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These we are to confide in, as Efectual for that Purpose; and to rest assured, that the Mercies, represented by them, are as certainly imparted, by and with them, as those very Signs are, which we see, and feel, and taste. These again we are to consider, as having that Efficacy and Significance, not from any natural Force and Tendency of their own ; but purely from the Ordinance and Institution of God, who appointed the Use of them for such particular Purposes.
'Tis farther observable, concerning all the Ordinances of this kind; That they begin to take place, upon some new Conditions of Obedience imposed, and as Confirmations to Promises of some signal Advantage, propounded as a Reward of Compliance, with the Change or Addition of such Conditions. The Instances themselves make this exceeding plain. For such are to be reckoned, The Tree of Life in Paradise, to our First Parents: The Bow in the Cloud to Noah, after the Flood: Circumcision to Abraham, upon separating Him and his Pofterity to be God's peculiar: The Passover, and other Levitical Sacrifices, upon enacting the Law: And, to Us Christians, Baptism and the Lord's Supper, at the Promulgation of the Gospel. All these agree thus far, that, by the impressions made upon our bodily Senses from Objects fit to affect them, all Doubt might be removed, concerning those Benefits, of which our Senses can have no Perception ; but which do challenge a Right to our Faith, (the only Principle qualified to apprehend them ) when Evidence of them is nade by such Marks and Emblems, as, when rightly used, God hath determined to bestow them in Company with.
And This I take to be the true Reason of that particular Presence of Christ, in the Sacraments, above what is usually attributed to other parts of Religious Worship: That here is an inseparable Conjunction of the thing signified, with the Sign rightly administred; and a fenfible Proof of that invisible Benefit, made by vi
i Cor. x. 16.
sible Signs. For such the Sacraments exhibit to us, but
are therefore the Means of exhibiting and rendring us Partakers of, his Body broken and his Blood, (or as himself, according to St. Luke, was pleased to phrase it) the New Testament in his Blood, shed for us. Of which, if we will speak intelligibly, and so, as may agree with the Terms, whereby the Evangelists and St. Paul have severally described the Act of Institution, it must be to like Effect, with the Words of our Church, in her Thanksgivings after the Communion. That here we hope, by the Merits and Death
First Prayer. of Jesus Christ, and through Faith in his Blood, to obtain Remission of our sins, and all other Benea fits of bis Pasion. Or (as the Other Form yet more expresy) that Them who have duly received these Holy Mysteries, God hath vouchSafed to feed with the Spiritual Food of the most precious Body and Blood of his Son our Saviour Jesus Christ ; and doth assure them thereby of his Favour and Goodness toward them; and, that they are very Members incorporate in the mystical Body of his Son, which is the blessed Company of all faithful People; and are also Heirs through Hope of bis everlasting Kingdom, by the Merits of the most precious Death and Passion of his dear Son. Since then, by communicating in the consecrated Elements, we partake in the Body and Blood of Christ; that is, Since all the Advantages, which his Death was intended to procure for Mankind, are here exhibited, and sealed, to every worthy Receiver in particular; no doubt can be made, whether these Holy Mysteries be not deservedly ftiled Pledges of our Dear Redeemer's Love,
2. The Other End of Instituting this Sacrament is, that it may be a continual Remembrance of Christ's Death. This likewise is manifeft, not only from those Words of our Blessed Saviour himself, Do this in Remembrance of me; but by those also of St. Paul, As oft as ye eat this Bread, and drink this Cup, ye do shew forth the Lord's Death till be come. If we consider the Circumstances of the first Christians, their Hardships and Persecutions for the Faith of Christ; it must be acknowledged, that their making This so constant a part of their Solemn Worship, was an instance of a more than common Zeal. The Natural Construction of fuch a Practice amounting in truth to no less, than a Declaration, that they were neither afraid, nor ashamed, to confess themselves the Disciples of a crucified Lord; notwithstanding all the Cruelty and Contempt, which, it was forefeen, such Confession would not fail of exposing them to. It were to be wished, that any Age, that Ours in particular, had so just a Reverence for Christ and his Religion; as might make such open Attestations of our Adherence to him cease to be, even in this respect, necefsary. But, supposing the whole World agreed in the Regards due to Christ and his Doctrine, yet would the moit publick Declarations of our Thanks still continue a Duty. And, since he hath himself prescribed a Method, for preserving the great things, done and suffered upon Our account, fresh in the Memories of Men ; it will very ill become Them, who are so infinitely indebted to his Kindness, to decline remembring him, in the way of his own Chusing. Accordingly, we find this always look'd upon, as the mark of Distinction for his Servants and Followers: The Admission to it, esteemed their highest Privilege and Comfort: The Exclusion from it, upon any notorious Crime, dreaded and lamented, as the most grievous of all Calamities. For this was interpreted a dreadful Omen, of such Persons being debarred entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven,
if it should please God to take them away in that miserable State: An Argument indeed, that they had neither Part nor Lot in those Sufferings, which they were judged unworthy to commemorate.
