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It is the memorial of the death of Christ, by which we represent it to others, and to ourselves. May we be ever ready to give this most regular and acceptable token, that we are not ashamed to fight under the banner of a crucified Redeemer!It is also the seal of the new coven. ant in his blood. Let us adore the grace that formed and ratified that everlasting covenant, so well ordered in all things, and so sure : And whenever we approach to this sealing ordinance may we renew our consent to the demands of that covenant, and our expectation of those blessings which are conveyed by it! a consent and expectation so well suited to the circumstance of its being ratified by the blood of Jesus. Thus may every attendance nourish our souls in grace, and ripen them for glory; that at length all may be fulfilled and perfected in the kingdom of God.
In the mean time may God, by the influences of his Spirit, give to all professing Christians right notions of this ordinance, and a due regard for it; that, on the one hand, none may, under the specious pretence of honouring it, live in the habitual neglect of so plain and important a duty; and that, on the other, it may never be profanely invaded by those who have no concern about the blessings of that covenant it ratifies, and impiously prostitute it to those secular views, above which it was intended to raise them! And may none that honour the great author of it encourage such an abuse, lest they seem to lay the very cross of Christ as the threshold to the temple of those various idols to whịch ambitious and interested men are bowing down their souls !
Christ warns his apostles of their danger, and comforts them with the
views of future happiness, and with the assurance of his presence, and that of his Father, in the way to it. LUKE xxii. 35–38. John xiv. 1-14.
LUKE xxii. 35.
his disciples with some affectionate discourses. And he said to them, When I sent you out on your embassy, without either purse
or scrip, or shoes, did you want any thing? And they said, No-36 thing. Then he said to them, But now let him that has a purse
take it, and also a scrip for provisions ; and let him that has no sword even sell his garment and buy one : for so long a journey, and
80 sharp a conflict, is before you, that you had need be well armed and 37 furnished for it, For I assure you that my enemies are not about to
apprehend me as a malefactor, and this prophecy which is written ( Isa. liii. 12.) must yet be accomplished in me—“And he was “ numbered with the transgressors ;" for all the things contained
in the prophecies must have an end, and receive their accomplishment 38 in my death. And they said, Lord, behold here are swords. And
he said to them, It is enough. He then directed them to another kind of defence; that which arises from fiety and faith; and said to them, JOHN xiv.'1. 1 Let not your heart be troubled : believe in God; believe also in 2 me.
In my Father's house are many mansions.* And if not, I 3 would have told you.t I am going to prepare a place for you.
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive 4 you to myself, that you also may be where I am. And you know ś whither I am going; and you know the way, Thomas, still ex
frecting a temporal kingdom, says to him, Lord, we know not whi. & ther thou art going, and how then can we know the way? Jesus
says to him, I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life ; no man 7 cometh to the Father but by me. If
had known me aright, you would have known my Father also : and from henceforth you 8 know him, and have seen him. Philip then says to him, Lord, 9 shew us the Father, and it is enough for us. Jesus says to him,
Have I been with you so long time, and hast thou not known me,
Philip ? He that has seen me has seen the Father, and how then 10 dost thou say, Shew us the Father? Dost thou not believe that I
am in the Father, and the Father is in me? The words which I
speak to you, I speak not of myself; but the Father who dwells in 11 me, He performs the works which you have so often seen. Believe
me therefore, that I am in the Father, and the Father is in me; or 12 at least belieye me on account of those works. Verily, verily, I
say unto you, He among you my disciples, that believes in me, the works which I perform, he shall perform also; yea, greater in some respects than these shall he perform, because I go
Fa. ther, who has reserved the most amazing gifts of the Spirit to honour 13 my return into glory. And whatsoever you shall ask in my name,
subservient to the end of your riristry, I will do it, that the Father 14 may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name,
I will do it.
