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not withheld thy son, thine only son; that in
"henceforth know I no man after the flesh," 2 Cor. v. 16. I have no connexion, now, save with that "Jesus, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named," Eph. iii. 15. Witness that immoveable hope, in the midst of universal desertion; "though he slay me, yet will I trust in him," Job xiii. 15, yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art 4. While he is partaking in the sacred mys- with me, thy rod and thy staff they comfort teries of redeeming love, likewise, the believer me," Ps. xxiii. 4. Witness that faith which feels himself quickened, raised up, seated, to- pierces through the clouds, which the devil, gether with Jesus Christ." I cannot refrain, and hell, and the world spread around his bed however, from here deploring the superstition of languishing: "I know that my Redeemer of certain Christians, which mingles with this liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day part of our religious worship, and from repeat- upon the earth: and though after my skin ing one of the advices which I suggested at the worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall opening of this discourse. Make not the suc- I see God; whom I shall see for myself, and cess of your communion to depend on certain mine eyes shall behold, and not another," Job emotions, in which mechanism has much more xix. 25-27. Witness that holy impatience to do than piety has. It but too frequently with which he looks forward to the moment happens, that a man shall apprehend he has of his dismission: "I have waited for thy salcommunicated worthily, or unworthily, in pro-vation, O God," Gen. xlix. 18. “Come, Lord portion as he has carried to a less or greater Jesus, come quickly," Rev. xxii. 20. Witness degree the art of moving the senses, and of those songs of triumph, amidst the very sharpheating the imagination, while he partakes of est of the conflict: "Thanks be unto God, the Lord's Supper. The touchstone by which which always causeth us to triumph in Christ,' we ought to judge whether we brought to the 2 Cor. ii. 14. "Blessed be the Lord, my Lord's table the dispositions which he requires, strength, which teacheth my hands to war, and is the sincerity with which we have renewed my fingers to fight," Ps. cxliv. 1. our baptismal engagements, and the exertions which we shall afterward make punctually to fulfil them.
Witness, once more, those tender, those instructive, those edifying conversations which take place between the dying Christian and his pastor. The pastor addresses to the dying person these words on the part of God: "Seek my face;" and the dying believer replies, "Thy face, Lord, will I seek," Ps. xxvii. 8. The pastor says, "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon thee," 1 John iii. 1, and the dying person replies; "the love of God is shed abroad in my heart, by the Holy Ghost which is given unto me," Rom. v. 5. The pastor says, "Seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God:" the dying person replies, “1 have a desire to depart and to be with Christ," Phil. i. 23. "My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?" Ps. xlii. 2. The pastor says, Run with patience the race that is set before thee, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of thy faith," Heb. xii. 1, 2. The dying believer replies, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown against that day," 2 Tim. i. 12. "I know whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have com
5. But it is particularly when the believer is grappling with the king of terrors, that he ex-mitted unto him against that day," 2 Tim. iv. periences those communications of divine grace, 7, 8. "Behold, I see the heavens opened, and which transport him into another world, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of which verify, in the most sublime of all senses, God," Acts vii. 56. the idea which the apostle conveys to us of it, in the words of the text. Witness that patience and submission under sufferings the most acute, and that entire acquiescence in the sovereign will of God: "I was dumb, I opened not my mouth; because thou didst it," Ps. xxxix. 9. Witness that supernatural detachment from the world, which enables him to resign, without murmuring, and without reserve, all that he was most tenderly united to:
Such are the wonders which the grace of God displays, in favour of those who are in earnest to obtain it, and give themselves up to its direction. And such are the treasures, unhappy worldlings, which you are sacrificing to a transient world, and its lying vanities. Such is the felicity which you experience, which you have already experienced in part, happy, happy Christians, whose condition is so far preferable to that of all the rest of mankind.
