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table without a due preparation ; carefully weighing what is neceffary to be done, before, at, and after receiving the facrament of the body and blood of Christ. And,
First, let a man examine his life and conversation by the rule of God's word. For a life governed by the Things to be precepts of the gospel is the best preparation for done before this facrament; because he that believes the chri- receiving stian religion, and makes it his constant business to perform what our Saviour hath injoined, has all that fub- Examina: ftantial preparation, which qualifies christians to 1:09.':. partake of this ordinance, and ought therefore to receive when anyopportunities present; for this holy facrament does not so much oblige us to new duties, as it inables us to make good those obligations, which we in our baptism have promised and vowed to perform. Let a man therefore examine himfelf never so much, fast neyer so strictly, and pray never so fervently, if his life has not been pious towards God, just towards his neigbbour, and sober in reference to kimself; without effectual resolutions, all those duties, in which he employs himself before he receives, will never be able to make him á fit guest at God's table; they are indeed good preparative helps, when they repair those breaches fin has made in our souls; but, without steady purposes of amendment, they are of no value in the fight of God, and will not be able to qualify us for a worthy participation of the body and blood of Christ. If our lives prepare not the way for our offerings, we approach the holy altar in vain. We should hereby be deterred from receiving only out of custom, or in order to qualify ourselves for some temporal or worldly employment; but pious christians, who are sincerely wearied and grieved with the burthen of their sins, ought not to be discouraged in their duty; because here they will find their proper remedy; here they will meet with that strength and assistance, which is so necessary to inable them to lead that holy life, which they purpose for the time to come, beginning it with a strict examination of the state of their own souls. Concerning which take these directions : Firft, Recollect your baptismal vow; * and endeavour to
rivet See the baptismal vow, Sunday 2. Sect. vii. T
rivet in your soul a just sense of those mercies promised on God's part, and the particular duties to which you in common with all christians are obliged thereby. For our chief business at the Lord's table is to renew our baptismal covenant with God.
Secondly, Then inquire by thy conscience, the candle of the Lord, how thou hast broken that covenant made in thy baptism, either by thought, word, or deed. We transgress by our thoughts, when we are contriving and compassing any forbidden thing: but irregular thoughts, * which spring up in our minds, and are but little in our power, they are neither fins nor matter of punishment, any farther than they are causes and principles of a sinful choice and resolution; because as we aflent or diffent to those motions that are in aur minds, so will our thoughts be virtuous or finful. But it is not enough to know what is sin: for we must also understand the true state and condition of our souls. Without self-reflection, a man may have every vice under the sun, without knowing he has any; provided he has it not in a high degree. For one, that perishes for want of knowing his duty, there are numbers, who are lost for ever, for want of seriously considering it, and laying it to heart. Our repentance must be full and complete, and extend to all those particulars wherein we have transgressed the laws of God; and till we discover all our follies and infirmities, we cannot amend, or so much as watch against them.fo . Our repentance by this means may in some measure keep Tbe ule of pace with our errors and failings, when this exafelf-exami- mination is frequently repeated before the Lord's nation, supper; and thus we may prevent the insupportable weight of the lines of a whole life falling upon us all at once, when we may neither have understanding nor leisure to recollect ourselves, much less to exercise any fit and proper acts of repentance towards God or man. And, in this examination, let us consider the sins that most easily beset our weakest part, by nature or custom least defensible; for the
devil, devil, like a skilful general, will attack us where we lie most exposed, hoping, by gaining that post, to make the town quickly surrender at his discretion. For which reason, insurveying the state of our minds, we should have an eye to those places that will least bear an assault; those appetites or para fions that most frequently occasion our fall from God's grace. Again, we should consider the several aggravations of our follies: whether committed against the light of our minds: withthe free consent of our wills; and indespite of thechecks of our own conscience: whether they have been often repeated; whether transient acts or habitual disorders. And we ought to observe all those previous steps that have made us transgress, which have been fatal to the corrupting of our innocence, and the occasions of betraying our virtue. .
* See Sunday 13. Seal. i. concerning the Government of our thoughts.
+ For which purpose you will be greatly afdited by the heads of Self-examination in the devotions at the end of this Book. • ..
