room in the House, and lead him into the most private clo­set of our hearts, shew him all our fe­crets, acquaint him with all our wants and weaknesses, spread before him all our desires, and earnestly entreat him to stay and dwell with us. Let us tell him again, That all we have is his; let us tye a new knot upon the band of the Covenant that is between us; let us be afraid, lest by going presently into the world, it should be loosed and dissol­ved. [Page 339]It is not fit (you know) that a Bride, on the day she is married, should go from the company of the Bride­groom, to follow Houshold-business, or associate her self with other per­sons, but she delights only in the pre­sence of her new Love. Even so un­seemly it is to leave the company of our Lord as soon as we have let him in­to our hearts, and to divert to other occasions, when we have newly given him our Faith, and taken him as the Bridegroom of our souls. We should pass that day at least in heavenly dis­courses with him, in expressions of our love and affection toward him, in acts of desire after inseparable union with him, and in promises and vows that we will alwayes be faithfull and loyal unto him; that so the remain­ing part of the day may be as a Postcae­nium, an lafter-Supper, and second Communion, like the Feast of Chari­ty, which succeeded (I told you) in ancient time the holy Sacrament. And indeed it is not only unbecoming us, but likewise very dangerous and pre­judicial to our health, when we are thus warm, to step instantly into the [Page 340]cold and chilling affairs of this world. Motibus oppositis nihil permitiosius, is a rule among Physicians; there is no­thing more hurtfull to us, than moti­ons quite opposite, immediately suc­ceeding each to other; and therefore as it is pernicious after exercise, to go and wash in cold water; so it must needs be extreamly noxious to sink our selves into Earthly Employments, just after our souls have been above in the exercise of love to God.

It argues likewise a soul but little affected, that can presently relish Worldly things, after it hath had any tasts of Gods sweetness. It seems to me that such a man is like to Gany­mede the Shepherds Boy, in Lucian, who though he was beloved of Jupi­ter, and carried up to Heaven, yet could not forget the things that he had left behind, but asks, What now will become of my Fathers Sheep? Alas! whither will they wander now that I am taken from them? How will my business thrive, if I spend so much time in Meditation and Prayer, saith a silly soul? How shall I be cast behind in my work, while I am thus employed? [Page 341]But as the Dialogist handsomely brings in Jupiter, giving him a check, so may [...], &c. dost thou yet think of thy sheep now that thou art made immor­tal? Doth thy mind run upon thy shop now that thou art with thy Saviour? [...] instead of thy Cheese, thou mayest feed on Ambrosia; and instead of Milk, thou mayest drink Nectar with the gods. Who would long for the World any more, that knows what it is to be in Heaven? Who would not be unwilling to go his Earthly Af­fairs any more, who hath once con­versed with the soveraign good? In­stead of riches, he is getting an eternal Inheritance; instead of friends, he is in­joying God.

And therefore if it be not fit nor safe to return presently to our Secular business, much less can it be tollerable to go to any merry Entertainments or Compotations, though never so moderate and innocent. We should not so soon forget these heavenly plea­sures, as to relish these that are earth­ly. We must not be like the Hea­then, who used after their sacrifices, to [Page 342]make merry all day, and drink even to Excess. Whence some long agone have thought that [...] (to be drunk) took its Name from this [...], because the Ancients used to drink liberally after their sacrifices. But we have not so learned Christ; we must make the sa­vour of Heavenly things sit longer up­on our pallates than an hour, and not wash them off with any long sensual delights. We should cry out again and again:Cant. 1.2. Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth; for thy Love is better than wine. We should long as the Spouse doth, to have such tasts of his love, that we may rest assured of his good affection to us, and may like better of it, than of any thing that comes within our lips. [...], &c. A [...]bil. Tatius, l. 2. Kisses (saith a great Master of his Art, who may fitly be heard in this case) are the seals of Love; and there the Church teach­eth us to long to feel such sensible im­pressions of his love upon us, that we may know he loves us. And this (saith she) is better than Wine, for kis­ses are the food of Lovers, seeing they are the seales of Love; and as he saith [Page 343]of his Leucippe, [...]. lb. so may I say of the Spouse, she feeds upon the mouth of her Beloved, and eats his kisses, i. e. desires his love so ardently, that it makes her forget all other food. So incomparable should the love of our Lord seem to us, that we should desire, if it were possible, to live upon nothing else, and that our very bodies could be nourished, and fed with his dear love.

III. Thirdly, If we communicate up­on the Lords day, yet let us not take our thoughts off from this Action, but spend as much as we can of the remain­ing day in such exercises as I have now named. Let us entertain with the best chear we are able to make, our new and beloved Guest. Let us commend his beauty, and praise him for his kindness, and extoll his Riches, and protest unto him how much we love him, and crave him pardon for our follies, and desire him not to be of­fended at the dark and nasty hole in­to which we have brought him, and entreat him of all loves that he will not take exception at his poor enter­tainment; and labour to charm him [Page 344](as it were) to stay with us by all the songs of praise and thanksgiving that we can devise. For to say the truth, there is no exercise more meet upon the Lords Day, than that of giving thanks, and singing Psalms of Praise to God for all his goodness to us, as we are his Creatures, and as we are Christians. The day it self is a type of Heaven, and the Eternal Rest; and therefore our work in it should better accord with what is done in Heaven, where they at every thought indite a Psalm, and at every breath they chant it forth; and never cease day nor night from blessing God. And so Justin Martyr tells Trypho the Jew, That they used to thank God on their holy times for having made the world, and all things in it for the use of man, &c. And in his second A­pology he justifies the Christians a­gainst the Heathen, from this thing, that they consumed not Gods Crea­tures with fire in sacrifice, but received them with Prayer and Thanksgiving, for being boin, for all means of health, all kinds of qualities, and changes of seasons, and such like mer­cies, [Page 345]which we should imitate, not only at the Eucharist, but afterward, when we may more largely think how much we are beholden to him for his goodness. Let us say, O my Lord! I have been praising of thee, but alas! I have not praised thee enough, and therefore I cannot cease to praise thee. The birds that chirp in the Air, would shame me, if I should not still praise thee. For how long do they sing for a sip or two of Water, or for a Dinner upon half a Worm, and for a little house within a bush? Shall not I then persist in blessing of thee for the viands of Heaven, for a Feast on the Body and Bloud of thy Sonne, for the joys of thine own house, for a long health, for a pleasant dwelling, for a plentifull Table, for a world of Creatures that minister every day unto me? Better were it that I should be turned into one of those little chearfull Creatures, and that I should take my dwelling in an hedge, than that I should not have a heart to bless thee as long as I live, and sing praise to thee as long as I have my being. Awake, awake, O my sleepy soul, and let this day be [Page 346]more than a shadow of Heaven. Yea one day is too short, let every day have something of this in it, and be a good day unto thee. And then shall Eter­nity be joyfull, and the everlasting day shall give thee light long enough to perfect his praises

IV. Fourthly, As we should spend a great deal of the after-part of the day in such acts of praise, so let some of it be spent in an after-examination. Let us make some solemn reflections up­on our behaviour when we were be­fore the Lord; and if we find our minds not to have been so seriously in­tended, and our hearts not so deeply affected as we did desire: We may cast down our selves humbly at the feet of our Lord, and beg a pardon of our sweet and loving Saviour, and earnestly importune him, that he would help us now by an after-act, that we may be able to do that, which we should have done before. Or else we may be excited to rejoyce the more in his goodness, and to bless him for the refreshments he hath afforded us, and to render him more hearty thanks that he hath satisfied us so abun­dantly [Page 347]with the fatness of his house, and made us to drink of the Ri­vers of his pleasure. But this ex­amination of our selves, being a thing that we should exercise e­very day, and was practised even by Heathens, before they went to bed, I shall spare all further discourse about it.

V. Fifthly, Let us spend some time in strengthning of our purposes, and confirm­ing our resolutions of a more holy obe­dience, that so there may be some fruit seen of this day, in many others that follow, till the solemnity shall return again. Let us labour to fix and plant the meditations we have had so strong­ly in our mind, that they may shoot their Roots to the bottome of our hearts, & nothing may be able to pluck them up. Let us possess our hearts so much with those perswasions, that when a temptation comes and knocks at our door, we may readily and na­turally say, Cease your importunity, for Christ dwells here, and I cannot o­pen to you, Ego non sum ego, I am not he that I was before, the property of the house is quite changed; and [Page 348]though I was, not long ago, a com­mon Inne to entertain all comers; yet now I am become the sole habitation of my Lord. Let us make our souls so sensible that he is in us, and uni­ted to us, that we may readily think on every occasion in this manner. How is it fit that I should treat my gracious Lord, who hath taken his abode within me? Shall I take the Members of Christ, and make them the Members of a Harlot? Shall I over-charge that body with loads of meat and drink, where he hath chosen for to reside? Shall I force him out of his house by any impunities? Shall I offend him by the smell of any noisome breath out of my mouth? Shall I displease him by any unhand­some thought? Shall I be so gree­dy of the World, that I shall for­get to retire to converse with my dear­est Saviour? Shall I so perplex, my self in business, as to omit to pray, to meditate, to sing praise to him? No, I am not at my own dispose, I have sworn, Psal. 119.106. I will perform it, That I will keep thy righteous Judgements. And to provoke every one the more to do [Page 349]his endeavour thus to strengthen his resolution, let these two things be se­riously considered. First, The more carefully we walk with God, the less labour we shall find to prepare our selves against the next Communion; with the less pains shall we dress up our souls to come to another Feast. There will be some relish of the for­mer food left in our hearts, and we shall be, though not in the next, yet in no very remote disposition to perform the same acts again. Secondly, Eve­ry return to finne after these Engage­ments, makes it more intollerable, and more highly displeasing to God and our Saviour. After a man hath seri­ously considered how hatefull it is in its own nature, after he hath resolved against it, and solemnly covenanted to avoid it, the sinne is more black and deadly, a greater wrong to him that we have taken to lodge in our souls, than Annas and Caiphas, and the Scribes did him, when they put him to death. If this truth were set­led upon mens hearts, sinne would find colder entertainment with them, than it doth, and they would not have [Page 350]such kindness for that which fastens a more odious Character upon them, than they can put on the very worst of the Jews, the murtherers of our Lord. And yet I shall more than say, that sinners now do greater injury to him, than did the Sanhedrin, if you will but grant this one Principle, which is clearly proved by one of our own Writers.Dr. Jackson. The Rule whereby we must measure the greatness of a wrong done, is the opposition which it hath in it, to the Will of him that is wronged. And so the more oppo­site any act or practise is to the will or liking of the party that is displeased and wronged, the greater are we to account the injury and offence which is done to him. Now all men that live in sin, and especially those who lick up their vomit after they have recei­ved Jesus Christ the Lord, do those things which Christ is more unwilling they should do, than he was to suffer all the indignities of the Jewes, and all the torments that the Roman Laws could inflict. He was willing to dye by their hands, rather than inconve­nience should fall upon us, viz. That [Page 351]sinne should reign over us, and Satan keep possession in us. He was so un­willing that this should be our conditi­on, that he rather chused to dye, that he might cast the Devil out, and de­stroy all his works, and restore us to liberty again. Now if any man hold on Satans side, and seek to keep him in his Throne, if any will maintain and uphold his Works, and stand in the defence of his Cause, he doth a thing more displeasing and grievous unto Christ, than his Death and Passi­on was. He was not troubled so much to dye, as he is to see thee live in sin; for he dyed that thou mightest cease to sin. And therefore have a care what thou dost, unless thou wilt be worse than a Jew, and wound him more than he did who lanced his side; and be a greater and more dangerous Enemy to him, than they that com­plotted his death. And consider, if sin be so displeasing to him, so much against his will, that he was willing to suffer any torment, rather than it should live; how canst thou think that he will stay with thee, if thou a­gain offendest him, and makest no [Page 352]conscience to watch over thy wayes, and avoid all temptations, and shun all occasions of sinne? How can he endure thou shouldst lodge Harlots to­gether with him? That thou shouldst let this world in, to be his Compeere, and divide thy heart with him? No, he is the High and holy One, he expects to be treated honourably, and like un­to himself; that we should keep the house clean and sweet, that we should live righteously, soberly and godlily: And then as he hath come to us, so he will abide with us, and will manifest himself to our souls, acquaint us with more of the secrets of his Religion, and the delights that are in his holy life. For so he saith to his Disciples, He that hath my Commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me, shall be loved of my Father: and I will love him, and will manifest my self unto him; which he repeats over a­gain, verse 23. If a man love me, he will keep my words: And my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. I speak the more of this, be­cause [Page 353]there are too many that ap­proach with a fair behaviour, and forward devotion to the holy Table, who soon after take the liberty to run upon a new score of sin, hoping shortly to humble themselves, and to wipe all off again. Many that live in secret covetousness and earthly mind­edness, in neglect of their families, and disregard to all their Brethren; many that fall back into heart-burn­ings, and evil surmisings, if not into open quarrels and contentions, who need to be awakened to look into themselves. They are like to the waters in Sicily, which Ach. Tatius mentions, that appeared to the sight as if they were on a flame, and the fire leaped out of them continually, but if you came to touch them, they were as cold as any Snow. And neither the fire, saith he, was quenched by the wa­ter, nor the water heated by the fire, but in that Fountain you might be­hold [...], an amity and reconciliation of fire and water together. [...], l. 2 [...]. Just so it is with many professing people, they have a seem­ing zeal and a flagrant devotion, they [Page 354]have warm expressions in their mouthes, and pray earnestly; but if you come near to them, and handle them, if you grow acquainted with their converse, the world lyes cold at their hearts, and there is no life of God in them, but they have made a syncretism between life and death, a league between the god of this world, and the God of Heaven. The same Author tells of a River in Spain, [...]. lb. into whose whirlpits, if the wind insinuate it self, it strikes upon the folds of the water, and plays with them as we do upon the strings of a Cittern, so that a Passenger would imagine that he was entertained by some Musicians. Which may aptly resemble many men in the world, who when the Spirit of God breathes at some solemn time upon them, or when they hear the voice of God, and look a little into themselves, do seem to be delightfully moved, and to make a pleasant noise, as though they were tuned to the praises of God; but follow them home, and let that sweet breath be over, and you shall see they are as greedy of the world, as a deep pit, and their [Page 355]thoughts roll and turn about, that they may draw all that comes near them, in­to themselves.

