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ordinance; really exhibited with all the benefits of his death. And want of receiving by faith in particular Chrift as exhibited and communicated in this ordinance, is the great ground of our want of profiting by it, and thriving under it; of our want of receiving strength, joy, and life by it; because we do not exercile ourselves to the receiving of Chrift as he is exhibited, as God doth really give him out, and communicate him to them that do believe.
That there is fuch an exhibition of Chrift, appears, (1.) By the facramental relation there is between the outward elements and the thing fignified. "This is my body, (fays Chrift; this bread is fo; and) this is my blood." It is the body of Chrift and the blood of Chrift, that we are invited to the participation of. If there was no more in this ordinance exhibited, but only the outward elements, and not by virtue of facramental relation upon God's inftitution, the body and blood of Christ, his life, and death, and merits exhibited unto us, we should come to the Lord's table like men in a dream eating and drinking, and be quite empty when we have done, for this bread and wine will not fatisfy our fouls.
(2.) As it is plain from the fign and the thing fignified, that there is a grant, or a real communication of Jefus Chrift unto the fouls of them that do believe; fo it is evident from the nature of the exercife of faith in this ordinance; it is by eating and drinking. Can you eat and drink unless something be really communicated? You are called to eat the flesh, and drink the blood of the Son of man; unless really communicated, we cannot eat it nor drink it. We may have other apprehenfions of these things, but our faith cannot be exercised in eating and drinking, which is a receiving of what is really exhibited and communicated. As truly, my brethren, as we do eat of this bread, and drink of this cup, which is really communicated to us, fo every true believer doth receive Chrift, his body and blood, in all the benefits of it, that are really exhibited by God unto the foul in this ordinance: and it is a means of communica ting to faith.
We come to receive a crucified Chrift, come to be made partakers of the body and blood of the Lord, to
have the Lord Jesus really united to our hearts more and more. The Lord open our hearts to embrace the tender, receive the exhibition, take in Jefus Chrift as food, that he may be incorporated in our hearts by faith, that he may dwell in us plentifully, more and more; that we may go away refreshed by this heavenly food, this glorious feaft of fat things which the Lord has made in his mount for his people. The whole of our comfort depends on our particular receiving of Christ by faith, and carrying him away by believing.
September 30. 1677.
E are met together again, by the patience and kindness of God, for the celebration of this great ordinance, and therein to fhew forth the death of the Lord.
I have often fpoken to you on this occafion concerning the nature of this ordinance, the expreffion of the love of God and Chrift that is in it, and the efpecial acts of faith and love that are required of us in this ordi
I have one word now fomewhat of another nature, but yet fuch as I judge not unfeasonable; and it is to this purpofe, that we, who fo frequently enjoy the privilege of the reprefentation of the death of Chrift unto us, ought to be very diligent in enquiring after an experience of the power of the death of Chrift in us. Without this, our privilege will not be to our advantage.
The power and efficacy of the death of Christ, which we now remember in a peculiar manner, is two-fold, Towards God, as the confummation of the facrifice of atonement. This we have often spoke to.
2. Towards our own fouls, towards the church; and that is to be an example, a precept, a pattern of what is to be wrought in us. In this fenfe the power of the
death of Christ is its efficacy to conformity with Christ in his death. It is to be "crucified with Christ," as the apoftle speaks, Gal. ii. 20. Power comes forth from the death of Chrift, if received by faith in a due manner, to render us conformable to him in the death of fin in us. The apostle has a great and glorious word concerning himself, 2 Cor. iv. 10. "Always bearing about in the body, the dying of the Lord Jefus." I acknowledge, the words are ufually applied to the reprefentation of the fufferings of Chrift, in the fufferings of the minifters of the gospel, concerning which the apoftle there difcourfes; but the antithefis in the following words,
that the life of Jefus might be manifeft in our body," does certainly lead to a larger fenfe. Then, brethren, we may have an experience of the power of Christ in us, when we can say, we always carry about with us the dying of the Lord Jefus, to carry it in our meditation, to carry it in our converfation, to carry it in our conftant univerfal endeavours for conformity to it; and without this we have not experience of the power of his death in us, and it will not avail us to have the nature of his death reprefented to us.
