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shyself with fuch poor, narrow, remifs affections to Jefus, Chrift? O look upon him this day in his red garments! Behold him in the ftrength of his love, breaking through the curfe of the law, the wrath of God, the agonies of death, to bring home the fruits of his eternal love to thy foul; and whilst thou art beholding, and mufing upon it, let the heart. melt, thy eyes drop, and thy very foul cry out, "Behold how " he loved me! Bleffed be God for Jefus Chrift."
IR, If it may be no interruption to your studies, I would be glad to be refolved of feveral doubts, that arife in my mind, about receiving the bleffed facrament of the Lord's fupper.
Minifter.] I fhall be very glad to contribute any thing for ⚫ removing those fcruples which may disturb you upon that account; therefore, pray go on.'
Cbriftian.] Sir, I have heard many fermons, and read feveral difcourfes, which do much urge and declare the neceffity of communicating in this bleffed ordinance; and yet I durft never prefame to join therein.
Minifter.] Have you then hitherto lived in the neglect of this important duty.'
Chriftian.] To fpeak freely, Sir, I never yet did communicate therein all my life; because I have much questioned, whether I were worthy to receive that bleffed and holy feal, to the glory of God, and my own edification and comfort; fince I never truly understood the inftitution, nature, administration, and ends of it, nor the qualifications of thofe who are to be partakers thercof, according to the appointment of Jefus Chrift. S f 2
Minifter.] Well then, I hope, if thefe things be plainly opened to you, it may much conduce to fatisfy your fcruples.* Chriftian.] Sir, I fhall receive your inftructions with thankfulness, and, if my heart deceive me not, fhall rejoice in the light and knowledge that I may gain thereby.
Minifter Let us then, first, enquire into the qualifications of a fincere Chriftian in general; and, fecondly, of the qualifications of fuch Chriftians, as are meet to partake of the Lord's fupper; for they are diftinct, and fometimes separate.' Chriftian.] I hope, in doing this, you will much help me to judge of my prefent state and condition God-ward. And now, in the first place, pray inform me, how I may know if I am a fincere Chriftian,
Minifter.] All true believers, among other graces, have ⚫ fuch a knowledge of God in Chrift, as works by love, and ftirs up in them an earnest study of the will of God, and a ⚫ fincere endeavour to live in the faith, knowledge, and prac ⚫tice of it.'
Chriftian] Sir, I cannot boast of my knowledge; yet, by the grace of God thewed to me, thofe conceptions which I have of God in Chrift, have, I hope, fo far prevailed upon me, that to live in the knowledge, love, and enjoyment of him, and to have my all devoted to his will and praise, is all the heaven that I defire in this world, and a great part of that which b hope for in the world to come.
Minifter.] Thefe are good figns of a real and renewed 'change in your foul, and fo doubtlefs have wrought good dif pofitions in you; of which you have had evidence in your heart and have made it appear in your life and actions.'
Chriftian.] I would be loth to flatter myself; but yet I hope, that I find fome delight in the word of God, both read and preached and do feriously meditate thereon, that I may "grow "in grace, and in the knowledge of Jefus Christ our Lord." And tho' I am fometimes tempted with vile and vain, thoughts, yet I endeavour to flifle them, and my heart rifes against them. I thank God, I ftrive to refift the first motions to fin, and avoid all occafions of evil; and I am never more uneafy, than when I happen into the company of prophane and ill people, having an hatred to lying, obfcene and filthy difcourfes, fwearing, curfing, and all difhonourable reflections upon God and godliness. I make confcience of taking up a flander against my neighbour; and to be juft, and to do good to all, according to my ability, and to walk in all the commandments of the "Lord, blameless."
Minifter.] If thefe be the fruits and effects of your faith, * it is not a dead faith; yet we must not rest upon our own works, or righteoufaefs, for juftification, merit, or fatisfac⚫tion; because it will be derogatory to the merits and righte⚫oufnefs of Jefus Chrift, and dangerous to our own fouls.'
Chriftian. Sir, I know right well, that there is no juflification, but by the blood of Jelus; neither dare I trust to my own righteoufnofs, but to his only, for the pardon and remiffion of my fins. And if by grace I am enabled to bring forth any fruit meet for a gospel faith, repentance, and love; thefe [ blets God for, as a part of my duty and happiness, and defire to look on them as proofs of faith, (if they are worthy to be fuch) and no otherwife.
Minifter.] This is well. But do you find your foul always ← in a good frame and temper, without haltings, flips, or excur• fions?'
Chriftian.] Sir, I dare not fay I do: for I muft with forrow acknowledge, that at fometimes my thoughts are polluted, my words are unfavoury, without edification, my actions not adorning the doctrine of the gospel of God my Saviour; but fuch as I fear may prove a grief and fare to others. My fpiritual relifa of God's word is very infipid, and its authority not fo fenfibly powerful; fo that I am unready to any thing that is good, even like a dead man, as if my religion had no life nor foul in it.
Minifter.] Well; but when you thus fall into fin, or fail in your duty, what do you think of yourself and ways? How are you affected therewith?'
