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training, and renders somewhat in return. Their Master gave them power to preach the gospel, and to execute commissions of grace, and happy were they to be called to wait upon such a Master, and aid in setting up his kingdom. My dear brethren and sisters, are you all Christ's servants consciously? If so, though the service may at times seem heavy because your faith is weak, yet be very thankful that you are servants at all, for it is better to serve God than to reign over all the kingdoms of this world. It is better to be the lowest servant of Christ than to be the greatest of men, and remain slaves to your own lusts, or mere men-pleasers. His yoke is easy and his burden is light. The servant of such a Master should rejoice in his calling, yet is there something beyond.
Towards the close of his life our Master revealed the yet nearer relation of his disciples, and uttered words like these : “Henceforth I call you not servants, for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth, but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.” This is a great step in advance. The friend, however humble, enjoys much familiarity with his friend. The friend is told what the servant need not know. The friend enjoys a communion to which the mere servant, disciple, or follower has not attained. May we know this higher association, this dearer bond of relationship. May we not be content without the enjoyment of our Master's friendship. i He that hath friends must show himself friendly ;” and if we would have Christ's friendship we must befriend his cause, his truth, and his people. He is a friend that loveth at all times ; if you would enjoy his friendship, take care to abide in him.
Now, note that on the night before his passion, our Lord led his friends a step beyond ordinary friendship. The mere follower does not sit at table with his leader; the disciple does not claim to be a fellow-commoner with his master; the servant is seldom entertained at the same table with his lord ; the befriended one is not always invited to be a guest ; but here the Lord Jesus made his chosen ones to be his table companions; he lifted them up to sit with him at the same table, to eat of the same bread, and drink of the same cup with himself. From that position he has never degraded them; they were representative men, and where the Lord placed them he has placed all his saints permanently. All the Lord's believing people are sitting, by sacred privilege and calling, at the same table with Jesus, for truly, our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. He has come into our hearts, and he sups with us and we with him ; we are his table companions, and shall eat bread with him in the kingdom of God.
Table companions, then, that is the answer to the question, “ what this festival made the apostles?” This is what this festival shows all the members of the church of Christ to be, through divine grace, table companions with one another, and with Christ Jesus our lord.
II. So now we shall pass on, in the second place, to notice, WHAT DID THIS TABLE-COMPANIONSHIP IMPLY ?
It implied, first of all, mutual fidelity. This solemn eating and drinking together was a pledge of faithfulness to one another. It must have been so understood, or otherwise there would have been no force in the complaint: “He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his
heel against me.” Did not this mean that because Judas had eaten bread with his lord he was bound not to betray him, and so to lift up his heel against him? This was the seal of an implied covenant, having enten together they were under bond to be faithful to one another. Now, as many of you as are really the servants and friends of Christ may know, that the Lord Jesus in eating with you at his table, pledges himself to be faithful to you. The Master never plays the Judas-the Judas is among the disciples. There is nothing traitorous in the Lord; he is not only able to keep that which we have committed to him, but he is faithful, and will do it. He will be faithful, not only as to the great and main matter, but also to every promise he has made. Know ye then assuredly, that your Master would not have asked you to his table to eat bread with him if he intended to desert you. He has received you as his honoured guests, and fed you upon his choicest meat, and thereby he does as good as say to you, “I will never leave you, come what may, and in all times of trial, and depression, and temptation, I will be at your right hand, and you shall not be mored, and to the very last you shall prove my faithfulness and truth.”
But, beloved, you do not understand this Supper unless you are also reminded of the faithfulness that is due from you to your Lord, for the feast is common and the pledge mutual. In eating with him you plight your troth to the Crucified. Beloved, how have you kept your pledge during the past year ? You have eaten bread with him, and I trust that in your hearts you have never gone so far aside as to lift up your heel against him, but have you always honoured him as you should ? Have you acted as guests should have done ? Can you remember his love to you, and put your love to him side by side with it, without being ashamed ? From this time forth may the Holy Ghost work in our souls a jealous fidelity to The Well-beloved which shall not permit our hearts to wander from him, or suffer our zeal for his glory to decline.
