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what's the Reason, that Penal Statutes áre fo.carefully observed, while at other times the Commands of Christ are so eafily past. over, but that Men generally have not that tender regard of their Souls, as they have of their Purses, and of their Secular Interest ?
3. BUT besides these, there is a third sort of Persons, whose Excuses are a little to be considered too; many Serious, Religious, and Devout Christians, I doubt not, who have both Hearts to come to the Communion, and time enough for Preparation, but yet are troubled with Scruples and Fears, lest they should not come prepared sufficiently, notwithstanding their Pious Endeavours; and so rather chuse to refrain, though it be with much reluctancy, and regret. These Fears and Scruples, I now speak of, do mostly, if not altogether, proceed from wrong Notions and Apprehensions concerning this Mystery. Because they are told, that before they Receive, they must Examine themselves, whether they be in a State of Grace ; and that after they have Received, they must be careful continually to persevere in that State; hence it cometh toʻpass, that they are very mistrustful of. themselves, and very fearful of the worst. Perhaps the remembrance of some Sin
that is paft, doth yet run in their minds, though they be truly Peniteat for it ; and withal the Sense of their Natural Weakness make them doubtful for the future, lest they should Transgress again notwithstanding their watchfulness; and the apprehenfions of what is past, and of what may follow, disquiets their Consciences; and thinking to Err on the Right Hand, they resolve to keep their feet from the Table of the Lord, left they should take a step towards the brink of Destruction.
NOW, to rectifie the mistakes of these, it is to be observed, That no more is re: quired of any in point of Practice) for the due Receiving of this Sacrament, than what is required of us all by the Tenor of the New Covenant ; for here we do renew our Covenant with God, and engage our selves afresh, but upon the former · Terms that were undertaken at our Baptism : So that what that Covenant doth contain, that we are bound now to make good. Now the Conditions of the New Covenant are these in fhort, viz. Faith in Christ, accompanied with Repentance from all dead. Works. And if Men bewail their Sins heartily, and resolve to be circumspect for the time to come, not allowing themselves in any. thing that is Evil, but forsaking all sin
ful Habits, and watching against all finful Acts; and if they persevere in this course, studying to serve God according to the best of their Power and Knowledge; there is no doubt, but they fhall find acceptance with God. And these are the things which we profess at the Sacrament, that we do and will do : 1. We profess our selves Penitents for all that is paft
2. We undertake to live Godly Lives for the future ; meaning as near as we can, by the help of God's Grace, considering the Imperfections of our Depraved Nature. And if
And if we do not Profess and undertake these things at other times, we are not so much indeed as Christians; and if we do them sincerely now, we are fit to be Communicants. So that, I confess, I do not see, what Reason any Conscientious and Good Hearted Man hath to be afraid of this Ordinance ; rather it should be his Comfort and Joy, that he hath liberty to use it ; because it is the Seal of those Promises of Pardon and Mercy, which God hath made to every broken Heart. No scruples therefore are sufficient to beat off
any Pious and Penitent Souls ; for if Men do not Repent and Reform, they are not the Disciples of Christ ; and if they do, they are in a good condition to be
Guests at Christ's Table. I have more to say concerning this matter, when I come to treat of the Nature of that Preparation which is necessary; but this I hope is sufficient for the present.
Of the Necessity of Preparation,
HE Necessity of Receiving the
Holy Sacrament being thus proved, it is time now to consider those Disposititions and Preparations wherewith all People are bound to come to the Lord's Table, that they may Eat and Drink aftr a worthy manner.
AND here, two things are to be enquired into, for the full satisfaction of Mens Consciences. 1. First, concerning the Neceflity of Preparing our selves before hand, how that doth
appear. 2. Secondly, concerning the Nature of this Preparation; wherein that doth confift.
I. FIRST, touching the Necesity of Preparing our selves, before we presume to eat of this Bread and to drink of this Cup. It is observable, That our Blessed Saviour himfelf gave his Disciples no particular Instructions about this matter, when he Instituted this Solemnity. He commanded them indeed to do this, and to Celebrate this Mystery in Remembrance of him; but we do not Read of any express Directions he gave, touching Preparation thereunto. However, that no Man may be emboldened to use this Ordinance, after an Irreligious or rash manner; the Necessity of Preparing our selves, will evidently appear from these following Considerations. I. From the consideration of that Analogy which this Mystery bears to those Ancient Sacrfical Feasts, that were Celebrated by all Mankind. These I have treated of at large, because the full Knowledge thereof, is very serviceable in helping us, to understand both the Nature of this Feast, and our own Duty too in the use of it; which probably might be the Reason of our Lord's Silence in this point : Because it was not so very necessary for him to give particular Instructions in a matter, which was so obvious to all, that Men could easily be led to a Sense of their Duty by those common Notions and Apprehensions, which both Heathens and Jews had of Banquets of this Nature.