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Dr. Robert Hawker
(1753-1827)

Union and Communion with Christ


SACRAMENTAL MEDITATIONS.

VIII. JESUS IN HIS PRIESTLY OFFICE.


“And the angel did wonderously; and Manoah and his wife looked on.
For it came to pass, when the flame went up toward heaven
from off the altar, that the angel of the Loup ascended
in the flame of the altar.” Judges 13:19 & 20


Ordinances, especially those of sacrifices, which were appointed of the Lord under the Jewish dispen­sation, are shadowy representations of the scripture blessings under the gospel, and of a spiritual nature. They are outward tokens of an inward effect. And the Lord’s Supper in the emblems of bread and wine hath its design in setting forth thereby, the body and blood of Christ. Hence it may be considered a visible gospel, proposed to the eye, as the preaching of the gospel is to the ear, both meaning one and the same, even Christ. He is the substance; they are all sha­dows. Hence Paul, when writing to the church of the Galatians, reproves the people for their dullness in not apprehending divine things. “O foolish Gala­tians, (said he) who hath bewitched you that ye should not obey the truth? before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you,” (Gal. 3:1). It is more than probable that not a Galatian had been at Jerusalem, when Christ was crucified; but in the preaching of Christ and him crucified, as was Paul’s way and manner, the Lord of life and glory had been so blessedly set forth in the dignity of his person, and in the completeness and fullness of his salvation, as if they had visibly been present at the cross. And the same is everlastingly done, in all ages of the church; and when God the Holy Ghost gives grace to his servants to preach Christ, and accompanies that preaching by his divine unction, the person and work of Christ are realized to the spiritual view, and Christ “formed in the heart the hope of glory.”

And it is very blessed when, by regeneration, the, spiritual faculties are awakened, and brought forth into spiritual life, to the apprehension and enjoyment of divine things. Not only then the eye is spiritually enlightened to such views of Christ, and the ‘ear un­stopped to know the joyful sound; but the mouth is opened to receive and relish the sweet savor of Christ, as is the smell to the fragrance of Christ’s “ointment poured forth.” Hence the Psalmist, having enjoyed those rich things, calls upon the church to partake: “O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him,” (Ps. 34:8). And the prophet exults in the same: “Thy words (said he) were found, and I did eat them, and thy word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart; for I am called by thy name, O Lord God of Hosts!” (Jer. 15:16). And the spouse in the Canticles sung her love song to the same; when, in the rapture of her soul’s enjoyment, she said, “I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste,” (Song 2:3). But all these spiritual things presuppose spiritual life and health; for neither can the eye see, nor the ear hear, nor the mouth taste what is divine and spiritual, with natural faculties. The uniform language of scripture on this subject decidedly determines that “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are fool­ishness unto him; neither can he know them, (it is hot said that he will not, but that he cannot) because they are spiritually discerned:” for being in a state of un-renewed nature, he hath no spiritual faculties to discern and receive them by, (1 Cor. 2:14). Until, therefore, by regeneration, or the new birth, we are quickened into a new and spiritual life; though we hear the gospel preached, or behold the Lord’s Sup­per administered, yea, and partake of the outward signs of the bread and the wine, we have no real spi­ritual knowledge or enjoyment in the inward effect.

The Lord hath left upon record a striking repre­sentation of this, in the strong expostulation made with the church: “Speak unto all the people of the land, and to the priests, saying, when ye fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh month, even those seventy years, did ye at all fast unto me, even to me? And when ye did eat, and when ye did drink, did not ye eat for yourselves, and drink for yourselves?” (Zech. 7:5-6). The people had no communion with the Lord in these mere forms of worship: “Thou art near in their mouth, (said the prophet,) and far from their reins,” (Jer. 12:2). And, to the same amount are those solemn declarations of our Lord: “Many will say to use in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name cast out devils, and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them I never knew you: depart from me ye that work iniquity,” (Matt: 7:22-23). And yet, if possible, in stronger terms the Lord, in another part of his gospel, thus spake of such men: “Then shall ye begin to say, we have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets; but he shall say, I tell you I know you not whence ye are; depart from me all ye workers of iniquity,” (Luke 13:26-27).

We are awfully taught from those and the like scriptures, that the mere attendance on ordinances and means of grace, by persons un-awakened, un-re­generated, un-renewed in the spirit of their mind, all are nothing. And perhaps it is of all others the most portentous sign of the present day, when men under the specious name of evangelical profession, are ear­nest to the form, while unconscious of the power of godliness. Such are content with the name to live among men; but while unregenerate they are dead before God: they rest satisfied with the shadow and know nothing of the substance: they take the shell, but never taste the fruit. Judas was like one of those, concerning whom the Lord spake in the scriptures I just now referred to; he had both heard Christ preach, and had eaten and drunk in Christ’s presence; yea, he had gone forth himself to preach, and in common with the other disciples had done many wonderful works: for had he not, the discovery would have been made of the defect, waxen the dis­ciples returned to the Lord Jesus with joy at their success in his name, (Luke 10:17). Nay more-than these, the Lord had washed the feet of Judas, as we read, (John 13) for it was not until this service was over, and the Lord Jesus had taken his garments, and was sat down again, that he first brake the: awful intelligence unto them, that “one of them should be­tray him,” (ver. 21). Still further, when the Lord Jesus celebrated for the last time the Passover, Judas was a partaker; for we read that “when the hour was come, Jesus sat down and the twelve apostles with him,” consequently Judas was in the number, (Luke 22:14). And as the holy Supper immediately fol­lowed the Passover, Judas here also partook; for the Lord Jesus, after having distributed the .sacred elements among them, added, “But behold the hand of him that betrayeth me is with me on the table,” (vv. 17-21). But in the midst of all these things Judas was still Judas, and, as our Lord called him, a devil: “Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?” (John 6:70). And though this example is indeed in the highest and most finished degree of awfulness, yet there is nothing singular in the hypocrisy of the thing itself; it Math been such in all ages from the first, and will continue to the last. We read that “when the sons of God came to pre­sent themselves before the Lord, Satan came also among them,” (Job 1:6; Zech. 3:1). And, what have the true spiritual church of Christ to do with this? Did the presence of Judas mar the divine efficacy of the holy Supper to the faithful apostles at the institution? So neither can men nor devils hurt the sweet manifestation of Jesus in the celebration of it now. The conscious presence of the Lord in the Supper, and the spiritual enjoyment of the Lord in those hallowed seasons, will raise the child of God above himself, as well as above sin and Satan, and all the enemies of his salvation. “We are (saith Paul) in all these things more than conquerors, through him that loveth,” (Rom. 8:37).

With these objects in view let us attend to the more immediate portion of the text, and observe what instruction, under the Lord’s teaching, is to be gathered from it. The apostle calls upon the spiritual church of Christ to learn a very gracious lesson, even from the natural un-renewed Israelite, in his attending and eating of the sacrifices offered on the Jewish altar. “Behold Israel after the flesh: are not they which eat of the sacrifices, partakers of the altar?” Most unquestionably they are; for they have all that their carnal appetites desire. And shall not then the spiritual partakers of the feast on the sacrifice of the Lord’s Supper, be interested, and take part in all the blissful effects arising out of their union with Christ, their New Testament Altar?

To illustrate this doctrine yet more fully, the apostle had, in the opening of the chapter, stated a very beautiful account of the spiritual church of Christ, distinguished from Israel after the flesh, in shelving- that the people of God, when brought out of Egypt, were “under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and were all baptized unto Moses, in the cloud and in the sea; and did all eat the same spiritual meat, and did all drink the same spiritual drink; for they drank of that spiritual rock that fol­lowed them, and that rock was Christ.” But did not the whole body of the children of Israel follow the cloud, and pass through the sea? Yes. And were they not all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea? Yes. But here lay the vast difference, while to “the true Israel of God “the ordinances of baptism, and the spiritual meat and water of the rock became spiritual, and they truly did eye Christ in both; “Israel after the flesh” had no further en­joyment than in the carnal things themselves; and hence the apostle at the close of the statement adds, that “with many of them God was not well pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness:” and this is recorded, (Num. 26:64-65; Heb. 3:17).

