« ZurückWeiter »
ence, in presenting ourselves a reasonable, holy, and lively sacrifice unto God. And at the time of consecration, when you see the bread broken and the wine poured out, remem. ber how Christ suffered for us; how his head was crowned with thorns, his back scourged at a pillar, his hands nailed to the cross, and the last drop of his blood spilt with a spear for our sins: look with an eye of faith on him, who is the sacrifice once offered for the sins of the whole world; and beg of God the Father that he would accept of the satisfaction, and pardon of all our sins, and be reconciled to you for the merits of his beloved Son, who died for us. Consider what inexpressible thanks are due from us, for all that he has done to reconcile us to God. Think on those great agonies of his soul which drew from him that utmost disconsolate exclamation, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me! and this will produce in your soul a most hearty and sincere thanksgiving, and teach you to admire the love of our Maker, who gave his only begotten Son to redeem mankind. Should not such a love as this deter you from sinning any more?
When you are about to receive, remember this sacrament is God's seal to the new covenant, in which we receive pardon of sins, grace to resist temptations, and a title to the inberitance of eternal bliss; yet upon no other condition than that we do also resolve to perform our part of the christian covenant promised in baptism; which resolution can then be in nowise better expressed than by a hearty Amen to that excellent form, when the minister gives you the bread and wine, saying, The body of our Lord, &c. And so conclude with praises and thanksgivings in the hymns and devotions after the sacrament is received. While others are communicating, you may enlarge upon these subjects; but. always take care that your own private devotions be laid aside when the minister calls on you to join with him in the public form of prayer: all which are particularly described in that devout treatise, called the New Week's Preparation*; because the young communicant is there furnished with such directions for his devout behaviour,
* See page 480 of this Book.
and beneficial joining with the minister during the office of administration, as, I apprehend, are not to be met with elsewhere.
IV. But best we should relapse into sin, by surprise, through our infirmities, or from more provoking facts; it concerns us to look about and revolve in our minds, how our conta duct should be stated, and our life steered, after a worthy receiving of the holy sacrament. So, on our first retreat from this heavenly banquet, we should in our closets pay God the tribute of fervent prayer and praise, that we may walk in the same course all the days of our life. This will be some guard and security to us, that we do not overhastily drench and mire ourselves in worldly affairs. We ought to watch over our own hearts with great application, and some anxiety; lest we should depart from our wellgrounded resolutions and deliberate vows; because this would render our last state worse than the first. If we sin wilfully, after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains a certain looking for of vengeance and fiery indignation. So that God is exasperated, our consciences raging, or laid waste, and those pardons and graces, which have been vouchsafed to us, will raise up in judgment against ris, if we warp from our duty. No lawful vow can ever be dispensed with, because God is a party *, and nothing short of divine revelation can be sufficient evidence that God will discharge any man from such a vow:
Thus the frequent use of the holy sacrantent is the most likely means to increase our veneration and respect thereto. Because, though tanuliarity with the best of men may be apt to diminish that respect, which was paid to them, by reason of those frailties and imperfections, which are some times mixed with very great virtues, and which are only discovered by a great intimacy, with them; yet the oftener we converse with God in his holy ordinances, the more we shall admire his divine perfections, and the more we shall be disposed to conform ourselves to his will and example: because an object of infinite perfection in itself, and of infinite goodness to us, will always raise our admiration, and
. See vows in Sunday vi, Sect. viii.
heighten our esteem and respect, the more we contemplate it: it being the discovery of some imperfection, where we thought there was none, that abates the value and reverence we had for any thing or person.
Besides, frequent communion preserves a lively sense of religion upon our minds, and invigorates our souls with fresh strength and power to perform our obligations. This strengthens that intimate union which ought to be inviolable between Jesus and the members of the mystical body of Christ. This is the proper nourishment of our souls, without which we can no more maintain our spiritual life, than we can our temporal without meat and drink. This raises in us strong ardours of love and consolation, so that it becomes the greatest torment we can endure to offend God, and our greatest delight to do his pleasure. This is the sovereign remedy against all temptation, by mortifying our passions, and spiritualizing our affections: for how can we love any sinful satisfaction, which crucified the Lord of glory; and fix our hearts upon perishing objects, when he only deserves the whole man, as he requires? This ratifies and confirms to us the pardon of our sins, and repairs those breaches which our follies have made within us. This for tifies our minds against all those afflictions and calamities, which are often the lot of the righteous in this miserable world; and administers to us such comfort and peace of conscience, as surpasses all understanding.
