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The same reasoning holds good on earth; for, it implies a contradiction, to affirm that we can be happy, while the operations of our minds clash with one another: and it is equally absurd to suppose that the Almighty God can terminate the fatal war, the tragical field of which is the human heart, without re-establishing the dominion of holiness.
We desire to experience the most close and tender communion with God, next Lord's-day, in receiving the holy sacrament; let us be holy then, because the Lord our God is holy.
This august ceremony may be considered in several points of view: and one of them deserves a peculiar attention. The table of the Lord's supper hath been compared, by some, to that which was formerly set, by the command of God, in the holy place : I mean, the table of shew-bread, or bread of the presence, Exod. xxv. 30. God commanded Moses to set twelve loaves upon the table, to change them every sabbath, and to give those that were taken away to the priests, who were to eat them in the holy place, Lev. xxiv. 6, &c. What was the end of these ceremonial institutions? The tabernacle at first was considered as the tent, and the temple afterwards as the palace of the Deity, who dwelt among the Israelites. In the palace of God it was natural to expect a table for the use of him and his attendants. This was one of the most glorious privileges that the Israelites enjoyed, and one of the most august symbols of the presence of God among them.
them. God and all the people of Israel, in the persons of their ministers, were accounted to eat the same bread. The heathens, stricken with the beauty of these ideas, incorporated them into their theology. They adopted the thought, and set, in their temples, tables consecrated to their gods. The prophet Isaiah reproacheth the
Jews with forsaking the Lord, forgetting his holy mountain, and preparing a table for the host of heaven, ch. Ixv. 2. And Ezekiel reckons among the virtues of a just man, that he had not eaten upon the mountains, ch. xviii. 6. It was upon tables of this kind that idolaters sometimes ate the remains of those victims, which they had sacrificed to their gods. This they called eating with gods ; and Homer introduceth Alcinous, saying, The gods visit us, when we sacrifice hecatombs, and sit down with us at the same table.
This is one of the most beautiful notions under which we can consider the sacrament of the Lord's supper. There we eat with God. God sitteth down with us at the same table, and so causeth us to experience the meaning of this promise, Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me, Rev. iii. 20. But what do such close connections with a holy God require of us ? They require us to be holy. They cry to us, as the voice cried to Moses from the midst of the burning bush, Draw not nigh hither ; put off thy shoes from off thy feet ; for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground, Exod. xi. 5.
God is supremely holy: God supremely loveth order. Order requires you to leave vengeance to God, to pardon your bitterest, and most professed enemies; and, what is more difficult still, order requires you to pardon your most subtle and secret foes. Would you approach the table of a holy God gnawn with a spirit of animosity, hatred, or vengeance?
God is supremely holy: God supremely loveth order. Order requires you to dedicate a part of those blessings to charity, with which Providence hath intrusted you ; to retrench the superfluities of your tables, in order to enable you to assist the starving and dying poor. Would you approach the table of a holy God with hearts hardened with indifference to that poor man, whom God hath commanded you to love as yourselves?
God is supremely holy: God supremely loveth order. Order requires you to be affected with the tokens of divine love. All are displayed at the Lord's table. There the bloody history of your Redeemer's sufferings is again exhibited to view. There the blood, that Christ the victim shed for your crimes, flows afresh. There God recounts all the mysteries of the cross. Would you approach that table cold and languishing? Would you approach that table without returning to Jesus Christ love for love, and tenderness for tenderness? Would you approach that table void of every sentiment, and emotion, which the venerable symbols of the love of God must needs produce in every honest heart ? Ah! my brethren, were you to approach the table of Jesus Christ without these dispositions, you would come, not like St. John, or St. Peter, but, like Judas. This would not be to receive an earnest of salvation, but to eat and drink your own damnation, 1 Cor. xi. 29. This would not be to receive the body of Jesus Christ : this would be to surrender yourselves to Satan.
I can hardly allow myself to entertain such melancholy thoughts. Come to the table of Jesus Christ, and enter into a closer communion with a holy God. Come and devote yourselves entirely to the service of a holy God. Come and arrange the operations of your minds by the perfections of a holy God. Come and diminish the grief you feel, because, in spite of all your endeavors to be holy as God is holy, you are so inferior to his glorious
example. But, at the same time, come and receive fresh assurances, that you are formed for a more perfect period of holiness. Come and receive the promises of God, who will assure you, that you shall one day see him as he is, and be like him, 1 John iii. 2. May God grant us this blessing ! To him be honor and glory for ever.