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Beside the matter for joy and praise which we are furnished with in our attendance on the ordinance, even our approach to it is such an honor, such a favor as obligeth us to come before his presence with singing, and even to enter into his gates with thanksgiving.... Psal. c. 2, 4. With gladness and rejoicing shail the royal bride be brought.... Psal. xlv. 15. Those that in their preparations for the ordinance have been sowing in tears, may not only come again with rejoicing, bringing their sheuves with them, but go with rejoicing to fetch their sheaves, to meet the ark, lifting up their heads with joy, knowing that their redemption, and the sealing of them to the day of redemption, draws nigh. Let those that are of a sorrowful spirit hearken to this; cheer up and be comforted: this day is holy unto the Lord your God-mourn not, nor weep....Neh. viii. 9. It is the day that the Lord hath made, and we must rejoice and be glad in it: and the joy of the Lord will be our strength, and oil to our wheels. All things considered, thou hast a great deal more reason than Haman had, to go in merrily with the king, to the banquet of wine... Esther v. 4.
Two things may justly be matter of our rejoicing and thanksgiving in our approach to this ordinance :
(1.) That God hath put such a price as this into our han;ls to get wisdom--that such an ordinance as this was instituted for our spiritual nourishment and growth in grace that it is transmitted down to us, administered among us, and we are invited to it. This is A token for good, which we have reason to rejoice in, and be very thankful for :--that our lot is not cast either among those that are strangers to the gospel, and so have not this ordinance at all, or among those that are enemies to the gospel, and have it wretchedly corrupted, and turned into idolatrous service; but that wisdom's table is spread among us, and her voice heard our streets, and we are called to her feasts ; we have a naii in Goc's holy place, a settlement in his house, and stated opportunities of communion with him. If the Lord had been pleased to kill us, he would not have shewed us such things as these. O, what a privilege is it thus to eat and drink in Christ's presence ....to sit down under his shadow, at his table, with his friends and favorites !-that we, who deseryed to have been set with the dogs of his flock, should be set with the children of his family, and eat of the children's bread! Nay, that we should be numbered among his priests, and eat of the dedicated things! Bless the Lord, O my soul.
(2.) That God hath given us a heart to the price in our hands. We have reason to be thankful that he hath not only invited us to this feast, which is a token of his good will towards us, but that he hath inclined us to accept the invitation, which is the effect of a good work upon us. Many that are called make light of it, and go their way to their farms and merchan. dize ; and, if we had been left to ourselves, we should have made the same foolish choice, and, in the greatness of our folly, should have gone astray, and wandered endlessly.
that made us wil. ling in the day of power, and graciously compelled us to come in to the gospel-feast; it was distinguishing grace that revealed to us babes the things which were hid from the wise and prudent: let that grace have the glory, and let us have the joy of this blessed work.
Ninthly, Let us come to this ordinance in charity with all men, and with a sincere affection to all good Christians. It is a love-feast, and if we do not come in love, we come without the wedding-garment, and forfeit the comforts of the feast. This is to be seriously thought of, when we bring our gift to the altar, as we hope for acceptance there.
When we come to the sacrament, we must bring with us ill will to pone...good will to all, but especially to them who are of the household of faith.
