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HOW A CHRISTIAN OUGHT TO PREPARE HIMSELF
FOR THIS SACRAMENT.
S the above account of this holy Ordinance is easy
to be understood, even by the most unlearned Christian, so the preparation required is such as will neither puzzle the understanding, nor burden the memory, nor take up too much of the time of those that are engaged in the most necessary employments of life.
The Church had regard to all her members, when she gave this short and plain direction to such as prepare to go to the Lord's Supper :
That they examine themselves,
“Whether they repent them truly of their former sins?”
“Whether they stedfastly purpose to lead a new life?"
“Whether they have a lively faith in God's mercy through Christ ?”
“Whether they have a thankful remembrance of His death?" And,
“Whether they be in charity with all men ?”
Now, forasmuch as all Christians, who are capable of examining themselves and their own consciences, are bound, as they hope for salvation through Christ, to go to this Sacrament; and because young people are often at a loss how to examine themselves upon these several heads: here follow a few plain directions, which they that can read should read with care, and
they that cannot, if they have a true concern for themselves, will find some good Christian who will be glad to read it to them, and do thereby a work which must be well-pleasing to God.
The first head on which you are to examine yourself is
CONCERNING YOUR REPENTANCE.
By what you have already heard concerning the fall of man, you understand how all men became subject and prone to sin, and you cannot but feel it to be so by sad experience. We are assured also, and this by the Spirit of God, that without a sincere repentance no man must hope to be saved.
Now, by repentance you are to understand a man's condemning himself for having done anything displeasing to God, either such things as God has forbidden to keep us from ruining ourselves, or by omitting such duties as He has commanded in order to fit us for happiness when we die.
So that if either the fear of God's displeasure, or a love of Him who has been so good to you, will weigh with you, you will most heartily condemn yourself for everything you have done contrary to His will and command. You will also beg Him most earnestly to forgive you what is past, and you will promise and resolve, through His grace and help, not wilfully to offend Him again. And lastly, you will not forget to pray for His grace every day of your life, without which your best resolutions will come to nothing.
This is that repentance, concerning which you are required to examine yourself, before you go to the Lord's Supper.
Most people, it is true, are ready to own that they
are sinners, and cry, Lord, forgive us; and this too often without any great concern or purposes of amend. ment. But this you will not think sufficient when you seriously consider that the end and punishment of sin are not to be seen in this life.
If therefore you stand in any fear of the judgment of God, set yourself seriously to consider your past life; see whether you have not lived, or do not now live, in any known sin or evil habit; for example, of lying, or swearing, or drinking, or filthy talking; of uncleanness, of keeping loose and profane company, of foilowing unwarrantable pleasures and diversions, or of leading an idle, useless, sinful life.
If this has been your case, resolve to break off all these, and all such like evil ways which are displeasing to God; condemn yourself for having so desperately broken the commands of One who can destroy both body and soul in hell. Consider the vows that are upon you, and despise not the goodness and forbearance of God, which is designed to lead you to repentance.
If you ask when you are to begin this necessary work (if it is not already begun), the answer is short. The very moment you ask the question; and this because if you find an unwillingness in your self to set about it now, that unwillingness will every day in
Very probably you will never repent, unless God, by His judginents or by the sight of death, shows you your sad error, when it may be too late to be of any real use to you.
Now, if these considerations affect your heart, as sure they will if
you have any regard for your salvation, represent your desires to God in some such words as these following:
The Prayer. BL
LESSED be God, who by His grace, and by the
voice of His Church, hath called me to repentance ! Discover to me, 0 Thou searcher of hearts, the charge that is against me, that I may know, and confess, and forsake, the sins I have fallen into. Give me that true repentance to which Thou hast promised mercy and pardon, that I may amend where I have done amiss, and that iniquity may not be my ruin. And, O blessed Advocate, who ever livest to make intercession for us, I put my cause into Thy hands; let Thy blood and merits plead for me, and by Thy mighty intercession procure for me the pardon of my past offences; that Thou mayest say unto me, as Thou didst unto the penitent in the Gospel, Thy sins are forgiven ; so that I may go with a quiet conscience to Thy holy table. Amen.
CONCERNING THE PURPOSES YOU ARE TO MAKE, OF
LEADING A NEW; THAT IS, A CHRISTIAN LIFE.
IN the first place, take especial
notice that God accepts of may afterwards glorify Him by a holy Christian life.
And as He delivered the people of Israel from bondage, not that they might do what was right in their own eyes, but that, becoming a holy nation, they might be an honour to their Deliverer; even so Christ has redeemed us froin the bondage of sin and Satan, that He might redeem us from this present evil world, and purify unto Himself a people zealous of good works,
And as the former perished; that is, all such as did not answer the end of their deliverance, so most surely shall we do if we do not obey our Redeemer.
Your duty to God, your neighbour, and yourself, you have known from a child; be assured of it, you will meet with temptations from the devil, the world, and your own corrupt heart, both to neglect and transgress the commands of God.
It will be absolutely necessary therefore that you arm yourself betimes, both with holy resolutions and with this holy Ordinance, which you are preparing to go to, that you may be able, through the grace of God, to go on in the way of salvation.
Now YOUR DUTY TO God is, To believe in Him, to fear, and to love Him, with all your heart and soul; forasmuch as you stand indebted to Him for all you have, or value, or hope for in this or the next life.