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had died with the Egyptians; still it pictured to them toil and trouble, and much that still remained for them to do. It was the sacrament of the escape, and when first appointed it was eaten by them standing and in haste.
But the Lord's Supper speaks of peace and rest, of the journey accomplished, of the haven won. It is the sacrament of Christ's accomplished work, of redemption completed. It is true that the death of the Redeemer is still shown forth, but it is in a bloodless form. No suffering is therein testified, for the figures which represent his body and his blood, are bread and wine, the elements by which the bodies of men are cheered and strengthened. These have taken the place of the Lamb roasted with fire, and the bitter herbs; and those who partook of them were no longer commanded to have their loins girded, to have shoes on their feet, and staffs in their hands, as men in haste to be gone. But in repose and quiet, assembled round the table of their Lord, they were as brothers met together in their Father's house. The beloved apostle's head lay on the Saviour's bosom; and though sorrow and parting still waited them in this life, it was in this life only; for this holy sacrament pictures Christ's finished work to his disciples safe in Him. It is the sacrament of the union of Christ with his followers. None then need fear, but such as do not desire to be united with him.
The words of St. Paul have often caused alarm, but if candidly examined it is quite clear that His warnings are to a disorderly set of people, who being but half converted to the faith, imagined that they might worship God as they had worshipped their idols. They had turned the holy sacrament of the Lord into a common feast, for which St. Paul severely reproves them; and some seem even to have thought that they might worship both, that they might pass from the table of the Lord, to the feasts given in heathen temples in honour of their idols. To
* Exodus xii. 11.
them, St. Paul says, "Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table, and of the table of devils." But what has this to do with Christians? They cannot fall into such a snare as this-why then terrify the weak-spirited, and humble-minded, by applying to them warnings given to those who having been bred idolators, had scarce yet learnt to separate the services of the pure religion of Christ from the profane ceremonies used in the worship of idols, which was still the religion of the land;-surely what we have to be warned against, is that into which the timid and the humble-minded are little apt to fall, a rash and careless attendance at the Lord's table, as one of the forms of the church, which must be regularly gone through, merely as a decent ob
This, indeed, is not to discern the Lord's body; and there is much need that "a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup," lest he bring upon himself condemnation. Instead of being strengthened by a closer union with Christ, in the communion of his body and blood; on the contrary, not having discerned or cared for the spiritual life contained therein, the rash and worldly spirit will become more rash and worldly still. "For this cause," St. Paul writes, "many are weak and sickly among ye, and many sleep,' by which it is likely, he means the weakness and sickliness of the soul, which not having received in the holy sacrament its proper nourishment, falls away, and if not roused in time will fall into the stupor of a deadened conscience, the fatal sleep of the soul. This is the greatest danger of all, and the one into which men are most apt to fall; because, unless the voice of God has spoken in their hearts, and been listened to, their whole idea of religion is but a round of outward decencies that never reach the heart at all.
There is another cause why many fear to appear at the table
* 1 Corinthians x. 21.
of the Lord; a cause that chiefly keeps back the young. It is this in the holy sacrament they do discern the Lord's body. They fully understand the words of St. Paul, "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we, being many, are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread." They see that his meaning is, that those who gather round the table of their Lord, profess themselves to be His true disciples and that in receiving the sacred bread and wine they unite themselves to him: and they shrink back, saying, We cannot; we are not good enough.' But this is not humility, it is the knowledge that they do not wish to be good enough; that is, they do not like to live as they know the followers of Christ should live, denying themselves in each sinful indulgence, and arousing themselves to earnest diligence in the work their Lord hath left for each to do. This is honest because it is true; but oh, how unwise! Let me ask those who thus turn away, would you depart with Judas? You know that you would not. Why then not remain with the eleven, and listen to the gracious words of love the Saviour spoke to them? In them you will find as great a difference as can be found among yourselves. Among them you will find boldness even to rashness; † and gentleness and affection approaching to womanly tenderness; ‡ and the ready belief, that a word of kindness easily convinces ; § and the doubting, reasoning mind that longs to believe, yet is fearful of being deceived. Each shade of feeling may be found among the Apostles; but in the sacrament of Christ's body and blood they were all united in Him, even (as He Himself explains) as the branches of the vine are united in one plant and bring forth one fruit. And out of Him there is no life. Oh, believe it! the union you fear, because you think
* 1 Cor. x. 16, 17.
