« 上一頁繼續 »
that I may love thee with more sincerity, and serve thee with greater faithfulness, than I have ever yet done; convince me of the vanity and uncertainty of all things here below; and grant that I may make thee, who art the Creator of heaven and earth, and of all things therein, my only joy and my delight, my stay and my trust, my guide and my counsellor; and be so delighted with the ways of thy commandments, that one day in thy service may be dearer than a thousand spent in vanity and folly.
Grant that in the days of health and prosperity I may consider my latter end, and remember and provide for that great account, which I must one day give before the judgment-seat of Christ; that when the hour of my departure shall come, I may meet death without fear and amazement, and with a wellgrounded hope of thy mercy and goodness (tendered to me in this Holy Sacrament) I may cheerfully resign up my soul into thy hands; and may be willing, and even desirous to leave this world when thou, my God, shall please in thy gracious goodness to call me hence unto thy glory.
Take me and all that belongs those you intend * to me this night under the care to pray for. and protection of thy good providence; preserve us from all perils and dangers, and all apprehensions or dread of any; give us such refreshing rest and sleep, as may fit us for
the duties of the day following; and, if thou art pleased to add another day to our lives, grant that we may make a right use and improvement of it, to thy glory and the benefit of our immortal souls, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who, in compassion to our infirmities, has taught us when we pray to say, Our Father, &c.
THE MEDITATION FOR TUESDAY MORNING.
Upon the manner of preparing ourselves to receive the Holy Sacrament.
If thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee; leave there thy gift before the altar and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. Mat. v. 23, 24.
1. CONSIDER, O my soul, that this necessary knowledge, when it is once attained, and which may be compassed without great difficulty, is a standing qualification for all our future communions: and as for all other pious dispositions of mind, which make us fit guests at the Lord's table, they are the same we are obliged to by our baptismal vow, and are necessary in the course of a Christian life, and in the use of all other means of grace: for except we confess our sins with a humble, penitent, and obedient heart, and are ready to forgive those that have offended
us, and ask with faith, even our prayers and praises will find no acceptance at the throne of grace.
2. Let me then tell thee: the best preparation for the sacrament is a constant endeavour to live as becomes a Christian; [and thus thou hast made a good beginning in the course of thy last week's preparation ;] for they who really believe the Christian religion, and sincerely govern their lives by the doctrines and precepts of the gospel, have all that substantial preparation that qualifies men to partake of this holy ordinance; and ought to receive it at any time when there is an opportunity, though they were not beforehand acquainted with it, as thou hast been particularly instructed in the former part of this treatise.
3. None can suppose that they must be perfect and strong grown Christians before they partake of these divine mysteries; it is enough we sincerely desire to be such, and if so, we shall find the frequent use of the holy communion to be the most effectual means to that end. Where should we seek for comfort in this vale of tears, but from the source of all joy and comfort? Where shall we find strength to resist the temptations that crowd about us, but in this divine' armour? When we are loaded with so many imperfections, and sometimes, by negligence or surprise, fall a prey to the tempter; what
so proper to wash away our sins, as that precious inestimable blood, which was shed for our salvation? Therefore the very sense of our unworthiness, if rightly applied, should quicken our zeal in approaching the Lord's table frequently, as the best means to make us better.
4. Indeed, when we have a foresight of our communicating, it is very advisable we should trim our lamps; examine the state of our minds; renew our repentance; exercise our charity; enlarge our devotions; spiritualize our affections; and, in order to this purpose, should retire from business and pleasure; that by prayer, fasting, and almsdeeds, our minds may be raised to relish spiritual enjoyments.
5. On the contrary: the living in the constant habitual practice of any known sin without repentance, will make our approach to the holy table a mocking of God, a great contempt of his authority, and our prayers also an abomination to the Lord; for to profess ourselves sorry for our sins, and resolve to forsake them, when we have no sense of the one, nor are determined to do the other, is the greatest affront imaginable to our Maker, by supposing either that he doth not know our hearts, or that he will be pleased when we offer to him the sacrifice of fools, in a multitude of words only.
6. Nor doth the danger of unworthy re
ceiving make it safest to abstain from receiving at all, or at least to come to receive but seldom; because the danger of neglecting and contemning a plain command of our Saviour is more hazardous to our salvation, than performing it without some due qualification. The duty, therefore, being necessary to be performed, (as hath already been shown on page 49,) the true consequence we should draw from the danger of performing it unworthily, should be to excite ourselves to great care and diligence in preparing ourselves for the due discharge of it; but never to delude ourselves by false reasons to such a neglect as will certainly increase our condemnation.
7. Though our business be lawful in its own nature, yet if it be prosecuted to such a degree as to take men off from the care of their souls, it ought to be put off, when it interferes with this duty; because the salvation of our souls is of much greater consequence than any affair that relates to this world; wise men proportion their care of a thing according to its worth; no prudent person will spend his time upon trifles, and neglect what may be of the greatest consequence to his soul. It must be owned that our souls are of greater worth than our bodies, and that we must certainly find a time to die, however careless and negligent we may be in making a due preparation for death. Besides, the care of temporal concerns and our duty to