« PreviousContinue »
shall pass his Sentence according to the Good
great is the Reward of doing good, that even wicked Men, who yer have been of bountiful Tempers, and have had generous Spirits, shall fare the better in the other World for those good Acts of Mercy and Charity they have done here : and in this sense it is said (with which I end all) that Charity doth cover a multitude of Sins ; and to cover Sins, in the Scripture-Phrase, is to forgive them.
Now of this Saying there are several Senses given, which I cannot stand now to recite ; but the words are true in these two Senses.
(1.) If he that is thus truly charitable, and hath done a great deal of Good in his Generation, be also endued with the other Virtues and Qualifications required in a Christian ; then, tho he may have a great many Infirmities and Miscarriages to anlwer for, yet these Failings shall be overlooked and buried in his. good Deeds : and then they mean the same with that of the Pfalmift, With the merciful, God will shew himself merciful; he will thew him all Favour possible.
(2.) Or else, secondly, if you understand these Words, Charity shall cover a multitude of Sins, as spoken of a Person, who tho vicious in all other respects, yet out of Principles of common Humanity, or natural Goodness of Temper, or Greatness of Spirit, is very apt and inclined to do generous and great things for the good of the World (which is a case that may sometimes happen) they mean this, that tho Charity alone will not be sufficient to make such an one happy in the other World, because he is otherwise incapable of it; yet it shall be considered so far as to lefsen his Punishment. He shall be in a less intolerable Condition (tho thar be fad enough) than the cruel and uncharitable, or than they who have delighted in doing Mischief.
WHIT E-H ALL.
The SECOND SERMON.
1 COR. XI. 29. For be that eateth and drinketh un
worthily, eateth and drinketh Damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's Body.
HE Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, which we are now to receive, is un
doubtedly the most folemn and venerable part of Christian Worship ; a most excellent Instrument of Religion, an Institution of our Saviour's of mighty use and advantage to us, if we duly partake thereof : and yet there is hardly any part of Religion so little or so ill understood by the generality of
Christians amongst us, as this Duty ; which fufficiently appears from that great number of those who constantly join with the Church in all other publick Offices of Divine Worship, and yer wholly neglect the receiving of this Sacrament; or at least communicate so seldom, as if they looked upon themselves at liberty to do it, or not to do it, as they thought best. I speak not now of the profane Contemners of God and Religion, who despise this as they do all the other Duties of God's Worship; but of those who pretend to the Fear of God, and Care of their Souls, and yer live at ease in the gross Omission of this Duty.
Now among the many Pleas or Excuses with which Men satisfy themselves in the
neglect or disuse of this holy Communion, that which most generally prevails, and perhaps with some honest and well-meaning Persons, is the consideration of the words of my Text; He that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh Damnation to himself. So dreadful is the Threatning and Punishment here denounced against those who receive this Sacrament unworthily, that Men are apt to think it much the safer and wiser course, never to venture ori a Duty, the wrong performance of which is attended with so great Mis chief. Damnation is fo terrible a word, and to be guilty of the Body and Blood of Christ (as it is said, ver. 27. Who foever Mall eat this Bread and drink this Cup of the Lord
unworthily, shall be guilty of the Body and Blood of the Lord) is so heinous a Crime, that it may seem the most prudent course for a Man to keep himself at the greatest distance from all possibility of falling into it. Better never receive at all, than expose one's self to so great a hazard by receiving,
I hope therefore it will not be thought altogether upprofitable to entertain you at this time with a Discourse on these words; wherein I shall endeavour to give you the full meaning of them, with the true and just Inferences and Consequences that may be drawn from them. In order to which I shall shew you,
1. What is meant here by Damnation.
III. How far this Text may reasonably scare and fright People from this Sacrament.
IV. What is the true Consequence from what is here affirmed by the Apostle; He that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh Damnation to himself
I. What is meant here by eating and drinking Damnation to a Man's self. The Original Word, which is here translated Damnation, truly signifies no more than Judgment or P11nishment in general, of what kind soever ic