« السابقةمتابعة »
of receiving Christ Jesus the Lord, and devoting ourselves to him, is a profanation that renders us, in some degree, Guilty of the body and blood of the Lord*. I am sensible that for any to approach it in so unworthy a manner, is not only in itself a sinful action, but may in its consequences, prove a snare to their own souls, a stumbling to others, and a dishonour to the church. And therefore, far from encouraging such persons to come, I should think it a very necessary duty to labour to the utmost to dissuade them from it, and, if providence gave me an opportunity, to prevent their admittance.
But I have frequently found, and I believe it has been the experience of many of my brethren in the ministry, that young persons, not only of a very sober and regular conduct, but even those who have appeared most deeply impressed with the concerns of their souls, and experimentally acquainted, so far as we can judge, with regenerating grace, have, in many instances, shewn a strange coldness to this blessed institution, and we have known not a few who have grown old in the neglect of it. I apprehend therefore, that a regard to the authority and glory of my great Master, to the comfort and improvement of your souls, and to the edification and joy of the church in general, concur to require, that I offer you, my younger friends, some public admonitions on this head; to which I now desire your very serious attention.
And here permit me more largely to plead the weight of a dying Redeemer's command, as well as the honour, the pleasure, and the various advantages of an early compliance with it.
1. The ordinance, to which I now invite you, is the known command and institution of a dying Redeemer.
I need not enlarge on the proof of what is so apparent. You undoubtedly know, that Matthew and Mark, and Luke, agree in giving us the history of its institution+. And St. Paul afterwards received it by express revelation from Christ‡, and accordingly relates it, in a very circumstantial and pathetic manner; telling us, not only that Christ commanded that this should be done in remembrance of him, but also that, by an attendance upon it, our Lord's death is shewed forth till he come; plainly intimating thereby, what the ends of the ordinance do farther evince, that it was to continue in the church to its remotest ages. So that on the whole, you exceedingly mistake if you
* 1 Cor. xi. 27.
+ Mat. xxvi. 26-28. Mark xiv. 22-24. Luke xxii. 19, 20.
imagine this to be mere matter of choice; in any other sense, than as all the duty of a rational creature is so. Our Lord has plainly determined the matter by his own sacred authority, leaving this ordinance in charge to all his followers. I say to all, for there is no limitation as to the age of those that should attend it. It is a command to young and old, as well as to rich and poor; and all, that are capable of understanding it, are obliged to comply with it, and thereby to do their homage to their exalted Sovereign, and express their gratitude to their most generous friend. And can you in reason refuse your compliance; methinks the name of the Son of God should carry along with it an authority too great to be despised, and the name of your Redeemer a constraining love too forcible to be withstood; especially the name of a dying Redeemer. Surely, my friends, if a dying parent, or brother, had given you a charge almost with his expiring breath, you could not lightly have acted contrary to it. How much greater regard do you owe to what the blessed Jesus appointed, as the apostle most pertinently observes, The same night in which he was betrayed*! Had it been some hard thing that he had then enjoined, and had the reason of it been unknown, so that it had appeared as a mere arbitrary constitution, the neglect of it had been foolish and ungrateful. Had it been a more painful rite than that of initiation amongst the Jews, more laborious than their frequent journies to Jerusalem, and more costly than the sacrifices they offered there, the precept of our dying Lord had carried in it an abundant answer to all that ease or interest could have pleaded against it: How much more, when the reason is so evident, and the observation, in all respects, so easy! Judge, I pray you, whether it should be neglected. Judge, whether it be a decent thing, that when we are sitting down to break and eat bread, and to pour forth and drink wine, that we may represent the breaking of Christ's body, and the pouring forth of his blood, and seal our covenant-engagements with him, more than one half of the professing christians in the assembly should rise, and either leave the place, or withdraw to a distance from the holy table. What is this but to say, "We will now have nothing to do with the memorials of a crucified Saviour?" Will you, my friends, thus separate yourselves from us? What if others were to learn of you, and to imitate your example? Where would the ordinance quickly be? nay, where would it already have been, had this temper prevailed? Where, but in our bibles? For there it would still
have stood, to condemn our ungrateful disobedience, as it condemns yours.
2. An early attendance upon this ordinance will be truly honourable to you.
I wish I could say, that the omission of it were, in the repute of the generality of professing christians, so dishonourable as it ought; but it is now grown so common, that much of the just infamy of it is worn off. Nevertheless, if we will seriously consider it, we must own, that where reason and duty require any practice, which I have already proved to be the case here, the more frequently it is neglected, the more honourable is a regard to it; as it argues a laudable fortitude of mind to oppose a prevailing evil, by which multitudes are borne away. And who, that hath any sense of generosity and goodness, would not wish to signalize himself on such an occasion as this?
