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this he is pleased by the sacrament, all the way to consign: God speaks not more articulately in any voice from heaven, than in such real indications of his love and favour.
14. Lastly; Since the sacrament is the great solemnity of prayer, and imitation of Christ's intercession in heaven; let us here be both charitable and religious in our prayers ; interceding for all states of men and women in the Christian church, and representing to God all the needs of ourselves and of our relatives. For then we pray with all the advantages of the Spirit, when we pray in the faith of Christ crucified, in the love of God and of our neighbour, in the advantages of solemn piety, in the communion of saints, in the imitation of Christ's intercession, and in the union with Christ himself, spiritual and sacramental; and to such prayers as these nothing can be added, but that which will certainly come,—that is, a blessed hearing, and a gracious
DEVOTIONS PREPARATORY TO THIS MYSTERY.
I. 1. I will praise thee with my whole heart: before the angels will I sing praise unto thee.
2. I will worship towards thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy loving-kindness, and for thy truth; for thou hast magnified, above all, thy name, the word of thy praise.
3. In the day when I call upon thee, thou shalt answer, and shalt multiply strength in my soul.
4. How precious are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O Lord, endureth for ever.
5. I wait for the Lord: my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope.
6. My soul doth wait for the Lord more than they that keep the morning watches, that they may observe the time of offering the morning-sacrifices.
7. O let my soul hope in the Lord, for with the Lord there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption : he shall redeem his people from all iniquity.
2. The Lord keepeth the simple : I was humbled, but the Lord looked after my redemption.
3. O my soul, return thou unto thy rest; because the Lord hath restored his good things unto thee.
4. He hath snatched my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling: I will, therefore, walk before the Lord, in the land of the living.
5. I have believed; therefore will I speak : in the assemblies of just men, I will greatly praise the Lord.
6. What shall I return unto the Lord ? all his retributions are repaid upon me.
7. I will bear the chalice of redemption in the kingdom of God: and in the name of the Lord I will call upon my God.
III. 1. I will pay my vows unto the Lord : I will then show forth his sacraments unto all the people.
2. Honourable before the Lord is the death of his holy one; and thereby thou hast broken all
chains. 3. I have sworn, and I will perform it; that I will keep thy righteous judgments.
4. I will greatly praise the Lord with my mouth; yea, I will praise him among the multitude.
5. For he shall stand at the right hand of the poor : to save him from them that condemn his soul.
6. His work is honourable and glorious, and his righteousness remaineth for ever: he hath made his wonderful works to be remembered.
7. The Lord is gracious and full of compassion : he hath given meat unto them that fear him: he will be ever mindful of his covenant: he hath showed his people the power of his works : blessed be God.
Prayers to be used in any Day or Time of Preparation to the
I. O thou. Shepherd of Israel, thou that feedest us like sheep; thou makest us to lie down in pleasant pastures, and leadest us by the still waters, running from the clefts of the rock, from the wounds of our Lord, from the fountains of salvation; thou
preparest a table for us, and anointest our heads with the unction from above, and our cup runneth over: let the blood of thy wounds, and the water of thy side, wash me clean, that I may, with a pure clean soul, come to eat of the purest sacrifice, the Lamb slain from the beginning of the world.
II. Thou givest thyself to be the food of our souls in the wonders of the sacrament, in the faith of thy word, in the blessings and graces of thy Spirit. Perform that in thy servant, which thou hast prepared and effected in thy Son; strengthen my infirmities; heal my sicknesses; give me strength to subdue my passions, to mortify my inordinations, to kill all my sins : increase thy graces in my soul; enkindle a bright devotion ; extinguish all the fires of hell,
lust and my pride, my envy, and all my spiritual wickednesses ; pardon all my sins; and fill me with thy Spirit, that by thy Spirit thou mayest dwell in me, and, by obedience and love, I may dwell in thee, and live in the life of grace, till it pass on to glory and immensity, by the power and the blessings, by the passion and intercession of the word incarnate; whom I adore, and whom I love, and whom I will serve for ever and ever.
