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any man (says Moses) Deut. xii. 15. Shall eat unlea-
But perhaps it will here be said, That this Commination was to those that were clean, and near at hand, and yet neglected this Holy Inftitution : And therefore ought not to be applied to them, with reference to the Blessed Sacrament which we are speaking of, who would gladly receive it, and have a very honourable remembrance in their hearts of the Death of Christ ; but alass! either they are not clean, or are in a journey ; either they are not prepared, or have not the leisure to come to this Table.
'Tis true indeed, God did here restrain the Judgment I have mention'd, to such as were clean, and at or near to Jerusalem ; but the rest were
not therefore by any means excused, and permitted to neglect the partaking of it. They had time given them till the next Month, to cleanse themfelves, and to come up to Jerusalem ; and if they neglected in the second Month to keep the Feast, after having omitted it in the first, there was then no farther Provision for them, but they fell under the Curse of those who neglected altogether to eat of it.
And this therefore may serve for a useful Admonition, as well as full Answer to the Excuses of those, who are still pretending they are not worthy to come to this Sacrament,
or else have not time and leisure to prepare themfelves for it. If indeed this should chance by any accident to hinder them at this time, or on this occasion, from receiving of it; they ought not therefore to disquiet themselves, but to believe, that in such a case our Saviour Christ will make the fame allowance for this Feast, that God did for that other; and pers mit them yet another Month to remove the Obstacle, and prepare themselves to come to his Table. But if instead of doing this, they shall still go on to infift upon these vain Pretences, and live fo as not to be worthy to receive the Holy Sacrament, and continue to live fo ftill, without taking any çare to put themselves into a better state ; this will prove an aggravation of their Sin, not a Leffening of it; and their neglect will be but the more inexcusable, for being grounded on a reafon so contrary not only to the design of this Holy Sacrament, but of the whole Christian Religion. But,
Sixthly, And to close all: The Command of our Saviour in these words we have been so long confidering, will not only oblige us in the general, sometimes to remember his Death, by receiving this Holy Sacrament, but frequently and oftentimes so to do,
I have before observed, that the word which we here render Remembrance, does not imply a bare Memorial, but a rénew'd Commemoration ; to teach us, that we are often to refresh the Memory of Christ's Death in our Minds by this Sacred Solemnity, and to repeat again and again the Remembrance of it. And though it be pretty hard to say, how often a Man ought to receive the Sacrament; yet ’tis plain, he is not so zealous a Christian as he should be, that very seldom or never does it.
We know that in the first Ages of Christianity, when Devotion was quick and vigorous, and Men had the most sensible impressions upon their minds of the love of our Saviour, in giving himself to die for us, that then they receiv'd it ordinarily every day : Insomuch that some of those Father's who then lived, have interpreted this Eucharistie çal Bread, to be that daily Bread which our Lord has taught us to pray for. Afterwards, as Mens Zeal cooľd so did their frequent Communicating decay in proportion with it. At first it fell in some Churches to four, in others to three times in the Week; and in a little while it came to be the distinctive Devotion of the Lord's days : And at last, the necessary, least proportion established was, the three great Feasts of the Year, in which our Church still obliges all her Members to partake of it.
But as he who is in a pure and holy state, can never receive it too often ; so certainly it is a thing than which none would more advance our Piety, to labour as frequently as we can, to fit ourselves for it. And since it has pleased God, to revive something of the Primitive Zeal among us as to this particular, in bringing our Solemn Communions to a monthly course, besides other extraordinary occasions of it; I do not see what better Exhortation I can leave with you as to this Matter, than seriously to advise, and earnestly beseech every one of you, to examine and prepare your felves, than at least, to joyn with your Bree thren in these Holy returns; and not deprive your Souls of the Benefits which are thus graciously offered to you in this great and most useful Remem. brance.
This will indeed both best answer the design of our Blessed Lord in the Text, and be the best Application, I could even with you would make of my Discourse upon it. But then I must obferve, that I speak now by way of Exhortation, not as necessarily requiring this in Obedience to the Command before us, but as the improvement I desire, if it were possible, you might all make of those Opportunities God is pleased here to reach out to you in order to this End ; and which I do not see how any good Christian can with a good Conscience fo frequently neglect.
In the mean time, this is the summ of all ; He that despises this Institution, does not only shew a light esteem of the Death of Christ, and do violence to the Command of his Saviour ; but does moreover deprive his Soul of the most excellent allistance God has given us in this World, in order
to our Salvation in the next : Whereas he who comes frequently, and with that due Preparation he ought to it, will not only put himself out of all danger from the Precept before us, but will in a little while secure himself of such a measure of the Grace and Favour of his Redeemer, whose Memory he here honours, as shall carry him through all the Temptations, the Sorrows, the Afflictions of this Life, to an Eternal Enjoyment of Glory, Honoury and Immortality in the next :
And to which God of his infinite Mercy vouchlafe
to bring us all, for the same bis Son Jesus Christ's sake, our Lord, Amen.