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Dr. Robert Hawker

Dr. Robert Hawker
(1753-1827)


Union and Communion with Christ


THE KING COMING IN TO SEE THE GUESTS AT HIS TABLE.

“And the wedding was furnished with guests.” Yes! So we read concerning the gospel least, in the days of Christ’s flesh. And such is it now at the Lord’s Supper, in the day of Christ’s power!

When the Lord’s servants now, as did the Lord’s servants then, go forth to call in the spiritually poor, and maimed, and halt, and blind; there will be also numbers come with them of very different charac­ters: and who, from never having felt soul sickness, can never desire soul healing. Such have no part, nor lot in the matter. It is in this present hour, in the calling of the church out of the spiritual Egypt of sin, as it was of old in the bringing up the church out of the natural Egypt of the world: a mixed mul­titude went up with them, whose carcasses fell in the wilderness. And thus hath it always been, and must always be, while the church is dwelling in this world, and the pure seed groweth up among the tares. What the Lord Jesus once said on this subject must hold everlastingly true: “For many are called, but few chosen.” The gospel, like the public bell of the church, is calling in the children of the kingdom to their feast. But, while this is doing, others uncalled will thrust themselves in with them. But here is dis­coverable the distinction. The truly called are said to be “the called according to God’s purpose. For whom he did predestinate, them he also called,” (Rom. 8:28, 30). Hence the church sings her hymn, to the divine praise, for this grace. “Who hath saved us and called us with an holy calling: not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,” (2 Tim. 1:9). Whereas the un­called hear only the voice and neither know the want of grace, nor can sing of salvation.

And what is the remedy for these things? And how shall the godly discern the ungodly? The an­swer is: it is not their province upon all occasions. And though holy men lament it, yet the Lord, who appoints things as they are, and are training his chil­dren in this school, makes them thereby exercise the greater jealousy over their own hearts concerning it. But neither the best taught ministers nor saints can see through all coverings, so that in every case they might separate the precious from the vile. But there is One that can, whose eyes are as a flame of fire, and who saith, “All the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts,” (Rev. 2:18, 23). And when he cometh in to see the guests at his table he doth all this; for “all things are naked and open unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do,” (Heb. 4:13).

In the mean time let the child of God take this with him as a sure mark of comfort. Every truly invited guest at the Lord’s Table covets above all things the Lord’s presence. He waits with holy joy for the Lord’s coming in to see the guests at his table, and to feast with them. For what would the table, or the things upon the table, be without Christ? The language of his heart is, what think ye? Will not Jesus come to the feast? Oh, yes! Jesus must come, he is engaged to come, he is constrained to come. For Jesus knows that it is a day of want to his people. And, therefore, he hath bidden them to come boldly to the throne of grace, that “they may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” And Jesus knows that it is a day of trouble, and he hath said, “I will be with thee in trouble.” So that the Lord is sure to be there. And as to the Lord’s examination of his guests, it is none but graceless, unawakened, unregenerated souls which shrink from Jesus’ enquiry. The child of God longs for the Lord’s coming that he may be tried. He desires to be sifted to the uttermost, as a poor needy creature, depending wholly upon Christ. He tries himself. He begs every child of God that he meets with to try him. And lest creatures may overlook his sins and corruptions, be looks to the Lord to try him. His language is, “Try me, O God, prove me, search my thoughts, see if there he any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting,” (Ps. 139:23-24).

Let us figure to ourselves what one of the para­bles of Jesus saith “The wedding was furnished with guests.” And now what follows? “When the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on the wedding garment; and he said unto him, Friend, how earnest thou in hither, not having a wedding garment? And he was speech­less,” (Matt. 22:11-12). It should seem to have been the custom in Eastern countries, at their wed­dings, to provide the guests with wedding garments. And it is possible that this man had refused it, being better pleased with his own. But whether this was the cause or not, certain it is that if this parable be considered in allusion to the Lord’s marriage with our nature, every soul united to Christ is clothed with the robe of Christ’s righteousness. And as the holy Supper, which Jesus hath instituted, is intended to represent, both our union with Christ and our re­demption by Christ; the wedding garment which is provided for all the guests, is worn by all the guests; and that soul which is not clothed with it, however he thrusted himself in to the table, was never invited there, and will be thrust out, when the Lord comes in to see the guests at the table; and like this man, being Christless, he is speechless. Very sweet and precious is the holy Supper thus considered, as an emblem of union with Christ, and redemption by Christ. And the Lord which makes the feast makes every provision for the feast. He is himself both the meat and the drink, both garment and covering: Hence every redeemed soul sings, “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God. For he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness: as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels,” (Isa. 61:10).