Again, remember that there is in this solemn eating and drinking together a pledge of confidence between the disciples themselves, as well as between the disciples and the Lord. Judas would have been a traitor if he had betrayed Peter, or John, or James : so, when ye come to the one table, my brethren, ye must henceforth be true to one another. All bickerings and jealousies must cease, and a generous and affectionate spirit must rule in every bosom. If you hear any speak against those you have communed with, reckon, that as you have eaten bread with them, you are bound to defend their reputations. If any railing accusation be raised against any brother in Christ, reckon that his character is as dear to you as your own. Let a sacred Freemasonry be maintained among us, if I may liken a far higher and more spiritual union to anything which belongs to common life. Ye are members one of another, see that ye love each other with a pure heart fervently. Drinking of the same cup, eating of the same bread, you seu forth before the world a token which I trust is not meant to be a lie. As it truly shews Christ's faithfulness to you, so let it as really typity your faithfulness to Christ, and to one another.
In the next place, eating and drinking together was a token of mutuo confidence. They, in sitting there together, voluntarily avowed their
confidence in each other. Those disciples trusted their Master, they knew he would not mislead or deceive them. They trusted each other also, for when they were told that one of them would betray their Lord, they did not suspect each other, but each one said—“Lord, is it I?” They had much confidence in one another, and the Lord Jesus, as we have seen, had placed great confidence in them by treating them as his friends. IIe had even trusted them with the great secret of his coming sufferings, and death. They were a trustful company who sat at that supper-table. Now, beloved, when you gather around this table, come in the spirit of implicit trustfulness in the Lord Jesus. If you are suffering do not doubt his love, but believe that he works all things for your good. If you are vexed with cares, prove your confidence by leaving them entirely in your Redeemer's hands. It will not be a festival of communion to you if you come here with suspicions about your Master. No, show your confidence as you eat of the bread with him. Let there also be a brotherly confidence in each other. Grievous would it be to see a spirit of suspicion and distrust among you. Suspicion is the death of fellowship. The moment one Christian imagines that another thinks hardly of him, though there may not be the slightest truth in that thought, yet straightway the root of bitterness is planted. Let us believe in one another's sincerity, for we may rest assured that each of our brethren deserves to be trusted more than we do. Turn your suspicions within, and if you must suspect, suspect your own heart; but when you meet with those who have communed with you at this table, say within yourself—“If such can deceive me, and alas! they may, then will I be content to be imposed upon rather than entertain perpetual mistrust of my fellow-Christians.”
A third meaning of the assembling around the table is this—hearty fraternity. Our Lord, in sitting down at the table with his disciples, showed himself to be one with them, a brother indeed. We do not read that there was any order of priority by which their seats were arranged. Of course if the Grand Chamberlain at Rome had arranged the table, he would have placed Peter at the right hand of Christ and the other apostles according to the dignity of their future bishoprics in graduated positions, but all that we know about their order is this, that John sat next to the Saviour and leaned upon his bosom, and that Peter sat a good way off—we feel sure he did, because it is said that he “beckoned” unto John ; if he had sat next to him he would have whispered to him, but he beckoned to him, and so he must have been some way down the table, if, indeed, there was any down” or “up” in the arrangement of the guests. We believe the fact was, that they sat there on a sacred equality, the Lord Jesus, the Elder Brother, among them, and all else arranged according to those words—" One is your Master, even Christ, and all ye are brethren." Let us feel then, in coming to the table again at this time, that we are linked in ties of sacred relationship with Jesus Christ, who is exalted in heaven, and that through him our relationship with our fellow-Christians is very near and intimate. O that Christian brotherhood were more real. The very word “brother” has come to be ridiculed as a piece of hypocrisy, and well it may, for it is mostly used as a cant phrase, and means very little in many cases But it ought to mean something. You have no right to come to that table unless you really feel that those who are washed in Jesu's blood have a claim upon the love of your heart, and the activity of your benevolence. What, will ye live together for ever in heaven, and will ye shew no affection for one another here below ? It is your Master's new command that ye love one another—will ye disregard it ? He has given this as the badge of Christians," Hereby shall ye know that ye are my disciples ” — not if ye wear a gold cross, but-“ if ye have love one to another.” That is the Christian's badge of his being, in very truth, a disciple of Jesus Christ. Here, at this table, we find fraternity. Whosoerer eateth this sacred supper declares himself to be one of a brotherhood in Christ, a brotherhood striving for the same cause, having sincere sympathy, being members of each other, and all of them members of the body of Christ. God make this to be a fact throughout Christendom even now, and how will the world marvel as it cries, “ See how these Christians love one another !"