VI. And therefore sixthly, Let us la­bour to impress and retain an Image of Christ upon our souls, whom we have seen crucified before our eyes. Let us represent unto our selves what a Person Christ was, and what his manner of behaviour was in the world, and then let us labour to car­ry him before our mind, and have him in our eyes, that so by looking on him, we may shape all our affections and all our actions after that rare pat­tern that he hath set us. Let us en­deavour to think every where, that we see him hanging upon the Cross, and behold him bleeding for our sins, or declaring to us his mind, or doing something that the Gospel speaks of, so that we may lead a mortified life, and be in every thing fashioned after his likeness. And this we must do the rather, because, as I have said, he is now more nearly united unto us, so that when we are to do any thing, we must act like him, we must consider how he did, or what he would do in [Page 356]such a case, and we must so behave our selves, that in a very proper sense Christ may be said to live, and not we. Gal. 2.20. We must do our endeavour that he may eat and drink, and buy and sell, &c. i. e. all these things may be done as we think that Christ would do them (were he in the flesh) who is one with us. We must become so many little Images of him in the world, that they who see us, may behold him. And that is the meaning I suppose of ano­ther phrase of the Apostle, when he bids us to put on the Lord Jesus Christ, Rom. 13.14. i. e. to be so transformed into him, [...]. Oecumen. that both in our outward garb and deportment, and also in our in­ward features we may be a lively re­semblance of him. Now the same Apostle tells us, That as many as are Baptized into Christ, have put on Christ, Gal. 3.27. and therefore much more they who have eaten of his Body, and drunk of his Blood, are supposed to have put him on, and to have dressed their souls compleatly after his holy Image. [...]. Id. They must labour to be all over godly, and to have [...] (as his phrase is) an universal vertue [Page 357]that they may be holy as he is holy. And for our better direction,

1. Let us labour to do something worthy of the expence of Christs Bloud, and to think what manner of persons they ought to be, for whom the Lord of life died, and who are washed in no other laver but the Bloud of the Lamb.

2. Something answerable to the dearest love of the great God of Hea­ven and Earth, and to consider after what sort they ought to live to whom God hath given so rich a gift, whom he hath honoured, not only to be his Sons, but to have his dearest Son for their servant.

3. Something that may correspond with so many, and so great means of salvation. And in particular we should think what is expected from those who have now received a greater strength from Heaven. Strong food must not be given to those that intend to lead a sedentary life, and have not much work to do. A plentifull nou­rishment overthrows their health, in­stead of yielding supports unto their spirits. It is the greatest folly to come [Page 358]for this divine nutriment if we intend to sit still, or to go but a slow pace in Religion, as if we were newly come out of the sickness and disease of sin, and could scarce stand in the wayes of God. They ought to exercise them­selves in all godliness, to be active and full of motion, who feed so abun­dantly. They ought to be very good Children who are fed with such food, for whom God furnished such a Ta­ble with so great a cost.

4. We must labour to do some­thing that is worthy of a soul and bo­dy consigned to immortal blessed­ness. How holy should they be who expect such great things? who have received such pledges of them? who wait for the Lord from Heaven to change these vile bodies into his like­ness? O do not unhallow and dese­crate that thing which is at present the Temple of the Lord, and which is sanctified for the eternal mansions. Prophane not that body and soul which shall for ever live with God, are alrea­dy become his habitation through his holy spirit dwelling in them. Now consider I beseech you, do you think [Page 359]that he leads a life worthy of any of these, who delights not to converse with God? who prays never, or but very seldome, exceeding briefly, and as if he were frozen? who hears Sermons, and understands them not, or else forgets them as soon as they are heard? who grows no wiser nor better than he was many years agone? whose time runs away in eating and drinking, sleeping and playing, work­ing and toyling, as if these were the things we exhorted them unto? who rarely takes the Bible or a good Book into his hands, and when he doth, throws it away again at the call of any pleasure or worldly gain? who loves no body but himself, and is angry at him that would save his soul? Do we eat and drink this Heavenly provision, and then rise up to play? do we stand in need of such noble nourishment for the following of our trades, and the en­couragement of us in our worldly bu­siness? O consider, beloved Reader, that lookest on these lines, that an ho­nest Heathen would do better things than these: He that never heard of Christ, and never tasted of this Hea­venly [Page 360]food, would be ashamed of such a life. Philosophy, which they called [...]; the nutriment of the soul, would produce far more ex­cellent works. There is no need thou shouldest be a Christian, if thou hast no more noble end. Meer rea­son will breed up better Scholars, and therefore go and sit with the Deipno­sophists, and come not unto the Sup­per of the Lord, unless thou intendest to walk worthy of him unto all plea­sing,Col. 1.10. being fruitfull in every good work, and increasing in the know­ledge of God. Do but hear what they promised themselves from their Philosophy,Hoc est quod Philosophia mihi promittit, ut me parem Deo faciat, Epist. 48. [...], &c. l. 2. [...]. and then judge to what it is fit a Christian so divinely nourished, should aspire. This (saith Seneca) Philosophy doth make me promises of, that it will make me a Peer with God. This is that (saith Cleomedes) which preserves the Demy-God that is within us, from being shamefully in­treated, which keeps it unmoveable and unshaken, which gives it the bet­ter of all pleasures and pains, which makes it intend some worthy end, and receive all events and contingencies [Page 361]as coming from thence, from whence it self came, and above all, which learns it to wait for the coming of death with a chearfull mind.

What man then deserves the name of a Christian, that notwithstanding all the means of grace which God affords, doth strive to make himself equal with a Beast? that basely uses his noble part? that is like a feather shaken with the wind, and lyes down at the feet of every pleasure, and can­not sustain the load of the least grief? that vexes and frets at every cross, as if the Devil ruled the world, and trembles at death as a Child doth at a friend with a vizard on? God expects sure that we should be men of another sort, and that Philo­sophy should not beget more lusty souls, than Christianity can. We must be ashamed to live at a lower rate, than a man that had been but at Plato's Compotation; and we must make account the Blood of Christ is to nourish better Spirits in us, than the very soul and spirit of reason, if we could suck it in, can be able to gene­rate.

Let us look therefore into our hearts daily, and see that he be there. Whether we eat or drink, or whatso­ever else we do, let us ask him if he be pleased. Let us go to him con­stantly, that he may know we love him. And let us entreat him to tell us what he would have us to do, and then let us do it with all our might.

VII. Seventhly, Let us maintain a longing in our souls after another such repast. Let us strive every day to keep up a spiritual hunger after this food, that so we may not neg­lect the next opportunity which God shall give us of Communion; or if we should die before we have one, yet Heaven may find us prepared for the Feast where the marriage shall be compleated; Christ may find such ho­ly longings after him, that our souls may be taken into his bosome, to dwell in him as he before dwelt in us. When we cannot outwardly commu­nicate, yet we may in heart, in spirit. Though we cannot alwayes celebrate the mysteries, yet we may have the thing signified in those mysteries (as [Page 363]St. Bernard speaks) at all times, in all places. i. e. We may with pious affections and holy actions receive Christ continually into our souls. As the Sacrament (saith he) sine re Sacramenti, without the thing of the Sacrament is death to the unworthy; so we may conclude that res Sacramen­ti, the thing it self without the Sa­crament will be life eternal to the worthy. Whensoever in remem­brance of Christ thou art piously and devoutly affected into an imitation of Christ, thou dost eat his Body, and drink his Blood. But then if we do constantly preserve such longings and hungring after this Feast, and do at all times feast upon him; we cannot pass by any occasion that God affords us of receiving him in that manner that he hath appointed and blessed; and we cannot but be very forward to go to remember him when opportunity is presented in the Assembly of his people. And therefore I shall not make it a distinct advice, that you would come again when this Table is spread for you. For this is but a just gratitude to God, a sign that [Page 364]we like his fare, and are well pleased with his chear, and are ambitious of nothing more than such an entertain­ment. And I think we shall shew our selves to have been very unworthy guests at the last Feast, if we like it so little as to refuse to come the next time that we are invited. In the be­ginning of our Religion they received every day, Acts 2.46. Which pro­ceeded from a great devotion, and fer­vency of spirit, when the holy Ghost like fire had descended upon them. And this heat did not abate in all pla­ces for the space of 400 years, but in some Churches of Affrica (as St. Au­gustine writes) and in Rome and Spain (as St. Hierome tells us) they retain­ed this ardent love, and continually remembred the dying of the Lord Je­sus. And it was proposed to St. Au­gustine as a doubt, whether a person of business as a Merchant, Husband­man, or the like, should every day Communicate; To which he answer­ed, To receive the Sacrament every day, I neither praise nor reprove; but to Communicate every Lords-day, I would wish you, and exhort every one [Page 365]so to do. And so St. Chrysostome ex­horting of the people to build Church­es in the Villages where they might hold Assemblies, he perswades them by this Argument; [...], in cap. 8. Act. p. 716 edit. Sav. There Prayers will be sent up daily for every one of you, there God will be continu­ally praised with Hymns, and every Lords day will there be an Offering made for you. And though the de­votion of Christians fell from once in a day, to once in a week, and from thence to once in a moneth, till at last the Church of Rome hath thought it fit to bind men of necessity but to once in a year; yet I find a devout Papist thus speaking:Fr. Sales In­trod. Though it be hard to say how often a man is bound to Communicate, yet I think I may boldly affirm, That the greatest di­stance between the times of Commu­nicating, among such as desire to serve God devoutly, is from moneth to moneth. And sure the strict ob­servance of the divine Commandments which was among the Primitive Saints, their despising of all worldly things, their great charity and love, may be thought to have flowed in [Page 366]great part from this spring, that they received so frequently the Body and Blood of our Lord. Hence we may derive their strength, activeness, and zeal; because they were so often re­freshed with this Wine. This gave them boldness against their adversa­ries; this made them run so forwardly into flames, because they were con­stantly heated with divine fires. From this Table they went away with the courage of Lions, and were terrible even to that great roaring Lion which devours so many careless souls. He could not make such an easie prey of them as he doth of us, because they did daily renew their strength by this food, and became as bold as a Lion, after he hath eaten flesh and drunken blood.

