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COMPANION to the ALTAR.
LL thofe Eleffings which we now enjoy, and hope hereafter to receive from Almighty God, are purchased for us, and must be obtained through the merits and interceffion of the holy JESUS, who has "instituted and ordained Holy myfteries, as pledges of his love, and "for a continual remembrance of his death and paffion, to our great and endless comfort." Luke xxii. 19. 1 Cor. xì. 24. But then we must remember, that these benefits and bleifings, which the Son of God has purchased for us, are no where promised, but upon condition that we ourselves are firft duly qualified for them. The Sacrament of the Lord's Supper is a folemn ratification of our Baptifmal Covenant, where in God for his part hath faithfully promited "pardon, "and remiffion of fins to all true penitents," and we for our parts are therein folemnly bound to be faithful and obedient unto him, 2 Tim. ii. 19. Before then we can promife to ourfelves any benefit or advantage from the participation of this folemn Rite and Covenant between God and us, we must endeavour (what in us lies) to poffefs our Souls with all thote divine qualifications which this Sacrament of the Lord's Supper requires to render us worthy partakers thereof.
And what thofe are, it is the defign of this difcourfe to enquire; wherein I fhall endeavour to fhew what that Preparation of heart and mind is, which muft difpofe us for a worthy participation of the bleffed Sacrament: and herein I hope to remove all thofe Fears and Scruples which arife in our minds, about "Eating and
Drinking unworthily, and of incurring our own Damnation thereby," as groundless and unwarrantable; and to do this I fhall take occafion to explain that part of our CHURCH CATECHISM, defignedly intended for our inftruction, with relation to this duty of a Sacramental Preparation; namely,
2 What is required of them who come to the Lord's Supper ???
A. "To examine themselves whether they repent them truly of their former fins, ftedfaftly purpofing to lead a new life, have a lively faith in God's mercy through Chrift, with a thankful remembrance of his death, and to be in chari"c ty with all men.' This is that Sacramental Preparation which our Church (in as few words as is poffible) hath provided for our Companion or Guide to the Holy Altar. The duty then of a devout Communicant confifteth in thefe fix following particulars 1 Self-Examination; to examine themselves. 2. Repentance towards God; whether they repent them truly of their former fins. 3. Holy purposes or refolutions of a new life; Stedfaftly purpofing to lead a new life. 4 Faith in God's Mercy through Chrift; to have a lively faith, &c. 5. A thankful remembrance of bis death. 6thly and laftly, Unfeigned love or charity for all mankind; and to be in charity with all men.
The firft Part then of a Communicant's Duty is Self-Examination: A duty not
only enjoined by human authority, but likewife commanded by St. Paul. But let a Man examine kimfelf, and fo let him eat of that Bread, and drink of that Cub 1 Cor. xi 28. Intimating, that no Man should prefume to eat of that Bread, and drink of that Cup, without a previous Preparation, if he mean to escape that fame Judgement of Condemnation which thefe Corinthians brought upon themfelves for their irreverent, finful and diforderly Behaviour at this Sacrament; and this was the Occafion of St Paul's Caution and Reproof: He that eatetb and drinketb unworthily, fays the Apoftle, eateth and drinketh Damnation to himself, not difcerning the Lord's Body, ver 29.
But that our Preparation may be fo well performed by us as to prevent the like Danger, let us, as the wife man adviseth, Remember the End, and we shall ner do amifs, Eccl. vii. 16. First then, That we may come to this heavenly Feift holy, and adorned with the Wedding Garment, Matt. xxii. 1 1. we must search our hearts, and examine our Confciences, not only till we see our Sins, but until we hate them; and instead of those filthy Rags of our Righteoufnels, we must adorn our minds with pure and pious Difpofitions; even that clean Linen, the Righteousness of the Saints, Rev. xix. With thefe Ornaments are holy Souls fitted. for the Society of that celeftial Company, which are to be met with at this Solemnity. 20ly, Another End or Design of this ftrict Preparation, is, that we may be accepted by Gcd as worthy Communicants; that be who knoweth the Secrets of all our Hearts, neither is there any Creature that is not manifeft in his fight, Eut all things are naked and opened unto the Eyes of him with whom we have to do, Jer. xvii. 10. Heb. iv. 13. may approve of the Sincerity of our Repentance; and the King, who comes in to view the Guests, Matt. xxii. 11. may (though strictly speaking we are not fo) count us worthy of his Favour and Countenance. And how to attain fo great a Bieffing thefe following inftructions will help and affist us.