III. O mysterious God, ineffable and glorious Majesty; what is this thou hast done to the sons of men ? thou hast from thy bosom sent thy Son to take upon him our nature; in him thou hast opened the fountains of thy mercy, and hast invited all penitent sinners to come to be pardoned, all the oppressed to be eased, all the sorrowful to be comforted, all the sick to be cured, all the hungry to be filled ; and the thirsty to be refreshed with the waters of life, and sustained with the wine of select souls. Admit me, O God, to this great effusion of loving-kindness, that I may partake of the Lord Jesus, that by him I may be comforted in all my griefs, satisfied in all my doubts; healed of all the wounds of my soul, and the bruises of my spirit; and being filled with the bread of heaven, and armed with the strength of the Spirit, I may begin, continue, and finish, my journey through this valley of tears, unto my portion of thy heavenly kingdom, whither our Lord is gone before to prepare a place for every loving and obedient soul. Grant this, 0 eternal God, for his sake, who died for us, and intercedes for us, and gives himself daily to us, our blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus. Amen.
OF OUR GENERAL PREPARATION TO THE WORTHY RECEPTION
OF THE BLESSED SACRAMENT, AND THE PARTICIPATION OF THE MYSTERIES.
In all the Scriptures of the New Testament, there are no words of particular duty relating to the blessed sacrament, and expressing the manner of our address to the mysteries, but those few words of St. Paula, “ Let a man examine himself; and so let him eat." The apostle expresses one duty, and intimates another. The duty of preparation is expressed; but because this is a relative duty, and is not for itself, but for something beyond,—he implies the other to be the great duty, to which this preparation does but minister. 1. A man must examine himself. 2. And a man must eat. must not eat of these mysteries, till he be examined; for that were dangerous, and may prove fatal: but when a man is examined, he must eat; for else that examination were to no purpose.
Of Examination of ourselves in order to the Holy Communion.
There is no duty in Christianity, that is partly solemn and partly moral, that hath in it more solemnity and more morality than this one duty; and, in the greatest declension of religion, still men have fear, when they come to receive this holy sacrament. They that have no religion, will fear, when they come to die: and they who have but a little, will fear when they come to communicate. But although men who believe this to be the greatest secret and sacredness of our religion, do more in their addresses to this than to any thing else,-yet many of them, that do come, consider that they are only commanded to examine themselves; and that, according to the ordinary methods, is easily done. It is nothing but asking ourselves a few questions : Do I believe? Do I repent? And am I in charity ?' To these the answers are ready enough: "I do believe that Christ gave his body and blood for me, as for all mankind ! and that Christ is mystically present in the sacrament ! I have been taught so all my life, and I have no reason to doubt it. 2. I do also repent according to the measures I am taught: I am sorry I have sinned, I wish I had not done it; and I promise to do so no more; and this I do constantly before every communion, and before the next comes, I have reason enough to renew my vows; I was never so good as my word yet, but now I will. 3. I am also in charity with all the world; and against this good time, I pray to God to forgive them; for I do.' This is the usual examination of consciences; to which we add a fasting day; and on that we say more prayers than usual, and read some good discourses of the sacrament; and then we are dressed like the friends of the bridegroom, and with confidence come to the marriage-supper of the Lamb. But this examination hath, itself, need to be examined. Noah laboured a hundred years together, in making the ark, that he and a few more might be saved: and can we think, in an hour, to prepare our souls for the entertainment of him, that made all the world? This will very hardly be done: for although our duty of preparation is contained in this one word of • Try,' or • Examine,' it being after the manner of mysteries, mysteriously and secretly described,-yet there is great reason to believe, that there is in it very much duty; and, therefore, we search into the secret of the word, and to what purposes it is used in the New Testament.
a 1 Cor. xi. 28.