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to be baptized with, and how am I straitened till it be accomplished?' saith he. And,
4. We are to suffer to the glory of Christ. These are things wherein we ought to endeavour conformity to the death of Christ, that we now remember. I pray, let none of us trust to the outward ordinance, the performance of the outward duty. If these things be not in us, we do not remember the Lord's death in a right manner.
How may we attain the strength and ability from this ordinance, to be made conformable to his death? that we may not come and remember the death of Christ, and go away and be more unlike him than formerly?
There is power to this end communicated to us, doctrinally, morally, and spiritually.
There is no such sermon to teach mortification of sin, as the commemoration of the death of Christ. It is the greatest outward instruction unto this duty that God hath left unto his church; and I am persuaded which he doth most bless to them who are sincere. Do we see Christ eminently crucified before our eyes, his body broken, his blood shed for sin, and is it not of powerful instruction to us, to go on to mortify sin? He that hath not learned this, never learned any thing aright from this ordinance, nor did he ever receive any benefit from it. There is a constraining power in this instruction to put us upon the mortification of sin; God grant we may see the fruit of it. It hath a teaching efficacy; it teaches, as it is peculiarly blessed of God to this end and purpose. And I hope many a soul can say, that they have received that encouragement, and that strength by it, as that they have been enabled to more steadiness and constancy in fighting against sin, and have received more success afterward.
There is a moral way whereby it communicates strength to us; because it is our duty now to engage ourselves unto this very work, meeting at the death of Christ, it is our duty to engage ourselves unto God, and that gives strength. And I would beg of you all, brethren, that not one of us would pass through or go over this ordinance, this representation of the death of Christ, without a fresh obligation to God to abide more constant and vigorous in the mortification of sin; we all need it.
And lastly, A spiritually beholding of Christ by faith, is the means to change us into the image and likeness of Christ. Beholding the death of Christ by faith as represented to us in this ordinance, is the means to change us into his image and likeness, and make us conformable unto his death, in the death of sin in us.
(1.) Take this instruction from the ordinance, as you believe in Christ, as you love him, as you desire to remember him, sin ought to be mortified, that we may be conformed unto him in his death.
(2.) That we do every one of us bring our souls under an engagement so to do, which is required of us in the very nature of the duty.
(3.) That we labour by faith so to behold a dying Christ, that strength may thence issue forth for the death of sin in our souls.
I HAVE generally on this occasion fixed on something particular that may draw forth and guide present meditation; but I shall at present enter on what may be farther carried on, and speak a little to you about the nature and use of the ordinance itself, in which it may be, some of us (for there are of all degrees and sizes of knowledge in the church) may not be so well instructed. God has taught us, that the using of an ordinance will not be of advantage to us, unless we understand the institution, and the nature and the ends of it. It was so under the Old Testament, when their worship was more carnal, yet God would have them to know the nature and the reason of that great ordinance of the passover, as you may see in Exod. xii. 24-27. And ye shall observe this thing for an ordinance to thee and to thy sons for ever. And it shall come to pass, when ye be come to the land which the Lord will give you according as he has promised, that ye shall keep this service. And it shall come to pass, when your children shall say unto you, What mean ye by this service? that ye shall say, It is the sacrifice of the Lord's passover,' &c. Carry along with you the insti* Delivered April 18th, 1675.
tution; it is the ordinance of God, 'you shall keep this service' then you must have the meaning of it, which is this, 'It is the Lord's passover;' and the occasion of the institution was this, 'The Lord passed over our houses when he smote the Egyptians, and delivered us out of Egypt.' There is a great mystery in that word, 'It is the sacrifice of the Lord's passover:' their deliverance was by the blood of a sacrifice; it was a sacrifice which made them look to the great sacrifice, Christ our passover, who was sacrificed for us.' And there is a mystical instruction, It is the Lord's passover,' says he; it is a pledge and sign of the Lord's passing over and sparing the Israelites, for it was not itself the Lord's passover. Christ says, 'This is my body,' that is, a pledge and token of it. Under the old testament God would not have his people to observe this great service and ordinance, but they should know the reason of it, and the end and rise of it, that it might be a service of faith.