It is true, nevertheless, that a participation of the sacrament of the supper is one of the situations in which a believer most frequently experiences those gracious operations of which our apostle is speaking in the text. A soul, whose undivided attention the Holy Spirit fixes on the mystery of the cross; and on whom he is pleased to impress, in a lively manner, the great events which the symbolical representation in the Eucharist retraces on the heart; a soul, which, through grace, loses itself in the abyss of that love which God has manifested towards us in Jesus Christ; a soul which has learned to infer, from what God has already done, what is still farther to be expected from him; a soul, which feels, and, if I may use the expression, which relishes the conclusiveness" of this reasoning, "He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not, with him, also, freely give us all things?" Rom. viii. 32. Is not a soul in such a state, already "quickened, already raised up, already seated in heavenly places, together with Christ Jesus?"
What now remains for me to do, after hav- took delight in disclosing the most secret emoing employed my feeble efforts to draw you tions of my soul: and if it were still possible to God, by attractions so powerful: what re- for any thing to call me back, now that my mains, but to address my most fervent prayers God is calling me away, it would be the into him, and to entreat that he would be pleased clination I feel, to prolong the happy days to make known those pure and exalted de- which we have passed together. But though lights, to those who are, as yet, utter strangers the bands which unite us are close and ento them; and that he may, powerfully confirm, deared, they must not be everlasting. It was even unto the end, those to whom he has al- in the order of human things, either that you ready graciously communicated them. With should be called to close my eyes, or that I should this we shall conclude the solemn business of a be called to close yours. Providence is now deday of sacred rest. We are going, once more, claring the supreme command, that I should to lift up to heaven, in your behalf, hands pu- travel before you, the way of all the earth: it rified in the blood of the Redeemer of man- was my wish, before I undergo the irreversible kind. Come, my beloved brethren, support decree, once more to behold the persons whom these hands, should they wax heavy: perform I have ever borne on my heart, to call to refor us the service which Aaron and Hur ren-membrance the sweet counsel which we have taken together, the connexions which we have formed: and thus too it is, that I would take leave of the world. After having given away, for a moment, to the expansions of my love for you, I rise above all the objects of sense; I am swallowed up of the thoughts which ought to employ the soul of a dying person, and I hasten to submit to the will of the Sovereign Disposer of life and death."
Jesus Christ, in the institution of this holy ordinance, is doing somewhat similar to the representation now given. His disciples were undoubtedly his most powerful attachment to the earth. The kind of death which he was about to suffer, demanded the undivided attention of his mind: but before he plunges into that vast ocean of thought which was to carry him through the sharp conflicts prepared for him, he wishes to behold again, at his table, those tender objects of his affection: "With desire," says he to them, "I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer," Luke xxii. 15. Had I not good reason for expressing myself as I did? Though this spectacle did not directly interest ourselves, it would be highly worthy, considered in itself, of detaining our eyes, and of fixing our attention.
dered to Moses, as we are attempting to render the service of a Moses unto you. Assist us in moving the bowels of the God of mercy.And graciously vouchsafe, blessed Jesus, who, on the memorable day, of which we are now celebrating the anniversary, wert" made higher than the heavens; set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens;" and who presentest unto God, in "a golden censer, the prayers of all saints:" vouchsafe, blessed Jesus, to give energy to those which we are about to put up, and to support them by thy all-powerful intercession. Amen.
FOR A COMMUNION SABBATH.
MALACHI i. 6, 7.
A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a father, where is mine honour? and if I be a master, where is my fear? saith the Lord of Hosts unto you, O priests, that despise my name. And ye say, Wherein have we despised thy name? Ye offer polluted bread upon mine altar; and ye say, Wherein have we polluted thee? In that ye say, The lable of the Lord is contemptible.
