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fore, the church concludes all her prayers in these most prevailing words : " for Jesus Christ's sake."
In one word, we do, by this sacrament, keep up a continual correspondence with our Lord in heaven; and hold communion with him, and with all the members of his body, which receive nourishment and growth from him, as the branches from the tree in which they are grafted, and from which, when they are separated, they can bear no fruit, and are only fit to be burned.
And as every Christian is obliged, at the peril of his soul, to observe it, so the duty must be such, as every one, even the most unlearned, may understand, if it is not his own fault.
And so indeed it is : for as an Israelite, (Levit
. i. 4.) under the law, being obliged to lay his hand upon the head of his sacrifice, confessing his sins, and laying them, as it were, upon that creature, as he did easily understand that this was to show him, that death was the due reward of sin; that this ought to humble him before God, and to give him the greatest abhorrence of sin, which could not be pardoned but by the loss of the life of an innocent creature. As this was plain to the meanest Israelite,
even so the most unlearned Christian, when he considers, that our Lord Jesus Christ became a sacrifice for us, and that on him all our sins were laid, on him who knew no sin ; he will easily understand how sad our condition was, which required such a sacrifice: that this, therefore, ought to humble us, to lead us to repentance, to make us fearful of offending God, and to abhor those sins which cost Jesus Christ his life, before God could be prevailed with to pardon them.
He will also easily understand, that the love of Christ, and the remembrance of his death, ought to be very dear to us; and that the oftener we remember it in the manner he ordained, the more graces we shall receive from God: the firmer will be our faith, the surer our pardon, and the more comfortable our hopes of meeting him, not as an enemy, but as a friend, at whose table we have been so often entertained.
And now, if you have considered what you have read, with any degree of attention, you will pause awhile, unul you have expressed your gratitude for this mercy, after some such manner as this following:
O Jesus, who hast loved us, and washed us from our sins, and purchased us by thy own
blood, and didst ordain this sacrament, in order to secure us to thy self, by a grateful remembrance of what thou hast done and suffered for us, make me truly sensible of thy love, and of our sad condition, which did require such a sacrifice.
May I always receive this pledge of thy love, the offers of mercy, pardon, and grace, tendered to us in this holy ordinance, with a thankful heart, and in remembrance of thee, our great and best Benefactor; in remembrance of thy holy example, of thy heavenly doctrine, of thy laborious life, of 'thy bitter passion and death, of thy glorious resurrection, of thy ascension into heaven, and of thy coming again to judge the world.
And may I never forget the obligations thou hast laid upon us, to live as becomes thy disciples, and to forsake every course of life contrary to thy gospel: cease not, O Lord, to love us; and, by the grace vouchsafed in this ordinance, cause us to love thee with all our hearts. Amen.
SECTION III. How a Christian ought to prepare himself for this Sacrament. As the above account of this holy ordinance is easy to be understood, even by the most unlearned Christian; so the preparation re
quired is such, as will neither puzzle the understanding, nor burden the memory, nor take up too much of the time, of those that are engaged in the most necessary employments of life.
The church had regard to all her members, when she gave this short and plain direction to such as prepare to go to the Lord's Supper.
That they examine themselves,
Whether they repent them truly of their former sins?
Whether they steadfastly purpose to lead a new life?
Whether they have a lively faith in God's mercy through Christ?
Whether they have a thankful remembrance of his death? and
Whether they be in charity with all men?
Now, forasmuch as all Christians, who are capable of examining themselves, and their own consciences, are bound, as they hope for salvation through Christ, to go to this sacrament; and because young people are often at a loss how to examine themselves
upon these several heads, here follow a few plain directions, which they that can read, should read with care; and they that cannot, if they have a true concern for themselves, will find
some good Christian, who will be glad to read it to them, and do thereby a work which must be well pleasing to God.
The first Head on which you are to examine yourself, is, con
cerning your Repentance. By what you have already heard concerning the fall of man, you understand how all men became subject and prone to sin; and you cannot but feel it to be so by sad experience. We are assured also, and this by the Spirit of God, that without a sincere repen. tance no man must hope to be saved.
Now, by repentance, you are to understand, a man's condemning himself, for having done any thing displeasing to God;—either such things as God has forbidden, to keep us from ruining ourselves; or by omitting such duties as he has commanded, in order to fit us for happiness when we die.
So that, if either the fear of God's displeasure, or a love of him, who has been so good to you, will weigh with you, you will most heartily condemn yourself for every thing you have done contrary to his will and command.
You will also beg him, most earnestly, to forgive you what is past; and
promise and resolve, through his
grace and help, not wilfully to offend him again.