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“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 speciality 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. Verse 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. “This do,” says he, “in remembrance of me.” That which respects our profession is a representation and declaration of the Lord’s death. Verse 26, “As often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show” — ye 530declare, 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.
I. There is that which respects our faith. The great work of faith is to make things that are absent, present to a soul, in regard to their sweetness, power, and efficacy; whence it is said to be “the evidence of things not seen:” and it looks backward unto 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, verse 13, in confirmation of it, which is taken out of Ps. 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 afterwards? That also he expresses, Ps. xvi. 10, “For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou 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 531issue of things? That he expresses, verse 11, “Thou wilt show me the path of life” (which is his faith for his rising again): “in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore;” — where he was to be exalted. And these words, “Father, into thy hands 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 show 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. So that to give up a soul cheerfully and comfortably into that state, is a pure act of faith.
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 who through fear of death were all 532their lifetime subject to bondage.” There is no deliverance that is true and real, from a bondage-frame of spirit [with reference] 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 moments, 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, “These all 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 show 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. l. 7–9, “The Lord God 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 contend with me? who is mine adversary? let him come near to me. Behold, the Lord God will help me; who is he that shall condemn me?” — “Who is mine adversary?” or (as in the Hebrew), “Who is the master of my cause? I have a cause to plead, who is the master of it?” “I am engaged in a great cause,” saith he, “and I am greatly opposed; they seek to make me ashamed, to confound me, to condemn me.” But here is faith for his cause: “The Lord God will justify me,” saith he. ‘It was with Christ as it would have been with us under the covenant of works: man ought to have believed he should be justified of God, though not by Jesus Christ; so here, he had faith that he should be justified. “God will justify me; I shall not be condemned in this cause that I have undertaken.”
It is matter of great comfort and support, to consider that when the Lord Jesus Christ had in his eye all the sins of all the elect upon the one hand, and the whole curse of the law and the wrath of God on the other, yet he cried, “I shall not be confounded;” — “I shall go through it, I shall see an end of this business, and make an end of sin, and bring in everlasting righteousness; and God will justify me in it.” We are in an especial manner to call to remembrance the 533faith that Christ had for his cause; and we ought to have the same faith for it now, for this great conquest of overcoming the devil, sin, death, hell, and the saving of our souls. He hath given us an example for it.
There is one objection lies against all this, and that is this: “But did not Christ despond in his great agony in the garden, when he cried three times, ‘Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me?’ and in that dreadful outcry upon the cross, which he took from the 22d Psalm, a prophecy of him, ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’ Doth not Christ seem to repent here, and to despond?”
I answer, In this difficult inquiry two things are to be stated:— first, in reference to his person, That it was impossible Christ should have the indissolubility of his personal union utterly hid from him. He knew the union of his human nature unto the Son of God could not be utterly dissolved, — that could not be utterly hid from him; so that there could not be despair, properly so called, in Christ. And, secondly, this is certain also, That the contract he had with the Father, and the promises he had given him of being successful, could never utterly be hid from him. So that his faith, either as to his person or cause, could not possibly be utterly ruined. But there was a severe and terrible conflict in the human nature, arising from these four things:—
First. From the view which he was exalted to take of the nature of the curse that was then upon him. For the curse was upon him, Gal. iii. 13, “He was made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.” Give me leave to say, Jesus Christ saw more into the nature of the curse of God for sin than all the damned in hell are able to see; which caused a dreadful conflict in his human soul upon that prospect.
Secondly. It arose from hence, that the comforting influences of the union with the divine nature were restrained. Jesus Christ was in himself “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;” but yet, all the while, there were the influences of light and glory from the divine nature to the human, by virtue of their union; — and now they are restrained, and instead of that, was horrible darkness, and trembling, and the curse, and sin, and Satan, round about him; all presenting themselves unto him: which gave occasion to that part of his prayer, Ps. xxii. 12–21, “Deliver my soul from the sword; my darling from the power of the dog. Save me from the lion’s mouth,” etc. There was the sword in the curse of the law, and the dog and the lion, or Satan, as it were, gaping upon him, as if ready to devour him; for it was the hour and power of darkness, dread and terror. Besides, there were cruel men, which he compares to “the bulls of Bashan,” which rent him. This caused that terrible conflict.
