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O how great is the condescending goodness of our heavenly Father to his prodigal children! These are' wonders of mercy, miracles of compassion! Some directions for Communicants when at the Lord's Table.
I WOULD have you at this time to mind that word of Solomon, Prov. xxiii. 1. « When thou fittest to eat with a ruler, consider diligently what is before thee."
O communicant, consider diligently the sacramental elements, and what is represented and exhibited by them. Confider the sacramental promises, and what blessings are contained in them, Confider the facramental actions, and the gracious acts which the soul hould put forth with them. It should be a busy time, and well improven ; for though it be fhort, yet you have many things to do in it, which may generally be comprehended under these two heads :
1. Remember the suitable fubjects which are to be considered and meditated on at the table.
2. Observe and exert the special graces which are to be employed and exercised there. :
As to the first of these heads, I shall mention some fuitable fubjects of your meditation and contemplation at this time; as, 1. Christ's death and passion. 2. The bitterness and variety of his sufferings. 3. Christ's wil lingness to undergo these sufferings for us. 4. The bleffed effects and benefits of his sufferings. 5. Christ's free love, as the impulsive cause of all he did and suf*fered. 6. The evil of fin, which brought on his fufferings. 7. God's holiness and justice manifested in them. 8. The communion-feast above, represented by this lower table.
1. Remember and meditate upon the death and paslion of our Lord Jesus Chrift. David hath a Pfalm, which he calls a Pfalm of remembrance. Pfalm. xxxvii. Here the Son of David hath a facrament, which may well be -called a sacrament of remembrance ; for the great end of it is to be a memorial of Christ its author and found. er : For he said, when he instituted it, This do, jin remembrance of me, and we find thefe words used twice over, both at the delivering of the bread and of the wine, 1 Cor. xi. 24. 25. As if he had faid, whatever
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thought uponly for the remaink of t!
you mind, fee that you forget not your suffering Redeemer.. Some of Christ's works are narrated only by one evangelift, as his turning the water into wine, and some others; some of his works are recorded by two evangelists, as the history of Christ's birth by Matthew and Luke; some things are recorded by three of them, ' as the institution of the facrament of the supper: But as for Christ's death and passion, it is recorded by them all four. And this is done no doubt to teach us, that though all Christ's works and actions are seriously to be remembered and thought upon, yet none fo efpecially as his death and sufferings. And, when should this be thought upon, if not at the sacrament, whose inftitution was purposely for the remembrance thereof? 0 comanunicant, will ye not think of this subject when you have Christ crucified evidently set forth before your eyes, in the bread broken and the wine poured out? Oh was his blessed body broken with torments, and his precious blood shed for the remission of my fin: And will I not think upon himDear Saviour, thou biddeft me remember thee: Oh how should I ever forget thee at any time, and far less now when I fit at thy table ! If I forget thee, O Redeemer, let my right hand forget its cunning, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth. O that I could ever go out of niyself to remember thee, and never think on thee without
. · II. Think upon the bitterness of Christ's passion, and the variety of his fufferings, and revolve in thy thoughts the several steps and degrees thereof. And particularly take a view of your Redeemer's agony in the garden of Gethsemane ; walk into that garden, and behold him falling to the ground under the weight of your fins, wrestling as in an agony, and sweating great drops of blood, and these bursting through all his garments, 0 fee how he lay, and how he bedewed and ftained the flowers of the garden round about him with his blood. Never any in the world was known to sweat in such a manner before, and never any since that time. In a natural way of speaking, the coldness of the night, his lying on the cold ground, and the exceeding greatnefs of Christ's fear at that time, should have drawn all his
All extaly I wonder ! .
