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merits of it conveyed to us by this sacred memorial. Supposing then that this is sufficient to convince you of the necessity and importance of this duty; that upon it depends our welcome to this heavenly feast unto which we are called ; I proceed now, in the second place, to inform you, that if your repentance or return to God be real and sincere, it will produce these following good effects : First, “A sense, a sorrow, and confession of all our
former sins. Secondly, à steadfast purpose The Nature of or resolution to lead a new life.” These are a true Repent- the genuine fruits of a true repentance, and ance.
must always accompany our return to God, if we hope to have it effectual to our salvation. And,
First, We must labour to get a sense or sight of all our former sins and wickedness; this will readily present
was itself to us by comparing our lives and acThe Ten Com
tions with the rule or standard of God's mandments.
word, which we must make the measure of our examination. St. Paul shews us, Rom. iii. 20. that by the law is the knowledge of sin: and our own experience will convince us, that there is no way more likely to discover our iniquities, and to humble ourselves for them, than a serious application of God's word to our crooked paths: And this duty of self-examination is never more properly applied to, than when we intend to receive the holy communion: For unless we see the number, and apprehend the heinousness of our offences, and fear the vengeance due unto us for them, we are altogether unfit for the commemoration of his death, who died for our sins, and rose again for our justification. It is the sense and sight of sin that must shew us the need and necessity of a glorious Redeemer, and what obligations we are under to bless and praise God for our salvation by his Son JESUS CHRIST. The holy David recommends this practice of self-examination by his own example: I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto thy testimonies. Psalm cxix. 59. And this method, no doubt, is an admirable mean to improve us in virtue, and the most effectual way to keep our consciences awake, and to make us stand in awe of ourselves and afraid to sin, when we know, beforehand, that we must give so severe an account to ourselves of every action. And when we are employing our minds in this duty of self-examination before the communion, or at any other time, we must discharge it as impartially as is possible for us, judging as severely of our own actions, as we would do of our greatest and worst enemy; or otherwise we should but flatter and deceive ourselves in a matter of the greatest weight and importance, namely, the knowing the state and condition of our souls : but if our enquiries are just and true, we shall then plainly discover wherein, and how often, we have gone astray and done amiss. We shall, by the faithful discharge of this duty, bring to light "all our ungodly, unjust, and uncharitable actions : all our vain and filthy speeches, all our wanton, proud, and covetous thoughts." Such a strict and impartial examination willdiscover to us that accursed thing sin, Deut. vii. 26. which has defiled our nature, made God our enemy, and will exclude us the kingdom of heaven, if not repented of, 1 Cor. vi. 9, 10. But by such a severe scrutiny as this, we shall soon perceive the number of our transgressions, what vile wretches and grievous offenders we are, how often we have broken our most serious vows and resolutions, especially after the receiving the holy sacrament, and in times of sickness and distress : such a sight, and such a prospect of misery as this, should excite in us a trouble and sorrow for sin; especially if we cast an eye upon the final issue and consequences of it, with respect to the world to come. Upon the ungodly, says holy David, God will rain snares, fire and brimstone, storm and tempest: this shall be their portion to drink, Psalm xi. 7. Great plaques remain for the ungodly : Indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, Rom. ii. 8, 9. The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the people that forget God. These, and many other such like texts of Scripture, may give us some idea or notion of the deplorablecondition of the wicked in a future state, and of God's hatred against sin. And is not this then, without multiplying arguments, sufficient to affect us with great grief and sorrow, when we consider that so long as we live in a vicious course, so long are we exposed to all those plagues and torments which God hath in store for wicked men,
and will most certainly be their lot and portion, if not prevented by a timely repentance ?
