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himself is the very price of God's forgiving him. Yet still, though sinners never can be to themselves as if they had not sinned, though they cannot so rid them of their past sins, as to be sure that those sins will not, in the words of Scripture, find them out, and bring retribution upon them; yet, as regards the love of God and of their brethren, in this respect, they are, on their repentance, in the condition of just persons who need no repentance. Let this comfort and encourage all penitents,—they may be high, they may be highest in the kingdom of heaven ; they may be, like St. Paul, not a whit behind the chiefest. Keen indeed must be the discipline which brings them to that lofty seat. Not by languid efforts, not without great and solemn trials is it reached; not without pain and humiliation, and much toil, will they make progress towards it; but it can be gained. This is their great consolation,-it is in their grasp; they have not forfeited, they have but delayed, they have but endangered and made difficult, the prize of their high calling in Christ Jesus. Let them turn to God with a perfect heart; let them beg of Him that grace which wrought so powerfully in the blessed Apostle ; let them put on the whole armour of God, that they may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all to stand. Let them be sure that, if they have but the will for great things, they have the power. Let them meditate upon the lives of the Saints in times past, and see how much a resolute unflinching will did for them. Let them aim at God's glory; let it be their daily prayer that God may be glorified in them, whether in their life or in their death, whether in their punishment or in their release, in their pain or in their refreshment, in their toil or in their repose, in their honour or in their dishonour, in their listing up or in their humiliation. 0, hard it is to say this, and to endure to put one's self into God's hands! Yet He is the faithful God, not willingly afflicting the sons of men, but for their good; not chastising us, but as a loving Father ; not tempting us, without making a way to escape; not implanting the thorn in our flesh, save to temper the abundance of His revelations. Whatever be our necessary trial, He will bring us through it,—through the deep waters, through the thick darkness,-as He guided and guarded the blessed Apostle ; till we in turn, whatever be our past sins, shall be able to say like him, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith; henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day.”*
OUR LORD'S LAST SUPPER AND HIS FIRST.
Luke xxii. 15.-" And He said unto them, With desire I have de
sired to eat this passover with you before I suffer.”
There is something very observable and very touching in the earnestness displayed in these words of our Lord, and in the acts which preceded them. He had showed beforehand that great desire, of which he here speaks. That le had thought much of His last passover which He was to eat with his disciples, is plain from the solemnity with which He marked out the place to them, and the display of supernatural knowledge with which He accompanied His direction's. “He sendeth forth two of His disciples," “ Peter and John,” “and saith unto them, Go ye into the city, and there shall meet you a man bearing a pitcher of water : follow him. And wheresoever he shall go in, say ye to the good-man of the house,” “The Master saith, My time is at hand;" “My time is at hand, I will keep the passover at thy house with My disciples.” “ And he shall show you a large upper room furnished; there make ready.” And then, “when the hour was come, He sat down, and the twelve Apostles with Him. And He said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer.
For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God."*
You may say, indeed, that most important occurrences took place at that feast; and that these He had in view when He gave the command to prepare for it, and when He expressed his satisfaction in celebrating it. Then He washed His disciples' feet, and gave the precept of humility; then He laid down the great note of the Church, brotherly love, impressing it on them most persuasively by His own example; and then He instituted IIis own heavenly Sacrament, which was to remain on earth, with that humility and that love, unto the end. It is true; but still it is true also, that He chose a festive occasion as the season for these solemn and gracious acts. He closed His earthly ministry, He parted with His disciples, He entered upon His trial, at a feast. The Son of Man had come eating and drinking, at least in outward appearance; and He preserved this peculiarity of His mision unto the end.
There must be something natural, I mean something in accordance with deep principles in our nature, in this action of our Lord's, considering how widely similar observances have prevailed, how congenial they are to us, and that He who thus acted had taken upon Him human nature in its perfection. God has given us “ wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make him a cheerful countenance, and bread to strengthen man's heart.”+ And these good gifts of His, by which our life is strengthened, send the soul forth out of itself in search of sympathy and fellowship; they end not in themselves, nor can be enjoyed in solitude ; they create, and convey, and blend with social feelings; they are means and tokens of mutual good-will and kindness; or, to speak more religiously, they are of a sacramental nature. They are intended, by being partaken in common, to open our hearts towards each other in love; and this being the case, we may judge how fearful is the abuse of God's gifts in riot or sensuality, for it is in some sort a profanation of a divine ordinance, a sacrilege. When then our Lord parted from His disciples in a feast, He took the most tender, affectionate, loving leave of them which could be taken.
* Matt. xxvi. 17-19. Mark xiv. 12-16. Lukic xxii. 7-18. + Psalm civ. 15.
Laban, hard man as he was, shows us this in the words in which he expostulates with Jacob, who had stolen away from him. “Wherefore didst thou flee away secretly," he says, “ and steal away from me; and didst not tell me, that I might have sent thee away with mirth and with songs, with tabret and with harp; and hast not suffered me to kiss my sons and my daughters ? thou hast now done foolishly in so doing ?" And when at length son and father-in-law departed from each other, “ Jacob offered sacrifice upon the mount, and called his brethren to eat bread, and they did eat bread, and tarried all night in the mount. And early in the morning Laban rose up, and kissed his sons and his daughters, and blessed them And Laban departed, and returned unto his place."'*
And next, I hope it is no refinement to observe, that the very time when the Passover was instituted was a time of departure The Israelites indeed did not feast with those whom they were leaving; for they, .... though “they had received them with feastings,” then“ very grievously afflicted them ;”+ but still it was a solemn leave-taking on their part of the land of their captivity, and in the very form of it betokened a journey. “Thus shall ye eat it: with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste.”I
Another instance, and more apposite, is supplied in the history of the call of the great Prophet Elisha. Elijah, when
* Gen. xxxi. 27, 28. 54, 55.
+ Wisd. xix. 16.
Exod. xii. 11.