But what closeness of attention, what concentration of thought does it not require of us, if we consider it in the great and comprehensive views, which animated the Saviour of the world, when he instituted the sacrament of the supper! Behold him prepared, that divine Saviour, to finish the great work, which heaven has given him to do. He comes to substitute himself in the room of those victims, whose blood, too worthless, could do nothing towards the purification of guilty man. He comes to fulfil that mysterious prediction: "Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire, mine ears hast thou opened; Lo, Í come; in the volume of the book it is written of me; I delight to do thy will, O my God; yea, thy law is within my heart," Ps. xl. 6-8. He comes to deliver up himself to that death, the very approaches of which inspire the soul with horror, and constrain him to cry out,
What an object, my brethren, what a heartaffecting object does that man present, who," Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I beholding himself on the point of being re- say?" John xii. 27. "My soul is exceeding moved from all those to whom he was most sorrowful, even unto death," Matt. xxvi. 36. tenderly united, desires to see them all assembled together for the last time, and, when assembled, addresses them in terms such as these: "It was to you, whose much loved society constituted the joy of my life, it was to you I
THOUGH the spectacle, which the solemnity of this day calls to our recollection, did not directly interest ourselves, it would, nevertheless, be altogether worthy, separately considered, of detaining our eyes, and of fixing our attention. Men have sometimes appeared, who, finding their last moments approaching, collected their family, summoned up their remaining strength, expressed a wish, in a repast of love and benevolence, to take a last, a long farewell of the persons who were most dear to them, and to break asunder, by that concluding act of social attachment, all the remains of that human affection which tied them down to the world.
What shall he do to support himself in the prospect of such tremendous arrangements? What buckler shall he oppose to those envenomed arrows, with which he is going to be transfixed? Love, my brethren, formed the ge
nerous design of the sacrifice which he is ready to offer up; and love will carry him through the arduous undertaking. He says to himself, that the memory of this death which he is going to endure, shall be perpetuated in the churches, even unto the end of the world; that, even to the end of the world, he shall be the refuge of poor perishing sinners. He says to himself, that through the whole world of believers, whom the preaching of the gospel is going to subdue to his love and obedience, this death shall be celebrated. He himself institutes the memorial of it, and taking that bread and that wine, the august symbols of his body broken, and of his blood shed, he gives them to his disciples; he says to them, and, in their person, to all those who shall believe in him through their word, "Take, eat, this is my body; this is my blood of the New Testament, Drink ye all of it," Matt. xxvi. 26-28. "This do in remembrance of me: For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till he come," 1 Cor. xi. 24-26.
O shame to human nature! O the weakness, shall I call it? or the hardness of the human heart! And must it needs be; must the sweet composure of this holy exercise, be this day marred, by the cruel apprehension, that some among you may be in danger of profaning it, while they celebrate it? Must it be, that in inviting you to that sacred table, we should be checked by the humiliating reflection, that some new Judas may be coming there to receive the sentence of his condemnation? It is in the view of doing our utmost, to prevent the commission of a crime so foul, and a calamity so dreadful, that we wish, previously to our distributing unto you the bread and the wine which sovereign wisdom has prepared for you, to engage you in deep and serious reflection on the words which have been read. You will be abundantly sensible how well they are adapted to my purpose, when you shall have placed yourselves, in thought, in the circumstances wherein the Jews were placed, at the time they were addressed to them. With this I open my subject.
The prophet Malachi, whose voice God is here employing on a message to his people, lived a few years after the return from the captivity. He succeeded Haggai and Zechariah. These two prophets had been raised up, chiefly for the purpose of stimulating the Jews to undertake the rebuilding of the temple. Malachi was specially destined to urge them to render unto God, in that magnificent edifice, a worship suitable to the majesty of him to whose service it was consecrated. The same difficulties, which the two first of those holy men had to encounter in the discharge of their ministry, he encountered in the exercise of his. What desire more ardent could animate men, who had lived threescore and ten years without a temple, without altars, without sacrifices, without a public worship, than that of beholding in the midst of them, those gracious signs of the divine presence? This was, however, by no means the object of general ambition and pursuit. They looked to the rearing and embellishing of their own houses, and left to God the care of building that which belonged to him.
