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Dr. Robert Hawker
Union and Communion with Christ
THE WELCOME GUEST AT THE LORD’S TABLE.
It is the Lord’s Day, (I said to myself when first opening my eyes from sleep in the dawn of the morning), it is the Lord’s Day, and Jesus holds a feast at his table. Generous Saviour! not only art thou calling the sinful dying inhabitants of this lower world to the precious ordinances of grace in thine house of prayer; but thou art spreading thy Table with the blessed emblems of thy body and blood, and inviting the wretched and the needy to sit down with thee, and freely partake of them!
I read in scripture, that Ahasuerus, who reigned from India to Ethiopia, over an hundred and seven and twenty provinces, made a great feast to his high captains and lords. Jesus also, whose dominion is “from sea to sea and from the river even to the ends of the earth,” holds a feast. But the banquet of the Redeemer differs widely from that of the Persian Prince. For while the earthly Monarch invited none but the great, and the rich, and the noble of his kingdom; the heavenly Sovereign, sends out into the highways and lanes of the city, to call in the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind. Dearest Lord! it is to my soul one of thy most precious characters, that thou “receivest sinners and eatest with them.”
But let me pause: how know I that I am among the number invited? Let me look again at the invitation. Jesus saith, “If any man thirst, let him come to me and drink.” Observe, my soul, the expression. If any man! Jesus doth not say, If any good man, any worthy or deserving man; but if any man. If then, any man that is thirsty be the welcome soul, Oh! for a spiritual thirsting, that I may long to go to this soul feast, and pant after it, “more than the hart doth for the water brooks.” When the poor and the needy seek for water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, doth not God say, “I the Lord will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them?”
Surely, if my soul be athirst for Jesus, then is both the invitation and the promise made to me! Why should I doubt it, when both so exactly correspond to my state and circumstances. Arise, my soul, and go: Jesus will not reject thee. Never hath he rejected any, never will he reject any truly thirsty soul, whom his blessed Spirit maketh “willing in the day of his power.” Hath he not said himself, “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me, and him that cometh I will in no wise cast out?”
The very recollection of his precious words hath warmed and encouraged my heart. I feel my soul drawn out in prayer. Let me hasten to arise from the bed of sleep, and before I go into the world, or see a soul of my family, or friends, let me seek grace from God the Spirit, to lead me to the mercy seat, that I may see, with an eye of faith, the Lord Jesus, that best of all friends, and dearest of all relations, and through him and his gracious intercession, find acceptance with God in Christ.
Most gracious God! a poor beggar of the earth, well known unto thee; both by reason of thy mercy, and long-bestowed mercies upon him; and his ungrateful and unworthy returns, in disobedience and sin, still venturing to rely on thy clemency, knocks once more at thy mercy gate.
Will the Lord receive me at his footstool, vile and unworthy as I am? And with the first opening of the day, will he mercifully open my heart to all suitable and seasonable impressions of grace; that I may offer the first fruits of my lips, for the light of the new day, to which thy mercy has brought me, and seek new pardons for all my renewed transgressions, in the blood of the Lamb?
Truly may I say, O Lord, with the church of old, “It is of the Lord’s mercies that I am not consumed. Because thy compassions fail not, they are new every morning. Great is thy faithfulness.” That I am alive this day; that I am preserved through another night’s dangers, and all the perils to which I have been exposed, in the defenseless state of sleep; that I am brought not only to the light of a new morning, but to the morning of another precious Sabbath; that a throne of grace is still open for such a sinner as I am, to flee unto; and that my Almighty Advocate and Propitiation, is still living, and ever liveth, to make intercession for sinners; these are among the numberless unmerited mercies of my God.
And will God the Holy Ghost graciously remind my unthinking and forgetful heart, that these are mercies not only great, and undeserved in themselves, but distinguishing mercies, of divine love, which thousands and tens of thousands in the world, more deserving than I am, have not!
Lord, help me, by thy quickening influences, to call to mind how many precious souls, in one part or other of the world, have taken their flight into the regions of eternity, since the shades of the last night closed in upon the earth! How many at this moment, are groaning upon beds of languishing, unable to arise and go forth to meet the Lord in his house of prayer! May I not say to thee, O blessed Jesus, as the disconsolate sisters did, in the days of thy flesh, concerning their brother, “Lord, many whom thou lovest are sick?” Is it so then, O God, that thy mercy hath distinguished my lot with such grace, and peculiar favors, and shall I feel none of those awakenings in my heart, which may lead into fall before thy throne with suitable acknowledgments?
