« AnteriorContinuar »
The Lord's supper.
mental table. Had not such been your purpose, this act of dedicating yourself to God, in my view, would have been most unwarrantable and inconsistent. What object can one have in giving himself up thus solemnly to the Lord, unless in very deed he purposes to be his servant and child ? And what propriety can there be in obeying God in one ordinance, and not in another? Why promise in the rite of confirmation, “ obediently to keep God's holy will and commandments," and then refuse to keep a commandment so strictly and sacredly enjoined as that of commemorating the love of a dying Saviour in the holy eucharist? The absurdity of such a course is too glaring to need the slightest comment.
But though your purpose, my friends, remains unshaken, yet I can well conceive, how a view of your own sinfulness almost inclines you to shrink from so holy an approach to God! Most earnestly do I desire that each one of you may be led to see your own exceeding sinfulness, and destitution of all that is good or meritorious in the sight of God. Most earnestly do I desire that each one of you may, from an internal survey of yourselves, become humbled in the very dust; for never till then-till pressed down by a sense of your own unworthiness, can you fully receive Christ into your heart the hope of glory, or embrace him as one who saves you by grace alone, and that without any thing on your part to recommend you to him.
And see, see how exactly, how admirably the promises and provisions of the gospel are suited to such sorrowing and sin-burdened souls :-" This is a true saying, and worthy of all men to be received, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners." 6. Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Timid Christian, trembling believer, what more do you need ? From these promises, sinful and unworthy as I feel myself, I can draw streams of heavenly comfort, that will cheer and gladden my heart all the days of my pilgrimage, and in a dying hour refresh my with hopes bright as the unclouded sun.
In going to the table of the Lord, we do not go with the impression that we have any merit of our own. The language
of our hearts must be in accordance with the language of the communion service.
6 We do not presume
The Lord's supper.
to come to this thy table, O merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in thy manifold and great mercies. We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy table. But thou art the same Lord, whose property is always to have mercy.
The sentiments of every true disciple of Christ in approaching the holy table, are in unison with those of the apostle : “ Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended; but this one thing I do; forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press towards the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
Jesus calls you to the feast-invites you to the heavenly banquet; and if you go humble, penitent, and believing, he will provide you with a wedding garment. That communicant will be most acceptable at the table of the crucified Redeemer, who has the deepest sense of his own unworthiness, if at the same time the imploring eye of faith be turned towards Christ. It is just such sinners that Jesus came to save, and from amid the hallowed memorials of his dying love, his voice will go forth in accents sweet as the melody of heaven—"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
I can well conceive that in view of this holy ordinance and the solemn reflections it calls up, you should feel oppressed with the painful apprehension that you may subsequently fall into sin, and thus bring dishonour on the cause of Christ. But you have already taken your stand on the Lord's side. You have already made a profession. You have already buckled on the armour to go forth to battle. You need this heavenly food to strengthen you for the conflict. If you wait till you can live without sin be fore you presume to come to the table of the Lord, you will never come. " There is no man that sinneth not." The Christian, it is true, aims at a sinless walk with God. To this object he constantly bends all his efforts.
To attain this, is the ever-recurring burden of his petitions to his heavenly Father. And when he falls into sin, he is filled with distress, and mourns over his transgression in all the bitterness of soul with which the fond and bereaved mother mourns over a first-born child. But blessed be God" There is an advocate with the Father, even Jesus
A foretaste of the joys of heaven.
Christ the righteous, and he is the propitiation for our sins."
To hesitate to do what Christ has commanded, from a fear that we shall not be able to accomplish it, is to question either his goodness or his power. [as he not said, “My grace is sufficient for thee?” Then venture upon that promise, and go forward. The commemorating of the death of Christ in the holy supper is not only a duty most solemnly enjoined, but a rich channel of grace to the soul. It is there that Jesus in a peculiar manner meets his disciples, and “manifests himself unto them as he does not unto the world.” O then surely you will permit him to meet you there, and lift upon you the light of his glorious countenance.
