Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

of thy fall, and the sense of thy own weaknesses, will not make thee watchful against a fall, especially knowing how much it costs a man to be restored, it will be infinitely more dangerous, if ever thou fallest again; not only for fear God should no more accept thee to pardon, but even thy own hopes will be made more desperate, and thy impatience greater, and thy shame turn to impudence, and thy own will be more estranged, violent, and refractory, and thy latter end will be worse than thy beginning. To which add this consideration: that thy sin, which was formerly in a good way of being pardoned, will not only return upon thee with all its own loads, but with the baseness of unthankfulness, and thou wilt be set as far back from heaven as ever; and all thy former labours and fears and watchings and agonies will be reckoned for nothing, but as arguments to upbraid thy folly, who, when thou hadst set one foot in heaven, didst pull that back, and carry both to hell.

Motives to Repentance. I shall use no other arguments to move a sinner to repentance, but to tell him, unless he does, he shall certainly perish; and if he does repent timely and entirely, that is, live a holy life, he shall be forgiven and be saved. But yet I desire, that this consideration be enlarged with some great circumstances; and let us remember,

1. That to admit mankind to repentance and pardon, was a favour greater than ever God gave to the angels and devils; for they were never admitted to the condition of second thoughts: Christ never groaned one groan for them: he never suffered one stripe, nor one affront, nor shed one drop of blood, to restore them to hopes of blessedness after their first failings. But this he did for us: he paid the score of our sins, only that we might be admitted to repent, and that this repentance might be effectual to the great purposes of felicity and salvation.

2. Consider, that as it cost Christ many millions of prayers and groans and sighs, so he is now at this instant, and hath been for these sixteen hundred years, night and day incessantly praying for grace to us, that we may repent; and for pardon, when we do; and for degrees of pardon beyond the capacities of our infirmities, and the merit of our sorrows and amendment; and this prayer he will continue till his second coming: "for he ever liveth to make intercession for us6." And that we may know what it is, in behalf of which he intercedes, St. Paul tells us his design; "We are ambassadors for Christ, as though he did beseech you by us, we pray you in Christ's stead to be reconciled to Godf." And what Christ prays us to do, he prays to God, that we may do; that which he desires of us as his servants, he desires of God, who is the fountain of the grace and powers unto us, and without whose assistance we can do nothing.

3. That ever we should repent, was so costly a purchase, and so great a concernment, and so high a favour, and the event is esteemed by God himself so great an excellency, that our blessed Saviour tells us, "there shall be joy in heaven over one sinner that repentethg:" meaning, that when Christ shall be glorified, and at the right hand of his Father make intercession for us, praying for our repentance, the conversion and repentance of every sinner is part of Christ's glorification, it is the answering of his prayers, it is a portion of his reward, in which he does essentially glory by the joys of his glorified humanity. This is the joy of our Lord himself directly, not of the angels, save only by reflection: the joy (said our blessed Saviour) shall be in the presence of the angels; they shall see the glory of the Lord, the answering of his prayers, the satisfaction of his desires, and the reward of his sufferings, in the repentance and consequent pardon of a sinner. For therefore he once suffered, and for that reason he rejoices for ever. And therefore, when a penitent sinner comes to receive the effect and full consummation of his pardon, it is called "an entering into the joy of our Lord;" that is, a partaking of that joy, which Christ received at our conversion and enjoyed ever since.

4. Add to this, that the rewards of heaven are so great and glorious, and Christ's burden is so light, his yoke is so easy, that it is a shameless impudence to expect so great glories at a less rate than so little a service, at a lower rate than a holy life. It cost the heart-blood of the Son of God to obtain heaven for us upon that condition; and who shall die again to get heaven for us upon easier terms? What would you do, if God should command you to kill your eldest son,

• Heb. rii. 16. f 2 Cor. v. 20. « Luke, xv. 7

or to work in the mines for a thousand years together, or to fast all thy life-time with bread and water? were not heaven a very great bargain even after all this? And when God requires nothing of us but to live soberly, justly, and godly, (which things themselves are to a man a very great felicity, and necessary to our present well-being), shall we think this to be an intolerable burden, and that heaven is too little a purchase at that price; and that God, in mere justice, will take a death-bed sigh or groan, and a few unprofitable tears and promises in exchange for all our duty?

If these motives joined together with our own interest, even as much as felicity, and the sight of God, and the avoiding the intolerable pains of hell, and many intermedial judgments comes to, will not move us to leave, 1. the filthiness, and, 2. the trouble, and, 3. the uneasiness, and, 4. the unreasonableness of sin, and turn to God, there is no more to be said; we must perish in our folly.

SECTION X.

