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“ which I speak unto you, they are Spirit, and they are Life.
Disciple.] These, Blessed Jesus, are thy Words, on which my Soul securely rests it self, becaufe niy Saviour who is Eternal Truth, hath spoken them; These the gracious and condescending Invitations, which I find scattered in Holy Scripture, are Occasions offered for making them. These therefore I will receive with holy Gratitude, with humble but entire Confidence;
them upon my Soulin deep and indelible Characters. For tho’they be thine, as the Author; yet do I claim a Property in them, and justly call them Mine too, as a Person, for whose Benefit and Salvation thou wert pleased to utter them. Most gladly therefore will I receive them at thy Mouth, that the Authority of the Divine Speaker may make the more Effectual Impression. And stupid I must be beyond imagination, if Encouragements so sweet, so kind, do not awaken, and very sensibly affect me. But, alas! at the same time, that thy Call incline's me to come, my own grievous Transgressions fly in my Face,and the Terrors of a Guilty Conscience keep ine away. Thy Goodness, I own, imps my Wings, and bids me boldly attempt the raising my Soul to Heaven and Happiness; but I feel the bitter Remembrance of my Sins checking those Flights, laying me proftrate upon Earth, reproaching my better Hopes, and nobler Intentions with Presumption; and ever weighing down my Mind with the intolerable Burthen of heinous numberless Offences, which render me unworthy the least of all thy Mercies.
In this Perplexity of Thought thou hast most feasonably interposed with thy reviving Comforts; hast made that Faith and Trust a Virtue and a Duty, which I Could have shunned as a Crime, and, conscious of my own Vileness, durft not have entertained. Thou bidst me raise my dejected Looks, and direct my Steps
to Heaven; and I seriously desire, (as who indeed can but desire?) Life and Glory. Thou exhortest me to begin to live immediately, by taking the sweet Foretafts of Immortality, in that isread which is the Food of Souls. Thy kind Invitation therefore I greedily attend to, come unto Me, all ye that labour and are beavy laden, and I will refresh you. O charming Sound in the Ears of a Sinner! How joyful is the News to a poor, lost, impotent Wretch ! One, who in a due Sense of his own Vileness, thinks even the meanest of thy Gifts which conduce to his bodily Sustenance too good for him; To be invited to eat of thy most Blessed Body, and admitted to partake of the lively Figures of thy Divine Blood; the Commemorations of thy Death, and sure Pledges of Salvation. Lord ! what am I, that I should thus be suffered to approach thee? nay, rather, that thou should'st come to me, and dwell under my Roof? O unspeakable Condescension! Ounexampled Kindness? Behold the Heaven, and Heaven of Heavens cannot contain thee, and yet thou vouchfafest to take up thy abode with Man, that is a Worm! The Angels are not pure in thy right, and yet thou fayest to wretched Sinners, Come unto me, ye that travel, and are heavy laden.
I find my self at a loss, whence such astonishing Kindness should proceed, or what may be the meaning of so friendly an Invitation. My Misdeeds testify against me, and I am but too senlible, that no Merit of mine could induce my Lord to make it. So far from that, that, even now it is made, I know not with what Face, I can either approach'my God and Saviour, or bring him to Me, or hope to keep him there; Him, whom I have so often, so grievously provoked, so justly made my Eneiny for ever. But, were there no Demerits of my own to discourage this Attempt, yet, Who am I, that the Majesty of Heaven and Earth Thould stoop so low, as to enter under my Roof? Bes
hold Angels and Archangels, Principalities and Powers fall down and worship thee; Behold, the brightest Saints, and Spirits of just Men made perfect, tremble at thy Presence, and yet thou sayest, Come unto me, all ge that labour and are heavy laden. "Had this been spoke by any Mouth but thine, Men could not have believed it; Had not thy own Command inspired this Confidence, Sinners durft not have attempted to move towards thee, but would have rather used their utmost Industry, to flee from the Presence of their Master and Judge. But be it so ; We are commanded to come to Thee ; and thou vouchfafest to come to Us. Yet what Solemnity, what Preparation can be sufficient for thy Reception ? Noah, that righteous Person, employed a hundred Years, in building an Ark by God's Direction, for the saving himself and a very few Souls besides; and how shall I be qualify'd, by the Application of an Hour or two only, to entertain the Maker of the Universe, and meet him with that humble Reverence, which is due to so terrible, so glorious a Creator, from the vilest and most unwor: thy of all his Creatures. Thy Servant Moses, admitted into familiar Conversation with thee, by a Privilege, not imparted to the rest of Mankind, framed an Ark of Cedar-wood, and overlaid it with pure Gold, to be a fit Repository for the Tables of the Law i
