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epithets and appellatives, which from antiquity I have enumerated.
6. He that desires to enter furthest into the secrets of this mystery, and to understand more than others, can better learn by love than by inquiry." He that keepeth the law of the Lord, getteth the understanding thereof," saith the wise Bensirach; if he will prepare himself diligently, and carefully observe the dispensations of the Spirit, and receive it humbly, and treat it with great reverence, and dwell in the communion of saints, and pass through the mystery with great devotion and purest simplicity, and converse with the purities of the sacrament frequently, and with holy intention, -this man shall understand more by his experience, than the greatest clerks can by all their subtilties, the commentaries of the doctors, and the glosses of inquisitive men; "Obey and ye shall understand," said the prophet: and our blessed Saviour assured us, "that if we continue in his word, then we shall know the truth; and if any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine whether it be of God. or no."-" For we have not turned from our iniquities, that we might understand the truth," said Daniel:-" For the love of the Lord," saith the wise man", "passeth all things for illumination."
7. Let no man advance the preaching of the word of God, to the disparagement, or to occasion the neglect, of the sacraments. For though it be true, that faith comes by hearing,' yet it is not intended, that, by hearing alone, faith is engendered; for the faith of the apostles came by seeing; and St. Paul's faith did not come by hearing, but by intuition and revelation; and hearing,' in those words of St. Paul, does not signify the manner of ministration, but the whole economy of the word of God, the whole office of preaching; which is done most usually to babes and strangers by sermon or homily, but more gloriously and illustriously to men by
1 Nam animalis homo, hoc est, qui sequitur cogitationes humanas et animales sive naturales, non est capax eorum, quæ sunt supra naturam et spiritualium, atque ita et spiritualem esum carnis Dominicæ non intelligit; cujus qui non sunt participes, non erunt participes æternæ vitæ.-Theophylact. in cap. 6. Joh.
Ecclus. xxi. 11.
Ecclus. xxv. 11.
John, viii. 31, 32.
☐ 1 John, i. 1.
sacraments. But however, be it so or otherwise, yet one ordinance ought not to exclude the other, much less to disparage the other, and least of all to undervalue that which is the most eminent: but rather let every Christian man and woman think, that if the word ministered by the Spirit is so mighty, it must be more, when the word and the Spirit join with the sacrament, which is their proper significatory. He that is zealous for the word of God, does well; but let him remember, that the word of God is a goodly ring, and leads us into the circles of a blessed eternity; but because the sacrament is not without the word, they are a jewel enchased in gold when they are together. The ministries of the Gospel are all of a piece; they, though in several manners, work the same salvation by the conduct of the same Spirit.
8. Let no man, in the reception of the sacrament, and in his expectation of blessings and events from it, limit his hopes and belief to any one particular; for that will occasion a littleness of faith, and may make it curious, scrupulous, and fantastical:- rather let us adore the secret of God, and with simple expectations receive it; disposing ourselves to all the effects that may come, rather with fear and indefinite apprehensions, than with dogmatical and confident limitations; for this may beget scruples and diminution of value; but that hinders nothing, but advances the reverential treatments and opinion.
9. He that guesses at the excellency and power of the sacrament, by the events that himself feels, must be sure to look for no other than what are eminently or virtually contained in it; that is, he must not expect that the sacrament will make him rich, or discover to him stolen goods, or cure the toothach, or countercharm witches, or appease a tempest, if it be thrown into the sea. These are such events that God hath not made the effects of religion, but are the hopes and expectations of vain and superstitious people. And I remember that pope Alexander III., in the council of Lateran, wrote to the bishop of St. Agatha for advice how to treat a woman who took the holy sacrament into her mouth, and ran with it to kiss her husband, hoping, by that means, to procure her husband's more intense affection. But the
• Concil. Lat. part. 50. cap. 30.
story tells, that she was chastised by a miracle, and was not cured but by a long and severe repentance.
10. He that watches for the effects and blessings of the sacrament, must look for them in no other manner than what is agreeable to the usual dispensation. We must not look for them by measures of nature and usual expectation: not that as soon as we have received the symbols, we shall have our doubts answered; or be comforted in our spirit, as soon as we have given thanks for the holy blood; or be satisfied in the inquiries of faith, as soon as the prayers of consecration and the whole ministry is ended; or prevail in our most passionate desires, as soon as we rise from our knees; for we enter into the blessings of the sacrament by prayer, and the exercise of proper graces; both which, being spiritual instruments of virtues, work after the manner of spiritual things; that is, not by any measure we have, but as God pleases; only that in the last event of things, and when they are necessary, we shall find them there: God's time is best, but we must not judge his manner by our measures, nor measure eternity by time, or the issues of the Spirit by a measuring line. The effects of the sacrament are to be expected as the effect of prayers: not one prayer, or one solemn meeting, but persevering and passionate, fervent and lasting prayers; and continual desire, and a daily address, is the way of prevailing. "In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thy hand, for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they shall be both alike good "."