1. We e are always to carry about the dying of Jefus Chrift," in our thoughts and meditations. O that our thoughts were much fixed upon it! I verily believe that the life of faith doth anfwer in proportion to our thoughts about the dying of Jefus. The dying of Jefus comprifeth the love from whence he died, the death itfelf he died, and the end for which he died. Let us carry about us always thoughts hereof, for his fake who loved us, and who died for us. Meditate more on thefe
2. In our converfation. It is not a time to reflect upon any, unless I did it upon myself. But truly, brethren, I am afraid we do not carry about and manifest to all the dying of the Lord Jefus in our conversation; to perform all things, fo as it may appear and be made manifest to ourselves and others, that our hearts are set upon his dying love, that we have not fuch quick, fuch active, and vigorous affections to the world, and the things of the world, nor that fury of diligence after them and in them, as other men have, and we have had we cannot do it; the dying of the Lord Jefus crucifies
our hearts. These are hard words I know; how far from our practice! But if we live not in an endeavour after it, in all things to manifest that our hearts are full of the dying of the Lord Jefus, we have not experience of the power of it in our fouls. These things depend on one another. If we dwelt more upon this subject in our meditations, we should manifeft it, and carry it a bout, and represent it more in our converfation.
3. Carry it about in a conftant endeavour for conformity to Jefus Chrift in all things in his death.. Did Christ die, and fhall fin live? Was he crucified in the world, and shall we have quick and lively affections to the world? O where is the temper and spirit of that apostle, who by "the crofs of Chrift was crucified to the world, and the world crucified to him?" If there be any among us that should be indulgent to the life of any one luft or corruption, that foul can have no experience of the power of the death of Chrift in himself, cannot carry about him the dying of Chrift. Endeavour to deftroy fin, that we may be like unto Christ.
I will not make particular application of these things to all the concerns of our walk, but leave it with you, with this word, begging of you, and my own heart, and of God for us all, that having thefe bleffed reprefentations of the death of Chrift to us, we may have no rest in our fpirits, but when we have experience of the of the death of Chrift in us.
September 20. 1682.
T is a common received notion among Christians, and it is true, that there is a peculiar communion with Chrift in this ordinance, which we have in no other ordinance that there is a peculiar acting of faith in this ordinance, which is in no other ordinance. This is the
faith of the whole church of Christ, and has been fo in all ages. This is the greatest mystery of all the practicals of our Chriftian religion, a way of receiving Chrift by eating and drinking, fomething peculiar that is not in prayer, that is not in the hearing of the word, nor in any other part of divine worship whatfoever; a peculiar participation of Christ, a peculiar acting of faith towards Chrift. This participation of Chrift is not carnal, but fpiritual. In the beginning of the miniftry of our Lord Jefus Chrift, when he began to inftruct them in the communication of himself, and the benefit of his mediation to believers, because it was a new thing, he expreffes it by" eating his flesh, and drinking his blood," John vi. "Unlefs 53. ye eat the flesh, and drink the blood of the Son of man, ye have no life in you." This offended and amazed them. They thought he taught them to eat his natural flesh and blood. "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" They thought he inftructed them to be canibals. Whereupon he gives that everlafting rule for the guidance of the church, which the church forfook, and thereby ruined itfelf; faith he, "It is the Spirit that quickeneth, the flesh profiteth nothing; the words that I fpeak, they are fpirit, and they are life." It is a fpiritual communication, faith he, of myfelf unto you; but it is as intimate, and gives as real an incorporation, as if you did eat my flesh and drink my blood. The church forfaking this rule of a fpiritual interpretation, ruined itself, and fet up a moniter, inflead of this bleffed myfterious ordinance..
We may enquire, therefore, how faith doth peculiarly act itfeit towards Chrift in this ordinance, whereby we have a distinct participation of Chrift, otherwife than we have by and in any other ordinance whatsoever. And I would mention four things unto you, which you may make ufe of.
1. That faith hath a peculiar refpect to the fole authority of Chrift in the inftitution of this ordinance.
All other ordinances draw upon the light of nature, and upon the moral law, as prayer, preaching the word, and finging of pfalms to the praife of God; but this, that we should receive Jefus by eating of bread, and drinking of wine, has no refpect to the light of na