Page images
PDF
EPUB

tears of joy and gratitude, that God had honoured her poor boy, whom men had not regarded, to become a blessing to a whole tribe! and her sobs were changed into words of praise. After a few weeks of prayer and holy consecration, Zacheo ascended the Weisshorn again, accompanied by the six men and several of

the most devoted monks of the convent; and after nine months' patient labour, the whole population of the Einfishthal, headed by their blind chieftain, descended from the mountain, to be baptized by the Bishop of Sion in the Usenz, -and on that day the Freiherr of Raren cut his long beard.

VIOLET.

THE LORD'S SUPPER.

BY THE REV. J. T. GALE, PUTNEY, " 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. 26. What the Church of Christ is to the and to all men, as the one fact that world, the Lord's Supper is to the it is essential for every human being Church—the great remembrancer of to possess—to bear witness to the the death of the Son of God. It end of time, and to the uttermost was not enough that that great event parts of the earth, that that is the should be briefly chronicled in the greatest of all things she has seen history of the period in which it and heard. occurred-it was too unique in itself, And just as the Church by her and too pregnant with importance to very existence is evermore proclaimthe world, to be left in the ordinary ing the fact that Christ died, so the repository of historical facts. A Lord's Supper, as often as its celebragreat monument must be erected to tion recurs, speaks to the Church on preserve the memory of that event behalf of her Lord, and says, “As from possible decay-a monument often as ye eat this bread, and drink that should stand amid the ruin of this cup, ye do shew forth the Lord's all earthly greatness and splendour death till he come." “ Ye do shew -a monument built not of brass, or forthmanifest - openly declare marble, or granite, but of that which the Lord's death. The word is that is more costly and imperishable - which is elsewhere rendered "preach" human love the purest, human -"proclaim ;" and so the meaning of thought the loftiest, and human toil this passage is, “The Lord's Supper the mightiest. The Christian Church is a living sermon-an acted dis—the community of believers—the course”-its one simple but sublime ever-growing band of disciples of declaration being, “ Christ died for Christ—was founded to be the per- you." It is Christ's own solemnlypetual witness of the Lord's death. appointed witness, commissioned to That is the greatest work of the keep alive in our hearts and Church, its most essential mission- memories the Lord's death as the to keep that fact ever before the source of our present and eternal world—to keep it in regal position, life—as the fountain of our peaceas the cardinal fact in the whole as the foundation of all hope. world's history-to defend it against Such is the aspect in which that all the assaults of scepticism or un- ordinance is presented to us by the belief-to proclaim it everywhere, Apostle. It is as if he said, “That is come."

not an ordinary meal of which ye soon after declared, “Though all men partake; your eating and drinking shall be offended because of thee, yet has a meaning; that act has a voice; will I never be offended," was almost and as often as ye eat that bread and ready now to rebuke the Master for drink that cup, you proclaim the thinking that they would ever need Lord's death.” Besides this, however, to be reminded of Him and His the ordinance has some other refe- work. Peter doubtless fancied that rences to which I wish to call atten- the words and deeds of Christ were as tion. As celebrated by the Church utterly ineffaceable from his memory of Christ now, the Lord's Supper has as his fidelity to his Master was una meaning in relation to the past, in conquerable. And many of us, I relation to the present, and in rela- apprehend, are prepared to confess tion to the future. The Apostle's that when we first sat down to the words carry us back in thought, and supper, and heard the words repeated, so present the ordinance to us as a “This do in remembrance of me,” commemoration; they fix attention our hearts responded—“We cannot upon the present, and so present the forget Thee, Lord; Thy name is ordinance as a realization; they deeply engraven on our hearts; every carry us onward, and so present the other record made there may vanish, ordinance as an anticipation. Past but that will ever remain; our hearts ---the Lord's death; present—“ye must perish before Thou canst be do shew forth ;” future—“until He forgotten.” Experience teaches us

that the spirit does not always fulfil I. The Lord's Supper as a Memo- the sacred pledges which the heart rial : its Meaning in Relation to the gives, and we soon learn to acknowPast.