11. He that looks for the effects and blessings told of to be appendant to the sacrament, must expect them upon no other terms, but such as are the conditions of a worthy communion. If thou dost find thy faith as dead after the recep tion as it was before, it may be, it is because thy faith was not only little, but reprovable; or thou didst not pray vehemently, or thou art indisposed by some secret disad vantage, or thou hast not done thy duty; and he shall imprudently accuse that physic for useless and unfit, that is not suffered to work by the incapacity, the ill diet, the weak stomach, or some evil accident of the patient.
P Eccles. xi.
12. Let no man judge of himself, or of the blessings and efficacy of the sacrament itself, or of the prosperity and acceptation of his service in this ministry,-by any sensible relish, by the gust and deliciousness, which he sometimes perceives, and other times does not perceive. For these are fine accidents, and given to some persons often,- to others, very seldom, to all, irregularly, -as God pleases; and sometimes are the effects of natural and accidental dispositions, and sometimes are illusions. But that no man may fall into inconvenience for want of them, we are to consider, that the want of them proceeds from divers causes. 1. It may be, the palate of the soul is indisposed by listlessness or sorrow, anxiety or weariness. 2. It may be, we are too much immerged in secular affairs and earthly affections 3. Or we have been unthankful to God, when we have received some of these spiritual pleasures, and he, therefore, withdraws those pleasant entertainments. 4. Or, it may be, we are therefore without relish and gust, because the sacrament is too great for our weakness,—like the bright sun to a mortal eye, the object is too big for our perceptions, and our little faculties. 5. Sometimes God takes them away, lest we be lifted up and made vain. 6. Sometimes for the confirmation and exercise of our faith; that we may live by faith and not by sense. 7. Or, it may be, that by this dryness of spirit God intends to make us the more fervent and resigned in our direct and solemn devotions, by the perceiving of our wants and weakness, and in the infinite inability, and insufficiency of ourselves. 8. Or else it happens to us irremediably and inevitably, that we may perceive these accidents are not the fruits of our labour, but gifts of God, dispensed wholly by the measures of his own choice. 9. The want of just and severe dispositions to the holy sacrament may, possibly, occasion this uncomfortableness. 10. Or we do not relish the divine nutriment now, so as at other times, for want of spiritual mastication; that is, because we have not considered deeply, and meditated wisely and holily. 11. Or there is in us too much self-love, and delight in, and adherence to, the comforts we find in other objects. 12. Or we are careless of little sins, and give too much way to the daily incursions of the smaller irregularities of our lives. If, upon the occasion of the want of these sensible comforts and
delightful relishes, we examine the causes of the want, and suspect ourselves in these things, where our own faults may be the causes, and there make amends,-or if we submit our selves in those particulars, where the causes may relate to God, we shall do well, and receive profit. But unless our own sin be the cause of it, we are not to make any evil judgment of ourselves, by reason of any such defect; much less diminish our great value of the blessings consequent to a worthy communion.
13. But because the pardon of sins is intended to be the great effect of a worthy communion, and of this men are more solicitous, and for this they pray passionately, and labour earnestly, and almost all their lives, and, it may be, in the day of their death, have uncertain souls: and, therefore, of this, men are most desirous to be satisfied, if they apprehend themselves in danger; that is, if they be convinced of their sin, and be truly penitent, although this effect seems to be least discernible, and to be a secret reserved for the publication and trumpet of the archangel at the day of doom; yet in this we can best be satisfied. For because when our sins are unpardoned, we are under the wrath of God, to be expressed as he pleases, and in the method of eternal death;—now if God intends not to pardon us, he will not bless the means of pardon; if we shall not return to his final pardon, if we shall not pass through the intermedial, if he will never give us glory, he will never give us the increase of grace. If, therefore, we repent of our sins, and pray for pardon; if we confess them and forsake them; if we fear God and love him; if we find that our desires to please him do increase, that we are more watchful against sin, and hate it more; that we are thirsty after righteousness; if we find that we increase in duty; then we may look upon the tradition of the holy sacramental symbols as a direct consignation of pardon. Not that it is then completed; for it is a work of time; it is as long in doing as repentance is in perfecting; it is the effect of that, depending on its cause in a perpetual operation, but it is then working; and if we go on in duty, God will proceed to finish methods of his grace, and snatch us from eternal death, which we have deserved, and bring us unto glory. And