« PreviousContinue »
Benjamin alfo? What! the covenant of God with Abraham and his children in their generations? All these things are against us. No, fir, we cannot part with that covenant, as an abolished Adam's covenant, nor will I give it up for all the friendship in the world.
And yet I will fay with Alexander, I will contend with you in friendship and courtesy, even whilft I earnestly contend against you for the truths of GOD, which you have here op pofed, and I have endeavoured to vindicate.
One word more before I part with you; I do affure you, and the whole world, that in this controverfy with you, I have not, knowingly or advifedly, mifreprefented your fenfe: If you fhall fay I did fo in my second argument, from the words, pag179, affure you, both myfelf, and others, could understand you no otherwife than I did in the papers I fent you; and when you told me, you meant there was no pardon in either of those covenants, but that it plainly directed to Abraham's covenant, you will find, I have given you as fair a choice as you can defire, either to ftand to your words in the first fenfe, wherein I understood them, or (which will be the fame to me) to your own fenfe, in which you afterwards explained it to me. And whereas I blame you over and over in my epiftle and conclufi on, for putting the proper fubject of baptifm amongst the bigheft things in religion; let the reader view your conclufion, and fee, whether you do, or not. If you fay, you speak of the covenant there, as well as of baptifm, I allow that you do fo; yet I hope it is equally as bad, nay, in deed and truth, a great aggravation of your fault, to make this article, viz. God's covenant with Abraham, Gen. xvii. an abolished Adam's covenant, one of the highest concernments of a Chriftian, the baptifm only of adult believers another. My confequences, from your words, are juft and regular, how furprizing foever they feem to you.
If you think fit to rejoin to this my anfwer, I defire you will avoid, as much as you can, a tedious harangue of words, and fpeak ftrictly and regularly to my arguments, by limiting, diftinguifhing, or denying, as a difputant ought to do: If fo, I promife you a reply; but if I find no fuch thing, it shall pass with me but for wafte paper; nor will I waste time about it. The Lord give us unity in things neceffary, liberty in things indifferent, and charity in all things!
SACRAMENTAL MEDITATIONS Upon divers felect Places of
BELIEVERS are affifted in preparing their HEARTS, and exciting their AFFECTIONS and GRACES, when they draw nigh to GOD in that most awful and folemn ORDINANCE of the LORD's SUPPER.
TO THE READER.
HRIST may be faid to be crucified three ways; by the
believers at his table interpretatively. Among fins, bloodguiltiness is reckoned one of the moft henious; and of all bloodguiltinefs, to be guilty of the blood of Chrift, is a fin of the deepest guilt, and will be avenged with the moft dreadful punishment, 1 Cor. xi. 27, 29. If vengeance be taken sevenfold on him that flew Cain, what vengeance shall be taken on him that crucifies afrefb the Lord of glory?
The heaviest blow of divine juftice is ftill ready to avenge the abuse of the best mercy: what can the heart of man conceive more folemn, more facred, or more deeply affective, than the representation of the most gracious love of the Father, and the most grievous paffion of the Son? What fin can be more provoking to God, than the flight and contempt of those moft awful myfteries? And what punishment can be more terrible, than for fuch a wretched foul to eat and driuk damnation to itself?' Melancthon records a very dreadful example of God's righteous judgment upon a company of profane wretches, who, in a tragedy, intended to act the death of Chrift upon the crofs. He that acted the foldier's part, instead of piercing with his fpear a bladder full of blood hid under his garment, wounded him to death that was upon the crofs, who falling dow
killed him, who (in a disguise) acted the part of the woman that ftood wailing under the crofs. His brother, who was first flain. flew the murderer, who acted the foldier's part, and for flaying him was hanged by order of juftice. Thus did the vengeance of God fpeedily overtake them, and hanged them up in chains, for a warning, to all that should ever dare to dally with the great and jealous God.
These are terrible ftrokes, and yet not fo terrible as those which are more ordinarily, but lefs fenfibly, inflicted on the inner man for the abufe of this ordinance.
To prevent thefe judgments, and obtain those bleffings which come through this ordinance, great regard must be had to two things; viz. 1. The in-being. 2. The activity of true grace.
First, Examine thyfelf, reader, whether there be any gracious principle planted in thy foul, whereby thou art alive indeed unto God. It was an ancient abuse of the facrament (condemned and caft out by the Carthaginian council) to give it unto dead men. Dead fouls can have no communion with the living God, no more benefit from this table than the Emperor's guests had from his table, where loaves of gold were set before them to eat. There is more than a fhew of grace in the facrament; it hath not only the vifible fign, but the fpiritual grace alfo, which it reprefents. See that there be more than a fhew and a vifible fign of grace alfo in thy foul, when thou comeft nigh to the Lord in that ordinance: fee to the exercise and activity, as well as to the truth and fincerity of thy grace.