Of Preparation to, and the manner how to receive the holy Sacrament of the Lord's Supper.

The celebration of the holy sacrament is the great mysteriousness of the Christian religion, and succeeds to the most solemn rite of natural and Judaical religion, the law of sacrificing. For God spared mankind, and took the sacrifice of beasts together with our solemn prayers for an instrument of expiation. But these could not purify the soul from sin, but were typical of the sacrifice of something that could. But nothing could do this, but either the offering of all that sinned, that every man should be the anathema or devoted thing; or else by some one of the same capacity, who by some superadded excellency might in his own personal sufferings have a value great enough to satisfy for all the whole kind of sinning persons. This the Son of God, Jesus Christ, God and man, undertook, and finished by a sacrifice of himself upon the altar of the cross.

2. This sacrifice, because it was perfect, could be but one,, and that once: but because the needs of the world should last as long as the world itself, it was necessary, that there should be a perpetual ministry established, whereby this one sufficient sacrifice should be made eternally effectual to the several new arising needs of all the world, who should desire it, or in any sense be capable of it.

3. To this end Christ was made a priest for ever: he was initiated or consecrated on the cross, and there began his priesthood, which was to last till his coming to judgment. It began on earth, but was to last and be officiated in heaven, where he sits perpetually representing and exhibiting to the Father that great effective sacrifice, which he offered on the cross, to eternal and never-failing purposes.

4. As Christ is pleased to represent to his Father that great sacrifice as a means of atonement and expiation for all mankind, and with special purposes and intendment for all the elect, all that serve him in holiness: so he hath appointed, that the same ministry shall be done upon earth too, in our manner, and according to our proportion; and therefore hath constituted and separated an order of men, who, by "shewing forth the Lord's death" by sacramental representation, may pray unto God after the same manner, that our Lord and high-priest does; that is, offer to God and represent in this solemn prayer and sacrament, Christ as already offered; so sending up a gracious instrument, whereby our prayers may, for his sake and in the same manner of intercession, be offered up to God in our behalf, and for all them, for whom we pray, to all those purposes, for which Christ died.

5. As the ministers of the sacrament do, in a sacramental manner, present to God the sacrifice of the cross, by being imitators of Christ's intercession; so the people are sacrificers too in their manner: for besides that, by saying Amen, they join in the act of him that ministers, and make it also to be their own; so, when they eat and drink the consecrated and blessed elements worthily, they receive Christ within them, and therefore may also offer him to God, while, in their sacrifice of obedience and thanksgiving, they present themselves to God with Christ, whom they have spiritually received, that is, themselves with that, which will make them gracious and acceptable. The offering their bodies and souls and services to God in him, and by him, and with him, who is his Father's well-beloved, and in whom he

is well pleased, cannot but be accepted to all the purposes of blessing, grace, and glory h.

6. This is the sum of the greatest mystery of our religion; it is the copy of the passion, and the ministration of the great mystery of our redemption: and therefore, whatsoever entitles us to the general privileges of Christ's passion, all that is necessary by way of disposition to the celebration of the sacrament of his passion; because this celebration is our manner of applying or using it. The particulars of which preparation are represented in the following rules.

1. No man must dare to approach to the holy sacrament of the Lord's supper, if he be in a state of any one sin1, that is, unless he have entered into the state of repentance, that is, of sorrow and amendment; lest it be said concerning him, as it was concerning Judas, the hand of him that betrayeth me, is with me on the table: and he that receiveth Christ into an impure soul or body, first turns his most excellent nourishment into poison, and then feeds upon it.

2. Every communicant must first have examined himself, that is, tried the condition and state of his soul, searched out the secret ulcers, inquired out its weaknesses and indiscretions, and all those aptnesses, where it is exposed to temptation; that, by finding out its diseases, he may find a cure, and by discovering its aptnesses he may secure his present purposes of future amendment, and may be armed against dangers and temptations.

3. This examination must be a man's own act and inquisition into his life: but then also it should lead a man on to run to those, whom the great Physician of our souls, Christ Jesus, hath appointed to minister physic to our diseases; that, in all dangers and great accidents, we may be assisted for comfort and remedy, for medicine and caution.

4. In this affair let no man deceive himself, and against such a time which public authority hath appointed for us to receive the sacrament, weep for his sins by way of solemnity and ceremony, and still retain the affection: but he that

h Nosti tempera tu Jovis sereni,
Cum fulget placidus, suoque vultu,

Quo nil supplicilms solet negare Martial, ep. 1. v. 6.

'Vasa pura ad rem Divinam.—Plant, in Cap. Act. iv. sc. 1.

« AnteriorContinuar »