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is necessary to satisfy us about this matter. But it must be extremely useful for all persons, not only to be attentive to their ways constantly, but to look back upon them frequently; much more frequently than almost any one receives the Sacrament. And as things, which have no certain season fixed for them, are very apt to be neglected, we should fix upon this, as one certain season, for as particular an inspection into the state of our hearts and lives as we can well make, and can hope to be better for; joining with it suitable meditations, resolutions, and devotions. But then in the whole of this work we must be careful, neither to hurry over any part, thoughtlessly, nor lengthen it wearisomely. And in our examination we must be especially careful, neither to flatter, nor yet to affright ourselves: but observe impartially what is right in us, thank God, and take the comfort of it; acknowledge what is wrong, beg pardon, and amend it. For without amendment, being ever so sorry will avail nothing.
The last thing to be mentioned in relation to this holy Sacrament, is our behaviour at it, which ought to be very serious and reverent; such as may show, in the properest manner, that, to use the Apostle's words, we "discern or distinguish "the Lord's body;" look on the action of receiving it, as one of no common nature, but as the religious memorial of our blessed Saviour's dying for us, and by his death establishing with us a covenant of pardon, grace, and everlasting felicity, on God's part; and of faith and holiness, on ours. With this important consideration, we should endeavour to affect our hearts deeply and tenderly; yet neither to force our minds, if we could, into immoderate transports, by which wę shall only bewilder and lose, instead of benefiting
(1) 1 Cor. xi. 29.
ourselves; nor express even what we ought to feel, by any improper singularities of gesture; nor yet be dejected, if we have less feeling, and even less attention to the service, than we have reason to wish. For such things may be, in a great measure at least, natural and unavoidable. Or, supposing them faults; they may be, and often are, the faults of such persons, as notwithstanding are, on the whole, very worthy communicants. They may be, for a time, useful means of keeping us humble and watchful; after that, God may deliver us from them: and should we continue all our lives afflicted with them, it would never hinder our receiving all the necessary benefits of this ordinance.
God grant that both it, and all his other gracious institutions, may continue effectually to build us up on our most holy faith in a suitable practice, that so we may ever keep ourselves in the love of God; and on good grounds "look "for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, unto "eternal life." 2
HAVING now, through God's mercy, carried on these Lectures to the end of the Catechism, and in some measure explained to you every part of Christian faith and duty comprehended in it, I have only one instruction more to add, but the most important of all for you to remember and consider well that, "if ye know these things, "happy are ye, if ye do them ;" and miserable ye, if ye do them not.
(2, Jude, verse 2), 21.
(1) John xiii. 17.
We all know indeed by nature, in a great degree, what manner of persons we ought to be in this world; and therefore, if we fail of being such, are in a great degree inexcusable. For how little teaching soever some may have had; yet our Saviour's home question will reach even them: "Yea, and why even of yourselves judge 66 ye not what is right ?" 2" The work of the law "is written in the hearts of men, their conscience "also bearing witness."3 Being reasonable creatures, we are evidently bound to govern our passions, appetites, fancies, and whole behaviour, by the rules of reason. And who doth not see, that sobriety, temperance, and modesty, are things perfectly reasonable; and excess, and dissoluteness, and indecency, mischievous and shameful ? Being social creatures, we are as evidently bound to whatever will make society happy. And since we are very sensible, that others ought to treat us with justice and kindness, peaceably mind their own business, and diligently provide for their own maintenance; we cannot but be sensible, that we ought to do the same things. Then lastly, being creatures capable of knowing our Creator, who is "not far from every one of us; "for in him we live, and move, and have our "being" it follows very clearly, that we are not to forget him, but worship and obey him as the Almighty, all-wise, and all-good maker and lord of the universe; acknowledge our dependance on him, be thankful to him for his mercies, and resign ourselves to his disposal.
Thus much, one should have thought, all men must have known, without supernatural teaching and certainly they might; and therefore are justly blameable and punishable, if they do not. But still it hath appeared in fact, that whether
(9) Luke xii. 57. (3) Rom. ii. 15. (4) Acts xvii. 27, 28.
men have been left to their own reason, neither every one hath taught himself, nor the wiser part of the world taught the rest, even these plain things; so as to produce any steady regard to them, as duties, or even any settled conviction of them, as truths. And for want of it, sin and misery have prevailed every where. Men have made others and themselves wretched in number, less ways; and often doubly wretched by the reflections of their own hearts; knowing they had done ill, and not knowing how to be sure of pardon.
Foreseeing from eternity these dreadful conse quences of human ignorance and wickedness, God provided suitable remedies of instruction and grace; which he notified to the world from time to time, as his own unsearchable wisdom saw would be fittest; increasing the light gradually, until it shone out in the full day of Christianity. But revelation, as well as reason, hath been given in vain to a great part of mankind. The propagation of it through the earth hath been strangely neglected; in many places, where it hath been received, it hath been lost again; and in too many, where it is retained, it is grievously corrupted and obscured. Without question, we ought to judge as charitably as we can of all who are in any of the same conditions; but at the same time we ought, from the bottom of our hearts, to thank God that none of them is our own. Undoubtedly he is and will be gracious to all his creatures, as far as they are fit objects; but it is "the riches of "his grace," that he hath bestowed on us; and as, with justice, he might dispose of his own free gifts as he pleased, so, in mercy, he hath conferred a large proportion of them on this nation and age. Blessings, that are common and familiar, though indeed much the greater for that, are usually but
(5) Eph. i. 7. ii. 7.
little regarded. And thus, amongst other things, the opportunities that we enjoy of religious knowledge, it may be feared, are often very lightly esteemed. But would we reflect, how much less means of being acquainted with the duties of this life, and the rewards of another, not only the unenlightened heathen world, but the Jews, the people of God, had formerly; and much the greatest part even of Christians have had for numbers of successive generations, and have still, than we; it would make us feel, that our Saviour's words belong to us also: "Verily, I say unto you, "that many Prophets and righteous men have "desired to see those things which ye see, and "have not seen them; and to hear those things " which ye hear, and have not heard them. But "blessed are our eyes, for they see; and your ears, for they hear." 6
But then, and for the sake of God and our souls, let us observe it; if "seeing we see not, and hear"ing we hear not "7 to the only good purpose of life, that of becoming in heart and in practice such as we ought; "better had it been for us, not to "have known the ways of righteousness, than, "after we have known it, to turn from the holy "commandment delivered unto us." 8 "For unto "whomsoever much is given, of him shall much "be required. The servant, that knew his lord's " will, and prepared not himself, neither did ac"cording to his will, shall be beaten with many
stripes; he that knew it not, with few."9 But take noiice; he that in comparison with others, may be said not to know the will of God, knows enough of it however to subject him, if he fails of doing it, to future punishment; "to be beaten "with stripes." Not even a heathen sinner therefore shall escape entirely by his ignorance; much
(6) Matt. xiii. 16, 17.
(7) Matt. xiii. 13. (8) 2 Pet. ii. 21. (9) Luke xii. 47, 48.