Even a believer himfelf doth not eat and drink worthily, unless the grace that is in him be excited and exercised at this ordinance.
It is not faith inhering, but faith realizing, applying and powerfully working. It is not a difpofition to humiliation for fin, but the actual thawing and melting of the heart for fin; *whilft thou lookeft on him whom thou haft pierced, and "mourneft for him as one that mourneth for his only fon, for "his firft-born :" nor is it a difpofition or principle of love to Chrift that is only required, but the firring up of that fire of love, the exciting of it into a vehement flame.
I know the excitations and exercises of grace are attended with great difficulties: they are not things within our command, and at our beck. Oh! it is hard, it is hard indeed, reader, e
*Concil. Carthag. Can. 6. Placuit ut defunctorum coporibus nox detur euchariftia, &c.
ven after God hath taken the heart of ftone out of thee, and given thee an heart of flesh, to mourn actually for fin, even when fo great an occafion and call is given thee to that work at the Lord's table; for the fame power is requifite to excite the act that was required to plant the habit. Gratia gratiam poftulat.
However, the duty is thine, though the power be God's; why elfe are his people blamed, because they ftirred not up themselves to take hold of him? Ifa. Ixiv. 7.
To aflift thee in this work, fome help is offered in the fol lowing meditations: it is true, it is not the reading of the best meditations another can prepare for thee, that will alter the temper of thy heart, except the Spirit of God concur with these truths, and bless them to thy foul: but yet these helps must not be flighted, because they are not self-fufficient. Man lives "not by bread alone; but by every word that proceedeth out "of the mouth of God;" yet it were a fond vanity, and sin, for any man, upon that ground, to caft away bread, and expect to live by a miracle without it. We must lift up our hearts to God for a bleffing, and then eat. Do the fame here: first pray; then read; and the Lord quicken thee by i for duty.
There are two things of fpecial concernment to thee, reader, when thou art to addrefs thyfelf to any folemn duty, especially fuch as this.
1. Prepare for thy duty diligently.
2. Rely not upon thy preparations.
1. Prepare with all diligence for thy duty. Take pains with
thy dull heart; cleanse thy polluted heart; compofe thy vain heart; remember how great a prefence thou art approaching. If Auguftus thus reproved one, that entertained him without fuitable preparation, faying, 'I did not think we had been fo familiar; much more may thy God reprove thee, for thy careless neglect of due preparation for him.
2. But yet take heed, on the other fide, that thou rely not upon thy beft preparation. It is an ingenious, and true note of Luther, † (fpeaking to this very point of preparation for the facrament)Never are men more unfit, than when
they think themselves moft fit, and beft prepared for their duty; never more fit, than when most humbled and afhamed, in a sense of their own unfitness.'
* Non putabam me tibi tam familiarem. Tunc paffime difpofitus, quando aptiffime.
That the bleffing of God, and the breathings of his good Spirit, may accompany these poor labours to thy foul, is the heart's defire of,
Thy fervant in Christ,
PSA L. lxxxix. 7. God is greatly to be feared in the affembly of his faints, and to be had in reverence of all that are about him.
HERE are fpecial feafons, wherein the faints approach near unto God in this life, and wherein the Lord comes near unto them.
It pleaseth the Majefty of heaven, fometimes to admit poor worms of the earth to fuch fenfible and fweet perceptions of himself, as are found above all expreffion, and feem to be a tranfient glance upon that glory, which glorified eyes more fteadily behold above: " Believing, we rejoice with joy unspeak"able, and full of glory;" or, glorified joy; as it is, 1 Pet. i. 8. And yet how fweet and excellent foever these foretastes of heaven are, heaven itfelf will be an unfpeakable surprise to the faints, when they fhall come thither.
Now among all thofe ordinances, wherein the blessed God manifefts himself to the children of men, none are found to fet forth more of the joy of his presence, than that of the Lord's fupper at that bleffed table, are such fenfible embraces betwixt Chrift and believers, as do afford delight and folace, beyond the joy of the whole earth.
And where fuch special manifeftations of God are, fuitable difpofitions and preparations should be found on our part, tö meet the Lord.
And, certainly, we shall find reafon enough for it, if we will confider the importance of this fcripture before us; "God is "greatly to be feared in the affembly of his faints, and to be
* Αγαλλίασε χαρα ἀναλαλήτω και δίδοξασμένη. Innerrabili, & glori