REFLECTIONS. As we see in the beginning of this section that care of Christ over his servants which may engage us cheerfully to trust him for providential supplies, when employed in his work, so we see in the remainder of this, and the following discourses, the most affectionate discoveries of the very heart of our blessed Redeemer, overflowing in every sentence with the kindest concern, not only for the safety but the comfort of his people. We see a lively image of that tenderness with which he will another day wipe away all tears from their eyes. Surely, when he uttered these words he was also solicitous that our hearts might not be troubled ; and therefore has provided a noble cordial, the strength of which shall continue to the remotest ages, even Faith in his Father, and in him. Oh may that blessed principle be confirmed by what we have now been reading !
* Movai signifies, quiet and continued abcdes, as does the English word Mansions.
There are various readings of this passage, which in the common copies appears somewhat strange. The Ethiopic version is, “Behold I tell you I am going to prepare, &c." W. ED.
Let us observe with what a holy familiarity our Lord speaks of the regions of glory; not, as his servants do, like one dazzled and overa whelmed with the brightness of the idea; but as accustomed and familiarized to it by his high birth. In my Father's house are many mansions ; (delightful and reviving thought !) and many inhabitants in them, who we hope through grace will be our companions there, and every one of them increase and multiply the joy. It was not for the apostles alone that Christ went to prepare a place : he is entered into heaven as our Forerunner; and we, if we are believers indeed, may be said, by virtue of our union with him, to sit together in heavenly places in him. Let us continually be tending thither, in more affectionate desires, and more ardent pursuits. We know the way; we hear the truth; oh may we also feel the life! By Christ, as the true and living way, may we come to the Father; that we may have eternal life, in knowing him, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom he has sent ! In Christ may we see him, and have our eyes and our hearts open to those beams of the divine glory which are reflected from the face of his only-begotten Son, who is full of grace and truth! Has he been thus discovered to us, as our Father, and our God, let it suffice us. Let it diffuse a sacred and lasting pleasure over our souls, though other desirable objects may be veiled or removed ; and engage us to maintain a continual fellowship with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.
To this we are invited by every declaration of his readiness to hear and answer our prayers : and though those miraculous powers of the Spirit are ceased, whereby the apostles were enabled to equal, or even to exceed, the works of their Master, yet as we have so many important errands to the throne of grace, in which the glory of God and the salvation of our souls is concerned, let us come with a holy boldness to it, in dependence on Jesus, that great High-priest over the house of God, who is passed into the heavens, and amidst all the grandeur of that exalted state regards his humble followers on earth, and ever appears
under the character of their Advocate and their Friend.
Christ recommends to his disciples a regard to 'is commands as the best
prorf of their love to him, promising his Spirit, and declaring his readiness to meet his approaching sufferings. John xiv. 15, &c.
you 16 17 abide with you for ever. Even the Spirit of truth, whom the
world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him ; 18 But ye know him, for he dwells with you, and shall be in you. !
will not leave you orphans, but I will come to you, by my spiritual -19 presence, and the tokens of my constant care. Yet a little while,
and the world seeth me no more ; but you shall see me, 80 as 10 feel the effects of my regard to you. Because I live, you also shall 20 live, In that day you shall know that I am in my Father, and you 21 in me, and I in you. He that hath iny commandments and keeps them, he it is that loveth me : and he that loveth me shall be lov
ed by my Father, and I will also love him, and will manifest my22 self to him.-Judas (not Iscariot*) says to him, Lord, how is it 23 that thou wilt manifest thyself to us, and not to the world ? Jesus
answered and said to him, If any man love me, he will observe my word, and if he shall be found so to do, my Father will love
him, and we will both of us come to him, and will make our abode 24 with him. But he that does not really love me, does not observe
my words, and therefore must expect no such benefits. See to it therefore that you diligently attend to what I say, and [remember] the word which you hear me speak is not merely mine, but the
word of the Father that sent me. 25 These things I have spoken unto you while I continued person26 ally with you. But the Comforter even the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you
all things, 27 and remind you of all things which I have said to you. Peace I
leave with you, as my legacy; my peace I give unto you. Not as the world givest, I give unto you ; in an empty form or unmean
ing compliment, but sincerely and effectually. Let not your heart 28 therefore be troubled, neither let it be afraid.—You have heard
how I said unto you, I go away and come again to you : if loved me, with a wise and rational affection, you would rejoice,
because I said I go to the Father; for my Father is greater than 29 I. And now I have told you before it comes to pass, that when 30 it does come to pass you may more firmly believe. I shall not
hereafter discourse much with you for the prince of this world is
coming to separate us : nevertheless he has nothing in me: no guilt 31 or inward corruption to give him power over me. But that the
world may know that I love the Father, and even as the Father has commanded me, so I do, however painful such obedience may be.--Arise, let us go hence.