Here, then, is the picture of the spiritual church of Christ in the wilderness, drawn under the direction of the Holy Ghost, by the pencil of the apostle Paul; in which you see that then, as now, carnal, un-renewed worshippers were mingled. They had the ordinances as we have, in which both professor and profane joined; but while to the spiritual seed of Abraham they became “the savour of life unto life,” to the Israel of the flesh they became “the savour of death unto death.” And in another scripture the Holy Ghost by the same apostle explains the cause: “For they are not all Israel which are of Israel; neither because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children; but in Isaac shall thy seed be called,” (Rom. 9:6-7). All this is plain and clear in rela­tion to the election of grace. Abraham had his Ishmael, and the sons of Keturah, as well as Isaac; and Isaac had an Esau, as well as Jacob; and no doubt the children all engaged alike in the sacrifices of the household. The sons of Eli also, in an after age of the church, whom the Holy Ghost calls “sons of Belial,” ministered in divine things; for they made themselves fat with the sacrifices: “wherefore the sin of the young men was very great before the Lord, for men abhorred the offering of the Lord,” (1 Sam. 2:12-17). To what age of the church shall we look for an exemption of such awful things?

One very interesting point I would beg to call to your attention on this subject, concerning these ordi­nances of being baptized, and eating, and drinking of spiritual food; namely, that Israel had similar ordi­nances in those things to ours; for is it not now, the same in the gospel church, baptism and the Lord’s Supper? If it had not been so designed, bow comes it to pass that circumcision and the Passover bad not been pointed at? Circumcision was the most ancient of all rites in the Jewish church; and the Passover was the first ordinance appointed when the church was about to be formed in the Exodus, or coming forth from Egypt and yet neither of these are men­tioned. Moreover, Paul tells us, under the teaching of the Holy Ghost, that the church then had the gospel preached unto them, as well as unto us now, (Heb. 4:2). But how was it preached in ordinances, except by baptism, and the eating of the spiritual meat, and drinking of the spiritual drink? And let me further observe in confirmation, that Christ is more than in any other service preached here in the wilderness in this service; for it is not said that, the rock, and the water issuing from the rock, was merely to shadow forth Christ; but that it was Christ himself: for “they drank of that rock that followed them, and that rock was Christ.” Now we frequently meet with scriptures which speak of the word of Christ, and the spirit of Christ; but this is stronger than either; for here the rock is said to be Christ himself, and the subject is rendered infinitely more striking thereby: for the mingling of the different characters in ordinances, only tends to discriminate “the precious from the vile.” The whole body of Israel ate of the same spiritual meat, and drank of the same spiritual drink; yea, the very cattle of Israel, no doubt, drank of the water of the rock; but what of that? And what was there more than that in the participation of Israel after the flesh? The Holy Ghost by his servant Jude hath stated this, when speaking of the ungodly, “in the use of those things which they know not, but what they know na­turally as brute beasts,” (Jude 10). It is a solemn thing for men un-regenerated, and in a state of nature, to be found in the use of means, and then live and die in the’ vanity of their minds; but here is no injury hereby to the true Israel of God. To use the words of the text, if Israel after the flesh partook of the sacrifices in eating bodily of the things offered on the altar; shall not the members of Christ’s mystical body as truly feed spiritually on Christ by faith? And is it not a direct acknowledgment by such acts, at every renewed celebration of the Lord’s Supper that they consider themselves as truly interested in all the efficacy of that all-sufficient sacrifice of their glorious Head, as if they themselves had offered it?

This then is the subject of our present sacramental meditation. In which I propose as the Lord shall be pleased to enable me, to consider, in the first place, the ground on which the holy Supper is founded, in the glorious person and finished salvation of our Lord Jesus Christ. And when I have performed this service, I shall hope that from an unction from the Holy Ghost, the spiritual church of Christ will then be led to see, and by faith enjoy, such a personal apprehension of right and inheritance, in this incommunicable. salvation of Christ, as to enter into the full participation; that as Israel after the flesh, by eating of the sacrifice, became a partaker of the altar, much more as the Lord Jesus himself hath said, “He that eateth me, even he shall live by me,” (John 6:57).

The subject in this point of view must be confessed to be abundantly precious and important. For on the presumption, that the regenerated child of God, in contemplating Christ, beholds him as his substituted surety and sacrifice; by virtue of this right from an union and oneness with Christ, he is to all intents and purposes implicated in all the benefits of his divine offering: and in the act of receiving, the communicant is considered as saying as much, in the service of the holy Supper.

And what endears this, yet the more is, that as the substitution of Christ for his body the church, is no act of the church, but the sole appointment of God himself in his trinity of persons; so the right of par­ticipation, in all the benefits of it, is no less resulting from the free gift of God. There are no provisions, no preparations, no worth, no merit, on the part of man; the Lord that provides the mercy prepares the heart for the mercy. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above!” The receivers are simply receivers, and no more. In themselves they are wholly passive. Salvation, as the light of heaven, or as the air we breathe, are wholly given. It is our mercy to receive the one, and live by the other. The Lord the Holy Ghost be so mercifully gracious with both speaker and hearer on this occasion, that we may “know the things which are freely given to us of God.”

I begin with the first branch of my subject, namely, the ground on which the holy Supper is founded. Now the very substitution of Christ in sacrifice for his people, implies a former breach between God and man; and which this glorious person’ became, as the prophet called him, “the repairer of the breach; the restorer of paths to dwell in,” (Isa. 58:12). This breach arising from sin was wholly on the part of man; for by the Adam-fall transgression, such a des­perate state of enmity took place against God in the human heart, as never on man’s part could be healed. The love of God to the persons of his people had no abatement, being an everlasting love, (Jer. 31:3). But to their sins God’s displeasure was manifested, by an intermission of communion. Now all the Holy Three in the Godhead took equal part in the reconcil­ing of the people to the Lord: but one of the divine persons by assuming into union with himself that holy portion of our nature, became the great Surety; and by his obedience and death, accomplished the mighty work, and thereby restored perfect order among the works of God.

I stay not, on the present occasion, to show how, and by what mysterious means, the Lord of life and glory wrought out man’s deliverance: such a subject is too extensive to come within the limits that I must now observe. Let it suffice to say, that by assuming our nature, taking the names and persons of his people, standing in our law room and stead, fulfilling all righteousness, and dying “the just for the unjust, to bring his people to God;” he manifested that he, and he alone, was competent to the mighty work; and fully answered to all the prophecies concerning “the most Holy, who should sell up the vision of prophecy, finish the transgression, make an end of sin, make reconciliation for iniquity, and bring in an everlasting righteousness,” (Dan. 9:24).

Now these sublime truths, with all the other gracious and glorious transactions in the gospel, furnished out the foundation on which the holy Supper of the Lord was instituted, and by the Lord himself. And most certain it is, that to all the redeemed and re­generated people of the Lord, who by divine teach­ing are enabled to realize these things in their souls; and to behold the substitution of Christ as the church’s surety; to live upon Christ’s person and Christ’s righteousness as the efficient means of salvation, the whole of redemption is confirmed. And from being received into the soul and lived upon, the church is enabled to behold Christ, as the statement of scrip­ture brings him home, for personal enjoyment made of God to the church, “wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption, that he that glorieth may glory in the Lord,” (1 Cor. 1:30-31).

From this short but plain testimony of the ground on which the holy Supper is founded, it will be easy, under the same divine teaching to discover, in what the spiritual participation of that sacred service con­sists; namely, in realizing our own personal interest in this substitution of Christ in all that he wrought, and which is set forth in that divine Supper.