ledge, with thankfulness, that the 1. It is primarily, and by the Son of man has not trusted to such Saviour's express declaration, a com- promises of remembering Him as we memoration of Himself. At the can give. He knew that without the institution of this supper, the Re- frequent repetition of some act, carrydeemer enjoined its perpetual cele- ing the mind back to the Cross, the bration by His disciples in remem- image of that Cross itself would, brance of Himself--" This do in re- sooner or later, fade from the memory membrance of me." And Paul declares of His most ardent disciples ; and that the actual and most obvious He spoke not less in affectionate significance of the rite is the showing warning than in command when He forth of the Lord's death. Now, has said—“Do this in remembrance of it never seemed to you that it was me.” Now, there is surely no ordialtogether unnecessary for the Re- nary significance in the fact that the deemer to give to the Church a memo- one event in the history of redemprial of His human ministry and aton- tion which this assurance is designed ing sacrifice? Have we not some- to keep in remembrance is the death times been tempted to regard this of Christ. The period chosen for service as superfluous ? Possibly only its institution is significant- the the awful solemnity of the Saviour's Saviour's demeanour on that occasion demeanour during that last meeting is significant--the language used with His disciples kept them from then is significant. It was the protesting that they should never night in which He was betrayedneed to be reminded of what He had the last bright and blessed hour of been to them, and of what He had communion with His beloved, as the done for them. Surely the spirit that so shadows of His night of suffering were beginning to fall upon Him. needful to the completeness of our There is a tone of unusual sadness conception of the Redeemer's work. in His voice as He speaks, and when There is no scene pourtrayed by the He speaks He talks of death—"This Evangelists which lacks deep and is my body, which is broken for you” abiding interest; there is precious -"this is the new covenant in my meaning in each and all-so precious, blood, which is shed for many for the indeed, that the world had better remission of sins." The breaking of lose the most priceless of its artthat body and the shedding of that treasures than lose one of those blood were now very near-so near, scenes from the history of the indeed, that He whose body was to Saviour's life. But while groups of be broken and whose blood was to pilgrims halt for a little while at the be shed could speak of the awful various spots made memorable by work as already done; and He, the the Saviour's acts of kindness and of Sufferer, ordains that the scene on power, around the Cross there is an which His followers in all ages shall ever increasing throng of worshipmost constantly and most fondly pers, “a multitude which no man dwell shall be the Crucifixion—that can number," pressing nearer and the event most deeply inscribed on all nearer to that sacred tree on which Christian hearts and memories shall their Redeemer hangs. The uplifted be His death-that the eyes of His Saviour does draw all Christians followers shall be most frequently unto Him, they all yield to the turned towards Calvary, and that the attractive power of the Cross. Whatsounds most familiar to their ears ever they may see elsewhere in the shall be the cry of a dying Saviour region which His presence has con"It is finished.

secrated, only there do they behold Is it strange that the Lord should “the Lamb of God that taketh away have selected His death for special the sin of the world.” Whatever commemoration? Is there no scene other deeds of love and kindness of profounder interest to the Chris Christ has performed for them, only tian than that which soldiers gazed in that does He lay down His life upon in reverential awe, and dis- for them. Wherever He may have ciples beheld afar off in wonderment spoken words of consolation to any and tears? Why are we not ens heart, only there does He say to each joined to remember the Teacher, who and all, “ Thy sins are forgiven thee, spake as never man spake,-or the go in peace!" Hitherto He has Good Physician, who healed as had spoken of the love of God-now He never been seen in Israel,-or the manifests that love. Hitherto He Good Shepherd, leading his flock has spoken of dying—now He dies. into sweet pastures and beside still Hitherto He has taught, and healed, waters, or the Consoler, drying the and preached, and wrought, and tears of the suffering and the be- borne temptation, and suffered man's reaved,-or the Son of God, whom hate and scorn-now He groans and the winds and the seas obeyed, or cries, “My God, my God, why hast the Lord of life, in all the majesty thou forsaken me?" of the first-begotten from the dead? No; the Christian cannot marvel It is no marvel, brethren, that none that the one memorial given him of of these glorious features in the his Lord is of the Lord's death. That Saviour's character and ministry were death, we know, is life ; that death is chosen for everlasting remembrance. the slaying of Christ our passover Not one is to be forgotten; all are for us. The Lord's death is the price

Shich Hisere do ta keth appe ted, obleke God that. Whindernes

ve 100.

of our redemption—the Lord's death II. The Lord's Supper as a Realiis the atonement for our sins- the cation : its Meaning in Relation to Lord's death is our reconciliation to the Present. God, the removal of our guilt, and This ordinance, full as it is of the vanquishing of our foe.

most precious and sacred memories 2. The Lord's Supper is a memo- of the past, is also full of meaning in rial of the Lord's death, not only as regard to our present spiritual relathe source of our life and the tions. If we revert to the narrative foundation of our hopes, but as the of the first celebration of this supper, manifestation of the Saviour's love. we shall find that while the Saviour

