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Christ' intends his people should comfort themselves, should abound in all spiritual joy, and come as to a feast where gladness in sown for the upright in heart. Here we should dry our tears, at least if they fall they should be tears of joy, we should put on the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness, and not sit mournfully before the LORD of hosts, nor cloud the joy of the festivity with sorrow on our brow, unless such a sorrow as St. Paul mentions, As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing. Whilst though mourning for our sins we believe the greatness of the gift herein bestowed on us, and the Spirit witnesses with our spirit to the work he hath wrought in us, and gives us a present taste of our inheritance, before we are actually put in possession of the pur. chased glory in heaven.
What a delightful ordinance! how many thousands of real Christians have experienced the comforts of it, and daily continue to do so? Real Christians! I say, not mere ceremonial visitors, they feel, taste , and handle nothing of the Word of life; the Bread and Wine are to them barren elements, dry breasts which afford no consolation ; but the soul vitally united to Christ can say, I sat under his shadow with great delight. He brought me to his banquetting house, and his banner over me was love. He tastes the joy therein dispensed, and goes away rejoicing because he hath seen the Lord.
4. In this ordinance also there is a free distribution according to every man's necessities of strength and power from JEsus Christ, for all the work a Christian is called to; it is one instituted means of conveying to believers the supplies of the Spirit for their wilderness state, both to subdue their corruptions and strengthen their graces. Here we draw water out of the wells of salvation, and like Elijah travelling to the mount of Horeb, receive from time to time our provision, in the refreshment of which we may hold on our way, and wax stronger and stronger till we come to the heavenly Horeb, the mount Zion, the Jerusalem which is above. If our corruptions are strong, here is grace to mortify them, here we are taught and do receive humility to supplant pride, hcavenly
mindedness instead of worldliness, and purity instead of pollution. The example before us, as well as the grace ministered, powerfully calls upon us to learn of him to be meek and lowly of heart; not to be of the world, even as he was not of the world; to walk in holiness, as he also walke.l. Are our graces all feeble and weak? where shall we blow the smoking flax into a flame if not here, where every thing conspires to confirm our faith, to enliven our hopes, to kindle our warmest affections, ta enlarge our charity, to inspire our zeal, to teach us meekness, to quicken our langour, to encourage our perseverance, to excite our thankfulness, in short, to work in us every divine temper and disposition? This blessed ordinance is designed to strengthen us mightily in the inner man, to support us under all discouragements without and fears within, that we might go on? from strength to strength, from grace to grace, till we come to the blessed place where we shall go from glory to glory.
Here then are great and glorious privileges obtained by the precious Blood of the Son of God, and we are called upon to come and partake in all of them; and what excuse can we make? Do not we want a pardon? is adoption a despicable blessing? is spiritual joy an insipid pleasure? or the gift of God's Spirit an unnecessary assistance? why then do so many sight the ordinance of the Lord, and neglect this great salvation? Do you disclaim any relation to JESUS CHRIST, and renounce his religion, that you decline making this profession, and have no desires after the benefits of his death and passion? surely they who never think of remembering the Lord's death till he come, will be most unprepared to meet him on a dying bed, or in a day of judgment. I beseech you to consider tiis, you that forget God, lest by your slighting of him he be provoted to give you up to your own inventions, and you clie in your sins, neither sprinkled with his Blood, nor clothed with his Righteousness, nor partakers of his Spirit: be assured they who forget CHRIST now, wül be disowned by him in the day of his appear. and glory.
An Invitation to the COMMUNION.
