Sidor som bilder

with us.

ties, and would find it a solvent for all ; untying their knots, straightening their crooked things, and clearing away their mists. It must have been inexpressibly delightful to have the scales all at once fall from their eyes, and new beauties burst on their vision from the old landscapes over which they had before gazed intently and longingly. The words of Christ had fallen like seeds upon the earth, they had lain hidden under the soil, " that which thou sowest is not quickened except it die;" on a sudden at the descent of the Comforter, the seeds spring up, and the fields are covered with plants which bring forth their fruit in its season. The same divine mode of instruction is pursued

Many doctrines, many events are now inexplicable. We hear God's voice in the mysteries of religion, in the afllictions of life;—and we are confounded. But we are profited by the very unintelligibleness of the voice. We are shown our ignorance, and are humbled, and are inspired with curiosity to learn, and when we shall have learned the meaning of things not yet understood, we shall rejoice the more at the new drapery of light which is flung over all the obscurities of this vale of darkness. It will be as if a new sun were called up to shine upon those sides of objects which had always been shaded. Oh who can tell the ravishing happiness of that hour, when every thing strange on earth, and every thing sad, shall be so fully explained as to call forth new praise for things which had long been known, and talked of, and wondered at.

Fourthly. The first Eucharist was designed to be one of joy, but it was one of sorrow. Feasting, is indicative of gladness, and so peculiarly delightful was it to the Jews, that the words "joy” and “feast” were synonymous. See Matt. xxv. 21, 23. The Heathens often celebrated religious festivals with great hilarity, and it was from the general character of feasts as mirthsome scenes, that the Corinthian Christians were led to revel at the Eucharist as they had previously done at other entertainments. It was fit to use a symbol of joy in memory of the means of our salvation. But how could the disciples rejoice? Instead of being flattered by a splendid supper at a palace, with prospect of a long triumphal reign over the nations, they are bafiled in their hopes by the frugal repast, and by the appalling words of the living man, “this is my blood,” “ drink ye of it.” They did not see that the supper was triumphal; that the sad memorial of a broken body were the trophies of just such a victory as Christ delighted to win; the only kind of victory congenial with his compassionate spirit, a victory gained over wickedness by the slaughter of himself. The celebration of this spiritual triumph, was one of mild and majestic pleasure to

Christ; but the disciples looking only at the emblems of death, could not share in the pleasure designed for them. As they perverted the ordinance, so do many modern Christians. The curse denounced against the licentious communicants of Cointh, thus many now apply to themselves, and fear that they shall irretrievably drink damnation unless they are conscious of drinking in all respects worthily, and thus they envelope the feast in the Wackness of terror. They live so negligently, and so often cherish babits of obvious wickedness, that the sacrament is only the means of arousing their consciences to remorse; and when they partake of it, instead of feeling love and the gratitude of forgiven suppliants, they are disturbed with fear, haunted by the old sins which they have been cherishing for months, distracted by a tumultuous conflict between their moral sense and their evil pa-sions; that being too much enlightened to remain asleep now; these too long strengthened by indulgence to be now put down. The communion season is no time for this distressing conflict. It supposes that the conflict has been previously ended, and that the soul is prepared for at least one hour of

peace. It is no time for any sare pleasant as well as holy emotion. Penitence indeed is admitied into this hour, but penitence is not pain. There is penitence in heaven. It is a favorite feeling of the thankful heart. The stricken child loves to feel and express it. It mingles sweetly with love and faith and hope, and softens the joy of the true communicant, and makes bim hail the feast-day with eager anticipation. "Howbeit this kind cometh not forth but by prayer and fasting.” We must labor to feel habitualty humble, if we wish to keep the feast as an antepast of the bliss of heaven.

Fifthly. Neither Judas nor Christ partook of the sacramental emblems. That Judas did not partake of them can, perhaps, never be determined with certainty ; it may, however, be pronounced probable. Commentators are divided on the question ; Ilenry, Whitby and others, supposing that he did partake of the emblems, Doddridge, Newcome, Tholuck and others

, that he did not. On the one hand, Matthew and Mark seem to describe the exposure of Judas' sin, as previous to the sacrament, and Jolin says, that Judas left the feast roon immediately after the exposure, so that he could not have been a partaker of the symbols. See Matt. xxvi. 21–25. Mark xiv. 18 -21. John xiii. 30. On the other hand, Luke xxii. 21. seems to designate the traitor as at the table during and after the ordinance. There is no need of thinking, however, that Luke intended to preserve a correct chronological order in his descrip. tion of the feast, and to teach that Judas was not exposed until the feast was ended. The historical fact recorded in chap. xxii. 21–23. after being compared with the whole course of events, may be assigned to that part of the course which consistency requires. Is it not probable then, that Matthew and Mark, though they did not intend uniformly to observe the order of time, have yet observed it in this instance, and are correct in assigning the farewell of Judas to the period preceding the ordinance? Does not the consistency of the whole narration seem to require this arrargement? The Eucharist taking the place of the closing ceremony of the Paschal supper, the remarks recorded in the xiv, xv, and xvi of John, occupying all the remainder of the feast hours, is it not an unnecessary and unpleasant interruption of this, probably the actual train of occurrences, for one of the communicants to secede in a rage? Besides, is it not a relief to think that the son of perdition never drank of the blood shed for the remission of sins; the blood appropriated to the pardoned alone? And especially that he never drank it from the hands of Him who “knew what was in man," and who in the very hour of the sacrament avered that Judas' sin never should be remitted ? Is it not hard to see the propriety of giving to a known and declared reprobate the bread, whereof if a man have a right to eat, “he shall live forever," and giving it at the first sacrament, which was to be the model of all others? As the Saviour did not even wash the feet of Judas without qualifying the meaning of the act in its application to the “unclean one, (see John xiii. 10.) is it probable that he would have offered him the significant bread without also showing that, in his case the bread did not retain its accustomed significancy? And as no such exception was made, is it not a sign that the exceptionable man was not present? Rather than adopt the idea, so unnecessiry and strange, that a man who was both known and published to be one of the basest of reprobates, should be honored with the symbols of pardon within three hours from his commission of an unpardonable crime, we choose to think that Christ was anxious to rid himself before the communion of this polluteil companion; and that with this design be said to him, " what thou duest do quickly, as soon as possible be gone, and let us who are faithful enjoy the seal of our fidelity.” This is a very plausible conjecture of Tholuck. The fact is,

