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USEFULNESS OF ACTUAL PREPARATION
THE LORD'S SUPPER.
(From Dr. Waterland.)
OUR esteem or disesteem of this holy sacrament will best be seen by our preparing or not preparing for it as we ought. There is something of a preparation of heart, mind, and ways, required for all religious offices, much more for this, which is the flower and perfection of all.
As to the length of time to be taken in preparing, there is no one certain rule to be given, which can suit all cases or circumstances: only, when a man has competently adjusted his accounts with God, (be it sooner or later,) then he is fit to come, and not till then.
"There is an habitual, and there is an actual preparation. The habitual preparation is a good life; and the further we are advanced in it, the less need there is of any actual preparation besides. But, because men are too apt to flatter and deceive their own hearts, and to speak peace to themselves without sufficient ground for so doing; therefore some actual preparation, self-examination, &c. is generally necessary, even to those who may be habitually good, if it be only to give them a well-grounded assurance that they really are so.
"It were to be wished there were not many amongst us who have a great deal to consider
12 PREPARATION FOR THE LORD S SUPPER.
of beforehand; many offences to correct, many disorders to set right, much to do, and much to undo, before they presume to come to God's altar.
"Fault has been sometimes found with these little treatises of Weekly Preparation: I think, without reason. They are exceedingly useful in their kind.-It may be happy for them who need none of these helps: but they that least need them, are not the men, generally, who most despise them. None of us, perhaps, are so perfect as not to want, at some seasons, some such hints for recollection, or helps to devotion. It is well for common Christians, that they are provided with useful manuals of that kind. They that are well disposed, will make use of them as often as they need them, and will at all times give God thanks and praises for them."
To the above judicious remarks it may be proper to add, that Christians should omit no opportunity of receiving the holy eucharist, even when it has not been in their power to go through the usual previous preparation.
He who sincerely endeavours to serve his God and Saviour, is always prepared to receive the Lord's Supper. And he should thankfully embrace every opportunity of commemorating, in this sacred ordinance, the love of his blessed Redeemer, and of receiving fresh supplies of grace to quicken and strengthen him in his Christian course.
THE NATURE OF THE ORDINANCE, AND THE NECESSARY PREPARATION FOR IT.*
THE Church in the catechism informs us, that Christ has ordained only two sacraments, as generally necessary to salvation; that is to say, Baptism and the Supper of the Lord. Baptism was instituted by Christ, to be the right of admission into his Church,† and is answerable to circumcision among the Jews. The Lord's Supper was ordained as a memorial of the sacrifice of the death of Christ,§ and ap
See the introductory paragraph in the preface.
Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them. Matt. xxviii. 19. Then they that gladly received the word were baptized; and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. Acts ii. 41.
In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. Col. ii. 11, 12.
For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the New Testament in my blood; this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. 1 Cor. xi. 23-25.
pointed by him instead of the Jewish passover.* These sacraments are both necessary to salvation. Baptism is necessary, being the ordinance whereby we are regenerated, that is, are translated from our natural state into a state of grace, and born again to a title to all the privileges of the Gospel covenant.† The Lord's Supper is necessary, because it conveys that spiritual food by which we are nourished to everlasting life. The former is to be only once, the latter often received.
These ordinances the Church considers as only generally, and not absolutely, necessary to salvation. She does not take upon her to exclude all hope of God's mercy, in those extraordinary cases, where the want of opportunity or capacity, or the force of involuntary error prevents men from receiving the sacraments. But as the Jews were obliged, under the severest penalty, to be circumcised,‡ and keep the passover;§ so our guilt and danger will be proportionably great in not observing, when it is in our power, these two more easy institutions, which are not only of a higher
* For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us. 1 Cor. v. 7.
† Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he caunot enter into the kingdom of God. John iii. 5. For by one spirit are we all baptized into one body. 1 Cor. xii. 13. Saved by the washing of regeneration. Titus ii. 5.
And the uncircumcised man-child, whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant. Gen. xvii. 14.
But the man that is clean, and is not in a journey, and forbeareth to keep the passover, even the same soul shall be cut off from his people. Numb. ix. 13.
See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. who refused him that spake on earth, much more we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven.
For if they escaped not shall not we escape, if Heb. xii. 25.
authority, but also the distinguishing badges of a more excellent profession.*
By the word SACRAMENT the Church informs us is meant an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace given unto us, ordained by Christ himself as a means whereby we receive the same, and a pledge to assure us thereof. In order, therefore, to constitute a sacrament there must be, first, something discernible and apparent to our senses: secondly, this external sign must represent some spiritual grace and favour vouchsafed us by God: thirdly, the outward symbol must be of Christ's own institution: and, fourthly, it must be appointed by him as a means of conveying to us the inward grace, and as a seal and pledge to assure it to us.
The parts of which a sacrament consists are two, viz. the outward visible sign, and the inward spiritual grace. Outward sensible things can, by the institution of God, be means to convey, and pledges to assure to us, divine grace and favour. These sacramental signs were ordained by God in gracious condescension to our infirmities, to inform our understanding, to refresh our memories, and to excite our affections. Their efficacy is not owing to any power in themselves, but to the blessing of Christ. We are not, therefore, to doubt but that, in the right use of the outward means,
*For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. John i. 17.
So then, neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God, that giveth the increase. 1 Cor. iii. 7.