And if we did more frequently Communicate, it would be a means to bring us to a greater resemblance of our Lord (which was the thing that I last pressed) who you know over­came the evil one, and trod him un­der his feet. As the Leverets (saith the forementioned Author) in the Mountains of Helvetia, become all [Page 367]white, because they neither see nor eat any thing but driven Snow; so by often adorning and eating beauty, goodness, and purity it self in this di­vine Sacrament, we should become altogether vertuous, pure and beau­tifull. And I am of the mind of ano­ther excellent Writer,Dr. J. Taylor. who judges it very probable, That the Warres of Kingdomes, the contentions in Fa­milies, the infinite multitude of Law suits, the personal hatreds, and the universal want of charity, which hath made the world so miserable and wicked, may in a great degree be at­tributed to the neglect of this great Sym­bole and instrument of charity. And that is the last thing that I shall commend unto you.

VIII. Eighthly, Let us be sure to live in charity with our Brethren, to which we are in a special manner engaged by this Sacrament, and of which we make a most solemn profession. Let us behave our selves as Servants in the same family, as sons of the same father, as those who have eaten of the same bread. Let us be very carefull that we do not cover the [Page 368]coals of anger and contention under the ashes for a night, and then blow them up again the next morning, but let us quite extinguish them, and ut­terly put them out. Let not your jealousies, your hard thoughts, your uncharitable and rash censurings, your differences and enmities ever return again; but let that sentence run in your minds, 1 John 4.11. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought to love one another. If he have given his Son; if he still give him to us; if we feed and live upon him, then let us love as Brethren, and not fall out in our way to Heaven. And if we find our love to grow sick and weak, and to be fallen to decay, then let us come hither on purpose for to revive it, and raise it up again. If the Lamp begin to burn dim, and to cast a ve­ry weak light, let us pour in more Oyl that it may not go out. If our love begin to be chill and cold, let us put this fire the oftner under it, that it may be kept in a flame. For assure your selves, that they who take up their differences and enmities again, did never truly lay them aside; they [Page 369]did but mock God when they came to this holy Communion with a pretence of Love and Charity, their hearts not being throughly resolved to forget all in juries and offences. Or if they did seriously labour to put to death all ha­treds, one great reason why they are not throughly mortified, is, because they use so rarely this powerfull means of suppressing them, and keeping them in their graves. Men do one with another,Plutarch & alij. as the Thespien­ses with married persons, who once in five years space, kept a Feast called [...], in Cupids honour, for the re­conciling of all differences that had happened between Man and Wife. Such a small Festivity do men make of this Sacrament of the Lords Supper, to which they come perhaps with an intention to bury all differences; but then they give them a whole twelve moneths time, if not more, to revive and gather strength again. Hence it is that the temper of the Christian World is as much different from the Spirit of the elder times, as heat is from cold, or life from death. They held such frequent Communions, [Page 370]that their love was so flagrant as to make them dye for one another; and we hold them so seldome, that the heat of our unmortified passions makes us wound and kill each other. So that I make account there is but a little difference between doing this sel­dome, and not doing it at all; yea, those enmities will be more fierce and untra­ctable, which even the Bloud of Je­sus hath not quenched.

To put a conclusion then to this Discourse, let me advise you, when you come from the Table of the Lord, thus to meditate within your selves: I have received fresh Pledges of the love of my Lord, and I have made new professions of my own; What now doth the Lord require of me? What have I that I can render back to him? Alas! I have nothing to give him, but only my love; nothing but my love did I say? Oh how great a thing is love! how much is inclosed in the bosome of love! It is no such trifle as I imagine. Love brought God down to us, and love will carry us up to God. Love made God like to man; and love will make men [Page 371]like to God. Love made him dye for us, and love will make us lay down our lives for the Brethren. O the power of Heavenly Love! How shall I get thee planted in my heart? Who can bring thee into my soul, but only love? Love begets love; and the frequent Meditation of this love of God, and of his Son, will inflame thy heart in love to them. Oh let a sense of this love lye perpetually in my breast, that may change me into love. Let me burn and languish in the Armes of Jesus. Let me long for nothing but him; let him be all my talk, all my joy, the Crown of my delight. Let me never forget how gracious he is; let the taste of his incomparable sweetness be never out of my mouth; let me never rel­lish any thing but what hath some sa­vour of him. O my foul! what should we wish for, but to feast again with him? What should we desire but to be satisfied with him?Psal. 27.4. This one thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after, that I may dwell in the House of my Lord all the dayes of my life, to behold the beau­ty [Page 372]of the Lord, and to enquire in his Temple.

What friend is there to whom we have been endeared, that we can for­get? Do we use to throw the tokens of love, whereby he would be remem­bred, into a forsaken hole where they shall never be seen? But how strange­ly are we affected to the Reliques that a dying friend commends unto us? And how much more should we be moved, if a friend should dye for us, and should leave us a remembrance that he saved us from death? Could we ever let him go out of our minds? Should we not be in danger to think upon him over-much? Could we en­dure that the remembrance he left us, should be long out of our eye? O my soul! let us not deal then more un­kindly with our blessed Saviour, who humbled himself to the death, even the death of the Cross, that we might not eternally dye. Who was made sinne for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God through him. Sure he never thought when he went to Heaven, that we would remember his love so seldome, [Page 373]and so coldly. Did he think that those whom he loves so much, would need so much entreaty to have Com­munion with him? Is it not a grief unto him now (if he be capable of any) to see that he hath so few Lovers? Doth it not trouble him, that they who profess love to him, testifie it so poorly and rarely? Nay rather, O my soul! he is troubled that we love our selves no better; and therefore both for the love of him, and the love of our selves, let us carefully observe his commands, of which this is one, Do this in remembrance of me.

For this is the love of God, that we keep his Commandements. And this Commandement we have from him, that he who loveth God, love his Brother also.

Mensa Mystica.
SECT. IV. The Benefits of Holy Communion.

CHAP. XVII.

SUch is the nature of all bodies, that the nearer they approach to their proper place and Cen­ter, the more they accelerate their motion, and with the greater speed they run, as if they desired to be at their beloved rest, from whence they are loath to be removed. And such is the temper of all holy hearts when they run towards God, the most natural place of their rest, the very Center of their quiet and peace; the nearer they come to him, the faster they move; they rather flye than run; and use their Wings ra­ther than their feet, out of a vehement [Page 375]longing to be embraced by him. We cannot but think then, that they who draw nigh to God in this near way of Communion, and are entertained by him at his own Table, do flye up even unto Heaven, and get into his very bosome, as those that suffer more strong and powerful attractions from his migh­ty Goodness. And there my Discourse may well leave them reposing them­selves in his Arms, and taking their rest in his love, from whence they will not easily endure a divulsion by the force of any other thing. But as a stone is unwilling to stir from the rest that it enjoyes in the bosome of the earth; so hard will it be to draw such souls by the love of other things, from their own Center, where they feel so much quiet and tranquillity. Such persons I might well leave to tell themselves (and others if they can) what joy they find in God, what sweetness grows on this Tree of Life, and what pleasures he hath welcomed them withall at this holy Feast. Have you seen the Sun and the Moon in their full stand one against the other? Have you beheld a River running with a mighty stream [Page 376]into the Ocean? Or can you think that you see the fire falling from Heaven, as it did in Elias his time, to consume a sacrifice? These are but little resem­blances of that light wherewith their souls are filled when they look upon him, of that fulness of joy wherein they are absorpt when their affections run to him, of the testimonies that he gives of his acceptance when they offer themselves to his service. And they themselves (as I said) can best tell in­to what a Paradise of pleasure he leads them, when he comes into his Gar­den, and beholds there all pleasant fruits.

But yet for the sake of those who are strangers to the Divine Life, and are loath to leave their sinnes, though it be to have Communion with God; I shall labour briefly to declare the be­nefits of this holy Sacrament, that so I may invite them for to lay aside their sinnes, and exchange them for better pleasures. And I hope I may pro­voke some to hunger after the House of God, and especially after his Table, where he seeds the hungry with rare delights; where he cures the wounded, [Page 377]comforts the weak, enlightens the blind, revives the dead, pardons the sinner, and strengthens him against his sinne. Where he dignifies our souls, and deifies, as it were, all our faculties, where he unites us to himself, and joyns us in friendship with our Bre­thren, where he sprinkles our hearts with his Bloud, replenisheth them with his Grace, refresheth them with his Love, encourageth them in his wayes, inebriates them with his sweetness, and gives them to drink of the Wine of the Kingdome, and sowes in them the seed of immortality.

One would think there should not be a man of ordinary discretion that would refuse to be amended, and so much bettered in his condition by con­versing with God. For you see men tip up the bowels of the earth, and torment her, to make her confess her Treasures; they digg even into the heart of craggy Rocks, and take in­credible pains for Silver and Gold; they will break their sweetest sleep to ac­complish an ambitious desire; they will spend their Patrimony, their Credit, their Bodies, and their very Souls for [Page 378]a drop of drunken pleasure, or carnal delight. What is the matter then that men cannot be content to spend a few earnest thoughts, to use a little se­rious diligence for the purchase of the riches of Heaven and Earth, for the promises of this life, and that which is to come, for the glory of God, for a Dignity not inferior to Angels, for a Sea of delights and pleasures that ra­vish the heart of God? Poor souls! they are ignorant sure of the happiness that our Lord calls them unto; they imagine there is nothing better than to eat and drink, and satiate the body with that which tickleth its senses; they are sunk into a sad puddle of filthy imaginations; let us see if we can lift up their heads, let us try to open their eyes, let us endeavour to perswade that there are diviner delights, that there is a bread infinitely more delici­ous, and a Cup flowing with far more sweetness than that which the World bewitches and inchants her followers withall.Psal. 34.8. O come, taste and see that the Lord is good, (as the Psalmist speaks) Blessed is the man whom he chuseth, Psal. 65.4. and causeth to approach unto [Page 379]him, that he may dwell in his Courts. He shall be satisfied with the good­ness of his House, even of his holy Temple.