O, gracious God! thou hast not only distinguished me with health and peace, and the blessed opportunity of going to thy house of prayer; but thou hast spread thy table with the love-tokens of thy favor; and worthless as I am, I am invited to draw nigh, “with a true heart, in full assurance of faith.” And while multitudes have no house of prayer to go to, no ordinance of worship to enjoy, but live where there is a famine, not of bread and water, but of hearing the word of the Lord, I am not only allowed to attend thine house, to call upon thy name, and to Lear from thy sacred word thy gracious assurances of mercy, but Jesus puts that high honor upon me, to sit clown with him at his table! What shall I say to my God for these distinguishing proofs of his love? “What am I, and what is my father’s house?”
Most gracious and indulgent Lord! since thou art thus pleased to regard such a creature as I am, with those marks of thy favor, Lord, prepare my unprepared heart, to attend thy table, with all suitable qualifications. Let me be much in the Spirit on this thy holy day. “Send out, Lord, thy light and thy truth: let them lead me, let them bring me to thine holy hill, and to thy tabernacle: then will I go unto the altar of God, unto God my exceeding joy.”
I look up to thee, O thou blessed and eternal Spirit, thou Quickener of dead souls, and Glorifier of Christ Jesus; my eyes are up unto thee, that thou wouldest work in me, both to will, and to do, of thy good pleasure. Oh! give me such a deep sense of sin, and such a clear view of the fulness and suitableness of redeeming grace, that while my soul feels, as it ought to feel, a proper sense of my unworthiness before God, the view of Jesus’ righteousness, and all-sufficiency, may comfort and encourage my heart. Bring my soul this morning to that fountain of Jesus’ blood, which is opened for sin and uncleanness. And when thou hast washed and made me white in the blood of the Lamb, clothe me with the robe of salvation, that “when the King comes in to see the guests at his table,” he may own me for his own, as the purchase of his redemption, in being clothed with the wedding garment of his righteousness.
Excite in me, O Lord, such spiritual hungerings and thirstings for this soul-feast that I may eat of the bread of life, and drink of the water of life, even the precious body and blood of Christ: that I may know, by heartfelt experience that “his flesh is meat indeed, and his blood is drink indeed.”
And, O thou blessed Redeemer, thou who art the sum and substance of all the feast, wilt thou graciously condescend to manifest thyself to me at thy table; and while thou art visiting one and another with the smiles of thy love, Oh! for some sweet token, given by thy blessed hand, to me. “Let me hear thy voice: let me see thy countenance; for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely.”
Grant, dearest Lord, that no dullness, or deadness of affection, may arise to damp the joy of my soul, at thy holy ordinance; but let my heart burn within me while thou art talking with me by the way: and do thou, as thou didst to thy disciples of old, “make thyself known unto me in breaking of bread.”
Everlasting praise to my God and Father, for bringing me into this covenant of grace, which admits of such a Surety and Atonement for the sins of his people, as is the Lord Jesus Christ our righteousness. Grant me, gracious Lord, such lively faith and that the acting of this faith be in such full exercise in my heart, that the withered hand which thou hast healed, may be stretched forth, to take all the covenant blessings and promises, which are sealed to thy people at the ordinance of the Holy Supper, in his blood, and righteousness; and may my eyes be so enlightened to see the hope of my calling, that Jesus may appear to my view as he did to the beloved apostle, in all the glories of his priesthood, with “his vesture dipped in blood;” and going in before the mercy-seat, with my name, worthless as it is, amidst the names of all his people, on his hands, and on his heart And while my soul is thus feasting on the fulness of the Redeemer’s complete and finished salvation, grant gracious Lord, that thy grace, and Holy Spirit, may be working in me all those covenant impressions of repentance and faith, which may manifest whose I am, and whom I serve.
Now, blessed Lord, may I arise from before thy mercy-seat, under those awakenings of thy Holy Spirit, and go forth in the strength of the Lord God, and experience so much of the goings of my God and King in his sanctuary, that I may cry out with thy servant of old, “One day in thy courts is better than a thousand.”