As I saw you last Lord's-day collecting round that venerable man of God, to receive the solemn imposition of hands, methought, thus will the children of God in the last day gather around the Lord Jesus; and oh, may these precious souls be among the number! How great will be my joy, as your pastor, if your souls are finally saved, and to each one of you the Lord Jesus Christ shall give a crown of life! Shall I indeed enjoy the exalted felicity of hearing Christ say to you—“Come, ye
blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you." Yes, I hear him this moment addressing this invitation to you! With all the affection and winning kindness of a dying and risen Saviour, he invites you to come and sit down at his table, and experience a foretaste of the joys that are in reserve for you in his blessed and glorious kingdom. Speak unto them, that they go forward.” Though the waves of the Red Sea are before you, do not be alarmed; remember that God is your protector and guide, and that his ever. lasting word' is pledged for your safeguard and deliver
• What is required of those who come to the Lord's sup
“ To examine themselves whether they repent them truly of their former sins, steadfastly purposing to lead a new life, have a lively faith in God's mercy through Christ, with a thankful remembrance of his death, and be in charity with all men.” Such are the qualifications as defined by the church in her catechism. These are precisely the qualifications that we have been insisting upon as essential
for you to possess previous to confirmation. “ Truly our hearts' desire and prayer to God for you is, that you may be saved," and therefore we would not wish any person to approach the table of the Lord without these qualifications.
4. Once more I remark, that in reference to the work of sanctification, the command of the Lord is, “ Speak unto them, that they go forward." When Christians first come out from the world,
profess to be the people of God, they are then so far from having attained maturity, that they rather resemble little children. They have a thousand things to learn from experience, from encounters with sin and Satan. They need to be taught by the Holy Spirit, and nourished with divine grace. Thus will they go on from strength to strength. În their daily intercourse with heaven, they will find greater and increased delight. The promises will daily become more precious, their affections more elevated and heavenly, their desires aster God and holiness will be more ardent and increasing; and the language of their hearts, as they strive more and more every hour to have their walk close with the Saviour, will be," whom have I in heaven but thee, and there is none upon earth that I desire in comparison of thee.” True Christians must be continually advancing in the divine life. There are several reasons for this. And I therefore beg leave to call your attention for a moment to the importance of this onward, progressive movement in “ the way everlasting.”
In the first place, you must be either advancing or going back. Experience and the word of God, as well as all the analogies of the natural world, prove this. tian course you cannot stand still. It is a race which you are to run, and never stop till you reach the goal. The moment you slacken your pace and come to a stand, you are borne on in an opposite direction by a secret but malignant influence that will carry you down to the gates of perdition. It is only while you run with patience”—while you fight with all your armour on, while you press forward in the narrow path as for your life, that you are safe. The cry comes continually on our ear—"Speak unto them, that they go forward.”
Secondly, it is only by advancing in the narrow path,
In your Chris
Influence of a holy lise.
that Christians can have great and exalted enjoyments. There is no idea more erroneous and false, than that the happiness of the Christian, when first.converted and brought to rejoice in the pardoning love of Christ, is greater than at any subsequent stage of his experience. It is true that his happiness then is wonderful and passeth knowledge. “He was dead, and is alive again. He was lost, and is found.” He was polluted, and on the very brink of hell, but he is now washed, and encircled with the arms of the Almighty Jesus. He feels that he is “a brand plucked from the burning;" that it is the boundless love, the infinite grace of God that has snatched him away from death ; and in looking up to Christ, and gazing upon the excellencies of his character, and the finished salvation that is in him, the thrilling sensations of gratitude and love are felt in his heart, and his soul is filled with joy “unspeakable and full of glory.” But one view of the loveliness of Christ does not satisfy his soul. Like those finished works of taste, those magnificent specimens of architecture, the longer we look at them the more beautiful do they appear ; so does Christ appear to the believer. The nearer he draws to Him, the more lovely does He appear, and the more complete does he find his own happiness. As his knowledge increases and extends, new sources of enjoyment continually open to his soul. Every true believer is ascending daily higher and higher in that upward path that grows brighter and brighter until it breaks into the full effulgence of heaven itself. The true reason why so many think that the Christian is happiest in his “ first love," or during the early stages of his Christian experience is, that so many stop almost as soon as they begin. They do not go forward, and therefore they do not find the manna and the smitten rock ; nor behold, from every mountain-peak they cross, the richness and glory of the heavenly Canaan. But, my friends, the message which I am to deliver unto you from the great God is—“ Speak unto them, that they go forward."
Thirdly, this is important, from the influence which your conduct and example will have upon the world, and especially upon those who meet with you in this sacred temple, where you have made these solemn vows. They have heard your profession, they will now observe