Many rare things there are which the Gospel presents us withall, but no­thing (methinks) is more tempting and inviting than this heavenly Feast, where pleasure is mixed with profit, and physick with our food. Where at once we may be both enriched and delighted, both healed and nourished. This Table (if I may use the language of an holy Man) is the very sinewes of our Soul, S. Chrysost. Hom. 24. in 1 Corinth. [...]. &c. the ligament of our mindes, the foundation of our confi­dence, our hope, our salvation, our light, our life. This mystery makes the earth to be an Heaven; and there­fore if thou wilt come hither, thou mayest open the Gate of Heaven, and look down into it, or rather not into Heaven, but into the Heaven of Heavens. For that which is the most precious of all things above, I will shew thee lying upon the earth. For as in Kings Palaces, the chiefest and most precious things are not the fair Walls, the gilded Roofs, the costly [Page 380]Hangings, but the body of the King that sits upon the Throne; even so in the Heavens the most glorious thing is the Body of Christ, the King of Heaven. Now behold, and thou shalt see it here upon the earth. For I do not shew thee the Angels, or the Arch­angels, or the Heavens, or the Hea­ven of Heavens, but him that is the Lord and Master of them all; and therefore must thou not needs say, that thou seest that upon the Earth, that is more excellent than them all? yea, thou not only seest, but thou touch­est; and not only touchest, but eatest also, yea and carriest him home with thee. [...], &c. O then wipe thy soul very clean, pre­pare thy mind to the receiving these Divine Mysteries. Who would not be Religious, that he may be thus hap­py? who would not forsake all things for such a sight, for such an embracement? If thou mightest but have the privi­ledge to take up the Son of a King with his Purple, and Diadem, and other Or­naments, into thy Arms, wouldst thou not cast all other things to the ground to be so employed? Tell me then why [Page 381]wilt thou not prepare thy self, and re­verently take the only begotten Son of God into thy hands? Wilt thou not throw away the love of all earthly things for him? Wilt thou not think thy self brave enough in the enjoying of him? Dost thou still look to the earth, and lovest money, and admirest heaps of Gold? Then what pity canst thou deserve? What pardon canst thou hope for? Or what excuse canst thou think of, to make for thy self? Thus he.Homil. 27. in 1. ad Corinth. When a man hath heard the sacred Hymns (as he saith in ano­ther place) and hath seen the spirituall Marriage, and been feasted at the Roy­all Table, and filled with the holy Ghost, and hath been taken into the Quire of Seraphims, and made parta­ker with the Heavenly Powers: Who would throw away so great a Grace? Who would spend so rich a Treasure? Who would bring in drunkenness or the like Guest, instead of such Divine Chear? Drunkenness, I say, which is the Mother of Heaviness, ( [...]) the joy of none but the De­vil, and is big with a thousand evils. What madness possesses a man, that [Page 382]he should not rather chuse to feast with God, than with the Devil? If thou sayest that thou art merry, and rejoycest, and wonderfully plea­sed: I answer, And so I would have thee to be; only let not thy laugh­ter be like the crackling of Thornes under a Pot, but a solid joy that will make thy heart to smile for e­ver. God doth not envy to the Sonnes of men any happiness, but he would have them to be sure they are happy, and not please themselves in a phantasticall shadow of Happi­ness.

CHAP. XVIII.

BUT that I may proceed more di­stinctly, and assault your souls with the stronger Reasons, to deliver themselves up to a religious life (one single piece of which hath such bles­sings in it) I shall present you with the profit of worthy receiving, in these three generall Heads, which I shall bor­row from a Devout Author. We have most Princely Dishes (saith [Page 383]St. Bernard) served up to us in the Supper of the Lord, prepared with the most curious and exquisite Art, and they are Deliciosa multum ad sapo­rem, Serm. 2 de Caena Dom. very delicious and sweet to the taste; solida ad nutrimentum, strong and solid for our nourishment; & ef­ficacia ad medicinam, powerfull, and working for the curing of our disea­ses. Seeing this Sacrament is a Feast, and is called the Table, and the Supper of the Lord; under these three heads I shall comprehend these benefits that may excite every man to the examina­tion of himself, and invite us all to this Heavenly Chear. The things that are here set before us, are, 1. Most sweet, pleasant and refreshing. 2. They are solid, strengthning and nourishing: and 3. They are Medicinal and Heal­ing.

I. First,Deliciosa ad saporem. To a well-prepared pallate they afford a most sweet and delight­some relish. This holy Sacrament breeds a Divine pleasure, an Heaven­ly Joy in a right tempered soul, and overflowes it with sweetness more than the body is satisfied with marrow and fatness; now this refreshment arises,

1. From a great sense which is here given us of the love of Christ, which (as the song of songs saith) is better than Wine. Cant. 1.2. It is more chearing and exhilerating, more cordial and revive­ing to think of his dear love in shed­ding his Bloud for us, than to drink the bloud of the richest Grape; and therefore the Church saith, ver. 4. We will be glad and rejoyce in thee; we will remember thy love more than Wine.

It is beyond a ravishment to re­member, that men are so beloved by the King of Heaven, so embraced by the Lord of all the world, and still it is the more transporting for to consi­der, that they feed upon this Lord of Love, and that he gives his very self unto them, and by such secret and wonderfull wayes unites himself unto their souls. And it is most of all af­fecting, and but a little below Hea­ven, to think that this is our Jesus, and our Lord; to say as the Spouse in the same Book, My Beloved is mine, and I am his. Cant. 2.16. When God thus lifts up the light of his countenance upon a soul, he puts gladness in its heart, more than the joy of Harvest. This [Page 385]is a Marriage-Feast, and therefore full of pleasure. Here the soul embra­ceth him, and he folds it in his arms; here they plight their truth mutually each to other; here they engage them­selves in unseparable unions, to hold perpetuall entercourse, and live eter­nally together in the greatest affecti­on. As the Bridegroom rejoyceth over his Bride, so the Lord rejoyceth over it, and he speaks not to it meer­ly by his servants, but he kisses it with the kisses of his own mouth. So one of the Greek Commentators prettily glosses upon those words: [...]. Let me not only be espoused to him (saith the Church) by his Prophets and Embassadors, but let him come himself, and converse with me. Rebeccah went along with Eliezer before she knew Isaac, and was resolved to be his Wife before he spake with her himself; but at last she beheld him, to whom she travelled, and came into his Arms whose love she sought, and then was her joy com­pleated. Even so the Messengers of God become Suitors to us in the Name [Page 386]of Christ, and wooe our affections to be espoused to him, giving us many tokens of his love: And when we consent and resolve to be his, then by their Ministry we are conducted in­to his arms, and at this Marriage Feast we receive the fullest joyes that flow from his heart unto us.

2. It flowes from a sense of the pleasures that are in the exercise of true Religion. That is the greatest delight which arises from the fouls own proper acts, and which it feels not only within, but from it self. And the more noble any of its acts are, the more satisfying the objects are on which they are placed, the higher will the contentment be which they af­ford. As much therefore, as acts of piety do surpass all other, so much will the delight which accompanies them, go beyond all other delights. And as these acts of Devotion, which are performed by the worthy Receiver at this holy Communion, are transcen­dent to all other Religious Acts; so will the feeling of them be transport­ed beyond all other pleasurable moti­ons in the soul. It is a rare delight to [Page 387]put forth Acts of Faith and Love, Thanksgiving and Rejoycing; and here all these Acts are in their top and height; and the soul exerts its great­est force, and strains it self to do its best. Yea, here must needs be the greatest sweetness and delight, be­cause part of our duty is joy and glad­ness, and we do very ill, if then we do not rejoyce. And there is none knows but he that feels it, how pleasant it is likewise to mourn for sinne, and to be wounded with a sense of our ingra­titude, as well as of his love. There is sweetness in those tears which drop from a heart full of love; that sorrow is delightfull which springs from the sense of a kindness. Here holy souls begin to feel the truth of what our Sa­viour hath said,Matth 5.3. Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comfort­ed. It is part of their comfort, that they can mourn and shed a tear over a sick soul, and a bleeding Saviour. What comfort then is there (think you) in the sense of a pardon, if there be such comfort in mourning for the offence? If tears be such pleasant food, then what are songs and praises?

3. From the hope of Heaven, and the expectation of the eternal Supper, to which this is but a preparatory En­tertainment. This is some fore-tast to stay our longings, and yet to excite our desires after the Heavenly Feast above. Here we break our fast (as I may say) but are made thereby very hungry, till that great Supper come. Here we have but a praelibation, a little short antepast of some rare things to come; yet seeing it is an earnest of those things, it creates in a holy soul a wonderfull contentment both from its own sweetness, and the hopes where­with it feeds us. It nourishes, I say, in us most delicious longings; it makes the soul even swell with comfortable expectations; and we receive it not only as a remembrance of what was done, but as a pledge of what shall be. We taste not only what he is to our souls at present, but what he will be for ever.

And indeed it is a great part of the pleasure of this food, that it hath so many tasts, and affords us such vari­ous relishes. In it we taste his love in dying, his love now that he is in the [Page 389]Heavens, and his love when he shall appear in his glory. We taste of the fruit of his death, and of the fruit of his Resurrection also, yea and of his coming again to raise us from the dead too. We feel what he did upon the Cross; and that which was bitter to him, is sweet to us. We feel what he doth for us now in the holy Sacra­ment, and his Spirit makes us taste the pleasures of Devotion in our hearts. And we begin likewise to feel what he will do for us when he shall come to be glorified in his Saints, and to be admired in all them that be­lieve. And how pleasant must it be to a soul to have all this Cheer? how delightfull to think that Christ dwells in us, and we in him? (John 6.65.) How sweet to read that we shall have eternal life by union with him? (v. 55.) And how joyfull must they be who carry about with them continu­ally this hope of Heaven?

4. From a sense how well pleased our Saviour is with the love of holy souls. He not only communicates himself to us in this Sacrament, but hath also a kind of Communion with [Page 390]us. He delights to behold our grate­full and gladsome remembrance of him; to behold our love to him, and our love to each other. It pleases him to see his people flock together with a greediness to receive him, and forwardness to tye themselves more dearly to him. And therefore he is pleased to use such words to his Spouse as she doth to him: She had said, Cant. 1.2. Thy love is better than Wine: And he saith the same, only with a greater extasie of Affection, cap. 4.10. How much better is thy love than Wine! And this Book ho­ly men (the Fathers of the Church) have interpreted of the spiritual Mar­riage between Christ and his Church, which is in this Sacrament both repre­sented and confirmed. Now what pleasure hence arises to the soul, when it thinks that its Beloved is pleased, and that it rejoyces the heart of Christ, every one may know that can love a­nother. It is the contentment of their love that it is accepted; and a great recompense that it is kindly entertain­ed.

Here is enough (though briefly) [Page 391]said to invite any Voluptuary to be­come a spirituall man: He must have a great deal of the Swine in him, that cannot be tempted by the delights of this Heavenly Food, which offers it self to his taste. Here a man shall be satisfied with the love of Christ, with the pleasures of all Religious acts, with the hope of Heaven, which is the Celestiall Manna, with a sense of the joy in Heaven on our behalf. He hath forgotten sure the pleasures of a man, whose soul is not greedy to be filled with these things. It is part of the punishment of wicked­ness, to lose the rarest delights here, as well as to suffer eternal pains hereaf­ter.

II. Secondly: S [...]lida ad nu­trimentum. But that you may not imagine there is nothing to be had here but what doth delight for the present instant of receiving; you must consi­der likewise, that these holy Mysteries yeild a solid nourishment, and there­by afford us a constant chearfulness. They do not beget a pleasure that lyes only upon the pallate; but they are the more pleasing when they are de­scended as far as the heart, and [Page 392]there they lay the foundation of a last­ing joy, by turning the affections of the heart toward Christ. The bene­fits of this food are not like a blaze of straw, that warms a man for the pre­sent, but soon leaves him cold; nor like a flash of Lightning, darting through the soul for a moment, which returns presently into its darkness; nor like the frisking of the spirits in our body after a draught of Wine, which when the adventitious heat is over, fall into sluggishness again: But they are solid and substantial, like to the warmths of the Sun-beams when there is no Clouds before his face, nor no windes to sweep them away; or rather like the pleasures of eating food, which encreases our strength, and fat­tens our bones, and causes a durable chearfulness and vivacity of our spi­rits. For Bread, you know, is called the staffe of Life, and that which strengthens mans heart; as Wine is that which glads his heart, and cheareth God and Man.