For the better apprehension of the subject, allow me to state it somewhat personally. I will, for the sake of illustration, suppose, that under the Lord’s teaching I had received those impressions in my own mind; which I have just stated to you; namely, that the Supper of the Lord is founded on the complete and finished salvation, which the Lord Jesus Christ hath, in his own Almighty person, wrought out for his church and people: and that all the great events included in that high administration, are more or less set forth in that sweet and costly Supper. I call the service both sweet and costly; for as his name is most sweet, so are his divine works; and well may the ordinance which sets it forth be considered costly, since the “precious blood of Christ, as of a Lamb without blemish and without spot,” is therein represented.

I will suppose myself attending this sacred service, full of those ideas. I behold him there set forth as the complete substitution for his people. All my iniquities, and all my transgressions, and all my sins, having been laid upon him; I consider myself as so wholly and completely delivered from them, as though I had never been born in sin, neither committed a single transgression; but the whole charged on him as the mighty burden-bearer of all. I behold him also, completely “putting away sin by the sacrifice of himself,” (Heb. 9:26): and “by that one offer­ing of himself once offered, perfecting for ever them that are sanctified,” (Heb. 10:14).

But this is not all. As my sins, both original and actual, had justly subjected me to eternal death; I behold Christ in the sacred Supper, as having fathom­ed all the depths of pain, and suffering for those sins: taken out the sting of sin in the first death, and drunk up all the dregs of misery in the second; and by being “made both sin and a curse “for his people, hath redeemed them from the whole by the substitution of himself, and “forever delivered them from the wrath to come!”

Neither are these all the soul comforting views which I see and participate in at the holy Supper. I go further by divine illumination into the discovery of the blessings which so graciously are set forth at the Lord’s Table. For as sin had made such a deadly breach by the natural enmity of my heart against God, and “my iniquities,” as the Lord saith, “had separated me from my God,” (Isa. 59:2); here I behold my God and Saviour bringing me nigh by his blood, “even the blood of his cross,” and restoring peace to my soul in being himself my peace, whom though he “knew no sin was made sin for me, that I might be made the righteousness of God in him,” (2 Cor. 5:21).

And lastly, to crown all: I behold myself by the salvation of Christ set forth at his table, not only de­livered from sin and all its tremendous consequences, but by regeneration I am brought into the privileges of my adoption character, and sit down among the followers of God as dear children. I take my place at the Lord’s Table as one of the family; and enjoy that holy familiarity of going in and out at my Father’s house, and find pasture: the Spirit “wit­nessing with my spirit that I am a child of God. These are among the distinguishing characters of what is implied in a true spiritual enjoyment of the Lord’s people at the Lord’s Table. And as Israel after the flesh, by eating of the sacrifices, partook of all that belonged to their carnal apprehensions; how sure is it, that to all spiritual partakers of the Lord’s Supper, they are receivers of all that the Lord Jesus intended for them, by this gracious institution. Such may well say, and indeed ought to say, “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?” (1 Cor. 10:16).

I must not trespass. Indeed I need not upon the present occasion go further. The death of Christ which is set forth at the Lord’s Table proclaims in terms not to be mistaken, the state of sin which made that death necessary. And the infinite value and efficacy of that death, as fully proclaims the full­ness and completeness of salvation, accomplished thereby in the sole person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Every partaker of these holy mysteries, however short and defective in his own view of a suited frame for receiving, here finds alike prepara­tion with all; namely, a deep sense of sin, and as deep a sense of the suitableness and all-sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice for redemption. With these im­pressions wrought by sovereign grace on the soul, there can be no prevention to the right use of the ordinance: and without them, there can be no real enjoyment. A soul unconvinced of sin, can have no more to do with the Lord’s Supper, than a dead man hath with food, the deaf with sound, or the blind with colors.

I only add a prayer for the whole spiritual church of Christ; as Hezekiah besought the like blessing for the church in his day, saying: “The good Lord pardon everyone that prepared his heart to seek God, the Lord God of his fathers, though he be not cleansed according to the purification of the sanctuary.”

SACRAMENTAL MEDITATIONS.


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Providence Baptist Ministries

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Dr. Robert Hawker
(1753-1827)

Union and Communion with Christ


SACRAMENTAL MEDITATIONS.

VIII. JESUS IN HIS PRIESTLY OFFICE.


“And the angel did wonderously; and Manoah and his wife looked on.
For it came to pass, when the flame went up toward heaven
from off the altar, that the angel of the Loup ascended
in the flame of the altar.” Judges 13:19 & 20


Ordinances, especially those of sacrifices, which were appointed of the Lord under the Jewish dispen­sation, are shadowy representations of the scripture blessings under the gospel, and of a spiritual nature. They are outward tokens of an inward effect. And the Lord’s Supper in the emblems of bread and wine hath its design in setting forth thereby, the body and blood of Christ. Hence it may be considered a visible gospel, proposed to the eye, as the preaching of the gospel is to the ear, both meaning one and the same, even Christ. He is the substance; they are all sha­dows. Hence Paul, when writing to the church of the Galatians, reproves the people for their dullness in not apprehending divine things. “O foolish Gala­tians, (said he) who hath bewitched you that ye should not obey the truth? before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you,” (Gal. 3:1). It is more than probable that not a Galatian had been at Jerusalem, when Christ was crucified; but in the preaching of Christ and him crucified, as was Paul’s way and manner, the Lord of life and glory had been so blessedly set forth in the dignity of his person, and in the completeness and fullness of his salvation, as if they had visibly been present at the cross. And the same is everlastingly done, in all ages of the church; and when God the Holy Ghost gives grace to his servants to preach Christ, and accompanies that preaching by his divine unction, the person and work of Christ are realized to the spiritual view, and Christ “formed in the heart the hope of glory.”

And it is very blessed when, by regeneration, the, spiritual faculties are awakened, and brought forth into spiritual life, to the apprehension and enjoyment of divine things. Not only then the eye is spiritually enlightened to such views of Christ, and the ‘ear un­stopped to know the joyful sound; but the mouth is opened to receive and relish the sweet savor of Christ, as is the smell to the fragrance of Christ’s “ointment poured forth.” Hence the Psalmist, having enjoyed those rich things, calls upon the church to partake: “O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him,” (Ps. 34:8). And the prophet exults in the same: “Thy words (said he) were found, and I did eat them, and thy word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart; for I am called by thy name, O Lord God of Hosts!” (Jer. 15:16). And the spouse in the Canticles sung her love song to the same; when, in the rapture of her soul’s enjoyment, she said, “I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste,” (Song 2:3). But all these spiritual things presuppose spiritual life and health; for neither can the eye see, nor the ear hear, nor the mouth taste what is divine and spiritual, with natural faculties. The uniform language of scripture on this subject decidedly determines that “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are fool­ishness unto him; neither can he know them, (it is hot said that he will not, but that he cannot) because they are spiritually discerned:” for being in a state of un-renewed nature, he hath no spiritual faculties to discern and receive them by, (1 Cor. 2:14). Until, therefore, by regeneration, or the new birth, we are quickened into a new and spiritual life; though we hear the gospel preached, or behold the Lord’s Sup­per administered, yea, and partake of the outward signs of the bread and the wine, we have no real spi­ritual knowledge or enjoyment in the inward effect.

The Lord hath left upon record a striking repre­sentation of this, in the strong expostulation made with the church: “Speak unto all the people of the land, and to the priests, saying, when ye fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh month, even those seventy years, did ye at all fast unto me, even to me? And when ye did eat, and when ye did drink, did not ye eat for yourselves, and drink for yourselves?” (Zech. 7:5-6). The people had no communion with the Lord in these mere forms of worship: “Thou art near in their mouth, (said the prophet,) and far from their reins,” (Jer. 12:2). And, to the same amount are those solemn declarations of our Lord: “Many will say to use in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name cast out devils, and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them I never knew you: depart from me ye that work iniquity,” (Matt: 7:22-23). And yet, if possible, in stronger terms the Lord, in another part of his gospel, thus spake of such men: “Then shall ye begin to say, we have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets; but he shall say, I tell you I know you not whence ye are; depart from me all ye workers of iniquity,” (Luke 13:26-27).

