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those who rest in it are never disappointed, because they get all that they desire. Of the symbols Christ says, “ This is my body," not literally but an exhibition of it; as a crucified Saviour, he, then, must be the object to be discovered in them. He also says, “ Take, eat.” These symbols then respresent him as food, and the object of the believer, in celebrating the ordinance, is to receive him, under that consideration. The unbeliever cannot see Jesus in the ordinance, because this is a spiritual object, and is spiritually discerned, he, therefore, sees and receives bread and wine only. The believer, a spiritual man, discerning all things, looks beyond these symbols to the object which they exhibit; and he attends on the ordinance not merely to eat bread and drink wine, as did the carnal Corinthians, but to find Jesus, and enjoy fellowship with him. “ While the king sitteth at his table, my spikenard sendeth forth the smell thereof." Song i. 12. While she sat at the table, she enjoyed the company of the king. This was all she wanted; as it gave vigour to her grace, and joy to her soul. The enjoyments of the believer do not lie in the celebration of the Lord's supper, but in the participation of Christ in it. This ought ever to make him consider the ordinance as a mere vehicle, and reach at something beyond it. If any soul ever miss Christ in this ordinance, it will not be because he is not present in it, but because he is not the object sought for.
If he were not always in the ordinance, bread and wine would not be symbols.
It is by faith that the believer goes beyond the ordinance. The symbols are the object of sense, sight, touch, and taste, but not of faith; Christ is the object of faith but not of sense. Popish transubstantiation
destroys the object of faith, and presents a mere object of sense; Heb. xi. 1. hence the communicant, whether a believer or an unbeliever, is equally a partaker of Christ. In the vi. chapter of John, Christ reasons at length, on the nature of the heavenly bread, which he says is his flesh. “ The bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” ver. 51. The carnal Jews, like the Catholics, understood him literally; “How can this man give us his flesh to eat ?" It was impossible, in their sense of it, and though he could have so given it, it would have been useless. He reasons on this bread as spiritual in its origin and nature, as what he had from the Father; and as intended to confer and nourish a spiritual life. Many of his disciples, whose conceptions seem to have been little better than those of the Jews, accounted it a hard saying, which could not be receive ed. To correct all their mistakes he tells them, that he did not mean his flesh literally, but the virtue and fruits of his death. “ It is the Spirit that quickeneth, the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak are spirit and life.” ver. 63. His words, when he spoke of his flesh, were to be understood not literally but spiritually; and if they are so received, “ they are life," that is, they will give life; for it is only when taken in their spiritual meaning, that they quicken. But if they are taken literally, and his flesh literally; they are of no use;
“ for the flesh profiteth nothing." Believing and eating are with him, terms of the same signification. “ He that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst;-hath everlasting life. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life.”
ver. 35, 47, 54.
" To eat the Alesh and drink the blood of the Son of God” is to
receive from him, by faith, the fruits of his death, or all the blessings of salvation which he hath purchased. As his death was the price of these blessings, it was very fit to be exhibited symbolically in the holy supper. This ordinance is no farther advantageous to the believer, than he receives the blessings of salvation from Christ.in it. This is “To know the fellowship of his sufferings." This is to keep the feast of the new Testament passover, and enjoy communion with Christ in the ordinance. If faith is awanting, and Christ not spiritually discerned and received in it, the communicant, instead of being nourished, will sustain injury. But this leads me
III. To point out the danger attending the celebration of the Lord's supper without a suitable frame of soul. The design of the ordinance is the spiritual nourishment and improvement of the believer, and, where it is duly observed, it will have such an effect: but where
proper attention is not paid to the nature and design of the ordinance, and a holy spiritual frame neglected, consequences will follow, as hurtful, as otherwise they would have been advantageous. I observe
1. IT natively leads into a dead, and carnal frame, disqualifying the believer for every spiritual exercise.
That this ordinance was instituted for his spiritual nourishment, by furnishing him proper food, has been already observed; and also that it should be his aim, in observing the ordinance, to receive that food. When this is done every grace, every principle, in him will be quickened, and his soul will acquire an increase of strength. It is here that, “ The Lord satisfies his mouth with good things, and his youth is renewed as the eagle's.” By this he renews his strength, and becomes fit for his work; so that he runs and is not weary, he walks without becoming faint. Every
spiritual exercise proceeds successfully and pleasantly, when the soul has been thus strengthened. “I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord. I will pay my vows unto the Lord now, in the
presence of all his people." Psalm cxvi. 13, 14. The experienced believer alone knows what virtue the cup of salvation contains. He must have a draught of this cup ere he enter on any employment. Then he is not backward to work; “ Lord what wilt thou have me to do." He is not afraid to fight;
Though an host encamp against me, my heart shall not fear." This draught invigorates his faith, fans the flame of love, fixes his thoughts, spiritualizes his affections, and renders his walk steady, in following the Lamb whithersoever he goeth.
But if this provision is not taken, the consequences will be the reverse. It is by wholesome nutritious food that the health and vigour of the body are preserved, and if this is neglected it must decline, become feeble, and unfit for any work. The life of the soul is equally dependent. Its vigour will always be in proportion to the quantity of spiritual provision which it takes. This is obtained by intercourse with Christ.
“ Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye except ye abide in me.” John xv. 4. Whoever does not abide in Christ, and improve him by faith, must be barren, because he has no strength or vigour to bear fruit, or to do any work for God.
Except," says Christ, “ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.” John vi. 53. Where he has never been received by faith, there can be no life, and no action; but even where he has been once received, if the daily improvement
of him is neglected, there can be no spiritual strength, no activity. In Song v. 1, 2. Christ came into his garden and brought with him ample provision adapted to the case of the spouse. Eat, О friends," &c. She neglected to use it, and immediately fell into deep decline. “ I sleep.” And when her beloved solicited access to her heart she positively refused it. CI have put off my coat,” &c. He addressed the church at Sardis, in a very declining state, thus: “ Strengthen the things that remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God.” Rev. i. 2. He exhibits himself to her, as having the seven spirits of God," signifying to her that, by applying to him, and receiving the Spirit, she might again revive. But this also implies, that her decline proceeded from neglecting to improve him for the preservation of her vigour. Every believer will, . find in himself a tendency to spiritual decline, and that this cannot be otherwise prevented, than by constant intercourse with Christ in his ordinances, and participating largely of his Spirit.
2. ANOTHER pernicious consequence of the unworthy participation of the Lord's supper is, that the corrupt principles of the heart, especially unbelief, will collect strength.
However much the power of inherent depravity, and enmity, is broken in the believer's heart, by his new creation, the root of every lust, and every sin, still remains. The will is but partially renewed. “ The good that I would, I do not; but the evil that I would not, I do.” Part of the natural enmity of the will is yet unsubdued. This may incline to any sin, without exception; and oppose the performance of any duty. This is the law, which opposses the believer