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ed) “ the representation of Christ's death in the sacrament is so ordered, that it might both help the soul, and leave it something to do in forming its own apprehensions and resentment." In it we see so much as to awaken our souls, but not so much as to keep them awake without themselves. The outward object serves to excite our faith; but then leaves it to its proper exercise and employment. Faith takes the hint which sense doth give it, and in the sacramental bread and wine can behold the blood and wounds of our blessed Saviour. It placeth us, as it were, at the foot of his cross, and makes us observe the whole transaction. And thus that holy ordinance we are to celebrate, presents to our view the wonderful redemption of mankind, which shall be the admiration of men and angels to all eternity: so that, if there were not more, on this account we might say in some sense, To-morrow the Lord will do wonders among you.
But this is not all. This sacrament doth not only represent a wonder that is already past, but exhibits one
The bread and wine that we receive, are not bare and empty signs, to put us in mind of the death and sufferings of Christ. * Our Saviour calls them his body and blood: and such, without question, they are, to all spiritual purposes and advantages. We are not obliged to believe, that after consecration, the bread and wine do vanish, and the body and blood of Christ succeed in their room: our sense and reason do assure us of the contrary; the scriptures doth nowhere affirm it, nor did ever the ancient church believe it: nor is it possible to conceive the use or benefit of this strange and unintelligible change. It is the Spirit that quickeneth, the flesh profiteth nothing. These words of our Saviour, are spirit and life, are to be understood in a vital and spiritual sense. But though these elements he not changed in their nature and substance, yet they undergo a mighty change as to their efficacy and use; and that food which before could yield but little refreshment to the body, is now become a mean to nourish and
strengthen the soul, an instrument to convey unto us all those blessings that the body and blood of our Saviour can afford us.
As under the law a part of some sacrifices was burnt on the altar, and a part was eaten by those for whom they were offered—so our blessed Saviour, having offered up himself on the altar of the cross, as a propitiation for the sins of men, did substitute these holy symbols in place of his body and blood, that we, by feasting on them, might get an interest in that sacrifice, and be partakers of the atonement that was made, and the pardon that was purchased, by him.
Again, in this sacrament, Christ doth convey himself into the souls of men, and taketh stronger possession of them. As after the sop Satan entered into Judas, so with these holy elements Christ entereth into the hearts of his people, becomes the food and nourishment of their souls; he diffuseth himself through all their faculties, and animates them with his life and spirit; that they inay have no will or affections of their own, no desires or inclinations different from his; but that every pulse may answer the motions of his heart, and all their powers be actuated and enlivened by his Spirit: in .a word, that it may not be any more they, but Christ that liveth in them. Thus are we fed and nourished by the body and blood of Christ, while the power of the Godhead doth diffuse its virtue and operation into the human nature, to the enlivening the hearts of those who do rightly receive these sacramental pledges.
And thus I hope you see what wonders the Lord is to do among us. It was a signal miracle he wrought at the feast, when he turned water into wine; but sure it is a greater and more important one, to turn bread and wine into his body and blood, in that sense we have been explaining. It was a great matter to feed a multitude with a few loaves and small fishes; but a greater it is, to make a little bread and wine become a mean of nourishment to so many souls. And, were our eyes opened to the discerning of spiritual things, we should see greater things wrought, and more gracious miracles
performed, by the body and blood of our Saviour, than those which were done by the touch of his sacred body, while he lived here among men.
I shall conclude this point in the words of St. Chrysostom, only desiring they may be understood according to what hath been already said, making some allowance for the rhetorical and hyperbolic style, Οταν ιδης τον κυριον τεθυμενον, &c. “When thou dost behold the Lord of glory offered up, and the priest performing the sacrifice, and the people round about dyed and made red with that precious blood, where, I pray thee, dost thou conceive thyself to be?