We are awfully taught from those and the like scriptures, that the mere attendance on ordinances and means of grace, by persons un-awakened, un-re­generated, un-renewed in the spirit of their mind, all are nothing. And perhaps it is of all others the most portentous sign of the present day, when men under the specious name of evangelical profession, are ear­nest to the form, while unconscious of the power of godliness. Such are content with the name to live among men; but while unregenerate they are dead before God: they rest satisfied with the shadow and know nothing of the substance: they take the shell, but never taste the fruit. Judas was like one of those, concerning whom the Lord spake in the scriptures I just now referred to; he had both heard Christ preach, and had eaten and drunk in Christ’s presence; yea, he had gone forth himself to preach, and in common with the other disciples had done many wonderful works: for had he not, the discovery would have been made of the defect, waxen the dis­ciples returned to the Lord Jesus with joy at their success in his name, (Luke 10:17). Nay more-than these, the Lord had washed the feet of Judas, as we read, (John 13) for it was not until this service was over, and the Lord Jesus had taken his garments, and was sat down again, that he first brake the: awful intelligence unto them, that “one of them should be­tray him,” (ver. 21). Still further, when the Lord Jesus celebrated for the last time the Passover, Judas was a partaker; for we read that “when the hour was come, Jesus sat down and the twelve apostles with him,” consequently Judas was in the number, (Luke 22:14). And as the holy Supper immediately fol­lowed the Passover, Judas here also partook; for the Lord Jesus, after having distributed the .sacred elements among them, added, “But behold the hand of him that betrayeth me is with me on the table,” (vv. 17-21). But in the midst of all these things Judas was still Judas, and, as our Lord called him, a devil: “Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?” (John 6:70). And though this example is indeed in the highest and most finished degree of awfulness, yet there is nothing singular in the hypocrisy of the thing itself; it Math been such in all ages from the first, and will continue to the last. We read that “when the sons of God came to pre­sent themselves before the Lord, Satan came also among them,” (Job 1:6; Zech. 3:1). And, what have the true spiritual church of Christ to do with this? Did the presence of Judas mar the divine efficacy of the holy Supper to the faithful apostles at the institution? So neither can men nor devils hurt the sweet manifestation of Jesus in the celebration of it now. The conscious presence of the Lord in the Supper, and the spiritual enjoyment of the Lord in those hallowed seasons, will raise the child of God above himself, as well as above sin and Satan, and all the enemies of his salvation. “We are (saith Paul) in all these things more than conquerors, through him that loveth,” (Rom. 8:37).

With these objects in view let us attend to the more immediate portion of the text, and observe what instruction, under the Lord’s teaching, is to be gathered from it. The apostle calls upon the spiritual church of Christ to learn a very gracious lesson, even from the natural un-renewed Israelite, in his attending and eating of the sacrifices offered on the Jewish altar. “Behold Israel after the flesh: are not they which eat of the sacrifices, partakers of the altar?” Most unquestionably they are; for they have all that their carnal appetites desire. And shall not then the spiritual partakers of the feast on the sacrifice of the Lord’s Supper, be interested, and take part in all the blissful effects arising out of their union with Christ, their New Testament Altar?

To illustrate this doctrine yet more fully, the apostle had, in the opening of the chapter, stated a very beautiful account of the spiritual church of Christ, distinguished from Israel after the flesh, in shelving- that the people of God, when brought out of Egypt, were “under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and were all baptized unto Moses, in the cloud and in the sea; and did all eat the same spiritual meat, and did all drink the same spiritual drink; for they drank of that spiritual rock that fol­lowed them, and that rock was Christ.” But did not the whole body of the children of Israel follow the cloud, and pass through the sea? Yes. And were they not all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea? Yes. But here lay the vast difference, while to “the true Israel of God “the ordinances of baptism, and the spiritual meat and water of the rock became spiritual, and they truly did eye Christ in both; “Israel after the flesh” had no further en­joyment than in the carnal things themselves; and hence the apostle at the close of the statement adds, that “with many of them God was not well pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness:” and this is recorded, (Num. 26:64-65; Heb. 3:17).

Here, then, is the picture of the spiritual church of Christ in the wilderness, drawn under the direction of the Holy Ghost, by the pencil of the apostle Paul; in which you see that then, as now, carnal, un-renewed worshippers were mingled. They had the ordinances as we have, in which both professor and profane joined; but while to the spiritual seed of Abraham they became “the savour of life unto life,” to the Israel of the flesh they became “the savour of death unto death.” And in another scripture the Holy Ghost by the same apostle explains the cause: “For they are not all Israel which are of Israel; neither because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children; but in Isaac shall thy seed be called,” (Rom. 9:6-7). All this is plain and clear in rela­tion to the election of grace. Abraham had his Ishmael, and the sons of Keturah, as well as Isaac; and Isaac had an Esau, as well as Jacob; and no doubt the children all engaged alike in the sacrifices of the household. The sons of Eli also, in an after age of the church, whom the Holy Ghost calls “sons of Belial,” ministered in divine things; for they made themselves fat with the sacrifices: “wherefore the sin of the young men was very great before the Lord, for men abhorred the offering of the Lord,” (1 Sam. 2:12-17). To what age of the church shall we look for an exemption of such awful things?

One very interesting point I would beg to call to your attention on this subject, concerning these ordi­nances of being baptized, and eating, and drinking of spiritual food; namely, that Israel had similar ordi­nances in those things to ours; for is it not now, the same in the gospel church, baptism and the Lord’s Supper? If it had not been so designed, bow comes it to pass that circumcision and the Passover bad not been pointed at? Circumcision was the most ancient of all rites in the Jewish church; and the Passover was the first ordinance appointed when the church was about to be formed in the Exodus, or coming forth from Egypt and yet neither of these are men­tioned. Moreover, Paul tells us, under the teaching of the Holy Ghost, that the church then had the gospel preached unto them, as well as unto us now, (Heb. 4:2). But how was it preached in ordinances, except by baptism, and the eating of the spiritual meat, and drinking of the spiritual drink? And let me further observe in confirmation, that Christ is more than in any other service preached here in the wilderness in this service; for it is not said that, the rock, and the water issuing from the rock, was merely to shadow forth Christ; but that it was Christ himself: for “they drank of that rock that followed them, and that rock was Christ.” Now we frequently meet with scriptures which speak of the word of Christ, and the spirit of Christ; but this is stronger than either; for here the rock is said to be Christ himself, and the subject is rendered infinitely more striking thereby: for the mingling of the different characters in ordinances, only tends to discriminate “the precious from the vile.” The whole body of Israel ate of the same spiritual meat, and drank of the same spiritual drink; yea, the very cattle of Israel, no doubt, drank of the water of the rock; but what of that? And what was there more than that in the participation of Israel after the flesh? The Holy Ghost by his servant Jude hath stated this, when speaking of the ungodly, “in the use of those things which they know not, but what they know na­turally as brute beasts,” (Jude 10). It is a solemn thing for men un-regenerated, and in a state of nature, to be found in the use of means, and then live and die in the’ vanity of their minds; but here is no injury hereby to the true Israel of God. To use the words of the text, if Israel after the flesh partook of the sacrifices in eating bodily of the things offered on the altar; shall not the members of Christ’s mystical body as truly feed spiritually on Christ by faith? And is it not a direct acknowledgment by such acts, at every renewed celebration of the Lord’s Supper that they consider themselves as truly interested in all the efficacy of that all-sufficient sacrifice of their glorious Head, as if they themselves had offered it?

This then is the subject of our present sacramental meditation. In which I propose as the Lord shall be pleased to enable me, to consider, in the first place, the ground on which the holy Supper is founded, in the glorious person and finished salvation of our Lord Jesus Christ. And when I have performed this service, I shall hope that from an unction from the Holy Ghost, the spiritual church of Christ will then be led to see, and by faith enjoy, such a personal apprehension of right and inheritance, in this incommunicable. salvation of Christ, as to enter into the full participation; that as Israel after the flesh, by eating of the sacrifice, became a partaker of the altar, much more as the Lord Jesus himself hath said, “He that eateth me, even he shall live by me,” (John 6:57).

