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COMPANION TO THE ALTAR:
NATURE AND NECESSITY
in order to our worthy receiving The Holy Communion,
THOSE FEARS AND SCRUPLES ABOUT EATING AND DRINKING,
ARE PROVED GROUNDLESS AND UNWARRANTABLE.
To which are added,
SUITABLE TO A
ACCORDING TO WHAT THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND REQUIRES
FROM HER COMMUNICANTS.
I will wash my hands in innocency, O Lord, and so will I go to thine
Altar.-Psalm xxvi. 6.
ST. PAUL'S CHURCH-YARD,
COMPANION TO THE ALTAR.
ALL those blessings which we now enjoy, and hope hereafter to receive, from Almighty God, are purchased for us, and must be obtained, through the merits and intercession of the holy Jesus, who has “ instituted and or, dained holy mysteries, as pledges of his love, and for a continual remembrance of his death and passion, to our great and endless comfort,” Luke xxii. 19. I Cor. xi. 24. But then we must remember, that these benefits and blessings, which the Son of God has purchased us, are no where promised, but upon condition that we ourselves are first duly qualified for them. The sacrament of the Lord's Supper is a solemn ratification of our baptismal covenant, wherein God, for his part, hath faithfully promised “pardon and remission of sins to all true peni, tents;" and we, for our parts, are therein solemnly bound to be faithful and obedient unto him, 2 Tim. ii. 19. Before then we can promise to ourselves any benefit or advantage from the participation of this solemn rite and covenant between God and us, we must endeavour (what in us lies) to possess our souls with all those diyine qualifications which the sacrament of the Lord's Supper requires, to render us worthy partakers thereof.
And what those are, it is the design of this discourse to enquire; wherein I shall endeavour to shew what that preparation of heart and mind is, which must dispose us for a worthy participation of the blessed sacrament. And herein I hope to remove all those fears and scruples which arise in our minds about “eating and drinking unwor. thily, and of incurring our own damnation thereby," as
groundless and unwarrantable; and to do this, I will take occasion to explain that part of our CHURCH CATECHISM, designedly intended for our instruction, with relation to this duty of a sacramental preparation; namely,
Q. “What is required of them who come to the Lord's Supper ?”
A. “To examine themselves whether they repent them truly of their former sins, stedfastly purposing to lead a new life, have a lively faith in God's mercy through Christ, with a thankful remembrance of his death, and to be in charity with all men.” This is that sacramental preparation which our Church (in as few words as possible) has provided for our companion or guide to the holy altar. The duty, then, of a devout communicant consists in these six following particulars : 1. Self-examination ; to examine themselves. 2. Repentance towards God; whether they repent them truly of their former sins. 3. Holy purposes or resolutions of a new life; stedfastly purposing to lead a new life. 4. Faith in God's mercy through Christ, to have a lively faith, &c. 5. A thankful remembrance of his death. 6thly and lastly, Unfeigned lové or charity for all mankind, and to be in charity with all men.
The first part then of a communicant's duty is selfexamination: a duty not only enjoined by human authority, but likewise commanded by St. Paul: but let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread and drink of that cup, 1 Cor. xi. 28. intimating, that no man should presume to eat of that bread, and drink of that cup, without a previous preparation, if he meant to escape that same judgment or condemnation which these Corinthians brought upon themselves by their irreverent, sinful, and disorderly behaviour at this sacrament; and this was the occasion of St. Paul's caution and reproof: He that eateth and drinketh unworthily, says the Apostle, eateth and drinketh damnation * to himself, not discerning the Lord's Body, v. 29.
• This word damnation does not signify eternal condemnation, but on the contrary, some temporal punishment or judgment (as you have it in the margin of your Bible), such as sickness or death, with which the city of Corinth was afflicted, for their great . But that our preparation may be so well performed by us, as to prevent the like danger, let us, as the wise man adviseth, remember the end, and we shall never do amiss, Eccl. vii. 16. First, then, That we may come to this heavenly feast holy, and adorned with the wedding garment, Matt. xxii. 11. we must search our hearts, and examine our consciences, not only till we see our sins, but until we hate them; and, instead of those filthy rags of our own righteousness, we must adorn our minds with pure and pious dispositions; even that clean linen, the righteousness of the saints, Rev. xix. 8. 2dly, Another end or design of this strict preparation is, That we may be accepted by God as worthy communicants; that he who knoweth the secrets of all our hearts, neither is there any creature that is not manifest to his sight, but all things are naked and open unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do, Jer. xvii. 10. Heb. iv. 13. may approve of the sincerity of our repentance; and the king, who comes in to view the guests, Matt. xxii. 11. may (though strictly speaking we are not so) deem us worthy of his favour and countenance. And how to attain so great a blessing, the following instructions will help and assist us:
First, We are directed to repent us truly of all our former sins. This is that preparation which Christ himself requires of us, Matt. iii. 2, 3. nepe
Repentance. A duty, you know, which our sinful lives make always necessary for our consideration, if ever we expect eternal happiness hereafter, Luke xiii. 3. But more especially the dignity of this sacrament requires that it should be inquired into with more than ordinary care and circumspection; because without sincere repentance we cannot expect any benefit or advantage from the death and passion of Christ, which in this sacrament we commemorate, and have the
abuse and profanation of this solemn institution ; so that the sins here reproved (namely, gluttony, drunkenness and faction, ver. 18. 21, 22.) and the damnation here threatened, have no relation to us, unless it could be proved that any of us were ever guilty of the same wickedness with these Corinthians; which I believe no man ever was, or would be suffered to approach the Lord's Table after such a disorderly manner as they did, if men were so lewd and profane,