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contemplation of the great mystery of godliness, that we “may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height, and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge, and that we may be filled with all the fulness of God.”
We employ, risen and exalted Redeemer, we employ these elements of bread and wine as a memorial of thy dying love, because, in the near prospect of death, thou wert pleased, by giving thanks over m, to set them apart to this sacred purpose. We would, after thy example, look up to our Father in heaven, and give thanks for all the blessings which they commemorate, for redemption through the blood of Christ, the forgiveness of sins according to the riches of free sovereign grace ; for the abolishing of death, and for all the exceedingly great and precious promises, and the glorious prospects of life and immortality brought to light by the gospel.
In thy name we solemnly separate, from a common to a hallowed use, so much of this bread and of this wine as we are now to employ in commemorating the death of Christ, his body broken, and his blood shed as a propitiation for the sin of the world. And over these sacred symbols we again solemnly dedicate ourselves unto thee, to be disposed of by thy providence, to be governed by thy laws, to be guided by thy spirit, to be accepted through thy intercession. Thee having not seen we love; in thee, though now we see thee not, yet believing, we rejoice with joy unspeakable, and full of glory; receiving the end of our faith, even the salvation of our souls. In thy presence we become witnesses to each other, and we call angels and men to witness that we subscribe with our hand unto the Lord, in trembling hope that our names are written in the Lamb's book of life, among the living in the heavenly Jerusalem. And in this blessed hope we would, with one heart and voice, ascribe to God in Christ the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, now, and for evermore, Amen.
ADDRESS TO COMMUNICANTS AT THE SACRAMENTAL TABLE.
To sit down at one table, to partake of the same fare, is the happiest view of domestic comfort and of friendly intercourse. The body and the mind are refreshed at once. The bond of union is strengthened and sweetened between the father and mother, between the parents and their children, among brothers and sisters, among kindred and friends. To the enjoyment of that pure and exalted felicity, my brethren, we are now invited; and with the prospects of immortality blend the endearing charities of human life. The great Master of our Gospel repast is not now indeed the object of sense, but he is assuredly with us, he contemplates with complacency our common faith and hope, our mutual affection. He rejoices in spirit while he beholds those for whom he died remembering his death, obeying his commandments, living under the influence of his spirit, advancing in his strength toward the kingdom of heaven. Him not having seen ye love, and ye look forward to the day when ye shall be like him, for ye shall see him as he is.
Communicants, ye are elevated to the summit of an exceeding high mountain, but not by the spirit of delusion, to survey airy or earthly kingdoms, and a glory unsubstantial and transient: but hy the spirit of power, and of love, and of a sound mind, to contemplate a kingdom which cannot be moved, a kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. You survey an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away; not with the feelings of a Balaam, who beheld from the high places of Baal, the goodly tents of Jacob, and the tabernacles of Israel, in which he had neither part nor lot; nor with the emotions of a Moses, who from Pisgah viewed the land
flowing with milk and honey, into which he must not enter; but with the confidence and composure of an Abraham, to whom God said; “Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou ait northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward : Arise, walk through the land, in the length of it, and in the breadth of it: for I will give it unto thee;" but with the rapture of a Stephen. who expiring exclaimed: Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.” That ye, Christians, may through grace be made partakers of the same divine consolation, We administer unto you, and partake with you, the commanded memorial of the sufferings and death of the Redeemer of Mankind.
“ The Lord in 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, which is broken for you : this do in remembrance of me.”
How powerfully emphatical every word is! the bread of nature, in order to become the aliment of the body is bruised, and broken, and passes through the fire: “ The bread of life, which came down from heaven," says Christ in his doctrine, " is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." “] pleased the Lord to bruise him; he bath put him to grief:" behold him butriced of wicked men, scourged, his head crowned with thorns, his hands and his feet pierced, his soul poured out unto death. And for what end ! His body, my sinful fellow-creature, was“ broken for you." "He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him ; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep, hare gone astray; we have turned every one to his way, and the Lord haih laid on him the iniquity of us all.” And what does he demand in return ? Do this in remembrance of me. Blessed Jesus ! if thou hadst bidden us do some great thing, would we not have cheerfully complied ? How much rather then, wben the yoke of love is imposed ? We come at thy call: “We will remember the name of the Lord our God;" “ O Lord our God, other Lords besides thee have had dominion over us; but by thee only will we make mention of thy name.”
