« AnteriorContinuar »
of us is too much neglected; and that is, the Tem taking all Opportunities of coming to the Holy tan Sacrament.
I have often spoken to you about this Mat- lly: ter, and I now desire to remind you of it. men There are little Hopes you will ever make Rec any great Progress in Vertue and Holiness, Jaca till you can bring yourselves to a frequent and constant Participation in this Holy Mystery. her Because, indeed, this is the folemn Ordinance is that Christ hath appointed for the conveying his Grace to us, and enabling us to overcome hea our Sins, and grow daily in Vertue and Good-all ness. - I know we have generally many and inve- Oy terate Prejudices, to this Matter. But assure is yourselves, they are meer Prejudices, and no good Reasons. Every Man that means or i designs honestly, and endeavours to lead his in Life as a Christian ought to do, inay certain itu ly, with as little Scruple, come every Month to the Communion, as he may come every or Week to say his Prayers, or hear a Sermon. Nay, and I say further, if à Man do not fo fint lead his Life, that he may approach to the land Sacrament every Month, nay, every Week, Chr nay, every Day, if there be Occasion; I am afraid that he doth not liye so, as to be fit for it, though he comes but once in a Year, or bra once in Seven Years. For the Dueness of your ti Preparation doth not depend upon your setting met aside so many extraordinary Days for the forc. It ing yourselves into a Religious Posture of Mind, but upon the plain Natural Frame and
Temper. of your Souls, as they constantly stand inclined to Vertue and Goodness. Á Man that seriously endeavours to live honeft
ly and religiously, may come to the Sacraį ment at an Hour's Warning, and be a worthy [ Receiver. On the other side, a Man that lives
a careless or a sensual Life, may set apart a whole Week, or a whole Month, for the exercising Repentance, and preparing himself for the Communion, and yet not be so worthy a Receiver as the other : And yet he may be a worthy Receiver too, provided he be really honest and sincere in the Matter he goes about; and provided that he remember his Vows afterward, and do not sink again into his former State of Carelesness and Sensuality,
But to return to my Point. I do verily think that most of the Doubts and Fears and Scruples that are commonly entertained among us, about Receiving the Sacrament, are without Ground or Reason; and that every welldisposed Person, that hath no other Design in that Action, but to do his Duty to God, and to express his Belief and Hopes in Jesus Chrift, and his Thankfulness to God for him, may as fafely at any Time come to the Lord's Table, as he may come to Church to say his Prayers. And if the Case be so, (as I believe it is) then of whát a mighty Privilege and Benefit do they deprive themselves, who, when they haye so many Opportunities, do so feldom join in that folemn Institution of our Lord, which (as I said) was designed for no
other Purpose, but to be the Means of our growing in Grace and Vertue, in Love to God and to all the World ? .
() therefore, my Brethren, let me beg of you not to be Strangers at the Lord's Table. But I need not beg it of you; for I am fure you will not, whenfoever it fhall please God to put it into your Hearts seriously to mind the Concernments of your Souls; and to be heartily sensible of the Need you stand in of the Grace of Christ, for the leading a holy and pure Life.
I have but one Thing more in the Sixth Place, to leave with you, and I have done. It is not indeed of the Nature of those Things I have last recommended to you, that is, a Means or Instrument of growing more Vertuous; but it is a principal Virtue itself: And I do therefore recommend it to you, because it is at all Times useful, at all Times feafona-ble, but more especially it seems to be fo now; and that is, That you would walk in Love, and study Peace and Unity, and live in all dutiful Subjection to those whom God hath fet over you; and endeavour in your publick Stations, to promote the publick Happiness and Tranquillity, as much as is possible: But by no means, upon any Pretence whatfoever, to disturb the publick Peace, or to be any way concerned with them that do; by no means ever to engage in any Party or Faction, and least of all, any Faction in Religion which is grounded upon a State-Point.
L: I am forry the Posture of Things among us
gives me Occasion to mention this Matter; but it is too visible, to what a Height our Ani: mofities and Discontents are grown; and what the Consequences of them may be, unless there be a timely Stop put to them, I tremble to think
With Mens Differences as to their Notions about Politicks, I am 'not concerned; let Men frame what Hypotheses they please about Government, though I do not like them, yet I do not think myself bound to Preach against thèm : But when these Differences are come to that pass, that they threaten both the Civil and Ecclefiaftical Peace; there I think no Minister should be silent.
Church-Divisions, God knows, we have, and have always had too many; but it is very grievous, that those who have always declared themselves the Friends of our Church, and Enemies to Schism, should, at this time of Day, fet a helping Hand to promote a Separation."
And yet it feems to this Height are our Differences come. Some People among us that formerly were very zealous for the Established Worship of the Church, are now, all of a sudden, so distasted with it, that they make a Scruple of being present at our Service. Nay, fome have proceeded so far, as to declare, I know not upon what Grounds, open War against us, and set up Separate Congregations in Op
position to the Publick. ; What is the Meaning of this ? Hath Schism and Separation from the Established Worship,
which heretofore was branded as so heinous a Sin (and deservedly too,) fo changed its Nature all of a sudden, that it is become not only innocent, but a Duty ?
Have we not the same Government both in Church and State, that we formerly had ? Have we not the same Articles and Doctrines of Religion publickly owned and professed and taught, without the least Alteration ? Have we not the fame Liturgy, the fame Offices and Prayers used every Day, that have always been?. What is there then to ground a Separation upon ?
Yes, But the Names in the Prayers are changed, and we cannot Pray for those that are now in Authority, as we could for those that were heretofore.
But how unreasonable is this, when St. Paul has bid us to put up Prayers and Supplications and Intercessions for all Men ; especially for Kings, and all that are in Authority. Doth he make any Restriction, any Distinction, what Kings, or what Persons in Authority we are to Pray for and what not ? Doth he not expresly fay, we must Pray for all Men, and for all that are in Authority? And doth not the Reason of this Exhortation imply as much, if his Words did not? Namely, that we may lead quiet and peaceable Lives, in all Godliness and Honesty.
But I pray consider what this Doctrine leads to. If this Principle be admitted to be good Divinity, then farewell all the Obligations to Ecclesiastical Communion among Christians: For what Government is there in the World, that will not meet with such