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distract me, the Burthen of my Sins presses me down, the Multitude of my Temptations are a perpetual Torment and Vexation, the Variety and Exorbitance. of my corrupt Affections entangle, and confound, and over-power my Reason.“ And in the midst of these Calamities and Dangers, I have no Succour, no Defence, no Supporter or Deliverer, but only thee, my God. And therefore into thy Hands, my merciful Maker and Saviour, I commit my felf, and all my Affairs ; and beg, that thou would'st keep what'is thus deposited with thee, safe unto Life Éternal. O take me therefore into thy Custody; and, as thou hast ordained thy Body and Blood to be the Food of Immortality; so grant, that it may have its proper Efficacy upon my Šoul in particular, to the Glory of thy Name, and the Honour of fo blessed an Institution. And, that no Neglect or Unfruitfulness of mine may obstruct its kindly and powerful Pperations ; Grant, I beseech thee, my God and Saviour, that I never may be guilty of such Disrespect, as wilfully to turn my Back upon thy Table; but may earnestly long for, heartily rejoice in, and diligently comply with, every Opportunity of receiving this mighty Blesfing; and may so frequent, and so improve under, thy merciful Dispensation ; that I may constantly return, with greater Care and Zeal, more fettled Resolutions, more irreconcileable Hatred againft Sin, and more fervent Love for God and Goodness, than before. So shall I approach nearer to thee indeed, and each Sacrament prove a fresh Advance toward Heaven. So fhall my Soul be filled with the Treasures of thy Mercy, the Delights of thy Secret ones, and the ravishing Foretastes of that Bliss, which shall be always growing, till it be confummated at last in that Eternal Feaft above, the Marriage-Supper of the Lamb in thy Kingdom. " Amen.
CHA P. V. The Dignity of the Sacrament, and Honour of the
Priesthood. Christ.] F thou feest the Table richly furnished,
and art desirous to feast upon these dainty Meats, let that Desire be duly tempered with Reverence and holy Fear. For know, that if thou hadst the Purity of an Angel, or the mortified Piety of John the Baptift, yet even thus thou could'st not deserve so Divine a Blessing, but ought'st to acknowledge it- a mighty Favour and Condescension, 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 Persons present should eat the Bread of Angels, and be filled with neavenly Food, by vertue of such Confecration ; Thefe are not the Effect of any extraordinary Merit, in them who fanctify, or who receive, those Creatures of Bread and Wine, but the pure and fole Effect of Mercy and Grace. The Greatness of the Mystery does indeed magnify the Priestly Office ; and Men ought to pay a more than common Respect to those Persons, whom God hath honoured with a Privilege, not 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 Persons acting by his Commission, they use the Form appointed by Christ himself, and have a constant mighty Effect attending upon their due Administration. But still our '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 Cause, he the Invisible 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 fpiritual and extraordinary Effects, and strengthen and refresh the Souls of the Faithful by the Body and Blood of Christ ; at the same 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, rest not in the Testimony of thy Senses, nor dwell upon the outward and visible Siguis; but let thy Faith carry thee on to the inward and spiritual Grace, and exercise it self in contemplating the Alinighty, 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 hast received by Imposition of the Bishop's Hands. For thou art Ordained a Priest for noble and religious Parposes. 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 Truft ; 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 consist, in an Exemption froin the Duties incumbent upon Common Christians. Alas! thy Burden is not less but greater, thy Temptations more and fiercer, thy Danger inore imminent, for being thus distinguished. For it will be expected, that the Sanctity of thy Manners, the Severity of thy
Virtue, the Conquest of thy Passions, the Perfection of thy Holinefs, tbe Fervency and Zeal of thy Devotion, fhould distinguish thee, as visibly, as eminente ly, as thy Garb and thy Profession do. That thou thould'st 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'st likewise be a Pattern, to the Flock. For the Converfation of fuch Persons should be no longer conformable to the Customs and corrupt Examples of the World, but conformed 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 confefs thy own Sins. Then with a most extensive Charity, and tender Compassion, bewail, and intercede for the Sins of others. Look upon thy self as a Mediator between God and Tranfgressors; to offer up their Prayers, Confessions, and Thanksgivings to Him; and to hand down his Pardon and Blessings to Them. And be not flothful or unthinking, carelefs or cold in this Affair; for it is most important, and requires thy most diligent Attention, thy inost earnest Importunity, thy most indefatigable Perseverance; never to be abated, till thou have gained thy Point, and prevailed for Mercy and Grace, by those refolute Wrestlings with God. But, when thou celebrateft 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 blesed Angels, Edification to the Church
of Christ, Conversion to Sinners, peace to wounded Consciences, Comfort to the Aficted, Strength to the Feeble, and to thy self abundance of Grace, and an exceeding great Reward.
CH A P. VI. An A&t of Preparation before the Sacrament,
Ehold, 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 biddest me come; and if I refuse or neglect to comply with that gracious Invitation, I forfake my own Mercy, and deprive my self of Life and Happiness
. But if I come unworthily, I am equally miserable; and shall be punished for the high Indignity, of bringing so polluted a Guest, to 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 Insinuations 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 such Methods of Holy Preparation, as may be proper and suitable to fo exalted an Act of Religion. I know that these Approaches to thee, in the Bleffed Sacrament, are exceeding beneficial and delightful ;