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Dr. Robert Hawker
Union and Communion with Christ
THE KING SITTING WITH HIS GUESTS AT HIS TABLE
It was blessedly said by the church of old, at a time when grace and faith were in lively exercise, and the church conscious of her Lord’s presence, “While the King (said she) sitteth at his table, my spikenard sendeth forth the smell thereof.” And such must always be the case when Jesus comes to feast his redeemed. If the spikenard of Mary filled the entire house with the odor, when she only anointed the feet of Jesus; what everlasting perfume must be the fragrance of Christ’s person and blood-shedding to fill heaven and earth, when “he offered himself an offering and a sacrifice to God, for a sweet smelling savor?”
Reader! look, I pray you, and figure to yourself; by faith, the lovely table of the Lord Jesus spread with the emblems of Christ’s body and blood. See Jesus sitting at the head of his own table, encircled with a company of his own redeemed ones, and about to minister to them the sacred tokens of his dying love. Look at the humble guests. They are, indeed, wretchedly poor and miserable in themselves, but everyone clothed in the wedding garment of their Lord’s righteousness, and wearing the robe of his salvation. All with eyes and hearts fixed on Jesus, and all calling to him in the language of the church, saying, “Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat of his pleasant fruits.” And the Son of God is heard, by the ear of faith, answering, “I am come into my garden, my sister, my spouse. I have gathered my myrrh with my spice. I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey. I have drunk my wide with my milk. Eat, O friends; drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved.” (Song, 4:16-5:1).
And what are the royal dainties at this princely banquet? Doubtless Christ himself. He is the whole sum and substance of the feast. “His flesh is meat indeed, and his blood drink indeed.” The holy Supper, in the one great design of it, is to commemorate the death of Christ. As in the one great sacrifice when he offered himself, and by that “one offering he perfected for ever them that are sanctified;” so the commemoration in the Supper hath this one great object in view. We look to Jesus in all, and through all. He is our Altar, our Sacrifice, our High Priest. “‘For as oft as we eat this bread, and drink this cup, we do show forth the Lord’s death till he come.”
But while this view of Christ our Passover is the one great object and design of this institution, it is our mercy and our happiness, under grace, to behold all the vast concerns connected with it. The redemption which we here commemorate is the redemption of Christ’s people as his people. They were his people before that he redeemed them. They had relationship to Jesus before sin, before the fall; yea, before the foundation of the world. And Jesus redeemed them because they were his. God the Father chose them in Christ, gave them to Christ, adopted them as children by Christ, and accepted them in Christ from everlasting. And hence in the holy Supper, while setting forth redemption by Christ’s blood, the forgiveness of all our sins, according to the riches of his grace, we set forth also thereby the love of God the Father, the grace of God the Son, and the fellowship of God the Holy Ghost.
Reader, pause and contemplate the blissful subject, under all these gracious views, as you draw nigh the Lord’s Supper. And while you behold the King sitting, at his table, call to mind that the very purpose for which he is there, and for which you are invited to sit down with him there, is to those purposes, and that “be waits to be gracious.” He is come indeed as a King with all sovereignty of grace and power. But he is no less come with all tenderness as a Friend, and as a Brother. His whole heart is his people’s. And the sole design of ordinances, is to lead his redeemed into the most tender and endearing acquaintance with himself. When John, the beloved apostle, saw the Lord Jesus in vision after his return to glory, he tells the church, that he saw him clothed “in a vesture dipped in blood.” As if the Son of God meant thereby to say, ‘See I wear these vestments, purposely that you may never lose sight of my everlasting love to my church and people; and the everlasting efficacy of my blood and righteousness.’ So that none of his little ones need to despond or fear, as if Jesus would overlook a single soul of his redeemed family. They shall all have their own personal and distinct portion. Some indeed will enjoy more; some less; according to the state and degree of faith, at the time, in exercise in their heart. Some, like Mary, will lie low at the feet of Jesus; others, like Lazarus, will sit at the table with him. But notwithstanding these distinctions, all have an equal share in the love of his heart; for all are alike redeemed with one, and the same price of his own blood. And though it be no doubt a matter of high favor, from the strength of faith given to some more than to others, thereby to have the first glimpse of Jesus, at his table, or the first look from Jesus giving the sacred love-tokens to them with his own hand; yet every, child of God, effectually called by grace, is made an equal partaker of the divine nature, “having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” It is blessed, yea, truly blessed, to feel the heart burning within, while Jesus is talking with us by the way, while opening to us the scriptures, and making himself known unto us in breaking of bread and of prayer. Nevertheless, all the redeemed are alike the object and subject of his love; and as highly interested in all that belongs to Jesus, as those who are favored with more open revelations of him. For it is not what his people feel, but what Christ is, which forms the standard of the soul’s acceptance with God.
