T HE E XHORTATIONS
T O C OMMUNICANTS BEFORE THE G REAT F ESTIVALS
When the Priest giveth warning for the celebration of the Lord’s Supper (which he shall always do upon the Lord’s Day next before Christmas-Day, Easter-Day, Whitsunday, Michaelmas-Day, and All Saints’ Day), either before or else after the Sermon or the Homily ended, he shall read this exhortation following.
D EARLY beloved in the Lord, on……day, I purpose, through God’s assistance, to celebrate the Supper of the Lord, and to administer to all such as shall be religiously and devoutly disposed the most comfortable Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ; to be by them received in remembrance of His meritorious Cross and Passion, whereby alone we obtain remission of our sins, and are made partakers of the Kingdom of heaven.
Wherefore it is our duty to render most humble and hearty thanks to Almighty God our heavenly Father, for that He hath given His Son our Saviour Jesus Christ, not only to die for us, but also to be our spiritual Food and sustenance in that most Holy Sacrament of His Body and Blood. Which being so divine and comfortable a thing to them who receive it worthily, and so dangerous to them that will presume to receive it unworthily; my duty is to exhort you in the mean season to consider the dignity of that Holy Mystery, and the great peril of the unworthy receiving thereof; and so to search and examine your own consciences, and that not lightly, and after the manner of dissemblers with God : but so that ye may come holy and clean to such an heavenly Feast, in the marriage-garment required by God in Holy Scripture, and be received as worthy partakers of that Holy Table.
Now the way and means thereto is this: First, to examine your lives and conversations by the rule of God’s commandments; and whereinsoever ye shall perceive yourselves to have offended, either by will, word, or deed, there to bewail your own sinfulness, and to confess yourselves to Almighty God, with full purpose of amendment of life. And if ye shall perceive your offences to be such as are not only against God, but also against your neighbours, then ye shall reconcile yourselves unto them, being ready to make restitution and satisfaction, according to the uttermost of your powers, for all injuries and wrongs done by you to any other; and being likewise ready to forgive others that have offended you, as ye would have forgiveness of your offences at God’s hand; for otherwise the receiving of the Holy Communion doth nothing else but increase your condemnation.
Therefore if any of you be a blasphemer of God, an hinderer or slanderer of His Word, an adulterer or fornicator, or be in malice, or envy, or in any other grievous crime, repent ye of your sins, or else come not to that Holy Table; lest, after the taking of that Holy Sacrament, the devil enter into you, as he entered into Judas, and fill you full of all iniquities, and bring you to destruction both of body and soul.
And because it is requisite that no man should come to the Holy Communion but with a full trust in God’s mercy, and with a quiet conscience; therefore if there be any of you, who by this means cannot quiet his own conscience herein, but thinketh that he be fallen into mortal sin, let him come unto me, or to some other discreet and learned Priest, and open his grief; that by the benefit of the ministration of Absolution, and the performance of a due and just penance, together with spiritual counsel and advice, his conscience may be quieted, and his mind delivered from all scruple and doubtfulness.
W HEN P EOPLE ARE NEGLIGENT TO RECEIVE THE H OLY C OMMUNION
Or, in case he shall see the people negligent to come to the Holy Communion, instead of the former, the Priest shall use this Exhortation following.
D EARLY beloved brethren, who by the grace of Almighty God have been born anew of Water and of the Holy Ghost, and who are invited by Him to be partakers of the blessed Sacrament of the Body and Blood of His most dearly beloved Son our Saviour Jesus Christ, I bid you all in His Name, and I beseech you, that ye will not refuse to come to His Holy Table, who are so lovingly called and bidden by God Himself.
Ye know how grievous and unkind a thing it is, when a man hath prepared a rich feast, decked his table with all kinds of provision, so that there lacketh nothing but the guests to sit down; and yet they who are called (without any cause) most unthankfully refuse to come. Which of you in such a case would not be moved? Who would not think a great injury and wrong done unto him? Wherefore, most dearly beloved in Christ, take ye good heed, lest ye, withdrawing yourselves from this Holy Supper, provoke God’s indignation against you. It is an easy thing for a man to say, I will not communicate, because I am otherwise hindered with worldly business. But such excuses are not so easily accepted and allowed before God. If any man say, I am a grievous sinner, and therefore am afraid to come: wherefore then do ye not repent and amend? When God calleth you, are ye not ashamed to say that ye will not come? When ye should return unto God, will ye excuse yourselves, and say ye are not ready?
