« AnteriorContinuar »
because God accepts no breakers of their pows; he loves no man's sacrifice, that does not truly love his service. What if you empty all the Mævanian valleys, and drive the fat lambs in flocks unto the altars? What if you sacrifice a herd of white bulls from Clitumnusk? One sacrifice of a troubled spirit, one offering of a broken heart, is a better oblation, than all the wealth which the fields of the wicked can produce. “God, by the forms and rites of sacrifice, teaches us how to come to the altars, whether for prayer or eucharist; we must be sure to bring no evil passion, no spiritual disease along with us,” saith Philo'. The sacrament of the Lord's Supper is the Christian sacrifice; and though the Lamb of God is represented in a pure oblation, yet we must bring something of our own: our lusts must be crucified", our passions brought in fetters, bound in chains, and laid down at the foot of the throne of God. We must use our sin, as the ass's first colt was to be used among the Jews; there is no redeeming of it, but only by the breaking of its neck : and when a sinner comes to God groaning under his load, carrying the dead body of his lusts, and laying them before the altar of God, saying, “ This is my pride, that almost ruined me: here is the corpse of my lusts, they are now dead : and as carcasses are more heavy than living bodies, so now my sin feels more ponderous, because it is mortified : I now feel the intolerable burden, and I cannot bear it.” When a sinner makes this address to God, coming with a penitential soul, with a holy sorrow, and with holy purposes, then no oblation shall be more pleasing, no guest more welcome, no sacrifice more accepted. The sacrament is like the word of God; if you receive it worthily, it will do you good ; if unworthily, it will be your death and your destruction". Here the penitent can be cleansed, and here the impenitent are consumed: here they that are justified, shall be justified still; and they that are unholy, become more unholy and accursed: here they that have, shall have more abundantly; and they that have not, shall lose what they have already: here the living are made strong and happy, and the dead do die again.
qua nunc tibi pauper acerra
Statius Syl. i. 4. 128. Veenhusen, p. 58. Βούλεται αυτούς αναδιδάξαι, δια συμβόλων, όποτε προέρχοντο εις βωμούς, η ευξόμενοι, i súxagothcartes, pendày áppéornjia h másos inopéger fas con form.-Philo.
m Quin horres, vererisque talia committere; ac altaria frequentare? quo. modo immaculata sacrorum mysteria audes attingere? Hortor igitur te, ut vel committere hujusmodi desinas, vel a venerandis altaris sacrificiis abstineas; ne, quando ignem de cælo capiti accersens tuo, meritas pænas, ut optasti, luas. Sic Zosymum Presbyterum arguit St. Isidorus Pelusiota. Lib. v. epist. 12.
“ He that giveth honour to a fool,” saith Solomon', “ is like him, that bindeth a stone in a sling :" so we read it; but so, it is not easy to tell the meaning. The vulgar Latin reads it, “ As he that throws a stone into the heap of Mercury, so is he that giveth honour to a fool;" and so the proverb is easy. For the Gentiles did of old worship Mercury, by throwing stones at him: now giving honour to a fool, is like throwing a stone at Mercury; that is, a strange and unreasonable act: for as the throwing of stones is against all natural and reasonable way of worship and religion, and is against the way of honour; so is a fool as strange and unfit a person to receive it. But when Rabbi Manasses threw stones at Mercury, in contempt and defiance of the image and the false god, he was questioned for idolatry, and paid his liberty in exchange for his outward worship of what he secretly hated; but by his external act he was brought to judgment, and condemned for his hypocrisy. This is the case of every one, that, in a state of sin, comes to the holy sacrament; he comes to receive the bread of God, and throws a stone at him; he pretends worship, and secretly hates him; and no man must come hither, but all that is within him, and all that is without, must be symbolical to the nature and holiness of the mysteries, to the designs and purposes of God. In short, the full sense of all this is expressed in the canon law P, in a few words: “A sacrament iş not to be given but to him that repents:” for there must no sinful habit, or impure affection, remain in that tabernacle,
Omnia sacramenta obsunt indigne tractautibus, prosuut tamen digne sumentibus, sicut et verbum Dei. - S. dugust. contr. epist. Purmer.
o Prov. xxvi. 8.
P Non pænitentibus istud infundi non potest, quia sacramenti genus est. Cap. illud, dist. 95.
where God means to place his holy Spirit. It is like bringing of a swine into the propitiatory; such a presence cannot stand with the presence of the Lord. It is Dagon before the ark; the shechinah, the glory of the Lord, will depart from that unhallowed place.
