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the aids of God; and, therefore, it is fit that we expect the changes, and make our judgment by material events, and discerned mutations, before we communicate in these mysteries, in which whoever unworthily does communicate, enters into death.
4. He that hath resolved against all sin, and yet falls into it regularly at the next temptation, is yet in a state of evil, and unworthiness to communicate; because he is under the dominion of sin, he obeys it, though unwillingly; that is, he grumbles at his fetters, but still he is in slavery and bondage. But if, having resolved against all sin, he delights in none, deliberately chooses none, is not so often surprised, grows stronger in grace, and is mistaken but seldom, and repents when he is, and arms himself better, and watches more carefully against all, and increases still in knowledge;-whatever imperfection is still adherent to the man unwillingly, does indeed allay his condition, and is fit to humble and cast him down; but it does not make him unworthy to communicate, because he is in the state of grace; he is in the Christian warfare, and is on God's side: and the holy sacrament, if it have any effect at all, is certainly an instrument or a sign in the hands of God to help his servants, to enlarge his grace, to give more strengths, and to promote them to perfection.
5. But the sum of all is this: he that is not freed from the dominion of sin, he that is not really a subject of the kingdom of grace, he in whose mortal body sin does reign, and the Spirit of God does not reign,-must, at no hand, present himself before the holy table of the Lord: because, whatever dispositions and alterations he may begin to have in order to pardon and holiness, he as yet hath neither, but is God's enemy, and, therefore, cannot receive his holy Son.
6. But because the change is made by parts and effected by the measures of other intellectual and spiritual changes, that is, after the manner of men, from imperfection to perfection by all the intermedial steps of moral degrees, and good and evil, in some periods, have but a little distance, though they should have a great deal; and it is, at first, very hard to know whether it be life or death; and after that, it is still very difficult to know whether it be health or sickness: and dead men cannot eat, and sick men scarce can eat with benefit, at least are to have the weakest and the lowest
diet; and after all this, it is of a consequence infinitely evil, if men eat this supper indisposed and unfit;-it is all the reason of the world that returning sinners should be busy in their repentances, and do their work in the field (as it is in the parable of the Gospel), and in their due time" come home, and gird themselves, and wait upon their Lord;" and when they are bidden and warranted, then to sit down to the supper of their Lord. But, in this case, it is good to be as sure as we can; as sure as the analogy of these divine mysteries require, and as our needs permit.
7. He that hath committed a single act of sin, a little before the communion, ought, for the reverence of the holy sacrament, to abstain, till he hath made proportionable amends. And not only so, but if the sin was inconsistent with the state of grace, and destroyed or interrupted the divine favour, as in cases of fornication, murder, perjury, any malicious or deliberate known great crime, he must comport himself as a person returning from a habit or state of sin. And the reason is, because he that hath lost the divine favour, cannot tell how long he shall be before he recovers it; and, therefore, would do well not to snatch at the portion and food of sons, whilst he hath reason to fear, that he hath the state and calamity of dogs, who are caressed well, if they feed on fragments and crumbs, that are thrown away.
Now this doctrine and these cautions, besides that they are consonant to Scripture and the analogy of this divine sacrament, are nothing else but what was directly the sentiment of all the best, most severe, religious, and devoutest ages of the primitive church. For true it is, the apostles did indefinitely admit the faithful to the holy communion; but they were persons wholly inflamed with those holy fires, which Jesus Christ sent from heaven, to make them burning and shining lights; such which our dearest Lord, with his blood still warm and fresh, filled with his holy love; such whose spirits were so separate from the affections of the world, that they laid their estates at the apostles' feet, and took with joy the spoiling of their goods; such who, by improving the graces they had received, did come to receive more abundantly; and, therefore, these were fit to receive
"the bread of the strong." But this is no invitation for them to come, who feel such a lukewarmness and indifference of spirit and devotion, that they have more reason to suspect it to be an effect of evil life, rather than of infirmity : for them who feel no heats of love but of themselves; for they who are wholly immerged in secular affections and interests; for they who are full of passions and void of grace; these, from the example of the others, may derive caution, but no confidence: so long as they "persevered in the doctrine of the apostles," so long they also did continue" in the breaking of bread and solemn conventions for prayer" for to persevere in the doctrine of the apostles signified à life most exactly Christian; for that was the doctrine apostolical, according to the words of our Lord, “teaching to observe all things which I have commanded you."
And by this method the apostolical churches and their descendants, did administer these holy mysteries; a full and an excellent testimony whereof we have in that excellent book of Ecclesiastical Hierarchy commonly attributed to St. Dionysius: "The church drives from the sacrifice of the temple," meaning the divine sacrament, "such persons for whom it is too sublime and elevated: first, those who are not yet instructed and taught concerning the participation of the mysteries: next, those who are fallen from the holy and Christian state," meaning apostates, and such as have renounced their baptism, or fallen from the grace of it by a state of a deadly sin, or foulest crimes: "Thirdly, those who are possessed with evil spirits: and lastly, those who, indeed, have begun to retire from sin, to a good life, but they are not yet purified from the fantasms and images of their past inordinations, by a divine habitude and love, with purity and without mixture. And to conclude, those who are not yet perfectly united unto God alone, and, to speak according to the style of Scripture, those who are not entirely inculpable and without reproach." And when St. Soter exhorted all persons to receive upon the day of the institution, or the vespers of
'Acts, ii, 48.
d Matt. xxviii.