The SECOND part of a true repentance is contrition, or a sorrowful bewailing of our own sinfulness in thought, word, and deed. When we call to mind the sins and follies of our past lives, and the dangers we are likely to fall into, surely we cannot be otherwise affected than sensibly grieved with the thoughts and apprehensions of our present and approaching misery. The sorrows of David, and the repentance of Peter, 2 Sam. xii. Luke xxii. shewed themselves in floods of tears, and were too great to be .confined within : But our hearts are generally so hard and unrelenting, that we sin against God, and lose our own souls without so much as a sigh or a tear. I know that the tempers of people are different; some can shed tears upon every slight occasion; and others cannot weep, though their hearts are ready to break for grief: and therefore we are not to judge of the sincerity of our own or other people's repentance by such signs and tokens; nor are tears always necessary to repentance, though they very well become us; and the least we can do when we have done amiss, is to be sorry for it, and to condemn our folly, and to be full of indignation and displeasure against ourselves. I will declare my iniquity, saith holy David, and be sorry for my sin, Psal. xxxviii. 18. Especially if we have been very wicked, and have multiplied our transgressions, and have continued long in any evil course, have neglected God, and have forgotten him days without number; then the measure of our sorrow must bear some proportion to the degrees of our sins ; if they have been as scarlet and crimson, Isa. i. 18. that is, of a deeper dye than ordinary, then our sorrow must be as deep as our guilt; if not so great, we ought to shew as much trouble and contrition of spirit as to produce in us a penitential confession of all our former sins :
Which is the THIRD Property of a sincere repentance. I will acknowledge my sin unto thee, says holy David, and mine unrighteousness have I not hid. I said I will confess my sins unto the Lord, and so thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin, Psalm xxxii. 5. Which confession of sin must not be in general terms only, that we are sinners with the rest of mankind, but it must be a special declaration to God of all our most heinous sins, in thought, word, and deed, with their several aggravations, laying open our case to our heavenly Physician; and this we must do to shew that we condemn all our former evil and vicious courses, with a full purpose and resolution of mind (by God's assistance) never to do the like again. Unless this be done, our sorrow for sin, and the confession of our wickedness, can never profit us in the sight of God, if it be not joined with a firm resolution of leading a new
Which is the FOURTH and most essential part of a sincere repentance, and the only condition of finding mercy with God. He that covereth his sins shall not prosper : but whoso .confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy, Prov. xxviii. 13. Let the wicked man forsake his ways, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him, and to our God, and he will abundantly pardon, Isa. Ixv. 7. I tell you nay, saith Christ, but except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish, Luke xiii. 3. Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, Acts iïi. 19. Those preceding parts of repentance before mentioned, are only preparative to this; that which must complete and finish the work of a new convert is, to become a new creature, “ to turn from our evil ways, and to break off our sins by righteousness." This certainly must be the desire and intention of all communicants, if they hope or expect any benefit or advantage from this solemn rite or covenant ; for he that comes with a design or intention of continuing in his former sins, comes somewhat like unto Judas, that came and received, and at the same time continued his resolution of betraying his Master. That which makes a man absolutely unfit to receive the holy sacrament, is the living in the constant and habitual practice of any known sin, without the least desire or intention of repentance or amendment. Such a man's approach to the holy table, no doubt, is to “eat and drink his own damnation," since it is a plain mocking of God, and a great contempt and abuse of his divine authority. We must therefore (by the help and assistance of God's grace)“ resolve to lead a new life, following the commandments of God,”
or otherwise our former examinations will appear but slight and superficial, our sight and sense of sin trivial and indifferent, our sorrow and contrition of spirit forced and hypocritical, and our confessions odious and formal. Therefore examine well the sincerity of your repentance and resolutions, that you neither deceive God nor yourselves : him you cannot, because he is a searcher of the heart, and a discerner of the thoughts, nor will he accept of any thing which is not unfeigned.
Not that we are to suppose that this sacrament of the Lord's supper doth require perfect obedience in all our addresses to the holy altar, or that none must come but such as are in a sinless state of perfection: No; this were impossible, because “ there is no man which liveth and sinneth not, for who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin ?" The sacrament of the Lord's Supper is not a converting, but a confirming ordinance, intended to preserve and increase that spiritual life and grace which we received at our baptism: So that when we come to the holy communion, we come thither for fresh supplies of grace and goodness, “ for the strengthening and refreshing of our souls in all holiness and virtue.” As our natural bodies are fed and nourished with those elements of bread and wine, the same effect is wrought in the soul, in the inward man, by these holy mysteries, as in the outward man by bread and wine; bread being the staff of life, and wine the most sovereign cordial to cheer and rejoice the heart. And thus our souls, by this sacrament, are fortified and strengthened with grace, wisdom, courage, and all other spiritual gifts, to keep us through faith unto salvation. Both the comfort and benefit of it are great; the comfort of it, because it does not only represent to us the exceeding love of our Saviour, in giving his body to be broken, and his blood to be shed for us : but it likewise seals to us all those blessings and benefits which are purchased and procured for us by his death and passion; namely, the pardon of sin, and power against it. The benefit of frequent communion is also of great advantage, because hereby we are confirmed in all grace and goodness, and our resolutions to live in obedience and conformity to God's laws are strengthened ; and the grace of God's Holy Spirit, to do