ページの画像
PDF
ePub

OF THE

IMITATION

OF

Jesus Christ. .

Che fourth Book.

Of the Lord's Supper.

CH A P. I. The Reverence due to this Holy Sacrament,

The INVITATION.

Chrift] "

[ocr errors]

OME unto me,

all
ye

Mat, xi.28. " that labour and are

heavy laden, and I

66 will refresh you. " The Bread that I will give, is my Flesh; Pobnvi.si. " which I will give for the Life of the “ World. Take, eat, this is my Body 1 Cor.xi.24. “ which is given for you; 'This do in re“ membrance of me. He that eateth my Johnvi.56. “Flesh, and drinketh my Blood, dwel« leth in Me, and I in Him. The Words

63. T 2.

for which

for which I speak unto you, they are Spirit, and they Fare Life.

Disciple.] These, Blessed Jefus, are thy Words, on which my Soul securely rests it felf, because my Sayiour who is Eternal Truth, hath fpoken them. These the gracious and condescending Invitations, which I find scattered in Holy Scripture, as Occasions offered for making them. Thefe therefore I will receive with Holy Gratitude, with humble but entire Confidence; and grave them upon my Soul in deep and indeliple 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 ånd Salvation thou wer't pleafed tó 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 ftupid I must be beyond Imagination, if Encouragement so sweet, fo kind, do not awaken, and very sensibly affect me. But alas ! at the same time, that thy Call inclines me to come, my own grievous Transgressions fly in my Face, and the Terrors of a guilty Conscience keep me 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 prostrare 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 Thoụght thou hast moft sệafonably interposed with thy reviving Comforts ; haft made that Faith and Trust a Virtue and a Duty, which I fhould have fhunned 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

[ocr errors]

to Heaven; and I serioufly desire; (as who indeed tant but desire?) Life and Glory. Thou exhorteft me to begin to live immediately, by taking the sweet Fores tastes of Immortality, in that Breads which is the Food of Souls. Thy kind Invitation therefore I greedily attend to, Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you. O charming Sound in the Ears of a Sinner! How joyful is the News to a poory loft; 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 moft Blessed Bodys and admitted to partake of the lively Figures of thý 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? Nayy rather, that thou should'st come to Me, and dwell under my Roof? O unspeakable Condefcenfion! O unexampled Kindness!. Behold the Heaven, and Heaven of Heavens, cannot contain thee, and yet thout vouchsafest to take up thy Abode with Man, that is a Worm ? The Angels are not pure in thy fight, and yet thou fayest to wretched Sinners, Come unto me 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 Mifdeeds testis fy against me, and I am but too sensible, that no Mes rit 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 Savis our, or bring him to Me, or hope to keep him there ; Him, whom I have fo often, fo grievously provoked, fo justly made my Enemy 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: Bet

hold

اوم

Ta

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 beavy 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 durst not have attempted to move towards thee, but would have rather used their utmost Industry, to flee from the Prefence of their Master and Judge. But be it fo ; We are commanded to come to Thee ; and thou vouchsafest 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 qualified, 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 fo terrible, fo glorious a Creator, from the vilest and most unworthy of all his Creatures? Thy Servant Mofes admitted into familiar Converfation 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 : and fhall I, wretched rotten Trunk, take upon me without Ceremony to receive the Almighty Maker and Giver of that Law ? Solomon, the wisest of Princes, fpent 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 facrificed 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 Alhes, Chief

of

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 de voutly, 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 fo composed a Frame, as becomes our more immediate Addresses to Thee. I am not unmindful of thy Presence, then more peculiar than at other times; I reflect upon the Inde cency and Sin of suffering my Heart to divide it self; I know, that when an Honour fo 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 Selfreproaches, Frailty will prevail.

Nay, the same 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 Passion? 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 express’d

their

T4

« 前へ次へ »