The Lord's dcath will be stripped intended it to be an imperishable of much of its significance if it be link of association with His death, not invariably regarded as the act He also intended it to to be the chosen by the Saviour in which to richest and most consolatory comembody all His love for us. What- pensation to His disciples for His perever had been the value of that sonal absence from them. They had death to us as sinful men, I think enjoyed close and sacred friendship we could not have commemorated it with Him; they had received of His with joyfulness if it had not been wisdom and sympathy and spirit ; pre-eminently a deed of love. But He had empowered them to labour while gazing on the Cross with for Him, and to suffer in His name. tearful eyes—while mourning that No wonder that when He announced our sins have pierced the Crucified plainly His speedy departure from One-We can contemplate that scene them, their hearts were filled with with profound joy and gratitude sorrow. And no wonder is it, either, when we think that every cry which that when their hearts were filled breaks from His lips is not less the with sorrow, the Saviour endowed utterance of Divine compassion than them with His peace, and spake to it is of a more than human anguish. them of His own and of His Father's We thank God it is written, “ Christ love for them that their joy might gave himself for us ;” we thank Him be full. But it is to be observed more earnestly that it is also written, that the Saviour did not leave his “He loved us, and gave Himself sorrowing friends to draw peace and for us."

joy from His words alone. He gave

them, as a compensation for an Love strong as death, nay stronger ; absent Lord and Friend, not only the

Love mightier than the grave; Broad as the earth, and longer

Comforter, the Holy Spirit, to abide Than ocean's wildest wave

with them for ever, but also a sacred This is the love that sought us;

ordinance by which the reality of This is the love that bought us ;

His presence with them would ever This is the love that brought us

be symbolised. They had been conTo gladdest day from saddest night; From depths of death to glory bright;

scious of a vital union with Him From darkness to the joy of light; while He was with them in the flesh. This is the love that leadeth

His life had become their life, and
Us to His table here;

His spirit wrought in them. And
This is the love that spreadeth
For us this royal cheer.

it was essential that that sense of

union should remain when His “For as oft as ye eat this bread visible presence was withdrawn. It and drink this cup, ye do shew forth was all-important that they should · the Lord's death."

be able to say—“In him, though now we see him not, yet believing,

we rejoice with joy unspeakable and ship and participation. Such is the full of glory.” Again: Christ Himself, spiritual reality : there is a union of in His own person, had been the the believer's spirit to his Lordbond of union for all the disciples. they are one—the Christian is in In their common relation to Him Christ—not related to Him as one they had discovered their fraternal human being is related to another. relation to one another. Might it The binding link is more subtle, and not be feared that when He who had yet more real and enduring. Nothing hushed all their murmurs and settled can remove it, and nothing can break all their differences was withdrawn it. “My sheep hear my voice, and I from them, the new commandment know them, and they follow me; and to love one another would be wholly I give unto them eternal life: and ignored? Yes ;-there was danger they shall never perish, neither to be apprehended from that source. shall any man pluck them out of my But it was foreseen by Christ, and by hand.” “I am in my Father, and ye one ordinance He sought to supply in me, and I in you." this twofold need of the disciples As often, then, as we eat this bread —the need of something to keep and drink this cup, we not only show alive their sense of relation to forth the Lord's death till He come Christ, and to strengthen the sense -We proclaim also to ourselves and of relationship to all His followers. to one another the great truth of our Hence the use of one "loafand one present living union with Christ. cup, and the command for all to eat We show forth that which is secret of the “loaf” and to drink of the cup. and invisible. We embody in an I need not attempt to explain either act of greatest simplicity a reality of the symbol or the command. By inexpressible grandeur and worth, eating the bread as the symbol of the The deed is only the clothing of the body, by drinking the wine as the holiest and most blessed convictions symbol of the blood of Christ, we our spirits possess. The sacrament understand simply the believer's itself is but the outward and visible appropriation of the atoning work of sign of an inward, invisible, and in-. Christ. “I am the bread of life,” expressible spiritual consciousness. said Christ, “and he that eateth of this The Lord's Supper imports peibread shall live for ever.” “He that sonal union with Christ and peteateth my flesh and drinketh my sonal union with all who are united to blood, dwelleth in me, and I in Him." Christ by faith. There is, perhaps, These sayings, hard as they seemed no Christian doctrine so universally to those who first received them, are accepted, and, at the same time, so fully interpreted by the Christian universally ignored, as the doctrine heart. In no mystical sense, but in of Christian union. “I believe in the deepest reality, every believer in communion of saints," is a part Christ becomes a partaker of Christ of the creed of every member of every ---shares His love-His life-His church in Christendom. But, alas! spirit-Christ is his essential suste. too often it is nothing more than an nance. He has responded to Him article of their creed. It is one of who says, “Behold I stand at the those beliefs to which men subscribe door and knock ; if any man hear either with hand or tongue, but to my voice and open the door, I will which their hearts never assent; and come in to him and will sup with so it is a powerless faith. It keeps him, and he with me ;” and he has a the Church disunited. There is a sublime experience of mutual fellow- schism in the body, and the different

« EelmineJätka »