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not this, for it is poison,' hath given me a law and an affrightment, and I dare not disobey him, if I believe him; and if we did believe St. Paul, I suppose we should as little dare to be damned, as to be poisoned. Our blessed Saviour told us, that "with what measures we mete to others, it shall be measured to us again;" but who almost believes this, and considers what it means? Will you be content, that God should despise you as you despise your brother? that he should be as soon angry with you, as you are with him? that he should strike you as hastily, and as seldom pardon you, and never bear with your infirmities, and as seldom interpret fairly what you say or do, and be revenged as frequently as you would be? And what think we of these sayings, "Into the heavenly Jerusalem there shall, in no wise, enter any thing that defileth, or profaneth; neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie?" Do men believe God, and yet, doing these things, hope to be saved for all these terrible sayings? "Now the works of the flesh are manifest, adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, &c. of which I tell you before, that they which do such things, shall not inherit the kingdom of God." Certainly if we did believe that these things are spoken in earnest, we should not account fornication such a decent crime, so fashionable and harmless; or make such a may-game of the fearful lectures of damnation. For, if these words be true, will men leave their sins, or are they resolved to suffer damuation, as being less troublesome than to quit their vain mistresses? surely that is not it; but they have some little subterfuges and illusions to trust to. They say, they will rely upon God's mercy.' Well they may; if," in well doing, they commit their souls. to him as to a faithful Creator:" but will they make God their enemy, and then trust in him, while he remains so? That will prove an intolerable experiment; for so said God, when he caused his name to be proclaimed to the host of Israel; "The Lord God merciful and gracious:" he caused to be added, "and that will by no means quit the guilty." By no means? No, by no means; let us believe that as well as the other. For the passion of our Redeemer, the intercession of our high priest, the sacraments of the church, the body
Matt. vii. 2.
h Rev. xxi. 27.
i Gal. v. 21.
and blood of Christ, the mercies of God, the saying, "Lord, Lord,' the privileges of Christians, and the absolution of the priest, none of all this, and all this together, shall do him no good that remains guilty; that is, who is impenitent, and does not forsake his sin. If we had faith we should believe this, and should not dare to come to the holy communion with an actual guiltiness of many crimes, and in confidence of pardon, against all the truth of divine revelations, and, therefore, without faith.
But then here we may consider, that no man, in this case, can hope to be excused from the necessities of a holy life, upon pretence of being saved by his faith. For if the case be thus, these men have it not. For he that believes in God, believes his words, and they are very terrible to all evil persons; for "in Christ Jesus nothing can avail but a new creature, nothing but keeping the commandments of God, nothing but faith working by charity," they are the words of God. Wicked men, therefore, can never hope to be saved by their faith, or by their faith to be worthy communicants, for they have it not. Who then can?
He only, by his faith, is worthily disposed to the communion, and by his faith can be saved,-who, by his faith, lives a life of grace, whose faith is to him a magazine of holy principles, whose faith endears obedience, and is the nurse of a holy hope, and the mother of a never-failing charity. He shall be saved by his faith, who by his faith is more than conqueror, who resists the devil, and makes him fly, and gives laws to his passions, and makes them obedient: who, by his faith, overcomes the world, and removes mountains, the mountains of pride and vanity, ambition, and secular designs, and whose faith casteth out devils, the devil of lust, and the devil of intemperance, the spirit that appears like a goat, and the spirit that comes in the shape of a swine: he whose faith opens the blind man's eyes, and makes him to see the things of God, and cures the lame hypocrite, and makes him to walk uprightly. "For these signs shall follow them that believe," said our blessed Saviourk; and by these, as by the wedding garment, we are fitted to this heavenly supper of the king. In short, for whatever end faith is
* Mark, xvi. 17, 18.
designed, whatever propositions it tends to persuade, to what duties soever it does engage, to what state of things soever it ought to efform us, and whithersoever the nature and intention of the grace does drive us,-thither we must go, that we must do, all those things we must believe, and to that end we must direct all our actions and designs. For the nature of faith discovers itself in the affairs of our religion as in all things: if we believe any thing to be good, we shall labour for it; if we think so, we shall do so. And if we run after the vanities of the world, and neglect our interest of heaven, there is no other account to be given of it, but because we do not believe the threatenings and the laws of God; or that heaven is not so considerable' as those sottish pleasures and trifling regards, for which all pains is too much, though we think all labour and all passion is too little. PlutarchTM tells, that when Poverty desired to have a child, she lay with the god Porus, their god of plenty, and she proved with child, and brought forth Love: by which they intended to represent the nature of the divine love; it is born of a rich father, and a poor mother; that is, it proceeds from a contempt of the world, and a value of God, an emptiness of secular affections, and a great estimate of wisdom and religion.