Help me to ascribe to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, as to Israel’s God, the kingdom, power, and glory, now and forever. Amen.
I find my mind refreshed as I arise from the mercy-seat, and can truly say, “It is good to draw nigh to God.” Let me now descend from my chamber, and meet my friends and family. Are they in health? preserved from fire, from robbers, from death? All these are new motives to thankfulness. Gracious God! how art thou going before me, in a thousand instances of mercy, and preventing me with the blessings of thy goodness!
But now for family worship.—It is sweet to draw nigh to God in our closets; it is sweet to draw nigh to God in our houses and our families; and it is sweet to draw nigh to God in the tabernacles of his sanctuary. How awful is the state of those prayer-less families, who, having neither the fear of God before their eyes, nor the love of God in their hearts, lie down, and rise up, like the herds of the stall, never saying, “Where is God my Maker?” —Lord, grant that the dreadful prayer of thy servant the prophet, may never be found applicable to me and my household, when he says, “Pour out thy fury upon the heathen that know thee not, and upon the families that call not upon thy, name,” (Jer. 10:25).
Let some one of my household read a portion of the word of God’s grace before we offer up prayer, by way of sanctifying our little congregation. It is done.—Pause a moment over it.—Observe how God speaks in his holy word to his people. May we not all say, as David did, “How sweet are thy words unto my taste, yea, sweeter than honey unto my mouth!” But did not the Lord speak in his word to each of our souls, personally and particularly? Was there not somewhat in it peculiarly adapted to our present state and circumstances, as though the Lord had said to each of us, to you, to me, to all, is the word of this salvation sent? Blessed Spirit! may I ever hear thy voice speaking in thy word, that, under the gracious impression, I may say, “O, how I love thy law! it is my meditation all the day. Mine eyes prevent the night watches, that I may be occupied in thy word.”
Let us fall down with reverence before the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; and while we bless him for all past mercies, let us seek from him all future favors. And oh! that God may pour out upon us a spirit of grace and supplication, and so shed the sweet influences of his Holy Spirit over our little assembly, that we may truly pray in prayer. Great God! have compassion upon our blindness, ignorance, and necessities. Give to each of us such a sense of our own personal wants, that we may not rest satisfied in an application for general mercies; but may we, every one for himself, find at this time an especial errand to the court of heaven, and wrestle with our God in prayer, that none may come away without some token of favor from our God and King!
Prayer ended, we now sit down to a moderate use of the good things of God’s providence. But, my friends let our most ordinary meals be sanctified by the word and prayer. What a reproach is it too many who sit down at the fullest tables, that the name of the great Giver is, perhaps, hardly mentioned! Is not that scripture too often proved: “their tables are a snare to take themselves withal?” Some precious souls there are, who enjoy more of Jesus’ presence at their ordinary meals, than others do at the Lord’s table. Be it my portion, and the portion of my household, to see so much of Jesus always before me, that my food may be doubly sweet, eaten under his gracious eye, and received from his dear hand. Dearest Jesus, come and sit down with me at the table which thou hast spread. Be thou thine own almoner, and accompany thy kind gifts for the body with grace for the soul, and every morsel will then prove a blessing.
But, my children and friends, and all you that are around me, let our conversation be of the best things; while we partake of the bounties of the best of Beings: while we eat of the fat and drink of the sweet, let our talk be seasoned with grace. Surely it is but common justice, (to say nothing of gratitude), that while we eat of the Lord’s provisions, our conversation should be of the Lord’s goodness. Would it not be a reproach to enjoy the gift, and yet forget the Giver? Upon all those occasions, methinks, I would call to mind the precept of the Jewish lawgiver: “These words (says he) which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart, and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children; and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way; when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.—Sweet; charming subjects for the most edifying conversation! I would beg for grace at all times to do so, with my children, or my servants, (if I have any), or my friends around my table. I would be forever speaking of the dear Redeemer and his love to my soul. I would tell to everyone around me what a gracious Saviour I have found: I would point to his redeeming blood, and say, Behold, behold the way to God! And this shall be the everlasting topic of my discourse wherever I am; whether at home or abroad; whether at meals or at work; whether in the house or by the way: All times and all seasons; all things and all circumstances; I would pray God might be instrumental to minister to this one end, of bringing home Jesus to my soul, and of awakening remembrance and love to his person in my heart. Precious Lord I let me but in all things discover thy manifestations towards me, and then in all things I shall find thee, and in thee find all things.