534Thirdly. It was from the penal desertion of God. That he was under a penal desertion from God is plain: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” And when I say so, I know little of what I say; — I mean, what it is to be under such penal desertion. For the great punishment of hell, is an everlasting penal desertion from God.
Fourthly. It was from the unspeakable extremity of the things that he suffered; — not merely as to the things themselves which outwardly fell upon his body, but as unto that “sword of God which was awakened against him,” and which had pierced him to the very soul. The advantage which he had in his sufferings by his divine union, was that which supported and bore him up under that weight, which would have sunk any mere creature to nothing. His heart was enlarged to receive in those pains, that dread and terror, that otherwise he could not have received. And notwithstanding all this, as I showed before, Christ kept up his faith in reference to his person, and kept up his faith in reference to his cause; and a great example he hath given unto us, that though the dog and the lion should encompass us, though we should have desertion from God and pressures more than nature is able to bear, yet there is a way of keeping up faith, trust, and confidence through all, and not to let go our hold of God.
Now, this is the first thing we are to call over in remembrance of Christ, in reference to his death; that faith he had, both for his person and his cause, in his death. For if you remember any of the martyrs that died, you will stick upon these two things, more than upon the flames that consumed them: they expressed great faith of their interest in Christ, and in reference to the cause they died for. They are things you will remember. And this you are to be remembering of him who was the head of the martyrs, — our Lord Jesus Christ’s faith.
2. We are to call over his obedience in his death. The apostle doth propose it unto us, Phil. ii. 5, 6, etc., “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” We are to call over the mind of Christ in suffering. And the following things the Scripture doth peculiarly direct us to consider in the obedience of Christ unto death:— The principle of it, which was love; readiness to and for it; submission under it; his patience during it. They are things the Scripture minds us of concerning the obedience of Christ in his death:—
(1.) Consider his love, which is one of the principal things to be regarded in this obedience of Christ; — the love wherewith it was 535principled. Gal. ii. 20, “He loved me,” saith the apostle, “and gave himself for me.” 1 John iii. 16, “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us.” It was his love did it. Rev. i. 5, “Who loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood.” This gives life to the whole sufferings of Christ, and to our faith too. It was a high act of obedience to God, that he laid down his life; but that obedience was principled with love to us.
And now I pray God to enable me to consider this with my own soul, what that love would stick at, that did not stick at this kind of death we have been speaking of. If Jesus Christ had reserved the greatest thing he was to do for us unto the last, we had not known but his love might have stuck when it came to that, — I mean, when it came to the curse of the law, — though he had done other things. But having done this, he that would not withdraw, nor take off from that, because he loved us, what will he stick at for the future? Our hearts are apt to be full of unkind and unthankful thoughts towards him; as though, upon every dark and black temptation and trial, he would desert us, whose love was such as he would not do it when himself was to be deserted and made a curse. Call over, then, the love of Christ in this obedience. “Yes; but love prevails sometimes,” you will say, “with many, to do things that they have no great mind to: we come very difficultly to do some things, when yet, out of love, we will not deny them.” But it was not so with Christ; his love was such that he had, —
(2.) An eternal readiness unto his work. There are two texts of Scripture inform us of it: Prov. viii. 30, 31, where the Holy Ghost describes the prospect that the Wisdom of God — that is, the Son of God — took of the world and the children of men, in reference to the time he was to come among them. “I was,” saith he, “daily his delight, rejoicing always before him; rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth; and my delights were with the sons of men.” He considered what work he had to do for the sons of men, and delighted in it. The 40th Psalm expounds this, verses 6–8, “Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears 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,” etc. “Sacrifice and burnt-offering will not take away sin,” saith he; “then, lo, I come.” But doth he come willingly? Yes; “I delight,” saith he, “to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.” What part of the will of God was it? The apostle tells you, Heb. x. 10, “Offering the body of Jesus Christ once for all; by the which will we are sanctified.” He came not only willingly, but with delight. The baptism he was to be baptized with, he was straitened till it was accomplished. The love he had unto the souls of men, 536that great design and project he had for the glory of God, gave him delight in his undertaking, notwithstanding all the difficulties he was to meet with.
