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Consideration. 1. It is a direct Act of Disobedience against Christ's plain and peremptory Command.
2. It proceedeth mainly from an evil Conscience. 3. It is a most injurious Sin against a Mans •
I. IT is a direct Act of Disobedience against Christ's plain and peremptory Command. Concerning the Institution of this • Mystery, these four things are very observable. 1. That the Command about the Celebration of it, is as strict and Imperial, as any other Law whatsoever, that is about things which are of a moral nature, and of Eternal Obligation. Take and Eat, faith our Lord, Matth. 26. and Do this in remembrance of me : So. St. Luke delivers it, Luk. 22. Now this runs in as commanding a Style,as that Precept doth, Matth. 4. Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve : And as the other Precepts run, Matth. 19. Thou shalt do no Murder, Thou shalt not commit. Adultery, Thou shalt not Steal, Thou shalt not bear false Witness, Honour thy Făther and Mother, and, Thou shalt love thy Neighbour as thy self. I do not. here compare. Thing with Thing, a Ceremony with Morality, but one Command with another : And seeing all of them are equally as plain and peremptory on the one hand, as they
are on the other, it necessarily followeth, that though the nature of the thing it self doth not, yet the Command doth bind us to Obedience in one point, as well as in the rest; the Divine Law being Authoritative, and the Will of God being Obliging in smaller, as well as in the more weighty matters. 2. This Command touching our receiving the Blessed Sacrament, is one of those new Laws which are strictly and properly called Christian Precepts. Those Everlasting Duties of Godliness, Righteousness, and Sobriety, tho' Chrift aid Adopt them, and make them a part of his Law, yet we cannot call them the peculiar Laws of Jesus Christ, because they were enacted and written in Mens hearts from the Beginning, and they are common to Christians, and Jews, and Heathens also. 'But the Law touching this Sacrament is perfectly an Evangelical Command; and the Observation thereof is a direct and immediate Profession of our Discipleship, and of our Faith in him, and Love to him, who came to take away the Mofaical Rites, whereby Jews were distinguished from other People ; and instituted this Solemnity as a federal Rite of his own, to be the outward Mark and Cognizance of a Christian. 3. It is observable, that Christ gave no plain and
positive Command about this matter, till
Lord! were there not a thousand other Arguments of his Love to us, from his Nativity to his Cross'? What were all his Sermons, Miracles, Sufferings, but fo many Declarations and Monuments of his Goodness, to perpetuate the Memory thereof to all Ages ?. And yet, we fee, he appointed this Ordinance, to be in remembrance of him Chiefly and Principally. Here we do most Solemnly Commemorate the Incomparable Greatness of his Love ; we do Publickly own and Declare it; we Proclaim and Publish it before God and Man. So that now by all this put together, the Necessity of Re. ceiving this. Sacrament doth plainly appear. For to deny this Necessity, is no other than tacitely to deny, that we are to observe Christ's Laws ; to refuse Obedience, is in effect to deny him to be our Lord ; it is to cast off our Livery, and to renounce our Profession; to despise this Memorial of his Philanthropy, is to render our felves the most Insensate and Unthankful Wretches, that are as willing to have the Memory of his Love Dye, as the Jews were to have Him Expire upon the Cross.
I am sure, in the Primitive and Purest times of Christianity, Men accounted it a great Act of Religion, and a main Expression of their Affections to the Holy
Jesus, to Celebrate this Mystery very often; nay, they looked upon this Solemnity, as a necessary part of their constant Wor.. ship; without which, the rest of their Services were imperfect and lame. Religion began to be Decrepit and Cold; when the Custom of Receiving a few times in the
stole into the Church of Christ. For not only in the Apostles time, but for a long time after, Christians were wont to Address themselves to the Lord's Table, every Lord's day, as evidently appears out of Justin Martyr, St. Cyprian, Jerome, Austin, and some more of the Ancients ; nay, in the Synod at Antioch, it was Decreed; That all füch, as at any time met together in the House of God to hear the Scrip:
tures, should be Excommunicated if they Stayed not to Receive the Holy Communion. Devotion, which now is, as it were, vanish'd into Smoak, in those times shined in a mighty Flame ; The Hearts of Men were on fire, and their Zeal was Active and Sprightly in this particular, because they reckoned it a necessary piece of Religion. I confess, the Practice of the Church, is not that which maketh a thing Neceflạry: Yer 'tis a fair and strong Argument of its Necessity, as being a good Comment upon our Lord's .Command. The continued Practice of the Church