The breakfast being finished, we arise from table. Now each to meditation. My soul, thou art to meet Jesus at his table today. —Be more solicitous to appear there in the robes of his righteousness, and in the wedding garment of his salvation, than the gay and the unthinking are to appear at church in all the follies of dress and splendor.
Now I am alone—and yet I hope not alone, for my God and Saviour is with me. How doth the world sink in my esteem while Jesus and his salvation are in view! But, alas! how cold, how dead and lifeless are my affections towards him! Though I came here to seek my God in retirement, and have shut the door, to be alone with him, yet what a crowd of vain thoughts have rushed in after me! what disinclination is there in me to seek his face! Oh, for some influence of the Spirit! I would say with Job, “Oh, that I knew where I might find him that I might come even to his seat! I would order my cause before him, and fill my mouth with arguments.”
Let me meditate upon the holy service to which I am invited, and see whether, like David, while my heart is musing, the sacred fire will not kindle within me. Oh! what sights are to be seen at the Lord’s table, and what benefits may I not hope to find there! Did ever anything represent love like that of the Lamb of God, dying to take away sin by the sacrifice of himself! What great love, free love, distinguishing love, expensive love, strong love, everlasting love! Lord, teach me and all poor sinners to love thee, who hast so wonderfully loved us.
Oh, what a value for immortal souls is there exhibited in the death of the Lord Jesus! Oh, what value ought I to put upon my own soul, and the souls of others, purchased with so great a price!
But what inestimable benefits are to be derived from this gospel ordinance of Jesus’ institution in his holy Supper! Here he renews, at every fresh opportunity, the fresh tokens of the pardon of sin obtained by his blood. Here believers find pledges that they are brought into a state of adoption and grace. Here they receive new supplies of strength, for confirming gracious habits, for the quickening of faith, for the resisting temptations, for the weaning of the soul from the world, and for preparing for heaven.
My heart is again warmed in the view of these things; and as the hour of public worship is arrived, let me not resemble those who by coining late to the house of God, disturb others, and seem to say, that they are not much interested to be present at the opening of the service themselves. I would not wish that private devotions should break in upon the stated times of public ordinances.—Both are beautiful in their season.
Now I am at the door. Let Jacob’s sentiment be always mine; “Surely the Lord is in this place! How dreadful is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” Lord, keep my foot, as I go into the place where thine honor dwelleth, that I may be more ready to hear than to offer the sacrifice of fools, “for they know not that they do evil.”
Now I am entered. Is not the eye of Jesus instantly upon me? Doth he not know the secret purposes of my soul? Doth he not know the desire I have to him, and to the remembrance of his name? It is a refreshing thought. For if the eye of Jesus be upon me, then doth he know all my state, and wants, and circumstances. Ah! but then he knows my, sin, my unworthiness, my transgressions. True; but doth he not know my sorrow for them? Doth he not know that I came here to seek pardon, to find grace, to hear his voice, to adore his love, and to praise his name? And will he not, in opposition to all my coldness, deadness, and unworthiness, will he not afford me all I need? It is his own love, not my desert, which is made the standard of his dealings. Though I come so far short in the measure of my duty to him; praises to his name, he never comes short in the measure of his love to me. Though my heart is cold, yet his is warm. He doth not always wait to be kind until I ask it of him, for then I should go without a thousand mercies which I now enjoy; but he saith himself, “Before my people call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.”
Hark! the service begins!—Oh, for a heart seasoned with grace, that I may hear as one that is hearing for eternity, and pray as one that is praying for everlasting life.
The Sermon is ended.—See what multitudes are hastening out, and what eagerness appears in them to be gone. Alas! do they know that the ordinance of the Holy Supper is about to be administered? Do they call to mind that Jesus is at his Table to bestow the blessings of pardon and peace? Alas I they are running away, as if it was the day of Judgment, and not the day of grace. Oh! had I the power of persuasion, I would say to them, “Return to the Lord, while he may be found, and call upon him while he is near. Today is the accepted time” —tomorrow may be the day of vengeance.
