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August 10, 1673.
To a due attendance on this ordinance it is requisite not only that we be in a spiritual frame, but that we endeavour to bring and fix our hearts to some special thoughts with respect to this special ordinance; wherein the principal act on the part of God, and the principal act on our part with respect to Christ, are gloriously represented. The great act of God with reference to Christ is the exhibiting of him. God did two ways exhibit Christ:—
First, There was, as I may call it, on the part of God, a legal exhibition of Christ, mentioned by the apostle, Rom. iii. 25, 26, “Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins; that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.” This I call God’s legal exhibition of Christ, when he set him forth to undergo the curse of the law that we might be blessed. This setting forth of Christ is here represented in this ordinance when the bread is broken. And this is that which you may exercise your faith on in this ordinance, that as the bread is here set forth to be broken, so God, to declare his own righteousness, hath set forth Christ to be bruised and broken, to undergo the sentence of the law. Thus we have a gracious sight of God’s holiness in this ordinance.
Secondly, He doth exhibit Jesus Christ in the promises of the gospel. And it might be with some respect to this ordinance that the gospel invitations, which have the nature of promises, were in the Old Testament set forth by eating and drinking: Isa. lv. 1, “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money: come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.” God having provided Jesus Christ to be the food of our souls, he doth propose and exhibit him in the gospel as such. And what a blessed representation is there hereof in this ordinance! Here God makes a visible tender of Christ, as exhibited in the promises of the gospel, for the life, food, and strength of our souls. To answer the promises, he here makes this tender unto us.
531Thus you see the principal act of God in this ordinance is the exhibiting of Jesus Christ unto us. The great act on our part, with respect to Christ, which is also represented in this ordinance, is the reception of him by faith. It is not enough that God hath set forth Christ to declare his righteousness, and in the promises of the gospel: unless we receive Christ, we shall come short of all the design of grace and mercy therein. “As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name,” John i. 12. If there be any thing that is tendered to you, unless you receive it, there is nothing done; things are but in the same state wherein they were. Notwithstanding all the tenders that God makes of Jesus Christ, in both the ways mentioned, if there be not an act of faith in receiving him, we shall have no benefit by it. Now, can any thing be more lively represented to us than our receiving of the bread in this sacrament? but if we act not faith therein, it will be but a bare representation. Therefore, if we believe that God is in good earnest with us in the tender that he makes of Christ, let us not be backward on our part, that the sacrament rites may not be empty signs to us.
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