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Library of Anglo-Catholic Theology

A Short and Plain Instruction for the Better Understanding of the Lord's Supper
by Thomas Wilson, D.D.

Oxford: John Henry Parker, 1851.

transcribed by the Reverend Walter Hannam
AD 2003



SINCE we are not permitted to know you but only by your good works, you cannot be offended by this public acknowledgement of the great good that you have done, and of the good example you have given, in an age abandoned to all the profane and idle ways of squandering estates and riches, without the least dread of an account to be given for such talents received and abused.

Your commendable zeal to restore and promote the knowledge and love of the Bible, at a time when this sacred book is attacked by infidels, and too much neglected by Christians, will, one would hope, be imitated at least by all such as consider that the Christian Religion at first, and afterwards the Reformation, which we all pretend to value, were carried on and established by publishing and dispersing the Scriptures in the language of every nation. And indeed it is to be suspected, that many of those who now set themselves so industriously to revile the revelations and doctrines of the Gospel, are in the service of that Church which denies Christians the free use of the Bible.

If this excellent kind of charity has suffered in the opinion of some, when they have not found the wished-for effects of distributing good books amongst the common people, it is much to be feared that this has been too often occasioned by those who have had the part of distributing them; for [336] it will be found that the best of books, when lightly given, will be lightly valued, and as lightly made use of.

This, I hope, Madam, has in some measure been prevented by those who have been your almoners; who have taken care to give some suitable advice and instructions how to make use of your charity to the purposes of a Christian life.

I have often considered, and found by experience, that there is no way so likely to influence the lives of Christians; - to inspire young people with a sense of religion;--to keep them from backsliding;--and to secure, if possible, the growing age from the sad contagion of the present; as by leading them very early to an Ordinance, in which all the means of grace and salvation are exhibited to their view; and in order to which they are always required to consider their ways, to renew their purposes of obedience, and to beg those graces which are necessary to fit them for Heaven and happiness. I have therefore in the following papers endeavoured to make this holy Ordinance, and the duties required, as plain as may be to the meanest capacity.

And I hope I have taken care, as on the one hand not to flatter sinners, so on the other, not to fill the minds of young people with unnecessary fears and scruples, or with the difficulties of a due preparation, with respect to a duty which ought to be the practice of their whole lives: as if nobody ought to go to the Sacrament, but such as are as perfect as ever they hope to be.

I have, therefore, in these short devotions, consulted both the capacities and tempers of young Communicants, for whose use this is chiefly intended, who are apt to be impatient, and weary of long prayers.

And I would hope, that the specimen of Devotions before and after the Communion will not only answer that end, but will be of use to lead Christians to make proper reflections, when they read, or hear the Scriptures read, at other times: for want of which, these holy writings are too often read and heard without any great benefit, and without affecting the minds, or influencing the lives, of those that hear them daily.

Having observed with concern, how often people distract themselves with turning to other books of devotions when they should attend to the public service of the Church; to [337] prevent this I have added the whole Communion-Service, with such short observations, prayers, ejaculations, &c., as may be proper to help devout minds, without diverting them from the duty they are about.

And the Observations upon the Rubrics, upon the Commandments and Warnings, &c., which should be consulted at home, will be of use to shew those of our Communion, how well the Church has provided for the instruction, edification, and salvation, of all her members.

In short; there is nothing wanting to make this holy Ordinance to be reverenced and closed with by all persons, and upon all occasions, but a true understanding of its meaning, and the blessings annexed to it. Where this end is in any good measure attained, either by this or any other books on this subject, God will be very greatly glorified; which is the great end intended by the following papers, and prayed for by,


Your affectionate Friend,
and Servant in Jesus Christ



[a] A certain unknown PERSON who within these few years had laid out very considerable sums of money in purchasing Bibles and other books of Devotion and Piety, for the use of the people committed to the care of the Author of these Papers. Ed. 1755.

This Lady (Mrs. Grace Butler) had laid out very considerable sums of money in purchasing Bibles, and other books of devotion and piety, for the use of the people of the Isle of Man. Ed. 1781.

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