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tation, to raise his soul into a devout and heavenly temper : The proper office of reading is to gain spiritual food and sustenance, and of meditation to digest it. Those divine subjects most proper for our serious contemplation on this solemn occasion, I think, are “our Saviour's Sermon on the Mount; the love of God in the salvation of sinners, through Jesus Christ; repentance, faith, charity, death, and judgment: the happy condition of a future state of blessedness, and the miserable condition of the damned in hell.” These, and the like, as they offer themselves unto you, should be meditated upon, until some sorrow of mind, some ardour of devotion, some act of faith, some flame of love and charity, arise in your souls.
Thus have I briefly represented to you, both the nature and necessity of a sacramental preparation, which in a great measure contains the whole duty of a Christian'slife: namely, “repentance towards God, faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ, and charity towards our neighbour.” And I also hope, whosoever among us will but endeavour to prepare themselves for the holy communion, according to the preceding directions, may (by the help of God) upon all occasions come to the Lord's table, without the least fear or danger“ of eating and drinking damnation to themselves.”
Some people may, perhaps, censure this discourse, as giving too great liberty and encouragement to approach the Lord's table with less preparation than otherwise men would venture to do. But I know no ground
The Church or reason for any such suggestion, if they im
Catechism. partially consider the excellence and perfection of that guide and companion which I have followed throughout the whole : And to represent this duty of frequent communion otherwise than what the Church requires, is an injury both to God and to ourselves: And I dare affirm that no part of divine worship has suffered, more on this account, than that of the holy communion: Thousands of people not daring, in all their life-time, (though very good livers,) to partake of the Lord's Supper, for fear of eating and drinking their own damnation.
PRAYERS AND MEDITATIONS
SUITABLE TO A
ACCORDING TO WHAT THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND
REQUIRES FROM HER COMMUNICANTS.
A Prayer to God for his gracious Assistance and Direction
in our Sacramental Preparation. Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Sabaoth! Heaven and earth are full of thy majesty and of thy glory: I, the unworthiest of all creatures, do here, in all humility of soul and body, prostrate myself before thee, acknowledging my own weakness and insufficiency to do any thing that is good or well-pleasing in thy sight; and therefore humbly implore the special influence of thy grace and Holy Spirit, to further these my endeavours for a worthy participation of the holy communion of the body and blood of Christ, which he has commanded me to do in remembrance of him, and of those benefits which we receive thereby. Teach me, O Lord, the right way, and lead me in the paths of holy preparation, that I may be received as a worthy and welcome guest at this thy heavenly table. Possess iny mind with a true sense of the greatness of this mystery, and the excellency of thy mercy in preparing this table for our spiritual food : inspire my soul with pure and pious dispositions; and, instead of the filthy rags of my own righteousness, clothe me with
the righteousness of the saints, that my heart may be a clean, though homely, receptacle for my Saviour, and one day fitted for the blessed society of saints and angels in heaven, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.'
Our Father, &c. See Psalms xxiii. xxvi. cxi.
A Prayer for the Gift and Grace of Repentance. “ALMIGHTY and eternal Lord God, who art of purer eyes than to behold iniquity, and hast more especially enjoined all those who compass thine altar, to wash their hands in innocency,” vouchsafe me unfeigned repentance for my past sins, a hearty sorrow and contrition of spirit to lament my sinfulness, and most firm and stedfast purposes to lead a new life. It is the voice of thy wondrous goodness and mercy, that if “the wieked shall forsake his ways, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, thou wilt have mercy upon him, and abundantly pardon him.” O let thy goodness (whereof I have had so great a share, and plentiful experience) lead me to repentance, not to be repented of, that I may be a fit guest at thy Son's table ! “ Have mercy upon me, O Lord, and according to the multitude of thy tender mercies, blot out all my transgressions for thy mercy's sake in Christ Jesus, the Son of thy love, whom thou hast set forth to be the propitiation for our sins." Grant this, O merciful Father, for the sake of my blessed Saviour and Redeemer. Amen.
See Psalms vi. xxv. xxxii. xxxviii.
A Prayer before Self-Examination. “O LORD, thou that art the searcher of all our hearts, and a discerner of the very thoughts, and in whose sight all things are naked and open,” be pleased to impart a ray of thy heavenly light, to discover all the sins and infirmities of my past life, and whatsoever else thou knowest wherein I have done amiss, that henceforward no secret. sin may lie undiscovered and corrupted in my soul; that. by examining my life and conversation by thy law, the rule and measure of my duty, I may understand the true state and condition of my soul, and, from a just sense and sight of all my transgressions, through the assistance of thy grace and heavenly benediction, I may be enabled to reform my life, and to turn my feet unto thy testimonies ;. so faithfully to search and examine my own conscience, that I may come holy and clean to thy heavenly feast, and be received as a worthy partaker of that holy banquet which thou hast called me to. Grant this for thy mercy's sake in Christ Jesus. Amen.
See Psalm cxxxix.
Brief Heads of Self-Examination upon each Commandment.
Though I have not atheistically denied the being of a. God, or wickedly renounced him by apostacy, yet have I, not loved, desired, and delighted in other things more than in God? . Or, have I not feared men, and dreaded, the displeasure of the world more than of God? Or, have I not trusted in men, and relied upon the world, more than upon God? Have I not despaired of God's mercy? Or, by presuming too much upon it, encouraged myself in sin ? Have I not been unthankful for mercies received? Or, bare I not ascribed the glory and honour of what I now enjoy, to myself more than to God? (Say).
God be merciful to me a sinner, and lay not this Cor these] sins to my charge. [Repeat the same at the end of every commandment.),
II. Though I have not worshipped God by images, yet have I not entertained, gross and false conceptions of him? Or, have I not wilfully omitted coming to Church, or to the public prayers, when I had no just occasion to hinder me? Or, have I not rudely, irreverently, or wantonly behaved myself during the time of divine service ? Or, have I not wilfully refused to come to the Lord's Supper, when I have been called to it? Or, have I not rashly and unadvisedly received the Sacrament without due preparation? Or, have I not broken my vows and resolutions which I then made?
III. If I have not openly blasphemed the name of God, yet have I not lightly or irreverently spoken of him? Or, have I not profanely jested upon, or abused his holy places or persons, or any thing else dedicated to his servíce? Or, have I not taken God's name in vain, by common swearing and cursing? Or, have I not taken false and unlawful oaths ? Or, have I not broken my own vows and resolutions, especially my baptismal ? ". IV. Have I not neglected the worship of God on his "Sabbaths ? Have I not spent part thereof in vain sports, -idle discourses, visits, and many other unnecessary affairs? - Or, have I not suffered others to profane the Sabbath, when it was in my power to restrain them from so doing?
V. Have I not been stubborn, irreverent, and undutiful towards my parents, rejecting their counsels, despis- ing their government, and coveting their estates before
their death ? Have I contributed towards their necessi- ties when they were in want, and I had it in my power to help them? Or, have I not been disloyal to my prince, stubborn and unfaithful to my master, refractory and un