The subject in this point of view must be confessed to be abundantly precious and important. For on the presumption, that the regenerated child of God, in contemplating Christ, beholds him as his substituted surety and sacrifice; by virtue of this right from an union and oneness with Christ, he is to all intents and purposes implicated in all the benefits of his divine offering: and in the act of receiving, the communicant is considered as saying as much, in the service of the holy Supper.

And what endears this, yet the more is, that as the substitution of Christ for his body the church, is no act of the church, but the sole appointment of God himself in his trinity of persons; so the right of par­ticipation, in all the benefits of it, is no less resulting from the free gift of God. There are no provisions, no preparations, no worth, no merit, on the part of man; the Lord that provides the mercy prepares the heart for the mercy. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above!” The receivers are simply receivers, and no more. In themselves they are wholly passive. Salvation, as the light of heaven, or as the air we breathe, are wholly given. It is our mercy to receive the one, and live by the other. The Lord the Holy Ghost be so mercifully gracious with both speaker and hearer on this occasion, that we may “know the things which are freely given to us of God.”

I begin with the first branch of my subject, namely, the ground on which the holy Supper is founded. Now the very substitution of Christ in sacrifice for his people, implies a former breach between God and man; and which this glorious person’ became, as the prophet called him, “the repairer of the breach; the restorer of paths to dwell in,” (Isa. 58:12). This breach arising from sin was wholly on the part of man; for by the Adam-fall transgression, such a des­perate state of enmity took place against God in the human heart, as never on man’s part could be healed. The love of God to the persons of his people had no abatement, being an everlasting love, (Jer. 31:3). But to their sins God’s displeasure was manifested, by an intermission of communion. Now all the Holy Three in the Godhead took equal part in the reconcil­ing of the people to the Lord: but one of the divine persons by assuming into union with himself that holy portion of our nature, became the great Surety; and by his obedience and death, accomplished the mighty work, and thereby restored perfect order among the works of God.

I stay not, on the present occasion, to show how, and by what mysterious means, the Lord of life and glory wrought out man’s deliverance: such a subject is too extensive to come within the limits that I must now observe. Let it suffice to say, that by assuming our nature, taking the names and persons of his people, standing in our law room and stead, fulfilling all righteousness, and dying “the just for the unjust, to bring his people to God;” he manifested that he, and he alone, was competent to the mighty work; and fully answered to all the prophecies concerning “the most Holy, who should sell up the vision of prophecy, finish the transgression, make an end of sin, make reconciliation for iniquity, and bring in an everlasting righteousness,” (Dan. 9:24).

Now these sublime truths, with all the other gracious and glorious transactions in the gospel, furnished out the foundation on which the holy Supper of the Lord was instituted, and by the Lord himself. And most certain it is, that to all the redeemed and re­generated people of the Lord, who by divine teach­ing are enabled to realize these things in their souls; and to behold the substitution of Christ as the church’s surety; to live upon Christ’s person and Christ’s righteousness as the efficient means of salvation, the whole of redemption is confirmed. And from being received into the soul and lived upon, the church is enabled to behold Christ, as the statement of scrip­ture brings him home, for personal enjoyment made of God to the church, “wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption, that he that glorieth may glory in the Lord,” (1 Cor. 1:30-31).

From this short but plain testimony of the ground on which the holy Supper is founded, it will be easy, under the same divine teaching to discover, in what the spiritual participation of that sacred service con­sists; namely, in realizing our own personal interest in this substitution of Christ in all that he wrought, and which is set forth in that divine Supper.

For the better apprehension of the subject, allow me to state it somewhat personally. I will, for the sake of illustration, suppose, that under the Lord’s teaching I had received those impressions in my own mind; which I have just stated to you; namely, that the Supper of the Lord is founded on the complete and finished salvation, which the Lord Jesus Christ hath, in his own Almighty person, wrought out for his church and people: and that all the great events included in that high administration, are more or less set forth in that sweet and costly Supper. I call the service both sweet and costly; for as his name is most sweet, so are his divine works; and well may the ordinance which sets it forth be considered costly, since the “precious blood of Christ, as of a Lamb without blemish and without spot,” is therein represented.

I will suppose myself attending this sacred service, full of those ideas. I behold him there set forth as the complete substitution for his people. All my iniquities, and all my transgressions, and all my sins, having been laid upon him; I consider myself as so wholly and completely delivered from them, as though I had never been born in sin, neither committed a single transgression; but the whole charged on him as the mighty burden-bearer of all. I behold him also, completely “putting away sin by the sacrifice of himself,” (Heb. 9:26): and “by that one offer­ing of himself once offered, perfecting for ever them that are sanctified,” (Heb. 10:14).

But this is not all. As my sins, both original and actual, had justly subjected me to eternal death; I behold Christ in the sacred Supper, as having fathom­ed all the depths of pain, and suffering for those sins: taken out the sting of sin in the first death, and drunk up all the dregs of misery in the second; and by being “made both sin and a curse “for his people, hath redeemed them from the whole by the substitution of himself, and “forever delivered them from the wrath to come!”

Neither are these all the soul comforting views which I see and participate in at the holy Supper. I go further by divine illumination into the discovery of the blessings which so graciously are set forth at the Lord’s Table. For as sin had made such a deadly breach by the natural enmity of my heart against God, and “my iniquities,” as the Lord saith, “had separated me from my God,” (Isa. 59:2); here I behold my God and Saviour bringing me nigh by his blood, “even the blood of his cross,” and restoring peace to my soul in being himself my peace, whom though he “knew no sin was made sin for me, that I might be made the righteousness of God in him,” (2 Cor. 5:21).

And lastly, to crown all: I behold myself by the salvation of Christ set forth at his table, not only de­livered from sin and all its tremendous consequences, but by regeneration I am brought into the privileges of my adoption character, and sit down among the followers of God as dear children. I take my place at the Lord’s Table as one of the family; and enjoy that holy familiarity of going in and out at my Father’s house, and find pasture: the Spirit “wit­nessing with my spirit that I am a child of God. These are among the distinguishing characters of what is implied in a true spiritual enjoyment of the Lord’s people at the Lord’s Table. And as Israel after the flesh, by eating of the sacrifices, partook of all that belonged to their carnal apprehensions; how sure is it, that to all spiritual partakers of the Lord’s Supper, they are receivers of all that the Lord Jesus intended for them, by this gracious institution. Such may well say, and indeed ought to say, “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?” (1 Cor. 10:16).

I must not trespass. Indeed I need not upon the present occasion go further. The death of Christ which is set forth at the Lord’s Table proclaims in terms not to be mistaken, the state of sin which made that death necessary. And the infinite value and efficacy of that death, as fully proclaims the full­ness and completeness of salvation, accomplished thereby in the sole person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Every partaker of these holy mysteries, however short and defective in his own view of a suited frame for receiving, here finds alike prepara­tion with all; namely, a deep sense of sin, and as deep a sense of the suitableness and all-sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice for redemption. With these im­pressions wrought by sovereign grace on the soul, there can be no prevention to the right use of the ordinance: and without them, there can be no real enjoyment. A soul unconvinced of sin, can have no more to do with the Lord’s Supper, than a dead man hath with food, the deaf with sound, or the blind with colors.

I only add a prayer for the whole spiritual church of Christ; as Hezekiah besought the like blessing for the church in his day, saying: “The good Lord pardon everyone that prepared his heart to seek God, the Lord God of his fathers, though he be not cleansed according to the purification of the sanctuary.”