Consider therefore earnestly with yourselves how little such feigned excuses will avail before God. They that refused the feast in the Gospel, because they had bought a farm, or would try their yokes of oxen, or because they were married, were not so excused, but counted unworthy of the heavenly feast.
I, for my part, am ready to communicate; and, according to mine Office, I bid you in the Name of God, I call you in Christ’s behalf, I exhort you, as ye love your own salvation, that ye also will be ready to be partakers of this Holy Communion.
And as the Son of God did vouchsafe to yield up His soul by death upon the Cross for your salvation; so it is your duty to receive the Holy Communion in remembrance of the Sacrifice of His Death, as He Himself hath commanded; which, if ye shall neglect to do, consider with yourselves how great an injury ye do unto God, and how sore punishment hangeth over your heads for the same; when ye wilfully abstain from the Lord’s Table, and separate yourselves from your brethren, who come to feed on the banquet of that most heavenly Food. These things if ye earnestly consider, ye will by God’s grace return to a better mind; and know ye that for the obtaining whereof we shall not cease to make our humble petitions unto Almighty God our heavenly Father.
F OR THE WORTHY RECEIVING OF H OLY C OMMUNION
At the time of the celebration of the Lord’s Supper, either immediately before the Sermon or Homily, or else immediately before the faithful are invited to partake of the Lord’s Table, the Priest may say this Exhortation following, the people all standing. And this Exhortation shall always be read out on the First Sunday in Advent and First Sunday in Lent; and whensoever the Priest shall be moved in his discretion to exhort the people to the worthy receiving of the Holy Communion (it not being any Sunday within Christmastide, Epiphanytide, Eastertide, Ascensiontide, Whitsuntide, Michaelmastide, or Hallowmastide, or on any one of the Greater Holy-Days), he may read to them this Exhortation following.
D EARLY beloved in the Lord, ye that mind to come to the Holy Communion of the Body and Blood of our Saviour Christ, must consider what Saint Paul the Apostle writeth to the Corinthians; how he exhorteth all persons diligently to try and examine themselves before they presume to eat of that Bread and drink of that Cup.
For as the benefit is great, if with a true penitent heart and lively faith, we receive that holy Sacrament; (for then we spiritually eat the Flesh of Christ and drink His Blood; then we dwell in Christ, and Christ in us; then we are one with Christ, and Christ with us); so is the danger great, if we receive the same unworthily. For then we are guilty of the Body and Blood of Christ our Saviour; we eat and drink our own damnation, not discerning the Lord’s Body; we kindle God’s wrath against us; we provoke Him to plague us with divers diseases, and sundry kinds of death.
Judge therefore yourselves, brethren, that ye be not judged of the Lord; repent you truly for sins past; have a lively and steadfast faith in Christ our Saviour; amend your lives, and be in perfect charity with all men; so shall ye be meet partakers of those Holy Mysteries.
And above all things ye must give most humble and hearty thanks to God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, for the redemption of the world by the Death and Passion of our Saviour Christ, both God and man; Who did humble Himself, even to the death upon the Cross, for us, miserable sinners, who lay in darkness and the shadow of death; that He might make us the children of God, and exalt us to everlasting life.
And to the end that we should always remember the exceeding great love of our Master and only Saviour, Jesus Christ, thus dying for us, and the innumerable benefits which by His precious Blood-shedding He hath obtained to us; He hath instituted and ordained Holy Mysteries, as pledges of His love, and for a continual remembrance of His death, to our great and endless comfort. To Him therefore, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, let us give (as we are most bounden) continual thanks; submitting ourselves wholly to His holy will and pleasure, and studying to serve Him in true holiness and righteousness all the days of our life. Amen.
And here it is to be noted that the outward and visible signs of the consecrated Bread and Wine of the Blessed Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper remain still very much in their natural forms, and may not therefore as such be adored or worshipped (for to worship the substance of Bread and Wine were idolatry to be abhorred of all faithful Christians): Howbeit, the inward and spiritual part of the Blessed Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, that is to say, the true and real substance of that Sacrament, is the most precious Body and Blood of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ which, altogether with and inseparable from His very Soul and Divinity, are truly and really present under the outward and visible signs of the consecrated Bread and Wine; and the same Body and Blood of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, altogether with and inseparable from His very Soul and Divinity, are verily and indeed offered up and given, and taken and received, in the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. Wherefore, it is hereby declared that in the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, the whole and perfect Person of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, in His Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity, is truly and really present under the outward and visible signs of the consecrated elements of Bread and Wine; and the Lord Jesus Christ is there rightly and properly to be worshipped and adored by all faithful Christians.