Is it fancy, or did I indeed hear the Lord Jesus saying unto me, “Will you also go away?” Lord, I would say as Peter did, “To whom shall I go? thou hast the words of eternal life.” No, dearest Saviour, unworthy as I am, I dare not leave thee! My necessities do but compel me with more earnestness. I consider also that I am not invited because of my worth, but because of thy goodness: I come, therefore, as a poor polluted creature to be cleansed, as a poor diseased soul to be healed, as a hungry sinner to be fed, and as a thirsty soul to be supplied with the water of life. And if Jesus will but receive me, the blessing of one that is ready to perish will come upon him. O Lord, make it a healing, strengthening, refreshing, sealing ordinance to my soul; and it will put more gladness in my heart than in the time when corn, and wine, and oil increase.
But see! the minister hath set forth the love-tokens of the Redeemer’s feast, and now calls upon the congregation to show their love to the person of the Lord Jesus by their offerings to the Lord’s poor. Lord, accept my mite which I beg to drop into thy treasury, for it is all thine own, O Lord, and of thine own I give thee. I would give all that I can give with cheerfulness; for my God loveth a cheerful giver. I would give all I do give, as to Jesus; for every poor member of his mystical body he considers as himself. I would give all that I am able to give, for Jesus gave all for me, when “he so loved me as to give himself for me.”
The collection of the alms finished. —The invitation to the feast next follows. Listen, my soul, to the names of those which are called, and mark well if thine own be in the list. If but one character described of those for whom the table is spread, be among them suited to thyself, rise up with the earnestness of one of old, and say, “Here am I, Lord, for thou calledst me.”
But now I am at the Table. Jesus is come in to see the guests. Oh, for one gracious glance of his eye, to tell me I am welcome! Lord, do thou enter my very heart; there prepare the upper room in my affections; there abide, and enable me to keep the Passover, even thy Passover, at thy house, with thy disciples. Oh! if my heart be tempted to wander, look with the same eye thou didst upon Peter, that the look may call me back and pierce my very soul, and tears of true repentance like his may flow. And to all my unbelief, fears, doubts, and misgivings, now I am so near my crucified Jesus, help me, like Thomas, to thrust my hand into his precious side, that, under the clear conviction, I may cry out, “My Lord and my God!”
But be hushed, my soul, the Lord’s servant is coming towards thee. Read no book, for books cannot teach thee what to say, but look wholly to Jesus; keep an eye fixed on him. All I can say to my God is, what my God hath first spoken to me. While, therefore, the steward of these sacred mysteries is presenting to me the elements, and saying, Take, and eat this, and drink of this cup, in remembrance of Jesus; Lord, I would say, Whom shall I ever remember, if I am, capable of forgetting thee? But are these the emblems of thy body and blood, and were they given for me? For me, a poor worm? For Me, a sinful worm? For me, who have made thee to serve with my sins, and wearied thee with my iniquities? And is this the manner of my God’s dealings with men?
And doth Jesus indeed say that I am to eat and drink this in remembrance that Christ died for me; and these are the pledges of his love and my pardon? Witness then, all ye angels of light, witness all ye, my Christian friends and brethren around me, and, above all, witness for me, my gracious God, Father Son, and Spirit, that on my bended knees I do most humbly, and heartily, and thankfully, accept those covenant tokens of the dear Redeemer’s death; that I neither seek nor desire salvation in any other way, but in the doing and dying of the Lord Jesus... I here accept him in his person, in his characters, and in all his relations, as my all in all, for time and eternity. I determine from henceforth to know nothing among men, save Jesus Christ and him crucified. Living and dying, may I be found in him, owning him for my Prophet, Priest, and King. And oh! may he condescend to own me as the object of the Father’s everlasting love, his own redeeming grace, and the Spirit’s work, when he comes to be “glorified in his saints, and admired in all that believe!”
Now I withdraw from the table to make room for others. But let not my heart withdraw from still taking part in the service. There is a communion of saints, as well as communion with God. And next to the enjoyment of fellowship with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ, through the Holy Ghost, be it ever my portion to have communion with all the members of Christ’s mystical body, who are parts of himself, that I may “rejoice with them that rejoice, and weep with them that weep.”
