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: 12. Let no man judge of himself, or of the blessings and efficacy of the sacrament itself, or of the prosperity and acceptation of his service in this ministry, by any sensible relish, by the gust and deliciousness, which he sometimes perceives, and other times does not perceive. For these are fine accidents, and given to some persons often,- to others, very seldom, - to all, irregularly, -as God pleases; and sometimes are the effects of natural and accidental dispositions, and sometimes are illusions. But that no man may fall into inconvenience for want of them, we are to consider, that the want of them proceeds from divers causes. 1. It may be, the palate of the soul is indisposed by listlessness or sorrow, anxiety or weariness. 2. It may be, we are too much immerged in secular affairs and earthly affections. 3. Or we have been unthankful to God, when we have received some of these spiritual pleasures, and he, therefore, withdraws those pleasant entertainments. 4. Or, it may be, we are therefore without relish and gust, because the sacrament is too great for our weakness,- like the bright sun to a mortal eye, the object is too big for our perceptions, and our little faculties. 5. Sometimes God takes them away, lest we be lifted up and made vain. 6. Sometimes for the confirmation and exercise of our faith ; that we may live by faith and not by sense. 7. Or, it may be, that by this dryness of spirit God intends to make us the more fervent and resigned in our direct and solemn devotions, by the perceiving of our wants and weakness, and in the infinite inability, and insufficiency of ourselves. 8. Or else it happens to 'us irremediably and inevitably, that we may perceive these accidents are not the fruits of our labour, but gifts of God, dispensed wholly by the measures of his own choice. 9. The want of just and severe dispositions to the holy sacrament may, possibly, occasion this uncomfortableness. 10. Or we do not relish the divine nutriment now, so as at other times, for want of spiritual mastication; that is, because we have not considered deeply, and meditated wisely and holily. 11. Or there is in us too much self-love, and delight in, and adherence to, the comforts we find in other objects. 12. Or we are careless of little sins, and give too much way to the daily incursions of the smaller irregularities of our lives. If, upon the occasion of the want of these sensible comforts and
delightful relishes, we examine the causes of the want, and suspect ourselves in these things, where our own faults may be the causes, and there make amends, or if we submit ourselves in those particulars, where the causes may relate to God, we shall do well, and receive profit. But unless our own sin be the cause of it, we are not to make any evil judgment of ourselves, by reason of any such defect; much less diminish our great value of the blessings consequent to a worthy communion. i 13. But because the pardon of sins is intended to be the great effect of a worthy communion, and of this men are more solicitous, and for this they pray passionately, and labour earnestly, and almost all their lives, and, it may be, in the day of their death, have uncertain souls : and, therefore, of this, men are most desirous to be satisfied, if they apprehend themselves in danger; that is, if they be convinced of their sin, and be truly penitent, although this effect seems to be least discernible, and to be a secret reserved for the publication and trumpet of the archangel at the day of doom; yet in this we can best be satisfied. For because when our sins are unpardoned, we are under the wrath of God, to'be expressed as he pleases, and in the method of eternal death ;—now if God intends not to pardon us, he will not bless the means of pardon; if we shall not return to his final pardon, if we shall not pass through the intermedial, if he will never give us glory, he will never give us the increase of grace. If, therefore, we repent of our sins, and pray for pardon; if we confess them and forsake them; if we fear God and love him; if we find that our desires to please him do increase, that we are more watchful against sin, and hate it more; that we are thirsty after righteousness; if we find that we increase in duty; then we may look upon the tradition of the holy sacramental symbols as a direct consignation of pardon. Not that it is then completed; for it is a work of time; it is as long in doing as repentance is in perfecting; it is the effect of that, depending on its cause in a perpetual operation, but it is then working; and if we go on in duty, God will proceed to finish methods of his grace, and snatch us from eternal death, which we have deserved, and bring us unto glory. And this he is pleased by the sacrament, all the way, to consign: God speaks not more articulately in any voice from heaven, than in such real indications of his love and favour.
