Page images
PDF
EPUB

4. Nor is it any other than impious profanation of these sacred mysteries, for the priest to constrain or suffer notoriously ignorant, and ungodly persons, to receive them; either to make themselves believe that they are indeed the children of God, or to be a means which ungodly men should use to make them godly, or which infidels or impenitent persons must use to help them to repentance and faith in Christ. For though there is that in it which may become a means of their conversion, (as a thief that stealeth a bible or sermon book, may be converted by it,) yet is it not to be used by the receiver to that end. For that were to tell God a lie, as the means of their conversion; for whosoever cometh to receive a sealed pardon, doth thereby profess repentance, as also by the words adjoined he must do; and whosoever taketh, and eateth, and drinketh the bread and wine, doth actually profess thereby, that he taketh and applieth Christ himself by faith: and therefore, if he do neither of these, he lieth openly to God; and lies and false covenants are not the appointed means of conversion. Not that the minister is a liar in his delivery of it: for he doth but conditionally seal and deliver God's covenant and benefits to the receiver, to be his, if he truly repent and believe : but the receiver himself lieth, if he do not actually repent and believe, as he there professeth to do.

5. Also it is an impious profanation of the sacrament, if any priest for the love of filthy lucre, shall give it to those that ought not to receive it, that he may have his fees or offerings; or, that the priest may have so much money that is bequeathed for saying a mass for such or such a soul.

6. And it is an odious profanation of the sacrament, to use it as a league or bond of faction, to gather persons into the party, and tie them fast to it, that they may depend upon the priest, and his faction and interest may thereby be strengthened, and he may seem to have many followers.

f Non absque probatione et examine panem illum præbendum esse neque novis neque veteribus Christianis. Quod siquis est fornicator, aut ebriosus, aut idolis serviens, cum ejusmodi etiam communem cibum capere vetat apostolus, nedum cœlesti mensa communicare, saith a Jesuit, Acosta, lib. vi. cap. 10. And after, Neque enim ubi perspecta est superstitionis antiquæ aut ebriositatis, aut fœdæ consuetudinis macula, ad altare Indus debet admitti, nisi contraria opera illam manifeste et diligenter eluerit.——Christianis concedatur; sed Non-Christiano, dignis moribus subtrahatur. Pag. 549.

7. And it is a dangerous abuse of it, to receive it, that you may be pardoned, or sanctified, or saved, barely by the work done, or by the outward exercise alone. As if God were there obliged to give you grace, while you strive not with your own hearts, to stir them up to love, or desire, or faith, or obedience, by the means that are before you; or, as if God would pardon and save you for eating so much bread and drinking so much wine, when the canon biddeth you; or, as if the sacrament conveyed grace, like as charms are supposed to work, by saying over so many words.

8. Lastly, It is no appointed end of this sacrament, that the receiver thereby profess himself certain of the sincerity of his own repentance and faith: (for it is not managed on the ground of such certainty only by the receiver; mach less by the minister that delivereth it.) But only he professeth, that as far as he can discern by observing his own heart, he is truly willing to have Christ and his benefits, on the terms that they are offered; and that he doth consent to the covenant which he is there to renew. Think not therefore that the sacrament is instituted for any of these (mistaken) ends.

[ocr errors]

Direct. 11. Distinctly understand the parts of the sacrament, that you may distinctly use them, and not do you know not what.' This sacrament containeth these three parts. 1. The consecration of the bread and wine, which maketh it the representative body and blood of Christ. 2. The representation and commemoration of the sacrifice of Christ. 3. The communion: or, communication by Christ, and reception by the people.

I. In the consecration, the church doth first offer the creatures of bread and wine, to be accepted of God, to this sacred use. And God accepteth them, and blesseth them to this use; which he signifieth both by the words of his own institution, and by the action of his ministers, and their benediction. They being the agents of God to the people in this accepting and blessing, as they are the agents of the people to God, in offering or dedicating the creatures to this use.

1.

This consecration having a special respect to God the Father, in it we acknowledge his three grand relations. That he is the Creator, and so the Owner of all the crea

tures; for we offer them to him as his own. 2. That he is our righteous Governor, whose law it was, that Adam and we have broken, and who required satisfaction, and hath received the sacrifice and atonement, and hath dispensed with the strict and proper execution of that law, and will rule us hereafter by the law of grace. 3. That he is our Father or Benefactor, who hath freely given us a Redeemer, and the covenant of grace, whose love and favour we have forfeited by sin, but desire and hope to be reconciled by Christ.

As Christ himself was incarnate and true Christ, before he was sacrificed to God, and was sacrificed to God before that sacrifice be communicated for life and nourishment to souls; so in the sacrament, consecration must first make the creature to be the flesh and blood of Christ representative; and then the sacrificing of that flesh and blood must be represented and commemorated; and then the sacrificed flesh and blood communicated to the receivers for their spiritual life.