This is that
Fir, we are directed to repent us truly of all our former Sins. preparation which Chrift himtelf requires of us, Matt. iii. 2, 3. A Duty you know, which our finful Lives make always neceflary for our Confideration, if ever we expect eternal Happiness hereafter, Luke iii. 3. But more especially the Dignity of this Sacrament requires that it should be enquired into with more than ordinary Care and Circumpection, because without fincere Repentance, we cannot expect any Benefit or Advantage from the Death and Paffion of Chrift, which in this Sacrament we commemorate, and have the Merits of it conveyed to us by this facred Memorial. Suppofing then that this is fufficient to convince you of the Neceflity and Importance of this Duty, that upon it depends
[*Note, This Word Damnation, does not fignify eternal Condemnation, but on the contrary fome temporal Punishment or Judgment, (as you have it in the Margin of your Bible) fuch as ficknefs or Death with which the City of Corinth was afflicted, for their great Abuse and Profanation of this folemn Inftitution; fo that the Sins here reproved, (namely, Gluttony, Drunkenness and Faction, ver. 18,
21, 22.) and the Damnation here threatened, hath no Relation to us, unless it could be proved, that any of us w.re ever guilty of the fame Wickedness with thete Corinthians; which I believe no Man ever was or would be fuffered to approach the Lord's Table afterfuch a disorderly manner as they did, if Men were fo lewd and profane.]
our welcome to this heavenly Feaft unto which we are called; I proceed now in the fecond place to inform you, That if our Repentance or Return to God be real and fincere, it will produce thefe following good Effects in us.
The Nature of
First, "A Senfe, a Sorrow and Confeffion of all our former Sins. Secondly, A stedfaft Purpose or Refolution to lead a new Life." Thefe a. the Kepen. are the genuine fruits of a true Repentance, and must always accompany our Return to God, if we hope to have it effectual to our Salva
The Ten Com-
See The Daily Self-Examinant or An Earneft Perfuafive to the Duty of Daily Self-Examination, &c, by
54 12 12
98 quilou sta
impartially as is poffible for us, judging as leverely of our own Actions, as we would do of our greatest and wort Enemy or otherwife we shall but flatter and” deceive ourfelves in a Matter of the greatest Weight and Importance, namely, the knowing the State and Condition of our Souls: But if our Enquiries are just and true, we fhall then plainly difcover wherein, and how often we have gone aftray and done amifs. We fhall, by the faithiul Difcharge bthis Duty, bring to Light "all our ungodly, unjuft, and uncharitable Actions; all our vain and filthy "Speeches; all cur wanton, proud and covetous Thoughts." Such a strict and ind partial Examination will discover to us that accurfed Thing, St Deut. vii. 26. which has defiled our Nature, made God our Enemy, and will exclude us the Kingdom of Heaven, it not repented of, 1 Cor. vi. 9, 1o. But by fuch a fevere Scrutiny. as this, we fhall foon perceive the Number of our Tranfgreffi ins, what vile! Wretches and grievous Offenders we are, how often we have broken our most ferious Vows and Refolutions, efpecially after receiving the holy Sacrament, and in Times of Sickness and Diftrets: Such a Sight and fuch a Profpect of Mifery as this, should excite in us a hearty Trouble and Sorrow for Sin; efpecially if we caft an eye upon the final Iflue and Confequences of it, with respect to the World to: come. Upon the Ungodly, fays holy David, God will rain Snaves, Fire and BrimAone, Storm and Tempeft; this fhall be their Portion to drink, Pfalm xi. 7. Great Plagues remain for the Ungodly; Indignation and Wrath, Tribulation and Anguib, upon every Soul of Man that doth Evil, Rom. ii. 8. 9. The Wicked fhall be turned into Hell, and al the People that forget God. Thete, and many other fuch like Texts of Script re, may give us fome Idea or Notion of the deplorable Condition. of the Wicked in a future State, and of God's Hatred agair ft Sin. And is not this then, without multiplying Arguments, fufficient to affect us with great Grief and Sorrow, when we confider that fo long as we live in a vicioas Courte, fo long are we expofed to all thofe Plagues and forments which God hath in Store for wicked Men, and will most certainly be their Lot and Portion, if not prevented by a timely Repentance?
