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a strict attention to your ways, according to the divine word, and by this means (which is a very rare attainment) you will reconcile youth, and even childhood, to the purity here recommended : account the divine word and precepts preferable to your daily food, yea, let them be dearer to you than your eyes, and even than life itself.
Before the COMMUNION.
It is the advice of the wise man, “ Dwell at home, or with yourself;" and though there are very few that do this, yet it is surprising, that the greatest part of mankind cannot be prevailed upon, at least, to visit themselves sometimes; but, according to the saying of the wise Solomon, “ The eyes of the fool are in the earth.” It is the peculiar property of the human mind, and its signal privilege, to reflect itself; yet we, foolishly neglecting this most valuable gift, conferred upon us by our Creator, and the great ornament of our nature, spend our lives in a brutish thoughtlessness. Was a man, not only to turn in upon himself, carefully to search and examine his own heart, and daily endeavour to improve it more and more in purity, but also to excite others, with whom he conversed, to this lau
dable practice, by seasonable advice, and affecting exhortations, he would certainly think himself very happy in these exercises. Now, though this expedient is never unseasonable, yet it will be particularly proper, on such an occasion as this, to try it upon yourselves, as you are not ignorant, that it is the great apostolical rule, with respect to all that are called to celebrate the divine mysteries, “ that every man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup*."
I do not here intend a full explication of this mystery, but only to put you in mind, that, in order to a saving use, and participation thereof, a twofold judgment must, of necessity, be formed; the first with respect to our own souls, and the other to that of the Lord's body. These the apostle considers as closely connected together, and therefore expresses both by the same word. The trial we are to make of ourselves, is indeed expressed by the word doxypáserv, which signifies to prove, or to try ; but immediately after he expresses it by judging ourselves, “ for if we would judge ourselves, &c. .” whereas, in the preceding verses, he had mentioned the other judgment to be formed, and expressed it by the same word diasgiverv, which signifies to judge or discern, “ Not discerning the Lord's body.” And this is that which renders a vast many unworthy of so great an honour; they approach this heavenly feast, without forming a right judgment, either of themselves, or of it: but, that we form a judgment of ourselves, it is necessary, that we first bring ourselves to an impartial trial : and, to be sure, I should much rather advise you to this inward self-examination, and heartily wish I could persuade you to it, than that you should content yourselves with a lifeless trial of your memory, by repeating compositions on this subject.
* 1 Cor. xi. 28. * Ει γάρ έαυτές διεκρίνομεν. 1 Μή διακρίνων το σωμα τε κυρία. .
Consider with yourselves, pray, and think seriously, what madness, what unaccountable folly it is, to trifle with the majesty of the most high God, and to offer to infinite wisdom the sacrifices of distraction and folly ? Shall we, who are but insignificant worms, “ thus provoke the Almighty King to jealousy *,” as if we were stronger than he, and, of purpose, run our heads, as it were, against that power, the slightest touch whereof would crush us to dust ? Do we not know, that the same God, who is an enlivening and saving light to all that worship with humble piety, is, nevertheless, a consuming fire to all the impious and profane, who pollute his sacrifices with impure hearts and unclean hands? And that those especially, who have been employed in his church, and in the divine offices, yet have not experienced his influence as a pure and shining light, will unavoidably feel him as a flaming fire ? Let his saints rejoice and exult before God, for this he not only allows, but even commands; yet let even those of them, who have made the greatest advances in holiness, remember, that this holy and spiritual joy is to be joined with holy fear and trembling : nay, the greater progress they have made in holiness, the more deeply will they feel this impressed upon their minds, so that they can by no means forget it. “ The great eye is over us, let us be afraid *.” Great is our God, and holy; even the angels worship him. Let his saints approach him, but with humility and fear; but, as for the slothful, and those that are immersed in guilt, that securely and with pleasure indulge themselves in impure affections, let them not dare to come near. Yet, if there are any, let their guilt and pol. lution be ever so great, who find arising within them a hearty aversion to their own impurity, and an earnest desire after holiness; behold there is opened for you a living and pure fountain, most effectual for cleansing and washing away all sort of stains, as well as for refreshing languishing and thirsty souls. And he that is the living and neverfailing fountain of purity and grace, encourages, calls, and exhorts you to come to him,
« Come unto me, all ye that are athirst, &c.” And again, “ All that the Father giveth me, shall come unto me, and him that cometh unto me, I will, by no means, reject or cast outt.”
Ask yourselves, therefore, what you would be at, and with what dispositions you come to this most sacred table ? Say, whither art thou going, and what seekest thou, O my soul ? For it would * όμμα μέγα τρομεώμεν. .
+ John vi. 37
be an instance of the most extravagant sloth and folly to set about a matter of so great importance, and so serious, without any end, without the pro
any advantage, and therefore without any serious turn of mind, or as one doing nothing ; yet this is the case of vast numbers, that meet together in divine assemblies, and at this holy sacrament. Is it any wonder, that those should find nothing, who absolutely have nothing in view ? and that he, who is bound for no harbour, should meet with no favourable wind? They give themselves up to the torrent of custom, and steer not their course to any particular port, but fluctuate and know not whither they are carried ; or, if they are alarmed with any sting of conscience, it is only a kind of inconsiderate and irregular motion, and reaches no further, than the exterior surface of sacred institutions. But, as for you, who, according to the expression of the angels, “ Seek Jesus, fear not, you will certainly find him, and in him all things : for it hath pleased the Father, that in him all fulness should dwell* ;” so that in him there is no vacuity, and without him nothing else but emptiness and vanity; let us embrace him, therefore, with our whole hearts, and on him alone let us depend and rely.
Let his death, which we commemorate by this mystery, extinguish in us all worldly affections may we feel his divine power working us into a conformity to his sacred image ; and having our strength, as it were, renewed by his means, let us
* Col. i. 19.