• Οἱ τῆς ἐναντίας μὲν ἀποστάντες ζωῆς, οὔπω δὲ καὶ τῶν φαντασιῶν αὐτῆς ἕξει καὶ ἔρωτι θείᾳ καὶ ἀμιγεῖ καθαρισθέντες, καὶ μετ ̓ αὐτοὺς, οἱ μὴ καθάπαξ ἐνοειδεῖς, καὶ, νομικᾶς εἰπεῖν, ἄμωμοι καὶ ἀλώβητοι παντελῶς.
the passion, he excepted those who were forbidden, because they had committed any grievous sin.
But what was the doctrine and what were the usages of the primitive church in the ministry of the blessed sacra! ment, appears plainly in the two Epistles of St. Basil to Amphilochius in the Canons of Ancyra, those of Peter of Alexandria, Gregory Thaumaturgus, and Nyssen; which make up the Penitential of the Greek church, and are ex plicated by Balsamo; in which we find sometimes the penance of two years imposed for a single theft; four years, and seven years, for an act of uncleanness; eleven years for perjury; fifteen years for adultery and incest; that is, such persons were for so many years separate from the com munion, and by a holy life, and strict observances of peni tential impositions, were to give testimony of their contrition and amends. The like to which are to be seen in the Penitentials of the western church; that of Theodorus, archbishop of Canterbury, that of Venerable Bede, the old Roman, and that of Rabanus Maurus, archbishop of Mentz: The reason of which severity we find thus accounted in St. Basil: "All this is done, that they may try the fruits of their repentance: for we do not judge of these things by the time, but by the manner of their repentance." For the bishop had power to shorten the days of their separation and abstention; and he that was an excellent penitent, was much sooner admitted; but by the injunction of so long a trial, they declared, that much purification was necessary to such an address. And if after, or in, these penitential years of abstention, they did not mend their lives, though they did perform their penances, they were not admitted. These were but the church's signs; by other accidents and manifestations if it happened that a great contrition was signified, or a secret incorrigibility became public, the church would admit the first sooner, and the latter not at all. For it was purity and holiness that the church required of all her communicants; and what measure of it she required, we find
1Ωστε τοὺς καρποὺς δοκιμάζεσθαι τῆς μετανοίας· οὐ γὰρ πάντως τῷ χρόνῳ κρίνομεν τὰ τοιαῦτα, ἀλλὰ τῷ τρόπῳ τῆς μετανοίας προσέχομεν.—Cap. 2. ad Amphiloch.
κ Ἐὰν δὲ δυσαποσπάστως ἔχονται τῶν ἰδίων ἐθῶν, καὶ ταῖς ἡδοναῖς τῆς σαρκὸς μᾶλλον δουλεύειν θελήσωσιν, ἢ τῷ Κυρίῳ, καὶ τὴν κατὰ τὸ εὐαγγέλιον ζωὴν μὴ παραδέχωνται, oùdels hμïv πgòs aútoùs noivòs λóyog.—Ibid. lib. i. de Bapt. cap. 3.
thus testified: "The faithful which hath been regenerated by baptism, ought to be nourished by the participation of the divine mysteries; and being clothed with Jesus Christ, and having the quality of a child of God, he ought to receive the nutriment of life eternal, which the Son of God himself hath given us and this nutriment is obedience to the word of God, and execution of his will, of which Jesus Christ hath said, Man lives not by bread alone, but my meat is to do my Father's will." And a little after, he affirms, "That whereas St. Paul saith, that Jesus Christ hath appointed us to eat his body, in memory of his death, the true remembrance which we ought to have of his death,' is, to place before our eyes that which the apostle saith, that we were wholly dead, and Jesus Christ died for us, to the end that we should no more live unto ourselves, but to him alone,' and that so we should do him honour, and give him thanks for his death, by the purity of our life; without which, we engage ourselves in a terrible damnation, if we receive the eucharist." And again, "He that, not having this charity which presses us, and causes us to live for him who died for us, dares approach to the eucharist, grieves the Holy Spirit. For it is necessary, that he who comes to the memorial of Jesus Christ, who died and rose again for us, should not only be clean from all impurity of flesh and spirit, but that he should demonstrate the death of him who died and rose for us, by being dead unto sin, to the world, and to himself; and that he lives no more, but only to God, through Jesus Christ." And, therefore, St. Cyprian complains as of a new and worse persecution, that lapsed persons are admitted to the communion, before they have brought forth fruits of a worthy repentance;' and affirms, that "such an admission of sinners is to them, as hail to the young fruits, as a blasting wind to the trees, as the murrain to the cattle, as a tempest to the ships; the ships are overturned and broken, the fruits fall, the trees are blasted, the cattle die: and the poor sinner, by being admitted too soon to the ministries of life, falls into eternal death."- And if we put together some words of St. Ambrose, they clearly declare this doctrine, and are an excellent
h Vide etiam S. Cyprian. lib. de Lapsis, et epist. 28.