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danger, for the eviction of all the powers of the enemy: as an incentive of holy love, and a strengthening of my faith for the increasing of a holy hope, and the consummation of a heavenly love; that, thou being one with me, and I with thee, I may, by thee, be gracious in the eyes of thy heavenly Father, and may receive my portion among the inheritance of sons, O eternal and most gracious Saviour and Redeemer Jesus. Amen, Amen.
OF OUR COMPORTMENT IN AND AFTER OUR RECEIVING THE BLESSED SACRAMENT.
SECTION I. ...
Of the Circumstances and Manner of Reception of the Divine Mysteries.
It is the custom of the church of great antiquity, and proportionable regard, that every Christian, that is in health, should receive the blessed sacrament fasting. The apostles and primitive bishops at first gave it after supper, or together with it; but that soon passed into inconvenience; and some were drunken, and some were empty and despised, and the holy sacrament was dishonoured, and the Lord's body was not discerned; and God was provoked to anger, and the sinners were smitten and died in their sin; as appears in the sad narrative which St. Paula makes of the misdemeanors and the misfortunes in the Corinthian churches. Something like to which, is that, which Socrates tells of Christians in Egypt; they celebrated the holy communion at evening, but never" till they had filled themselves with varieties of choice meat"." Of some also in Africa that communicated at evening, St. Austin speaks; and of others who communicated both morning and evening; at evening, because St. Paul called it devov Kupiaxov, The Lord's Supper;' and in the
a 1 Cor. xi. 21, 30.
b Navrolwv ideoμáræv éμpogndívtes. →→ Socrat. lib. v. epist. 118. ad Januar.
morning, from the universal custom of the church, which, in most places, from the very days of the apostles, prevailed, that the holy eucharist should be given to none, but to them that were fasting.-Which thing was also decreed in the third council of Carthage, and hath been observed ever since. And in this the church hath, not without good reason, taken up the custom.
For besides that the intemperance of them, that feasted before they communicated, did not only give scandal to the religion, but did infinitely indispose them that came, and dishonour the divine mysteries; and such feastings would for ever be a temptation and a snare, and therefore could not be cured so well, as by taking the occasion away;besides these things, the church observed, that, in the time of the synagogue, the servants of God did religiously abstain from meat and drink upon all their solemn feast-days, till their great offices of religion were finished: and, that upon this account, the Jews were scandalized at the disciples for eating the ears of corn early on the sabbath; and Christ excused them only upon the reason of their hunger, that is, upon necessity or charity. And after all, even by natural reason and experience we find, that they pray and worship best, who are not loaden with meat and drink; and that, therefore, this solemnity, being the greatest worship of God in the whole religion, consequently ought to be done with all advantages. It was, therefore, very reasonable, that the church took up this custom; and, therefore, they who causelessly do prevaricate it, shall bear their own burden, and are best reproved by St. Paul's words, "We have no such custom, nor the churches of God." But sick people and the weak, are as readily to be excused in this thing, as the apostles were, by Christ, in the case before mentioned for necessity and charity are to be preferred before such ceremonies and circumstances of address.
1. When you awake in the morning of your communionday, give God thanks particularly, that he hath blessed thee with so blessed an opportunity of receiving the symbols of pardon, the ministry of the Spirit, the sacrament of Christ
• Ut sacramenta altaris non nisi a jejunis hominibus celebrentur, excepto uno die anniversario, quo cœna Domini celebratur.- Vide Zonar, in hunc Canon. et Concil. Matiscon. 2. et Petrum Abailardum epist. 8.
himself, the seed of immortality, and the antepast of heaven; and hasten earlier out of your bed. The cock crowing that morning, is like the noise that is made of the coming of the bridegroom, and therefore go out to meet him; but rise that you may trim your lamp. When you are up, presently address yourself to do such things, as you would willingly be found doing, when the bridegroom calls, and you are to appear before him, to hear your final sentence.
2. Make a general confession of your sins, and be very much humbled in the sense and apprehension of them. Compare the state and union of all your evils, with the state and grandeur of that favour, which God intends that day to consign to you; and then think what you are, and what God is; what you have done, and what God intends to do; how ill you have deserved, and yet how graciously you are dealt with. And consider what an infinite distance there is between that state which you have deserved, and that good which you are to have; by considering how intolerable your case would have been, if God had dealt with you as you deserve, and as he hath dealt with very many, who sinned no more than you have done; and yet in what felicities you are placed by the mercies of your good God; that you are in hopes, and in the methods, and in the participations, of pardon and eternal life.
3. The effect of this consideration ought to be, that you make acts of general contrition, for all your sins known and unknown. That you renew your purposes and vows of better obedience that you exercise acts of special graces; and that you give God most hearty and super-exalted thanks, with all the transports and ravishments of spirit, for so unspeakable, so unmeritable, so unrewardable a loving-kindness.
