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he has not often felt an inward Delight at the Lord's Table? Whether Jesus has not been known to him thereat in breaking of Bread?
Another Argument to persuade them to frequent Communion is,
The Advantage thereof.
How is it, that we do not all, like wise Merchants, flock thither, where is the greatest Hope of Gain? Why do you not learn this Wisdom from the Poor among us, who constantly wait where the most bountiful Alms is given? That is, why do not all sincere Penitents repair to that Ordinance most diligently where the greatest Good may be had both for our Soul and Body.
Had our blessed Saviour, to the End that we might be Partakers of so great a Blessing, ordained hard Services and rigorous Fastings; had he commanded us to sell all our Goods and give to the Poor, to endure sharp Afflictions, and on this Condition only have admitted us to this holy Sacrament; yet all this, and more, we ought most joyfully to have undergone, in order to obtain so excellent and effectual a Mean of promoting our everlasting Comfort and Happiness.
But whereas our gracious Lord will bid us welcome on the easy Conditions of Repentance for our past Sins, Faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, and Resolutions of future Obedience, how inexcusable is it to stay away? I am amazed how any, who are called Christians, can think themselves dispensed with from his holy Ordinance; and therefore I proceed now to consider the several
Excuses or Pleas,
Urged for the Neglect of receiving the Sacrament of Christ's Body and Blood. Indeed no Pretence
whatever can justify a Christian's Neglect of this Command of our Saviour; and it must be owned, that all those which are usually brought, are weak and sinful.
The several Pleas made for the Neglect of the Holy Sacrament, are,
1. Multiplicity of Business.
2. A sinful Life.
3. Ignorance, or having Doubts and Scruples. 4. A hard Heart, not able to relent.
5. The observing that some who come are not made better.
6. That frequent Receiving will diminish the Reverence due to the holy Institution.
7. The not being in perfect Charity with all Men.
The first Plea or Pretence for the Neglect of receiving the Holy Sacrament, is Multiplicity of Business. This indeed is the most comnion and general Pretence for not coming to the Lord's Supper : but it is a very wicked and scandalous one: Men can find Time enough to follow their worldly Profits and Pleasures, but to enter upon the serious Business of their Souls, they have no Leisure; other Matters take up all their Time. Our Saviour to encourage us to let spiritual Concerns have the first Place in our Thoughts, assures us, that if we be careful to serve God in the Way he prescribes, he will bless us in our temporal Concerns; so that to be religious is the most likely Way to thrive in this World. Therefore, besides the Wickedness of this Pretence, we see how false it is: But suppose it were true, that, to prepare ourselves for the Sa
crament as we ought, would a little incommode us in the Management of our temporal Concerns; ough we not rather to lose some small Advantages here, than to forfeit the Favour of God, and endanger the Welfare of our Souls hereafter? But God in Mercy hath so ordered the Matter, that our worldly Affairs, with a little prudent Forecast, may be managed, and yet there shall be Time enough left for the Duties of Religion.
Moreover, these very People who complain they want Time, can find Leisure for Recreations, for Vi sits, for idle Discourse, or, what is worse, for Slander and Calumny: But, when our Saviour invites them to his Table, they have no Time. If unnecessary Business, or Diversion, causes us to neglect the Sacrament, we openly declare to all the World, that we love our Bodies better than our Souls; our Friends more than God; and Earth more than Heaven.
A second Pretence made for the not receiving the Sacrament is, a bad Life.
This is fully answered in the Exhortation before the Communion, in these Words, "If any Man 66 say am a grievous Siuner, and therefore am "afraid to come, wherefore then do you not repent "and amend?"
Indeed the Lord's Table is no Place for a Man that is wicked, and designs to go on in his Wickedness : The Sacrament is a Token of Pardon and Reconciliation and what has the obstinate Rebel to do with the Favour of his Prince: Christ indeed came into the World to save Sinners, but such Sinners as do truly and earnestly repent them of their former Sins, and who bring forth Fruits meet for Repentance. It is not the humble and returning, but the obstinate and perverse Sinner, that must keep from the Lord's Table; and he, if he lives and dies in his Sins, as certainly as God is true, shall be excluded from the Kingdom of Heaven.
And whereas some excuse their not coming to the Sacrament on Account of their past Sins, so others dare not come for Fear of falling into Sin after they have received it.
Answ. It must be owned, that every wilful and deliberate Sin, after our Vows made at the Sacrament, is a great Aggravation of our Guilt, but does not render it unpardonable.
Though it be our bounden Duty, after we have been at the Lord's Table, to use our utmost Care to avoid Sin, yet it is not to be expected, that in this World of Iniquity, we should live entirely free from it. The best of Men after receiving the Sacrament do not live without Sin: in many Things we offend all: But the Sacrament is appointed as a Means to strengthen us more and more against Sin. Should we therefore be se unhappy as to fall into Sin at any Time, we must humbly implore God's Mercy through Christ, and have Recourse to the Sacrament, which will, in Time, enable us to gain the Victory over the Flesh, the World, and the Devil,
Let no Distrust therefore of your unfitness keep you any longer from the Lord's Table. The sincere acknowledging of your own Unworthiness, will be accepted through the Worthiness of Christ Jesus. When you own that you are not worthy to gather up the Crumbs under the Lord's Tuble, he then assures you, that he is the sume Lord, whose Property is always to have Mercy.
It is a Stratagem of the Devil, to terrify pious and well disposed Minds, and to throw Scruples in their Way, in order to keep them from the Holy Sacrament. The Benefits of this holy Ordinance certainly are inestimable, or the great Enemy of our Souls would not take so much Pains to keep us from it, by laying so many Scruples and Impediments in the Way; therefore if you should hear a
Voice from within, saying, Come not to this Holy Feast, for thou art a Sinner; let Faith answer, That Christ came not to call the Righteous, but Sinners to Repentance.
If you are a great Offender, the more Want have you of a Saviour. In short, the Sacrament was not appointed for Angels, who are pure and undefiled Beings; but for Man, who is a frail Creature, subject continually to Errors and Miscarriages. Do you endeavour to be as good as you can; and wheneve through Surprize, you have been drawn from the Paths of Virtue, repent immediately, and then be assured that God will accept of your sincere Endea yours, and forgive your unavoidable Infirmities, nay even your most deliberate Sins, if you repent of them, and forsake them in the Name of Jesus Christ.
A third Pretence, against receiving, is Ignorance, and not being able to read; or some Doubts, which make you dread, lest you should be unworthy Communicants. Now pray consider, if you are perfectly ignorant of your Duty, this Ignorance is highly blameable, and will be a Bar to your going to Heaven, as well as coming to the Holy Sacrament. If you labour under Doubts and Fears, why do not you, as the Church advises, repair to your Parish Minister for his Advice and Directions.
If your Estate be in Danger, a wise and expert Lawyer is soon consulted. If you are cast upon a Bed of Sickness, a Physician is sent for. If therefore you have Perplexities of Mind, and will not use the Means to compose them, you are to charge yonr Uneasiness upon your own Head. Your spiritual Guide is appointed to explain the Nature of this blessed Sacrament, to inform your Conscience, to instruct you in the Faith, to direct your doubtful Steps, to give you Advice for your Soul's Health: to which if your own Prayers and sincere Endeavours are not wanting, you may reasonably hope, that God will H 6