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incenfe in us the most implacable Indignation against them; befides that, his fufferings for our Sins, of which this facred Solemnity is a lively Picture, do horribly remonftrate Gods Difpleafure against them, who would not be induced to pardon them upon any meaner Expiation than the Bloud of his Son, than which Hell it felf is not a more dreadful Argument to fcare and terrifie us from them; in a word, befides that, his fo freely fubmitting and offering up himself to be a Propitiation for us, of which this holy Festival is a folemn Commemoration, is an expreffion of Kindneß fufficient to captivate the most ungrateful Souls, and extort Obedience from them; befides all this, I fay, as it is a Feaft upon the Sacrifice of his Body and Bloud, it is a Federal Rite, whereby God and we, by feafting together, do, according to the antient Customs both of Jews and Heathens, mutually oblige our felves to one another; whereby God, by giving us the mystical Bread and Wine, and we by receiving them, do mutually ingage our felves to one another upon thofe facred Pledges of Christ's Body and Bloud, that we will faithfully perform each others Part of that everlasting Covenant which was purchased by him. And what can be a greater Restraint to us when we are folicited to any Sin, than the fenfe of being under fuch a dreadful Vow and Obligation? With what face dare we liften to any Temptation to Evil, when we remember how lately we folemnly ingaged our felves to the contrary,and took the Sacrament upon it? And verily I doubt 'tis this that lies at the bottom of that seeming modeft pretence of unworthineß, which men are wont to urge in Excufe for their
Neglect of the Sacrament; namely, that they love their Lufts, and cannot refolve to part with them, and therefore are afraid to make fuch a folemn Abjuration of them, as the eating and drinking the confecrated Elements implies. And I confefs, if this be their Reason,they are unworthy indeed, the more fhame for them, but 'tis fuch an Unworthineß as is fo far from excufing, that it only aggravates their neglect. For, for any man to plead that he dares not receive the Sacrament because he is refolved to fin on, is to make that which is his Fault, his Apology, and to excufe one Sin with another. Wherefore if we are heartily refolved by the Grace of God to reform and amend, let us abftain no longer from this great Federal Rite, upon Pretence of Unworthineß. For 'tis by the use of this, among other Means, that we are to improve and grow more and more worthy. For the very Repetition of our Refolution, as I have fhewed above, is a proper Means of strengthening and confirming it; and certainly it must needs be much more fo, when 'tis renewed and repeated with the Solemnity of a Sacrament. And therefore it is worth obferving, how much Care our Lord hath taken, in the very conftitution of our Religion, to oblige us to a conftant, folemn Repetition of our good Refolutions. For at our firft entrance into Covenant with him, we are to be baptized, in which Solemnity we do openly renounce the Devil and all his Works, and religiously devote our felves to his fervice. But because we are apt to forget this our Baptifmal Vow, and the Matter of it is continually to be performed, and more than one world depends upon it, therefore he hath thought fit not to
truft wholly to this firft Engagement, but hath fo methodiz'd our Religion, as that we are ever and anon obliged to give him new Security. For which End, he hath inftituted this other Sacrament, which is not like that of Baptifm, to be received by us once for all, but to be often reiterated and repeated, that fo upon the frequent Returns of it, we might still be obliged to repeat over our old Vows of Obedience. For he hath not only injoyned us that we should do this in remembrance of him, Luke xxii. 19. i, e. that we should celebrate this facred Festival in the Memory of his Paffion; but by thus doing the Apostle tells us we are to continue the Memorial of it to the end of the world,or to fhew his death till he comes, 1 Cor.xi.26. And that this doth not, like the Precept of Bap→ tifm, oblige us for once only and no more, is evident from the foregoing words of this laft recited Text, as often as ye eat this Bread and drink this Cup, which plainly fhews, that thefe facramental Elements are to be more than once received by us. 'Tis true, how often 'tis to be done neither Chrift nor his Apostles have any where defined, but if we confult Primitive Example (which in the Abfence of expreß Precept is the best Rule to determine our felves by) we fhall find that it was very frequently received. For from fome Paffages in the Acts of the Apostles, it feems probable that Chriftians did then communicate every Day; as particularly Acts ii. 46. where they are faid to continue daily with one accord in the Temple, and breaking bread, xar' dixov, in the boufe, that is, as it feems probable, in fome upper room of the Temple; though perhaps this daily may refer only to the X 3
Lords Day, agreeable to that Acts xx. 7. on the first day of the week when the Difciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them. But it's certain that whenfoever they affembled to the publick Worship, they closed it with the Lords Supper; which they did for a great while in the Western Churches every day in the Week,and in the Eastern, as St. Bafil tells us, Epift. 289. four times a Week, befides Festivals. So that allowing for our Declenfions from the Primitive Zeal and Devotion, one would think that to communicate now once in four Weeks should be a very moderate Proportion. But as for thofe that wholly neglect this facred Inftitution, for my own part I fee not how they can excufe themselves from being guilty of a wilful Rebellion against their Saviour, or with what Confidence they can expect either that he should assist them with his Grace on the Way, or crown them with his Salvation in the End, when they fo perverfly turn their backs upon an Ordinance which he hath folemnly inftituted for a Conveyance of the one, and a Seal of the other.
But would we take that Care that becomes us, to prepare our felves for, and frequent his holy Inftitution, there is no doubt but we should find it of mighty Advantage to us in the whole Courfe of our Religion. For till we are arrived to a confirmed State of Good, our holy Fervours will be very apt to cool, our good Purposes to flacken and unwind, and our vertuous Endeavours to languifh and tire; and therefore unless we take care frequently to revive our Religion with this spiritual Repast and Restorative, and ftill to add new Fewel to it as the Flame decays, it will quickly pine away
and expire. But if upon the folemn Returns of this facred Festival, we would conftantly come with due Preparation to our Masters Table, and here renew our Vows, re-invigorate our refolutions, repair our Decays, and put our fluggish Graces into a new Fermentation, we fhould find our Religion not only live, but thrive, and be ftill acquiring new Degrees of Strength and Activity. But because this Argument hath been already fo fully handled in our Practical Treatifes, particularly by the Reverend Dr. Patrick in his Menfa Myftica and Christian Sacrifice, I shall refer the Reader thither for the farther Confideration of it.
And thus, with all the Brevity I could, I have indeavoured to give an Account of thofe Duties which are neceffary in the Course and Progreß of our Christian Warfare.
Containing certain Motives to animate men against the Difficulty of thefe Duties which appertain to the Course of our Christian Warfare.
How neceffary and useful to us thofe aforenamed Duties are, in the Course of our Chriftian Warfare, hath been fufficiently fhewn. So that now there is nothing that our Sloth and Unwillingneß can object against them, but only this, that they are very difficult, and do require more of our Time, and Care, and Pains than we can conveniently fpare from our other necessary Occafions; that the Practice of them is fo unpleasant and