SUNDAY VI. PART II. V. We now proceed to the third commandment, or the giving God the honour due unto his NAME. The highest reverence is due to the nanie of God, in our thoughts, in our words, and in our actions. Therefore, when we mention the word of God, or any persons or things which have a relation to his worship or glory, with irreverence, it is, by just interpretation, denying to honour God in his name. And what the honouring of his name is, will be best understood by a due consideration of those particulars, whereby it is dishonoured: for the avoiding of those things will be the best way to honour his holy name.
The first is BLASPHEMY, or speaking any evil thing of God; the highest degree of which is cursing him, or those persons or things that have a peculiar relation to God; or indeed cursing of any of God's creatures, which are all the works of his hands. And this may not be committed in thought, word, or deed, without the utmost outrage and profanation; for this is what the Psalmist reckons in the highest degree of sins, where he distinguishes offenders into three several ranks: The man that walketh in the council of the ungodly; the man that standeth in the way of sinners; and the man that sitteth in the seat of the scornful; that is, of those who not only neglect, but also scoff at religion, and make a mock at that, which of all things in the world is of the greatest importance. Thus David, speaking of God's enemies, brands their cursing inwardly; and cursing openly or to the face, is the devil's suggestion against Job. Thus St. Paul says, God's name may be blasphemed by our wicked actions: By breaking the law dishonourest thou God? for the name of God is blasphemed among the gentiles through you. And the prophet Ezekiel says, Your fathers have blasphemed me, in that they committed a trespass against me.
Secondly, wedishonour God by swearing falsely or rashly; because an oath is an invocation of God, or an appeal to him to attest what we say to be true, whether the name of God be or be not expressly mentioned: for in all these cases a man does virtually call God to witness; and, in so doing, he does by consequence invoke him as a judge and an aveuger, if what he swears be not true. There is indeed a great use and even necessity of oaths, in many cases; which is so great, that human society can very hardly, if at all, subsist long without them. Government would many times be very insecure; and for the faithful discharge of offices of great trust, in which the welfare of the public is nearly concerned, it is not possible to find any security equal to that of an oath; because the obligation of that reaches to the most secret and hidden practices of men, and takes hold of them, in many cases, where the penalty of no human law can have any awe or force upon them: and especially it is
the best means of ending matters in debate. So mankind can never be fully satisfied, where their estates or lives are concerned, without the evidence is assured by an oath; and it is well known, that God himself requires in a lawful oath these three conditions, truth, judgment, and righteousness, Hence it is that the church declares, “As we confess, that vain and rash swearing is forbidden christian men by our Lord Jesus Christ, and James his apostle; so we judge, that christian religion doth not prohibit, but that a man may swear when the magistrate requireth, in a cause of faith and charity, so it be done according to the prophet's teaching, in justice, judgment, and truth* In which sense oaths are generally divided into issertory and promissory. An assertory oath is when a man affirms or denies upon oath a matter of fact, past or present; when he swears that a thing was, or is so, or not so. And a promissory oath is a promise confirmed by an oath, that always respects something future; which promise is called a vow, if it be made directly and immediately to God; but only an oath, when made to man. I say then, that
In every lawful oath there must be truth; we must take great care, when we are upon our oaths, that we say non thing but what we know or believe to be true; for there cannot be a greater provocation offered to almighty God, who is the God of truth, than to bring him in for wit. ness and voucher to a falsehood; besides, to do this destroys the very end of taking oaths, which is to bring truth to light. Again, in every lawful oath there must be judgment; we must not swear rashly and unadvisedly, but in cool and sober thoughts, having duly considered how sacred a thing an oath is; moreover we must be fully satisfied that the occasion is every way fit and deserving of so sacred a seal. And finally, we must swear in righteousness : we must-set aside all respect of relation or friendship, and all other grounds whatever of favour and affection to any part concerned; as also the considerations of interest or disadvantage that may happen to ourselves: regarding only the justice of the cause, whether it be that we give our oaths for the defence
+ See the 39th Article of Religion.