Every circumstance which hath the smallest reference, either to the person or character of the Lord Jesus, becomes very precious in the contemplation of his people. There is not a single event, connected with a matter so infinitely interesting, which can be consi­dered as trifling, or unimportant, to a truly awakened soul. And when we see with what a world of con­cern the Holy Ghost, in his scriptures of the Old Testament hath ushered in the wonderful subject, in the long train of types, and figures, and ceremonies, under the law, all shadowing the person and work of the Lord Jesus; it should seem, that nothing can more correspond to the mind of God, than following up those gracious intentions which he hath manifested in causing them to be thus recorded for the informa­tion and improvement of his church in all ages, by having frequent recourse to the sacred volume of the Old Testament, as one among the many methods of his grace, to confirm our faith in the New.

The text, if I mistake not, belongs to a very inter­esting record of this kind, in the manifestations of the Lord Jesus to a family of the house of Israel, a long series of years before his incarnation. It is said by one of the prophets, that “his goings forth have been of old; from everlasting.” And elsewhere, in the same volume, when represented under the character of Wisdom, the Son of God is introduced, as referring to the coming redemption, and saying of himself, “The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was; rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth, and my delights were with the sons of men.” Hence, therefore, it is evident that the Redeemer hath been set up as the covenant God-man, from everlasting. And it is also as evident that his goings forth have been corresponding thereunto. And, indeed, what are all the appearances which are met with in the Old Testament, of God to his people, sometimes in a human form, and at others, under the character of an angel, but evidences of those pre­cious truths? I stay not to particularize the instances; they are too numerous to be brought within the limits of a sermon. But they all serve to throw a light on those scriptures which relate such appearances. And they do somewhat more than this; for they not only confirm the fact, but they prove to us also his sweet testimony: that He, whose delights were with the sons of men, before they were called into existence, thereby anticipated the period of his manifestation in the flesh when creation work was completed; and therefore he graciously adopted such methods as those, to intimate how much he longed for that fullness of time, when by his righteousness and death he should do away the sins of his people, and “gather together in one, the children of God which were scattered abroad,” (John 11:52).

In the particular proof of it, to which out text re­fers, the history, as far as is connected with my present design, is to the following purpose. Manoah and his wife had received a visit from One who appeared to them in the form of a man. It is evident from the relation, that neither the man nor the woman, at the time of his appearance, bad any idea who this visitor was, for they asked his name, and were told that it was secret. But when, in the moment of offering sa­crifice, (which at their earnest request they were per­mitted to do) he ascended in the flame from off the altar, they then knew who it was; that it was He whom all sacrifices were designed to represent, and by faith in whose name all were offered up; and in confirmation of it, they both fell on their faces to the ground: and the man cried out under the impression of fear, from having seen the manifestation of the Shechinah, “We shall surely die, because we have seen God!” Nothing can be more decisive in proof that Manoah .considered the angel in this point of view, than the expression he used. For the sight of any created excellence, he well knew, was attended with no such danger. None of the children of Israel could be ignorant, that it is God alone of whom their scriptures declared, “Thou canst not see my face and live,” (Ex. 33:20).

I prosecute not the sequel of the history. It is this single trait of character, concerning the person and character of the Lord Jesus, here presented, to which I wish to limit your present attention. According to my conception of things, it affords a very sweet and encouraging view of our adorable Redeemer, in his priestly character; perhaps equal to any that can be found in the Old Testament Scripture.

The leading features of the representation seem to be these. In the first view of it, it sets forth that Christ alone is the true sacrifice, and the only un­mixed offering for sin. For the text saith, that while the “angel did wonderously, (according to his name which is wonderful—Isa. 9:6), the man and his wife looked on.” Thus believers behold Jesus with an eye of faith, in the accomplishment of his finished salvation. They look on and adore, but they can do no more. Nothing, indeed, can be mingled with the blood and righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ, to procure acceptance with God. For it is not said without an express allusion to this solemn transaction, that “when he made his soul an offering for sin, he trod the wine-press alone, and of the people there was none with him. His own arm brought salvation,” (Isa. 63:3-5).

In the next view of this representation, the subject spiritually considered; affords this delightful prospect also; that as the Lord Jesus is the alone sacrifice for sin, so is he the only Intercessor for sinners: for by “ascending in the flame from off the altar,” be as plainly manifested, that he it is alone who. carries up his own sacrifice as the oblation, and there ever lives to plead the efficacy of it for his people: agreeably o the language of the apostle, when, speaking of the Re­deemer under both parts of his priestly office, he saith, “when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high,” (Heb. 1:3).

Such is the interesting doctrine which this scripture opens to our view, by way of calling up our serious meditation. It forms a subject, therefore, at all times highly interesting, but more peculiarly appropriate to the communion service. You are about to approach the ordinance of commemoration of the sacrifice and death of the Lord Jesus. What subject can I bring be­fore you, equally suited to awaken under God the Spi­rit’s influence all the devout exercises of the heart?

Perhaps I may be speaking before some who in the very moment of approaching the’ table, are laboring under a cold and languid state of soul, and complain­ing of heart-straitenings in prayer. And it is possi­ble there may be others, like Mary of old at the se­pulcher, who, though seeking Jesus, are yet seeking a risen and ascended Saviour among dead ordinances. No doubt there are many present also, under various complaints by reason of sin and corruption; the buffetings of the enemy; and the darkness of their own hearts. Now to these and every other state of spiritual distress, one view of the Lord Jesus, in this his glorious mediatorial character, if presented to the soul by the Holy Ghost, will go further to quicken the heart, and excite the animated affections, than any other persuasives whatever. And if but one poor, timid disciple, shall be this day refreshed, so as to look through the ordinance itself, to behold and enjoy the God of ordinances, neither your attention nor my labor will be vain in the Lord.

What I propose from the subject, as God the Holy Ghost shall be pleased to enable me, is, in the first place, to consider some of the more prominent fea­tures in this perfect sacrifice of the Lord Jesus, which are represented in the text, by “the Angel’s doing wonderously;” the man and his wife bearing no part in it, “but only looking on.” And, secondly, to con­sider some of the outlines of the Redeemer’s charac­ter as our Intercessor before God, shadowed in the latter part of the text, under these expressions, that when “the flame went up toward heaven from off the altar he ascended in the flame.” And may that God, whose office it is, “to take of the things of Jesus, and to shew them to” his people, so graciously be with us in this undertaking, that, “seeing (as the apostle says) we have such an High Priest who is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, we may hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us, therefore, come boldly unto the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

I am, in the first place, according to my proposals, to consider some of the more prominent features in the perfect sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ.

In the accomplishment of this, I stay not to go over the ground of argument in quest of proofs, for the expediency of such a measure. I shall, for once, assume this for granted. Indeed, the offering of the body of the Lord Jesus upon the cross, carries with it the fullest and most satisfying testimony, both of its expediency, and of its infinite importance. The death of Christ decidedly determines the utterly lost and ruined state of nature, void of such a sacrifice: “for (as an apostle saith on the subject, and which is as much the decision of reason as of revelation,) if one died for all, then were all dead,” (2 Cor. 5:14). The death of Christ fully declares, that an adequate atonement for sin was required, both to wash away its guilt, and to stop its penal effects. Every victim slain upon every altar from the fall of Adam to the death of Christ, loudly proclaimed that without shed­ding of blood there was no remission,” (Heb. 9:22); and common sense became the echo to the voice of the gospel, under this particular, when it is said, that “it is not possible for the blood of bulls and of goats to take away sin,” (Heb. 10:4). And the death of Christ, which both proclaimed the ruined state of man, and the necessity of an atonement for his reco­very, as plainly taught that that nature could not be repaired, nor that atonement made by the sinner him­self, either in a way of doing or of suffering. For a nature so maimed and corrupt could never be com­petent to the obedience of a holy law for the future, nor to the purposes of a holy sacrifice for the breaches of the past; and therefore it must follow, that with­out a substitute, in the person of the Lord Jesus, our fallen nature must have remained exposed to the just judgment of God to all eternity.