By a right use of this holy Sacra­ment, all the faculties and parts of the soul are nourished and augmented: [Page 393]The understanding becomes more full and clear in its perceptions; the will is made more free and chearfull in its choice of good; the affections more Heavenly and Divine, more forward and compliant with our wills, the pas­sions more regular and orderly, under better government and command. All which would admit of a large discourse; but seeing I have drawn this tract al­ready to over-great a length, I will chuse to speak (and that but briefly neither) of what is most sensible to every good man, viz. the encrease of these three great Graces, Faith, Hope and Charity.

First, Faith is hereby made more solid and strong, whether we consi­der it in its direct, or reflex acts: i. e. We do in this holy Feast look most seriously upon the proper object of our Faith, Jesus Christ, and all the truths of the Gospel. We do pro­fess with all our souls to embrace a crucified Saviour; We do seal to this truth which he hath sealed by his Bloud; We make a most solemn and publick confession of what we be­lieve: We do most sacredly protest [Page 394]that we firmly consent to live accor­ding to it, and obey it. And then if we would reflect and turn our eyes back into our own souls, and believe something of our selves, we may be able to make a better judgement con­cerning our selves, and be more con­firmed in the belief that we are real Christians, seeing after serious exa­mination and advice with our selves, we find that we heartily love and obey Christs commands, and seeing that in his most sacred Presence who is the searcher of the heart, we dare confi­dently avow it, that there is not any thing, though never so difficult, which we know to be his Will, but we are resolved for to do it. We are then in the right use of this Food, more strengthned both in the premisses, and also in the conclusion. As if a man should make this Syllogism or rea­soning, He that heartily believes in Christ, and obeys the Gospel-com­mands, shall inherit the promises, and be saved; I do so heartily believe and obey, Therefore I shall be saved. All these three Propositions or Affir­mations, are by worthy receiving, [Page 395]much strengthened in us. We do heartily profess to believe the Gos­pel, and we are more confirmed in our belief, and in particular of this, That he who doth believe in Christ, and obey him, shall be saved. We see be­fore our eyes such testimonies of Gods love, that we cannot but be full of this belief, which is a generall Faith, and contained in the first of those now named Propositions. We do like­wise here renew our consent to be­lieve and obey our Lord in every thing he hath said; and this contains the second Proposition, and is a par­ticular, special act of Faith. Now what should hinder, but that we may conclude most strongly that which is in the Third, Therefore I shall be sa­ved? And then Faith is manifestly nourished in every sense that you can take it in; We do directly put forth more lively acts of Faith, as that implies assenting to the Gospel, and consenting to obey it. And why should not the consequent be, That we may reflect more comfortably and so­lidly upon our selves, that we are in a safe condition. And that we may [Page 396]continue so, there wants nothing but that we be diligent in the use of all means, of which this is one, To con­firm and establish our faith more by often receiving the Sacred Body and Bloud of Christ.

2. Our Hope is here also nourished and made more lively. And indeed it must be strengthned in proportion to our Faith, for hope arises out of it, and hath its growth with it, being but the expectation and waiting of Faith, Be­cause I believe those things that are promised in the Gospel, therefore I wait for them; the stronger therefore that my belief and obedience is, the stronger will my hope be. Now he that expresses his Faith in Christ at this Sacrament, and believes also that Christ is really present there, and likewise that he is united to Christ through a worthy use of it; He doth thereby get a greater reason to hope and wait for the other appearance and presence of Christ more visibly and openly, when he shall be divested of all signs and figures, and shall reveal himself with open face: When we shall not know him so much as that he [Page 397]dyed, but as he that lives, and reigns, and triumphs.

3. Our Love hereby is manifestly enlarged and nourished, partly by ful­filling one of Christs commands. He that loves me, keeps my Command­ments (saith our Lord) and this is one of them, Do this in remembrance of me. And partly by laying new fewel upon the fire which it may feed upon. New considerations (I mean) and experiences, new arguments and incentives to obedience. And partly by knitting and uniting of us in a more cordial love and affection to all our Brethren, which is an expression of love to him. For he hath said, 1 John 4.12. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is per­fected in us.

Now Faith, Hope and Love, what will not they do, what cannot they overcome? All the craft of the Devil is discovered, all his power is broken, all his temptations are baf­led by this Heavenly Nourishment. For if we consider the first piece of the Devils Policy, which consists in magnifying and extolling the advanta­ges [Page 398]of that thing to which he would tempt us; it is defeated by the light of faith which this Sacrament doth make more clear and shining. He uses all the Rhetorick and Sophistry that he hath, to perswade us that it is a harmless, or a pleasant, or a profita­ble, or a credible thing. He paints sinne forth in the best colours, and pro­vides for it the most amorous dresses. And as you see a Mountebank com­mends his Medicines, his Balsomes, and Pomanders with so many amplificati­ons, and lyes, and arts of insinuation, that he cheats poor silly people: So doth the Devil puff up the ambitious mans mind, and swells a Mole-hill into a Mountain; and he tickles the wan­ton fancy with promises of ravish­ment in an empty pleasure; and to the covetous heart, he saith, Thou canst not tell the contentment that so many baggs of Gold, or such a fair Lord­ship would give thy heart: And there is no man but he labours to cast a mist before his eyes, and to dazzle him with some glittering appearance, in the midst of which he hopes to work his ends upon him. Now the light [Page 399]of faith strikes through all those paint­ed shows; and an hearty belief of the truth of the Gospel (which the ho­ly Eucharist still encreaseth) makes all these shadows flye away. It will not let us be deceived, as was our Mo­ther Eve, with specious pretences; but saith, Avant thou Impostor; away, you lying vanities; Tell me not these Tales; For his Testimonies have I ta­ken as an Heritage for ever, for they are the rejoycing of my heart, Psal. 119.111. And there is no less power in this holy food, to enervate a second of his Arts, which is to affright us with the noise of danger and mis­chief, that shall seem greater than all the pleasures of goodness, if we will not be perswaded but that it is plea­surable. He puts strange vizards up­on all things, and makes them look as ugly and fouly as he can, that so he may make us flye from the troubles of a mortified life. He labours to make us believe that there is nothing but sadness in Gods wayes, and it be­gins perhaps to make us melancholly with the very thoughts of it. And if this will not do, he will stir up enes [Page 400]mies against us, to discourage us, our own friends perhaps shall cast us off, or the fire of persecution shall burn a­gainst us. But now the Hope of the glory of God will make us rejoyce even in the midst of tribulations. Here we embrace also a crucified Saviour; and there is no better Livery, than a Garment rent and torn, a Body wounded and abused (if need should be) for Christs sake. There is no­thing can affright a soul that dwells in the wounds of its Saviour, as in the holes of a Rock. Nothing will seem difficult to a heart that is filled with expectations, to dwell for ever in his embraces in the Heavens. And now how is the world and the flesh con­founded when they see good men re­joyce and triumph in the midst of all miseries and discouragements? How do the Devils howle to see their stra­tagems so unsuccessfull, that even Paines are accounted Pleasures, and Losses are accounted Gains, and Tor­ments are turned into Joyes, and Pri­sons are the Gate-houses of Para­dises?

The Devil, you will say, will study to be revenged on such men, and will not cease to vent his malice against such souls. And seeing he knows not how to do them harm but by make­ing of them sin, he will try if like a Serpent he can insinuate but a part of himself at any little hole. He will perswade them to self-indulgence in some small crime, that so he may bring them to all the rest; or he will labour to draw them, if it may be, within the verge of sin, into an infe­ctions place, into the society of a temptation, hoping that by little de­grees and preambles, he may make way for sin to enter. But the love of God, which is here much inflamed, will make the soul of such a quick scent that it may easily perceive his wiles. Love doth extraordinarily enlighten the soul by its flames, and will make it more discerning of the least spot that is in it self, and of the least danger that is without. And the more pure and white the soul grows by love, the sooner will any speck of filth be espi­ed upon it. The more full of light it is, the more imperfections will it take [Page 402]notice of, which before were unobser­ved; as in the beams of the Sun we see a thousand little attomes or motes which before were not di­scerned.

By all this, which in your own me­ditation may be enlarged, you see what strength it affords. To which you may add, if you please, that as the De­vil hath baits for every pallate, and can humour every mans taste, and comply with all complexions and dispositions: So is the holy Sacra­ment an Heavenly Manna which tastes as every man wishes, and (as the Au­thor of the Book of Wisdom speaks) doth serve to the appetite of the eater, Wi [...]. 16.20, 21. and tempers it self to every mans, like­ing, being able to give them all con­tent.

Thirdly,I fficacia ad medicinam. But this Bread and Wine being spiritually received, are not onely food and meat, but Physick and Me­dicine also. They are means to pre­serve health where it is, and to re­store it where it is decayed. Though this may seem more doubtfull then the two former, and you may ask [Page 403]how Bread-and-Wine do signifie any thing of this nature; yet I shall show you that is denoted by them in Christs intention, more then any thing else. For the bread (as you have seen) doth not represent the Body and flesh of Christ barely and in general, as it is the food of the soul, but in a more e­special manner, as the flesh of a Sacri­fice, and that a Sacrifice for our sin, whereby it becomes not only our meat, but our medicine also. The food we eat is in remembrance that Christ died for sin, and so it is healing to our souls, and killing to our sins; it purges away our iniquities, and purifies our hearts. And so Christs Blood is here considered as the Blood of the Cross, the Blood of Atonement and propitiation for us; and therefore we do not receive (as hath been said) bare Bread and Wine, but Bread bro­ken and Wine poured out. And here you may take notice of the rea­son why Christ did institute Bread and Wine, rather then flesh, to represent himself by, unto us. Not because flesh was used by the Jews in their Sacrifices, for so were Bread and [Page 404]Wine: nor onely because this was the common food and nourishment for the body, for so was flesh also: But it is likely Christ chooses things without life, wherein there was no Blood, viz. Bread and Wine, because he would shew that no Creature was any more to lose its life for the sin of men, and that no more Bloud was to be shed for expiation of it. The Passeover, which we may call a Sacra­ment of the Old Testament, was blou­dy, to denote Christs Bloud that should be shed; but now that it is shed, the Sacrament, which represents it as already done, is without any bloudy thing. He is shown to us as one that hath died by this broken bread and wine effused; and he shows us like­wise that there shall be no more Death, no more blood shed for us (a full A­tonement being made) because it is onely bread, and onely Wine. These things then having such a special re­ference to Christs Death, the worthy receiving of them must needs be of great force.

1. As an Antidote to take away the poyson and killing-power of sin. [Page 405]The Blood of Christ doth wash away our guilt, and takes off all obligation unto punishment; and the considera­tion that Christ hath died for us, ex­pels the poyson from the heart which would make us faint and die. It heals the wounds that sin hath made, and takes away the anger of the sore; it asswages the rage and heat of that sting which the fiery Serpent had sent unto us, and suffers not the ve­nome to undo us. The pardon in­deed is granted to us by vertue of the Covenant of grace, when we un­feignedly repent and believe, i. e. when we are converted unto God; but now likewise it is further sealed to such persons. That which was con­firmed before by the Blood of Christ, is now in a sensible manner applied to us, and ratified by the representati­ons of that Blood. In the use of these things likewise we receive an increase of Piety, and get more full victo­ries over our sins; and thereby feel more the virtue of the Antidote, and have a sense of our pardon made, as lively as if there was a new act of grace passed to settle it more surely up­on us.