and shall I, wretched rotten Trunk, take upon me without Ceremony to receive the Almighty Maker and Giver of that Law? Solomon, the wisest of Princes, spent seven Years in building a Magnificent Temple to the Honour of thy Name; Eight Days were taken up
in the Dedication of it ; a thousand Peace-offerings were then sacrificed upon the new erected Altars; and the Ark of the Covenant with Sound of Trumpet, and much other holy Pomp, was conducted into the place appointed to receive it; And how unlike to these great Saints am I, Duft and Afhes, Chief
of Sinners and Meanest of Men ? How shall I pretend to invite thee my God into my House, who am so far from spending a number of Years or Days, that I can very hardly afford one poor Half hour; Nay, would to God that wretched Remnant of one poor Half hour were but employed, as attentively, as devoutly as it ought to be, to provide thee a clear and acceptable Apartment in this homely Cottage of my Heart. How eager, O my God, how persevering was the Zeal of those Ancient Worthies? how cold, how short is mine, when I set my self to prepare for meeting and receiving thee? My Thoughts, alas! are very rarely consistent, but thousand Wandrings and impertinent Distractions intrude upon me; and hardly can I collect the Powers of my Soul into so composed a frame, as becomes our more immediate Addreffes to Thee. I am not unmindful of thy Presence, then more peculiar than at other times; I reflect upon the Indecency and Sin of suffering my Heart to divide it self I know, that when an Honour so great is intended me, as that of Receiving the Lord of Men and Angels, it ought to enlarge and devote its whole Capacity to thee; and yet I cannot fix and fill it with this one Object; but in despight of all my Endeavours and Self-reproaches, Frailty will prevail.
Nay, the fame Care and Reverence were much too little, where the Dignity of the Thing is so much greater. For what Comparison can there be, between an Ark with its Ceremonial Symbols, and the Mystical Body of my Blessed Saviour, with all the wondrous Effects of his Paflion? How poor and despicable were those Legal Sacrifices, whose greatest Excellence and Commendation was, that they typified and foretold That One only perfect and sufficient Sacrifice upon the Cross, which in this Sacrament we at once commemorate and apply the Virtue of to our selves? If then the Patriarchs and Prophets heretofore expreft
their Zeal and Devotion, by all the Marks of Reverence and profound Respect, to those Figures of the Divine Presence,and Shadows ofGood Thingsto come; Shall I be negligent in my Preparations to meet my God himself; Shall I not indeed, as much exceed their great Solicitude and pious Affe&tion, which Kingsand Peasants, Rich and Poor, universally express’d, as the spiritual Participation of my Lord's Body and Blood, and the most precious Pledges of his Love and my Salvation excel the Carnal Dispensation of a figurative Tabernacle, and the very distant and dark Significations of future Blessings. They adored the Reprefentation, and shall I disregard the Substance, the Ènd, the Perfection of all the Levitical Institution, the Sum of all God's Mercies, and Man's Hopes ? If even David thought it no Disparagement to his Royal Character, to lay out his Time, his Study, his
Strength, in the Service of the Tabernacle; to compose Psalms for the Worship of God, to string his own Harp, and himself join and preside in the Consort ; Nay, even to dance be fore the Ark, when brought up to its Place, and by his own Example teach his Subjects to exert their utmoft Might, and employ every Faculty of Body and Soul, in expressing their Zeal and Joy : What holy Gladness then is due,what enflamed Devotion, to Him, whom David in Spirit called Lord ? What Songs of Praise and Thanks should adorn that Solemn Feast, where Christ exhibits to us the heavenly Manna, the Food of Souls? How should we labour to omit no Te, stimony of our Reverence, no sign of a hearty Welcome, and an humble Sense of the unspeakable honour this King of Heaven does us, when he vouchsafes to come home, and dwell in our Hearts; and, by the consecrated Elements, verily and indeed to give and unite himself to every Faithful Soul?
See with what eager Zeal vain Men make long Pilgrimages, and fly to the remotest Corners of the