Imatges de pàgina
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vince us, that there is no way more likely to discover our In quities, and to humble ourselves for them, than a serious Application of God's Word to our crooked Paths; and this Duty of Self-Examination is never more properly applied to, than when we intend to receive the Holy Communion: For unless we see-shie Numits, and apprehend the Heinousness of our Offences, and fear the Vengeance due unto us for them, we are altogether unfit for the Conmemoration of his Death, who died for our Sins, and rose again for our Justification. It is the sense and Sight of Sin, that must she'w us the Need and Necessity of a glorious Redeemer, and what Obligations we are under to bless and praise God for our Salvation by his Son Jesus Christ. Of such great Use and Advantage is this Duty of SelfExamination at all Times, that Pyibagoras, in those Golden Verles which go under his Name, particularly rec mmends the same to his Scholars. Every Night before they Nept, he enjoins tbem to examine themselves, wbat Good

they bad done, and wberein th:y bad transgressed. Run over these Things (said he) and if you have done Evil, be troubled ; if Good, rejoice. This Course, if daily followed, as is suggested by Hierocles, his excellent Commentator, perfects the Divine Image in those that use it. Plutarch, Epictetus, Seneca, and the Em. peror Marcus Antoninus, agree in' recommending the same Practice by their own Examples; but especially Holy David, I bought on my Ways, and turned my Feet unto thy Testimonies, Plal. cxix. 59. And this Method, no doubt, is an admirable Means to approve us in Virtue, and the most effectual Way to keep our Consciences awake, and to make us stand in awe of ourselves, and afraid to fin, when we know before-hand that we must give so severe an Account to ourselves of every Action. And when we are employing our Minds in this Ducy of Self-Examination, before the Cominunion, or at any other Time, we must discharge it as impartially as is possible for us, judging as kverely of our own Actions, as we would do of our greatest and worst Enemy; or otherwise we shall but facter and gective ourselves in a Matter of the greatest Weight and

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Imposa Importance, viz. of knowing the State and Condition of our own Souls : But if our Enquiries are just and true, we shall then plainly discover wherein, and how often we have gone astray and done amiss. We shall, by the faithful Difcharge of this Duty, bring to Light all our ungodly, unjust, and uncharitable Ailions; all our vain and filthy Speeches ; all cur wanion, proud, ond covetous Thoughts. Such a strict and . impartial Examination 'will discover to us that accursed Thing Sin, Deut. vii. .26. which has defiled our Nature, nade God our Enemy, and will exclude us the Kingdom of Heaven, if not repented of, 1 Cor. vi..9, 10. But by such a severe Scrutiny as this, we shall-soon perceive the Number of our Transgressions, whaç vile Wretches and grievous Offenders we are, how often we have broken our most furious Vows and Resolutions, especially after the receiving the Holy Sacrament, and in Times of Sickness and Distress : Such a Sight, and such a Prospect of Misery as this, should excite in us a hearty: Trouble and Sorrow for Sin ; especially if we calt an Eye upon the final Issue and Consequences of it, with respect to the World to come. Upon the Ungodly (saith Holy David) God will rain Snares, Fire and Brimstone, Storm and Tempejt, this fall be their Portion to drink, Pfal. xi. 6. Great Plagues remain for the Ungodly, Indignation and Wrath, Tribulation and Anguish, upon every Soul of Man that doth Evil, Rom. ii. 8, 9. The Wicked hall be turned into Hell, and all the People that forget God. These, and many other

. such like Texts of Scripture, may give us some Idea of Notion of the deplorable Condition of the Wicked in a future State, and of God's Hatred against Sin. And is not this then, without multiplying Arguments, sufficient to affect us with great Grief and Sorrow, when we consider that so long as we live in a vicious Course, so long are we exposed to all those Plagues and Torments which God hath in Store for wicked Men, and will most certainly be their Lot and Portion, if not prevented by a cimely Repentance?

The second part of a true Repentance is contrition, or a sorrowful Bewailing of our own Sinful

ness, in Thought, Word, and Deed. When we call to mind the Sins and Follies of our past Lives, and the Dan

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gers we are like to fall into, surely we cannot be otherwise affected than fenfibly grieved with the Thoughts and Apprehensions of our present and approaching Misery. The Sorrows of David, and the Repentance of St Peter,' 2 Sam. xii. Luke xxii. shewed themselves in Floods of Tears, and were too big to be confined within : But our Hearts are generally so hard and unrelenting, that we fin against God, and lose our own Souls without so much as a Sigh or Tear I know that the Tempers of People are different, fome can fhed Tears upon every night Occasion, and others cannot weep, though their Hearts are ready to break for Grief; and therefore we are not to judge of the Sincerity of our own or other People's Repentance by such Signs and Token's ; nor are Tears always necessary to Repentance, though they very well become us; and the least we can do when we have done amiss, is to be forry for it, and to condemn our Folly, and to be full of Indignation and Displeasure against our felves." I will declare my. Iniquity. (Taith Holy David) and be forry for my Sin, Psal. xxxviii. 18. especially if we have been very wicked, and have multiplied our Transgressions, and have continued long in an evil Course, have neglected God, and have forgotten bim Days without Number, then the Measure of our Sorrow must bear some Proportion to the Degrees of our Sins; if they have been as Scarlet and Crimfon, Isaiah i. 8. that is, of a deeper Dye than ordinary, then our Sorrow must be as deep as our Guile; if not so great, we ought to thew so much Trouble and Contrition of Spirit; as to produce in us a Penitential Confession of all our former

