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holy communion; it is a deliberate affront, and even a mocking of the Divine Majefty, for a man to make a show of worship and honour to him, while, at the fame time, he goes on in wilful difobedience to his known commands; and fo provokes God to plague him with divers difeafes, and fundry kinds of death, with which the city of Corinth was afflicted for their great abufe and profanation of this holy inftitution, as the apoftle there obferves. But,
3. Hear what our Saviour Chrift faith: unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whence it is eafy to collect, that it is not the number or quality of our fins, but a wilful or fupine continuance in them, that fhould deter us from that holy communion; for whatever fins a man has been guilty of in times paft, if he truly repents of them, and heartily forfakes them for the time to come, God has fo often and fo plainly promised in this cafe to grant a full and free pardon of them, that they cannot juftly be pretended as any obftacle, which fhould hinder us from approaching to him in any of his ordinances."
4. Thus, my foul, thou mayst learn that it is in the power of every man (at least of every one who by a long courfe of
wickedness has not wholly provoked God to withdraw his grace from him) by that grace and affiftance, which God continually offers unto us, to repent of his fins, and amend his life; if fuch a man looks upon his fins, as a bar between him and the holy communion, yet it is plainly fuch a bar as it is in his own power to femove; and, therefore, can never jufly be pleaded as an excufe in his behalf. And it was in confequence of this faith that thou didst bring me to that holy communion, whereby my whole manhood is fo changed, renewed, and established by divine grace, that I purpofe never more to omit any opportunity of refreshing the whole man with that divine food.
5. It is not an indifferent thing, whether or no we approach the Lord's table; and we in vain think to fecure ourselves by keeping from it. When we do not receive, we cannot draw upon ourselves the punishments of unworthy receiving; but then it will be equally pernicious to us, to neglect and refufe the advantages that are provided for us at God's table; and to which we are fo earnestly invited: nay, we declare our refolution to continue in our fins, if we refufe an opportunity of procuring our pardon. It shows that we are not much concerned to do our
. Part II. duty, when we avoid thofe occafions of improving our ftrength, and of receiving that grace, without which it is impoffible to perform it. Nor can we continue in this neglect without offending God, who has made it our bounden duty. We cannot defpife his grace, without increafing our guilt, and provoking his wrath and indignation against us. And by leaving undone the things which he has commanded, as well as by doing those things he has forbidden, we expose our eternal falvation. But,
6. Methinks, I perceive the enemy laying another fnare to fruftrate my good refolutions; the devil fometimes, that he may deceive us the better, will transform himself into an angel of light. He pretends to plead the caufe of God, and endea vours to ftagger our faith; faying, that if now we break thofe refolutions made before receiving the Lord's fupper, and return again to our fins, he doubts whether God would ever again admit us to pardon and reconciliation; and, therefore, he thinks it fafer to abstain from the holy communion, rather than to run the hazard of being-for ever excluded from the hopes of heaven. It is true St. James tells us, in many things we offend all; there is no man but what has his share, more or less,
51 of human infirmities, fo that it is most reasonable to conclude, that, in the course of this life, they will fometimes unavoidably furprise and betray us into fome fins. Against thefe, therefore, we must continually strive, and we may reafonably hope, that by God's grace, and our own diligent and careful endeavours, we may every day more and more prevail against them. For,
8. However God may think it fit, for our humiliation, and a farther trial of us, to leave us ftill expofed to fome of the common infirmities of our nature; yet, in refpect of all habitual or deliberate fins, we may affure ourfelves, that he is faithful, and will not fuffer us to be tempted above that we are able, but will with the temptation also make a way for us to escape, that we may (if it be not our own fault) be able to bear it. Nor will he fail to draw nigh to us, while we continue careful to draw nigh unto him. Let us then but fteadfaftly refolve to be hearty and induftrious in doing what lies in our own power; and then, though our fins be as Scarlet, or as red as crimson, yet we need not be difcouraged; for God is ready, upon our repentance, to make them as white as wool and fnow.
8. Yet, at the fame time, it ftands with
a great deal of reason, that the greater our fins have been, and the oftener we have relapfed into them, the deeper our forrow, and the more laborious our repentance muft be, in order to obtain our pardon. But fince there is a poffibility of pardon even in the cafe of the mot profligate and abandoned finner, must not make the contrary fear fuggefed by the devil, a pretence for keep ing curfelves back from any of the ordinances of God, and from a more im mediate and intimate communion with him. On the contrary, let us flee to them in the time of our 'temptation, as the ready means to deliver us from all evil, and established by God to confirm us in every thing that is good.
The Hymn on Monday Evening.
THE promife of
Shall ftand for ever good:
To this dear cov'nant of thy word,