« AnteriorContinuar »
the habitual Neglect os this positive Ctmmand. This is a short Answer to all the Objections that ever were made, or can be made against receiving the Sacrament of the Lord's-Supper; for, there can be no reasonable Excuse for not doing a Thing which is absolutely necejsary to be done $ neither can the Danger of receiving it unworthily be greater than the Danger of habitually neglecting it. The only rational Use that can be made os the Sinfulness, and Danger of being wiworthy Partakers is, to be careful rightly to inform ourselves concerning the Nature of this holy Institution, and the proper Qualifications for a due Reception of it, and not to add to the Number of our Sins, the damnable Sin of habitual Disobedience. The Prayers of the Wicked are an Abomination to the Lord, and People may perform any other Act of Christian Worship in a sinful Manner, which will be damnable unless we repent of it; but who in his Senses would argue, from the Danger of praying unworthily, to the Wisdom of totally neglecting to pray, which would be as damnable a Sin as a Man can be guilty of: This would be full as rational as it would be for a Man to kill himself for fear of dying; he damns himself, for fear of being damned.
a. This Argument will be very muchstrengthened by considering this Christian Rite as successive to the Jewifi Passover, and comparing them together. The Passover was a Memorial of the Deliverance of the Jews from their Egyptian Slavery; it was an Ordinance for the whole Nation; an Ordinance for ever; so strictly
enjoined', enjoined, tbat whoever neglected it, that Sous was to be cut off, not suffered to enjoy the Benefits of the Deliverance. The Sacrament of the Lords-Supper, our eucharijlical Feast, is an Ordinance in Memory of our Deliverance from Sin and Death, by the Blood of Christ. Now, as the Pajsover was an Institution of universal, and perpetual Obligation, the Christian Rite which was appointed in the room of it, must be as extenstve, and as lasting, in its Obligation. As it was instituted in Memory of much greater Benefits than the Pajsover commemorated, it cannot be supposed that the Observance of it would be required under the Sanction of a less severe Penalty. If a Jew was to be cut off for the Neglect of their Memorial, can a Christian expect to enjoy the Benefits of Christ's Death, or not to be punished in the next World, if he refuses to mew his Gratitude and Obedience tohis Saviour, by his Attendance upon that holy Solemnity, which was appointed in Memory of it? No. Such a Soul has nothing to expect but to be cut of from all the Benefits of Christ* s Passion, and doomed to eternal Death. This Argument is as strong as any Argument can possibly be that is drawn from Analogy, i. e. Parity of Reason.
3. But this Institution is not a bare Memorial of Christ's. Death, but the Means of our partaking of the Benefits which he purchased for us, and on God's Part a visible Pledge to asture us thereof. 1 shall first collect the Sense of our Church concerning this Matter. The 28th Article says, w that the Supper of the Lord is not onlv a Sign *' of the Love that Christians ought to have "among themselves one to another, in Imitation "of Christ's Love to us, (shewn particularly by "dying for us, and uniting us together in one "Body, of which he is the Head) but rather it "is a.' Sacrament of our Redemption by Christ's DeaiH; so that to such as rightly, and with "Faith, receive the same, the Bread that we "break is the partaking of the Body of Christ; "and likewise the Cup of Blessing which we "bless, is the partaking of the Blood of Christ." After which, having declared herself against the literal Sense of the Words of the Institution, she goes on in the Article to declare that the Body and Blood of Christ are given, taken, and eaten after a spiritual Manner; and that the Mean 'whereby the Body of Christ is received, is Faith. Which last Words exclude wicked Persons from partaking of the Body and Blood of Christ, though they receive the Elements. In her Catechism, having instructed her Catecumens that there are two Things in each of the Sacraments, that is, the outward visible Sign, and the inward and spiritual Grace and Favour., slie teaches them that the outward Part of the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, is Bread and Wine, but the inward Part, or Thing signified, is the Body and Blood of Christ, which are verily and indeed taken and received by the Faithful. In the first Homily concerning this Sacrament, she declares herself after the same Manner; "Thus much we must be sure to hold, "that in the Supper of the Lord there is no
vain Ceremony, no bare Sign-, no untrue Ft*' gure of any -Thing absents but'-the Table of "the I^n/, the Bread and Cup of the Zon/ • "the Mercies -of Christ; the-'Annunciation of "his Death; yea the Communion of the Body u and Blood of the Lord, iti a marvellous '/»"corporation, which, by the Operation of th«' "Holy Ghost,- is, through Faith, wrought in ";6ur Souls.'' Thus the partaking of the outward and visible Signs of me Body and Blood of Christ, are appointed, by God; as the Meavs /when received with Faith) of partaking of all. the Benefits of Christ's Death, represented by the Bread and Wine'ri So that nothing can be clearer than "that, according to the Doctrine of the Church of England, no Chri'Han can be a Partaker of "the Body and Blcod of Chriji, that is, the Benefits of his Death,1 without partaking of those outward Signs which Christ ordained as the /landing Means of conveying them She asserts, likewise, in her Catechism, that, by being appointed as a Means, it is made a public Pledge, or Assurance, that if we rightly partake of this' divine Institution we shall certainly partake of all those Advantages which the Body and Blood of Christ purchased for us 'upon the Cross. This is plainly implied in the Nature of the Thing. Agreeably to God's oven Ordinance we publickly plead the Benefits of Christ's Passion; we held forth a Representation of his Death to God, a6 well as to the People; thereby laying Claim to the Benefits of it. And, therefore, if we refuse thus to plead, or claim, the Benefits of his Pas
sion, by attending that Representation of it which he himself appointed for that Purpose, we, in effect, give them up. .'
I shall now shew the Sense of St. Paul concerning the Nature and Effects of this holy Institution, as we find it set forth in the ioth Chapter of his first Epistle to the Corinthians, and explained by the justly celebrated Mr. Locke. Though we have many other learned and judicious Commentators, I chuse the Authority of hi« Opinion, because he never was suspected of any Partiality in Favour of divine Ordinances.
Ver. 16. The Cup of Blessing which we bless, is it not the Communion of the Blood of Christ i The Bread which we break, is it not the Communion of the Body of Christ?
18. Behold Israel after the Flesli, are not they who eat of the Sacrifices Partakers of the Altar?
They who drink of the Cup of Blessing which we bless in the Lorals Supper, do they not thereby partake of the Benefits of Cbrijfs Blood shed for them upon the Cross, which they here symbolically drink? And they who eat of the Bread broken there, do they not partake in the Sacrifice of the Body of Christ, and profess to be Members of him? . , .
See how it is among the "Jews; are not they who eat of the Sacrifice Partakers of God's Table the Altar, have Fellowship with him, and share in the Benefits of