Some there are, whom I have seen, that in the intervals of the service at the table, are reading, and some who hold conversation, and some withdraw when they themselves have received. But if 1 mistake not, the Holy Ghost yet sheweth a more excellent way in. Neither reading nor conversing, however proper themselves, are proper works for ordinance seasons at the Lord’s table. Our hearts are supposed now to be fully employed in those soul-refreshing contemplations, which that Holy Supper is so admirably calculated to awaken. And how can we be better engaged, than in taking an interest in all the cases of the many soul-exercises with which the family of the Lord Jesus are distinguished?
I would therefore keep my eye upon the table while others are receiving; and desire grace from the Lord to warm my heart, that, as I behold one, and another, presenting themselves before the Lord, I may mingle my prayers with theirs, that a kind Saviour may hold forth his scepter of mercy, and grant a suitable blessing to every case. Perhaps that poor woman, (I would say to myself), who is now drawing nigh, may be under peculiar distresses from the buffetings of Satan; and the great enemy of souls is treating her, as his captive, with terrors and fears. Lord Jesus, I would say, let thine eye be upon her; let not the enemy worry thy poor sheep, but do thou appear to her for her relief, and cause the tempter to flee away!—There is a man yonder at the table who, perhaps, is under heart-sraitenings in prayer, and who, though the blessed Spirit hath not suffered the desire after Jesus to be extinguished, yet the soul can only groan over its own weakness, and cannot weep after the Lord equal to its wishes; shall not such cases, if there be such before thee, blessed Saviour, attract thy kind attention, and procure from thee relief? How many others may be present (I would say to myself) who are fallen under great with-drawings of the Spirit as to his comforting operations; and who are crying out, ‘The Comforter that should relieve my soul is far from me!’—How many, are writing bitter things against themselves, and fearing that the Lord’s mercy “is clean gone for ever!” How many, who have lost all evidences for the time of their interest in the covenant! And how many who fancy their prayers are denied, and they know not what to say, nor what answer to make, when unbelief in the heart, and the enemy of the soul, are acting in confederacy together, saying, “Where is now thy God?” Oh! what a roll, like that of the prophet’s written “within and without, of lamentations, and mourning, and woe,” doth the cries and groans even of a little congregation of truly regenerated believers contain, were the whole open to our view, when they come to spread their separate and distinct cases before the Lord at his table And shall not my soul bear a part with them? Shall I look on with indifference, and feel no interest in the Lord’s family, to which I trust I belong? Shall I receive grace and favor from my God, and their God, and not leave a petition with the King at his table, which is covered with blessing, that he will not send a single soul empty away! Grant, dearest Saviour; before the service be broken up, and the table be dismissed; grant some sweet token to everyone, that, like well-satisfied guests, they may arise from thy banquet; and find cause to bless and praise the great Master of the feast, for what they have handled and tasted of the Redeemer’s body and blood, crying out, with holy Simeon, “Lord, now let thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation!”
And, Lord, I would say (if a poor sinful worm, like myself, may presume to pray for others), in a particular manner bless those thy servants who are employed as thy stewards at thy solemn feast. Enlarge their hearts; open their mouths to speak to this people; and, while they break the bread, and drink of the cup, oh! may their own souls feed richly on the body and blood of their Divine Master.—Let their souls be abundantly supplied with the good things of the feast; and while they are busily engaged, as thy servants, to invite and encourage, and minister to others, let them not go unserved themselves.
Let me take one view more of the Holy Table, before the service ends. Oh! what a miracle of love is it to see sinful men feasting upon the precious body and blood of a crucified Redeemer! Surely now is come “salvation and strength.” Seal all our pardons, dearest Jesus, in thy blood, and may every eye see the King in his beauty, and behold with faith the heavenly land which is very far off.
The service ended—I now retire to myself, to review the mercies of the day, and to pray over the whole. What subjects arise in my heart, for thanksgiving to my God! What motives of humbleness of soul for the numerous imperfections of my prayers and praises! Oh! for that happy hour, when I shall have no longer occasion to mourn my unprofitableness under ordinances, but when even ordinances themselves shall be done away: when I shall sit down, to go out no more, at the marriage supper of the Lamb and drink of the new wine with Jesus in his kingdom: when God and the Lamb will be the everlasting Abject of my praise; and I shall be at the fountainhead of bliss forever and ever.—Even so, come, Lord Jesus, come quickly!
The limits of a tract like this prevent much enlargement. But as we have been following the Welcome Guest at the Lord’s Table, through all the services and employments of the day, we would not leave him until he had finished his devotions with the night.
