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Answ. His sin is, 1. In lying and hypocrisy; in that he professeth to repent unfeignedly of his sin, and to be resolved for a holy life, and to believe in Christ, and to accept him on his covenant terms, and to give up himself to God, as his Father, his Saviour, and his Sanctifier, and to forsake the flesh, the world, and the devil: when indeed, he never did any of this, but secretly abhorreth it at his heart, and will not be persuaded to it: and so all this profession, and his very covenanting itself, and his receiving, as it is a professing-covenanting sign, is nothing but a very lie. And what it is to lie to the Holy Ghost, the case of Ananias and Sapphira telleth us. 2. It is usurpation to come and lay claim to those benefits, which he hath no title to. 3. It is a profanation of these holy mysteries, to be thus used; and it is a taking of God's name in vain, who is a jealous God, and will be sanctified of all that draw near unto him1. 4. And it is a wrong to the church of God, and the communion of saints, and the honour of the Christian religion, that such ungodly hypocrites intrude as members: as it is to the king's army, when the enemies' spies creep in amongst them; or to his marriage-feast to have a guest in rags *.
Object. But it is no lie, because they think they say true in their profession.'
Answ. That is through their sinful negligence and selfdeceit and he is a liar that speaks a falsehood, which he may and ought to know to be a falsehood, though he do not know it. There is a liar in rashness and negligence, as well as of set purpose.
Quest. x. Doth all unworthy receiving make a man liable to damnation? Or, what unworthiness is it that is so threatened'.
Answ. There are three sorts of unworthiness (or unfitness) and three sorts of judgment answerably to be feared. 1. There is the utter unworthiness of an infidel, or impenitent, ungodly hypocrite. And damnation to hell fire, is the punishment that such must expect, if conversion prevent it not. 2. There is an unworthiness through some great and scandalous crime, which a regenerate person falleth into; and this should stop him from the sacrament i Commandment ii, iii. Lev. x. 2, 3.
1 Cor. xi. 28, 29.
k Matt. xxii. 11, 12.
for a time, till he have repented and cast away his sin. And if he come before he rise from his fall by a particular repentance (as the Corinthians that sinned in the very use of the sacrament itself), they may expect some notable temporal judgment at the present'; and if repentance did not prevent it, they might fear eternal punishment. 3. There is that measure of unworthiness which consisteth in the ordinary infirmities of a saint; and this should not at all deter them from the sacrament, because it is accompanied with a greater worthiness; yea, though their weakness appear in the time and manner of their receiving: but yet ordinary corrections may follow these ordinary infirmities. (The grosser abuse of the sacrament itself, I join under the second rank.)
Quest. XI. What is the particular preparation needful to a fit communicant?'
Answ. This bringeth me up to the next Direction.
Direct. v. 'Let your preparation to this sacrament consist of these particulars following. 1. In your duty with your own consciences and hearts. 2. In your duty towards God. 3. And in your duty towards your neighbour.'
I. Your duty with your hearts consisteth in these particulars. 1. That you do your best in the close examination of your hearts about your states, and the sincerity of your faith, repentance and obedience: to know whether your hearts are true to God, in the covenant which you are to renew and to seal. Which may be done by these inquiries, and discerned by these signs, (1.) Whether you truly loathe yourselves for all the sins of your hearts and lives, and are a greater offence and burden to yourselves, because of your imperfections and corruptions, than all the world beside ism. (2.) Whether you have no sin but what you are truly desirous to know; and no known sin, but what you are truly desirous to be rid of; and so desirous, as that you had rather be perfectly freed from sin, than from any affliction in the world". (3.) Whether you love the searching and reforming light, even the most searching parts of the Word of God, and the most searching books, and searching sermons, that by them you may be brought to know your
I Vide Synod Dortdract. suffrag. Theol. Brittan. in Artic. 5.
Rom. vii. 24.