WHEN in the parable the table for the marriage feast was spread, the oxen and fatlings killed, the servants in waiting, the royal bridegroom seated, a message was sent to hasten the guests, Come now, for all things are ready. With this message, brethren, am I sent to every one of you, beseeching and intreating you for Christ's sake, that ye would be reconciled to God, and as a token thereof to come unto the marriage-supper of the Lamb. But as their message of old was rejected, so too frequently is ours. The most of you agree with one consent to excuse yourselves, the farms and the merchandize, the cares and pleasures of this life so ingross your time, that you have neither inclination nor leisure to attend the call; and of those who do come, how many forget the weddinggarment, and thrust themselves in unwelcome guests, who after having eaten and drank in Christ's presence, will be bound hand and foot and cast into outer darkness, where is weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. To the one and the other of these I will address the following words before I enter upon the consideration of the temper necessary for the profitable partak. ing of the Lord's Supper. And here I intend to shew you,
I. The great danger of neglecting this ordinance.
II. The great guilt of coming to it unworthily,
1. The great danger of neglecting this ordinance. And
this will appear,
1. If we consider it as the breach of the express commandment of JESUS CHRIST. It was among his last words the night before he was betrayed, that his disciples should do this in remembrance of him. The words of a friend are always dear, but his dying words especially are apt to dwell upon the mind;
and to neglect his last commands would be then a sure mark of having no friendship for him. Now this is evidently the case with those who wait not upon the Lord at his Table, to remember his death till he come. They confess that they have no friendship for him, by their disobedience to the things which he hath commanded them. They live in the allowed neglect of a positive precept, and thereby bring down upon themselves the reward of transgressors, who have despised his counsels. And that you may see this is no small offence, I wish you to observe the heavy wrath of God denounced against those who neglected to celebrate the Passover (to which our Communion answers, representing to us a deliverance from sin and hell, infinitely greater than that from Egyptian bondage) That soul was to be cut off from his people. Now if they who despised Moses's law died without mercy, of how much sorer punishment suppose ye shall we be thought worthy, if we neglect so great salvation? Careless sinners, who turn their backs on the LORD's Table, think little of the guilt this adds to their state, and how severely every such neglected opportunity will be answered for, when this JESUS shall come to execute judgment on all the despisers of his name and ordinances.
2. The great danger of neglect herein is evident, in that by so doing we continue dead in trespasses and sins. Except, says CHRIST himself, ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. Now though this primarily refers to the reception of the gospel, and doth not exclude those from eternal life who having received the gospel are waiting upon God with a purpose of heart of soon devoting their souls to him in this solemn ordinance; it evidently excludes all those who have neither received Christ into their hearts by faith, nor desire to be partakers of the seals of his covenant; it is not possible for such to have any spiritual life in them; they are dead in trespasses and sins, and they declare hereby their abiding indisposition for, and disinclination to, all the exercises of a spiriiual life. The soul whom CHRIST hath quickened delights to be
maintaining daily communion with him, to wait in his house and at his table, whenever he hath opportunity; but you have no such desires, no such disposition, because you have chosen death rather than life, and are daily pursuing a course, the end of which must be everlasting destruction. Ask yourself this plain question, Why do not I come to the Communion ? and what can you answer, but that I am living in the pursuit of iniquities which I have no inclination to forsake; and what is this but a plain acknowledgment of the dreadful misery in which you are lying every day, liable to the wrath of God, and assuredly ready to receive it if you die as you live, without a new birth from the death of sin unto the life of righteousness.
3. The danger of neglecting the Lord's Table is evident, as it includes the renunciation of our covenant with God. There are but two sort of people in the world, Believers and Unbelievers'; those who are within the covenant, and those who are out of it. When we were infants the charitable act done for us in Baptism, and the conditional engagement then entered into, can profit us nothing unless we are putting in our own claim to the blessings then promised, and by partaking in the other sacrament, when we are come to the years of discretion, declare we thankfully embrace the covenant of grace, and receive the signs and seals thereof in token both of our dependence upon Christ and renewed dedication to him; where this is not done,' we deny in fact our baptismal engagements, break the covenant we have entered into, and declare our disavowal of all the promises then made for us. Hence we can claim nothing under it, and are left, though we may be professing members of Christ outwardly, aliins from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers io the promises ; without CHRIST, without God, without the covenant, and consequently without hope, without grace, and without heaven.
4. The great danger of neglecting it is evident from the great wrath and indignation God hath revealed against the despisers of his covenant. It is said in Romans i. 18. That the wruih of God is revealed from heaven against all ungolliness