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drinks judgment to himself, while he eats the sacramental bread, and drinks the wine,'
I shall prosecute each doctrine in order. DocT. I. Though the right way and manner of communicating be the main thing to be studied in that solemn action, yet many content themselves with the bare doing of the thing, neglecting the doing of it suitably, and in a right manner,'
Here I shall shew,
I. The necessity of communicating suitably, and in a right
II. Why it is, that though the right way and manner of communicating be the main thing to be studied in that solemn action, yet many content themselves with the bare doing of it, neglecting the doing of it suitably, and in a right
III. Make some improvement.
I. I am to shew the necessity of communicating suitably, and in a right manner.
1. God commands it, ver. 28. So let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.' The particle is emphatical, as, John iv. 6. Jesus therefore being wearied with his journey, sat thus [or so] on the well.' Acts vii. 8. So Abraham begat Isaac.' The matter and manner of all duties are linked together in the command of God. What God hath joined, let no man put asunder. He will have his service well done, as well as done, 1 Chron. xxviii. 9. ' And thou Solomon, my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart, and with a wil ling mind for the Lord searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts.' Masters on earth challenge to themselves a power to cause their servants do their work as they would have it; but though they leave the way of doing it sometimes to the discretion of the servants, yet the Lord never does so, but always commands not only what, but how to do, 1 Thess. iv. 1.
2. No duty is pleasing to God, unless it be done in a right manner, ib. Unless it be so done, it is not done to
his mind. It gives not content to the heart of Christ, though it may give content to men's own blinded hearts. God's will is the supreme law; for we are his own, and what we do, we ought to study to do it to his mind: otherwise it cannot please him, do what we will.
3. Because nothing is a work theologically good, but what is done in a right manner, Heb. xi. 6. Without faith it is impossible to please him.' There was a vast difference betwixt Cain and Abel's offering, Gen. iv. 4, 5. The Lord had respect unto Abel, and to his offering; but unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect.' See the reason, Heb. xi. 4. By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain.' Bonum non, nisi ex integra causa oritur, bonum est. Hence the good works of the heathens were but splendid sins; and those of the unregenerate are so; for they may do much, but not with a perfect heart. One sins and damns his soul at the Lord's table, another communicates worthily. What makes the difference, but the manner of doing? Hence praying is accounted but howling; eating and drinking is not to eat the Lord's supper, 1 Cor. xi. 20. Common eating and drinking are sins, Matth. xxiv. 37. Cloth may be good, and yet the coat base, if it be marred in the making.
4. Though the work be in itself good, yet if it be done unsuitably, not in a right manner, it provokes God to inflict heavy strokes on the doer. Is not a master often at that, he would rather men had not done the work, than that it should be so done? 1 Chron. xv. 13. For because ye did it not at the first, the Lord our God made a breach upon us, for that we sought him not after the due order.' So Jehu did soinething for God, but not in a right manner: hence the Lord says, Hos. i. 4. I will avenge the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu.' And the Corinthians having communicated unworthily, or not in the right man. ner, the apostle observes concerning them, 1 Cor. xi. 31.
For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many asleep.' In the mean, little is accepted, if it is rightly done; hence it is said of Asa, 1 Kings xv. 14. The high places were not removed; nevertheless Asa, his heart was perfect with the Lord all his days.*
5. Only the duty done in a right manner does prosper,
and get the blessing. Mark that so, Matth. xxiv. 46. "Blessed is that servant, whom his Lord when he cometh, shall find so doing. A may may pray ten thousand times, and never be heard; and go from one communion to another, and never be sealed to the day of redemption. A groan from the heart will do more than all these, Rom. viii. 16. Our meat can do us no good, and our clothes cannot warm us, if we do not use them in the right manner. No wonder that many are never the better of all the sacraments they get, for they communicate not aright.
6. If we communicate not in a right manner, we do no more than others, than hypocrites actually do, and Pagans may do. Hypocrites eat and drink, who shall drink eternally of the wine of the wrath of God, Luke xiii. 26, 27. Pagans can eat bread and drink wine; nay, the very beasts may do it. And shall a Christian think that he does enough
when he does no more?
7. Lastly, God gets no glory otherwise from us in our duty, Matth. v. 16. He gets much dishonour by the way that many of us partake of his table. The means must be suited to the end; and therefore our duty must be rightly done, if we would glorify God.
