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THE

COMMUNICANT'S

SPIRITUAL COMPANION.

INTRODUCTION.

No ordinance more peculiarly merits the regard of all professors of the religion of Jesus, than that which seals to them the blessings of the covenant of grace. The decay of vital and spiritual religion is evident in nothing more than the general neglect of these holy mysteries : and a revival of it can never he hoped for, till a serious concern about eternity awakens the soul to enquire about the nature of the Gospel salvation, and the means of grace which lead to it: to effect this, is the design of the following pages. The careless professor will here find, I trust, alarming notices of his danger, and calls to consideration; the ignorant, instruction; the fearful, solution of their doubts; the sincere, assistance; the strong, increasing light, support, and encouragement.

May the great Master of assemblies fix the following truths deeply and abidingly in the heart of every one who reads them, by the power of the Holy Ghost !

B

Of the Nature of a Sacrament.

CHAPTER I.

OF THE NATURE OF A SACRAMENT.

A SACRAMENT is defined by the Church, in our excellent though concise Catechism, to be “the

outward and visible sign of an inward and spi“ ritual grace, given unto us, ordained by Christ “ himself, as a means whereby we receive the same, “ and as a pledge to assure us thereof." In this Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, the bread and wine are the outward and visible signs, signifying the body and blood of Christ, which are received into the heart by faith. The sign of the bread represents Christ's broken body, the wine his blood shed for our sins; and feasting on the sacrifice with delight, we testify, in so doing, our dependence upon, and esteem of him, whose body and blood under these signs we spiritually partake of, as our passover sacrificed for us.

The word Sacrament is derived from the oath, by which the oman soldiers bound themselves to their general. Thus it is our oath of allegiance, wherein we swear fidelity to Jesus, the Captain of our salvation: as they swore that they would never

Of the Nature of a Sacrament.

desert their colours in the day of battle; we also herein solemnly engage to maintain irreconcil. able war against all the enemies of Christ without and within us, fighting manfully under his banner against sin, the world, and the devil. So that whenever we presume to come to Christ's table, without this war against sin maintained in our conversation, we become guilty of the body and blood of Christ; we incur the awful guilt of perjury; and “ eat and drink our own damnation, not dis“ cerning the Lord's body."

This Sacrament hath in Scripture several particular names, which are expressive of the nature and design of it.

1. The Lord's Supper. It is a spiritual repast for the soul, as meat is for the body; and as our bodies are refreshed by the bread and wine, so much more is the believing soul by the body and blood of Christ therein shewn forth. It is a chief banquet in the family of Christ, as supper was among the ancients; and therefore none of the children should be absent, unless upon very urgent occasions, lest they not only lose their food, but incur the displeasure of their father for their neglect and irregularities. And it is emphatically styled the Lord's Supper, forasmuch as it was instituted by him at supper-time, the same night in which he was betrayed, and a constant memorial of it commanded by him. And herein it is so highly distinguished from all common food, whether you consider the Master of the feast, the Lord of glory,

Of the Nature of a Sacrament.

or the spiritual nourishment communicated, and received by faith through these consecrated elements.

2. It is called the Communion of the Body and Blood of Christ. It represents the intercourse there is between Christ, the head, and the members of his body, called in the prayer after the Communion, “ the company of all faithful people.” He communicates to them herein his favour and grace, his blood and righteousness; and they communicate their thanksgiving, acceptance, love, and gratitude; so that no persons can at all partake in it, till they have a living union with him by the Spirit, and are a part of his mystical body ; for then only nourishment and support can be conveyed to them by these his instituted means. All who are not thus united to Christ, are as branches cut off and withered, and can receive no more benefit by coming to the Lord's table, than a dead body can from meat and drink. It is also a communion between the members themselves, as well as with their head, Jesus Christ, for we being many, are one body : and we eat of the same bread, and drink of the same cup, in token that we derive our life from one common source ; that we are all actuated by the same spirit, and have as near an interest in, and affection for one another, as the members of the same body have for each other : for we are the body of Christ, and members in particular. What a strange absurdity, then, would it be for an uncharitable soul, for one who is not influenced by brotherly love, to approach Christ's table, who would be there only as a

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