We find traces of this shameful history, in the prophecies of the two first whom we named, particularly in those of Haggai. There we have displayed, the excuses made by that wretched people, to serve as a colour to their criminal negligence: "Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, This people say, The time is not come, the time that the Lord's house should be built," chap. i. 2. We have a censure of this spirit and conduct, proportioned to their enormity, in ver. 4, "Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your ceiled houses, and this house lie waste?" But, what is still more awful, we behold the tremendous judgments, by which God avenged himself of guilt so atrocious, in ver. 9-11. "Ye looked for much, and, lo, it came to little; and when ye brought it home I did blow upon it. Why? saith the Lord of hosts. Because of mine house that is waste, and ye run every man unto his own house. Therefore the heaven over you is stayed from dew, and the earth is stayed from her fruit. And I called for a drought upon the land, and upon the mountains, and upon the corn, and upon the new wine, and upon the oil, and upon that which the ground bringeth forth, and upon men, and upon cattle, and upon all the labour of the hands."
How awfully respectable is a preacher, my brethren, when the indignation of Heaven seconds his voice! When the pestilence, mortality, famine, add weight to the threatenings which he denounced! Haggai, supported by this all-powerful aid, at length attained the object of his ministry. The Jews did that from constraint which they ought to have done from a principle of piety and zeal: you might now see them labouring with emulous fervour, to raise the august edifice, and the temple arose out of its ruins.
But scarcely was the house of the Lord rebuilt, when they profaned the sanctity of the place, and violated the laws which were there to be observed. The observation of those laws was burdensome. It required not only great mental application, but was likewise attended with very considerable expense. The avarice of their sordid spirits made them consider every thing which they dedicated to such purposes, as next to lost. They durst not, at the same time, venture entirely to shake off the yoke of religion. They did what men generally do, when the laws of God clash with their inclinations: they neither yielded complete submission, nor dared to avow open rebellion. They attempted to reconcile the dictates of their own passions with the commands of heaven. To comply with the commands of heaven, they presented offerings; but to gratify the cravings of passion, they presented offerings of little value.
This idea of the circumstances in which the Jews were at the time when our prophet flourished, is one of the best keys for disclosing the real sense of the words of the text. If it unfolds not to us the whole extent of its signification, it furnishes at least a good general explication. Malachi severely censures the priests of his day, that called, as they were, to maintain good order in the church, they calmly overlooked, or avowedly countenanced the open violation of it. He reproaches them for
this misconduct, by the example of what a son owes to his father, and a servant to his master. He employs this image, because the priests were, in an appropriate sense, considered as belonging unto God; in conformity to what God himself says in chap. viii. of the book of Numbers: "Thou shalt separate the Levites from among the children of Israel: and the Levites shall be mine: . . . . for they are wholly given unto me, from among the children of Israel. . . . instead of the first-born of all the children of Israel, have I taken them unto me:
. on the day that I smote every first-born in the land of Egypt, I sanctified them for myself." It is to you, O ye priests, says he to them, that I address myself; " A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a father, where is mine honour? and if I be a master, where is my fear? saith the Lord of hosts unto you, O priests, that despise my name. And ye say, wherein have we despised thy name? Ye offer polluted bread upon mine altar; and ye say, wherein have we polluted thee? In that ye say, the table of the Lord is contemptible."
If any difficulty still remain, respecting the general sense of the passage, it can be of no considerable importance, as it prevents not our discerning the principal aim and design of the Holy Spirit. It is not perhaps easy, I admit, to determine with exact precision, what we are to understand by "the table of the Lord," by that contempt which was expressed for it, and by the "polluted bread" which those unworthy ministers offered upon it. There are two opinions on this subject, but which both issue in the idea we have suggested to you, of our prophet's sentiment.
