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Holy-days, they most evidently demonstrate, that according to the mind and order of our Church, as well as the Primitive, the Lord's Supper ought to be administered every day, that all who live as they ought, in her Communion, may be daily partakers of it.
In the rules and orders (which we call the Rubric), after the Communion Service, there are several things that deserve to be considered in this case. It is there ordered, that there shall be no celebration of the Communion, except there be a convenient number ; that is, four, or three at the least, to communicate with the Priest. According to which rule, although the Priest have all things ready, and desires to consecrate and receive the Holy Sacrament himself, yet he must not do it, unless he have such a number to communicate with him, that it may be properly a Communion. But, as it is there ordered, “Upon the Sundays and “ other Holy-days (if there be no Communion) shall be said all " that is appointed at the Communion until the end of the general
prayer (for the good estate of the Catholic Church of Christ);" where we may observe, that the Church, as I have shown, appoints the Sacrament to be administered every day. But if it so fall out, that there be not in any place a convenient number to communicate with the Priest, and by consequence, according to the order before mentioned, no Communion ; yet nevertheless upon Sundays and other Holy-days so much of the Communion Service shall be said as is there limited. Why only upon Sundays and Holy-days, but to distinguish them from other days, on which if there be a sufficient number of Communicants, the whole Communion Service is to be used ; but no part of it, except there be so; but upon Sundays and Holy-days, although there be not such a number, and therefore no Communion ; yet, however, the Priest shall go up to the Altar, and there read all that is appointed to be said at the Communion, until the end of the prayer for Christ's Catholic Church ; whereby the people may see, that neither he nor the Church is to be blamed, if the Holy Sacrament be not then administered. For as much as he is there ready by the order of the Church to do it, and goes as far as he can in the Service appointed for it, without the actual administration of it ; and therefore that the fault is wholly in themselves that it is not actually administered, because they will not make up a convenient number among them to communicate with him.
Which is a most excellent order ; for the people hereby have not only God's Holy Commandments solemnly proclaimed, the Epistle and Gospel for the day, the Nicene Creed, and prayers proper for that occasion read to them ; but they are likewise put in mind of their duty to their Saviour in receiving His most Blessed Body and Blood, and upbraided with their neglect of it. For which purposes also, I think it very expedient, that the order of the Church for the reading that part of the Service at the Communion Table, even when there is no Communion, be duly observed.
The next Rubric, in the same place, that concerns our present business, is this ; " And in all Cathedral and Collegiate Churches and Colleges, where there are many Priests and Deacons, they shall all receive the Communion with the Priest every Sunday at the least, except they have a reasonable cause to the contrary." Where we see that the Church doth not command, but
supposes that the Sacrament is constantly administered in all such places ; taking it for granted, that it is never omitted there, where there are so many persons devoted to the service of God; but that there is always a sufficient number to communicate. But she absolutely commands, that all Priests and Deacons that belong to such foundations, shall receive the Communion with the Priest every Sunday at the least, except any of them have a reasonable cause to the contrary (which the Ordinary of the place, I suppose, is to be judge of): they are bound therefore, all and every one of them, to receive it every Sunday, which notwithstanding they cannot do, unless it be administered every Sunday among them. Wherefore if there be any such places where it is not so administered, or any such persons who do not, without just cause to the contrary, receive it every Sunday in the year, I do not see how they can answer it to God, to the Church, or to their own consciences. Neither are they bound to receive it only every Sunday, but every Sunday at the least : which plainly supposeth that it is administered upon other days as well as Sundays. For otherwise they could not receive it oftener, if they would. And it is to be hoped, that all such persons receive it as often as it is administered among them. But the Church expressly requires them to receive it at least every Sunday, so as never to omit it at least upon that day, except they have a reasonable, or such a cause to the contrary as will justify their omission of it before the Church, and Christ Himself at the last day. These things being thus briefly explained, we shall easily see into the meaning of the words that gave us the occasion to discourse of them, which are these, in the place last quoted ; And note, that every parishioner shall communicate at the least three times in the year, of which Easter to be one. From whence some have been tempted to think, that the Church doth not look upon it as necessary that they should communicate above thrice a year. I say, tempted to think so. For no man surely in his right wits can of himself draw such an inference from these words, which is so directly contrary to the sense of the Church, and hath no foundation at all in the words themselves. For the Church, as I have shown, hath taken all the care she can, that the Holy Sacrament should be every where administered, if