selves, in order to your settled peace and reformation o. (4.) Whether you truly love that degree of holiness in others which you have not yet attained yourselves, and love Christ in his children, with such an unfeigned love, as will cause you to relieve them according to your abilities, and suffer for their sakes, when it is your duty. (5.) Whether you can truly say, that there is no degree of holiness so high, but you desire it, and had rather be perfect in the love of God, and the obedience of his will, than have all the riches and pleasures of this world. And had rather be one of the holiest saints, than of the most renowned, prosperous princes upon earth. (6.) Whether you have so far laid up your treasure, and your hopes in heaven, as that you are resolved to take that only for your portion; and that the hopes of heaven, and interest of your souls, hath the preeminence in your hearts against all that stands in competition with it. (7.) Whether the chiefest care of your hearts, and endeavour of your lives, be to serve and please God, and to enjoy him for ever, rather than for any worldly thing. (8.) Whether it be your daily desire and endeavour to mortify the flesh, and master its rebellious opposition to the Spirit; and you so far prevail, as not to live, and walk, and be led by the flesh, but that the course and drift of your life is spiritual". (9.) Whether the world, and all its honour, wealth and pleasure appear to you so small and contemptible a thing, as that you esteem it as dung, and nothing in comparison of Christ, and the love of God and glory? and are resolved, that you will rather let go all, than your part in Christ? And, which useth to carry it in the time of trial, in your deliberate choice? (10.) Whether you are resolved upon a course of holiness and obedience, and to use those means which God doth make known to
P 1 John iii. 14. 16. 1 Peter i. 22. iii. 8. James ii. 12-15. Matt. xxv. 40, &c.
you, to be the way to please him, and to subdue your corruption; and yet feeling the frailties of your hearts, and the burden of your sins, do trust in Christ as your righteousness before God, and in the Holy Ghost, whose grace alone can illuminate, sanctify, and confirm you". By these signs you may safely try your states.
2. When this is done, you are also to try the strength and measure of your grace; that you may perceive your weakness, and know for what help you should seek to Christ. And to find out what inward corruptions and sinful inclinations are yet strongest in you, that you may know what to lament, and to ask forgiveness of, and help against. My book called "Directions for Weak Christians," will give you fuller advice in this.
3. You are also to take strict account of your lives 2; and to look over your dealings with God and men, in secret and in public, especially of late, since the last renewal of your covenant with God, and to hear what God and conscience have to say about your sins, and all their aggravations a.
4. And you must labour to get your hearts affected with your condition, as you do discover it. To be humbled for what is sinful, and to be desirous of help against your weakness, and thankful for the grace which you discern.
5. Lastly, you must consider of all the work that you are to do, and all the mercies which you are going to receive, and what graces are necessary to all this, and how they must be used; and accordingly look up all those graces, and prepare them for the exercise to which they are to be called out. I shall name you the particulars anon.
II. Your duty towards God in your preparation for this sacrament, is, 1. To cast down yourselves before him in humble, penitent confession, and lamentation of all the sins which you discover; and to beg his pardon in secret, before you come to have it publicly sealed and delivered. 2. To look up to him with that thankfulness, love, and joy, as becomes one that is going to receive so great a
y Acts xi. 23. Psalm cxix. 57.63 69.106. 1 Cor. i. 30. Rom. viii. 9. John 2 Cor. xii. 9.
z Psalm iv. 4-6.
a Psalm cxxxix. 23. 1 Cor. xi. 28.
mercy from him; and humbly to beg that grace which may prepare you, and quicken you to, and in the work.
III. Your duty towards others in this your preparation, is, 1. To forgive those that have done you wrong, and to confess your fault to those whom you have wronged, and ask them forgiveness, and make them amends and restitution so far as is in your power; and to be reconciled to those with whom you are fallen out; and to see, that you love your neighbours as yourselves. 2. That you seek advice of your pastors, or some fit persons, in cases that are too hard for yourselves to resolve, and where you need their special help. 3. That you lovingly admonish them that you know do intend to communicate unworthily, and to come thither in their ungodliness, and gross sin unrepented of: that you shew not such hatred of your brother, as to suffer sin upon him: but tell him his faults, as Christ hath directed you, Matt. xviii. 15-17. And do your parts to promote Christ's discipline, and keep pure the church. See 1 Cor. v. throughout.
Direct. vi. When you come to the holy communion, let not the over-scrupulous regard of the person of the minister, or the company, or the imperfections of the ministration, disturb your meditations, nor call away your minds from the high and serious employment of the day.' Hypocrites who place their religion in bodily exercises, have taught many weak Christians to take up unnecessary scruples, and to turn their eye and observation too much to things without them.
Quest. But should we have no regard to the due celebration of these sacred mysteries, and to the minister, and communicants, and manner of administration?'
Answ. Yes you should have so much regard to them, 1. As to see that nothing be amiss through your default, which is in your power to amend. 2. And that you join not in the committing of any known sin. But (1.) Take not every sin of another for your sin, and think not that you are guilty of that in others, which you cannot amend; or, that you must forsake the church and worship of God, for these corruptions which you are not guilty of, or deny your own mercies, because others usurp them or abuse them. (2.) If you suspect any thing imposed upon you to be sinful to you,