2. It is of a Cathartical virtue also, and hath in it a force to purge and cleanse our souls from their impurities. As it takes away the killing-power of sin against us, so it kills sin in us. By our abiding in the Wounds of Christ, sin is wounded and slain. If any of you (saith St. Bernard) do not feel so frequently the sharp motions of anger, envy or luxury, &c Gratias a­gat corpori & sa [...]guini Domini, &c. Let him give thanks to the body and blood of our Lord, and let him praise the power of this Sacrament. The blood of Christ quenches the fire of anger, the heart-burnings of malice and envy, the feavourish heats of lust, the raging thirst after sensual pleasures. Consider what thou art: Dost thou delight in drink? Here is a draught to quench thy thirst. Art thou a glutton? Here is a morfel that will make thee say, Lord evermore give us this Bread. Art thou worldly-minded? Here is Christ dying to the world, and leaving the world, who will carry thee away with him in his armes. Art thou fearfull to suffer any thing for Christ? Drink the Cup of the blood [Page 407]of Christ, that thou mayst be able to shed thy own bloud for Christ.Calicem san­guinis Christi bibas, ut possis propter Chri­stum sangui­nem sundere. Cypt. Give (saith Cyprian) the Cup of Christ to those who are to drink of the Cup of Martyrdome. Art thou affraid of the power of the Devil? Christ, O man, comes here to take possession of thee. And as he upon the Cross spoiled principalities and powers, tri­umphing over them; so mayst thou do also in this Sacrament of the Cross. Art thou affraid of growing cold and dead in good duties? Thou drinkest of Jesus that is full of spirit, and will warm and enliven thy heart. Whatsoever sin thou hast unmorti­fied, bring it hither, and nail it un­to the Cross of Christ till it be stark dead. And unto whatsoever good thou wouldst be animated, shew thy Lord thy desire to it, and shew him his bloud to move him to bestow it. Onely remember that it works not as Physick doth in a natural, but in a spiritual manner. It works as a Sa­crament, and requires thy inward, ra­tional, and spiritual operations, and then thou wilt find the profit of it to be greater then all that I have said. [Page 408]Some of the old. Heathen represented plenty and worldly happiness, by a man with bread in one hand, and a Cup in the other, and a Crown of Pop­py about his head, which signified sleep and emptiness of care and trouble in the midst of abundance. That man thou maist be; for by this bread and Wine is exhibited to thee all plenty of grace and blessing, of peace and com­fort. Thou maist lay down thy self in peace, and sleep quietly; not in the lap of the world and carnal security, but in the bosome of our Lord, fola­cing thy self in his love, and saying, Thou hast put gladness in my heart, more than in the time that their Corn and Wine encreased, Psal. 4.7.

Let me say therefore to every holy and well-disposed Soul in the words of St. Ambrose, Venias, venias ad cibum Christi, adcibum, &c. Come, come to the food of Christ, to the food of the Lords Body, to the banquet of the Sacrament, to the Cup wherewith the affections of the faithfull are inebriated and made drunken; That thou maist put off the cares of the world, the snares of the Devil, and the fears of [Page 409]Death; and that thou maist put on the comforts of God; the delights of Peace, the joys of Pardon, more sweet than all the Pleasures of a Paradise.

And thou, O Lord our God, who dost provide food for all Creatures, and hast given all Creatures to be food for Man; and feedest not onely his body, but his soul also; and givest him for his soul, not onely the holy Word, but the blessed Body and Blood of thy Son: Do thou cause all our hearts to burn with desires after thee, who art so full of love to us. Make eve­ry Christian soul to rellish and savour the things of God. Prepare every one by a full digestion of thy Heavenly Word, to receive likewise this divine nourishment of their Souls. Stir up all their hunger after this Feast. Excite all their long­ing-appetites after this Heavenly Manna. And let this be the voice and hearty lan­guage of every one that reads this Book, Give us good Lord! Give us evermore this food. Amen most gracious God, for Jesus Christ his sake. Amen.

CHAP. XIX.

AS the Sun and the showres make those Plants more tall and beautifull which have any living roots in the earth, but on the con­trary do putrifie and dry up those whose roots are dead: So it is with this Sacrament, which renders their souls more fair and flourishing who receive it rooted in love; but those are more dried and hardned by it, and tend more to corruption, who have no life at all in them whereby to convert it into their nourishment. Or as you see it is in corporal nutriment, those meats which give a plentifull increase to sound bodies, do more wea­ken and infeeble those whose stomacks are corrupt; and the higher and fuller the nutriment is, the more corrupti­on doth it breed in those that are in­firm, and not apt to receive it. So it is in this sacred spiritual repast; the greater and more large stock of spirits and strength it is apt to afford to a soul that fits it self to receive it; the more distempers and weaknesses [Page 411]doth it leave in the spirit of him that cares not what he does, so he may but have it. Let me wish therefore every man to approve himself to be a sincere Christian, and so let him eat of this Bread, and drink of this Cup; for as the benefits are great if we use it aright, so are the dangers great if we mind not what we do. Presume not to draw nigh hither in your dirty garments. Let not your souls stand in Gods presence all nasty and filthy. Lay not unwashen hands upon his Ta­ble, and let not your feet tread in his holy place, unless they walk in the ways of his Commandments. Let not him whose mouth is full of cur­sing and bitterness, of blasphemies and revilings, of corrupt and rotten Communication, dare to put this bread into his mouth. Let not him that sits with the drunkard, and de­lights in strong drink, be so bold as to take this Cup into his hand. Let not the covetous Miser that huggs his Mammon, be so fearless as to come to the Feast of charity. Let not the heart that is filled with wrath, and ha­tred, and uncharitableness, presume [Page 412]to sit down at this Feast of love. Let not that hand stretch forth it self to receive the Body and Bloud of Christ, which is dipt in Blood, or defiled with unlawfull gain. Let every man that works iniquity, and lives in the neg­lect of any-known duty, or is not care­full to know it, fear and stand in awe, and keep at a distance, and instantly flie from his sin which must thus make him avoid the presence of the Lord, and the society of the faithfull. Yea let not the most holy person dare to draw near to God in this duty, till he hath trimmed and dressed up his Soul; till he hath snuffed his Lamp, and made it burn more clearly; till he hath ex­cited those affections in his heart which are most proper to this action; till he hath considered what he is a­bout to do, and hath put himself in a meet disposition to be so familiar with God. For,

1. Though he hath some goodness in him that comes unprepared to the Lords Table, yet he is guilty of the Body and Blood of the Lord. So the Apostle saith the Corinthians were,1 Cor. 11.27, 29. who professed the faith of Christ, be­cause [Page 413]cause they did not discern the Lords Body, nor minded for what ends they did communicate. He offers a great disrespect to the body and bloud of Christ, and is guilty of irreverence to it, who makes not solemn and seri­ous addresses to him, and comes with no mote purity and cleanness into the presence of the King, then he would take care of, in the presence of an or­dinary man. He makes as if Christ was his fellow, and that a man may come as rudely into his company, as if he was coming: into his own house, and sitting at his own board.

2. A good man that eats unpre­paredly, and without foregoing con­sideration, may eat and drink damna­tion to himself,1 Cor. 11.29. i. e. he may bring upon himself bodily judgments when he minds not seriously the religious ends of this eating and drinking. For so the word [...], is to be understood as it relates to the believing Corin­thians, as is manifest from v. 30. For this cause many were weak, and o­thers sick, and others were dead. The cause he speaks of, was their unworthy eating and drinking. i. e. [Page 414]their maintaining pride and contempt of their poor brethren, their uncha­ritableness and want of love even when they were doing this sacred action. This caused God to scourge them, and inflict some punishments up­on their bodies, that he might awa­ken and save their souls. Every sin may be the cause of diseases, but this in particular is noted as the Au­thor of those diseases that rage amongo Christians. Take heed then how thou comest void of humility, or bro­therly kindness, or not attendingl what thou art there to do; He that drinks thus unworthily, may have a poison run through his. veins; The Wine may breed the Stone in his kid­neys or bladder, and the Gout in his joynts; An Ague or Feaver may have commission to invade his Bloudd Or if none of these fall upon him, it may bring a curfe upon his goods, or relations, or good name. Every time thou receivest, and art not a man that examines thy self, for any thing thou canst tell, thou killests a Child, or beast, thou blastest thy Corn, or callest for Worms and Catterpillars [Page 415]upon thy fruit. And if we go on, and will not amend in this thing, whereas God doth now plague us with many sicknesses, he may in a short time send the Pestilence, and sweep us away with the besome of destruction; he may de­populate our Parishes, and leave but a few Concommicants.

3. As for a wicked prophane per­son that approaches hither with some slight intentions to leave his sin in which perhaps he the last week lived; He is guilty of the body and bloud of the, Lord in another sense. He is a kind of murtherer of the Lord of life; He makes his Wounds bleed afresh; and he pierces his sides with a greater cruelty then the Roman Souldier, he grieves and wounds him more then the Jems that wrung his bloud out of his sacred Body. For he brings that be­fore him which he hates more then he did death, more then the Nails and the Cross. He pricks him with that which is sorer to him then the Spear which was thrust into his side. He knows he should do better, when they did they knew not what. O how doth it trouble the heart of our [Page 416]Lord to see men lay that in their bo­some, and cherish its life, which was the cause of his death. Yea, how grievous must it be unto him to see them do this, even when they come to commemorate his Death! This sin of unworthy receiving, doth strike a­bove the rest to his heart, seeing all his pains cannot make them leave their sins. It is as if a Child should kiss the bloody knife which killed his Father; When he comes to make a solemn declamation against the Au­thors of his Death, and pretends to take vengeance upon them as villains, for such an unpardonable fact. As if a Roman should have run into the e­nemies Camp, having made a large commendation of that act of Decius in dying for his Countrey. And there is one sin that seems more manifestly than others, to open the closed Wounds of Christ, that is, ha­tred and enmity in our hearts, which I doubt few of the common fort are free of. He that comes with his heart full of passion, and anger, and rage a­gainst his Brother, what doth he but rend and tear the body of Christ in [Page 417]pieces? He separates and divides as much as he can one part of it from a­nother, and in a most formal manner kills him afresh in his members, who are called his Body. Whosoever hates his brother, is a murtherer; whosoever divides one man from another, he doth what he can to rend the body of Christ, and to destroy that which is as dear to him as his life. Now whose heart would not faint and swound to think of being guilty of his most sa­cred blood? There is no such load to the Conscience, as to shed innocent blood: Who then can have a heart strong enough to bear him up of be­ing guilty of the body and blood of the Son of God?

4. And that is the fourth thing; I would have such persons to consider; that they eat and drink damnation to themselves in a more spiritual sense than the Corinthians did; that is, they make themselves liable not onely to the plagues of God in this life, but to his everlasting anger in the world to come. You have seen already that in this Sacrament we make a solemn profession of our selves to be Christs [Page 418]Disciples, we vow our selves to his service; what doth he then but call for all the curses of God upon his head, who takes no care to keep those en­gagements. We here profess to be­lieve the Gospel, and to submit our selves to it; now the threatnings of Christ are a part of his Gospel, which we chuse here to fall under, if we do not obey his commands. We here receive Christ who is represented to us by the signs of Bread and Wine. He therefore who embraces him with a dead faith which works not by love, what doth he else but damn himself. He professes Christ as solemnly as any Creature can do, but he lives not according to him: His own faith then and belief, will condemn him. And let that man think that he de­parts from the Lords Table exposed to all the mischiefs in the world that can fall upon a man unprotected from above. The shadow of the Lord is departed from his head, and he lies open to all the Thunderbolts of Hea­ven. And beside he consigns himself over to eternal death; he binds him­self to endure the torments of Hell fire. [Page 419]When a man can think of Christ, of his death, of his love, and yet love his sin, and keep the traytor in his brest; it will at last prove a traytor to him, and hale him to the most fear-full execution. The flames of Hell will be the hotter, because the blood of Christ will not quench them: The Anger of God will be more incensed, because men blew it up by their sins, notwithstanding the stream of Blood which flowed from the side of his Son to slake it. And you will see that he is in greater danger of Hell fire then other men, and that he drinks damnation, if you consider that which follows.