(1.) We must bear ill will to none; no, not to those who have been most injurious and proyoking to
us : though they have affronted us never so much in our honor...wronged us in our interest, and set them. selves to vilify us, and do us mischief, yet we must not hate them, nor entertain any malice towards them; we must not be desirous or studious of revenge, to seek their hurt in any respect, but must, from our heart, forgive them, as we ourselves are, and hope to be forgiven of God. We must see to it, that there be not the least degree of enmity to any person in the world lodged in our breast, but carefully purge out all that old leaven ; not only lay aside the thoughts of it for the present, but wholly pluck up and cast out that root of bitterness, which bears gall and wormwood. Pure hands must, in this ordinance, as well as in prayer, be lifted up without wrath and doubting ....1 Tim. ii. 8. How can we expect that God should be reconciled to us, if we bring not with us a disposition to be reconciled to our brethren ; for our tres. passes against God are unspeakably greater than the worst of our brethren's trespasses against us. O that each would apply this caution to themselves! You have a neighbor, that, upon some disgust conceived, you cannot find in your hearts to speak to, nor to speak well of ; some one that you
have entertained a prejudice against, and would willingly do an ill turn to if it lay in your power; some one, whom, it may be, you are ready to say you cannot endure the sight of: and, dare
you retain such a spirit when you come to this ordinance ? Can you conceal it from God ? Or, do you think
you can justify it at his bar, and mäse it out that you do well to he angry? Let the fear of God's wrath, and the hope of Christ's love, reduce you to a better temper; and when you celebrate the memorial of the dying of the Lord Jesus, be sure you remember this, that he is our peace, and that he died to slay all enmities.
(2.) We must bear good will to all, with a particu: lar affection to all good Christians. Christian charity doth not only forbid that which is any way injurious, ut it requires that which is kind and friendly.
The desire of our hearts must be towards the wel. fare of all. If we be indeed solicitous about the sal. vation of our own souls, we cannot but have a tender concern for the souls of others, and be hearty wellwishers to their salvation likewise — For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, who will have all men to be saved'....I Tim. ii. 3, 4. True grace hates monopolies. We must thus love those whose wickedness we are bound to hate ; and earnestly desire their happiness, even while we industri. ously decline their fellowship.
But the delight of our souls must be in the saints that are on the earth, those excellent ones;' as David was.... Psal. xvi. 4. They are 'precious in God's sight, and honorable, and they should be so in ours; they have fellowship with the Father, and with his Son Je. sus Christ,' and therefore, by a sincere and affectionate love to them, we also should have fellowship with them. Our hearts will then be comforted, when they are knit together in love....Col. ii. 2. This love must not be confined to those of our own communion...our own way and denomination : then we love them for our own sakes, because they credit us; not for Christ's sake, because they honor him: but since God is no respector of persons, we must not be such. In every nation he that fears God, and works righteousness, is accepted of him, and should be so of us.... Acts x. 34,35. Doubtless there may be a diversity of apprehensions in the less weighty matter of the law, such as the distinction of meats and days...and a diversity of practice accordingly; and yet a sincerity of mutual love, according to the law of Christ. Those who think it is not possible, should be content to speak for themselves only, and must believe there are those who have much satisfaction in being able to say, that they love the image of Christ wherever they see it, and highly value a good man, though not in every thing of their mind. He that casteth out devils in Christ's name must be dear to us, though he follow not us.... Murk ix. 38.
The differences that are among Christians, though fomented by the malice of Satan, for the ruin of love, are permitted by the wisdom of God, for the trial of love, that they which are perfect therein may be made manifest. Herein a Christian commandeth his love, when he loves those who differ from him, and joins in affection to those with whom he cannot concur in opinion: this is thank-worthy. The kingdom of God is not meat and drink: they that have tasted of the bread of life, and the water of life, know it is not; but it is
righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost: he, therefore, that in these things serveth Christ, is acceptable of God; and therefore, though he esteem not our days...though he relishes not our meats, he should be acceptable and dear to us.
Let is then, in our approach to this sacrament, stir up ourselves to holy love...love without dissimulation; let us bear those on our hearts, whom the great High Priest of our professions bears on his, and, as we are taught of God to love one another, let us increase therein more and more ....I Thes. iv. 9, 10. Christ having loved us, is a good reason why we should love him: Christ having loved our brethren also, is a good reason why we should love them.
• Behold how good and how pleasant a thing it is for Christians to be kindly affectioned one towards another'--of one heart, and of one soul! There the Lord commands the blessing, and gives earnest of the joys of that world, where love is perfected, and reigns eternally.
Some account of the affecting Sights that are to be seen
by faith in this Ordinance.
CARE being taken, by the grace of God, to compose ourselves into a serious frame of spirit, agreeable to the ordinance, we must next apply ourselves to that which is the proper business of it, that