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HE vast number of Books about the Sa.
crament of the Eucharist, as it shews the richness of the Subječt, so it discovers
the Zeal and Industry of good Men, to uphold the power of Religion in these perilous times, as they are call’d by the Apostle of the Gentiles. And indeed, if we consider
2 Tim. 3.! 1. the Influence this Ordinance hath yet on Men, who have not altogether sold themselves to do Evil
, and are not gone so far, as to make a mock of Religion; it is no small motive to busie our selves in recommending and pressing the frequent use of it. I look upon it as a special Providence of God, that in this Iron Age, wherein Men have made a shift to bamle all the Rules of Discipline, they have yet some Reverence for this Ordinance: infomuch, that if we can oblige them to make use of it, we may entertain great hopes of their future sobriety and seriousness : The generality shun it, because they are loth to shake hands with their looser lives, and they are senfible that the use of this Ordinance, and a disorderly Conversation, are things inconsistent, and incompatible; and therefore, could we persuade
them to come, we might promise our selves a rich and plentiful Harvest, there being nothing more likely, than the Fruitfulness of that Ground, which is water'd with the Blood of Jesus. What I publish here, is in order to make good my Promife in a leffer Piece, calld The Fire of the Altar: And when a Man hath once, either rashly, or premeditatedly,made himself a Debtor to the Publick, I think it is Justice and good Manners, if he be able, to discharge the Obligation. I do not hereby discourage the Reader, from persuing other Mens Labours, (He'll possibly think there is no Danger) but defire only to promote and encou. rage the Good he reaps from eaxacter Compositions. I have, in the following Discourse, endeavour'd at once to inform the Reader's Judg. ment, to direct his Practice, and to satisfie his Curiosity; the first, by giving a rational Account of the Nature of the Eucharist; the second, by taking notice of the particular Duties requisite in Communicants; and the third, by adding fome Historical Passages about the Rise and Progress of some Rites, and Opinions, relating to this Sacrament. I had Thoughts toward the latter End to have added a Chapter about Confessing of Sin to a faithful Minister of God's Word, before Men receive the Communion; but fearing the Book would swell to an unconscionable Bulk, I was forc'd to stop where I did. That which made me desirous to have said something of that Subject, was, because I find by Converse, that fome Romißh Priests have of late been very bulie with several Members of our Church, and made
20 a mighty ftir about this Sacramental Confeffion, bic as if our Church were defective in a Fundamental uun Point, because we prefs no fuch thing upon our hati Communicants. But not to mention, that Mouth Pro tebanks do what they can to discourage Men from la consulting with discreet and rational Physicians ;
we do not, indeed, make this Confession of Sins tó lick a Minister absolutely necessary to Salvation, nor e bo do we enjoya it upon pain of Damnation, bes
cause we have no warrant for it in Scripture, her which our Church makes the only Rule of her m Faith; but that we do not encourage this Con. ofession, as a thing very convenient, nay, in some Ilti cafes necessary, especially where the Sinner's
Conscience is burden'd and oppress’d, and lades bours under Doubts, is a malicious Slander and his Calumny. We find nothing in the Apostles Rybrick for Celebrating the Holy
Commu- 1 Cor. 11. by nion, concerning this Confession. But v. 28.
all that he faith, is this, Let a Man examine bimDe felf, and fo let him eat of that Bread, and drink, els of that Cup; which Christians may certainly do, is without confessing their Sins to a Minister. Yet er where they are gravel'd in this Examination, or
find themselves in perplexity about their Spiritual e Concerns, Reason requires, that they should come
to the Priest, who is appointed by God, as Director of their Consciences, and where we find,
that their Souls are touch'd with Remorse, and E
their resolution is great and magnanimous, to shake off the burthen of their Pollutions, and to give themselves up to the conduct of a better Master, there we are ready to impart to them
which God hath bid us pronounce in his Name to their Comfort, and whereof there is as full and satisfactory a Form in our Liturgy, as any Christian can defire. It's granted, we do not, as in the Roman Church, join the Merits of the Virgin Mary, and of the Saints, to those of Christ, in our Absolution, because we dare not, for fear of committing a heinous Sin; but we Absolve, as far as we are impower'd by the Word of God, and he that leaves this Fountain, and hews out to himself Cisterns, which can hold no Water, is in danger of being forsaken by God, and left to his own Delusions, and vain Imaginations.
1. T is St. Auftin's Observation, that Mea can ne-