, no hypocrite has a right to that seal ; let every false professor remember it, and let every open sinner in the church know, that is Jeslis were sitting at the table with him, the stern cominand would be reiterated;

“ Woe unto thee, thou son of per


dition ; go quickly from us, do what thou meanest to do, and leave us to ourselves. Good were it for thee hadst thou never been born!”

Not withstanding, however, that the evidence preponderates in favor of the absence of Judas from the sacrament, it is not impossible, that being a professor and not having yet forfeited his character by open crimes, he was treated as a professor, and the responsibility of touching the emblems was thrown upon himseli. “ Christ," says John, “knew from the beginning

” who should betray him;" and yet he retained the hypocrite not only as a member, but as the treasurer of the band. He might have intended to teach this rule of ecclesiastical discipline, that whatever a church may suspect, or even know against a member, they should not exclude him from fellowship until they can prove him, by his visible sins, to be a hypocrite. By his external fruits must the standing of a professor be determined ; and when these are not decidedly unchristian, he must be treated according to his own pretences, and not according to the private opinions of the brethren. It would cause so much confusion to erect our surmises about inward character, into a standard for retaining or excommunicating members of the church, that Christ in our own days suffers “many to eat and drink in his presence," to whom he will profess, “I never knew you, depart from me.” There was in Christ's mind a certainty that Judas was intending the speedy commission of an open sin; yet this intention might not have been regarded as evidence tangible enough to justify the apostolical church in excommunicating the traitor, and therefore it is not demonstrable but that he is now suffering for unworthy communion of the blood which he betrayed.

It has been supposed by some, that Christ partook of the sacramental emblems Chrysostom in his 72nd Homily on Matthew, uses the bold expression, "Our Lord himself drank even his own blood.” Not one of the Evangelists, however, gives the least authority for such a remark. They represent him as saying, "this is my body broken for you," " my blood shed for you,

;for the remission of sins;" “Eat ye, drink ye, all of you.” It was not for himself then that the mysterious man gave up his body, but for us ; and for this reason; he had no sins to be remitted, we bave. By offering the emblems to others, and significantly ab-taining from them himself, he meant to teach that he was holy, harmless, undefiled; that unlike him all other menneeded forgiveness; that he “came not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance ;" that before men venture to touch the sacrificed flesh, they must feel that they are sick


[ocr errors]

and urgently require a physician. The supper then was not designed for any at either extreme of character; for any who have been totally destitute of piety, or totally destitute of sin. It was designed for penitent transgressors. If any man has never cried for mercy, he eats condemnation when he eats the supper.

If any man has never sinned, or if he denies his actual sinfulness, he mocks God in eating. It is absurd for a man who is sinless, or who esteems himself so, to join the church of a Redeemer. Such a man can feel no personal interest in any thing like grace, and no trust in a Messialı who saves only the lost. Christ would himself have partaken of the Eucharist if he had intended it for any who had no guilt to bewail. See here then, the doctrine of depravity is at the foundation of the doctrines of grace; and if you tear away the foundation because uncomely, the beautiful and costly temple which is reared on it, is thrown down. The more you contend for the native puri!y of man, so much the more do you tarnish the lustre of the cross; and the higher your opinion of your own heart, so much the lower your estimate of the atonement. Take care, therefore, thou Pharisee, that thou say nothing for Christ, with whom thou hast nothing to do; and above all that thou hope for nothing through Christ, who has nothing to do for such an one as thou in thine own esteem. "Whosoever thou art” that beastest of thine own merits, thou and the man who betrayed innocent blood, must stand or fall by your own characters, and for both of you there is no remission. This is a thought for every communicant.

Sixthly. The Lord's Supper, for the comprehensiveness and simplicity of its instruction, is the most admirable rite ever instituted on earth.

It is admirable for its comprehensiveness. We have already rehearsed some facts which are taught by it. In addition to them, it proves the truth of Christianity. As it never could have been so early and generally practised, unless the death which it denotes had occurred, it is a standing monument of that great fact. It not only stands as a proof of our common faith, but also as a pledge of our common friendship. It is a feast, the emblem of friendship. In many of the oriental nations the simple act of feasting together was regarded as an earnest of indissoluble union, and the guests, even if they had partaken of nothing more than bread and salt and a beverage, considered that they had become inalienable friends. Nay, “if a man received another, even a robber, into his house, and ate with him even a crust of bread, he was bound to treat him as a friend, to defend him at the hazard of his own life, unless he was willing to meet with the scorn and

« FöregåendeFortsätt »