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approach thy Altar, that thou mayest accept of me graciously for Christ his Sake. O'let the Cry of thy Son's Blood speak better Things in my Behalf than the Blood of Abel: That having my Heart sprinkled from an evil Conscience, I may draw nigh with a full Assurance of Faith, and thereby be filled with thy Grace and heavenly Benediction, through Jesus Christ. Amen.
The Sacrament of the Lord's Supper being the highest Act of religious Worship, and yet so generally and shamefully neglected in Country Parishes, I think it requisite here to shew the Duty of frequent Communion, answer Excuses for not coming to the Holy Sacrament, and point out what Preparation is necessary.
Notwithstanding many excellent Treatises have been written on this Subject; yet Numbers of People most unthankfully refuse to come to the Lord's Table. Unreasonable Scruples in some, and a general Coldness, as to all Matters of Religion, in others, have occasioned an almost Disuse of this primitive Part of Devotion among us. For, notwithstanding all the gracious Calls and Invitations of Christ, and his Ministers, yet there are many, and some too that carry an Appearance of Sobriety and Religion, who have never yet communicated. Therefore, that I may leave no one unsatisfied, I will endeavour, with as much Brevity as the Importance of the Subject will permit, to sum up what I have to say in the following Particulars.
1. I shall give a plain Account of the Nature of the Sacrament, and the End for which it was. ordained.
2. Shew that all Christians of riper Years, and also young Persons, after they have been confirmed by the Bishop, are strictly obliged to communicate.
3. Answer the several Pleas made by the Ignorant or the Wicked, for the Neglect of it.
4. Give Directions how you must prepare yourself to be a worthy Receiver.
5. What you must do if you are really straitened for Time, and cannot go through a long Examination, &c.
6. What ought to be your Behaviour after you have been at the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper.
1. Concerning the Nature of the blessed Sacrament, and the End for which it is ordained. Know then, and consider, that the Lord's Supper is a Memorial, or solemn Commemoration of Christ's Death. The Institution of the Lord's Supper is recorded by four of the sacred Writers; viz. St. Matthew, St. Mark, St. Luke, and St. Paul. The Sum of what they have delivered concerning it, is thus fully collected by the Church of England in the Prayer of Consecration. "The Lord Jesus, the same Night in which he was "betrayed, took Bread: and when he had given "Thanks, he brake it, and gave it to his Disciples, saying, Take, eat; this is my Body, which is given "for you: do this in Remembrance of me.
after Supper he took the Cup, and when he had "given Thanks, he gave it to them, saying, Drink "ye all of this; for this is my Blood of the New "Testament, which is shed for you, and for many, for the Remission of Sin: do this as oft as ye "shall drink it, in Remembrance of me."
From these Words of the holy Penman, it plainly appears, that our blessed Saviour Jesus Christ, being immediately to suffer Death upon the Cross, (by which Death he was to make a full, perfect, and
sufficient Sacrifice, Oblation, and Satisfaction for the Sins of the whole World) he did then institute and command us (by receiving Bread and Water) to continue a perpetual Memory of that his precious Death until his coming again.
So that this Institution of our Saviour's is as formal a Command to do what he then did, as any Words can express.
It is impossible for any Law to be more peremptory and binding. Neither Prayer, nor Preaching, nor the Observation of the Lord's Day, which all acknowledge to be the necessary Duties, are more plainly required than Take, eat; this is my BodyDrink ye all of this-Do this in Remembrance of
This then is a solemn Command of Jesus Christ the Author of this holy Institution. We call him adorable Saviour, Lord and Master, which implies that he has Power and Authority over us; but we do no less than insult and mock him, if we do not look upon ourselves obliged to do what he commanded. Our Saviour said to the Jews, Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the Things which I say? It is our Duty therefore, to obey all the Commands of Christ, of which this is a principal one, otherwise we are no Christians; or which is worse, disobedient and disloyal Subjects to our Lord and Master.
The Christian, therefore, that lives all his Days without receiving the Sacrament seems to be no more sensible of the Want and Benefit of a Redeemer, than a Jew or a Turk; and yet I tremble to think, how many Thousands go out of the World, without thus owning their Faith in our crucified Lord. What a base and shameful Ingratitude is this, not to remember the stupendous Blessing purchased for us by the Death of Christ?
But further, This is not only an express positive Command of our Lord and Master, of our Friend and.
Benefactor; but it was his last and dying Command. St. Paul says, in the same Night that he was betrayed, he took Bread and brake it: How moving, how tender and pathetic is this Circumstance! The last Words of a dying Friend are usually most strictly observed by us. Now since this is the Command of our Master, who was just going to die for us, and we neglect it, we justly deserve to be thrown back into the State of Slavery and Bondage, from whence by his Death he hath delivered us.
But this most generous Saviour, who laid down his Life for us, desires nothing in Return, but what is yet for our further Advantage; he desires us not to forfeit that Happiness, which he has purchased for us by his Death; which brings me to a second Motive to persuade us to receive the Sacrament.
The great Danger of neglecting it.
We are, in this Life, surrounded with Variety of Temptations, no Condition of Life being free from the Assaults of our spiritual Enemies; and we have Reason to mourn, that so many Thousands are ensnared by their Attempts; and prevailed upon to sin against God. Now when we are justly humbled at the Sight of our Sins, the best Way to obtain a Pardon of them, is to represent to God the Father our Saviour's bitter Passion, that though not for our own Sake, yet for his Sake and Merits, he would be propitious to us miserable Sinuers.
Look round the World, and say, what Thing is equal to the Advantage of this gracious Vouchsafement?
For in this holy Ordinance our Baptismal Vow is renewed, our Faith strengthened, good Desires kindled
kindled in our Breasts, and fresh Supplies of Grace are given us. To this was owing the fervent Charity of the primitive Christians, their Steadfastness in the Faith, and their patient enduring all Manner of Sufferings. It is this that will afford you Benefits more than you can number, and greater than you can conceive.
Set before your Eyes the dreadful Example of those, who by slighting and forsaking the Memorial of Christ's Death, having fallen into damnable Heresies, denying the Lord that bought them; or else have abandoned themselves to all Manner of wicked Words and Lewdness; of which we have too many sad Instances in the World. On the contrary, if we examine the Matter we shall find those Persons to be the most devout and rational Christians, and the best People, who do most frequently communicate.
Therefore does our excellent Church invite, and press her Members to receive three Times a Year at least.
In many great Towns in England we have Monthly Communions; nay, in many Churches every Lord's Day.
The best of Christians are not so rooted in Faith and Love, but they want constant Help and Assistance from above. And this is afforded them in this Holy Sacrament; which if we did devoutly and constantly attend (as we have Opportunity) great and singular would be the Benefits thereof.
Another Motive is, the
Joy and Pleasure attending this Duty.
Many humble and devout Receivers find their Hearts filled and made glad with holy Joy and Delight in the due Performance of this heavenly Duty. Let the pious Christian, who comes with Humility and Devotion to the blessed Sacrament, say whether