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in the year.
Body of Christ, as no longer worthy to be called a member of it. And therefore all that can be reasonably inferred from this law, is, that the Church doth not think them fit to communicate at all, who will not communicate at least three times
But as for her opinion of the necessity of communicating oftener, in order to men's obtaining eternal salvation by the Blood of Christ, that she hath sufficiently declared, by the great care she hath taken, to have this Holy Sacrament administered constantly, as often as it was in the Apostles' and Primitive time of Christianity; that is, as often as any Christian can desire to have it. For according to the order and discipline of our Church, if a sufficient number of parishioners, against whom there is no just exception, desire to receive it every Sunday, or every day in the year, the Minister of their parish not only may, but, as I humbly conceive, is bound to consecrate and administer it to them. The want of such a number being, as far as I can perceive, the only reason that can ever justify the omission of it.
I have endeavoured to set this matter in as clear a light as I could, because it will discover to us, several things very observable concerning the Church we live in. For hereby we see how exactly she follows the pattern of the Primitive and Apostolic Church in this particular, as well as others; what great care she hath taken that the Bread and Water of Life may be duly distributed to all her members whensoever they hunger and thirst after it. With how great prudence she hath so ordered it, that all may have it as often as they will, and yet none compelled to receive it oftener than it is absolutely necessary, in order to their manifesting themselves to continue in the faith of Christ. How desirous she is that all would receive it constantly, and yet how careful that none may receive it unworthily. How uniform she hath been in her orders about it all along; and by consequence, what cause we all have to bless God, that we live in the communion of such a Church ; and how much it behoves us to receive the Holy Communion of her; not only as often as she strictly commands all to receive it, under the pain of excommunication, but as often as she adviseth and exhorteth us to do it, in order to our eternal salvation, and as she is
ready and desirous to communicate it to us. And then we should be sure to receive it as often as we are bound, either in duty to God, or by our own interest to do it.
The Blessed Body and Blood of Christ, received, as it ought to be, with a quick and lively faith, will most certainly have its desired effect. But it operates, for the most part, upon our souls, as our ordinary food doth upon our bodies, insensibly and by degrees. We eat and drink every day, and by that means our bodies grow to their full stature, and are then kept up in life, health, and vigour, though we ourselves know not how this is done, nor perhaps take any notice of it. So it is with this spiritual meat and drink, which God hath prepared for our souls. By eating and drinking frequently of it, we grow by degrees in grace, and in the “ knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ," and still continue steadfast and active in the true faith and fear of God; though after all, we may be no way sensible how this wonderful effect is wrought in us, but only as we find it to be so by our own experience. And if we do that, we have no cause to complain that we get nothing by it ; for we get more than all the world is worth ; being strengthened in the inward man, and so made more fit for the service of God, more constant in it, and more able to perforın it; or at least are kept from falling back, and preserved from many sins and temptations, which otherwise we might be exposed to ; and this surely is enough to make any one that really minds the good of his soul, to hunger and thirst after this Bread and Water of life, and to eat and drink it as often as he can, although he do not presently feel the happy effect of it, as some have done, and as he himself sometimes may, when God seeth it necessary or convenient for him. In the mean while he may rest satisfied in his mind, that he is in the way that Christ hath made to Heaven ; and thank God for giving him so many opportunities of partaking of Christ's Body and Blood, and also grace to lay hold of them, to improve them to his own unspeakable comfort, such as usually attends the worthy receiving of the Lord's Supper : whereby we are not only put in mind of the great Sacrifice which the Son of God offered for our sins, but likewise have it actually communicated unto us, for our pardon and reconciliation to the Almighty Governor of the world, which is the greatest comfort we can have on this side Heaven; so great, that we shall never be able to express it unto others, how deeply soever we may be affected with it in ourselves. And though we be not always thus sensibly cheered and refreshed with it, as we could wish to be, howsoever we can never receive the blessed Sacrament, but we have the pleasure and satisfaction of having done our duty to our Maker and RedeemER, which far exceeds all the comforts of this life, and therefore
may our stomachs till God sees good to give us more.
The oftener we do it, (partake the LORD's Supper,] the more expert we shall be at it, and the more benefit and comfort we shall receive from it. It is very difficult, if not impossible, for those who do it only now and then, (as once or twice a year,) ever to do it as they ought; for every time they come to it, they must begin as it were again ; all the impressions which were made upon their minds at the last Sacrament, being worn out before the next; and it being a thing they are not accustomed to, they are as much to seek how to do it now, as if they had never done it before. It is by frequent acts that habits are produced. It is by often eating and drinking this spiritual food, that we learn how to do it, so as to digest and convert it into proper nourishment for our souls. And therefore I do not wonder that they who do it seldom, never do it as they ought, nor by consequence, get any good by it ; I should rather wonder if they did. But let any man do it often, and always according to the directions before laid down, and my life for his, he shall never lose his labour; but, whether he perceives it or not, he will grow in grace, and gather spiritual strength every time more and more.
If such considerations as these will not prevail upon men, to lay aside their little excuses for the neglect of so great a duty, and to resolve for the future upon the more constant performance of it; for my part, I know not what will : and therefore shall say no more, but that I never expect to see our Church settled, Primitive Christianity revived, and true piety and virtue flourish again among us, till the Holy Communion be oftener celebrated, than it hath been of late, in all places of the Kingdom: and am sure, that if people were but sensible of the great advantage it would be to them, they would need no other arguments to persuade them to frequent it as often as they can. For we should soon find, as many have done already, by experience, that this is the great means appointed by our Blessed REDEEMER, whereby to communicate Himself, and all the merits of His most precious Death and Passion to us, for the pardon of all our sins, and for the "purging our consciences from dead works to serve the living God.” So that by applying ourselves thus constantly unto Him, we may receive constant supplies of grace and power from Him to live in His true faith and fear all our days; and by conversing so frequently with Him at His Holy Table upon earth, we shall be always fit and ready to go to Him, and to converse perpetually with Him at His Kingdom above, where we shall have no need of Sacraments, but shall see Him face to face, and adore and praise Him for ever; as for all His other blessings, so particularly for the many opportunities he hath given us, of partaking of His most Blessed Body and Blood.
T'hese Tracts are continued in Numbers, and sold at the price of 2d. for each sheet, or 7s. for 50 copies.
LONDON: PRINTED FOR J. G. & F. RIVINGTON,
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The following Works, all in single volumes, or pamphlets, and recently published, will be found more or less to uphold or elucidate the general doctrines inculcated in these Tracts :
Bp. Taylor on Repentance, by Hale.-Rivingtons.
Vincentii Lirinensis Commonitorium, with translation.—Parker, Oxford.
Pusey on Cathedrals and Clerical Education.-Roake & Varty.
Bp. Beveridge's Sermons on the Ministry and Ordinances.Parker, Oxford.
Bp. Jolly on the Eucharist.
Larger Works which may be profitably studied.