blood inward from the outward parts of bis, body.is but this fweat was preternatural! He sweats without fire, and bleeds without a wound. There was no heat, no fire without him that made him fweat at that time; no, the fire was within him, even the fire of God's wrath kindled in his soul; this made the blood about his heart to boil and burst through his veins, flesh, skin, clothes, and all together. There was no wound outward as yet given him, no fword, no fpear, no weapon as yet had touched him, and yet he bleeds: Oh, the wound was inward in his soul ; deep and fearful was the gash which the sword of justice made at this time in his soul: The breach was wide as the sea, and accordingly a whole fea of wrath brake in with violence upon his soul. He falls first upon his knees, and then upon the ground; he lies under the pressure till he is overwhelmed with his Father's wrath and his own blood. Deep called unto deep, till all these dreadful waves and billows passed over him. He cried to his Father, he complained to disciples, he fought their sympathy and prayers ; but no relief had he from that airth; he must tread the wine press alone. i. - Next, О communicants, follow your Redeemer after he was apprehended, by your meditations, and trace his steps through the streets of Jerusalem : Think what he underwent when he was hurried from one tribunal to another. Go into the high priest's palace and to Pilate's judgment-hall, and observe what, unparalleled affronts and indignities he fuffered there, and none to take his part; he was reproached, despised, and abandoned by all men, as if he had been the worst of men, and unworthy. to breathe in the world. He was put in competition with a vile murderer for his life, and yet the murderer is preferred before him. Yea, his own chosen disciples, who had been eyes-witnesses of his miracles, and earwitnesses of his oracles, they turn their backs on him with the rest ; one of them betrays him, another denies him, and all the rest forsake him. Behold how unwore thy men buffet him, blindfold him, and spit on that beautiful face which angels behold with wonder... Beca hold how he was scourged, dragged up and down, af
thought, im of wicht on your
fronted and mocked a whole night on your account, as if he had been the derision of wicked men and devils. Now the devil thought, if Christ was to be the elect's furety, and was to pluck them out of his claws, he should pay well for them ere he got them; and therefore many a wound and buffet got he : But content is our Redecmer to take all, to get his elect free and safe.
In the next place, behold how the heavy tree of the cross was laid and fastened on the fore and bleeding should'ers of our Saviour, and he obliged to carry it to the place of execution. Follow him in your thoughts, and see him wrestling under the weight,when going up mount Calvary: He carries it, till he can carry it no further, he is spent and founders under the load, yet desires no relief. Afcend mount Calvary, and there see the cross laid down upon the ground, and Christ, the blessed vic. tim, laid down upon the cross, which was a rack as well as a death; fee how he is racked and nailed to it by the bloody executioners. And then behold the cursed tree kifted up with the Lord of glory fastened to it, and fixed on the top of mourt Calvary, as a facrifice to justice for an eleét world. Behold him ranked among malefactors, and hanging betwixt two thieves. Behold his hands and feet pierced and rent with nails, his glorious head covered with a crown of thorns, and his tender fide ran thro' with a fpear. See how the thorns pierce his holy head; fee how his precious blood trickles down from his mariy wounds ; fee how his royal visage turns pale ; fee how his head bows, and lies a-dying on his bleeding breaft. Is not this an affecting light?
Again, Congder the prodigious outward darkness that was on Christ during his passion on the crofs for feveral hours together, to fhew the horrible in ward darknefs that was on his foul while the wrath of God acted againft him as being the sacrifice for the world's fins. We read, that while. Abraham was offering his facrifice, Gen. xv. 12. the sun was going down, and an horror of great darkness fell upon him. So fared it with Christ, while he offered himself a sacrifice for us. Now, the Lord revealed his wrath from heaven against the unrighteousness of the world, which was at this
time laid on Christ. Our Redeemer lay under this dark: nefs, to show that we Mould have suffered the horror of darkness for ever, even that blackness of darkness, which the apostle Jude fpeaks of. But, glory to God, the blackness of darkness caused by God's wrath for fin, was now laid on our Surety Strange! God causoth his fun to shine upon the juft and unjust, but on our Redeemer now it muit not line, as if, of all the unjuit ones in the world, he were the mot unjust, having the whole injustice of the elect laid to his charge. Oh, spotless Lamb of God! Inrocent Redeemer of man. kind! Most pure and just one, that never offended 2gainst the law! And, muft thou be dealt with as the most unjust person that ever breathed in the world, becaufe of the injustice of others? Now all the powers of earth and hell were let loose against our Redeemer: all these lions, bulls, dogs, and uuicorns, were set up, on him to tear him. And, was ic. not enough that earth and hell were against him, but must heaven set itself agair.ft him too, and declare its indignation by that visible fign of the horrible continued darkness. Oh, that was heavier and sharper to our Redeemer than all the rest of his sufferings : Under the rest he was filent, but now he cannot hold his peace ; and therefore fends forch that formidable loud cry, “ My God, my God, why haft thou forfaken me?" During the continuance of these three dark hours was Chrift drinking the bitter cup; and now he comes to the bottom and bittereft. dregs of it. Now were the invenomed arrows of the Almighty piercing him in the most sensible part; and therefore he mult cry.. O how justly then might he have cried out with Job, and with better ground too than h:, Job xix. 21. “ Have pity upon me, have pie ty upon me, Oye my friends ; for the hand of God nath touched me !!! How truly might the husband now have taken up the spouse's lamentation, Lam. i. 22. “ Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? Behold and fee, if there be any sorrow like unto my forrow, which is done unto me, wherewith the Lord hath afflicted me in the day of his fierce wrath!" Do but imagine what excessive pain and excellive torment he