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and dissolute, nay many thoughtless and lukewarm People, allow themselves in this Indifference; and industriously seek Pretences to defer their Repentance and Approaches to the Lord's Table, męerly to avoid, as they think, the Necessity of parting with their darJing Lusts, and the keeping that strict Guard upon their Conversations, without which they must be lost to all Eternity.
How cold, alas! is those Mens Love for me? How feeble their Devotion, who, upon such frivolous Pretences, can dispense with this so necessary Duty, so glorious Privilege, of Communicating at my Table ? How happy, how easie to himself, how acceptable, how dear to God is that Man, whose Conduct is so strictly virtuous, whose Conscience so void of stain and reproach, that he could every Day most chearfully, most safely partake of this Fleavenly Feast, were the Opportunities of doing it so equal to his Disposition, and might his Zeal escape the Censure of needless Oftentation? For a Man is not presently to be condemned, who does not seek or embrace every poslīble Occasion of Communicating. There may be some very allowable, and others even commendable, Reasons for absenting. If out of deep Humility, and awful Reverence, or as a voluntary Punishment inflicted upon a Man's self for some grievous Relapse, he impose this Penance, or dread to come : The Respect paid to the Ordinance, or the holy Indignation conceived against himself, may be better accepted and more becoming, than Receiving in such Circumstances. But this must not be so far indulged, that long disuse should produce indifference and disregard for the Sacrament ; For, if once the Soul degenerate into Neglect and Spiritual Sloth, all possible Endeavours must be used to awaken it. Not doubting but that God will be ever present with the Assistances of his Grace, and second thy Care with success proportionable to
thy Vigour and Diligence, and the Sincerity of thy good Intentions.
But One thing must always be obferved, That when the Hindrances to Communicating are real and important and necessary, not frivolous Excuses industriously thought, or readily laid hold on to cover Inpiety and Negligence, the Person fo detained is present in Wish and Inclination, though not in actual Attendance. And then the Benefit of the Sacrament, and all the Saving Effects of it are as fully imparted to him, as his Appearance in the Congregation, and the Elements themselves, could have ensured them. For 'tis a great Mistake to imagine, that good Men receive not the Advantages of Christ's Body and Blood, except just then, when they receive the outward and visible Signs of them : Every Day, every Hour furnishes Opportunities of Communicating spiritually, and a Man thus composed can never be surprized, never find any difficulty to comply with any occasion of doing it publickly. For an innocent Life, and a devour Mind are a constant Preparation. But when the usual Seasons return, and especially the Solemn Festivals, wherein the great and glorious Mysteries of the Christian Religion are commemorated, then such a one will think it his Duty to join with the Publick Alsemblies in this sublimest Instance of Piety and Thankfgiving he will approach with a Heart full of Affection and Reverence; and esteem this Homage due, not only to himself for the Comforts and Advantages he may expect from it, but more especially to Me, for the Honour and Tribute of Praise, by which my Name and Mercies ought to be thus magnified among Men. And this is a Fruit which can only redound to me by open and visible Acts of Worship. Whereas the Other of private Improvement and mystical Communion with Chrift, is attained in secret, and constantly follows upon every religious Meditation con
cerning my Incarnation, and Sufferings, or any other of the mysterious Works, by which the Redemption of Mankind was compleated, and the pious Affeètions of Christians are cherished and inflamed.
They, who reserve themselves for the Feasts of the Church only, and take no care to put their Souls in a due Posture for Receiving, except only when such solemnites call them to it, are seldom or never prepared as they ought to be. He is the safe , the happy Man, who makes it his frequent Practice, and conftantly offers up himself a Sacrifice to his God. In the Act of Communicating keep Rule and Order, and let not thy Haste or Impatience, the Length of thy private Devotions, or any other Singularity of thy own Fancy, give disturbance to the common Usages and Ceremonies of the Congregation whereof thou art a Member. For take this along with thee, That, even in this part of Worship, where Zealand Devotion are most acceptable Ingredients, yet these very Qualifications, when indulged out of Season and Measure, lose all their Value ; and are not half so pleasing in the fight of God, as unaffected Modefty, and an humble decent Compliance with the established Orders and Customs of the Church,and the Convenience of others; who ought not to be disturbed, or incommoded for the fantastical or peculiar Ways of any private Person whatsoever.
