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direct our faith to act particularly upon, we lose the benefit of the ordinance,
For the use, it is,
1. To bless God for his institution of his church, which is the seat of the administration of this ordinance, wherein we have such peculiar and intimate communion with Christ. There is not one instance of those which I have named, but if God would help us to act faith upon Christ in a peculiar manner through it, would give new strength and life to our souls. Now in the church we have all this treasure. We lose it, I confess, by our unbelief and disesteem of it, but it will be found to be an inestimable treasure to those that use it, and improve it in a due manner.
2. Doth God give us this favour and privilege, that we should be invited to this special communion with Christ in this ordinance? Let us prepare our hearts for it in the authority of its institution. Let us lay our souls and consciences in subjection to the authority of Christ, who hath commanded these things, and who did it in a signal manner the same night wherein he was betrayed. So that there is a special command of Christ lies upon us; and if we will yield obedience to any of the commands of Christ, then let us yield obedience to this. Prepare your souls for special communion with him then, by subjugating them throughly to the authority of Christ in this ordinance.
3. It will be good for us all to be in a gradual exercising of our faith unto these special things, wherein we have communion with Christ. You have heard sundry particulars: here is an object of your faith that is given to be represented unto you in this ordinance, that God hath prepared Christ a body, that he might be a sacrifice for you, and that this body was afterward distinguished into his body strictly so taken, and his blood separated from it; and this in a design of love from God, as procuring the pardon of our sins, as tending to the glory of God, and the establishing of the covenant. Train up a young faith in the way it should go, and it will not depart from it when old. And new things will be found herein every day to strengthen your faith, and you will find much sweetness in the ordinance itself.
The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?-1 Cor. x. 16.
I HAVE been treating somewhat about the special communion which believers have with Christ in the ordinance of the Lord's supper. There remains yet something farther to be spoken unto for our direction in this great work and duty; and this is taken from the immediate ends of this ordinance. I spake, as I remember, the last day to the specialty of our communion, from the consideration of the immediate ends of the death of Christ now I shall speak to it in reference unto the immediate ends of this ordinance, and they are two; one whereof respects our faith and our love, and the other respects our profession; which two make up the whole of what is required of us. For as the apostle speaks, Rom. x. 10. With the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.' Both these ends, that which respects our faith and love, and that which respects our profession, are mentioned by our apostle in the next chapter; ver. 24. there is mention of that end of this ordinance which respects our faith; now that is recognition. Recognition is a calling over, or a commemoration of the death of Christ; Do this,' says he, in remembrance of me.' That which respects our profession, is a representation and declaration of the Lord's death; ver. 26. 'When ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye shew forth,' ye declare, ye manifest the Lord's death till he come.' These are the two immediate great ends of this ordinance, a recognition of the death of Christ, which respects our faith and love; and a representation of it, which respects our profession; both are required of us.
There is that which respects our faith. The great work of faith is to make things that are absent, present to a soul,
• Delivered December 10, 1669.
in regard to their sweetness, power, and efficacy; whence it is said to be the evidence of things not seen;' and it looks backward into the causes of things; and it looks forward unto the effects of things; to what hath wrought out grace, and to what grace is wrought out; and makes them in their efficacy, comfort, and power, to meet and centre in the believing soul.
Now there are three things in reference unto the death of Christ that faith in this ordinance doth recognise, call over, and commemorate. The first is, the faith of Christ in and for his work. The second is, the obedience of Christ. And the third is the work itself.
1. Faith calls over the faith of Christ. Christ had a double faith in reference to his death; one with respect unto himself, and his own interest in God; and the other in respect to the cause whose management he had undertaken, and the success of it. He had faith for both these.
