« ÖncekiDevam »
bear them. And in case of doubting about things indifferent, the surer side is to forbear them, because there may be sin in doing; but there can be none on the other side, in forbearing. But in case of duties, your doubting will not disoblige you; else men might give over praying, and hearing God's Word, and believing, and obeying their rulers, and maintaining their families, when they are but blind enough to doubt of it. 2. Your erring conscience is not a law maker, and cannot make it your duty to obey it: for God is your king, and the office of conscience is to discern his law, and urge you to obedience, and not to make you laws of its own: so that if it speak falsely, it doth not oblige you, but deceive you: it doth only 'ligare,' or insnare you, but not 'obligare,' or make a sin a duty: it casteth you into a necessity of sinning more or less, till you relinquish the error; but in the case of such duties as these, it is a sin to do them with a doubting conscience, but (ordinarily) it is a greater sin to forbear.
Object. But some divines write, that conscience being God's officer, when it erreth, God himself doth bind me by it to follow that error, and the evil which it requireth becometh my duty.'
Answ. A dangerous error tending to the subversion of souls and kingdoms, and highly dishonourable to God. God hath made it your duty to know his will, and do it: and if you ignorantly mistake him, will you lay the blame on him, and draw him into participation of your sin, when he forbiddeth you both the error and the sin? And doth he at once forbid and command the same thing? At that very moment, God is so far from obliging you to follow your error, that he still obligeth you to lay it by, and do the contrary. If you say, 'You cannot,' I answer, your impotency, is a sinful impotency; and you can use the means, in which his grace can help you: and he will not change his law, nor make you kings and rulers of yourselves instead of him, because you are ignorant or impotent.
Direct. VII. In the time of the administration, go along with the minister throughout the work, and keep your hearts close to Jesus Christ, in the exercise of all those graces which are suited to the several parts of the administration.' Think not that all the work must be the minis
ter's: it should be a busy day with you, and your hearts should be taken up with as much diligence, as your hands be in your common labour; but not in a toilsome, weary diligence, but in such delightful business as becometh the guests of the God of heaven, at so sweet a feast, and in the receiving of such invaluable gifts.
Here I should distinctly shew you, I. What graces they be that you must there exercise. II. What there is objectively presented before you in the Sacrament, to exercise all these graces. III. At what seasons in the administration each of these inward works are to be done.
I. The graces to be exercised are these, (besides that holy fear and reverence common to all worship,) 1. A humble sense of the odiousness of sin, and of our undone condition as in ourselves, and a displeasure against ourselves, and loathing of ourselves, and melting repentance for the sins we have committed; as against our Creator, and as against the love and mercy of a Redeemer, and against the Holy Spirit of Grace. 2. A hungering and thirsting desire after the Lord Jesus, and his grace, and the favour of God and communion with him, which are there represented and offered to the soul. 3. A lively faith in our Redeemer, his death, resurrection, and intercession; and a trusting our miserable souls upon him, as our sufficient Saviour and help; and a hearty acceptance of him and his benefits upon his offered terms. 4. A joy and gladness in the sense of that unspeakable mercy which is here offered us. 5. A thankful heart towards him from whom we do receive it. 6. A fervent love to him that by such love doth seek our love. 7. A triumphant hope of life eternal, which is purchased for us, and sealed to us. 8. A willingness and resolution to deny ourselves, and all this world, and suffer for him that hath suffered for our redemption. 9. A love to our brethren, our neighbours, and our enemies, with a readiness to relieve them, and to forgive them when they do us wrong. 10. And a firm resolution for future obedience, to our Creator, and Redeemer, and Sanctifier, according to
II. In the naming of these graces, I have named their objects, which you should observe as distinctly as you can that they may be operative. 1. To help your humiliation
and repentance, you bring thither a loaden miserable soul, to receive a pardon and relief: and you see before you the sacrificed Son of God, who made his soul an offering for sin, and became a curse for us to save us who were accursed. 2. To draw out your desires, you have the most excellent gifts and the most needful mercies presented to you that this world is capable of: even the pardon of sin, the love of God, the Spirit of grace, and the hopes of glory, and Christ himself with whom all this is given. 3. To exercise your faith you have Christ here first represented as crucified before your eyes and then with his benefits, freely given you, and offered to your acceptance, with a command that you refuse them not. 4. To exercise your delight and gladness, you have this Saviour and this salvation tendered to you; and all that your souls can well desire set before you. 5. To exercise your thankfulness, what could do more than so great a gift, so dearly purchased, so surely sealed, and so freely offered? 6. To exercise your love to God in Christ, you have the fullest manifestation of his attractive love, even offered to your eyes, and taste, and heart, that a soul on earth can reasonably expect; in such wonderful condescension, that the greatness and strangeness of it surpasseth a natural man's belief. 7. To exercise your hopes of life eternal, you have the price of it here set before you; you have the gift of it here sealed to you; and you have that Saviour represented to you in his suffering, who is now there reigning, that you may remember him as expectants of his glorious coming to judge the world, and glorify you with himself. 8. To exercise your self-denial and resolution for suffering, and contempt of the world and fleshly pleasures, you have before you both the greatest example and obligation, that ever could be offered to the world; when you see and receive a crucified Christ, that so strangely denied himself for you, and set so little by the world and flesh. 9. To exercise your love to brethren, yea, and enemies, you have his example before your eyes, that loved you to the death when you were enemies: and you have his holy servants before your eyes, who are amiable in him through the workings of his Spirit, and on whom he will have you shew your love to himself. 10. And to excite your resolution for future obedience, you see his double title to
the government of you, as Creator and as Redeemer; and you feel the obligations of mercy and gratitude; and you are to renew a covenant with him to that end; even openly where all the church are witnesses. So that you see here are powerful objects before you to draw out all these graces, and that they are all but such as the work requireth you then to exercise.