4. Worship Jesus: love him; dedicate thyself to him: recollect what he hath done for thy soul, what glories he laid aside, with what meanness he was invested, what pains he suffered, what shame he endured, what excellencies he preached, what wisdom he taught, what life he lived, what death he died, what mysteries he hath appointed, by what ministries he conveys himself to thee, what rare arts he uses to save thee, and after all, that he intercedes for thee perpetually in heaven, presenting to his heavenly Father that
great sacrifice of himself, which he finished on the cross, and commands thee to imitate in this divine and mysterious sacrament; and in the midst of these thoughts, add proportionable exercises and devotions, address thyself to the solemnities and blessings of the day.
5. Throw away, with great diligence and severity, all unholy and all earthly thoughts; and think the thoughts of heaven for when Christ descends, he comes attended with innumerable companies of angels, who all behold and wonder, who love and worship Jesus; and in this glorious employment and society, let thy thoughts be pure, and thy mind celestial, and thy work angelical, and thy spirit full of lovė,→ and thy heart, of wonder; thy mouth all praises, investing and encircling thy prayers, as a bright cloud is adorned with fringes and margins of light.
6. When thou seest the holy man minister, disputé no more, inquire no more, doubt no more, be divided no more; but believe, and behold with the eyes of faith and of the spirit, that thou seest Christ's body broken upon the cross, that thou seest him bleeding for thy sins, that thou feedest upon the food of elect souls, that thou puttest thy mouth to the hole of the rock that was smitten, to the wound of the side of the Lord, which being pierced, streamed forth sacraments, and life, and holiness, and pardon, and purity, and immortality, upon thee.
7. When the words of institution are pronounced, all the Christians used to say Amen;' giving their consent, confessing that faith, believing that word, rejoicing in that mystery which is told us, when the minister of the sacra ment, in the person of Christ, says, "This is my body, this is my blood; this body was broken for you, and this blood was poured forth for you; and all this for the remission of your sins." And remember, that the guilt of eternal damnation, which we have all incurred, was a great and an intolerable evil, and unavoidable, if such miracles of mercy had not been wrought to take it quite away: and that it was a very great love, which would work such
4 8. Cyprian, de cœna Dom. 'sanguinem sugimus,' &c.
• Πᾶς ὁ παρὼν λαὸς ἐπευφημεῖ λέγων, ̓Αμήν. --- Justin. Martyr.
a glorious mercy, rather than leave us in so intolerable a condition. A greater love than this could not be; and a less love than this could not have rescued us.
8. When the holy man reacheth forth his hands upon the symbols, and prays over them, and intercedes for the sins of the people, and breaks the holy bread, and pours forth the sacred chalice, place thyself, by faith and meditation, in heaven, and see Christ doing, in his glorious manner, this very thing which thou seest ministered and imitated upon the table of the Lord; and then remember, that it is impossible thou shouldest miss of eternal blessings, which are so powerfully procured for thee by the Lord himself; unless thou wilt despise all this, and neglect so great salvation, and choosest to eat, with swine, the dirty pleasures of the earth, rather than thus to feast with saints and angels, and to eat the body of thy Lord, with a clean heart and humble affections.
9. When the consecrating and ministering hand reaches forth to thee the holy symbols, say within thy heart, as did the centurion, Lord, I am not worthy;' but entertain thy Lord as the women did the news of the resurrection, "with fear and great joys;" or, as the apostles, "with rejoicing and singleness of heart";" that is, clear, certain, and plain believing, and with exaltation and delight in the lovingkindness of the Lord.
10. But place thyself upon thy knees, in the humblest and the devoutest posture of worshippers, and think not much in the lowest manner to worship the King of men and angels, the Lord of heaven and earth, the great Lover of souls, and the Saviour of the body; Him whom all the angels of God worship; Him whom thou confessest worthy of all, and whom all the world shall adore, and before whom they shall tremble at the day of judgment. For if Christ be
Illud quæso, vir sapientissime, ipsa re approbes; quis sit iste Deus, quem vobis Christiani quasi proprium vendicatis, et in locis abditis præsertim vos videre componitis? dixit Maximus Medaurensis in epist. ad S. Augustinum, tom. ii. epist. 43. post medium.
Β Μετὰ φόβου καὶ χαρᾶς μεγάλης. Matt. xxviii. 8.
h Acts, ii. 46. Atque illud etiam scire cupio, quo consilio, aut quâ mente feceris in epulo, ut Q. Arrii familiaris mei, cum togâ pullâ accumberes? quis unquam cœnavit atratus? Cicer. in Vatin. c. 12. Qui potui (dixit Aaron) cum tristis fuerim, offerre sacrificium?