14. Lastly; Since the sacrament is the great solemnity of prayer, and imitation of Christ's intercession in heaven; let us here be both charitable and religious in our prayers ; interceding for all states of men and women in the Christian church, and representing to God all the needs of ourselves and of our relatives. For then we pray with all the advantages of the Spirit, when we pray in the faith of Christ crucified, in the love of God and of our neighbour, in the advantages of solemn piety, in the communion of saints, in the imitation of Christ's intercession, and in the union with Christ himself, spiritual and sacramental; and to such prayers as these nothing can be added, but that which will certainly come,- that is, a blessed hearing, and a gracious answer.
DEVOTIONS PREPARATORY TO THIS MYSTERY.
I. 1. I will praise thee with my whole heart; before the angels will I sing praise unto thee.
2. I will worship towards thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy loving-kindness, and for thy truth; for thou hast magnified, above all, thy name, the word of thy praise.
3. In the day when I call upon thee, thou shalt answer, and shalt multiply strength in my soul.
4. How precious are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! The Lord. will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O Lord, endureth for ever. • 5. I wait for the Lord: my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope.
6. My soul doth wait for the Lord more than they that keep the morning-watches, that they may observe the time of offering the morning-sacrifices.
7. O let my soul hope in the Lord, for with the Lord there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption : he shall redeem his people from all iniquity.
: 1. Our Lord is gentle and just: our God is merciful.
2. The Lord keepeth the simple: I was humbled, but the Lord looked after my redemption.
3. O my soul, return thou unto thy rest; because the Lord hath restored his good things unto thee.
4. He hath snatched my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling: I will, therefore, walk before the Lord, in the land of the living.
5. I have believed; therefore will I speak: in the as semblies of just men, I will greatly praise the Lord. :::6. What shall I return unto the Lord ? 'all his retributions are repaid upon me.
7. I will bear the chalice of redemption in the kingdom of God: and in the name of the Lord I will call upon my God.
III. • 1. I will pay my vows unto the Lord : I will then show forth his sacraments unto all the people. • 2. Honourable before the Lord is the death of his holy one: and thereby thou hast broken all my chains. . 3. I have sworn, and I will perform it; that I will keep thy righteous judgments. ; 4. I will greatly praise the Lord with my mouth; yea, I will praise him among the multitude.
5. For he shall stand at the right hand of the poor: to save him from them that condemn his soul.
6. His work is honourable and glorious, and his righteousness remaineth for ever : he hath made his wonderful works to be remembered.
7. The Lord is gracious and full of compassion: he hath given meat unto them that fear him : he will be ever mindful of his covenant: he hath showed his people the power of his works : blessed be God.
Prayers to be used in any Day or Time of Preparation to the Holy Sacrament.
La " .
1. O thou Shepherd of Israel, thou that feedest us like sheep; thou makest us to lie down in pleasant pastures, and leadest us by the still waters: running from the clefts of the rock, from the wounds of our Lord, from the fountains of salvation; thou preparest a table for us, and anointest our heads with the unction from above, and our cup runneth over : let the blood of thy wounds, and the water of thy side, wash me clean, that I may, with a pure clean soul, come to eat of the purest sacrifice, the Lamb slain from the beginning of the world. . . . .
. .. . . . II. ;- Thou givest thyself to be the food of our souls in the wonders of the sacrament, in the faith of thy word, in the blessings and graces of thy Spirit. Perform that in thy servant, which thou hast prepared and effected in thy Son; strengthen my infirmities; heal my sicknesses ; give me strength to subdue my passions, to mortify my inordinations, to kill all my sins : increase thy graces in my soul; enkindle a bright devotion; extinguish all the fires of hell, my lust and my pride, my envy, and all my spiritual wickednesses ; pardon all my sins; and fill me with thy Spirit, that by thy Spirit thou mayest dwell in me, and, by obedience and love, I may dwell in thee, and live in the life of grace, till it pass on to glory and immensity, by the power and the blessings, by the passion and intercession of the Word incarnate; whom I adore, and whom I love, and whom I will serve for ever and ever.
III. i O mysterious God, ineffable and glorious Majesty; what is this thou hast done to the sons of men ? thou hast from thy bosom sent thy Son to take upon him our nature; in him thou hast opened the fountains of thy mercy, and hast invited all penitent sinners to come to be pardoned, all the oppressed to be eased, all the sorrowful to be comforted, all the sick to be cured, all the hungry to be filled; and the thirsty to be refreshed with the waters of life, and sustained with the wine of select souls. Admit me, O God, to this great effusion of