Canst thou think thou art yet upon earth, and conversing amongst mortal creatures; or art thou not rather on a sudden transported into heaven? Dost thou not lose all thoughts of the body, and with a pure mind, and naked soul, behold the things that are done above?" O the wonderful mercy and goodness of God! He who sitteth with the Father above, is at the same time present here below, and gives himself to all who will receive and embrace him. Compare this, if you will, with another miracle. Imagine you see the great Elias with an infinite number of people about him, the sacrifice laid upon the stones, and all the rest quiet and silent, while the prophet poureth forth his prayers, then the fire coming down on a sudden from heaven, and consuming the sacrifice. Truly these things are strange, and full of wonder: but yet are far inferior to our sacred and tremendous mysteries; for here the priest doth not bring fire, but the Holy Ghost: he prayeth not that a flame may descend from heaven to consume the holy things before him, but that the divine grace, influencing the sacrifice, may thereby inflame the hearts and souls of all the people, and render them more pure than silver tried in the fire. Doubtless, when these sacred and venerable mysteries are performing, the holy angels do stand by, and the place is full of blessed and glorious spirits, who delight to look and pry into them; and all the orders of the heavenly host shout, and raise their voices together.
[ 'The rest is wanting. ]
OF THE IMPORTANCE AND DIFFICULTY OF THE
[ Preached before the Synod of Aberdeen. ]
2 COR. II. 16. Who is sufficient for these things? REVEREND and dearly beloved men, brethren, and fathers, It is one of the advantages of that peace and tranquillity wherewith Almighty God is pleased to bless this poor church, that the officers of it have liberty of assembling together on these occasions, for mutual assistance and counsel in the exercise of their holy function. And, indeed, if there were no matter of public deliberation, yet ought we gladly to embrace the oppora tunity of seeing one another's faces, not only that we may maintain and express a brotherly correspondence and affection, but also that we may animate and excite one another unto greater measures of diligence and zeal; as coals, being gathered together, do mutually receive and propagate some new degrees of vigour and heat. This I have always looked upon as none of the meanest ad„vantages of these synodical meetings; and shall think myself very happy, if my poor endeavours, in the performance of this present duty, may, by the divine blessing, contribute any thing towards this excellent and desirable purpose. To this end, I have made choice of a text which I hope may afford us some useful meditations, for stirring up and awakening in our souls a deeper sense of those great engagements under which we lie.
The blessed Apostle, in the former verse, and beginning of this, has been speaking of the different success the gospel did meet with among those to whom it was preached; that it was not like those weak and harmless
medicines, which, if they do no good, are sure to do no hurt; but like some perfumes which are comfortable and strengthening to the wholesome, but troublesome and noxious to the weak; so doth it prove a vital savour to those who receive and obey it, but a most deadly poison to all who reject and despise it: For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, to them that are saved, and in them that perish; to the one we are a savour of death unto death, and to the other a savour of life unto life. And then he takes occasion to consider what a great matter it is to be employed in those administrations wherein the happiness and misery of mankind is so nearly concerned, Ka tis após TaŪTA, &c.; and who is sufficient for these things?
We shall not detain you with an explication of the words. Two things, I conceive, are implied in them: 1. The importance; 2. The difficulty of the Ministerial function. For if a business be of small concern, it is little matter who have the management of it; there is no great harm done if it miscarry; any body is sufficient for that thing. On the other hand, let the matter be never so weighty, if there be no difficulty in it, there needs no extraordinary endowments in those to whom it is committed: common prudence and a little care will suffice; there is no likelihood that it can miscarry. But the work of the ministry is at once so important and so difficult-of so great consequence and so hard to be performned, that there is a great deal of reason for an emphatic interrogation, Who is sufficient for these things?
I. First, Let us fix our thoughts awhile on the weight and importance of the ministry, and we shall find that it is a greater burden lying on our shoulders, than if the greatest affairs of this world were devolved upon us, and we did hold up the pillars of the earth. This will appear, whether we consider the relation we stand in to the Almighty God, or the charge of the flocks we have committed to us.
To begin with the first. That infinite Majesty which created, and doth continually uphold the earth, and all things in it, as the just owner and lord of the whole cre