Returned then from the public worship of the sanctuary, to the private meditation and prayer of the closet, how many solemn and precious subjects immediately arise to his view!
What a wonderful condescension is displayed in the whole work of salvation! Well might the apostle cry out, in the contemplation of it, “Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we,” poor sinful, dying creatures of the earth as we are, that we “should be called the sons of God!” When I call to mind my meanness by nature, what can be equally astonishing as that “the High and Holy One which inhabiteth eternity” should not only look, but even dwell with “the man that is of an humble and a contrite heart “Lord! what is man that thou art mindful of him, or the son of man that thou so regardest him?”
But when I call to mind, yet further, my vileness by reason of sin, how greatly is my astonishment increased! Who hath ever thoroughly drunk into the depth of sweetness in that precious scripture, which “God commended his love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for the ungodly?”
Now I am retired from every eye but his who seeth not as man seeth, and who knoweth me better than I know myself. Descend, blessed and Holy Spirit, and give me grace to act faith upon the Father’s everlasting love, the Redeemer’s unceasing grace, and the fellowship and communion of the Holy Ghost.
Is God my Father? my covenant Father and God in Christ Jesus? Surely there is somewhat very sweet and endearing in the very name of Father! Then all the tendencies of his dispensations towards me are in a fatherly way. Though he be my Sovereign, and my God; yet is he no less my Father.—And therefore do I not know, that while he orders all things concerning me as my Sovereign, never doth he forget his relation to me as my God and Father in Christ Jesus. Oh! it is sweet to eye God in this light! It is precious to come before him when I behold him in this manner! My faith finds great strength to lean upon him. I can then leave all things in his Almighty hands which concern me both for time and eternity, while I thus view him. — What though he sitteth upon a throne, yet it is a throne of grace unto which I have boldness to approach by the blood of Jesus. I see by faith my Redeemer wearing still my nature, and clothed in a vesture dipped in blood; and at every renewed occasion of drawing near, do I not hear that voice which saith, “As a man spareth his son that serveth him, so will I spare thee?” (Matt. 3:17).
But let me look up with equal love, adoration, and praise, to him, who is one with the Father, “the brightness of his glory, and express image of his person.” How sweet to view him in his person, to behold him in his greatness, in his fulness, in his glory. And how doubly sweet to behold him as my own, by a right of appropriation: not simply as a Saviour, but as my Saviour; not merely the Redeemer of another, but my Redeemer.
While I am thus enabled to look on the dear person of the Lord Jesus, I can rejoice both in what he hath done for me, and the relation which be stands in to me. He hath become my surety, my sponsor, and representative. He hath fulfilled all righteousness for me, and will fulfill all righteousness in me.—And having satisfied all the demands of the law of God which I have broken, he hath also satisfied by his blood the penalty which was due to me for the breach of it. Sweet consolation! Moreover, I behold in the person of the Lord Jesus that nearness of relation into which he hath condescended to put himself to me. All the tender affinities of the Father, the Friend, and the Brother, which he kindly and mercifully assumes. He is my Advocate also, my Counsellor, my High Priest, and Mediator. In a word; he is everything to me; wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption; all in all. So that in him is all fulness, and for this express purpose, that “of his fulness we may all receive, and grace for grace.”
And no less let my soul forever feast itself with longing eyes and the warmest heart of devout adoration and affection, when looking up to God the Holy Ghost, from whose mercy alone it is that I have derived any knowledge of the Father’s love, or the Redeemer’s grace. Precious thought! that thou, O God the Spirit, art my teacher; the quickener of my soul when originally dead in trespasses and sins; and now, when at any time dead to devotion, the glorifier of the Lord Jesus to my view, both in my first knowledge of him and in every renewed instance of his love; the reviver of all my languishing frames; the restorer of all my departures and backsliding; the Author and strengthener of every grace that is good in me; the comforter and consolation in all my dejection and troubles; and who is both the earnest and seal of all my assurances for time and for eternity. Hail Holy and Eternal God! with the most profound reverence, and the warmest gratitude would I desire now, and forever to bow before thee. Rather let my right hand forget her cunning, and my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, than that I should cease to adore thy person, or remember thy precious work!