It is the opinion of some commentators, that by the table, of which Malachi speaks, is to be understood the table which corresponded to that placed by Moses, by the command of God, in the part of the tabernacle denominated the "holy place." The law enjoined that there should always be upon that table twelve loaves, or cakes, which we denominate the "show-bread," otherwise called "the bread of faces," not because these cakes were moulded into several sides, or raised into small protuberances, according to the opinion of certain Jewish doctors, but because they were continually exposed in the presence of Jehovah, who was considered as residing in the holy place. The law which enjoined the offering of them, had likewise prescribed the rites which were to be observed in presenting that offering. They were to be placed on the holy table, to the number of twelve: they were to be composed of fine flour kneaded into a paste: each cake was to contain an omer of flour. The Jews tell us, that it must have passed eleven times through the searse; and if St. Jerome is to be, credited, it belonged to the priests to sow, to reap, and to grind the corn, of which the cakes were made, and to knead the dough. Whatever may be the truth as to some of these particulars, to treat the table of the Lord as comtemptible, to offer unto God “polluted bread,"
is, conformably to the sentiment which I have detailed, to violate some of the rites which were to be observed in the offering of the cakes, placed, by divine command, on the table which was in the holy place.
The generality of interpreters have adopted another opinion, which we have no difficulty in following. By "the table of the Lord," they here understand the altar of burnt-offerings. It is denominated "the table of the Lord," in some other passages of Scripture; particularly in chap. xli. of the prophecies of Ezekiel. There, after a description of the altar of burnt-offerings, it is added, "This is the table that is before the Lord," ver. 22. On this altar were offered cakes of fine flour, as we see in various passages, particularly in the first verses of chap. ii. of the book of Leviticus. These cakes are represented as if they were the bread of God. The same name was given to every thing offered to Deity on that altar. All was called "the bread of God," or "the meat of God;" for reasons which will be better understood in the sequel. I shall, at present, satisfy myself with quoting a single passage in justification of this remark. It is in chap. xxi. of the book of Leviticus, the 6th verse. Moses, after having laid down the duties of the priests, adds these words: "they shall be holy unto their God, and not profane the name of their God; for the offerings of the Lord made by fire, and the bread of their God do they offer; therefore they shall be holy." You see that in the Levitical style, they denomi nated "the meat of God," or "the bread of God," not only the cakes which were offered upon the altar, not only the loaves of the show-bread which were presented on the table in the holy place, but all the victims which were consumed by fire on the altar of burntoffering.
* See Exodus xxv. 23, &c.
+ See Mischna, tom. v. tit. de munere, cap. vi. sec. vii. p. 95. Edit. Amst.
Hieron. tom. iii. in Mal. i. 6. p. 1810. Edit. Bened.
Now, the manner in which those offerings were to be presented, had likewise been laid down with singular precision. There was a general law respecting this point, which you will find in chap. iv. of Leviticus: it enjoined that the victim should be "without blemish;" and if you wish for a more particular detail on this subject, you may farther consult chap. xxii. of the same book. There we have enumerated ten imperfections, which rendered a victim unworthy of being offered unto God. Some* place in this class, not only bodily but mental imperfections, if this last epithet may be applied to brutes. For example, they durst not have presented unto God animals of an obstinate, petulant, capricious disposition, and the like. Scruples, by the way, which the pagans themselves, and particularly the Egyptians entertained, respecting the victims which they offered to their gods. They set apart for them the choicest of the flock and of the herd. Herodotus informs us, that in Egypt, there were persons specially appointed to the office of examining the victims.
Let us no longer deviate from the principal object of our text. If by "the table of the Lord," we are to understand, as it is presumable we ought, the altar of burnt-offerings, "to
*See Bochart Hieroz, Part I. Book II. chap. 46. p. 522 † In Euterpe, cap. xxxviii. p. 104. Edit. Francof.
offer unto God polluted bread," in the style of Malachi, to say, "the table of the Lord is contemptible," is to violate some of the rites prescribed, respecting the offerings which were presented unto God upon that altar. More especially, it is to consecrate to Deity, victims which had some of the blemishes that rendered them unworthy of his acceptance.