(1.) The Lord Christ had faith in reference to his own person, and to his own interest in God. The apostle declaring, Heb. ii. 14. that because the children were partakers of flesh and blood, Christ also did partake of the same,' that so he might die to deliver us from death, brings that text of Scripture, ver. 13. in confirmation of it, which is taken out of Psal. xviii. 2. And again,' saith he, I will put my trust in him.' How doth this confirm what the apostle produces it for? Why from hence, that in that great and difficult work that Christ did undertake, to deliver and redeem the children, he was all along carried through it by faith and trust in God. He trusted in God,' saith he, and that made him undertake it: and he gives a great instance of his faith, when he was departing out of the world. There are three things that stick very close to a departing soul; The giving up of itself; the state wherein it shall be when it is given up; and the final issue of that estate. Our Lord Jesus Christ expressed his faith as to all three of them. As to his departure; Luke xxiii. 46. He cried with a loud voice, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit; and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.' What was his faith as to what would become of him afterward? That also he expresses, Psal. xvi. 10. For thou wilt not leave
my soul in hell, neither wilt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.' My soul shall not be left under the state of the dead, whereunto it is going; nor my body see corruption. What was his faith as to the future issue of things? That he expresses, ver. 11. Thou wilt shew me the path of life' (which is his faith for his rising again); 'in thy presence is fulness of joy, and at thy right hand are pleasures for evermore;' where he was to be exalted: and these words, 'Father, into thy hand I commend my spirit,' were the first breaking forth of the faith of Christ towards a conquest. He looked through all the clouds of darkness round about him towards the rising sun; through all storms, to the harbour, when he cried those words with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost. And by the way, it is the highest act of faith upon a stable bottom and foundation, such as will not fail, to give up a departing soul into the hands of God, which Jesus Christ here did for our example. Some die upon presumptions, some in the dark; but faith can go no higher than, upon a sure and stable ground, to give up a departing soul into the hands of God; and that for these reasons, to shew the faith of Christ in this matter.
[1.] Because the soul is then entering into a new state, whereof there are these two properties that will try it to the utmost; that it is invisible, and that it is unchangeable. I say, there are two properties that make this a great act of faith; 1st. The state is invisible. The soul is going into a condition of things that 'eye hath not seen, nor ear heard;' that nothing can take any prospect into but faith alone. However men may talk of the invisible state of things, which our souls are departing into, it is all but talk, and conjecture, besides what we have by faith. up a soul cheerfully and comfortably into pure act of faith.
So that to give that state, is a
2dly. It is unchangeable. It is a state wherein there is no alteration. And though all alterations should prove for the worse, yet it is in the nature of man to hope good from them. But here is no more alteration left: the soul enters into an unchangeable state. And,
[2.] The second reason is, because the total sum of a man's life is now cast up, and he sees what it will come to. While men are trading in the world, though they meet with
some straits and difficulties, yet they have that going on which will bring in something this way, or that way. But, when it comes to this, that they can go no farther, then see how things stand with a departing soul; the whole sum is cast up, there is no more venture to be made, no more advantage to be gained, he must stand as he is. And when a man takes a view of what he is to come to, he needs faith to obtain a comfortable passage out of it. And,
[3.] Even death itself brings a terror with it, that nothing can conquer but faith; I mean, conquer duly. He is not crowned that doth not overcome by faith. It is only to be done through the death of Christ. He delivered them that by reason of death were in bondage all their days.' There is no deliverance that is true and real from a bondageframe of spirit to death, but by faith in Christ.
I touch on this by the way, to manifest the glorious success the faith of Christ had, who, in his dying moment, cried out, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.' And this is that we are to call over in the remembering of his death. It is a very great argument the apostle uses to confirm our faith, when speaking of the patriarchs of old; he says, 'All these died in faith.' But that all' is nothing to this argument, that Jesus Christ, our head and representative, who went before us, 'He died in faith.' And this is the principal inlet into life, immortality, and glory, the consideration of the death of Christ, dying in that faith, that he gave up his soul into the hands of God, and was persuaded God would not leave his soul in hell, nor suffer his Holy One to see corruption;' but that he would shew him the path of life,' and bring him to his 'right hand, where there are pleasures for evermore.'
(2.) Christ had a faith for the cause wherein he was engaged. He was engaged in a glorious cause, a great undertaking, to deliver all the elect of God from death, hell, Satan and sin; to answer the law, to undergo the curse, and to bring his many children unto glory. And dreadful oppositions lay against him in this his undertaking. See what faith he had for his cause, Isa. 1. 7-9. The Lord will help me, therefore shall I not be confounded; therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed. He is near that justifieth me; who will con