I appeal to your own hearts, my brethren, even when you have divested yourselves of every sentiment of ostentation and pride, (which I would not desire to press into the service of the sanctuary) would it not afford you a rational and pious pleasure to reflect, that your fellow-christians might say, with regard to you, "These are persons who are happily distinguished from most of their companions, by obedience to God and gratitude to their Redeemer; they dare stand up for the honour of his institutions, and of his name, in the midst of all the languor, and all the impiety of a degenerate age. Far from running with others To the same excess of riot*, they do not only secretly retire, that they may converse with God, and devote themselves to him, but they have the courage openly to appear in so good a cause. Far from being Ashamed of Christ, or of his words, in this adulterous and sinful generationt, they readily expose themselves to all the glorious reproach of a determinate adherence to him. Thus do they publicly declare, that their hearts are touched with a sense of his love, and inspired with resolution for his service. And as they are thus Planted in the house of the Lord, we hope they will flourish to old age there; so that generations, which are yet unborn, shall be refreshed by their shade, and nourished by their fruit." Thus will you, like Jabez§, be More honourable than all your brethren, if, like him, you call upon the name of the Lord, or, in the language of the text, subscribe with your hand unto him.
1 Pet. iv. 4. † Mark viii. 38. Psal. xcii. 13, 14. $1 Chron. iv 9,10.
3. Let me plead the pleasure which this ordinance affords, as a farther argument for an early attendance upon it.
If your hearts have been touched by regenerating grace, you must surely know, that communion with God through a Mediator is unutterably delightful; and must own, that when you enjoy it, your souls are Satisfied, as with marrow and fatness. If this be the case, I am sure you would look with an holy scorn on any sensual gratification, that could be brought into comparison with those sublime and sacred entertainments. Now, when you consider the Lord's supper as an ordinance of divine appointment, you have just reason to hope, that God will honour it with his gracious presence; nay, when you consider the nature and design of the institution, you may probably expect some peculiar sweetness and delight in it, beyond what you have hitherto known. I say not, that you can be absolutely secure of your finding it; for it becomes the sovereignty of the ever-blessed God, not to confine himself, invariably, to any method of operation; lest his agency should at length be disregarded in it, and the honour transferred to the instrument: But I speak of what may probably be found; and I think I might here appeal to all considerate persons, who know any thing of the workings of the human mind; for I persuade myself they would be compelled to allow, that a regular attendance on such a solemnity has a direct tendency to produce the most delightful sensations in a soul deeply impressed with the great principles of our christian faith.
Oh, my friends, what a scene is there opened, when, by these lively memorials of his dying love, the Lord Jesus Christ is evidently set forth as crucified among ust! Surely the spectacle must be delightful, even to creatures who are themselves perfectly innocent and holy! Surely the angels, who probably are present in the churches while the solemnity is performed, must attend it with a pleasing mixture of admiration, and of joy." Thus," may they be ready to say to each other, "thus was the great design accomplished! In such sufferings did the Son of God expire! By such surprising steps of condescension, and of love, where apostate creatures recovered to their God! Thus was the flaming vengeance of the Divine Majesty atoned! And now he is graciously smiling upon them; and these happy souls are sitting, as around their Father's board, and anticipating the entertainments of our celestial world."
But the guest, who is called to sit down at such a banquet, may well be supposed to feel some tender and transporting pleasure, beyond that of such an angelic spectator. "These, oh my soul," may the believer say, when the bread is broken, and the wine poured out, "these were the painful sufferings, which the blessed Redeemer endured for such a wretch as I am; for He loved me, and gave himself for me*: He was wounded for my transgressions, he was bruised for mine iniquities+. All these dreadful conflicts of nature did he pass through, to avert from me that weight of wrath, which would otherwise have overwhelmed me beyond all hope of deliverance. And here are the emblems of his dying love and his living care. Here are the precious seals of that everlasting covenant established in his blood, which, as it is Well ordered in all things, and sure, is all my salvation, and all my desire‡. By these tokens doth a faithful God assure me, that my sins are pardoned, that I am admitted into his family, and intitled to all the invaluable blessings of his children. Delightful thought! I have nothing now to do, but quietly to sit down, and wait with a holy silence and tranquility of soul for the intimations of my father's will, till he calls me to dwell in his house above. Yet a little while, oh my soul, and thou shalt rise to nobler enjoyments than even these; for the bread thou hast now been eating, and the wine thou hast been drinking, are pledges of a divine banquet above, in the visible and immediate presence of the blessed Founder of this sacred feast. The security of the covenant, I have this day been sealing, will continue in full force when the bands of nature are dissolved: If I drink no more with my Saviour of this fruit of the vine here, I shall drink it new with him in his Father's kingdom §; and therefore may encounter death in the triumphant accents of good old Simeon, Now, Lord, lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation.
Through the divine goodness I hope we can say, We speak what we know¶, and testify, not only what we have heard from the experience of others, but what we have ourselves tasted and felt: Thus is God visiting and refreshing our souls, while we are attending at the blessed ordinance; and why will not you come, and share with us in the entertainments, so sincerely and so freely offered? Is he not saying unto you, Eat, oh my friends, and drink; yea, drink abundantly, oh my beloved**?
Gal. ii. 20.
+ Isa. liii. 5.
† 2 Sam. xxiii. 5. § Mat. xxvi. 29. **Cant. v. 1.