Upon this foundation rests that infinitely precious doctrine, which arises out of the priestly character of our Lord Jesus; and which God the Eternal Spirit considered so truly momentous, as to cause it to be preached to the church in types and shadows, similar to the instance in the text, in all the antecedent ages, until the period of its being accomplished in reality in the person of Christ. And perhaps among the in­teresting subjects connected with redemption, nothing can be more satisfying to the soul of every true be­liever in Jesus, than to observe how exactly corres­ponding to all our wants in every particular, the great Author of salvation appeared for the accomplishment of this wonderful undertaking. It forms, indeed, one of our most pleasing studies, to trace the footsteps of Jesus in his goings forth to the service.

To answer the full purposes of redemption, it be­came necessary that the righteous law of God, which man had broken, should be repaired, and that the pe­nalty due to the breach of it should be paid. He, therefore, and he alone, whose spotless purity might fulfill the one and satisfy the other, could be compe­tent to this work. “Such an High Priest (saith an apostle) became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens,” (Heb. 7:26). And such was the Lord Jesus Christ; for, in the union of the divine nature with the human, we discover a character adequate to this end. As man, he had a body properly prepared and fitted to all the purposes of doing and suffering. For assuming our nature, by the miraculous concep­tion of the Virgin Mary, without the medium of a hu­man father; though he took upon him the form of man, he took none of the infirmities of man: though “in all points like as we are,” yet it was without sin, (Heb. 4:15). As God, the almightiness of his person gave a divine efficacy to all that he wrought in the great work of redemption. And by the junction of both that most essential and distinguishing part of his priestly character, as a day’s-man or mediator between God and man, was provided, to accommodate the breach which sin had made. None but he, who as one with God and was God, knew the mind of God, could say what was suitable, or what was becoming the dignity of God to accept by way of reconciliation; and none but he, who as man participated in all the feelings of man, could know what a being of such weakness and inability as man had to offer. Hence, therefore, in the mysterious union of person, in which the Lord Jesus came and tabernacled among us, (little as our greatest researches can do in the discovery of this wonderful subject) we see enough to prove that He, of whom such things are said, could alone be truly competent to the great work of our redemption.

It was in this glorious character that the Lord Je­sus came; for the purpose of our redemption, he appeared as our representative, and became the surety and sponsor for his people. He pledged him­self in our stead to fulfill the whole law of God; and when he had accomplished this purpose, he offered himself a spotless sacrifice on the cross, to do away the penalty due to the breaches of it; and by both, “having (as an apostle speaks) obtained eternal re­demption for us, he hath for ever perfected them that are sanctified,” (Heb. 10:14).

I should think it a reproach to your understanding to suppose it necessary to insist on that very obvious doctrine which the text hints at; I mean, that in all this, in which the angel of the covenant hath done so wonderously, there is nothing of ours joined with it; we look on, as Manoah and his wife did; we admire and adore the riches of divine grace; and we do right to fall in humble silence, adoration, and praise, on our faces to the earth before him. But never forget, that it was “his own arm that, brought salvation. For of the people, there was none with him,” (Isa. 63:3 & 5). The flame on every altar burnt up every sacrifice, and must have burnt for ever, as an indication of God’s fiery indignation against sin, had not Jesus’ blood been sprinkled on the altar to appease it. And remember also that Je­sus in his ascension took nothing with him of ours for acceptance before God. Your best prayers, your best services, your richest offerings, ascend but like the smoke of the altar, and, like smoke without flame, are sullied with a thousand impurities. Happy is it for us that Jesus perfumes them with the incense of his merits, and that both our persons and our prayers are all accepted in the beloved.

But what gives the finishing view to the whole, and stamps validity upon all that Jesus did and suffered for his people, is the precious consideration, that re­demption-work is the united operation of all the per­sons of the Godhead, and is as much the act of grace in the Father, and the anointing of the Holy Spirit, as it is the voluntary undertaking of the Lord Jesus, for the purposes of salvation.

I know not, my brother, what your feelings may be in this view of our subject; but to me, I confess, such a conviction carries with it a testimony so precious and interesting, that I would not be without for a thousand worlds. For when the corruptions of my heart, aided by the temptations of Satan, would prompt me to fear, that however complete and satis­factory, to all the demands of God’s righteous law, the merits and sufferings of the Lord Jesus may be in themselves; yet when unbelief cries out, How do I know that they are accepted before God? how de­lightful is it then to be assured, that in all the Lord Jesus did and suffered, he was appointed thereunto, in a covenant way, by the Father! It is God the Father which saith, “Behold my servant whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth: I have put my spirit upon him, he shall bring forth judgment to the gentiles. I the Lord have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the gentiles. To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house,” (Isa. 62:1, 6-7). I have laid help upon one that is mighty; I have exalted one chosen out of the peo­ple: I have found David my servant; with my holy oil have I anointed him,” (Ps. 89:19-20). Hence, therefore, in all the gracious undertakings of our adored Redeemer, for the accomplishment of our salvation, he was solemnly set apart by the Father, and inaugurated to the work by the holy anointing of the blessed Spirit and all confirmed by the solemnity of an oath. “The Lord sware and will not repent, thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchise­dech,” (Ps. 110:4). And that the apostle Paul considered this as a matter of the highest moment to the peace and security of the believer, is evident from his observations upon it in his Epistle to the Hebrews: “No man (saith the apostle) taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron. So also Christ glorified not himself, to be made an high priest, but he that said unto him, Thou art my son, this day have I begotten thee,” (Heb. 5:4-5).

And when the Lord Jesus is introduced by the spirit of prophecy, in the church of old, as coming in this character, he is represented as entering upon the work of redemption by the express appointment of the Father. “Wherefore (saith the sacred writer) when he cometh into the world he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou pre­pared me: in burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure: then said I, Lo, I come; in the volume of the book it is written of me, to do thy will, O God,” (Heb. 10:5). Hence we have full authority to draw this conclusion: that the great work of salvation is as much the Father’s will, as it is the Son’s pleasure; and that the believer, at the same time, may not overlook the gracious part which God the Holy Ghost took in the concurring opera­tion, the apostle is careful to tell the church, that when the Lord Jesus offered himself an offering for sin to purge our consciences from dead works to serve the living God, he “did it through the Eternal Spirit,” (Heb. 9:14).

Never lose sight, then, I beseech you, of the Father’s appointment and the Holy Ghost’s anoint­ing, when you behold the Lord Jesus in the character of our Redeemer. But as often as you look up to him in this precious point of view, call to mind that unanswerable plea for acceptance before God, when drawing nigh the mercy seat, that while you seek his favor, it is in the very way God himself hath ap­pointed. And when at any time you hear with the ear of faith, that voice, which while pointing to the Lamb of God, saith, “This is my beloved Son, hear ye him,” (Matt. 17:5); do you echo to the divine teaching that prayer which God the Holy Ghost hath left upon record, for the use of the church in all ages, and say, as you are there taught: “Behold, O God, our shield, and look upon the face of thine anointed,” (Ps. 84:9).

But the subject suggested to us in the text cloth not end with prefiguring the Redeemer in his com­plete and finished sacrifice; another delightful view of his priestly work opens beyond it, when ascending in the flame from off the altar; and affords this doc­trine also, that it is one and the same person who completes redemption work upon earth, and carries up with him into heaven his own blood and righte­ousness, as our all-prevailing Intercessor, to plead the merits of both for the acceptance of his people before God. This was the second branch of dis­course which I proposed from this subject; and to this let us now direct our attention.

So infinitely interesting is this part of the priestly work in the Redeemer’s character, that God the Holy Ghost was pleased, by the ministry of his ser­vants in the early church, to cause this leading doc­trine to be prefigured, in various shadowy representations.

Under the law, the high priest, on the great day of atonement, was enjoined to enter into the holy of holies (which was well understood by the people to be a figure of heaven) not without blood, “which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people,” (Heb. 9:7). And, that an object of so much impor­tance might not he left to the mere conjecture of human interpretation, an apostle had it in command from the same Almighty Teacher, to tell the church, that “The Holy Ghost thus signified, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while the first tabernacle was yet standing. But Christ, being come an High Priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building, neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood, entered in once into the holy place, hav­ing obtained eternal redemption for us,” (Heb. 9:8, 11- 12). And, as it is expressed in another Scrip­ture, “he is entered into heaven itself, there to ap­pear in the presence of God for us,” (Heb. 9:24).

