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He feels a love by love inspir'd,
Who left so much for him.
Need we add farther, that this is a most BENEFICIAL presence? Our Lord in promising to be with his people, manifestly designed to encourage and comfort them with the assurance of an important benefit. So the Lord promised Israel, In all places where I record my name, I will come unto thee, and will bless thee. Exod. xx, 24. Indeed, as it regards careless, worldly, and perverse attendants on his word, who wilfully reject his truth, his being among his people brings no blessing to them. They should rather consider that he hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire: (Rev. ii, 18.) he searches their hearts, and they, continuing to reject him, shall ultimately fall under his just and tremendous displeasure. But to his humble followers, mourning for sin, depressed by their guilt, desiring to trust in him, and longing to serve him, his presence is pregnant with the richest blessings. When he says, I am there, it is as if he said, The very fountain head of all truth and wisdom, all power and holiness, all mercy and lovingkindness is there. Where Christ is, there is the full, and inexhaustible, and overflowing spring of all spiritual blessing, all present and eternal good and happiness. Where Christ is, there is the propitiation for our sins, there is the throne of grace, there is God our portion, and our happiness for ever.
Look at the relations which he sustains towards us.. He is our PROPHET. The minister teaches, but Christ only brings what is taught home with power to the heart. Christ alone makes it efficacious. In vain the words sound in our ears, if the Divine Prophet of the Church do not apply them to the heart, and by the
gracious influences of his Spirit enable us to hear and understand, receive and obey them: but Jesus Christ is with his people, ready to teach them. He is our PRIEst. The minister is but an ambassador: his object is to direct you to go to the great Mediator, the Lord Christ: only that blessed High Priest bears the iniquity of our holy things, atones for our guilt, and intercedes in our behalf. How little do we think of this gracious office, though the greater part of a long epistle, that to the Hebrews, dweils so much upon it! Hence it is we are so little benefited, and have so little enjoyment while in the house of God. Our minds are more on the minister than the Master; and so we lose sight of the merciful and faithful High Priest of our profession. While the minister is preaching, let your heart be led to Jesus, as the only channel by which spiritual blessings are to come. He is our KING, the king of the whole earth, that king who alone can change the mind, renew the soul, subdue Satan, and give spiritual strength to the souls of men. He will, he must reign tili he has put all enemies under his feet. Fear not, then, to follow his directions; fear not; for in serving him you will be safe and protected from every foe; doubt not his power and sufficiency to fulfil all that his ministers, in his name, promise to his obedient subjects.
It is especially BỲ HIS SPIRIT that CHRIST MANIFESTS HIS PRESENCE.. When he comforted his disciples with the assurance, I will come to you, he explained his meaning, by showing that the Father would send the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, in his name, who would come and abide with them for ever. See John xiv, 16, 18, 26. The ordinances of the Gospel are peculiarly the institutions of Christ, ordained by himself as a mean and pledge of enjoying his pre
sence, grace, and love. We may say of them, My beloved is gone down into his garden, to the beds of spices, to feed in the gardens, and to gather lilies. Sol. Song, vi, 2. There we receive the communications of his Spirit; (Gal. iii, 2.) and to them we should go, having Christ dwelling in our hearts by faith, and expecting to enjoy communion with him in the larger and fuller gift of his Holy Spirit. How blessed would the Church be if every believer brought Christ with him, and could, in the ardent language of faith and experience, say, I found Him whom my soul loveth: I held him, and would not let him go, till I had brought him into my mother's house. Sol. Song, iii, 4. The Spouse was not content till she had brought him into the Church.
Christ, then, in all his fulness and blessedness, with all his unsearchable riches, is to be found on earth, is to be found among his people. In Judah is God known; his name is great in Israel. In Salem also is his tabernacle, and his dwelling place in Zion. Ps. lxxvi, 1, 2. What a motive is here to assemble together! Be assured, the beauty, the glory, and the benefit of all Christian assemblies is closely connected with realizing views of the direct presence and blessing of our Lord and Saviour.
Do you enquire, How MAY I ENJOY THIS BLESSING? O that we really believed that it could be obtained, and were earnestly desiring it! Bishop Beveridge says, "If our blessed Saviour were now upon earth, what flocking would there be from all parts to see him; and if he was but in any part of this kingdom, how remote soever, which of us would but strive to go to him? What haste should we make, what pains should we take, to get as near to him as we could, that we might not only see him, but enjoy his company and
hear some of his divine discourses from his own mouth! with what profound reverence should we approach unto his presence! How attentively should we hearken to every word that came from him! How glad should we be to see him smiling upon us, and owning us for his servants and disciples! And when we had been a while in his company, how loth should we be to leave him! How apt should we be to cry out, as St. Peter did at the transfiguration, Lord, it is good for us to be here! There is a way whereby we may meet with our blessed Saviour every day in the year, and enjoy his presence as effectually, to all intents and purposes, as if he now dwelt among us, as he did once among the Jews, in our own nature." We have his own blessed assurance that he is with his disciples whenever they meet in his name.
Make it then your great aim and desire to MEET IN THE NAME OF CHRIST. Do not come to hear because it is expected of you, or you wish for something to talk about, or you want to be amused or excited, or desire to say you have heard such a preacher; but meet in the name of Christ. In order to do this, go to hear AS HIS DISCIPLES, as those who belong to him and desire to be taught by him. GO, IN DEPENDENCE ON HIS PROMISES: there are many great and precious promises given to those that hear. Let David's feelings then be your's, with reference to those promises-Unto thee lift I up mine eyes, O thou that dwellest in the heavens. Behold, as the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters, and as the eye of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress, so our eyes wait upon the Lord our God, until he have mercy upon us. Ps. cxxxiii, 1,2. Go, IN OBEDIENCE TO HIS AUTHORITY. He says seven times to the churches in Asia, He that hath an
ear to hear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the Churches. Let the will, and precept, and direction of Christ be your main reason for hearing; and finally go
WITH A STEADFAST EYE TO HIM AS YOUR MEDI
ATOR. In order truly to meet in the name of Christ, we must trust in him as our only Saviour, aspire after the blessings of his salvation, rely on his atonement, come to God through him, submit to his word, and yield ourselves to the influences of his good Spirit.
It is not therefore the multitude, but the faith and piety of those that assemble to gether, that ensures the presence of Christ. The Roman Catholics would gladly, under the name of the Church, and from such a promise, maintain the infallibility of their particular Church, or of general councils; but wherever particular Churches seek their own glory, or Councils have been held otherwise than out of regard to the glory of Christ, as they had no shadow of claim to inherit this promise, so they have greatly erred from his truth.
This peculiar privilege may be improved by an important and individual application to every reader. Have you never been able to say, while in Christian assemblies, Truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ? then you have never seen their true blessedness. Probably you have never once thought of Christ. If you have had no view to his presence, you cannot be suprised that you have not enjoyed it. Here, as in other things, he that seeketh findeth. O that you went to hear his ministers with the same desires which those Greeks, who came up to worship at the Feast, felt, when they said to Philip, Sir, we would see Jesus! Look only to our Lord Jesus Christ as the only righteous advocate and prevalent intercessor for every good. When your hearts are raised to fellowship