“ After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, this cup is the new testament in my blood : this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till he come.”
In driuking together, my Christian friends, from this cup, we joyfully acquiesce in the new, and better, and well-ordered covenant, "ordained by angels in the hand of a Niediator,” and “established upon better promises ;" a covenant which makes provision not only for human infirmity, but for the deepest and most malignant guilt, and which affords not merely a temporary relief, but confers an unchangeable and everlasting security. “This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel, after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people : and they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, know the Lord, for all shall know me from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.
And what is the seal of this better covenant ? It is before you. “ This cup,” says the Saviour, " is the new Testament in my blood :" the wine in the cup is a symbolical representation of my blood shed for the remission of sin. “ Ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a Lamb without blemish and without spot;" "slain from the foundation of the world," and which “ cleanseth us from all sin."
In celebrating this holy ordinance, we are not only more closely cementing
the ties of nature and the bands of friendship among ourselves, but we are extending our communion to the church of Christ universal, in the East and West, in the South and North ; we are stretching out the right hand of fellowship over continents, over oceans to give the salutation of brotherly-love to all who love our Lord Jesus; and to invite men of all colours and of all languages, to cast in their lot among us, and to take shelter with us under the shadow of this “great rock in a weary land,” to repose with us amidst " the trees of life,” whose " leaves are for the healing of the nations.".
But is not “our fellowship with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ ?" Is it not, then, with them who are drinking new wine in our Father's kingdom ; with the spirits of just men made perfect; with those whom on earth we loved ; with those who have often eaten and drank with us at this table, and with whom we hope to eat and to drink at the table that is above, sitting down with them, and so with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven !” Delightful reflection! The employments of earth and heaven are the same; the animating principle, the spirit of love is the same; the subject of their praise and the source of their joy are th same.
"Unto Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the Prince of the kings of the earth: Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests uuto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen."
The solemnity concludes with an intimation of Christ's second appearance. " As often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come.' Why trouble ye the woman ?” said Christ to the indignant disciples, who grudged the waste of the ointment which she poured on his feet, " for she hath wrought a good work upon me; for is that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial.” act embalmed the body for the grave: Ours contemplates Jesus, and the resurrection ; ours looks forward to the day when “the Son of man shall come in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory." " Yet a little while and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry." “ He which testifieth these things saith, surely I come, quickly. Amen. Even so, come Lord Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen."
HISTORY OF JESUS CHRIST.
JOHN II. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11.
And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Gwilee: and the motho of Jesus was there.
And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage. And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, they have no wine. Jesus saith unto her, woman, what have 1 to do with thee? Mine hour is not yet come. His mother saith unto the servants, whatsoever be saith unto you, do it. And there were set there six water pots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins a piece. Jesus saith unto them, fill the water pots with water. And they filled them up to the brim.' And he saith unto them, draw out now, and bear unto the Governor of the feast. And they bare it. When the ruler of the feast bad tasted the water that was made wine, and knew noi whence it was, (but the servants which drew the water knew) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, and saith unto him, every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse : bur thou hast kept the good wine until now. This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed ou him.
It requires no common degree of wisdom to make the transition from various situations one to another, with dignity and propriety. The gravity and seriousness of deportment that suits the temple do not suddenly melt away into the familiarity and ease of private life. Men are called to act various parts, but often lack the skill to discriminate between character and character. At other times the scene changes too rapidly, and the habit of the public personage is scarcely laid aside, when the spirit of it is likewise shifted, and the man discovers that he is merely an actor. Difference of behaviour may undoubtedly be assumed with change of place and of company, without incurring the imputation of hypocrisy: but there is a radical character which the honest man never lays aside, whatever be the season, whatever the situation. He cannot indeed be gay and serious at the same moment: but in the house of mourning he may be sad without sinking into depression, and in the house of feasting he may be cheerful without rising into levity. He can “ rejoice with them that rejoice, and weep with them that weep," without losing the firmness of his mind, or betraying inconsistency of spirit and tenper. In truth, if you would be useful to men, you must accommodate yourself, where the rights of conscience do not interfere, to their circumstances, and to the laws of decency and prudence.