But because the duty of repentance, as it is a particular grace, is limited and affirmative, and therefore is determinable by proper relations and accidents, and there is a special necessity of repentance before the receiving of the sacrament; we must inquire more particularly :
1. What actions or parts of repentance are necessary in our preparation to the receiving these divine mysteries ?
2. How far a penitent must be advanced in a good life, before he may come safely; and how far, before he may come with confidence ?
3. What significations of repentance are to be accepted by the church?
4. Whether in case the duty be not performed, may every minister of the sacrament refuse to admit the wicked person, or the imperfect penitent that offers himself, and persists in the desire of it?
What Actions of Repentance are specially required in our Pre
parations to the holy Sacrament ? The particular actions of repentance, which are to be performed in their proper seasons, which cannot be always actual, because they have variety, and cannot be attended to altogether, all such particulars of repentance are then in their season, they have this for their opportunity. For it is an admirable wisdom of God, so to dispose the times and advantages of religion, that by the solemnities of duty, our dispersions are gathered up,-our wanderings are united, -our indifferences are kindled,- our weariness is recreated,- our spirits are made busy, - our attention is called upon,- our powers are made active, — our virtues fermented: we are called upon, and looked after, and engaged. For as it is in motion, and as it is in lines, a long and a straight progression diminishes the strength, and makes languishing and infirmity; but by doubling the point, or making a new centre, the moving body gathers up his parts and powers into a narrower compass,--and by union, as by a new beginning, is rescued from weakness and diminution; so it is in the life of a Christian :- when he first sets forth, he is zealous and forward, full of appetite, and full of holy fires; but when his little fuel is consumed, and his flame abates, when he goes on and grows weary, when he mingles with the world, and by every conversation is polluted or allayed, when by his very necessary affairs of life, he is made secular and interested, apt to tend his civil regards, and to be remiss in the spiritual, by often and long handling of money, beginning too much to love it,-then we are interrupted in our declining piety: we are called upon by religion, and by the sacredness of this holy duty ; we are made to begin again, not to go back, but to be re-enkindled.
Every time we receive the holy sacrament, all our duties are summed up; we make new vows, we chastise our negligence, we mend our pace, we actuate our holy purposes, and make them stronger; we enter upon religion, as if we had never done any thing before; we bring again our first penitential heats. And as when we pray, and pray long, our devotion slackens, and our attention becomes trilling, and by wandering thoughts we are gone very far from the observation of the offices,—the good man that ministers, calls out to us, · Let us pray ;' and then the wandering thoughts run home, then we are troubled that we have lost so much of our prayers, as we have not attended to: then we begin again, and pray the more passionately, by how much we observe ourselves to have been more negligent before. If God did not particularly call upon us by these religious necessities, and stop us by the solemn return of the sacrament, and stir up our fires, and remind us of our duty, and make actual seasons and opportunities for actual and great attendancies on religion, if God did not make some days, and some necessities, and some opportunities for heaven; the soul and her interest would not be at all regarded. For this life is the day for the body; and our needs do indeed require
so much attendance, and employ so much of our affections, and spend so much of our time, that it is necessary some abstractions and separations of time and offices be made. '
Receiving the holy sacrament, is like a lock upon the waters, which makes them rise higher, and begin a fuller stream, as from a new principle of emanation. So that the repentance which is the duty of our life, and dispersed over all the parts and periods of it, like the waters in the first creation upon the face of the whole earth, is gathered together against the day of the Lord's communion, as into a bosom and congregation of penitential waters. Then you are to mourn for your sins, and to resolve against them: then you are to remember what vows you have already made and broken, how often you have prevaricated in your duty, and by what temptation you are used to fall: then you are to renew the strength of your purposes, to fortify your tenderest part, and to cut off all advantages from the enemy : then you must prune your vine, and make the branches bleed": then the bridegroom comes, and you must trim your lamp, and adorn it with the culture of religion; that is, against the day of communion, you must sum up all the parts of your repentance; for the sacrament is a summary of all the mysteries, and all the duty of the whole religion of a Christian. But baptism and the holy eucharist do nothing for usb, unless we do good works, and perfect them with a conjugation of holy duties, bringing forth fruits meet for repentance.
But our inquiry must be yet a little more particular. - There are some actions of repentance, which must be finished and made perfect, before we receive the holy communion : and there are some, which will be finishing all our life. Concerning the first, the question is, which they are, and what must be done concerning them. Concerning the second, we are to inquire how far we must have proceeded in them, before we may communicate.
Those parts of repentance which must be finished, before we approach the blessed sacrament, are these.
2 - enodes trunci resecentur, ut alte
Exeat ad cælum ramis felicibus arbor. -- Georg. ii. 78. b Parum est baptizari, et eucharistiam accipere, nisi quis factis et opere perficiat. - S. Cyprian.