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gagement fhews his Conviction; and his acting against Conviction thus publickly known and underflood, expofes him to publick Shame. And, with refpect to Confcience, it is evident, that it will be held more ftrongly by many Obligations than by one; as a Man's Body will be fafter bound by many Cords than by one. A voluntary Engagement will create an Obligation where there is nothing in the Thing (fepa. rate from the Engagement) that is binding: And. therefore when any Thing is in its own Nature obligatory, the Engagement ftrengthens the Obligation in a Degree proportionable to its own binding Force. It is upon this Principle that the Ufe of Oaths in Civil Cafes is founded. A Man is bound, antecedently to his Oath, to pay due Allegiance to his Sovereign Prince ; and to do Juftice between Neighbour and Neighbour, when Queftions of Right come before him as a Witnefs, or as a Judge. But Oaths add Weight to thefe Obligations; for Perjury is a worfe Sin than fimple Injustice. Now the Act of receiving the holy Communion hath fomething in it equivalent to an Oath; by which we pledge our Allegiance to Chrift and his Laws. This aggravates every Sin we commit afterwards; which is fo fenfibly felt by many ferious Chrif tians, that they are afraid to come to the Sacrament, left by breaking this folemn Engagement, fo often repeated, they fhould offend God more and more. This, as a Scruple, fhall be confidered hereafter. What I mention it for now is only to fhew, that the due Participation of the holy Sacrament, must be a very great Security to the Virtues of a Chriftian, as it helps to make Men uneafy in their Vices; and what but this can be the Reafon why many others, Chriftians indeed by Profeffion, but immoral in their Lives, refufe to come to the Sacrament, though customarily they join in other Parts of Worship? Every Act of Worship virtually contains a Profeffion of Reverence and Obedience to God; which yet may, and does in a great Measure, efcape careless Men, who come with little Thought and Attention to what they are doing.
But this molt folemn Act of the Chriftian Worship, by which we more directly and formally bind ourselves to Repentance and a new Life, commands our Attention; and comes with fuch Awe and Terror, that bad. Men cannot ftand it, till they have got quite the better of their Confciences, and laid afide all ferious Thoughts of Religion.
You have now feen what is the Nature and Use of the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper; and hence you may fee likewise the Obligation that lies upon all who profefs the name of Christ, and hope to be faved by him, to fhew a proper Regard to it. The Inftitution refts upon the Authority of Christ, who hath commanded us to do this in Remembrance of him; and fince the Sacrament is the Renewal of the Covenant founded in his Blood, the refusing to partake of it must therefore, virtually, be a Renunciation of the Covenant, as it is alfo the actual Neglect of the very best Means which the Gospel has provided to lead us to a good Life. I fpeak this not of those who keep from the Lord's Table upon Scruples of Confcience, and are in other Points obfervant of the Law of Chrift; for in fuch Cafes the Conftruction will not hold; and it is to be hoped that the Goodness of God will, in fome other Way, fupply the Want of the Means, when he fees that a Man is withheld from the Ufe of it, not for want of Confcience, but by the real (though perhaps miftaken) Dictates of Confcience. But whoever profanely neglects the Sacrament, gives the fame Evidence of his Difaffection to Chrift, as he would do of Difaffection to his Sovereign Prince, fhould he refuse an Oath of Allegiance, when called to it by lawful Authority: And whatever be the bad Confequences of this Neglect, as to his Spiritual Eftate, they will lie at his Door.
