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now considered; the latter, to wit, the fulfilling our vows, implies in it a doing every thing that is in our power, in order thereunto; and, at the same time, a waiting on God to give success to our endeavours, and to work in us that which is well-pleasing in his sight, without which we can do nothing.
After we have waited on the Lord in this ordinance, we are to encourage ourselves to a frequent attendance thereon; especially if we have ground to conclude, that we have had any sensible communications of his grace vouchsafed to us therein. As this is an honour which God puts on his own institutions, it is certainly an encouragement to us, to persevere in waiting on him therein. Thus the Psalmist says, Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live, Psal. cxvi. 2. This will effectually remove all those doubts and scruples that discourage us from engaging in this ordinance, lest we should not behave ourselves in a right manner therein, fearing that we are not sufficiently prepared for it, and therefore shall be disowned by Christ, when we engage in it: I say, this we are fenced against, by having experienced his quickening and comforting presence therein.
But, suppose we have not met with this desirable blessing, which the best believers do not experience in a like degree, at all times; then we ought, after we have received the Lord's Supper, to endeavour to find out the particular cause of God's withdrawing his special presence from us, and what is that root of bitterness which springs up and troubles us. It may be, he withholds this privilege from us in a way of sovereignty, that we may hereby learn that our comforts are not at our own disposal; or, that they are not the necessary result of our attendance on ordinances, but arise from the divine blessing accompanying them. This, God, it may be, withholds from us for the trial of our graces; and that we may see how needful it is for us to wait for those spiritual comforts, which, at present, he withholds from us; as the prophet says, Therefore will the Lord wait, that he may be gracious unto you, and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you; for the Lord is a God of judgment; blessed are they that wait for him, Isa. xxx. 18.
But since we may, for the most part, apprehend some particular reason why God denies us his quickening, and comforting presence, arising from sins of omission or commission, antecedent to, or whilst we have been engaged in this ordinance: We must enquire,
(1.) Whether there has not been some defect, as to preparatory duties? and particularly, whether we have duly examined ourselves before we came to the Lord's table, concerning our
knowledge of Christ, and the benefits of his redemption; or, especially, of our being enabled to improve them by faith? and, whether we have examined ourselves concerning the sense we have of the guilt of sin, and the need we stand in of Christ's righteousness, to take it away, and accordingly resolved to wait on him in this ordinance, with earnest desires of obtaining this privilege.
(2.) We must enquire, whether our behaviour when we have been engaged in this ordinance, has not been, in some measure, unbecoming the spirituality and importance thereof? whether we have not spared, or indulged, some secret corruption, that has broke forth therein? or, whether we have not given way to some temptation, that has then beset us? whether we have not depended on our own righteousness, for the taking away the guilt of sin, and procuring for us acceptance in the sight of God? or, whether we have not engaged in this ordinance, in our own strength, and by this self-confidence, provoked him to withdraw from us; which, if we have, it will afford matter of deep humiliation in his sight, and call for repentance and reformation, if we would be fenced against this inconvenience, which, at present we labour under; and then we may hope that we shall be enabled to wait on him in this ordinance, in such a way, that we may have those comfortable experiences of grace from him, which will be an evidence that we have waited on him for the better, and not for the worse.
QUEST. CLXXVI. Wherein do the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord's Supper agree?
ANSW. The sacraments of baptism and, the Lord's Supper, agree, in that the author of both is God, the spiritual part of both is Christ and his benefits; both are seals of the same covenant, are to be dispensed by ministers of the gospel, and by none other, and to be continued in the church of Christ, until his second coming.
QUEST. CLXXVII. Wherein de the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord's Supper differ?
ANSW. The sacraments of baptism and the Lord's supper differ, in that baptism is to be administered but once with water, to be a sign and seal of our regeneration, and ingrafting into Christ, and that even to infants, whereas the Lord's supper is to be administered often, in the elements of bread and wine, to represent and exhibit Christ as spiritual nourishment to the soul, and to confirm our continuance and VOL. IV.
growth in him, and that only to such as are of years and ability to examine themselves.
HESE two answers contain little more than a recapitulation of some things, that have been occasionally mentioned, in explaining the nature of these ordinances; and therefore we shall very briefly insist on them.
I. Concerning those things wherein the sacraments of baptism and the Lord's supper agree; accordingly,
1. It is observed, that God is the Author of both. This may be inferred from what has been said concerning their being holy ordinances, or means of grace; in which we are to expect his presence and blessing to make them effectual to salvation: This we cannot do without engaging in them by his own warrant, which he has been pleased to give us, as appears from his word, and the experience of many believers, who have found sensible advantage thereby; so that the effects of his power and grace, that have been produced in their hearts, when engaged therein, afford a convincing evidence that God is the Author thereof. This, as to what concerns baptism, respects more especially, the baptism of those that are adult; for when infants are baptized, though God can, and sometimes does, as is more than probable, own this ordinance, by regenerating them at that time; yet this cannot be known by us, unless it be inferred, from those extraordinary communications of grace which they may experience, who are enabled, by faith to give up their children to God therein.