For all remembrance of this kind supposes an Interest in, and a Title to, the Blessings Men remember. And the matter is greatly mistaken by Them, who suppose, that every Calling of Christ and his Death to mind is sufficient, to answer the Purposes of this Institution. For, though our Lord have mentioned no other use of this Sacrament expresly, besides that of remembring Him; yet does This singly, when considered as it ought to be, imply all those pious Acts and Dispositions, which the Treatises of Divines upon this Sacrament are usually observed to require, as necessary Preparations to it. And This it is my design to Explain and Prove under my Second General Head, which, I promised, should consist of
II. Some Practical Reflections, relating to this matter.
Now, First, By remembring Christ and his Death, is implied a Remembrance of the End, for which he died. This, the Scriptures acquaint us, was to take away Sin by the Sacrifice of himself: To Deliver us from the Guilt and Punishment of it, by Suffering in our stead ; and to set us at Liberty from the Dominion of it, by the Afiftances of his Grace. But the Scripture does as plainly inform us, that these Benefits are confined to the Penitent only ; And therefore, to pretend to this Remembrance, without sincere Endeavours to promote that End, is Mockery and Affront to his Sufferings. Consequently the Remeinbrance of Christ's Death, in this Sacrament, is an Obligation to hearty Sorrow for our Sins already past; to stedfaft Purposes of living better for the time to come; and to actual Amendment in pursuit of those good Purposes,
Heb. ix. 26.
Secondly, He, who remembers Christ dying for him, is supposed to have a due Sense of the Merit and Efficacy of that Death. He must believe, That God hath accepted it, in full Satisfaction to his offended Justice, and set him forth as a Propitiation, in whom we have Forgiveness and Acceptance. Consequently, he approaches this Table with assured Persuasion, that the Great Work of Redemption is accomplished. By this Persuasion he feels himself invigorated and actuated perpetually. It is like the Soul in his Body, animating every
Part: It influences his whole Behaviour, supports him under Tryals, arms him against Temptations, filences his Doubts, lays the Disquiet of Fears and Mifgivings to deep, banishes Despair utterly; and shews him to himself, tho' most polluted and unworthy, when considered abstractedly and alone; yet, when considered, as one for whom Christ died, the Purchase of that Blood, which could not be shed in vain ; and sure to be accepted in and for the Beloved Son of God. And thus he attains to another Qualification, declared to be necessary upon our approaches to the Blessed Table, A lively and stedfast Faith in Christ our Saviour.
Thirdly, He that remembers the Death of Christ, in our Lord's meaning, recollects, that his Blood was shed, and his Body broken for Him and for Many; Or as St. John, in Terms yet more extensive, that be is the
Propitiation, not for his Sins only, but also 1 John ij. 2.
for the Sins of the whole World. And this Reflection cannot fail to awaken those Endearments, which naturally grow, from Men being involved in the same common Danger and Misery, and partaking in the same common Deliverance. It will put us in mind, how, by suffering in our Nature, he hath united to hinself all, who share that Nature. It will represent the Friendship, due to Them, who are thus made Heirs of the same Hope, Sons of the fame Family, Members of the fame Body, Washed in the fame Baptisin, Fed