« PreviousContinue »
ance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water." **
5. Much of the believer's employment ought to lie in an improvement of Jesus the crucified Saviour. On serious reflection he will be convinced that in this way only can he answer the great and important ends of his new birth. Of all believers God says, “ This people have I formed for myself, they shall shew forth my praise.” “ They are all trees of righteousness, the planting of my hand: that I may be glorified.” They are also to work out their salvation with fear and trembling. As faithful soldiers, they must fight the good fight of faith, while they run the race that is set before them. To prosecute such work requires peculiar fitness-courage, resolution and perseverance. These no believer can have but from Christ. He possesses all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, of grace and strength necessary for every work; and he is ready to commumunicate liberally to his people whatever their work demands. “My grace shall be sufficient for thee; for my strength shall be made perfect in weakness.”
WELL then, believers, when you feel your own weak. ness, and see the difficulty of your work, have recourse to him who is “ The Lord your righteousness and strength.” Should your enemies seem too strong and threaten your destruction, flee to the Captain of your salvation, who will teach your hands to war and your fingers to fight, who will lead you to victory, and make you, in end, more than conquerors. If you see much defilement in your souls, apply to his blood, which cleanseth from all sin. If your way is dark and your path shut up, betake yourselves to him who is the light of Israel. When you consider the extent and difficulty of your work, consider also the very ample source of
supply to which you have free access, and you will neither be embarrassed nor discouraged, nor labour without success in any part of it. But you must improve, with great diligence, this privilege, if you would be successful in your work. “Wait on the Lord, and you shall renew your strength, you shall mount up with wings, as eagles, you shall run, and not be weary; and you shall walk and not be faint."
THE FRAME OF SOUL NECESSARY FOR THE OBSERVA
TION OF THE ORDINANCE OF THE LORD'S SUP-
1 Cor. xi. 29. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and
drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.
HAVING in the preceding discourse considered some of those things which believers ought to discern in the crucified Saviour, as he is symbolically exhibited in the holy supper, I now proceed,
II. To enquire into that frame and exercise of soul by which the crucified Saviour is discernedin that boly ordinance.
As in material objects, distin& vision requires a proper fitness and disposition of the visive faculty; so in things spiritual the eye of the mind must be properly disposed in order to discern its object aright. In its natural state the mind is incapable of this discernment, and must be renewed by the Spirit of God. The most extensive intellectual improvement, and the most profound erudition, contribute nothing, without supernatural grace, to the spiritual illumination of the mind. When this change has been produced, the soul is fitted for discerning, in a suitable manner, the Lord Jesus, in the holy supper. I observe 1. A SUITABLE frame of soul for celebrating the
Lord's supper implies spiritual knowledge. Simple intelligence, or a speculative knowledge of the character and work of Christ, is not the amount of the discernment here intended. Such knowledge is, however, necessary, as the mind must be so informed as to be free: from error, and ignorance of the doctrines which discover Christ. But there may be extensive speculative knowledge, where spiritual discernment is awanting. “ The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spi'rit of God: for they are foolishness to him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” 1 Cor. i. 14. The Apostle does not allude to unregenerate men in general, but to the Grecian sages, men of profound erudition, who sought after wisdom, and acquired the first character, in the world, for intellectual improvement. All their natural attainments, however, came short of spiritual discernment, and aided them nothing in the acquisition of it. Hence they treated, with contenipt, the sublime truths and mysteries of the gos. pel. But these truths may be known, and believed, in their connection and design, while nothing of their spiritual excellence is seen. The nature, beauty, and worth of these must be discerned in such a manner as to affect the heart. The Corinthians had a very car. nal view of Christ in their manner of celebrating the holy supper; Papists have an imaginary view of him in their transubstantiated wafers; and speculative men have an intellectual discovery of him in the doctrines of the word; but believers have a spiritual discernment of his beauty and excellence. In such discernment, the soul is impressed in a very different manner from mere speculation; the frame, thoughts, and meditations are holy. It has a transforming effect on the soul, assimilating it to the object discerned. “But all we, with
open face beholding, as in a glass, the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” 2 Cor. iii. 18. The soul becomes holy, tranquil, and heavenly, is powerfully inclined to its object and feels a peculiar delight and satisfaction in it. When the spouse reclined under the shade of the apple tree, its fruit tasted most deliciously. When introduced into the house of wine, she contemplated, and relished the love, the excellence, and the power of Christ. “ As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons-His banner over me was love. Stay me with flagons, com: fort me with apples; for I am sick of love." It is easier for the believer to discern Christ spiritually, than to clothe his exercise with language: but though he could, the natural man could not receive it.
SPIRITUAL discernment of Jesus will always produce, in the believer, a spiritual discovery of his own case. As natural light discovers natural objects, so spiritual light discovers spiritual objects. Jesus is the sun of righteousness. He sheds a divine light on the soul; this both discovers himself, and lays open the soul to its own view. These various discoveries will impress the soul very differently. The discovery of Christ will elevate the soul to high and dignified conceptions of him, to won. der, love and delight; and it will invigorate and strength. en every grace. A view of itself will humble the soul, fill it with contrition, and lead it to the exercise of selfdenial. All this is necessary to familiar intercourse with Jesus at his table.' A proper view of himself will make him feel his own wants, and find abundant employment for Jesus, when he meets with him; and a suitable discovery of him points out the adequate source of his supply. Without this spiritual discernment of him, his holy ·