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eat of the crumbs that fall from their master's table." Then will he feed you with the finest of the wheat, and satisfy you with honey from the rock.
After the Service
Christ, your Saviour, is the appointed dispenser of this bread. It was to Joseph that Pharaoh committed the distribution of the corn that was in his
garners, and when the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried to Pharaoh for bread, and he said to all the Egyptians, « Go to Joseph, and what he saith unto you, do.”. “ And it hath pleased the Father that in Christ should all fulness dwell, that from his fulness we might receive giace for grace." It is said that. Joseph opened the storehouses, and sold to the Egyptians ; but this bread is the gift of Jesus. He has full authority to dispense it in what measure, and at what season he pleases; and such is his benevolence and compassion, that he will. drive no suppliant sternly away.
• What parent is there who, if a son ask bread, will give him a stone ?"** and if this is most unlikely with men, it is impossible with him who is full of compassion. The communion table is a place where Jesus receives our homage, and distributes his blessings with a sweetness and a libera. lity which accords with his dying love. You came to it to solicit further measures of wisdom and
from him, and to enco
courage you to present to him such re. quests, I repeat to you his own words, “ If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to all lic berally, and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him." He will neither upbraid you with your unworthiness, nor with the largeness and frequency of your petitions.
You have felt your souls gratified, I trust, in eating
this bread. There are many things which are tempting to the eye and to the palate, but which are unwholesome and poisonous, but the blessings of religion fulfil every hope and every promise, and those of them which wear in our apprehension a forbidding aspect, are found to yield the sweetest enjoyment.
The bread of life is the glory of this feast. It is the communion of the body of Christ. It revives the strength of the exhausted, and comforts the hearts of the dying. Many things relished in youth become in. sipid in age ; but this bread is the support of man in his decline, and it is in it alone that he can then find pleasure. Were all the wisdom, or the wealth of the world presented to you in place of the grace and the salvation of your Lord, you would despise them as husks, and say of this bread, “ It is meat indeed.”
Be grateful for the share you have obtained of it. Let the thanks of the poor for the meat that perisheth make you ashamed of your scanty gratitude for the bread of life. The Lord is now saying to you as he did to Elijah, “ Arise, and eat; and he looked, and behold there was a cake baken on the coals, and a cruse of water at his head, and he did eat and drink, and laid him down again. And the angel of the Lord came again the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise and eat, because the journey is too great for thee; and he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights, to Horeb the mount of God.” You have a toilsome pile grimage before you, and it is with this bread that you. must renew your strength..
You do not imagine that your partaking of this bread of life is to be confined to this ordinance, for your wish is, “ Lord, evermore give us this bread." There are varieties of food adapted for the different periods of
human life. Milk is provided for babes, and strong meat for grown-up men; but this bread is the only nourishment of the soul. The wisdom of Christ is the best guide of youth, and his grace is the best support of age. How sad would be the case of a man who, though plentifully fed this day, should be doomed af. terwards to famish with hunger! His daily bread must be given him, or life will be destroyed : so there must be a daily supply of the Spirit of Christ, renewed illumination, and increasing strength.
There is no condition which the believer can anticia pate in which this bread shall be unnecessary, none in which his own wisdom can direct his way, or his own strength sustain his burden. Yea, this is the bread which you desire to eat in the kingdom of God, and this is the heaven for which you long, even that state in which the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne shall feed you, and lead you to living fountains of wae ter.” Jesus is the life of all the service, and of all the happiness of the blessed. They are ever fervent in praise, ever active in contemplation, ever lively in enjoyment, and ever melting in tenderness, and this is owing to the continued influence of the Lord Jesus; without which praise would sink, contemplation would flag, enjoyment would languish, and charity would fail. The saints in heaven will feel their dependence on Christ through eternity, and glory to express it to his honour.
Let the Redeemer's kind attention to your wants incline you to deal your bread to the hungry. This charity is mentioned by Isaiah as one of the characters of a fast which the Lord hath chosen, and it certainly becomes us to consider the case of the poor while we obe serve this feast of love. The grace commemorated in
it should give a new impulse to our beneficence every time we observe it. And it is not merely alms to the poor which you are required to impart, as God hath prospered you, but instruction to the ignorant, coun. sel to the perplexed, warning to the simple, and comfort to the mourner. “ Cast thy bread on the wac ters, and thou shalt find it after many days.” Though it is not given with any sordid view, it shall be restor. ed in the requital of the grateful, in the mental enjoyment'which results from every act of humanity, and in his gracious rewards, who will not forget your labour of love.
The Saviour's Birth announcedo
LUKE ii. 10, 11.
“ And the augel said unto them, Fear not, for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people: for una to you is born this day, in the city of David, a Saviour who is Christ the Lord.”
It was a common device in ancient times to represent the birth of eminent persons as distinguished by various prodigies. In the poetry of such periods, and even in the fragments of their histories which have been transmitted to us, there is in the account of the early days of men of renown a strange mixture of truth with fable. This practice was prompted by the hope that the authority of the legislator would be established, the wisdom of the sage consecrated, and the glory of the conqueror heightened in the estimation of the world by the presages of future distinction which were spread around their cradle. In the ages of ignorance and superstition, there was no fable too gross for imposture to circulate, or for credulity to swallow. The systems of idolatry were fraught with such absurdities, that no interference of their deities could be censured as des grading, or denied as impossible.
How different is the case with the sacred narrative of the birth of Christ. The incidents which it details are completely consistent with the most enlightened ideas of the perfections of the Almighty, and the relation of them is stamped with the most evident charac