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THE EPISTLE DEDICATORY.
To the two virtuous and modest Gentlewomen, the now Lady
THAT desire you have, Right Virtuous, to serve God in holiness of life, and very towardly disposition, even from your tender years, so applicable to all goodness, (wherein may you wax old by the grace of God,) have often moved me to beseech Him, who hath begun this good in you, to continue the same, even unto an aged and happy end. For, assuredly our religious duties, and respective devotion to God, is worth all the world's dignity beside; nay, without this, all the dignity of the world is nothing worth. Is not godliness the flower of all our actions? Yes, verily; "Do but try Me, saith the Lord, if I will not pour out a blessing"." Hath He not said, "I
a Malachi iii. 10.
will honour them that honour Me?" Et diligentes me diligo; and "I love them that love Me?"
To exercise this your devotionate duty unto God, so often (and therefore often) as you prepare yourselves unto the blessed Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, that high mystery of human salvation, I commend unto you both these Meditations hereafter following, in part gathered out of the ancient Fathers, and some late reverend writers of this age, as Luc. Penel, and others, translated, augmented, and brought to a method; I offer them (as a testimony of my due regard towards you) and present them unto your sober and gentle patronage, wherein what is performed, you may haply by observing find.
The occasion first moving me to gather somewhat tending to devotion upon this subject, I mean the true use of the most Holy Sacrament, was the necessity I found of some good means to stir up at times beseeming the best, and best disposed devotion of Christians, towards the high mystery they have in hand. Witty discourses in matters of controversy, now a long time no less learned than large, we have had in our English tongue, about
b Sam. ii. 30.
e Prov. viii. 17.
the Holy Eucharist: but all this while we have not much extant appertaining to the substance thereof, to wit, touching our Christian participation of the same.
In the old law, the Levites must be first sanctified, and then they were to sanctify the people; the Priests prepared themselves, and others, to celebrate the old Passover; but unto this Passover every one withal prepares himself, for that every one hath a soul to save.
God saith to the same people of Israel, When your children shall say to you, Quæ est ista religio? "What meaneth this religion?" or what is this solemn observance we keep? you shall say unto them, "This is the Lord's Passover," &c., which as it had a memorial of a great deliverance past, so was it a most lively type and figure of the true Passover that was to come, wherein the blood of that most innocent Lamb of God that took away the sins of the world, was in love shed for the redemption of us all. And therefore of all in general may that of Hezekiah be well inferred, "The Lord be merciful unto them that prepare themselves hereunto e," &c.
d Exod. xii. 26.
* 2 Chron. xxx. 18, 19.
And to you both, Right Virtuous, I may properly apply the same in particular; the Lord evermore be merciful unto you, in preparing your whole hearts to keep this Passover unto the Lord your God, who of His infinite mercy grant you a prosperous course of life for the time present, and for the time to come life everlasting.
In all humble manner, CHRISTOPHER SUTTON.