The man without a wedding garment is the repre­sentative of all; be they many or be they few who are found in the day of the King’s coming in to see the guests at his table, as well as in the day of every other enquiry, and especially the great day of God, without the garment of Christ’s righteousness. And I pray the reader to observe, it is not said, that this man had no garment; for no doubt he had one: but then it was his own; one of his own providing; probably such as many men wear now—the tattered garment of their own: the Pharisee garment— “God I thank thee that I am not as other men are!” A motley garment made up of law and gospel; partly a man’s own merit, and partly the merit of Christ. Oh, what multitudes clothe themselves in this covering! (Isa. 30:1). They deal with God in, and through Christ, as a procuring cause only for acceptance; but then it is their own prayers, their faith, their repentance, obedience, and the like, to which they look for the obtaining of God’s favor. They suppose that God will accept, as they call it, their sincere and best good deeds for Christ’s sake; and therefore the gar­ment they appear in before God, is this motley gar­ment of their own.

As the clear apprehension of this doctrine is of the utmost importance, both for our appearance be­fore the Lord at his table, and every other ordinance of worship now; as well as when the King comes in finally and fully, to separate the precious from the vile; I would beg the reader to attend to the proper distinction of the subject yet a little more particu­larly. If he would desire to avoid the awful state of the man as described in the parable, it would be wise to seek for grace to avoid his conduct: for the man that is Christless now cannot but be speechless then.

That the righteousness of Christ, and his righteous­ness only, is the wedding garment of the Lord’s peo­ple is evident from the smallest consideration. Look at every other, and observe what a flimsy covering all must make.

Suppose a man were to go in a covering of his own good works. What is a man’s own good works? What are alms deeds, and charity, and the milk of human kindness as it is called? Where did a man get these things? What hath any man which he differ­eth in from another, but what he hath first received? Who is it maketh one man poor, and another rich? For a man to go to God for acceptance because he hath been charitable, and kind, and humane, is to in­sult God with his own gifts. The Holy Ghost, by the Apostle, hath said that “Whatsoever is not of faith is sin,” (Rom. 14:23). Hence it will follow, that whatever is given in charity, without an eye to God in Christ, is not only void of merit, but, on the contrary, it is sin. So that so far are the good works, as the world calls them, in acts of almsgiving and charity, means of recommending to God, that they insult God: and the proud self-righteous per­son in this garment of ostentation, will be found naked and guilty before God. Perhaps it may be said by some, that upon this statement all the high-sounding deeds of thousands which have filled the world with their praises will come to nothing. To which I answer, No doubt they will. Yea! I go further, and say, that they will be found to originate in pride and sin. For God the Holy Ghost saith, “Whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” All the charities of life, all the gifts of men, all the pretended love to the scriptures of God, while destitute of faith in Christ, and solely given with an eye to his glory, is sin before God. Remember what the Holy Ghost saith, “Without faith it is impossible to please him,” (Heb. 11:6).

Again: Suppose a man to go in the confidence of his own righteousness, in justice and morality, and what the world calls an holy life; what are these in the sight of God? Supposing, what we know to be impossible, supposing a life of uprightness and con­scientious dealing among men; yet what recommen­dation can this bring with it in the sight of God? If thou be righteous, (saith Elihu), what givest thou him? or what receiveth he at thine hand?” (Job 35:7). My brother I pause over this thought! Sup­posing man could stand before God in such a righte­ousness as this, how would the scripture be true which declareth “the whole world to be guilty before God?” And in this case what would become of the blood-shedding and righteousness of Christ?

Once more, Neither doth the wedding garment mean the graces of the Holy Ghost in faith, repent­ance, and amendment of life. For though these are very blessed fruits of the Spirit and show the work of God to have been wrought in the renewed soul, and are highly essential as evidences of a change of heart; yet are they but fruits and evidences only, and by no means a cause, or even a party cause in the soul’s acceptance before God. Christ alone is the cause, and every part of scripture confirms the truth that we “are accepted only in the beloved.”