But therefore it is, that God and the fruits of his garden, and the wealth of his treasure, and the meat of his table, and the graces of his Spirit, are not gustful and delicious, because we dote upon mushrooms and coloquintida. But as manna was given in the desert, and it became pleasant when they had nothing else to eat, so it is in the sweetnesses of religion: we cannot live by faith, and rejoice in the banquets of our Saviour, unless our souls dwell in the wilderness; that is, where the pleasures and appetites of the world may not prepossess our palates, and debauch our reasonings". And this was mysteriously spoken by the psalmist, "The broad places of the wilderness shall wax fat, and the hill shall be encircled with joy;" that is, whatsoever is barren and desolate, not full
1 ὅσον γὰς τίμιόν ἐστι τὸ πιστευόμενον, τοσοῦτον ἀγαπητόν.—Just. Murt.
· τὴν Πενίαν (λέγων), τέκνων δεομένην, τῷ Πόρῳ καθεύδοντι παρακλιθῆναι, καὶ κυάσασαν ἐξ αὐτοῦ τεκεῖν τὸν ̓́Ερωτα, φύσει μακρὸν ὄντα καὶ παντοδαπὸν, ἅτε δὴ πατρὸς μὲν ἀγαθοῦ καὶ σοφοῦ καὶ πᾶσιν αὐτάρκους, μητρὸς δὲ ἀμηχάνου καὶ ἀπόρου, κ. τ. λ.--De રે Isid. et Osir. Xyl. t. ii. pag. 374. D. (J. R. P.)
"Delicata est Divina consolatio, quæ non datur admittentibus alienam. -S. Bernard.
of the things and affections of the world, shall be inebriated with the pleasures of religion, and rejoice in sacraments, in faith and holy expectation. But the love of money, and the love of pleasures, are the intrigues and fetters to the understanding. But he only is a faithful man who restrains his passions, and despises the world, and rectifies his love, that he may believe aright, and put that value upon religion as that it become the satisfaction of our spirit, and the great object of all our passionate desires: pride and prejudice are the parents of misbelief, but humility and contempt of the world first bear faith upon their knees, and then upon their hands.
Of the proper and specific Work of Faith in the Reception of the Holy Communion.
HERE I am to inquire into two practical questions. 1. What stress is to be put upon faith in this mystery: that is, How much is every one bound to believe in the article of this sacrament, before he can be accounted competently prepared in his understanding, and by his faith?
2. What is the use of faith in the reception of the blessed sacrament? and in what sense, and to what purposes, and with what truth it is said, that, in the holy sacrament, we receive Christ by faith?
How much every Man is bound to believe of this Mystery.
If I should follow the usual opinions, I should say, that, to this preparatory faith, it is necessary to believe all the niceties and mysteriousness of the blessed sacrament. Men have introduced new opinions, and turned the key in this lock so often, till it cannot be either opened or shut; and
• Frænentur ergo corporum cupidines,
Prudent. in Cathemerin.
they have unravelled the clue so long, till they have entangled it. And not only reason is made blind by staring at what she never can perceive, but the whole article of the sacrament is made an objection and temptation even to faith itself. And such things are taught by some churches and some schools of learning, which no philosophy did ever teach, no religion did ever reveal, no prophet ever preach, and which no faith can ever receive: I mean it in the prodigious article of transubstantiation;' which I am not here a to confute, but to reprove upon practical considerations, and to consider those things that may make us better, and not strive to prevail in disputation. That, therefore, we may know the proper offices of faith in the believing what relates to the holy sacrament, I shall describe it in several propositions.
1. It cannot be the duty of faith to believe any thing against our sense; what we see and taste to be bread, what we see and taste and smell to be wine, no faith can engage us to believe the contrary. For, by our senses, Christianity itself and some of the greatest articles of our belief were known by them, who from that evidence conveyed them to us by their testimony; and if the perception of sense were not finally to be relied upon, miracles could never be a demonstration, nor any strange event prove an unknown proposition; for the miracle can never prove the article, unless our eyes or hands approve the miracle; and the divinity of Christ's person, and his mission and his power, could never have been proved by the resurrection, but that the resurrection was certain and evident to the eyes and hands of so many witnesses. Thus Christ to his apostles proved himself to be no spirit, by exposing his flesh and bones to be felt and he wrought faith in St. Thomas by his fingers' ends; the wounds that he saw and felt, were the demonstrations of his faith. And in the primitive church, the Valentinians and Marcionites, who said Christ's body was fantastical, were confuted by no other argument but of sense. For sense is the evidence of the simple, and the confirmation of the wise: it can confute all pretences, and reprove all deceitful subtilties it turns opinion into knowledge, and doubts into cer
b 1 John, i. 1, 2, 3.
* Vide Real Presence' per totum.