REFLECTIONS. Surely, if we are not entire strangers to the divine life, we cannot read such discourses as these without feeling some warm emotions of love to Christ : and if indeed we feel them, let us consider how they are to be expressed. Our Lord directs us to do it in the most solid and the most acceptable manner, by a constant care to keep his commandments; and sure such commandments as his cannot be grievou to a soul that truly loves him. The more we live in the practice of them, the more cheerfully may we expect the abundant communications of his Spirit to animate and strengthen us.
If we are Christians indeed, let us not, in any circumstance of life, look on ourselves as helpless and abandoned orphans. Human friends may forsake us; but Christ will come to us : he will manifest himself to the eye of faith, though to the eye of sense he is invisible ; and
* Judas Iscariot was gone out. This Judas was also called Thaddeus and Lebbeus, the son of Alpheus and the brother of James, a near relation of our Lord.
† Alluding to the usual parting salutation “Peace be with you.” Ed.
his heavenly Father will love us, and watch over us for good : yea, he will come and dwell in the obedient soul by the gracious tokens of his intimate and inseparable presence. And do we any of us experience this? We have surely reason to say that, by way of admiration, which the apostle said by way of inquiry, Lord, how and whence is it that thou wilt manifest thyself to us, and not to the world! What have we done to deserve these gracious and distinguishing manifestations ! Nay, how much have we done to forfeit them! even more than many, from whom they are withheld !
With unutterable joy let us review this rich legacy of our dying Lord: peace I leave with you ; my peace I give uuto you. Lord, evermore give us this peace with God, and with our own consciences ! for if thou wilt give quietness, who can make trouble? How serenely may we then pass through the most turbulent scenes of life, when all is quiet and harmonious within! Thou hast made peace through the blood of thy cross ; may we preserve the precious purchase and inestimable gift inviolate, till it issue in everlasting peace! In this let our hearts be encouraged; in this let them rejoice; and not in our own happiness alone, but also in that of our now glorified and exalted Redeemer.
As the members of his body, we ought certainly to maintain a pleasing sympathy with our Head, and to triumph in his honour and felicity as our own. If we love Chris', we should rejoice, because he is gone to the Father. And the same consideration may in its degree comfort us when our pious friends are removed: if we love them with a rational and generous friendship, and are not too much influenced by selfish affections under that specious name, our joy for their exaltation will greatly temper the sorrow which our own loss must give us.
Our Lord uttered these words in the the near views of a grievous assault from the prince of ihis world, who is the prince of darkness; but there was no corruption in him to take part with the enemy. Too much, alas, does he find in us to abet his temptations : let us earnestly pray that the grace of Christ may be sufficient for us; and that as his love to the Father engaged him to go through this painful conflict with the tempter, his love 10 us may make us partakers of his victory. In his name let us set ujr our banners; and the powers of hell shall flee before us.
Christ represents himself under the emblem of a vine, and exhorts his disci
ciples to faith and persevering cbedience. JOHN xv. 1-11.
1 his disciples, I am the true vine, and my Father is the hus
* Some circumstance it may be supposed, occasioned a little delay, after Christ proposed to arise and depart. Probably they then arose from the table, [anit he out of the fulness of his heart, continued speaking to the disciples standing ]