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A SACRAMENTAL MEDITATION ON
1 Cor. XI. 26.
For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this
сир, 'ye do show forth the Lord's death, till he come.
Ah! if it were the death of our earthly friends that we are now assembled to commemorate, our affections would be easily moved ; rivers of tears would run down our eyes, and our hearts be ready to burst with anguish. Busy recollection would bring fresh to our remembrance, the last time when we sat down at this table together; and we should think of the distance and difference between us at present, while they are drinking of the fruit of the vine with Christ in his kingdom, and we are travelling and toil. ing in the wilderness, with the bread and water of adversity. Well, let us rejoice in their elevation ; and forget not to look and long for our own. Dear as they were to any of us, we are now to remember one who ought to be much dearer. We are met to shew forth the death of our beloved Redeemer:that death which delivers true believers from the wrath of God, the terrors of conscience, and endless misery :--that death which takes away the sting of bodily death, and changes the curse into a most desirable blessing :—that death which is a fountain of life, and the purchase of everlasting salvation.
We are to show it to ourselves; and endeavour to affect our own hearts with the sad and solemn spectacle of our suffering Redeemer. It is strange that we should ever forget him who is so amiable himself, and has given such amazing proofs of his affection for us; that we should forget him who has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows, and who is never unmindful of us; for he bears our names upon his breast-plate, and has them 'ever engraven upon the palms of his hands: that we should forget him, who is making continual intercession for us; impatient, if I may so speak, to have us in heaven, to behold and partake of his glory. How is it possible to forget him? We have good memories enough in other cases. Our troubles and our afflictions we remember too well. But when we should think of the dying love of the Lord Jesus, our memories are weak and treacherous, and we must have a sacrament instituted on purpose, and often repeated, to keep alive the remembrance of our best friend and benefactor. The fault, alas! is too much in the heart; and arises from the influence of our worldly and sinful affections. Some sin, which, if not actually and openly indulg. ed, is, perhaps, secretly favoured, makes the thoughts of a Holy Saviour less pleasant; or some created enjoyment twines about our souls, and engages that regard which is due to Jesus only. But surely, if we considered what Jesus is, and were suitably affected with what he has done for our souls, we should forget father, mother, husband, wife, and children, precious and endeared as these names have been to us, and our joys would all center in a crucified Saviour.
But we should show the death of Christ to the world, as well as to ourselves. By the solemnity to which we are now attending, we publicly avow our attachment to Jesus. We go out to him, without the camp, bearing his reproach. We glory in his cross; and declare before all the world, that we are his disciples. We protest that we honour him as our Master, that we love him as our Friend, that we trust him as our Saviour; and that we would rather be guests at his table, or the meanest servants in his house, than sit upon thrones, and dwell among princes.
But the benefit and comfort of our present attendance, depend on the blessing of him whose death we are invited to remember. Though he was once dead, he is now alive, and lives for evermore; and though he sits at the right hand of God, yet by his Spirit he is graciously present, wherever two or three are gathered together in his name.---- Lift up your heads, O ye gates ; and be ye lift up ye everlasting doors, and the King of Glory shall come in."--We read, that when Christ was on earth, one ran after him, crying, “ Lord, pity a poor blind beggar; and another, beg. ging him to have mercy upon a miserable leper. We see Zaccheus climbing up into a sycamore tree, to get a sight of him; and others, uncovering the roof of the house, to lay their sick friend before him. So great was their faith and their eagerness. O! that something like this may now be our disposition. Then will there be a holy emulation among us, who shall get the first sight of Christ, who shall lie lowest at his feet, and who shall obtain the most comfort and benefit. Let us go then to him, with our several complaints: one with a hard or unruly heart, to have it
softened and subdued : another, with a wounded and broken spirit, that it may be healed : one begging for wisdom, to direct in a case of extraordinary difficulty; another, for strength to resist the fiery darts of the wicked one; and another, seeking for support under overwhelming afflictions. If Christ should say, « Believest thou that I am able to do this ? Do you think that I can make satisfaction for all your offences, and procure your acceptance with God? That I can subdue all your enemies, supply all your wants, heal all your diseases, conduct you through the wil. derness, and bring you to heaven?” What say you, Christians, should you be at a loss for an answer? Does not your own experience tell you what Christ is able to do? Has he not already done such great things in you,
and for you, as may encourage you to say, “ Yes, Lord, I do believe that thou art able to do all this; yea, and exceeding abundantly above all that I can ask.” Then who can tell but he may kindly dismiss us, with saying, “ O man, 0 woman, great is thy faith ; be it unto thee even as thou wilt.”
But we are not only to remember Christ, but also to receive him. If the design of this ordinance were only to make us think on his death, then the sight of the broken bread, and the wine poured out, is all that would have been necessary. But more is required. We are to eat of this bread, and to drink of this cup; which signifies our receiving Christ, and his benefits, as exhibited to us in the gospel.
Christ offers himself to us as our Wisdom, and as such we receive him. We were totally blind before he was pleased to give us sight; and now having thankfully accepted the blessing which he has bestowed,
we give ourselves up to the conduct of his word and his Spirit. Christ offers himself to us for Righteousness. “ As such, blessed Jesus, we receive thee; and, conscious of our own guilt and unworthiness, we depend entirely on thee for acceptance with God.” Christ offers himself to us for Sanctification. “ Come in, thou blessed of the Lord; never did a soul more need to be cleansed. Lord, not my feet only, but my hands and my head; and, polluted as I am, I know that, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean." Christ offers himself to us as our Redemption; and as such, we receive him, and joyfully exclaim, “ Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.”
If Christ offer all this, and we now receive it, O! Christians, what a blessed season will it be! “ For I have received of' the Lord, that which also I delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread; and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat, this is my body, &c. After the same manner, also, he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the New Testament in my blood, &c. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till he come.'
After the Ordinance. Now, Christians, let us read the passage before us again, and we shall find that one part of it has not yet been considered. “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till he come,"_“Till he come.” I will only