« EdellinenJatka »
any influence his death, or suffering, or doctrine could have upon the bringing men to a state of happiness."
For These reasons I thought it my duty, as a Christian, in explode that fulsome and luscious method of the Old Week's Preparation, which has most scandalously put into the mouth of the devout reader such carnal expressions as are there mentioned ; and in their stead I have endeavoured 10 substitute such prayers and meditations, as may be warranted from ihe word of God: being thoroughly sensible how well grounded that complaint of the pious bishop Fleetwood is," that the devotions of the ignorant are generally superstiti. ous and gross, fixing themselves commonly on sensible chjects; whereas in true religion all is intelligible and divine, -and God, who should be the only object of their devotion, hath hardly any share therein."
Some account of this work. As it has been my endeavour on the one hand not to flatter sinners; so, on the other, I have been careful not to fill the minds of any with unnecessary fears and scruples, with respect to a duty, which ought to be the practice of their whole lives; as if no body ought to go to this sacrament, bul such as are as perfect as ever they can hope to be.
On the contrary, it is the judgment of the most or. thodox divines, that (abstracting from particular cir. cumstances) the receiving of the blessed sacrament is the most divine and solemn act of our religion; and it ought to be the zealous endeavour of every true Christian, by God's assistance, lo prepare his soul with the most serious, and most depout dispositions he possia bly can, to approach the holy altar : a nian cannol toq often commemorate our Lord and his passion, nor too often return devout thanks and praises for the same, por too often repeat his resolutions ofamendment,nor too often renew lis solemp engagements, nor too often re(cive pardon of sins, and tresh succours of divine grace: and if coming to the Lord's table (prepared or unprepared) were a sure and infallible way to answer these good and great ends, there could then be 110 question, but that it would be both our wisdom and our duty to communicate as often as opportunities should invite, and health permit. But it is certain,on the other hand, that bare communicating is not the thing required, but communicating worthily. Here lies the main stress of all, not to urge frequency of communion so far as to, render this holy sacrament hurtful or fruitless to parties concerned ; neither yet to abate so far of the frequency as to make a kind of dearth or famine of this so salutary and necessary food. For the clearer understanding of this matter, it may be necessary to take notice, that since it is allowed on all hands that there . can be no just bar to the frequency of communion, but
the want of preparation, which is only such a bar as men may themselves remove, if they please ; it concerns them highly to take off the impediment as soon as possible, and not to trust to the vain hopes of alleviating one fault by committing another. The danger ut misperforming any religious duty, is an argument for fear and caution, but no excuse for neglect ; God insists upon the doing it, and the doing it well also. It was no sufficient plea for the slothful servant, under the gospel, that he thought his master hard to please, and thereupon neglected his bounden duty: bul, on the contrary, the use he ought to have made of that consideration was to have been so much the more wakeful and diligent in his master's service. Therefore in the case of the holy communion, it is to very little purpose lo plead the strictness of the self-examination or preparation by way of excuse either for a total, or for a frequent, or for a long neglect of it. A man may say, that he comes not to the Lord's table because he is not prepared, and so far he assigns a good reason; but if he should be further asked, why he is not prepared, when he may, then he can only make some trilling, insufficient excuse, or, remain speechless..
But to return; I have spared no pains to render these meditations and prayers as generally useful, as can be expected in a book of this kind ; yet as the best performances have their imperfections, so this (to bę sure) is not without some. However, I hope, there
are none so material but what a Chistian may overlook for the sake of that good which is intended by it. Again, that all these meditations and prayers are entirely new, is by no means pretended: no, there will be found amongst them several collected from other books; but then these being such only as have been allowed to be excellent in their kind, it may reasonably be expected that the whole will be the more acceplable on that account.
Upon a review, since the first publication of this Preparation, I have experienced that inany communicants distract themselves with a multiplicity of private devo." tions, when in duty they should attend to the public service of the church; and further prompted thereto by the advice of those whose peculiar charge is to inspect and promote the welfare of the Christian worship, and for whose judgment ihe world upon many occasions have expressed the greatest esteem, I have interwoven in this present edition so much of the communion as is sufficient to prevent that growing evil; in which I have followed the example of the Bishop of Man, Dr. King, and several others; but with this difference, that I have not bdened the communicant with much of the Of. ficeno more than that part of it in which communi. cants only are, concerned, and which is really necessary for their assistance during the solemnity; whereas the Bishop of Man, and seme others, have taken in the whole of that office, from one end to the other; which I cant approve of upon several accounts, too tedious to be related in so short a preface, and which I rather choose to conclude with the following quotation of the late pious, learned, and orthodox Dr. Waterland, against the folly and danger of laying a fashionable stress upon an habitual preparation, and in favour of such Weekly Treatises of preparation before receive ing the Lord's Supper. The usefulness of actual preparation before
receiving the Lord's Supper. "Our esteem or disesteem (of this holy sacrament) will best be seen by our preparing or not preparing for
it as we ought. There is something of a preparation of heart, mind, and ways, required for all religious offices, much more for this, which is the flower and per. fection of all."
.“As to the length of time to be taken in preparing, there is no one certain rule to be given, which can suil all casės or circumstances : only when a man has competently adjusted his accounts with God, (be it sooner or later, then he is fit to come, and not till then.
'There is an habitual, and there is an actual pre. paration. The habitual preparation is a good life; and the farther we are advanced in it, the less need there is of an actual preparation besides; but, because men are too apt to flatter and deceive their own hearts, and to speak peace to themselves without sufficient ground for so doing, therefore some actual prepara. tion, self-examination, &c. is generally necessary, even to those who may be habitually good, if it be only to give them a well-grounded assurance, that they really are so.
" It were to be wished there were not many amongst us who have a deal to consider of before-hand; many offences to correct, many disorders to set right, much to do, and much to undo, before they presume to come to Gud's altar. .
- Fault has been sometimes found with these little treatises of Weekly Preparation: I think without reason. They are exceedingly useful in their kind. It may be happy for them who need none of these helps; but they that least need them, are not the men, generally, who most despise them. None of us, perhaps, are so perfect as not to want, at some seasons, some such hints for recollection or helps to devotion. It is well for common Christians, that they are provided with useful manuals of that kind. They that are well disposed, will make use of them, as often as they need them, and will at all times give. God thanks and praises for them.”
The Lord Jesus, the saine night in which he was be. trayed, took bread: and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat, this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner he took also the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood ; this do ye as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me: For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, re do show the Lord's death till he come. I Cor. xi, 23, 24, 25, 26.
In the Morning, when you first awake, say :
A RISE, thou that fleepest; arise, my A dull and drowsy foul, and Christ will give thee light.
To thee, O Lord, do I lift up my eyes, my hands, my heart, from this bed, where my body has taken its nightly repore, towards thy heaven, where my soul expects her eternal rest. . My voice shalt thou hear betimes in the morning; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.
When you rise *IN the name of Jesus Christ, who was
I crucified for our sins, and rose again for our justification, I rise from this place of bodily reft, to fulfil thy will, O my