Chriftian.] When I am in this deplorable condition, my foul is much diflurbed, my joy and peace of confcience are gone but when I am a little rouzed out of this finful lethargy, my heart is then melted with forrow for my folly and mifcarriage, and I addrefs myfelf to God with the greatest fear and fhame, humbly imploring him to renew a right Spirit within
Minifter.] Well, friend, if your confcience confirms what' your tongue has uttered, you have expreffed enough to evi• dence the fincerity of your obedience to God, and that you are a found believer, and a fincere convert. And I hope you have faith alfo in Jefus Chrift, the mediator; without a due respect to whom, our faith and good affections will not deserve the name of being truly evangelical and faving."
Chriftian.] Through grace, I defire to acknowledge and embrace the Lord Jefus Chrift, upon the terms on which he is of
fered in the gospel; to believe all his doctrines, as my teacher and guide; to truft and depend upon him, as the "High-priest "of our profeffion, who makes atonement by his facrifice and "interceffion." And I defire to fubmit to his government, as Lord and King of his church.
Minifter.] Thefe are very confiderable attainments, and in⚫clude the substance of faving-faith. But are you fenfible how you arrived to this good difpofition and frame of mind? Do you imagine it was natural to you, or the refult of the improvement of your natural reason, powers, or faculties ?' Chriftian.] Oh, Sir, I dare by no means afcribe that to nature, which is only the effect of divine grace. If I have any measure of fanctification, it is only by the gift and grace of God; for I have had too much experience, that by nature I am alive to vanity and fin; but dead and lifeless to God, and to all real goodness; that I am darknels; folly poffeffeth my foul; I am at enmity with God, and altogether unable to will, or to do what is pleafing in his eyes; having a great contrariety in my heart to the way of falvation proposed in the gospel of Chrift.
Minifter. And have you taken up ftrong refolutions, that, by the help of God, and the affiftance of his blessed Spirit, you will endeavour to persevere in the faith and practice which you have now declared, to your life's end?'
Chriftian.] Sir, there is nothing that I more dread than apostatizing, or relaxing in my duty and profeffion, and that I should have a back fliding heart from the Lord; and I earnestly watch and pray against every symptom and degree thereof.
Minifter.] Do you think, that by your own flrength and ability, you have power to perfevere and continue in the faith and obedience of the gofpel; against the many tempta⚫tions and corruptions that affault us, and the lamentable mifcarriages of those who feemed pillars in the house of God?' Chriftian.] I have no confidence in my own ability, Sir, I affure you; but do wholly rely on the Rock that is higher than I; even upon him who hath promised, that he will perfect a good work begun to the day of Chrift. I reft upon him, who is the author and finifher of our faith; I beg his holy Spirit, to inftruct, guide, affift, and comfort me. And I earnestly defire and purpose, (by the grace of God) to expect thofe aids, in a conftant and univerfal attendance upon God in his ordinances,' with an honeft, humble, and believing heart.
Minifter.] These are all plain evidences of the faving grace of God: which I befeech the Lord may always continue, and
grow in your heart; that fo you may have a full afsurance of his love, who hath dealt fo graciously with you.'
Chriftian.] The Lord grant, that in the fenfe of his love to my foul, 1 may walk worthy of his grace. And now, Sir, by what has been said, do you think I may prefume to feed on Jefus Chrift at his table, and receive that bleffed feal of my Redeemer's love?
Minifter.] You know I told you, that a man may be a true • Chriftian, and yet may not be fit to partake of this holy ordinance: because he may believe unto falvation, ånd yet be fo ignorant of this mystery, as not to be able to make a due application of it to his own foul.'
Chriftian.] Ah, Sir, I would willingly be informed, what is neceffary to be done by a found believer, in order to the partaking of this bleffed ordinance ?
Minifter.] First, He must confider, that the elements and matter of this ordinance, are not common bread and wine after confecration, but fet apart to a holy use,
⚫ received with an holy understanding and fear.
and so to be And therefore the Corinthians were blamed by the apoftie, for their ignorance and irreverence, 1 Cor. xi. Again, that thefe elements, fo bleffed and fet apart by Chrift's appointment, do represent a crucified Redeemer; and we are to partake of them with love, as a memorial of his death; and with faith, as the feal of the promife, and the means appointed by God, 6 to convey the benefits of Chrift crucified to the foul.' Chriftian.] Sir, thefe confiderations raife up my defires to come to the Lord's table, which I hope to be a partaker of, with the fame fentiments that you have now laid before me ; and that I fhall feast mine eyes on that lovely object, which is fo full of love; and that my eye will fo deeply affect my heart toward my holy Redeemer, that I may meet with my blessed Lord in all the ways of his appointment.
Minifter.] Again; you ought to fet your foul upon felf-examination, that fo you may be fenfible of your wants and defects, and come to Chrift for a supply of the graces of his holy Spirit; that you may exercife faith, love, repentance, and all other graces, with fuch warmth and vigour, that Jefus • Chrift may delight in you, and you in him; and there may be a mutual and joyful renewing of your covenant of love ⚫ and obedience to your blessed Saviour.'
Chriftian.] Sir, we cannot fuppofe that there should be the actings and exercises of grace, where the habits are wanting, no more than there can be motion without life: but it is ufual