II. I proceed to shew, why it is, that though the right way and manner of communicating be the main thing in that solemn action, yet many content themselves with the bare doing of the thing, neglecting the doing of it suitably, and in a right manner.
1. Because to communicate is easy, but to communicate in a right manner is very difficult. It is easy to wait on several days and hear sermons, to get a token, and eat the bread and drink the wine: but it is a hard task to plough up the fallow-ground, to mourn for sin, to get the heart in case for communion with Christ, and by faith to feed upon him. It is easy to say, we resolve to be tor Christ; but it is hard to pluck out right-eyes, and cut off right hands; it is hard to set idols to the door, and give the whole heart to a Saviour.
2. Because they obtain their end by the bare performance of the duty. As, (1.) Peace of mind. Many consciences are half-awakened; though they be not so far awakened as
to give men no rest without doing duty in a right manner, yet they will not hold their peace should a man neglect duties altogether. (2.) It gains a man credit in the world, and that is a strong cord to draw a man to the outside of duties, Matth. vi. 2; It is no small matter to have a name, and to seem good; and to be called godly, is affected by those who are at no pains to be what they would seem. These are the mean and low ends they propose to themselves, and they get them by that way. But the high and noble ends of the Christian communion with God, strength against corruption, &c. call for other sort of work.
3. Men may get duties done, and their lust kept too; they may go to a communion-table, and to the table of devils too: but to do duties in the right manner is inconsistent with peace with our lusts, Psal. lxvi. 18; If they would have a calm sea, Jonah must be thrown overboard. Hence they take so little pains in self-examination before a communion. There are some secret lust which the man has no will to disturb; therefore he will not light the candle and search, lest he should be obliged to cast out the old leaven.
4. Because men mostly have low and mean thoughts of God and his service, Mal. i. 6, 7, 8. It is not every one that knows the Lord. Many worship they know not what, and therefore they give him they care not what. If men had suitable thoughts of that God whom they serve, they would be careful how they serve him, Psal. lxxxix. 6, 7. Wherefore the apostle, to put men out of their sloth, and engage them to the right performance of duties, tells what a one God is, Heb. xii. 28, 29. Let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire.'
5. Because men mostly are unacquainted with communion and fellowship with God to be had in duties; they know not the necessity of it, nor the excellency of it. Hence they are not at pains about it. He that minds to entertain his prince, will be at pains to provide all things necessary for that effect, while he is not so taken up who is expecting no guests.
Use. Of lamentation. O how sad is it that there are so VOL. III. Y Y
many who content themselves with the bare work of communicating, neglecting the right manner! That there are many such, take these evidences.
1. Many approach very rashly and inconsiderately to the Lord's table. It would make a tender heart to tremble, how forward many are for going to the communion-table, though it be fenced by the severe threatenings of God. They are like the horse, Job xxxix. 22, 23, 24. who 'mocketh at fear, and is not affrighted; neither turneth he back from the sword. The quiver rattleth against him, the glittering spear and the shield. He swalloweth the ground with fierceness and rage; neither believeth he that it is the sound of the trumpet.' And they are as the leviathan, by whom darts are accounted as stubble,' and who laugheth at the shaking of a spear,' Job xli. 29. They snatch up the holy things of God, and with polluted fingers do they handle them. How few are there that find any notable difficulty in their way to it? Truly it is lamentable to think of this rashness.
2. The little pains that many are at beforehand to get their hearts prepared for this work. Any thing they do, lies most in hearing in public; few wrestling with God, that he would prepare them as a bride adorned for her husband.
3. The licentious lives of communicants. Many, when the work is over, turn just back to their old ways, clearly discovering that it has made no great impression on their hearts while they were at it. Many are a shame to religion, harden the profane, and grieve the hearts of the godly, by their courses.
We may justly wonder that the Lord does not sometimes make a breach among us, and mingle our blood with our sacrifices.. Under the law, the Lord made some sad instances of his anger; as in the case of Uzzah, 2 Sam. vi. 6, 7. of the men of Bethshemesh, 1 Sam. vi. 19. and of Nadab and Abihu, Lev. x. 1, 2 Is not the Lord as angry still with the abuse of Gospel holy things? Yes, surely: but now the dispensation is more spiritual, and the strokes of anger are more spiritual also; such as hardness of heart, and blindness of mind. Some souls may get their death's