5. Such a prophane person doth by this act more harden his heart in his sin, and makes it more obdurate a­gainst all the methods of God. It may be in the heart of some to say, that there is no such danger of damna­tion; for a man may repent, and though he do not now leave his sin, yet hereafter he may be out of love with it. But this imagination will soon fly away, if you set but the light of this truth (and those that follow) a­gainst [Page 420]it, That a mans heart becomes more obstinate and unmalleable, who is not softned by Christs Bloud, and goes on in sin, though he then per­haps entertained some resolutions a­gainst it. This Bread will turn into a stone in such a mans heart, and it will become as hard as the nether Mil­stone. He that can sin, though he remember often such a love that is in Christ, and so great evil as is in sin, and though he come and make engage­ments and professions of love to him, must needs be very stupid and sense­less. And God withdrawing his Grace, Christ departing away from such an unhallowed and impudent Creature, must needs make his heart more seared, and his condition more dangerous. When he approaches to a soul, and finds it a nest of unclean Birds, he will take the wings of a Dove and flie away to a cleaner and whiter habitation. Or rather, if we refuse to hear his Law, and obey his Word which is preached to us, he will not come to us when we are so bold as to take this Covenant into our mouths, and yet hate to be reformed. [Page 421]And if he will not come to us, what can follow but coldness and hardness, by reason of his absence?

6. The Devil enters into that heart which Christ leaves. If the Lord can find no room in us, we be­come fit for seven more foul spirits than dwelt in us before. God leaves men more to the power of Satan when they offer such contempt unto his Son. The powers of darkness rush with greater fury, and with a grea­ter throng upon such a person that loves to be in darkness in the midst of such Heavenly light. The Serpent may infuse his venome more into their spirits, as well as sting their bodies, and he gets a stronger title to them after they have offered such an affront and mockery to the Son of God.

7. It must needs be hard for such a person to get a pardon, because he sins even against that Bloud by which the pardon is to be obtained. Upon what score can he sue for for­giveness, who made so light of the Covenant of forgiveness? What will he plead for himself, who makes so little Conscience of keeping [Page 422]Christ commands, that he breaks them all at once? for he that doth not receive Christ when he is so ten­dered, and submits not himself to him, he refuses all the Gospel, and rejects all that he says. I tell you, it will cost a man many a tear, and a very sad repentance, before he obtain the mercy to wipe off those stains which the Blood of Christ leaves upon the Soul. He must be washed in that ve­ry blood which he uses so irreverent­ly, and which he can sin against so boldly; and what a strong faith must he have that can think this so easily to be obtained? Let no man then ap­proach hither that is in love with any sin, whose heart is not so broken for his Rebellions, that he verily thinks in his Conscience he shall leave them. Let him bring nothing into the presence of Christ which his Soul hates, unless he intend to be worse then a Jew, who did not own him to be the Christ. And if any man do find upon good consideration that he and his sins are so saln out, that they shall never agree again, and therefore desires here to make an open [Page 423]defiance of them, and joyn himself most solemnly in a friendship with Christ, let him be infinitely careful af­terward, that he do not return with a Dog to his vomit after he hath eaten this sacred food.

But let me add this, that I do not say all this of the danger that is in this thing, that you may not come (as St. Chrysostome speaks) but that you may not meerly come. [...], &c. Hom. 24. in 1 ad Corinth. For as to come on any fashion is very dange­rous; so not to come at all is certain famine and death. As he may surfeit and kill himself, that is a glutton, so it is most certain that he perishes who fasts and never eats at all. If it be a duty to do this, then there is a pu­nishment annexed to the neglect, as well as to the ill-performance of it. There is a danger in not coming, as well as in coming unworthily. God is an­gry at one sin as well as at another; and if he shall be condemned that doth this ignorantly, or in love to his sins, or in a half hatred of them, so shall he be that stays away, and will not get knowledge, nor leave his sins. He that eats irreverently, is guilty by [Page 424]prophaning of Christs Body, and so is he that eats not at all, by despising of it, and preferring his lusts before him. As the one eats damnation to himself, so doth the other by not eating, judge himself to be in a damnable condition. For if we cannot partake of his Sup­per here, how can we think our selves fit to feast with him hereafter. Ma­ny think that they are safe if they venture not upon these holy things; and it disquiets them to come in their fins, but it never troubles them that they stay away and continue in their sins. These mens Consciences are but half informed, and I seriously wish them not to endure in that condition, wherein they judge themselves unmeet society for Christ and the faithfull. Remem­ber, that you not onely live in sin, but add this sin to all the rest, that you do not come to remember Christ, and shew forth his Death. He that breaks one of the least of his Com­mandments, and lives in the known neglect of it, shall be called least in the Kingdome of Heaven, i. e. shall be deemed not to belong to it.

Away then with this supine negli­gence,James 4.8. Cleanse your hearts ye sinners, and purifie your hearts ye double mind­ed. Purge your souls by hearty sor­row, by humble confession, by great contrition, by a professed hatred and detestation of all your sins.Col. 3.5, 8, 12, 13. Morti­fie your members that are on the earth, fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and co­vetousness. Put off all these, anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy Com­munication out of your mouth. Lye not one unto another. But put on as the Elect of God, bowels of mercy, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering, forbearing one ano­ther, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any, even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye, &c. And come hither to strengthen your resolutions, and to confirm your purposes. Come and renew your vows of holy li­ving, and protest in the sight of God and his holy Angels, and be­fore his faithfull people, that you will be the followers of the Lord [Page 426]Jesus. Do not weep and mourn, and afflict your Souls for a day, do not ba­nish your sins for a little time, that you may entertain them afterward with a greater kindness, but give them an e­ternal divorce, and bid them never re­turn again. Do not go a little back from your sins, that you may take your rise, and leap into them with a greater violence; but fly from them as from the Devil, and the mouth of the pit, resolving never to cast a friendly look upon them any more. And then come to Christ, and cause joy in Heaven at the re­turn of a repenting sinner. And if thou takest upon thee his yoke, why should there not be joy on earth too? why shouldst thou not come and praise the Lord for his good­ness to thee, and make the faithfull rejoyce with thee that they have got more company at this holy Feast?

But I am very ignorant, will some say, and I dare not come for fear I understand not these mysteries. I answer, That it is very well if thou art sensible of thy ignorance, for then there is hope thou wilt la­bour [Page 427]after knowledge. And it is not hard to understand the meaning of these things, but very easie; for our Lord hath made his sufferings sensible to us in these signs, that we might more easily remember them, and be more quickly moved by them to due affecti­ons to him.

But I am affraid my heart is not right, saith another, and that I am cheat­ed with the shadows of Faith and Re­pentance. Let that man who speaks thus, tell himself what he means by true faith which he would find in him­self. Is it a perswasion that God loves thee? Is it a resting on Christ for sal­vation? A thousand to one this is the mistake which troubles many. But that Faith is another thing which the Gos­pel speaks of, which will be soon un­derstood, if thou understandest what the Gospel is which thou art to believe. The Gospel is to be considered either as a Narrative, relation and report of what Christ Jesus was upon earth, and of what he hath done, and suffered; of what he taught, and what he now is in the Heavens. It is an History of his Life and Death, Resurrection, and As­cention [Page 428]into Heaven, there to sit at Gods right hand; and it is a Sermon concerning Christs Doctrines, of his commands, promises and threatnings. Or secondly, it is to be considered as it is a call or proclamation, an offer or tender of pardon, grace and salvati­on to all that will accept of them on the conditions that they are propound­ed. Now Faith is first an assent of the mind and heart to that report, a firm perswasion that all is true that is said in the Gospel; and secondly, It is a consent to that offer, an accep­tance of that invitation, an embrace­ment of all that is there tendred, by yielding up of our selves to obey the Lord Jesus in all things. This is re­ceiving of Christ, this is believing in the Son of God. And there are ma­ny acts of faith to be in thy heart, be­fore thou canst lay hold of the mercy of God. And proportionably to thy sincere and hearty consent to obey him, will be thy perswasion of an interest in that mercy. If thy confident relying on him for salvation, exceed other acts of a lively faith, it is to be suspected of too sudden a growth, and thou hadst [Page 429]best fear that it starts up too high. But consider with thy self, doest thou believe the Gospel? doth thy heart submit to that way of salvation there proposed? art thou devoted to the service of Jesus? Then be of good comfort, if not confident; come and strengthen thy faith, that thou maist still do as thou hast resolved. This is one of the commands of the Gospel, that thou dost believe; and therefore if thy faith be true, obey it.

But a third saith, That he hath so much business that he cannot prepare himself. But consider I pray you in the fear of God, what greater busi­ness can there be, than to work out our salvation? Had not they business (as they pretended) of great import, to whom the Lord said, you shall not taste of my Supper? Consider whether thou canst not bring thy business into a less compass, or may it not be let alone till another time? I cannot believe that any man is so imployed, that constantly when he is to receive the Sacrament, he must omit it, or be a great loser. It is incredible that his business must be done just in that nick of time, and that [Page 430]none else will serve. But how comes it that men can find time for sports and recreations, for visits and friendly entertainments; and yet can never be found at leisure when Christ comes? And besides, what do men mean by preparation? Are they so imployed that they cannot read, nor pray serious­ly, nor praise God for his mercies? If they be, they are most dangerously busied; it were good for them they had not half that riches which will not let them go to Heaven. But if they be constantly free for such good duties, then they are making a daily prepara­tion for this sort of Prayers and Prai­ses. There is none need be unprepared by business for this duty, who are not unpre­pared for all other.

But there are wicked persons, that Communicate, say some other. These it seems have time enough both to observe themselves and others also. Then, I hope, they have reproved and admonished their brethren, and they pray continually for them, or else why do they speak of them as so wicked. None is to be deemed so wicked as to be excluded from our society, unless he [Page 431]refuse reproofs, and reject our good counsel, and withstand all the means of amendment. But who made thee a judge of the matter? Canst thou deter­mine who are fit to be debar'd all Chri­stian society? If it belong to some o­ther person to judge of him, do not take upon thee his office. If he do not do his office, go and tell him of it; and if he still neglect his duty, do not thou there­fore neglect thine. If he will not do what becomes him, do not thou there­fore refuse thine own food, and starve thy Soul out of I know not what pee­vishness, that all things cannot be ac­cording to thy desire.

But perhaps this case may be thought worthy of particular satisfaction, and therefore I shall bestow an whole Chapter upon it. This onely I desire, that none would make it a matter of quarrel, which I propound, but look upon it as a desire after peace.

CHAP. XX.

ANd first, I suppose every sober Christian will take this for a truth, that no man is to judge another [Page 432]so wicked as to refuse his Communion, till he be cast out of the society of the faithfull, for his wickedness. No mo­dest person will be so bold as to pass his censures upon a man whom the Church hath not yet censured. It is too much arrogance for a private man to make himself the judg of all his Brethren. And such a pride may deserve as severe a censure, as that which he is pleased to condemn.

II. Secondly, I think this will not be denied neither, that they in whose power it is to remove the wicked from Communion, are not to do it hastily. Two or three thoughts will serve ma­ny private men to the refusing of their Brethren. Some passionate discourse shall convert them to separate from all those whom an hour before they own­ed. And if they change their thoughts so speedily, they are very unfit to judge of such a weighty matter. But then they that are judges, must take great heed that their zeal do not out-run their knowledge; and they must be­ware they use not severe medicines, when more mild and gentle will cure the disease. Is God hasty in judging [Page 433]of us? Doth one sin make him with­draw his grace? Doth not he wait to be gracious? and is he not slow to an­ger, and of great mercy? Doth not he use many means to amend us, before he sends sicknesses or such punishments upon us? The Ministers of the Gospel are then to imitate their Master, and to proceed very slowly unto any sharp courses, though they tend to mens re­covery.