As it forms a most essential part in the life of him, who is a Welcome Guest at the Lord’s Table, to see, that after his return from the ordinance, the impressions there made may remain upon him; it will be highly proper, in retirement and prayer to seek aid from God the Spirit for this purpose; that as Moses’ face shone when he came down from the mount, and which was visible to every beholder, so the true believer in Jesus may be enabled, by Almighty grace, to carry such a sanctity of deportment with him into all the circumstances of life, that it may appear both unto himself, and unto all men, whose he is, and whom he serves; and that he also hath been with Jesus.
It is delightful to observe what a plentiful provision God hath made in his word for this purpose; that to all the fears, doubts, unbelief, and misgivings of the heart, what a multitude of rich promises are given. As for example, while the soul of the believer is crying out, “We have not sufficiency of ourselves to think,” or do “anything ourselves;” the answer is, “Our sufficiency is of God.” While the soul of the mourner is groaning by reason of sin, and saying, “My iniquities are like a sore burden, too heavy for me to bear;” the answer is, “Come now, let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet they shall be white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” And when the soul complains under hardness of heart, God promiseth to “take away the heart of stone, and give an heart of flesh:” when groaning under temptations, God promiseth that his people shall not be “tempted above what they are able; but with every temptation he will make a way to escape.” In short, to every case and to every circumstance, there are such “exceeding great and precious promises” afforded, as clearly testify, that it is in divine strength and divine faithfulness help alone is found. But the limits of a Tract prevent enlarging. It will be proper to close the whole with prayer, as this little work began; which the Welcome Guest at the Lord’s Table may, as he finds occasion, adopt in his retirement and meditation, before he returns to the second duties and employments of family worship.
Most gracious and merciful God! the poor pensioner of thy bounty, who presumed to knock at thy mercy-gate in the morning of this holy day, to implore thy grace, and seek thy favor, now ventures to come again with his best offering of praises and thanksgiving, for all the unnumbered merits he hath received from thine Almighty hand through the same. Thou art indeed, O God I a prayer-hearing and a
prayer-answering God; and great is thy faithfulness.
But while I bless thy bounty, and desire to praise the riches of thy grace for the many sweet and precious manifestations whereby my soul hath been refreshed and made joyful in thine house of prayer, I cannot but take shame and confusion of face, in the recollection of my unworthiness and unprofitableness before thee. Oh! when will that happy hour come, when I shall no longer have cause to complain of a cold and lifeless heart! Oh! my God, I am ashamed, and blush to lift up my face to thee, my God! Eternal praises to that precious Lamb, who beareth away the iniquity of my most holy things! Praises to that Holy Spirit of consolation who applies Jesus to the healing of my soul’s wounds!
Dearest Jesus! I have been commemorating thy death at thy table. I have been beholding thy agony and bloody sweat, thy cross and passion. Lord, grant that while I have been beholding Jesus Christ thus evidently crucified before me, the world may be crucified to me, and I unto the world. Do thou, dear Lord, so enable me to die unto sin and be alive unto God, that I may bear about continually the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus may be manifested in my mortal body. And oh! thou blessed Spirit, do thou work in me both to will and to do of thy good pleasure. Make my body thy temple. And as I am bought with a price and am no longer my own; enable me to glorify God in my body and in my spirit, which are God’s. Lord, lead me into an experimental, vital acquaintance with my dearest Saviour, Jesus Christ, and him crucified; that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings. I would earnestly desire to present my body a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to the Lord, which is my reasonable service, and to be no longer conformed to this world, but transformed by the renewing of my mind. And grant, Lord, that the life I now live in the flesh I may live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Precious, precious Jesus may I be wholly thine, and by a life of receiving and living upon thy fulness, may I be growing up into thy lovely image in all things!
And, finally, dear Lord, fit and prepare me for heaven. Oh! may I be daily, hourly, looking out, and longing for thy coming. Oh! may every renewed visit at thy table make me more earnest for the participation of that inheritance with saints in light. And while I enjoy the shadow of good things to come here, may the substance be more desirable. While thy tabernacles below are so amiable, may a desire of thy temple above be increasing upon me. If a day, an hour, here, be so precious in thy presence, what must an eternity be in thy temple above. Oh! when shall I come to appear before my God in glory.—Hasten, dear Lord, and let the day break, and the shadows flee away! Make haste, my beloved, and be thou like a roe, or a young hart upon the mountain of spices!
Now to the Father, Son, and Spirit
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