C + A P. XI. .
The Benefit of Christ's Body and Word.
Disciple. O Spreis the Charnis, the Transpores, of
Sweetest dearest Jesus! Who can ex
Table, where no common Food is placed, but the Divine Entertainment of thy own Body and Blood. An Entertainment delicious, above all that Man can express or imagine! What Satisfaction should we take to come into thy Tabernacle, and fall low on our Knees before thy Foot-stool, to open wide our Hearts for the Delights of thy House, and, with Mary Magdalen, to wash thy holy Feet with Tears of Love! But where, alas! is this Devotion to be found? where are thofe Eyes overflowing with pious Sorrow? Or, if that Sorrow be swallowed upin Joy, yet ought we not even thus to approach thee with dry Eyes; but Tears of Joy should trickle down apace, when we consider our mighty Privilege, and the Happiness of being admitted to thy blessed Presence, and made Partakers of the Bliss of Angels. For, as they really behold thy Face in Glory, so am I sure to see, and to receive thee, in the mystick Elements, tho' covered there under a different Form, and shrouded in a Veil of Bread and Wine.
I adore thy Goodness, which thus condescends to the Infirmities of Human Nature, and in much Compaffion is pleased under these sensible Representations to hide that glorious Majesty, whose native Lustre is too piercing bright, for Me or any Created Being to behold in its full
Strength. But tho' my Eyes see thee not as thou art, yet here, I know, I have thee most ef. fectually, and do therefore most humbly adore that Divinity on Earth, which Angels prostrate themselves before in Heaven. I do it through a Glass, and I gaze
with the Eyes of Faith; They are permit
ted to do it Face to Face, and to know even as they are known. And, though this Glass be dark and dim, yet it is such as I ought to be content with, since Mortality admits of nothing better ; nor can I attain any higher Perfection, till the Day of Everlasting Life dawn, and the thick Shadows of Figures are scat
I Cor. xiii.
tered by its Brightness. When that which is perfect shall come, then will all Use for Sacraments be superfeded, and for ever cease ; for these are Remedies and Expedients, accommodated to a State of Frailty and Imperfection, such as the Blessed above have no occasion for. They are in endless and unspotted Perfe&ion, and ever rejoicing in the Beams of thy glorious Presence; they see thee as thou art, and are transformed into the Excellencies
I John iii. they see; they taste the Word made Flesh, not in the Symbols of his Humane Nature, but in the Native Charms of his Divine; as he was the Word of God from all Eternity, and shall continue fo to be forever.
When these Ideas so full of Wonder employ my Thoughts, I feel a generous Disdain, not only of worldly Comforts, but am provoked to disesteem even those spiritual and better Consolations, which thy Grace at present diffuses through my Soul : And all besides seems poor and despicable, so long as I am debarred the light of my Love and Lord: Thou knowest the Secrets of my Heart, and wilt bear Testimony to the Sincerity of those Professions I make, when I'declare, that nothing less than God, whom I moft earnestly long for ever to contemplate, can satisfie and fill the impatient Desires of my enlarged Soul. But this I know, is a Blessing, not to be obtained by Mortal Man, and therefore I will set my self with Patience to wait the time appointed for it. Thus did thy Saints of old, who now partake of the Joysand Kingdom of their Lord. Their Faith was vigorous, and their Perseverance unshaken, their Thirstings eager, but their Patience exemplary and humble, till that Coming of their Lord, which they thought long, at last released, and exalted them. My Hope, my Faith are now the same, which theirs were then; and, I trust, my Joy and Crown, shall, by thy Grace and Mercy, be one Day the same too. Till that Day