2. Baptism and the Lord's supper farther agree, in that Christ, and his benefits are signified by both of them: for they are, each of them, ordinances for our faith, as they are signs and seals of the covenant of grace, in which Christ, and the benefits of his redemption, are set forth: Thus the apostle says, with respect to baptism, So many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ, were baptized into his death, buried with him by baptism into death, Rom. vi. 3, 4. accordingly we have communion with Christ as crucified, dying and buried, and, after this, rising again from the dead, whereby he brought the work of redemption to perfection: These things are signified; and thus our faith is to make use of this sign in baptism; and the apostle says the same thing with respect to the Lord's Supper: As often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come, 1 Cor. xi. 26.
8. Baptism and the Lord's supper, are farther observed to agree, in that they are to be dispensed by none but the ministers of the gospel. Under the Old Testament-dispensation, where all the parts of the temple-service were significant signs of Christ, and the benefits of the covenant of grace; these were
to be administered by none but those who were qualified, called, and lawfully set apart to that work, as the apostle says, No man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron, Heb. v. 4. And we may conclude, that the moral reason of the thing extends itself to the administration of the seals of the covenant, under the gospel-dispensation. It is certain, that some must be appointed, or set apart to this work, otherwise it would belong to every body, and consequently there would be no determinate administrators of these ordinances, who might be said to have a special call thereunto, from God and man. It may also be inferred from those scriptures that speak of pastors after God's own heart, who are to feed his people with knowledge and understanding, as being his special gift, Jer. iii. 15. and from what the apostle says, concerning gospel-ministers, whether extraordinary or ordinary, as being Christ's gift, when he ascended up on high, Eph. iv. 8, 11.
4. It is farther observed, that these two ordinances agree, in that they are both to be continued in the church, until Christ's second coming. Though we look and hope for more of the presence of God therein, and a greater effusion of his Spirit, to make them more effectual, and render the church more bright and glorious, as being favoured with greater degrees of the communications of divine grace; yet we have no ground to expect new ordinances, or a new dispensation to succeed this we are under, till Christ's second and most glorious coming; therefore this is called, 7he last time, 1 John ii. 18. Upon which account the apostle says, that the ends of the world are come upon us, 1 Cor. x. 11. by which we are to understand, that the present dispensation of the gospel that we are under, is the last we are to expect till Christ's second coming.
And this also appears, from the promise which Christ has given of his presence with his ministers and churches, when faithfully engaging in these ordinances, as he says, Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world, Matt. xxviii. 20. And, as his death, as was before observed, is to be shewed forth till he come, 1 Cor. xi. 26. this proves that the Lord's supper is also to be continued in the church till then. This I would the rather observe, inasmuch as it is contrary to what some maintain, who, while they hope for a greater effusion of the Spirit, and a more glorious state of the church in the latter day, are ready to extend their thoughts too far, they conclude that it will be a new dispensation, as the ordinances which the church is favoured with, at present, shall cease, particularly baptism and the Lord's Supper; which we can by no means approve of.
II. We are now to consider wherein the sacraments of baptism and the Lord's supper differ.
1. It is observed that they differ, in that baptism is to be administered but once; whereas, the Lord's supper is to be administered often. This appears from two different circumstances contained in them. As for baptism, it signifies our first ingrafting into, or putting on Christ; and when denominated from the thing signified thereby, it is called, the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost, Titus iii. 5. which is hoped for in this ordinance; accordingly it is considered as our first solemn dedication to Christ; and, as this is signified thereby, it is called an initiating ordinance, in which we are bound to be the Lord's; which bond holds good as long as we live, and therefore needs not to be signified, sealed, or confirmed by our being baptized a second time: But, on the other hand, the Lord's supper signifies our feeding or living upon Christ, and receiving daily supplies of grace from him, as our necessities require: Therefore this ordinance differs from baptism as it is often to be engaged in.
2. They differ, in that the former as has been before proved, is not only to be applied to the adult, if they have not been baptized before, but to the infants of believing parents, which the Lord's supper is not. In baptism, the person dedicated may be considered as being passive, and so devoted to God by the faith of another, who has a right to do this: But none are to partake of the Lord's supper but those who have such a degree of knowledge, that they are able to discern the Lord's body, and capable of performing that duty which the apostle recommends as necessary thereunto, when he says, Let à man examine himself, and so let him cat of that bread, and drink of that cup, 1 Cor. xi. 28.
I am sensible that some of the ancient church, and particularly Cyprian, in the third century, have pleaded for, and pracised the administration of the Lord's supper to infants, being led into this mistake, by supposing what does not sufficiently appear, viz. that infants among the Jews ate the passover, because whole families are said to eat it. But this does not appear to include infants; for whom another sort of food was designed neither could they reap any advantage by it, not being capable of discerning the thing signified, or feeding on Christ, the true Paschal Lamb; which could be done no otherwise than by faith.
Others were led into this mistake from the wrong sense they of that scripture, in which Christ says, Except ye eat the Besh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you, John vi. 53. thinking that our Saviour meant hereby, the read and wine in the Lord's supper. Therefore this ordi