Obrazy na stronie

you have passed from death unto life, from darkness unto light, from the power of Satan unto God, it is plain you cannot possibly partake discerningly in this ordinance. Should you give ever so much meat and drink to a dead man, it would neither bring him to life, nor nourish the carcase. The case is the same, if there be no spiritual life in the soul, there can be no strengthening and refreshing by the body and blood of Christ.

2. These persons therefore, one and another, must needs be excluded from all the saving benefits of Christ's death and passion; and if thus careless, ignorant, sinful, and unconverted, they approach the Lord's table, they must needs eat and drink their own damnation. A fearful word indeed! enough to make the ears of every one that heareth it to tingle; and which our church well explains thus, "We kindle God's wrath against us, we provoke him to plague us with divers diseases, and sundry kinds of death; judge therefore yourselves, brethren, that ye be not judged of the Lord." Here you see that present judgments, and the wrath to come, are the wages of such, as by a rash, unadvised, and unsuitable approach to the Lord's table, are guilty of the body and blood of Christ our Saviour. And shall weprovoke God's wrath against us? Are we stronger than he? Forgive my tender concern for you— I am not speaking these things to grieve or disturb you, but as beloved children I warn you. You must be freely dealt with; you will not forgive me else at the day of judgment, if I should now be unfaithful to your souls. I press, I invite you, yea, I command in the name of Jesus Christ, not to slight his table, as you do. But then judge yourselves whether ye are in the faith, for if ye are amongst


those I have described, you cannot be welcome guests, if you live in ignorance or sin, if you respect merely a temporal convenience, if you make it a matter of form, and have not a living. principle of grace in your souls, abstain at present, as you would not imbrue your hands in Christ's blood, and crucify him afresh. Yet abstain not altogether: As you value your everLasting salvation, do not lie down in this state, but hear the present call of Jesus; look at his sacrifice that still bleeds for you; call upon him whilst yet he is. near, to prepare your heart ac-cording to the preparation of the sanctuary. Let your past forgetfulness, neglect and dishonor of him, lie deep upon your minds, and be among those things which especially humble you before him. And then arise, as perishing sinners, to lay yourselves at the foot of his cross, to look to him whom you have pierced, till faith in his blood produces love in your souls towards him, and a willing heart leads you to his table, to present yourselves a living sacrifice unto him. Then shall the ordinance be as much to his glo-ry, as your comfort; and you shall find by blessed experience, that you do not only come, but are welcome.


Self-Examination, a necessary duty, before we come to the Lord's Supper:


AS the profiting in the blessed ordinance of the Lord's supper, depends chiefly upon the disposition of mind in which we approach it, it will become all, as St. Paul advises, who would come with spiritual discernment, and return with. a blessing, seriously to examine themselves be


fore they presume to eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. To comfort the afflicted, encourage the doubting, and to help the sincere in this behalf, will be the design of the present chapter, as well as to quicken every soul to the too-neglected work of communing with his own heart. Our church catechism will supply us with the four principal and essential points of inquiry; which, if we understand thoroughly, aud answer faithfully, we may come to the knowledge of our state respecting God, and consequently our fitness or unfitness for the Lord's supper. And these are,

I. Whether we repent truly of our former sins, stedfastly purposing to lead a new life." II. Whether we "have a lively faith in God's mercy through Christ."

III. Whether we have a thankful rememb rance of his death."

IV. Whether "we are in charity with all


[ocr errors]


Points, each of which deserve a larger treatment than this short exercise; and yet you may come to some safe determination about them, if you will.attend to what is now to be set before you.

I. Then, to examine whether you repent truly of your former sins, stedfastly proposing to lead a new life," you must understand what is meant by evangelical repentance and newness of life. I shall describe them as including,

1. A sorrow for sin.

2. Hatred of sin.

[ocr errors]

3. Forsaking of sin.

4. An evident change wrought upon your heart and life.

1. Evangelical repentance includes sorrow for

sin. They who sow in tears, shall reap in joy. And when we have so much cause to to be exercising sorrow for our sins, and to mourn, as when we are coming to look upon him whom we have pierced-here the foundation of repentance must be laid-we must lay to heart the great dishonor we have done to God by our sins, how many and great they have been, how vile our nature and hearts are, as well as how perverse our ways have been. We must reflect upon the ingratitude of sin, and how every act, every thought of it, has added a pang to the Saviour's agony. We must consider it as the grieving of the spirit, the defilement of his temple our bo-. dies, and the abominable thing which he hateth. We should reflect on the wages of sin, even death eternal, and that of but one sin; how deeply then are we in arrear to the divine justice, when heart and life have been nothing but sin? Thus its evil nature and heavy guilt should both conspire to beget in us the deepest sorrow and remorse that ever we should dare trangress against the Majesty of heaven and the Father of mercy; that ever we should be ungrateful to a dying Jesus; that ever we should provoke the patient Spirit; that ever we should madly trifle with our souls, and plunge them into such awful condemnation. But have such thoughts ever been harboured in your hearts? Are you now desiring to mourn for your iniquities; and do they, in these views, dwell upon your hearts as a sore burden, too heavy for you to bear? Are you sore smitten on the grievous remembrance, and ready, like the prophet, to wish for a head of waters, and eyes like a fountain of tears, to run down day and night, for iniquities, which a sea of your own tears would neyer wash away? Do you know any such sorrow, and is the grief

for your sins the bitterest cup you have ever drank of? This is a gracious disposition; for true godly sorrow worketh repentance unto salvation, never to be repented of.

2. Repentance implies an abhorrence of sin and ourselves. Behold, says Job, I am vile, therefore I repent and abhor myself in dust and ashes. It is impossible, where a true sense of sin is upon the heart, this should be wanting; the heart then rises up with indignation, with revenge against itself, as St. Paul expresses it, and cannot bear the view of the past without self-loathing. To think how vilely we have acted, how insolently we have returned all God's kindness with abuse, how we have turned all his blessings into a curse, how we have slighted the love of Christ, how we have resisted the Holy Ghost in his word, in his providences, in all the methods of grace he hath used with us; in short how we have sold ourselves, as it were, to work. wickedness; and now to think of returning to the bosom of our God thus polluted and defiled, what vile wretches must we be in our own eyes? and to see ourselves such, is absolutely necessary before we can return. Then, saith the Lord, they shall return and remember their own evil ways, and their doings which were not good, and shall loathe themselves for all their iniquities and for all their abominations. Are you conscious of any such self-abhorrence? can you adopt the language of Job's self-loathing, and in the view of your sins find the inward risings of disgust and displeasure against yourself and them? do you appear in your own eyes a monster of ingratitude, and feel your heart detesting sin, which hath made you so, more than you detest the vilest objects in nature? at least is it your

[ocr errors]
« PoprzedniaDalej »