A SACRAMENTAL CATECHISM by John Willison (1680-1750)
Concerning Duties Required after Partaking in Communion: part 2.
Q. What is that suitable frame and disposition of spirit which communicants ought to have when they rise and come from the Lord's Table?
A. We ought to come away from this ordinance:
1. In an admiring frame.
2. In a thankful frame.
3. In a rejoicing frame.
4. In a humble frame.
5. In a watchful frame.
6. In a praying frame.
7. In a charitable frame.
8. In a willing and obedient frame.
9. In a fixed and resolute frame.
10. In a longing and heavenly frame.
Continued from last time.
Q. Why should we come from this ordinance in a praying frame? Do we need anything more than God has freely given us?
A.1. Though all things needful are freely promised and sealed to us in the sacrament, yet we must continue to pray for the accomplishment of these promises, Psalm 119:49.
A.2. We must continue to pray for the Spirit's influences and grace to preserve in us that tenderness of heart, warmness of affections, and liveliness of frame which have been wrought in us by means of this ordinance, 1 Chronicles 29:18, Psalm 68:28.
A.3. We must pray for strength to keep the promises and pay the vows which we have made to the Lord at this occasion, and that God may save us from apostasy and backsliding, which our hearts are naturally bent unto, Psalm 17:5.
Q. Wherein lies that charitable disposition which we ought to have when we come away from the Lord's table?
A.1. In bearing good will to the souls of all men, and heartily wishing their welfare, 1 Thessalonians 3:5, 12.
A.2. In having a true love for all the members of Christ's mystical body and in bearing with them, though in various things they differ from us.
A.3. In readiness to relieve the poor and indigent according to our ability, Galatians 6:10.
A.4. In a disposition to forgive those who have been injurious to us. And surely all who have been sharers of God's mercy and grace in the sacrament will come away from it with such a charitable disposition.
Q. What is that willing and obedient frame which communicants ought to have when they come from the Lord's table?
A. It lies in these things:
1. In a grateful sense of the many ties and obligations we are under to serve Him.
2. In making it our great scope and design to approve ourselves to God in all things.
3. In making it our study to know God's mind and will, and what it is that is most acceptable and pleasing to Him.
4. In having a universal respect to all God's commands, and a readiness of mind for every good work.
5. In being active and zealous for the glory of God and the interest of His kingdom among men.
Q. What is that fixed and resolute frame which they ought to have?
A. It is the soul's deliberate and steadfast resolution to adhere to Christ, His ways, and His interests, in the midst of trials and difficulties. We must now be at a point in this matter where we are fully determined, by the grace of God, to look and to go forward in our Christian course, and that no solicitation or temptation shall move us either to look back or to draw back, but that with purpose of heart we will cleave unto the Lord, Psalm 119:30-31, 115, Acts 11:23.
Q. What is the longing and heavenly frame which we ought to have when we come from the Lord's table?
A. It consists in these things:
1. In a firm belief in Christ's second coming, and in the life everlasting.
2. In a lively meditation upon Christ's coming and future glory.
3. In an earnest looking for that blessed hope, and a joyful expectation of the glory to be revealed, Titus 2:13, Romans 5:2.
4. In a constant watching and preparing for the coming of the Bridegroom, Luke 12:36-37.
Q. Are not our hearts prone to lose their tenderness and spirituality after the sacrament? How the shall we retain our liveliness, and keep up in some measure our communion frame even when the communion is over?
A.1. We must have deep impressions of the treachery and falseness of our hearts, and of their woeful, natural bias to depart from God and turn carnal, Hosea 11:7.
A.2. We must be humbled under a sense of our own weakness and insufficiency to preserve our spiritual life, or too humbled as to think a good thought of ourselves; for God gives grace to such humble souls, 1 Peter 5:5.
A.3. We should be keeping up a constant thankful sense of God's kindness to us at the sacrament, and be frequently praising Him for it; and this is an excellent way to engage the continuance of His mercies, Psalm 67:5-6.
A.4. We should be frequently thinking on these affecting sights which we saw at the Lord's table, and study to keep up the impression thereof on our minds. I made mention of these sights before.
A.5. Let us study and learn the art of deriving life and influences from Jesus Christ by a constant and believing dependence upon Him as our Fountain of life and Head of influences, John 10:10.
A.6. Let us watch over our hearts and frames with much holy suspicion and jealousy lest Satan, the world, or our lusts should rob us of the spiritual treasure we have gotten. And especially let us watch against the first declining of the heart and beginning of deadness, and presently cry to the Lord for help and quickening.
A.7. Let us be much in secret prayer, pleading with God for the constant supplies of His Spirit, which are the fire that alone only maintain warmness and liveliness of frame in our souls against all the cold blasts of the devil and the world.
A.8. Let us delight in the company and conversation of lively Christians; for one coal makes another to burn, Hebrews 10:24.
A.9. Let us delight in attending sacrament occasions, and be still longing for the returns of this quickening ordinance, and for the Lord`s special presence therein.
A.10. Lastly, let us always guard against those things that tend to deaden our hearts or that may occasion the losing of our frames. And these I mentioned before when treating the causes of spiritual deadness.