But the Table means more yet : it signifies common enjoyment. He cats, and they eat, the same bread. He drinks, and they drink, of the same cup. There is no distinction in the viands. What meaneth this? Doth it not say to us that the joy of Christ is the joy of his people. Hath he not said—“That my joy may be fulfilled in them that their joy may be full ?” The very joy that delights Christ is that which he prepares for his people. You, if you be a true believer, have sympathy in Christ's joy, you delight to see his kingdom come, the truth advanced, sinners saved. grace glorified, holiness promoted, God exalted ;-this also is his delight. Oh! but my dear brethren and fellow-prosessors, are you sure that your chief joy is the same as Christ's ? Are you certain that the main-stay of your life is the same as that which was his incat and his drink, namely, to do the will of the heavenly Father? If not, I am afraid you have no business at this table ; but if it be so. and you come to the table, then I pray that you may share the joy of Christ. May you joy in him as he joys in you, and so may your fellowship be sweet.
Lastly on this point. The feast at the one table indicated familiar affection. It is the child's place to sit at the table with its parents, for there affection rules. It is the place of honour to sit at the table“Martha served, but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table," but the honour is such as love suggests and not fear. Men at the table often reveal their minds more fully than elsewhere. If you want to understand a man you do not go to see him at the Stock Exchange, or follow him into the market; for there he keeps himself to himself; but you go to his table, and there he unbosoms himself. Now, the Lord Jesus Christ sat at the table with his disciples ! 'Twas a meal ; 'twas a meal of a homely kind; intimate intercourse ruled the hour. Oh ! brethren and sisters, I am afraid we have come to this table sometimes and gone away again without having had intercourse with Christ, and then it has been an empty formality and nothing more. I thank God that coming to this table every Sabbath-day, as some of us do, and have done for many years, we have yet for the most part enjoyed the nearest communion with Christ here that we have ever known, and have a thousand times blessed his name for this ordinance. Still, there is such a thing as only seeing and eating the bread and the wine, and losing all the sacred meaning thereof. Do pray the Lord to reveal himself to you. Ask that it may not be a dead form to you, but that now in very deed you may tell to Christ your heart, while he shall show to you his hands and his side, and make known to you his agonies and death, wherewith he redeemed you from the wrath to come. All this, and vastly more, is the teaching of the table at which Jesus sat with the twelve. I have often wondered why the Church of Rome does not buy up all those pictures by one of its most renowned painters, Leonardo da Vinci, in which our Lord is represented as sitting at the table with his disciples, for these are a contradiction of the Popish doctrine on this subject. As long as that picture remains on the wall, and as long as copies of it are spread everywhere, the Church of Rome stands convicted of going against the teaching of the earlier church by setting up an altar when she confesses herself that aforetime it was not considered to be an altar of sacrifice but a table of fellowship, at which the Lord did not kneel, nor stand as an officiating priest, but at which he and his disciples sat. We, at least, have no rebukes to fear from antiquity, for we follow and mean to follow the primitive method. Our Lord has given us commandment to do this until he comes-not to alter it and change it, but just to “do this," and nothing else, in the same manner until he shall come.
III. We will draw to a close by asking-WHAT FURTHER MAY BE INFERRED FROM THIS SITTING OF CHRIST WITH HIS DISCIPLES AT THE TABLE ?
Answer—First, there may be inferred from it the equality of all the saints. There were here twelve apostles. Their apostleship, however, is not concerned in the matter. When the Lord's Supper was celebrated after all the apostles had gone to heaven, was there to be any alteration because the apostles had gone ? Not at all. Believers are to do this in remembrance of their Lord until he shall come. There was no command for a change when the first apostles were all gone from the church. No, it was to be the same still-bread and wine and the surrounding of the table, until the Lord came. I gather, then, the equality of all saints. There is a difference in office, there was a difference in miraculous gift, and there are great differences in growth in grace; but still, in the household of God, all saintswhether apostles, pastors, teachers, deacons, elders, or private members being all equal, eat at one table. There is but one bread, there is but one juice of the vine here It is only in the church of God that those words so wild politically can ever be any more than a dream, “Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity.” There you have them—where Jesus is; not in a republic, but in the kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, where all rule and dominion are vested in him, and all of us willingly acknowledge him as our glorious Head, and all we are brethren. Never fall into the idea that olden believers were of a superior nature to ourselves. Do not talk of Saint Paul, and Saint Matthew, and Saint Mark, unless you are prepared to speak of Saint William and Saint Jane sitting over yonder, for if they be in Christ they are as truly saints as those first saints were, and I ween there may be some who have attained even to higher saintship than many whom tradition has canonised. The heights of saintship are by grace open