The limits of a Tract will not allow the entering into all the particulars which may be supposed to form the substance of communion between Jesus and his guests at his table. But a few of the more striking, as constituting the general privileges of the whole family, it may not be unprofitable to glance at.
And first, The groundwork and foundation for every other, ariseth out of that personal knowledge and interest Jesus hath in all his family. “The Lord knoweth them that are his.” This, like a golden chain which begins at the first link, in the opening of the Old Testament, in marking the Lord’s people, runs regularly through the whole line of grace through the New, and may be traced in the instance of every character. Hence we read “that Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” And the next account of him is, that “he became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.” Hence “Moses found grace in the sight of the Lord.” And the Lord added, “I know thee by name.” Hence the Virgin Mary is said, “to have found favor with the Lord.” And the consequence was, “she was blessed among women.” And in all these, and a thousand other instances, the thing is personal. Not their gifts, not their graces; not what they have done, or what they can do, or have attained, but what they are in the Lord’s view. “Thou hast found grace (saith God) in my sight.” Hence at the table, and indeed at any and every other ordinance, all the blessings given, all the love-tokens imparted—these are effects from the first and predisposing cause: “Thou hast found grace in my sight, and I know thee by name.” This is the sole cause. Reader, pause over the contemplation. If in this birthright, we go to the Lord’s Table, we shall never go in vain. We go as children; the chosen, the people of the Lord’s inheritance. “This people (saith the Lord) I have formed for myself, they shall show forth my praise.” It is a blessed thing, when a child of God can truly say, “The Lord is my portion.” But it is a far higher note of joy, when the Lord saith, we are his if I am his, very sure it must follow, the Lord is mine. For my being his, is the cause. And the Lord’s being mine will be the effect. Oh, who shall calculate or sum up the blessedness of the Lord’s personal choice of his people! Let that soul who is taught of God, and in whose spirit the Holy Ghost witnesseth that he is a child of God, let him value if he can those precious words, with which the Lord comforts every individual of his church: “But now thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and be that formed thee, O Israel; Fear not, for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine!” And hence all the sweet promises which follow. I beg the reader to turn to them (Isa. 43:1-7).
, Next to the grace manifested to the persons of the Lord’s people as the foundation of all mercy towards them; we go on to contemplate the comprehensive knowledge the Lord hath of all that belongs to them; and the interest he takes in all that concerns them. Here opens an immense subject; which runs through all the departments in nature, providence, grace, and glory. With what holy rapture and delight must the child of God go to the table of God, while conscious that he goes there as a child of God to receive the suited supply to every want, and to answer his every necessity. He that hath chosen the persons of his people hath chosen also the state and circumstances of his people. It is he that hath made them what they area He it is which first gave them being in Christ; and at the same time arranged all the purposes for their wellbeing in Christ; and so ordered, that everything should subserve and minister to the divine glory and their happiness. So that the renewed soul at the Lord’s table, conscious that the Lord’s grace is to his person, and the Lord’s knowledge to all his wants, and that Jesus is at the bead of the table to supply, feels a confidence to unbosom himself to the Lord, as one that hath interest with the great Master of the feast. He will say, ‘My God knows my person, and I have found grace in his sight. He knows also everything that concerns me, and what will best suit his own glory and my happiness. How can I do otherwise than speed well, while Jesus is at the head of his table. His words are, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly,”’ (John 10:10). Oh! how very sweet and soul-satisfying would he all ordinances, and especially the Supper of the Lord, if all the Lord’s redeemed which go there were enabled, under the influences of the Holy Ghost, always to have in view the choice that the Lord from everlasting hath had to the persons of his people; and, consequently, the comprehensive knowledge he hath to all that concerns them.