III. But that you may be the readier when it cometh to practice, I shall as it were lead you by the hand, through all the parts of the administration, and tell you when and how to exercise every grace, and those that are to be joined together I shall take together, that needless distinctness do not trouble you.
1. When you are called up and going to the table of the Lord, exercise your humility, desire, and thankfulness, and say in your hearts, What, Lord, dost thou call such a wretch as I? What! me, that have so oft despised thy mercy, and wilfully offended thee, and preferred the filth of this world, and the pleasures of the flesh before thee? Alas, it is thy wrath in hell that is my due: but if love will choose such an unworthy guest, and mercy will be honoured upon such sin and misery, I come Lord at thy call: I gladly come: let thy will be done; and let that mercy which inviteth me, make me acceptable, and graciously entertain me; and let me not come without the wedding garment, nor unreverently rush on holy things, nor turn thy mercies my bané.'
2. When the minister is confessing sin, prostrate your very souls in the sense of your unworthiness, and let your particular sins be in your eye, with their heinous aggravations. The whole need not the physician, but the sick. But here I need not put words into your mouths or minds, because the minister goeth before you, and your hearts must concur with his confessions, and put in also the secret sins which he omitteth.
3. When you look on the bread and wine which is provided and offered for this holy use, remember that it is the Creator of all things, on whom you live, whose laws you did offend; and say in your hearts, O Lord, how great is my offence! who have broken the laws of him that made me, and on whom the whole creation doth depend! I had my
being from thee, and my daily bread; and should I have requited thee with disobedience? Father, I have sinned against heaven and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son."
4. When the words of the institution are read, and the bread and wine are solemnly consecrated, by separating them to that sacred use, and the acceptance and blessing of 'God is desired, admire the mercy that prepared us a Redeemer, and say, "O God, how wonderful is thy wisdom and thy love! How strangely dost thou glorify thy mercy over those sins that gave thee advantage to glorify thy justice! Even thou our God whom we have offended, hast out of thy own treasury satisfied thy own justice, and given us a Saviour by such a miracle of wisdom, love, and condescension, as men or angels shall never be able fully to comprehend: so didst thou love the sinful world, as to give thy Son, that whosoever believeth on him, should not perish, but have everlasting life. O thou that hast prepared us so full a remedy, and so precious a gift, sanctify these creatures to be the representative body and blood of Christ, and prepare my heart for so great a gift, and so high, and holy, and honourable a work."
5. When you behold the consecrated bread and wine, discern the Lord's body, and reverence it as the representative body and blood of Jesus Christ; and take heed of profaning it, by looking on it as common bread and wine; though it be not transubstantiate, but still is very bread and wine in its natural being, yet it is Christ's body and blood in representation and effect. Look on it as the consecrated bread of life, which with the quickening Spirit must nourish you to life eternal.
6. When you see the breaking of the bread, and the pouring out of the wine, let repentance, and love, and desire, and thankfulness, thus work within you: "O wondrous love! O hateful sin! How merciful, Lord, hast thou been to sinners! and how cruel have we been to ourselves and thee! Could love stoop lower? Could God be merciful at a dearer rate? Could my sin have done a more horrid deed, than put to death the Son of God? How small a matter hath tempted me to that, which must cost so dear before it was forgiven! How dear payed my Saviour for