If it be demanded then, What is the wedding gar­ment? The word of God shows: it is the finished righteousness of our Lord Jesus Christ. A garment completely whole, and one entire covering. It is as the robe of Jesus at the cross, which was without seam woven from the top throughout. A garment never to be sullied nor worn out. A robe that can never fade. The covering of the church of God to all eternity. In which God our Father beholds all his children, and in which they now are alike beheld upon earth and in heaven. Reader! have you this garment? Is it your sole covering? It is a wedding garment. Are you married to Jesus? Is he your head, your husband, your Redeemer, Saviour, the Lord your righteousness? Lord! grant that when the King cometh in to see the guests at his table, I may be so clothed; and sure I am I shall find a gracious welcome.

Supposing then, that at the King’s coming in to see the guests at his table, the child of God is thus found, what will be the corresponding affections? This forms a very suitable enquiry; and the result of it under grace is blessed.

The cause will be discoverable in the purposes, counsel, will, and pleasure of God. And the effects will follow. In the cause we discover the original and eternal love of God the Father, the grace of the Lord Jesus, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost. And the effects wrought in the heart from this source will be as evident and plain.

If God my Father hath chosen me in Christ, adapted me in Christ, accepted me in Christ; and if Christ hath betrothed me to himself, married me to himself, and redeemed me to himself; and if the Holy Ghost hath regenerated, quickened, illuminated, called me from darkness to light, and from the power of sin and Satan unto the living God; surely all the blessed consequences must follow; and I that was once dark­ness am now light in the Lord! Is it so then; and am I thus found at his appearing, and in his king­dom? Am I acquainted with the plague of my own heart? Do I feel my own emptiness, and am I sensi­ble of Christ’s all-sufficiency? Is he the fairest and loveliest unto me, and the chiefest among ten thou­sand? Surely, if these things be so, I shall rejoice to be found at all ordinances of my Lord, and be delighted when the King comes in to see the guests at his table.

Again: If under the sense of our own nothingness and Christ’s all-sufficiency, we are looking forth with holy joy to our Lord’s coming, that when he comes in to see the guests we may sup with him and he with us; this will give another sweet evidence of our pre­paredness for his coining. It is our completeness in him that is our joy, and not our own attainments by him. It is blessed, indeed, when we can say the Lord is our portion; but far- more blessed to know that we are his. For his right in us is the cause. Ours in him, the effect. Here, as in the case of love, it must be said, “if we love him, it is because he first loved us.”

Reader! what saith your soul’s experience to these things? Are these your tokens? Do you thus know Christ? Are you thus adorned with the wedding garment, that when the King comes to see the guests at his table, you may have confidence and not be ashamed before him at his coming? If so found, and so graciously prepared by God the Holy Ghost, I venture to believe that your whole soul will go forth to meet him; and in somewhat of divine breathings like what follows, if awakened by grace, you will pour out your heart before him:

PRAYER.

Great Master of the feast! Precious Lord Jesus! by every great and glorious name, and by every ten­der and endearing name would my soul call upon thee, and welcome my Lord at his own table! Lord! I pray thee come in and see thy guests at thy table. Thou art thyself all the feast. Thou art the Sacri­fice, the Sacrificer, and the Altar of thine offering. For by that one offering of thyself once offered, thou hast perfected forever them that are sanctified. Behold, Lord! thy redeemed, thy children, thy people, here met at thine invitation to be fed by thy bounty, and to commemorate the sweet memorial of thy death. Lord! be thou with us in every part of the feast.

Surely, God our Father hath drawn us here, for Jesus himself hath said, that none can come unto him except the Father, which hath sent Jesus, draw him. Surely, God the Spirit hath inclined our souls to come here; for it is he that hath put an hungering and thirsting in our souls after Jesus, and which none but Jesus himself can satisfy. And, surely, God the Son hath invited, us here; for Jesus did promise that when he was lifted up he would draw all to him! O precious testimonies of a precious covenant God in Christ. Here then we are come; and may the Lord give all his people a gracious welcome!

And is Jesus the King come in to see the guests at his table? Surely, then we shall have a blessed time of it! Lord! behold we are thine! Are we not all clothed in thy wedding garment? Sit down, dearest Lord! at the head of thine own table. Break to us the bounties which thou thyself hast spread. And, oh! that every guest among the poor, and hungry, redeemed of thy family, may hear for himself those blessed words, and feel the sweetness of them to his soul, in the Lord’s own invitation: “Eat, O friends; drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved.” Amen.

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