But thirdly, While these sweet and precious views should be everlastingly uppermost in the heart, and never upon any occasion, either at the Lord’s table, or elsewhere, lost sight of, it would much tend, under grace, to keep the child of God in a stayed state upon the Lord, when forming just conclusions of the Lord’s love by the standard of the Lord’s grace, and not by the Lord’s gifts. As the right apprehension of this point is in my esteem of vast importance, I beg to state it somewhat more particularly: and I pray the Lord to bless it to the Reader.
It is the grossest of all mistakes, to calculate the Lord’s grace by the Lord’s gifts; or to estimate the favor in which we stand to the Lord by what we receive, instead of drawing conclusions from what Jesus is. It is not the largeness of Jesus’ gifts by which we form a judgment of his favor towards us, but from the largeness of the love of his heart towards us. Even among men, we do not make it the standard by what men do, but by what they mean. A wise and prudent father may dearly love his child, and yet be very sparing in his gifts. Nay he may withhold them rather from the greatness of his love, lest too much bounty might injure him. Now it is said of our God and Father that “he hath abounded towards us in all wisdom and prudence.” We cannot estimate his love by his gifts; since his withholding may be the fruit of love. But if be hath said, “know thee by name, and thou hast found grace in my sight” —all that follows, is the result of this first affection. Nothing can go higher. In heaven itself, it is not the holiness of the church, neither the worship of the church, which forms any part cause of their acceptance. That the church hath found grace in the Lord’s sight is the sole cause of the church’s glory. And that the church is beheld holy is in the holiness of Jesus; and all her acceptance is in the Beloved. And one look of the Lord upon Jesus and the church in Jesus is beyond all blessedness in all the attainments of heaven.
If I were to detain the Reader with a short observation more, it should be to say, that the Supper of the Lord, which opens sweet communion with Jesus at his table, brings with it also the heartfelt enjoyment of the favor, love, and personal communion through Jesus, with all the Persons of the Godhead. The death of Christ, the great subject kept in view at the table of the Lord, becomes truly blessed, not only in being a complete and adequate remedy for sin; but also in being so from God’s own appointment. One of the most delightful parts in the sacrifice of Christ’s death is that it is of God. It is God which hath set forth Christ, “as a propitiation through faith in his blood.” And every child of God, who hath found grace in God’s sight, hath found also that the pleading this, at the mercy seat, is a most blessed and successful way of beginning, and maintaining communion with God in Christ. So that at the table of the Lord, having found grace in his sight, we enter into a most blessed, and soul-satisfying apprehension of redemption by Jesus, in the appointment and covenant love of God the Father, and the quickening, renewing, and sealing grace of God the Holy Ghost. The blessed Spirit thus witnessing with our spirits, that we, are the children of God.
Reader! Do these views of the Lord’s Supper correspond with yours? Is it indeed with such gracious apprehensions that we both go to the feast? Do we behold the King sitting at his table; and have we received, and do receive from his royal hand, all the blessings for which he comes to feast his people? Let us then, before we arise from the mercy-seat, and leave the Lord’s table to return to our own, thank the great Master of the feast, for all the love-tokens of his favor, and beg him to go with us to our respective habitations, and be our rest.
Blessing, and honor, and power, and glory, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb that was slain, forever and ever I Surely our God is gracious in having instituted such a feast for the setting forth of his love. I have tasted, I do taste, that the Lord is gracious, and that his mercy endureth forever. Oh! what a miracle of love is the whole purpose of God, concerning his church and people! Chosen of God to be holy; then fallen by sin, then redeemed by blood, yea, the blood of the Son of God; then regenerated by the Spirit, and now feasted upon the body and blood of Christ. And ere long to sit down in the kingdom of glory, to feast my ravished soul in the unceasing enjoyment of God and the Lamb for evermore. Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift!
But Lord, before I depart, let me drop one petition for thy Zion, and that part of thy church more especially with whom I am here partaking of thy bounties. Lord, answer every cry of thy children. Give out largely to the supply of their wants. Suffer none, no, not one of thine, to go empty away, but let thy poor, and thy needy, give praise to thy name. Surely Jesus is constrained to bless his own. He will not hide himself from his own flesh. If thou, dearest Lord, wert to withhold thy bounties, thou wouldest not be more full. And if Jesus were to give out ever so largely, Jesus cannot be diminished! Lord, pronounce a blessing upon every one, and let all the people say, Amen. The good Lord pardon all the unworthiness of his people, and give the whole congregation grace to bless the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, Israel’s God in Covenant, now and forever. Amen.
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