II. The commemoration chiefly (but not only) respecteth God the Son. For he hath ordained, that these consecrated representations should in their manner and measure, supply the room of his bodily presence, while his body is in heaven: and that thus, as it were, in effigy, in representation, he might be still crucified before the church's eyes; and they might be affected, as if they had seen him on the cross. And that by faith and prayer, they might, as it were, offer him up to God; that is, might shew the Father that sacrifice, once made for sin, in which they trust, and for which it is that they expect all the acceptance of their persons with God, and hope for audience when they beg for mercy, and offer up prayer or praises to him.

III. In the communication, though the sacrament have respect to the Father, as the principal Giver, and to the Son, as both the Gift and Giver, yet hath it a special respect to the Holy Ghost, as being that Spirit given in the flesh and blood, which quickeneth souls; without which, the flesh will profit nothing; and whose operations must convey and apply Christ's saving benefits to us.

g John vi. 63. vii. 39. iii. 5. 1 Cor. xii. 12, 13. iv. 6. Eph. ii. 22.

xv. 45. Gal. iii. 14.

[ocr errors]

These three being the parts of the sacrament in whole, as comprehending that sacred action and participation which is essential to it. The material parts, called the relate and correlate, are, 1. Substantial and qualitative. 2. Active and passive. 1. The first, are the bread and wine as signs, and the body and blood of Christ, with his graces and benefits, as the things signified and given. The second, are the actions of breaking, pouring out, and delivering on the minister's part, (after the consecration,) and the taking, eating, and drinking, by the receivers as the sign. And the thing signified is the crucifying or sacrificing of Christ, and the delivering himself with his benefits to the believer, and the receiver's thankful accepting, and using the said gift. To these add the relative form, and the ends, and you have the definition of this sacrament. Of which see more in my "Universal Concord," p. 46, &c.

6

Direct. 111. Look upon the minister as the agent or officer of Christ, who is commissioned by him to seal and deliver to you the covenant and its benefits: and take the bread and wine, as if you heard Christ himself saying to you, 'Take of my body and blood, and the pardon and grace which is thereby purchased.' It is a great help in the application, to have mercy and pardon brought us by the hand of a commissioned officer of Christ.

Direct. iv. In your preparation beforehand, take heed of these two extremes: 1. That you come not profanely and carelessly, with common hearts, as to a common work h. For God will be sanctified in them that draw near him': and they that eat and drink unworthily, not discerning the Lord's body from common bread, but eating as if it were a common meal, do eat death to themselves, instead of life. 2. Take heed lest your mistakes of the nature of this sacrament, should possess you with such fears of unworthy receiving, and the following dangers, as may quite discompose and unfit your souls for the joyful exercises of faith, and love, and praise, and thanksgiving, to which you are invited. Many that are scrupulous of receiving it in any, save a feast

h Quinam autem indigni, ineptive sint, quibus Angelorum panis præbetur, sacerdotum ipsorum audita confessione, cæterisque perspectis judicium esto. Acosta, lib. vi. cap. 10. pag. 549.

1 Levit. x. 3.

ing gesture, are too little careful and scrupulous of receiving it in any, save a feasting frame of mind.

The first extreme is caused by profaneness and negligence, or by gross ignorance of the nature of the sacramental work. The latter extreme is frequently caused as followeth: 1. By setting this sacrament at a greater distance from other parts of God's worship, than there is cause; so that the excess of reverence doth overwhelm the minds of some with terrors. 2. By studying more the terrible words of eating and drinking damnation to themselves, if they do it unworthily, than all the expressions of love and mercy, which that blessed feast is furnished with. So that when the views of infinite love should ravish them, they are studying wrath and vengeance to terrify them, as if they came to Moses, and not to Christ. 3. By not understanding what maketh a receiver worthy or unworthy, but taking their unwilling infirmities for condemning unworthiness. 4. By receiving it so seldom, as to make it strange to them, whereas if it were administered every Lord's day, as it was in the primitive churches, it would better acquaint them with it, and cure that fear that cometh from strangeness. 5. By imagining, that none that want assurance of their own sincerity, can receive in faith. 6. By contracting an ill habit of mistaken religiousness, placing it all in poring on themselves, and mourning for their corruptions, and not in studying the love of God in Christ, and living in the daily praises of his name, and joyful thanksgiving for his exceeding mercies. 7. And if besides all these the body contract a weak or timorous, melancholy distemper, it will leave the mind capable of almost nothing, but fear and trouble, even in the sweetest works. From many such cases it cometh to pass, that the sacrament of the Lord's supper is become more terrible, and uncomfortable to abundance of such distempered Christians, than any other ordinance of God; and that which should most comfort them, doth trouble them most.

<

Quest. But is not this sacrament more holy and dreadful, and should it not have more preparation than other parts of worship?'

Answ. For the degree indeed, it should have very careful preparation: and we cannot well compare it with other

« EelmineJätka »