III. Thirdly, We must take therefore the method which Christ hath prescri­bed, before we judge a man so wicked as to be unchurched. And that is this,

1. There is an express command for fraternal admonition, 1 Thes. 5.14. Every particular Christian that sees his Brother in a fault, is bound to admonish him, to open his eyes, to awaken him our of his drowsiness, and stir him up to repentance. It was a barbarous saying of Cain, Am I my Brothers keeper? If we be Brethren, we ought to have a charity to each other; and none can be greater than this, to reprove a sinner, and endeavour his amendment. And so our Saviour bids every Disciple (Mat. 18.15.) when his Brother trespasses [Page 434]against him, that he should go and tell him of it privately between them two. What a great deal would the Devil lose, if this were practised as faithfully as many other duties are? Nay, if men were as ready to reprove, as they are to condemn, his Kingdome would be in danger to be ruined. For not only those quarrels that are in the Church might be hereby reconciled; but a ve­ry noisome part of mans life would be sanctified and perfumed. Their back­bitings, their evil surmisings, their whisperings, and speaking evil one of another, would at once be amended, to­gether with their uncharitable separa­tions. And I would to God that they who have such a care that there should be no wicked in the Church, would not tell others that such a man is wicked, before they have told him so, and en­deavoured his reformation. This would be a great charity to him, by hiding his faults from being more publick; and no less charity to our selves, by con­verting a sinner from the error of his wayes, and saving a soul from death, which will hide a multitude of sins.

2. If this prevail not, he is to get two [Page 435]or three honest men beside himself, to do this duty with him. So our Saviour prescribes in that place, Mat. 18.16. We must not presently give a man up for incorrigible, if our single admoni­tion be not received or followed; nor must we divulge his faults, and spread them any further than is necessary for his amendment. And perhaps the fault may be known to more than one; in which ease they that are of best know­ledge and affections, should undertake his cure, and cover his sin that it be not known unto all men.

3. But if he refuse to hearken to these mens good counsell, then let them tell it to the Minister, whom God hath set over them, and let him privately admonish him that hath offended, with all love and gentleness. And as the for­mer was a fraternal, so is this a paternal admonition. And if his fault be known to him before, then he is bound to ad­monish him, both as he is a Brother, and as he is a Father. And I suppose his charity will be so great, as not to think one entreaty to be enough, but he will extend it to repeated beseechings, be­fore any course more severe be used. [Page 436]Or he may take, after many admoniti­ons, some few with him to be both wit­nesses of what he doth, and also to make it more solemn and effectual to the sin­ner.

4. But then if after this sort of ad­monition, the party continue unrefor­med, he must be rebuked before all, as the Apostle tells us, 1 Tim. 5.20. For as the private person was to do it by himself, and then before others; so is the Mini­ster likewise to use a first and second admonition answerable unto theirs. He is in the face of the Congregation to exhort him to repentance, to pray for him that he may repent, which in all likelihood will amend him, or at least dum unus corripitur, plurimi emendan­tur, many will fear the like correction. He that saith this is to defame a man, doth himself defame Gospel, and finds fault with the method of Christ to do men good. He doth shame himself, qui facit, quod argui debet, non ille, qui arguit. He that reproves another, doth not de­fame him, but he defames himself by deserving of reproof. And it is a greater shame to commit it, and continue in it, than to be reproved for it, and amend it.

5. And if after these two admoni­tions of his and theirs, he do not amend, then let him be rejected and cast from the Communion of the Church, as the Apostle saith, Tit. 3.10. i. e. Let him speak to all the Congregation to avoid such a man as an infectious per­son; and not keep society and con­verse with him. Let him charge them to withdraw themselves from his com­pany, and not to maintain familiarity with one so incorrigible. For you must know (which people little consider) That they that you will not hold com­munion with at the Lords Table, you are not to hold converse with at your own. Now what a desperate sinner must he be, that we would thus use? and how long should we wait before this severity be exercised? And yet we cannot satisfie our selves (as far as my weak understanding can judge) in abstaining from his communion till this course have been taken with him. And let me say it with as much confi­dence as it hath truth on its side, That the way of the Church of God hath not been to gather the godly from among the prophane without any more ado, but to [Page 438]cast out the prophane from among the godly, after all this labour. Believe it, corrupt Members are of the body, till they be cut off; And no wise man will use such a sharp remedy, till he sees it will gangrene and indanger the body. He must first use corroding and heal­ing plaisters, sharp reproofs and mild admonitions. But without any of these, to suppose men ungodly, and gather a select number out of them, is a path which the People of God have not trod, a practice which they have not been acquainted withall. I confess the crime may sometime be so great, that all these courses are not to be taken, but an Adulterer, a Fornicator, or such like, is to be debar'd Christian Com­munion without this process, till he have given sufficient proof of his a­mendment. But because we live in Faece Romuli, and there is little order a­mongst us, let me suppose that they to whom it belongs, do not do their duty, and take this course. Yet

IV. Fourthly, Let it be considered, both that it is no part of thy duty to judg concerning the state of other men, and that thou canst not answer the [Page 439]neglect of thy duty because other men neglect theirs. Christ bids thee to do this in remembrance of him; if others will not do it so as they ought, that is no just cause for thee not to do it. How can another mans sin be a reason for thy sin? Why should his not being remo­ved, be a cause of thy removing thy self? If the Minister do not his duty in every thing, do thou do thine, or else you are both alike. He is negligent in not admonishing of them that of­fend, and thou art negligent in not re­membring of Christs Death, and deser­vest to be admonished also.

V. Fifthly, Let it be considered also, that when thou dost receive, thy Com­munion is with the rest of the Church, and not with him that receives not a­right. He only eats the Bread, and drinks the Wine, but receives not Christ, and so thou dost not become one with him. All the communion thou hast with him, is only natural, not mo­ral nor spiritual. His bodily presence is there; and as to eating and drinking, thou dost as he doth; but when thou considerest the manner of the action, which is the morality of it, thou dost [Page 440]not communicate with him, nor dost what he doth. For thou dost all in ano­ther sort, for other ends and designs than he doth, so that in a right under­standing there is no communion be­tween you. And then why shouldest thou sever thy self from communion with the body, for fear thou shouldest have communion with a sinner, which thou canst not have?

IV. Sixthly, But if thou fearest that his bodily presence will do thee any harm, why mayest thou not as well think that thy bodily presence will do him good? Thy goodness may as much avail him, as his sin infect thee. You have influ­ence upon each other (as to harm or be­nefit) both alike, and that is none at all.

VII. Seventhly, But perhaps you fear that your presence with him is an ap­proving of his sin, and you shall be ta­ken to allow his vices. These are meer fears and groundless jealousies; for there is no man that doth so interpret it. It cannot signifie so much, unless the Congregation so understand it, which no wise man will do. And if you cannot be otherwise satisfied, go to the Mi­nister, and profess to him, and as many [Page 441]of the Congregation as you please, that you dislike the wayes of such a person, and disallow of the sins wherein he lives, and that you intend not to have any communion with him, though he be present with you.

VIII. Eighthly, And if you fear that the sinner himself will make an ill use of it, and think himself to be good, because he is in good company, you have a re­medy at hand for that, which is private admonition and reproof. And I desire those that are so scrupulous, seriously to consider whether they have by good counsell and advice, laboured to re­form this sinfull Neighbour. If not, then what hypocrisie is it to complain of mixt communions, and that he is there, when thou hast not done what thou canst to hinder it by making of him better? He that saith he cannot with any comfort partake with such a person, should rather consider with what comfort he can live in the sinfull neglect of such a plain duty, as that is, of admonishing his Brother. It is the part of a Christian not to condemn his Bro­ther, but to labour to make him bet­ter: Not to refuse communion with him [Page 442]presently, but to associate himself with him, to perswade him to amend.

IX. Ninthly, But if thou hast per­formed this duty carefully, then he can­not presume thou lovest his sin, though thou lovest him; nor will any sin which he afterward commits, be im­puted to thy neglect; nor will the sin of his receiving unworthily be laid to thy charge, because thou didst what thou couldst to prevent it. It can only be matter of thy compassion and sorrow, but not thy burden and trouble, that a­nother doth not do his duty when thou hast done thine. And all Gods Servants in all ages of the Church, have received comfort in such mixed communions, and have patiently waited till Christs course was taken with men for their reformation. And it is to be feared that such objectors seek for too much comfort in outward things, and dis­comfort themselves in their own fan­cies; Whereas their true comfort lyes in doing of their duty faithfully to God and to their Brethren, and in the mercy of God in Christ. And if they look for other comfort, they will be deceived, for the net of the Gospel brings both [Page 443]good and bad to the shore; and where there is Wheat, there are Tares many times also.

Let no man therefore plead this or that in excuse for his not coming to the Lords Table, but resolve hereafter carefully to perform so necessary a duty. Let the sinner quit his state of sin and death, and so come and eat of the Bread of life. Let the ignorant come into the School of Christ, and proceed till they come to the highest form, to the upper room where this Feast is prepared. Let those that are in enmity with their Neighbours also come; let them only first go and be reconciled to their Brethren, and so let them offer their gift. Let those that have a multitude of worldly employ­ments come, only let them leave them as Abraham did his Asses at the bot­tome of the Mount, and so let them as­cend to Heaven in their thoughts, and converse with God. Let the weak come that they may grow in strength, and let the strong come that they may not grow weak. Let them who have fears come, that their hearts may be setled by the acts of a more lively faith; and let [Page 444]them come who have hopes that they may rise to greater degrees of an hum­ble confidence. Let those who have leisure accept of this invitation, because they have no excuse; and let those who have but little leisure entertain it also, that they may the more sanctifie their business and employments; let the sad and sorrowfull, approach, that their hearts may be filled with the joys of the Lord; and let those that rejoyce in the Lord alwayes, approach, that their joy may be full. Do not send your excuses when you are called, but re­solve that a necessity lyes upon you, un­less you will be guilty of the foulest neglect of your duty, and the greatest disrespect to Gods love. If any man can be content to stay away after all these entreaties, on to come but sel­dome when he may be so welcome; Let him consider what a wrong he of­fers to his own soul, how he robs it of its food and nourishment, and how he pineth the most noble and excellent Creature in the world. And let him consider what an affront it is to God to despise the choisest of his chear, the most costly provision made by the ex­pense [Page 445]of his Sons Bloud, and the most kind and gracious invitations to it. O foolish people and unwise! do we thus requite the Lord? do we thus slight the dying of our Saviour? are we no more affected with his singular love? Is this to commemorate the death of Christ, to come once or twice in a year to this Feast? The Lord have mer­cy upon us, and help us. How are we de­generated from the primitive practise? how cold is our love to God and to his Son grown? Unless we blow it up by a frequent remembrance of Christ, it is to be feared it will quite go out. The ashes and dust of this world will bury all the remaining sparks of it which are not yet extinguished. Let Christ, I beseech you, see that you love him, by taking all occasions to come to him; by binding your selves faster with the cords of his love, to all obe­dience and dutifulness toward him. And let me but tell you these two truths, and I shall put an end to this Discourse: The way to have reformed us would not have been to leave off Com­munions, but to make them more fre­quent. Nor secondly, To unite and [Page 446]consolidate Parishes, but to make more Pastors in greater Parishes, that by more personal instruction men might be better fitted for frequent Communion. But so it is, that zeal oft-times hath too much passion in it, and too little knowledge. The good Lord pardon us, and be gra­cious unto us.

FINIS.

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