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Now how does this ordinance guide us in calling this love and grace of God to remembrance? Why in this, in that it is in the way of a furnished table provided for us. So God has expressed his love in this matter. Isa. xxv. 6. In this mountain shall the Lord of Hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined.' The preparation of the table here is to mind us to call to remembrance the love and grace of God, in sending and exhibiting his Son Jesus Christ to be a ransom and propitiation for us. That is the first thing.
[2.] Remember in particular the love of Jesus Christ, as God-man, in giving himself for us. This love is frequently proposed to us with what he did for us; and it is represented peculiarly in this ordinance. Who loved me, and gave himself for me,' says the apostle. Faith will never be able to live upon the last expression, gave himself for me,' unless it can rise up to the first, who loved me.' Rev. i. 5, 6. 'Who loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,' &c.
I think we are all satisfied in this, that in calling Christ to remembrance we should in an especial manner call the love of Christ to remembrance. And that soul in whom God shall work a sense of the love of Christ in any measure (for it is past comprehension, and our minds and souls are apt to lose themselves in it, when we attempt to fix our thoughts upon it), that he who is God-man should do thus for us, it is too great for any thing but faith, which can rest in that which it can no way comprehend, if it go to try the depth, and breadth, and length of it, to fathom its dimensions, and consider it with reason; for it is past all understanding; but faith can rest in what it cannot comprehend. So should we remember the love of Christ, of him who is God-man, who gave himself for us, and will be remembered in this ordinance.
[3.] We shall not manage our spirits aright as to this first part of the duty, the end of the ordinance in recognition, unless we call over and remember what was the ground upon which the profit and benefit of the sufferings of Christ doth redound to us.
Let us remember, that this is no other but that eternal covenant and compact that was between the Father and the Son, that Christ should undertake for sinners, and that what
he did in that undertaking should be done on their behalf, should be reckoned to them and accounted as theirs, So our Saviour speaks, Psal. xl. 6, 7. Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire: mine eyes hast thou opened: burnt-offering and sin-offering hast thou not required. Then said I, Lo, I come; in the volume of the book it is written of me,' &c.
Christ does that in our behalf which sacrifice and burntofferings could not perform. We have this covenant declared at large, Isa. liii. 10, 11. Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him, he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed,' &c. Pray, brethren, be wise and understanding in this matter, and not children in calling over and remembering Christ in this ordinance. Remember the counsel of peace that was between them both, when it was agreed on the part of Christ to undertake and answer for what we had done; and upon the part of God the Father, that upon his so doing, righteousness, life, and salvation should be given to sinners.
[4.] Remember the sufferings of Christ. This is a main thing. Now the sufferings of Christ may be considered three ways: 1st. The sufferings in his soul. 2dly. The sufferings in his body. 3dly. The sufferings of his person in the dissolution of his human nature, soul and body, by death itself.
1st. Remember the sufferings in his soul: and they were of two sorts, (1st.) Privative; his sufferings in the desertion and dereliction of God his Father; and, (2dly.) Positive; in the emission of the sense of God's wrath, and the curse of the law on his soul.
(1st.) The head of Christ's sufferings was in the divine desertion, whence he cried out,' My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?' It is certain, Christ was forsaken of God; he had not else so complained; forsaken of God in his soul; how? the divine nature in the second Person did not forsake the human; nor did the divine nature in the third Person forsake the human, as to the whole work of sanctification and holiness, but kept alive in Christ all grace whatsoever, all grace in that fulness whereof he had ever been partaker. But the desertion was as to all influence of comfort and all evidence of love from God the Father, who is the fountain of love and comfort administered by the Holy Ghost. Hence
some of our divines have not spared to say, that Christ did despair in that great cry, 'My God, my God,' &c. Now despair signifies two things; A total want of the evidence of faith, as to acceptance with God; and a resolution in the soul to seek no farther after it, and not to wait for it from that fountain. In the first way Christ did despair; that is, penal only; in the latter, he did not, that is, sinful also. There was a total interception of all evidence of love from God, but not a ceasing in him to wait upon God for the manifestation of that love in his appointed time. Remember, Christ was thus forsaken that his people might never be forsaken.
