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FOR A COMMUNION SABBATH.
MALACHI i. 6, 7.
A son honoreth his father, and a servant his master : if then I be a
father, where is mine honor ? and if I be a master, where is mg fear ? saith the Lord of Hosts unto you, O priests, that despise my name.
And ye say, Wherein have we despised thy name? ?e offer up polluted bread upon mine altar ; and have we polluted thee? In that ye say, The table of the Lord is contemptible.
ye say, Wherein
HOUGH the spectacle, which the solemnity
of this day calls to our recollection, did not directly interest ourselves, it would, nevertheless, be altogether worthy, separately considered, of detaining our eyes, and of fixing our attention. Men have sometimes appeared, who finding their last moments approaching, collected their family, summoned up their remaining strength, expressed a wish, in a repast of love and benevolence, to take a last, a long farewell of the persons who were most dear to them, and to break asunder, by that concluding act of social attachment, all the remains of that human affection which tied them down to the world.
What an object, my brethren, what a heart-affecting object, does that man present, who beholding himself on the point of being removed from all those to whom he was most tenderly united, desires to see them all assembled together, for the last time, and when assembled, addresses in terms such as these. “ It was to you, whose much-loved society constituted the joy of my life, it was to you I took delight in disclosing the most secret emotions of my soul; and if it were still possible for any thing to call me back, now that my God is calling me away, it would be the inclination I feel, to prolong the happy days which we have passed together. But though the bands which unite us are close and endeared, they must not be everlasting. Is was in the order of human things, either that you should be called to close my eyes, or that I should be called to close yours. Providence is now declaring the supreme command, that I should travel, before you, the way of all the earth : it was my wish, before I undergo the irreversible decree, once more to behold the persons whom I have ever borne on my heart, to call to remembrance the sweet counsel which we have taken together, the connections which we have formed: and thus too it is, that I would take leave of the world. After having given way, for a moment, to the expansions of my love for
you, I rise above all the objects of sense; I am swallowed up of the thoughts which ought to employ the soul of a dying person, and I hasten to submit to the will of the sovereign disposer of life and death.”
Jesus Christ, in the institution of this holy ordinance, is doing somewhat similar to the representation now given. His disciples were, undoubtedly, his most powerful attachment to the earth. The kind of death which he was about to suffer, demanded the undivided attention of his mind; but before he plunges into that vast ocean of thought, which was to carry him through the sharp conflicts prepared for him, he wishes to behold again, at his table, those tender. objects of his affection : With desire, says he to them, I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer, Luke xxii. 15. Had I not good reasons for expressing myself as I did? Though this spectacle did not directly interest ourselves, it would be highly worthy, considered in itself, of detaining our eyes, and of fixing our attention.
But what closeness of attention, what concentration of thought does it not require of us, if we consider it in the great and comprehensive views, which animated the Saviour of the world, when he instituted the sacrament of the supper! Behold him prepared, that divine Saviour, to finish the great work which heaven has given him to do. He comes to subsitute himself in the room of those victims, whose blood too worthless could do nothing for the purification of guilty man. He comes to fulfil that mysterious prediction : Sucrifice and offering thou didst not desire, mine ears hast thou opened : ... Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me: I delight to do thy will, O my God; yea, thy law is within my heart, Psa. xl. 6-8. He comes to deliver up himself to that death, the very approaches of which inspire the soul with horror, and constrain him to cry out: Now is my soul troubled : and what shall I say? John xii. 27. My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death, Matt. xxvi. 38.
What shall he do to support himself in the prospect of such tremendous arrangements ? What buckler shall he oppose to those envenomed arrows with which he is going to be transfixed ? Love,
my brethren, formed the generous design of the sacritice which he is ready to offer up; and love will carry him through the arduous undertaking. He says to himself, That the memory of tins death which he is going to endure, shall be perpetuated in the churcos, even unto the end of the world; that, even to the end of the world, he shall be the reluge of poor perishing sinners. He says to himself, That through the whole world of believers, whom the preaching of the gospel is going to subdue to bis love and obedience, this death shall be celebrated. He himself institutes the memorial of it, and taking that bread and that wine, the august symbols of his body broken, and of his blood shed, he gives them to his disciples : he says to them, and, in their person, to all those who shall believe in him, through their word : Take, eat, this is my body; this is my blood of the New Testament, drink ye all of it, Matt. xxvi. 26, 28. This do 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. 24, 26.
O shame to human nature ! ( the weakuess, shall I call it ? or the hardness of the human heart! And must it needs be ; must the sweet composure of this holy exercise, be this day marred, by the cruel apprebension, that some among you may be in danger of profaning it, while they celebrate it? Must it be, that in inviting you to that sacred table, we should be checked by the humiliating reflection, that some new Judas may be coming there to receive the sentence of his condemnation ? It is in the view of doing our utmost, to prevent the commission of a crime so foul, and a calamity so drea'iful, that we wish, previously to our distributing unto you the bread and the wine which sovereign wisdom has prepared for you, to engage