« PreviousContinue »
as He grants us to be partakers of Himself. setting aside individual wilful unworthiness, and surely the holy communion was meant to be an abiding sign of Christ's love to us, that as we received into our bodies the bread and wine, which are the signs of His body and blood, so He would enter into our spirits by His Spirit, and so become partaker in us, that we might become partakers in Him. And therefore we may well offer our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving to God, for having disposed us to come to Christ's holy com
And not less should we humbly beseech Him to grant that by the merits and death of His Son Jesus Christ, and through faith in His blood, we and all the whole church may obtain remission of our sins, and all other benefits of His passion. For though the holy communion be a means of grace, and a lively expression of Christ's continued love to us, yet is our salvation not to be found there; it is not the signs of Christ's death which can save us, but His death in very deed upon the cross once for all; nor can we lay hold of our salvation by receiving the signs of Christ's body and blood with our bodily senses and members, but by receiving the truth and efficacy of His real death into our hearts, not by any outward act, but by faith. Our work is not done when we have received the holy communion; our justification is
not there. Therefore we pray immediately after our thanksgiving; we thank God for the help which He has given us in the holy sacrament, but we pray that that help may help effectually, that it may help us to the true spiritual partaking of our real redemption, to a faith in the merits of Christ's blood, not as shadowed in the wine of the Lord's supper, but as shed from His own body on the cross. For there and there only is the life of the whole world to be obtained, not bodily, nor by any bodily means whatsoever, for the Son of Man is ascended up where He was before, and after the flesh we know Him on earth no more; but to be obtained by another means, which can make the past as present, and the distant as near; by that faith which sees the invisible, and apprehends the spiritual; which in every age and in every land can reach back through eighteen hundred years, and stretch itself over interposing seas and lands, and can take to itself its own portion of the redemption purchased for us all on the cross upon Mount Calvary, and can make Christ's death a real and a present thing, and can believe unto life eternal.
And now, and only now, can the church offer her sacrifice; her spiritual sacrifice, the sacrifice of herself. Not in the communion, nor by virtue of the communion, but through the merits and death of Jesus Christ, and through faith in His blood, the
church is purified, is become acceptable to God, and may offer her daily sacrifice. And hear what it is, and O may God the Holy Spirit dwell in our hearts, and giving us a lively faith in Christ our Saviour, dispose and enable us to join each of us in this Christian sacrifice. Hear the words of oblation with which the church offers up herself: "Here we offer and present unto thee, O Lord, ourselves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy and lively sacrifice unto Thee, humbly beseeching Thee that all we who are partakers of this holy communion may be fulfilled with Thy grace and heavenly benediction." "We offer and present
unto thee, O Lord, ourselves, our souls and bodies," this is our sacrifice, daily and continually to be offered; our Christian sacrifice, which no other priest but we, each for ourselves, can offer; our spiritual sacrifice-not of brute creatures which know not God, nor of things first slain and laid upon God's altar, when their life is ebbed away,-but a reasonable sacrifice of our reasonable minds, of our fancy, of our imagination, of our judgment, of our reasoning, of all the faculties which God has given us to know truth and to know Him; and a holy sacrifice of a penitent heart washed in Christ's blood, of a believing heart, of a resigned heart, a self-denying, an obedient, and a loving heart and yet again a lively sacrifice, a sacrifice of powers and feelings and hopes, not dead, nor doomed to
die, but living, and to live for evermore, through the powers of Christ's Spirit, and the virtue of Christ's offering.
This was our sacrifice which in our words this morning we declared that we offered. May those words have been truly spoken, as I think they were; may they also be faithfully kept! We offered and presented unto God ourselves, our souls and bodies; we offered them, not for that moment, but as our constant sacrifice, to-day, to-morrow, and to our life's end. We offer and present ourselves, our souls and bodies; we have, as far as words go, kept back nothing. Our bodies, with all their various senses and powers, we sacrifice, so we say, to God; we sacrifice them, a living sacrifice, not to be destroyed or dishonoured, but to do God active service. Our bodies so fearfully and wonderfully made; our eyes, our ears, our busy tongues, our active feet, that vigour which youth feels in all its frame, and which makes the very sense of life a pleasure; these we offer and present to God. Should the body which we have sacrificed to God be polluted with intemperance, or be wasted with indolence, or allowed to run freely after its own pleasure? O that we would remember every day, we whose bodily powers in most of us are so healthy and so vigorous, that we have offered them all to God. Should the tongue which we have offered to God utter lies, or impurities, or unkindness?
Should the feet which are God's run to evil; the hands which are God's be made to minister to violence?
And so in like manner we have offered up our souls, hopes and fears, desires and affections, powers of knowledge, powers of loving and of enjoyment. We have offered them all to God. If we are clever, shall we waste our talents for the gratification of our own vanity, or for the support of wickedness or falsehood? If we hope, shall we hope for nothing but selfish pleasures? If we fear, shall we fear nothing but selfish or worldly pains? If we love, shall we love ourselves most, our friends a little, and God not at all? Yet for every faculty of our nature God has an appointed work to do. Here also what we offer is a living sacrifice, we do not mean to destroy our powers and our feelings; desire may live, hope may live, reason may live, love may live, but they are to live as holy, as God's ministers, as working God's work. They are by no means to be dead, not at all to be idle; there are to be found things true, things honest, things just, things pure, things lovely, things of good report; virtue there is, and praise, the reward of virtue, to be desired both from God and These are their food, the fruits of God's spiritual Eden, prepared for His regenerate children, for those who have made themselves soul and body no longer their own, but Christ's.
To this sacrifice of ourselves we pledged our