But where, alas ! shall we find the man who is continually on his guard, who in every situation possesses his soul, and governs his spirit, and keeps the door of his lips? In vain we look for such a one among men of like passions with ourselves. But it is not for want of a perfect pattern, in the person of him who in all places, at all seasons, and in every situation approved bimself the Son of God and the friend of men. Let this mind be in you which also was in Christ Jesus. He hath left us an example that we should follow his steps. Blessed Lord, we will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.
We have attended the great Teacher sent from God to the synagogue at Nazareth, and have heard him fulfilling the duties of that gracious office by reading and opening up the Scriptures, and thus producing one species of evidence to the truth of his divine mission, the accomplishment of ancient, well known and acknowledged prophecies concerning himself, his person, his consecration to the great work which he should come to execute, and the wonderful success with which it should be crowned. We have seen him with complacency receiving his disciples on their return from a progress of preaching and healing, and of casting out devils; and rejoicing in spirit, as he contemplated the sudden and utter destruction of Satan's kingdom, and, on its ruins, the universal and everlasting establishment of his own.
We are now to behold him exhibiting a different kind of evidence, but calculated to produce the same effect, that is, a full conviction that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, and the Saviour of the world, namely, the display of miraculous powers, to support the truth of the doctrines which he taught. This “Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews,” felt and admitted. “Rabbi," says he, “we know that thou art a teacher come from God : for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, exçept God be with him.” As on the two great commandments, love to God and love to man, " hang all the law and the prophets," so on these two unmoveable pillars rest the whole fabric of Christianity. The fufilling of prediction, is a demonstration of the foreknowledge of Deity, "declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, my counsel shall stand, and I will do all my. pleasure :” and of his truth and faithfulness in bringing it to pass, to an iota, to a tittie : the working of miracles evinces the presence and concurrence of alınighty power, which is able to support and to suspend, to control and alter the laws of nature, by a word, by an “ I will.” If the spirit and native tendency of the gospel be taken into the account, we shall find it to possess every character of Divinity that the heart of man could desire, or reason demand, or imagination figure.
The period, and the place, and the occasion of Christ's first public miracle are all specified. It was the third day after the noted conversation that passed between Christ and Nathanael, which is recorded in the conclusion of the preceding chapter. There Jesus gave proof not merely of superiour sagacity; but of a knowledge that discerns the thoughts and intents of the heart. Nathanael, with all his guileless integrity, laboured under the common prejudice of the day, and had the vulgar proverb in his mouth, “Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth ?" He soon received conviction that there could, and that too the best of all things; for while he was yet speaking to Philip, Christ himself drew nigh to meet them, and instantly, in the hearing of Nathanael, pronounced a character of him which the searcher of hearts only could have unfolded : “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile.” Nathanael, justly conscious of inward rectitude, finds himself at once reproved and detected. His sarcasm respecting Nazareth not retorted, but disarmed by receiving in return the honourable appellation of “an Israelite indeed,” was a keen reproof to an ingenuous mind; and to find himself minutely known to a stranger, must have inspired high respect for that stranger, not unmixed with awe. With astonishment he exclaims, “Whence knowest thou me?" The answer completely displays the character of the Nazarene : “ Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig-tree, I saw thee.” Here is an eye which at once penetrates into the heart, and marks minute, external contingent circumstances even to the species of plant under the shadow of which Nathanael, at a certain moment, happened to repose. The “ Israelite indeed” now resigns his prejudices and dismisses his doubts; wonder changes into veneration, “Nathanael an