All these things are clearly comprised in reference unto this ordinance of the Lord's supper in those words of the apostle,
For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread: and when he had given thanks he brake it, and said, Take, eat; this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the New Testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come.-1 Cor. xi. 23–26.
You have both the institution and the nature, the use and ends of this ordinance in these words; and I shall speak so briefly to them, and under such short heads, as those who are young and less experienced may do well to retain.
First, There is the institution of it; I received it,' said he, from the Lord;' and he received it on this account, that the Lord appointed it; and if you would come in faith unto this ordinance, you are to consider two things in this institution.
1. The authority of Christ. It was the Lord: the Lord, the head and king of the church; our Lord, our lawgiver, our ruler, he has appointed this service; and if you would have your performance of it an act of obedience, acceptable
to God, you must get your conscience influenced with the authority of Christ, that we can give this reason in the presence of God, why we come together to perform this service, It is because Jesus Christ our Lord has appointed it; he hath required it of us: and what is done in obedience to his command, that is a part of our reasonable service, and therein we are accepted with God.
2. In the institution of it there is also his love, which is manifested in the time of its appointment; 'the Lord Jesus in that same night in which he was betrayed.' One would think that our Lord Jesus Christ, who knew all the troubles, the distresses, the anguish, the sufferings, the derelictions of God, which were coming upon him, and into which he was just now entering, would have had something else to think of besides this provision for his church. But his heart was filled with love to his people; and that love which carried him to all that darkness and difficulty that he was to go through, that love at the same time did move him to institute this ordinance for the benefit and advantage of his church. And this I shall only say, that that heart which is made spiritually sensible of the love of Jesus Christ in the institution of this ordinance, and in what this ordinance doth represent, is truly prepared for communion with Christ in this ordinance. O let us all labour for this in particular, if possible, that through the power of the Spirit of God we may have some impressions of the love of Christ on our hearts! Brethren, if we have not brought it with us, if we do not yet find it in us, I pray let us be careful to endeavour, that we do not go away without it. Thus you have what is to be observed in the institution itself, the authority and the love of Christ.
Secondly, I shall speak to the use and ends of this ordinance, and they are three: 1. Recognition; 2. Exhibition; 3. Profession.
1. Recognition, that is, the solemn calling over and remembrance of what is intended in this ordinance.
There is an habitual remembrance of Christ, what all believers ought continually to carry about them: and here lies the difference between those that are spiritual, and those that are carnal; they all agree that Christians ought to have a continual remembrance of Christ; but what way shall we
obtain it? Why, set up images and pictures of him in every corner of the house and chapel, that is to bring Christ to remembrance; that way carnal men take for this purpose. But the way believers have to bring Christ to remembrance is by the Spirit of Christ working through the word. We have no image of Christ but the word; and the Spirit represents Christ to us thereby, wherein he is evidently crucified before our eyes. But this recognition I speak of, is a solemn remembrance in the way of an ordinance, wherein unto the internal actings of our minds there is added the external representation of the signs that God has appointed, 'Do this in remembrance of me.' It is twice mentioned in ver. 24, 25. Concerning this remembrance we may consider two things: (1.) What is the object of this remembrance, or recognition; and, (2.) What is the act of it. What we are to remember, and what is that act of remembrance that is acceptable to God in this ordinance.
(1.) What is the object of this remembrance. The object of this remembrance principally is Christ: but it is not Christ absolutely considered; it is Christ in those circumstances wherein he then was: 'Do it in remembrance of me,' saith he, as I am sent of God, designed to be a sacrifice for the sins of the elect, and as I am now going to die for that end and purpose; to do it so in remembrance of me. Wherefore there are these four things that we are to remember of Christ as proposed in those circumstances wherein he will be remembered. And I will be careful not to mention any thing but what the meanest of us may bring into present exercise at the ordinance.
[1.] Remember the grace and love of God, even the Father, in sending Christ, in setting him forth and proposing him to us. This is every where mentioned in Scripture. We are minded of this in Scripture whenever we are called to thoughts of the death of Christ. John iii. 16. God so loved the world as to give his only begotten Son.' Rom. iii. 25. God set him forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood.' Rom. v. 8. God commendeth his love to us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.' Remember, I pray you, the unspeakable grace and love of God in sending, giving, and setting forth Jesus Christ to be the propitiation.