(2dly.) There were sufferings positive in his soul when he was made sin and a curse for us, and had a sense of the wrath and anger of God on his soul. This brought those expressions concerning him, and from him; 'He began to be sore amazed, and said, My soul is exceeding sorrowful even to death. He was in an agony.' I desire no more for my soul everlastingly to confute that blasphemy, that Christ died only as a martyr to confirm the truth he had preached, but the consideration of this one thing. For courage, resolution, and cheerfulness, are the principal virtues and graces in him who dies only as a martyr; but for him who had the weight of the wrath of God and the curse of the law upon his soul, it became him to be in an agony, to sweat great drops of blood, to cry out, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?' which, had he been called to for nothing else but barely. to confirm the truth he had preached, he would have done without much trouble or shaking of mind.
I shall not now speak of the sufferings in his body, which I am afraid we do not consider enough. Some poor souls are apt to consider nothing but the sufferings of his body, and some do not enough consider them. We may call this over some other time, as also the sufferings of his person in the dissolution of his human nature, by a separation of the soul from the body, which was also comprised in the curse.
'Do this in remembrance of me.' What are we to remember? These are things of no great research; they are not hard and difficult, but such as we all may come up to the practice of in the administration of this very ordinance. Remember the unspeakable grace and love of God in setting
forth Christ to be a propitiation. Remember the love of Christ who gave himself for us, notwithstanding he knew all that would befall him on our account: remember the compact and agreement between the Father and the Son, that what was due to us he should undergo, and the benefit of what he did should redound to us: remember the greatness of the work he undertook for these ends; in the sufferings of his whole person, when he would redeem his church with his own blood.
(2.) One word for the act of remembrance, and I have done. How shall we remember? Remembrance in itselfis a solemn calling over of what is true and past; and there are two things required in our remembrance; the first is faith; and the second is thankfulness.
[1.] Faith; so to call it over as to believe it. But who does not believe it? Why, truly, brethren, many believe the story of it, or the fact, who do not believe it to that advantage for themselves, as they ought to do. In a word, we are so to believe it, as to put our trust for life and salvation in these things that we call to remembrance. Trust and confidence belong to the essence of saving faith. So remember these things as to place your trust in them. Shall I gather up your workings of faith into one expression? the apostle calls it, Rom. v. 11. the receiving the atonement.' If God help us afresh to receive the atonement at this time, we have discharged our duty in this ordinance; for here is the atonement proposed from the love of God, and from the love of Christ by virtue of the compact between the Father and the Son, through the sufferings and sacrifice of Christ in his whole person, soul and body. Here is an atonement with God proposed unto us; the working of our faith is to receive it, or to believe it so as to approve of it as an excellent way, full of wisdom, goodness, holiness, to embrace it and trust in it.
[2.] Remember that among the offerings of old which were appointed to shadow out the death of Christ, there wast a thank-offering; for there was a burning of the fat upon the altar of thank-offering, to signify there was thankfulness to God always as part of the remembrance of the sacrifice that Christ made for us. Receive the atonement, and be thankful. The Lord lead us into the practice of these things.
THE last time I spake to you on this occasion, I told you that the grace of God, and our duty in this ordinance, might be drawn under the three heads of recognition, or calling over, of exhibition, and of profession. The first of these I then spake unto, and shewed you what we are to recognise or call over therein.
The second thing is, exhibition and reception; exhibition on the part of Christ, reception on our part, wherein the essence of this ordinance doth consist. I shall briefly explain it to you, rather now to stir up faith unto exercise, than to instruct in the doctrine. And that we may exercise our faith aright, we may consider,
1. Who it is that makes an exhibition, that offers, proposes, and gives something to us at this time in this ordinance.
2. What it is that is exhibited, proposed, and communicated in this ordinance. And,
3. How or in what manner we receive it.
1. Who is it that makes this exhibition? It is Christ himself. When Christ was given for us, God the Father gave him, and set him forth to be a propitiation; but in this exhibition it is Christ himself, I say, that is the immediate exhibitor. The tender that is made of, whatever it be, it is made by Christ. And, as our faith stands in need of directions and boundaries to be given to it in this holy duty, it will direct our faith to consider Jesus Christ present among us by his Spirit, and by his word, making this tender, or this exhibition unto us. It is Christ that does it, which calls out our faith unto an immediate exercise on his
2. What is it Christ does exhibit and propose to us? (1.) Not empty and outward signs. God never instituted such things in his church. From the foundation of the world he never designed to feed his people with such outward symbols. Those under the Old Testament were not empty, though they had not a fulness like those under the New: they had not a fulness, because they had respect to what was yet to come, and could not be filled with that