This makes us thoroughly acquainted with ourselves and our own corruption; a knowledge, which is of the Humiliagreatest consequence. By this we are driven to re- tion. pentance, as the only cure for that guilt which oppresses our fouls, and for which we lie at the mercy of God's vengeance: we are disposed to humility; and gain a lively sense of God's power and our frequent errors and iniscarriages : we keep our accounts clear and even ; and it is an admirable means to advance us towards christian perfection, by making us careful to avoid those faults for the future, which we have discovered in our former lives and conversations, not only through fear of punishment, but because we have of. fended so good and gracious, a God. And
This duty should be accompanied with confefion of sins to God, which is the judgment a man passes upon the faceveral himself, either of approbation or of on, whenever he deliberately weighs his own ac- felf10:. tions: or it is the sentence, which his reason suggests that God, i he judge of all the earth, will pass upon him. Yet it is not barely a repetition of the faults we are guilty of to God Almighty; but it is such an acknowledgement of our faults, as is accompanied with shame for them, with hatred to them, and with resolutions to amend them. So that confeffion of fins doth plainly include, First, contrition, which is an holy grief, excited by a lively
1. Contrition. Cen ? - fence,
sense, not only of the punishment due to guilt, but likewise of the infinite goodness of God, against which we have offended, accompanied with a detestation of our fin, and of ourselves for the sake of it. Secondly, that this sense, and this forrow and this indignation, do put us upon applying ourselves
to God, and there with shame and confufion layConfession. ing open our miserable condition before him, and humbly and heartily begging his mercy and favour through the merits and interceflion of our Lord Jesus. And this is that which is confession in the precise strict sense of the word. Purtele of Thirdly, that at the same time we enter into ftedamendment. fast and serious purposes to amend what hath been amiss in us, and to live more carefully, more obediently to the laws of God for the future. In such cases, where we have been preserved from guilt, we must give glory to God, and thankfully acknowledge that grace, which hath restrained us from fin. For, as no man is qualified for the mercy of God, that doth not devoutly confess his fins ; so, if we do consider what is imported in confession, we shall be convinced that it is a thing, which in the very nature of it must needs, above all other things we can do, recommend us to God; for, by approaching to God with an hearty sense of our fins, and confefling them before him with truly contrite and penitent hearts, we make the best reparation we are capable of, for the affronts and injuries which by our fins we have committed against his divine majetty. And the more particular our confefsion is, the better it is, and the more acceptable it will be, because this particular confeflion is an argument and an expression of the fincerity of our repentance, and thews that we have searched and examined our hearts to the bottom, and that we harbour no concealed affection to any particular fin whatsoever, but that we are willing to bring out every enemy that speaks opposition to God and his laws, to be lain before him. And fourthly, when our sins have been not only against God, but against our neighbour, we must make him Satisfac. fatisfa&tion : * we must restore whatever we have tion. unjustly taken from him by fraud or force; we must vindicate his reputation, if we have blemished it by ca
lumny * See Sund. 11. Sea. iii.
lumny and evil-speaking; we must endeavour his recovery, by making him fenfible of such sins and dangerous errors as we have drawn him into, that he may be put into a way of pardon before the throne of divine justice. So we must from our hearts forgive those that have injured us, if we expect that God should forgive us our faults; resting in a sure confidence that God's grace will be fo effectually conveyed in our souls by this facrament, as to feat Faith. God's pardon of all our fins for Christ's fake, provided we perform our part in forfaking them, and obeying his commandments for the future.
If we do not strive after this temper of mind, it is impolfible we should be fit guests at the Lord's table ; Refolutions for this was the end of his death, which will de- of obedience. liver none from the punishment due to fin, who do not make use of that gracehe has purchased to overcome the power and dominion thereof. How dare we pretend to commemorate our Saviour's sufferings, if wedo not renounceand detest what was the cause thereof? Or, how can we expect to be received by our Lord, if we do not declare war against his enemies, nor in the least prosecute those finful lusts and affections, which tormented and nailed him to the cross? It becomes us to lay aside all resentment against those that have of the injured us, when we go to commemorate that in- means. finite love, which took pity of us, when we were enemies to him. Such love should work into us a conformity, and make us desirous to be reconciled to those that have offended us : to be at peacewithalltheworld, as we desire to be beloved and forgiven, and to be at peace with our Redeemer. Can we scruple to forgive others, who are undone ourselves, unless we are forgiven? Is it not in vain to aik pardon, when we find noinclination in our hearts to grant it toour neighbours? Or, can we forbear giving what we are able to the poor, when we go to conmemorate so much bounty and liberality exercised towards us? It is our duty to do
do Charity good to all men, because they are God's creatures, but noceffitous christians must partake of our beneficence, beca:1 se they are members of the fame body, and are particular o )jects of the mercy and tenderness of our blessed Redeem?,