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PRAYER FOR CHARITY TOWARDS MEN.
Merciful and gracious Lord, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, who alone canst change and enlarge my selfish and contracted heart, I pray thee to give me the most excellent gift of Charity. - May thy love to me be so shed abroad in
heart by the Holy Ghost, that I may be full of love to others, forgiving them, and loving them even as Christ loved Teach
me, I pray thee, to love others. O Lord, make me to increase and abound in love towards my Christian brethren, and toward all men, for Jesas Christ's sake. Amen.
PRAYER BEFORE THE LORD'S SUPPER.
Almighty and most merciful God, who wilt be sanctified in them that come vigh thee, I beseech thee to prepare my heart for that solemn ordinance in which I have such near access unto thee by Jesus Christ.
Give unto me, I pray thee, all needful and suitable graces and tempers, that in partaking of the bread and wine according to the institution of my Lord and Saviour, and in remembrance of his death, I may truly have the communion of his body and blood.
I desire to see, and to feel, the plague of my own evil heart; and to come, weary and heavy laden under the burden of iny many sins, to Jesus Christ for pardon and relief. May I be enabled, in the celebration of this institution, to keep in view Jesus Christ, and him crucified. “May I enjoy here not only a representation, but a rich participation also, of his dying love. Give me a lively and vigorous faith in him, that I may entirely rely on his merits for acceptance with thee, and depend on him alone for the supply of all my spiritual wants. Bring all needful things to my remembrance, and keep from me those things that would distract and disturb my devotion.
Deliver me from the evil and danger of eating and drinking unworthily, that I may not bring down judgments instead of blessings. Put away far from me all ignorance, irreverence, and want of charity. Let me not be under the influence of a carnal, self-righteous, and worldly spirit; lest in any measure I become a sharer in the sin of those who are guilty of the body and blood of Christ.
Give me, also, I pray thee, all the benefits which my Saviour did by this institution design to convey to his people. Teach me to discern therein the Lord's body, and vouchsafe to me a large measure of thy grace, that my remembrance of Christ may be serious and impressive, and may produce an increase of penitence, faith, gratitude, and holy obedience. Make thyself known to me, O Jesus, in the breaking of bread. May the Holy Ghost produce in me a composed, tranquil, and devout spirit at thy table. I desire, there, O heavenly Father, to celebrate the death of Christ as a sacrifice taking away the sin of the world, and the only foundation of every spiritual hope. I desire, while commemorating his death, to remember his risen glory, and to declare iny expectation of his coming again to judge the world, and save his people. I pray that I may find his death made efficacious to the mortification of all my sins.
O that it may please thee that pardon, justification, peace with God, sanctification, the hope of eternal life, and all the blessings which Christ, by his death, hath obtained for us, may now be afresh conveyed and
assured to me through faith in him. Give me a sweet sense of communion with all true believers, and of our common union to Christ, the head of his Church, and our fellowship with him and with each other. Thus may
love to Christ, and love to all the brethren, be greatly strengthened and increased among us. O may we all thus experience the Lord's Supper to be a refreshing mean of grace, so that we may return from thy table with our consciences quieted, our corruptions subdued, our graces increased, and our souls encouraged, with an enlarged heart to run the way of thy commandments.'
Increase the number of faithful communicants throughout thy Churches in all the world; and enlarge the borders of thy kingdom till all the ends of the earth remember the Saviour's sufferings, and turn to the Lord and worship before thee. This I ask, for his name's sake. Amen.
Meditations Preparatory to the Lord's Supper. HAVING before noticed the importance of meditation in preparing for the Lord's Supper,* we now proceed to give some practical help towards it. Most desirable it is that each person should endeavour to
* See chap. ix, part i.
gain for himself a holy skill in this profitable duty, that of retiring from the world, and seriously contemplating spiritual subjects for our own edification. It is a great help to every other duty, and elevates the mind above the passing varities of the world. If we are in the habit of practising this duty in secret, it will be more easy to be fulfilled at the sacred table. He that would obtain comfort from remembering his Saviour's death at church, must first meditate upon it in his closet.
A passage of Scripture, or some practical truth, will generally furnish you with abundant matter for your meditation. If you were often thus to employ your thoughts on sacred subjects, in the spirit of prayer, you would doubtless find much benefit* from such a practice. The Lord's day particularly is a suitable season for this employment.
There are those who are able to fix their mind to a devout subject, and dwell upon it without any other help than a spiritual mind, knowledge of the Scriptures, a blessed habit of meditation, and the gracious influences of the Holy Spirit: and for them the following meditations
be needless; but there are many who are wholly'unaccustomed to this duty, and who are glad to receive assistance from the reflections of others, and find that assistance, through the aid of the Spirit, a means of raising their hearts to God.
For their use the following meditations are added, as suitable, preparatory to the Lord's Supper. They suppose the person who uses them to be sensible of his sinfulness, and seeking salvation through Jesus Christ, and are chiefly acts of repentance and faith. It is by no means designed that they should all be read over on one occasion of receiving, and much less constantly before every communion.
* For further directions, see Bishop Hall's Art of Divine' Meditation, and the latter part of Baxter's Saints' Rest. Th communicant will find such books as Horneck's Crucified Jesus, Rambach's Meditations on the Sufferings of Christ, Bishop Hall's Contemplations on the Crucifixion, Owen's Practical Treatises, &c, well suited to assist him in this duty.
Prov. xvi, 1. The preparation of the heart in man-is
from the Lord. O thou, the Father of lights, and the Giver of all wisdom, I would ever see and acknowledge, while I search into my heart, and endeavour to use every means of preparing for thy holy feast, that thou must give the blessing, or all is vain. Thou must open my darkened understanding, or I see not my sins. Thou must affect my heart, or I feel them not. Thou must give me faith, or I go not to Christ for relief, and believe not on him as my only hope. - Thou must sanctify me by thy Spirit, or I remain impure and unholy. O my God, thou only art able to supply my wants, or satisfy my immortal spirit. I come then to thee. I would lie at the foot of the cross for mercy and salvation. Let him that now asks, have; and that now seeks, find; unto him that now knocks, let the door be opened. Hear, help, and save me, O Lord, my Strength, and my Redeemer.
ACTS OF REPENTANCE.
Psalm xl, 12. My iniquities have taken hold upon me
they are more than the hairs of my head. When tried by the only true standard, I am found