But was it indeed, then, altogether worthy of God to enter into details so minute? But of what importance could it be to the Lord of the universe, whether the victims presented to him were fat or lean, and whether the bread consecrated to him were of wheat or of barley, of fine or of coarse flour? And though the Jews were subjected to minuteness of this kind, what interest can we have in them, we who live in ages more enlightened; we who are called to serve God only "in spirit and in truth," John iv. 24, and to render him none but a able service," Rom. xii. 1. We shall devote the remainder of the time, at present permitted to us, to the elucidation of these questions; we shall endeavour to unfold the great aim and object of our text, and apply it more particularly to the use of our hearers. For this purpose it will be necessary to institute a twofold parallel.
I. We shall institute a parallel between the altar of burnt-offerings, or the table of the show-bread, and the table of the Eucharist: and shall endeavour to unfold the mystical views of both the one and the other.
II. The second parallel shall be, between the profanation of the altar, or the table of the show-bread, and the profanation of the Christian sacramental table: we shall indicate what is implied, with respect to the Jews, and with respect to Christians, in offering to God "polluted bread," and in looking on the table of the Lord as contemptible;" and we will endeavour to make you sensible of the keenness of the reproach conveyed by the mouth of the prophet: "A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a father, where is mine honour? and if I be a master, where is my fear? saith the Lord of hosts unto you, O priests, that despise my name. And ye say, wherein have we despised thy name? Ye offer polluted bread upon mine altar; and ye say, wherein have we polluted thee? In that ye say, the table of the Lord is contemptible."
FOR A COMMUNION SABBATH.
You will be convinced that this was the destination of the altar of burnt-offerings, and of the table of the show-bread, if you have formed a just idea of the temple, and of the tabernacle. The tabernacle was considered to be the tent of God, as the Leader and Commander of Israel, and the temple was considered as his palace. For this reason it is, that when God gave commandment to construct the tabernacle, he said to Moses, "Let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell amongst them," Exod. xxi. 8. And when Solomon substituted the temple in room of the tabernacle, he was desirous of conveying the same idea of it: "I have surely built thee a house to dwell in, a settled place for thee to abide in for ever." The following are the words of a very sensible Rabbi on this subject:* "God, to whom be all glory inscribed, gave commandment to build for him a house, similar to the palaces of the kings of the earth. All these things are to be found in the palaces of kings; they are surrounded by guards; they have servants to prepare their victuals; musicians who sing to them, and play on instruments. There are likewise chambers of perfumes; a table on which their repasts are served up; a closet into which favourites only are admitted. It was the will of God, that all these things should be found in his house, that in nothing he might yield to the potentates of the earth." And all these things are designed to make the people know, that our King, the Lord of hosts, is in the midst of us."
This general idea of the tabernacle justifies that which we are going to give of the altar of burnt-offerings, and of the table of the showbread.
1. That of the altar of burnt-offering: it was denominated "the table of the Lord," and the mas-viands served upon it were denominated "the meat" or "the bread of Jehovah," because the end of the sacrifices there offered up by his command, was to intimate, that he maintained with his people an intercourse as familiar as that of two friends, who eat together at the same table. This is the most ancient, and the most usual idea of sacrifice. When alliances
MALACHI i. 6, 7.
A son honoureth his father, and a servant his
and shown what we are to understand by "polluted bread," by "the table of the Lord," and by calling "the table of the Lord contemptible," we proceed to institute the twofold parallel proposed.
HAVING endeavoured to remove the difficulties in which the text may seem to be involved, VOL. II.-25
I. Let us state a parallel between the altar of burnt-offerings, the table of the show-bread, and the sacramental table of the Lord's Supper; the offerings which were presented to God on the first, and those which we still present to him on the second. The sacramental table of the supper, as the altar of burnt-offerings, and as the table of the show-bread, is "the table of the Lord." The viands, presented on both the one and the other, are, "the meat of God," or "the bread of God." And those sacred ceremonies, however they may differ as to certain circumstances, have been, nevertheless, destined to the same end, and represent the same mysteries: namely, the intimate union which God wishes to maintain with his church and people.
Rabbi Schem Job Comment. in Mere Nevoch. Part III. cap. xliv. fol. 171. Venet. 5211.