This Obfervation will be confirmed by what I am next to offer concerning the Efficacy of the Sacrament. You have already feen, that all who partake of the Lord's Table profefs their Acceptance of the Salvation offered by the Gofpel. And fince this is done by the Appointment
Appointment of God, they muft at the fame Time be understood as receiving an Affurance from him that he will fulfil his Promifes in Chrift to all worthy Receivers. When Chrift gave the Sacrament to his Apoftles, at the first Institution of it, his Act in adminiftring it, was virtually a Promife of Salvation through the Sacrifice of his Body and Blood. And this Ordinance being appointed for perpetual and standing Ufe, the fame Promife must be understood as perpetually repeated and ratified whenever the Sacrament is adminiftred. So that, in Virtue of this Inftitution, there is a conftant and visible Communion kept up between Chrift and his faithful Members: He, by the Inflitution, conftantly and visibly declaring Salvation by his Blood; and They, by complying with it, conftantly and visibly teftifying their Acceptance of the Mercy offered, and thereby (principally) maintaining and preferving their Intereft in Chrift, that is, their Claim or Title to Salvation by his Sufferings and Death. 1 fay principally; for every Prayer which we offer up in the Name of Chrift; every publick Profeffion we make of our Faith and Trust in him, contributes, in its Place and Order, to the keeping up our Interest in Chrift. But the Participation of the Sacrament, eminently and. above all other Religious A&ts, ferves to this Purpose, as it was a Rite Specially appointed to be the Memorial of the Death and Sacrifice of Chrift. When the Fervs were called to be the People of God, their Obfervance of the legal Appointments was the Tenure upon which they held their Privileges; and the Contempt of them would have inferred a Revolt from God the Creator. In like Manner, the Obfervance of the Appointments of the Gofpel, is the Tenure upon which we hold the Gofpel Privileges; and the Contempt of them will infer a Revolt from Chrift the Redeemer. Mere Natural Religion cannot give us an Intereft in Chrift's Blood: For when Men, repenting of their Sins, come to Baptifm; it is not their Repentance that gives Remiffion. This is, the free Grace of God in Chrift, which their Repentance qualifies them to receive by
the Ufe of the Sacrament. What mere Natural Re ligion cannot give, mere Natural Religion will not continue; upon Suppofition that being once admitted by Baptifm to the Gofpel Privileges, there is any other Appointment, fupported by the fame Authority, by which, as Chriftians, we are bound to make conftant Profeffion of our Union and Communion with Chrift. This is plainly the Cafe of the Lord's Supper, which is as much a covenanting Rite as Baptifm is; and whenever a Covenant once made, by the Will of the Founder, requires Renewal and Confirmation, the want of Confirmation deftroys the whole.
If the Sacrament is the Affurance of God's Mercy and Goodness towards us by the Blood of Chrift; it must be the Affurance of every Benefit which is the Fruit of his Death; of which one is the Gift of his Spirit. Our first Title to this Gift we acquire at our Baptifm, in which we are faid to be born of Water and of the Spirit, (John iii. 5.) which, as you have feen before, God hath promifed to give to them that afk him. This fhews that Prayer is a Means of obtaining God's Spirit; and it fhews that receiving the Sacrament is a Means of obtaining it too: For the A& of Communicating hath in it the Nature and Virtue of Prayer. The Sacrament is a covenanting Rite; and as God on his Part must be understood as afuring us of the Benefits of the Covenant, fo we on our Parts must be understood as pleading them. We may
pray by Actions as well as by Words. If a Man knocks at my Door, he may not afk to be let in; but I know his Meaning as effectually as if he did: And our Saviour has made Ufe of this Comparison in the very Cafe before us; Knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
And must not every one who devoutly comes to the Lord's Table, fignifying by that Act his Truft and Reliance upon God for Salvation thro' Chrift, be understood, as fignifying his Truft likewife that God will vouchsafe him that fpiritual Help and Affiftance, which he is taught by his Word to believe neceffary to qualify him for the Salvation offered? There is not,
there cannot be, a plainer and more neceffary Conftruction than this. We are not bound to say, that there are any Communications or Influences of the Spirit of God, attendant upon the Sacrament at the very Inftant of receiving it: Nor can any one shew that there are any fuch Communications attendant upon the Act of Prayer. It is fufficient in either Cafe that we have put ourfelves under the Protection of God's Providence, and by performing the Conditions upon which he hath promised the Aids of his Grace, qualified ourselves to receive them on all Occafions, when they shall be neceffary or profitable for us.
But you are to understand (and I hope you have all along borne it in Mind) that whatever Ufe there is in the Sacrament, or whatever Benefits we hope to receive from it, all depends upon our being duly qualified to receive it. For St. Paul tells us that, he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh Damnation to himself. This leads me to confider what Qualifications are neceffary to prepare us for the Lord's Table; and this I fhall do in as fhort and plain a Manner as I can, paying, all along, an especial Regard to what our Church hath determined upon this Subject.
In the firft Place then it is evident, that the Partaking of the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper pre-fuppofeth Faith in Chrift as the Redeemer of the World; that is, as having by the Sacrifice of himfelf purchased Pardon and Reconciliation for Sinners. For the Sacrament (as has been fhewn) is the Memorial of Chrift under this Character; and contains the Profeffion of this Faith in all who partake of it according to the true Scripture Meaning. Of this our Church puts us in Mind in the Communion Office, where the Sacrament is faid to be received in Remembrance of the meritorious Crols and pallion of Chriß, whereby alone we obtain Remifion of our Sins, and are made Partakers of the Kingdom of Heaven *. And, ellewhere in the fame Office, Chrift is fet forth to us as
* First Exhortation,