The SECOND Part of a true Repentance is Contrition, or a forrowful Bewailing of our own Sinfulness in Thought, Word and deed. When we call to Mind Contrition the Sins and Follies of our paft Lives, and the Dangers we are like to fall into, furely we cannot be otherwife affected, than fenfibly grieved with the Thoughts and Apprelienfions of our prefent and approaching Mifery. The Sof rows of David, and the Repentance of St. Peter, 1 Sam. xii. Luke xxii. fhewed themselves in Floods of Tears, and were too great to be confined within: But our Hearts are generally fo hard and unrelenting, that we fin against God, and lote our own Souls without fo much as a Sigh or a Tear. I know that the Tempers of People are different; fome can fhed Tears upon every flight occafions and others cannot weep, though their Hearts are ready to break for Grief; and therefore we are not to judge of the Sincerity of cur own or other People's Repentance by fuch
Signs and Tokens ; nor are Tears always neceffary to Repentance, though they very well become us; and the least we can do when we have done amifs, is to be torry for it, and to condemn our Folly, and to be full of Indignation and Dif pleasure against ourf Ives. I will declare my Iniquity, faith holy David, and be forry for my Sin, Pfal. xxxviii. 18. Efpecially if we have been very wicked, ard have multiplied our Franfgreffions, and have continued long in an evil Courfe, have neglected God, and have forgotten him Days without Number; then the Measure of our Sorrow muft bear fome Proportion to the Degrees of our Sins; if they have been as Scarlet and Crimson, Ifa. i. 18. that is, of a deeper Dye than ordinary, then our Sorrow must be as deep as our Guilt: If not fo great, we ought to fhew fo much Trouble and Contrition of Spirit, as to produce in us a penitential Confeffion of all our föriner Sins.
Which is the Third Property of a fincere Repentance. Iwill acknowledge my fin unto thee, fays holy David, and mine Unrighteousness have I not bid. Confeffion faid I will confefs my fins unto the Lord, and fo thou forgaveft the Iniquity ¿ of my fin, Pialm xxxii. 5. Which Confeffion of Sins muft not be in genetal Terms only, that we are Sinners with the reft of Mankind, but it must be a 1pecial Declaration to God of all our moft heinous Sins in Thought, Word and Deed, with all their feveral Aggravations, laying open our Sores to our heavenly Phyfician; and this we must do to fhew that we condemn all our former evil and vicious Courfes, with a full purpose and Refolution of Mind (by God's Atiftance) never to do the like again. Unless this be done, our Sorrow for Sin, and the Confeffion of our Wickednefs, can never profit us in the Sight of God, if it be not joined with a firm refolution of leading a new Life:
A new Life
Which is the Fourth and most effential Part of a fincere Repentance, and the only Condition of finding Mercy with God. He that covereth his Sins all not profper; but while confeffeth and forfaketh them shall have Mercy, Prov. xxviii. 13. Let the wicked Man fortake his Ways, and the unrighteous Man bis Thoughts, and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have Mercy upon him, and to our God, and he will abundantly pardon, Ifa Iv. 7. Itell you nay, faith Chrift, but except ye repent, ye ball all likewife perish, Luke xiii. 3. Repent ye therefore, ana be converted, that your Sins may be blotted out, Acts iii. 19. Thofe preceding Parts of Repentance before-mentioned, are only preparative to this that which must complete and finifh the Work of a new Convert is, to become a new Creature, "to turn from our evil ways, and to break off our Sins by Righteouf"nefs." This certainly must be the Defire and Intention of all Communicants, if they hope or expect any Benefit of Advantage from this folemn Rite or Covenant; for he that comes with a Defign or Intention of continuing in his former Siùs, comes fome what like unto Juda, that came and received, and at the fate Time continued his Refolution of betraying his Mafter. That which makes a Man abfolutely unfit to receive the holy Sacrament, is the living in the conftant and habitual