it would interfere with your enjoyment, is the only thing that can make your happiness. Christ does not forbid you one thing that will make you really happy. His unfailing providence is engaged to put away from you all that is hurtful, and to give you all that is profitable to you. You believe this in fact, but you prefer for the present your own choice as to what is hurtful and profitable. Oh, foolish and unwise! you will be but as a bird struggling in the net, for difficulty and disappointment wrap, as in a net from which they cannot break forth, the ways of the irreligious. There is no freedom but in the freedom wherewith Christ has made us free. Come then, now, unite yourselves to Him, and take his holy sacrament to the comfort of your souls. Peace with the Redeemer is the secret of happiness and the sacrament is not only the pledge of peace, but it is a real means of conveying it to your hearts. The union with Christ is real, and its reality is shewn in life, and in death. Temptation may overcome you : you may fall, but you will rise again; sorrow for sin will conquer the habit of sin. The love of the world may struggle hard within you, but the love of God will be stronger, and in the end overcome it. In sickness and in pain, when the shadow of death falls upon you, then, like a lamp in the darkness, the hope that is in Christ will brighten the gloom. It will move steadily on before you, till mortal eyes have lost sight of you, and you have entered into glory.*
* Even as I write, numberless instances of the reality and power of this union with Christ crowd into my mind. I will but mention a few, and I will choose them in different circumstances of life; for it is as plainly seen in the weak as in the strong. I remember a boy, whose wild spirits, and high and haughty temper, led him into continual trouble. His faults could not be hid; for the station of life, in which Providence had placed him, was one in which his actions greatly affected others for good or for evil. He was in continual rebellion against those in authority over him; and as he grew older, it was very doubtful whether he could be trusted with authority over those under him. He well knew that he belonged of right to the God who had created, and to the Saviour who had redeemed him. The remembrance that it had been promised for him in his
But you say, There is much preparation needed. I dare not approach the table of the Lord as I am.
Jesus knows that, and He provides the means of preparation. With His own blessed hands He washed the feet of His disciples, and assured them that "he that had been washed needeth not save to wash his feet to be clean every whit." He shed His blood once for all, that you might be washed from sin. In your baptism you have been admitted into His family; "made a child of God, and an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven; and now what needs there, but that daily coming to Christ, baptism, that he should be the good soldier of Christ, harassed him. It made him unhappy, but had not the power to restrain him. God, in His never-failing Providence, so ordered it, that care and anxiety fell upon him, chiefly caused by his own folly. Then these thoughts and remembrances gained ground upon him. At length he bowed his proud spirit to the yoke of Christ, and submitted to be taught; and one of the first lessons he learnt, was that he must obey the dying commands of his Saviour. With humbled heart, he came to the table of the Lord; and with all the energy of his character, he gave his mind to the understanding of that holy mystery. He saw, and felt, that in spiritually receiving Christ's broken body and shed blood, he was receiving life to his soul in a living union with the Son of God-" who liveth and was dead, and is alive for evermore;" (Rev. i. 8.) who speaketh by the Spirit to all who will listen, and gives this promise-"To him that overcometh (the temptations of life) will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in His throne." (Rev. iii. 21.)
From that hour all things changed. The union he had formed with Christ was real, and it showed itself in his altered life. To carry out God's plans through Christ His Son, for the happiness of man, in destroying the works of the devil, was the one object he carried with him into all the duties, the toils, and the pleasures of his life. His natural character remained, bright, ardent, sometimes imprudent; but there was now a living principle within him, that guided and restrained him. He became a blessing to all around him; happy in himself, and like his Lord, caring for the happiness of others. Why was this? The union with Christ was real and it changed the wild and reckless boy into the Christian Man.
I lately stood by a woman's dying bed. The spirit seemed about to quit its house of clay; but a little time was granted that another witness might be given to the truth.
"I have been all my life," she said, a weak woman; so nervous, so fearful,