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C HA P. V.
The Dignity of the Sacrament, and Honour of the
Priesthood. Chrifa.] to
TF thou seest the Table richly furnished, and Meats, let that Desire be duly tempered with Reyerence and holy Fear; for know, that if thou hadft the Purity of an Angel, or the mortified Piety of John the Baptist, yet even thus thou could'st not deterve so Divine a Blessing; but ought'st to acknowledge it a mighty, Favour and Condescenfion, that thou art admitted to receive, and taste, or even to touch this Blessed Sacrament. That Man should consecrate those Elements, and by pronouncing a set Form of Words introduce a new Efficacy, and give them a mystical Power, which Nature neither did, nor could provide them with before; that the Perfons present should eat the Bread of Angels, and be filled with heavenly Food by virtue of such Confecration; These are not the Effect of any extraordinary Merit in them who fanctifie, or who receive, those Creatures. of Bread and Wine, but the pure and sole effect of Mercy and Grace. The Greatness of the Mystery does indeed magnifie the Priestly Office, and Men ought to pay a more than common Respect to those Persons, whom God hath honoured with a Privilege, nor imparted to the very Angels themselves. For they who are regularly ordained in the Church, are the only Persons, by whose Ministry God gives the Body of his Son to us. They are the Perfons acting by his Commission, they use the Form appoineed by Christ himself, and have a constant mighty Effect attending upon
their due Administration. But stillour Thoughts and" . Wonder must not terminate in them, as if by
their own Power and Holiness they could bring such things to pass. For they are only Instruments;; and therefore we must carry our Meditations further, up as high as God himself, for he is the first and principal Caufe, he the Invinsible Worker of this Miracle of Mercy ; It is his Word, which made, and governs all Things, that only can command material and common Elements to produce spiritual and extraordinary Effects, and strengthen and refresh the Souls of the Faithful by the Body and Blood of Christ; at the fame time, and with as certain operation, as their Bodies are strengthened and refreshed by the Bread and Wine.
When therefore thou approachest the Christian Altar, reft not in the Testimony of thy Senses, nor dwell upon the outward and visible Signs; but let thy Faith carry thee on to the inward and Spiritual Grace, and exercise it self in contemplating the Almighty Power of God. And Thou, to whom the invoking this Power and its efficacious Presence is committed, see that thou do it with awful Reverence and godly Fear. Consider whose Servant thou art, and what a glorious Character thou shalt received by Imposition of the Bishop's Hands. For thou art Ordained a Priest for noble and religious Purposes ; The Excellence of . thy Office consists in giving thy Master's Family their Portion of Meat in due manner and season: Be faithful therefore in the Execution of this weighty Trust; Proceed in it with a fervent and exemplary Devotion, and let it be thy first care to offer up thy self an unreprovable Sacrifice to God. Do not imagine any part of thy Privilege to confift in an exemption from the Duties incumbent upon Common Christians. Alas! thy Burden is not less but greater, thy Temptations more and
fiercer, thy Danger more imminent, for being thus diftinguished. For it will be expected, that the Sanctity of thy -Manners, the Severity of thy
Virtue, the Conquest of thy Paffions, the Perfection of thy Holiness, the Fervency and Zeal of thy Devotion should distinguish thee, as visibly, as eminently, as thy Garb and thy Profession do. That thou shouldst be cloath'd and adorn'd with that Righteousnefs, that Innocence, that Gravity, of which thy Robe is a significant Emblem ; and, as thou art become a Leader, thou should't likewise be a Pattern to the Flock. For the Conversation of such Persons should be no longer conformable to the Customs and corrupt Examples of the World, but confined to the Angels in Heaven, or to the Saints that excel in Virtue upon Earth.
When thou entreft into the Holy Place , and there putt'ft on the Garments of thy Function, consider what thou art going about, and how high a Place thou hast obtained ; no less than to be the Representative of the Great High-priest in Heaven, and to Minister in his stead unto his people. First therefore, with all Humility, bewail thy own Unworthiness, and confess thy own Sins ; then with a moft extensive Charity, and tender Compassion, bewail, and intercede for the Sins of others. Look upon thy self as a Mediator between God and Transgreffors; to offer up Their Prayers, Confessions, and Thanksgivings to him; and to hand down his Pardon and Blessings to them. And be not slothful or unthinking, careless or cold in this Affair; for it is most important, and requires thy most diligent Attention, thy most earnest Importunity, thy most Indefatigable Perseverance; never to be abated, till thou have gained thy Point, and prevailed for Mercy and Grace, by those resoluté Wrestlings with God. But, when thou celebratest the Holy Supper, remember, thou art about a Work, which all Heaven and Earth are concern'd in. A work, which, when performed as it ought, brings Honour to God, Joy to the blessed Angels, Edification to the
Church of Christ, Conversion to Sinners, Peace to
C H A P. VI.
' "An A&t of Preparation before the Sacrament, Disciple.] REhold, Lord, with thy wonted Mercy,
the Doubts and Confusions of my troubled Breaft. For, when I look up to Heaven, and consider the Majesty of my Great, my Holy God; and from thence draw my eyes back upon my self, and view my own Vileness and horrible Sinfulness, I am all Perplexity, and Distraction, and Horror. Thou biddeft me come; and, if I refuse or neglect to comply with that gracious Invitation, I forlake my own Mercy, and deprive my self of Life and Happiness : But if I come unworthily, I am equally miserable and Thall be punished for the high Indignity of bringing fo polluted a Guest ro so pure and heavenly a Fealt. What Course then shall I take to be safe, when Danger and Death threaten on either hand I will even fly to thee, my God, and instead of consulting with Flesh and Blood, or hearkning to the deceitful Infinuations of my too rash, or too timorous Reason, will ask Counsel of Thee, my Infallible and only Oracle, in Difficulties, my never-failing Help in Necessities and Distresses.
Teach me, I beseech thee, the right way, and lead me in fuch Methods of Holy Preparation, as may be proper and suitable to so exalted an Act of Religion, I know that these Approaches to thee in the Blessed Sacramenç are exceeding beneficial and delightful;
but make me know withal, in what manner thou must be approached, to render that which is desirable in it self safe and profitable to me in particular." Give me, I beseech thee, a due Sense of the Greatnefs of the Mystery,and the Excellence of thy Mercy in it; and, consequent to that, fill my Soul with pure and holy Affections, with earnest Longings, with godly Sorrow, with fincere and stedfast Resolutions, with profound Reverence, and, ardent Devotion, that my Heart may be a clean, though homely Receptacle for my Saviour, such as he will not disdain ; and I so welldisposed a Guest at this Divine Feast, this Spiritual Sacrifice, that thou may'st bid me welcome to thy Table, and the Food I receive there may nourish me up to Health and Life Eternal. Amen.
Chrift.] Bove all keepings, keep thy heart, and
whether Priest or Private Christian, take good heed, that at thy coming to my holy Table thy Devotion consist not in outward Gesture, and Pomp and Shew only. I am not to be imposed upon with such empty Formalities, but require an upright, humble, and devout Mind, a Mind low and proftrate as thy Body, a stedfast Faith and pure Intention, and unfeigned Zeal for God's honour. Therefore, before thou prefume to approach, examine well how thou art qualified : Search every corner of thy Conscience, and do thy utmost to purge and cast out all Remains of the old Leaven. Let no Sin unrepented of reproach thee; no Luft unmortified divide thy Affections, and hinder thy free and entire Refignation to my