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hold off and forbear, because God can pardon them without these Means; or because such great things are spoken of Faith and Repentance ; they must not let go Certainties, and trust to Possibilities; nor flight any Ordinance, as if it were unnecessary, upon a Presumption that God's Mercy and Power is All-sufficient. "No, they must shew their Obedience; and have recourse to those Means which God hath Appointed: And this is one, and a principal one; viz. the Receiving of this Blessed Sacrament.
C H A P. 25
CH A P. II.
Several Excuses Considered.
HAT hath been thus delivered,
will I hope prevail with those, who will be wise for themselves; who study to be blameless and harmless; the Sons of God without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse Generation.
BUT it is a most difficult Matter to Perswade, especially to Adions that are of a Divine and Spiritual Nature. Though Interest be commonly the most powerful Rhetorick in the World, and Mens greatest Interest is concern'd in this case, yet because they do not discern with their Eyes, either the Advantages that are Received by a Worthy. Vse, or the Losses that are sústaind by an unworthy Contempt of this Ordinance; such is the Folly and Stu
many People, that any pretence almost serveth as an Excuse and Plea (sufficient, as they think) to keep them from the Lord's Table. That Great Person, Luke 14. that made a costly Supper, and Invited many Guests, received very rude Returns; when they presently pretended,
one, that he had bought a Farm ; another, that he went to make Tryal of his Oxen; a third, that he had Married a Wife, and therefore could not by any means come. ?Tis called a Parable, but if you apply it to the Case in hand, it is a plain History of the Improvidence and Unthankfulness of thofe, who refuse to come to the Lord's Supper, and would fain come off handfomely, if they could, with several Excuses, that something or other doth still hinder them from closing with the Invitation. Therefore my next Business must be to Thew, how incompetent and trifling Mens Excuses are; and I must do this the rather, because the shameful neglect which some are Guilty of, is very Mischievous and Scandalous to others; To that they both Judge themselves Unworthy of Eternal Life, and ( as much as in them lyeth) by their bad Example, do help to draw many more into the fame Condemnation ; and further the hurt of divers precious Souls, for whom the Saviour of the whole World was content and desirous to Dye.
IN the Prosecution of this Matter, there are feveral forts of People, I am to speak
1. Such as Indulge themselves in a course of Life, that is unbecoming and inconsistent with Christianity; and therefore are very backward and unwilling to come to the Holy Communion. 2. Such as live Honestly and Fairly before Men, but yet are such Drudges to the World, and so intent upon making Provision for their, Families, that their whole time is laid out upon Secular Affairs, and they have none left them (as they say) for the business of Preparation ; and therefore pretend, they have no Leisure to come. 3. Such as are willing (and perhaps desi. rous) to Communicate, and confess they have time enough to fit themselves by Prayer, Fafting, and Repentance, but yet what out of a Sense of their manifold Failings, and what out of an apprehension of the greatness of the Mystery, and what out of a mistrust of themselves for the future, conceive themselves to be Unworthy and Unfit, and therefore are affraid
1. NOW, as for those in the first place, who make no Conscience of their ways, but live without having a due regard to the Laws of Religion, I must premise, that though it be a wonder, thatany who have Learned Christ (who have heard of his Sufferings, of, his Laws, and of his Threats) thould presume in spight of all to live after this rate, yet it is no wonder that they who do live fo, should be backward and unwilling to Receive this Sacra
ment. It would be very dangerous for them indeed to receive it, because S. Paul hath declared, that he who eateth and drinketh Uaworthily, eateth and drinketh Judgment to himself; and such ,
Men as I now speak of, are no more Worthy to eat and drink at the Lord's Table; than Swine are fit to live of the Altar. To such, the Holy Sacrament is a dreadful thing indeed, as long as they continue in an Evil Course: They do in a manner drink down Death with the Wine, and swallow the Bread and the Devil together. Therefore as long as they are in Love with Sin, and Obey it in the Lufts thereof, and yield their Members as Instruments of Unrighteousness, they must by all means forbear coming to this Ordinance.
BUT then they must observe, that this forbearing or refraining upon the consideration of an Evil Conscience, will be in no wise excusable in the Great and Terrible day of God; and if any Man be fo Vain and Foolish as to think fo, I would offer these following things to his most serious Consideration. 1. That by parity of Reason, he may neglect every other Divine Ordinance, as well as this ; for there is none, but what will rise up in Judgment against him, unless he Repent, and An