it was possible, every day, at least every Sunday and Holy-Day in the year; which she would never have done, if she had thought it sufficient for any one to receive only thrice a year. For then all her care about the frequent administration of it, would be in vain, and to no purpose. And besides, she hath drawn up an excellent exhortation to be read by the Minister of every parish, in case he sees the people negligent to come to the Holy Communion, beginning thus : Dearly beloved, on I intend by God's Grace, to celebrate the Lord's Supper.” Where we may observe, that it is not said on such a Sunday, but on with a blank, to shew that the Minister may appoint the Communion on any day of the week, when he can have a sufficient number to communicate with him ; and so it is in the other exhortation ; only there is day put in, which may be understood of Tuesday or Wednesday, or any other day as well as Sunday, for the same reason. In that first mentioned, the Minister, in the words, and by the order of the Church, invites all there present, and beseecheth them for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake, to come to the Lord's Supper. And among other things, he saith to them all, “ I bid you in the name
of Gov, I call you in Christ's behalf, I exhort you as you love your own salvation, that ye will be partakers of this Holy Communion." There are several such pathetical expressions in that Exhortation, wherewith the Church most earnestly exhorts, adviseth, admonisheth all persons to come to this Holy Sacrament. And this Exhortation every Minister is to read publicly before all his congregation, whensoever he sees them negligent to come to it; as all are, who come but two or three times a year, where they may have it oftener if they will. They plainly live in the neglect of it, and therefore ought to have this Exhortation read to them, according to the order of the Church. Whereby she hath sufficiently demonstrated, that she doth not think it enough for people generally to receive it only three times in a year ; but that it is her opinion, that they ought, and her hearty desire they would receive it as often as it is, or, according to her order, ought to be, administered among them.
But then she wisely considers withal, that being a National Church, made up of all sorts of persons, it is necessary that her general Rules and Orders should be accommodated, as much as possible, to the several conditions and circumstances that many of them
may be sometimes in. And therefore, although she exhorts all her members to frequent and constant Communion, yet she does not think fit to command, and oblige them all, under the pain of excommunication, to receive oftener than three times a year, lest some might be thereby tempted to come sometimes without that preparation and disposition of mind that is requisite to the worthy partaking of so great a Mystery. I say, under pain of excommunication; for that is the meaning and the effect of this law, that they who do not communicate at least three times in a year, may, and ought to be cast out of the communion of Christ's Church, as no longer fit to be called Christians, seeing they live in such a gross neglect of Christ's own command, and of that duty whereby Christians are in an especial manner distinguished from other men. Other men, as Jews, Turks, and Heathens, may fast and pray and hear Sermons, in their way; but to receive the Sacrament of Christ's Supper, is proper and peculiar only to Christians, or such as profess that religion which
Jesus Christ hath settled in the world. And therefore they who receive the Sacrament, do thereby manifest themselves to be Christians. They who do it not, make it at least doubtful whether they be Christians or no; for although they were baptized, and so made Christians once, who knows whether they have not renounced their baptism and apostatized from the Christian religion? They themselves perhaps may profess they have not; but the Church can never know it, but hath just cause to suspect the contrary, so long as they refuse to renew the vow they made in the Sacrament of Baptism, by receiving that of the Lord's Supper. And the least that can be required of them for that purpose, is to do it three times a year ; which therefore the Church absolutely requires ; not that it is not necessary for them to receive it oftener, in order to their salvation ; but because it is necessary they should do it at least so often, that the Church may be satisfied that they continue in their communion, and constant to that religion wherein alone salvation can be had.
And hence it is, that in the rule itself, it is not said that every person, but every parishioner, shall communicate at the least three times in the year; which therefore is required of all, not as they are members only of the Catholic, but as they are members of a Parochial Church ; and they are bound by this law to do it at least so often in their own Parish Church, where they are parishioners : otherwise they do not do it as parishioners, as the law requires. So that although a man communicates an hundred times in any other place; as in the Cathedral, which is free to all of the Diocess, or in a Chapel of Ease, or in any other Church, when he can have it at his own, this does not satisfy the law. But he must communicate at least three times in the year, as a parishioner, in his own Parish Church, where there are officers called Church wardens, appointed on purpose to take notice of it, and to inform the Church against him, if he neglect to do it so often as she requires. That she may use the most effectual means to bring him to repentance for his sin, and to make him more careful for the future to perform so great and necessary a duty as this is ; or if he continue obstinate, cut him off from the