(3.) We are to remember his submission to the great work he was called unto. This he expresses, Isa. l. 5, 6, “The Lord God,” saith he, “hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back. I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting.” The Lord God called him to it, and he was not rebellious, but submitted unto it.
There is one objection arises against this submission; and that is the prayer of Christ in the garden: “Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me.”
I answer, That was an expression of the horror which was upon the human nature, which we mentioned before. But there were two things that Christ immediately closed upon, which gave evidence to this submission, that he did not draw back, nor rebel, nor hide himself, nor turn away his face from shame and spitting; — one was this, “Father, thy will be done,” saith he; and the other was this, that he refused that aid to deliver him which he might have had: “Know ye not that I could pray the Father, and he would give me more than twelve legions of angels?” He then suffered under the Roman power, and their power was reduced to twelve legions. Saith he, “I could have more than these;” which argues his full submission unto the will of God.
(4.) We are to call over his patience under his sufferings, in his obedience, Isa. liii. 7, “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted; yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth;” — the highest expressions of an absolute, complete, and perfect patience. Though he was afflicted, and though he had all manner of provocations, “though he was reviled, he reviled not again.” The apostle tells us, Heb. xii. 2, “He endured the cross” (that is, he patiently endured it, as the word signifies), “and despised the shame, that he might sit down at the right hand of God.”
You see, then, the end of this ordinance of the Lord’s supper, is to stir us up to call over the obedience of Christ, both as to his love in it, as to his readiness for it, submission to the will of God in it, and patience under it.
3. Faith is to call over the work itself; and that was the death of Christ. I shall not now be able to manifest under what consideration in this ordinance faith calls over the death of Christ; but these are the heads I shall speak unto:— It calls it over as a sacrifice, in that it was bloody; it calls it over as shameful, in that it was under 537the curse; it calls it over as bitter and dreadful, in that it was penal. It was a bloody, shameful, and penal death: as bloody, a sacrifice; as cursed, shameful; and as it was penal, it was bitter. In the work of faith’s calling over these things, there is a peculiar work of love also. Saith our Saviour, “This do in remembrance of me.” These are the words we would use unto a friend, when we give him a token or pledge, “Remember me.” What is the meaning of it? “Remember my love to you, my kindness for you; remember my person.” There is a remembrance of love towards Christ to be acted in this ordinance, as well as a remembrance of faith: and as the next object of faith is the benefits of Christ, and thereby to his person; so the next object of love is the person of Christ, and thereby to his benefits; — I mean, as represented in this ordinance. “Remember me,” saith he; that is, “with a heart full of love towards me.” And there are three things wherein this remembrance of Christ by love, in the celebration of this ordinance, doth consist:— delight in him, thankfulness unto him, and the keeping of his word. He that remembers Christ with love, hath these three affections in his heart:—
(1.) He delights in him. The thoughts of Christ are sweet unto him, as of an absent friend; but only in spiritual things we have this great advantage, we can make an absent Christ present to us. This we cannot in natural things. We can converse with friends only by imagination; but by faith we make Christ present with us, and delight in him.
(2.) There is thanksgiving towards him. That love which is fixed upon the person of Christ will break forth in great thankfulness; which is one peculiar act of this ordinance: “The cup which we bless,” or give thanks for.
(3.) It will greatly incline the heart to keep his word. “If ye are my disciples, ‘if ye love me, keep my commandments.’ ” Every act of love fixed upon the person of Christ, gives a new spring of obedience to all the ordinances of Christ: and the truth is, there is no keeping up our hearts unto obedience to ordinances, but by renewed acts of obedience upon the person of Christ; — this will make the soul cry, “When shall I be in an actual observation of Christ’s ordinance, who hath thus loved me, and washed me with his own blood, — that hath done such great things for me?”
This is the end of the death of Christ which concerns our faith and love, — the end of commemoration, or calling to remembrance.
II. There is an end of profession also; which is, to “show the Lord’s death till he come.” But this must be spoken to at some other time. If we come to the practice of these things, we shall find them great things to call over, — namely, the whole frame of the heart of Christ in his death, and his death itself, and our own concern 538therein, and the great example he hath set unto us. Some of them, I hope, may abide upon our hearts and spirits for our use.
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