Sins ;

Which is the third Property of a sincere Repentance,

I will acknowledge my Sin unto thee, (says the ProConf fon of Sms.

phet David) and mine Unrighteousness have I not hid;

I said I will confefs my Sins unto the Lord, and so ibore forgavest the Iniquity of my Sin, Psalm xxxii. 5. Which Confeffion of Sins must not be in general Terms, that we are Sinners with the rest of Mankind, but it muit be a special Declaration to God of all our most heinous Sins in Thought, Word, and Deed, with all their feyerål Aggrava

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tions, laying open our Sores to our Heavenly Physician; and this we must do, to shew that we condemn all our former evil and vicious Courles, with a full Purpose and Re. fulucion of Mind (by God's Assistance) that we never ine tend to do the like again. Unless this be done, our Sorrow for Sin, and the Confession of our Wickedness, can never profit us in the sight of God, if it be nur joined with a firm Relolution of leading a New Life;

Which is the fourth and most effential Part of a Life.

sincere Repentance, and the only Condition of finding

Mercy with God. He that coveretb bis Sins shall not profper, but wboso confefseth and forfeketb them, shall kave mercy, Prov. xxviii. 13. Let the wicked Man forsake bis Ways, and the unrighteous Man bis Thoughts, and let bim return unto the Lord, and be will have Mercy upon bim, and ta our God, and be will abundantly pardon, Isaiah lv. 7. I tell you nay, (faith Christ) but except ye repent, ye sball all likewise perik, Luke xiii. 3. Repent ye sherefore, and be converted, that your Sins may be blotted out, Acts iii. 1g. Those preced

19 ing Parts of Repentance before-mentioned, are only prepa. sative to this, that which must compleat and finish the Work of a new Cenyert, is to become a New Creature, fo turn from our evil Ways, and to break off our Sins by Righteoufness. This certainly must be the Dafire and Intention of alį Com- : municants, if they hope or expect any Benefit or Advan. tage from this folemn Rite or Covenant ; for he that comes with a Design or Intenti.n of continuing in his former Sins, comes somewhat like unto Judas, that came, and received, and as the fame Time continued his Resolution of betraving his Mafter, That which makes a Man absolutely unfit to receive the Holy Sacrament, is the living in the constant and habitual Practice of any known Sin, withoạt the least Desire or Intention of repentance or Amendment. Such a Man's Approach to the Holy Table, no doubt, is to eat and drink bis own Damnation, since it is a plain mocking of God, and a great Contempt and Abuse of his Divine Authority. We must therefore (by the Help and Asistance of God's Grace) refolye to lead a New Life, following the Command-, ments of God, or otherwise our former Examinations will appear but Night and superficial, our Sight and Senle of Sin trivial and inuifferent, our Sorrow and Contrition of Spirit forced and hypocritical, and our Confeffions odious and formal. Therefore examine well the Sincerity of your Re- . pentance and Refulutions, that you neither deceive God nor yourselves : Him you cannor, because he is a Scarcher of the Heart, and a Difcerner of the Thoughts, nor will he accept of any Thing which is not hearty and unfeigned.

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Not that we are to suppole chat this SacraNo absolute Obe- ment of the Lord's Supper doch require pere dience expected after the Holy fect Obedience in all our Addresses to the Sacrament. Holy Altar, or that none must come, but Yuch

as are in a linless State of Perfection : No, this were impossible, because there is no Man that liveth and finneth not ; for who can say, I have made my Heart clean, I am pure from my Sin; and that even the juf Man falletb seven Times a Day. This Sacrament of the Lord's Supper is not a converting, but a confirming Ordinance, intended to preserve and increase that Spiritual Life and Grace which we received at our Baptism ; so that when we come to the Holy Communion, we' çome thither for fresh Supplies of Grace and Goodness, for ibe strengthening and refreshing of our Souls in all Holiness and Viriue : As our natural Bodies are red and nourished with thole Elements of Bread and Wine, the same Effect is wrought in the Soul, in the inward Man, by these Holy Mysteries, as in the outward Man by Bread and Wine; Bread being the Staff of Life, and Wine the most Sovereign Cordial, (when taken in due Proportion) to chear and rejoice the Heart. And thus pur Souls by this Sacrament are fortified and strengthened with Grace, Wisdom, Courage, and all orker Spiritual Gifts, to keep us through Fairb unio Salvation. Both the Conitors and Benefit of it are great; the Comfort of it, becaule it does not only represent to us the çxceeding Love of our Saviour, in giving his Body to be broken, and his Blood to be jøed for us, but it likewife scals to us all those Blessings and Benefits which are purchased, and procured for us by his Death and Passion, viz. the Pardon

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