Still carrying on the interesting subject of redemp­tion, by so many separate and distinct views of the Redeemer’s character in his priestly work, the Holy Ghost was further pleased, by the ministry of his servants in the early church, to cause to be prefigured, by other shadowy representations, the inte­rest which Jesus always takes in the concerns of his people. Hence the high priest was enjoined to go in unto the holy place for a memorial continually be­fore the Lord, with the names of the children of Israel in the breast-plate of judgment upon his heart. And Aaron (it is said) “shall bear the names of the children of Israel in the breast-plate of judgment upon his heart, when he goeth in unto the holy place, for a memorial before the Lord continually,” (Ex. 28:29). Hereby manifesting that the Lord Jesus carries in the names of his people continually, and sets them as a “seal upon his heart, and as a seal upon his arm,” when presenting himself before the Father, saying, “Behold I and the children which God hath given me,” (Heb. 2:13). And in order to convey the clearest testimony, that both the per­sons and the offerings of the people depended for acceptance on the incense of the Redeemer’s merits, the high priest was further enjoined “to take a cen­sor full of burning coals of fire from off the altar be­fore the Lord, and his hands full of sweet incense, beaten small, and bring it within the vail,” (Lev. 16:12).

We never can sufficiently express our thankful­ness to God the Holy Ghost, in that he hath gra­ciously condescended to explain to us himself, by the ministry of his servant John the apostle, the direct reference of these typical representations to the per­son and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. From him we learn, that all pointed to Jesus, as so many rays of light converging into one centre. For when the Redeemer appeared to the apostle many years after his ascension, he appeared to him in his priestly gar­ments, thereby intimating that he wore the priesthood still, and in that character always appears for his people before God. He saw him also standing at the altar with his golden censor, and offering much in­cense, with the prayers of all saints, to testify that it was He whom the high priest under the law prefi­gured, and that the acceptance both of the person and offerings of his people are found in the incense of his merits. And in order that the church might never lose sight of the everlasting efficacy of his finished sacrifice, while contemplating the Lord Jesus in his unchangeable priesthood, John saw him also, “as a Lamb as it had been slain, in the midst of the throne,” (Rev. 5:6): thus testifying, that the blood of Jesus, which Paul calls a “speaking blood,” (Heb. 12:24), still pleads, and ever will plead, until grace is consummated in glory, for the salvation of his church and people.

How very sweet and encouraging are these illus­trations of the Redeemer’s priestly work, in addition to all the other parts of his character, for the mind to lean upon in its hopes of acceptance, when ap­proaching God!

Neither must it for a moment be forgotten, that in the whole of those services of the Lord Jesus, both the right by which he pleads, and the covenant en­gagements by which the Father is pledged to answer; both the everlasting love of the one, in which re­demption work is founded, and the eternal merits of the other, by which the redemption itself is pur­chased; all unite to give virtue and efficacy to what the Lord Jesus hath done, and is doing for his people.

And let me beg of you, while contemplating this subject, always to connect in one view the Father’s love and the Redeemer’s merit, as the united sources of your salvation. Remember what Jesus hath said upon the occasion: “I say not unto you (says Christ) that I will pray the Father for you, for the Father himself loveth you because you have loved me,” (John 16:26-27). What Jesus demands as a right by redemption; is in one and the same moment the Father’s gift from rich mercy. For while we are fully taught, that “we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins,” we are no less taught, that “it is to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the be­loved,” (Eph. 1:6).

Largely as I have trespassed, in following up the illustration of this important doctrine, I must not dis­miss it without desiring that you will take with you some at least of those highly interesting reflections which arise out of it.

In the infinite merits of the sacrifice and everlast­ing priesthood of the Lord Jesus, are founded all the hopes of the acceptance of every poor sinner before God. Whether we approach the mercy-seat in ordinances in this life, or when we come to stand before the throne of judgment in another, these be­come the only possible medium of divine favor, for “there is salvation in no other, neither is there any other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved,” (Acts 4:12).

Light and inconsiderate persons may rush into God’s presence, in the engagement of holy ordi­nances, as the unthinking horse rushes into the battle; but this is what Solomon calls the “sacrifice of fools, who know not that they do evil,” (Eccl. 8:1). It is possible I may be speaking before one of this description; if so, shall I beg of you, my unthinking brother, to pause over the subject we have been contemplating, if it be but a moment only, and ask your own heart whether you have ever seriously considered the subject as you ought, and with that reverence it demands. We read in Holy Scripture, that “God is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity:” that lie “requireth truth in the inward parts:” that he “searcheth the heart and trieth the reins: “and that “he will be sanctified in all them that draw nigh to him.” Are you prepared for this inspection from any righteousness in yourself? Can you venture to say, “Try me, O God, and search the ground of my heart, for thou shalt find no wick­edness in me? “Is it possible that any man can be so great a stranger to what passes within, as to fancy that he has anything of his own to offer before God? If the sons of Aaron, under the Levitical priesthood, were devoured, when offering “strange fire before the Lord,” (Lev. 10:1-2); can you think that under the gospel, the presumption of seeking acceptance in any way contrary to the divine appointment will be less dangerous? And is it not seeking it contrary to the divine appointment, when, instead of wholly rest­ing on the merits and intercession of the Lord Jesus, we bring somewhat of our own for justification; or, what is much the same thing, seek to mingle it for acceptance with the righteousness of Christ? What is this short of what the apostle calls, “treading under foot the Son of God, counting the blood of the Covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and doing despite unto the Spirit of Grace?” (Heb. 10:29).

While I very earnestly recommend these solemn considerations to the congregation at large, and more particularly to that part of it, who may not have begun as yet to reflect seriously upon the subject at all, I beg leave to drop a word of encouragement and consolation to those true believers in Jesus, who are seeking acceptance with God through this only me­dium in which it can be found, the finished salvation of the Lord Jesus Christ.

How animating, my brother, ought this view of Jesus, in his priestly character, to be to your heart! Convinced as you are, that in yourself you have no­thing to bring and nothing to offer before God, by way of propitiation, is it not sweet, with the eye of faith, to see Jesus, having completed redemption work upon earth, now going in as the priest, and sacrifice, and intercessor also, before the Father in heaven? That the apostle Paul thought this enough to encou­rage every heart is evident hence, for he makes this the foundation of all our hopes, and the sure means of all our acceptance. “Seeing (says he) we have such an high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.” And as if aware, in the moment of recommending it., some poor, self-condemned sinner might still be distressed and kept back through fear, the apostle sweetly acids, “For we have not an high priest that cannot be touched with the feelings of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin,” (Heb. 4:14-16). As if he had said, Forget not that your great intercessor knows what your feelings are from his own. He commiserates your state under trial; from having passed through every possible instance of it himself. He hath largely experienced what temptations are, and therefore, “knoweth how to succour them that are tempted. Let us come boldly, therefore, to the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help, in time of need.”

Make application of this precious consideration of the apostle’s to every case, as it may be necessary among you, and see how unanswerable it is in its appeal-to the hearts of all the faithful. Are you mourning from a coldness of affection and indisposi­tion to divine things? Are you in darkness, and the hidings of God’s countenance, and crying out with one of old, “Why standest thou so far off, O Lord, and hidest thy face, in the needful time of trouble?” Is there a trembling sinner present, groaning under the burthen of fresh contracted guilt, and saying with David, “My sins have taken Such hold upon me, that I am not able to look up; yea, they are more in number than the hairs of my head, and my heart hath failed me?” Have any of you lost your former tokens of the renewed life, and are tempted by the enemy to believe that you have no interest in the covenant? Do you complain, my brother, of a dead silence at the mercy seat, and that God refuses to hear and answer prayer? What shall give consolation to cases of such peculiar distress as these, and the like, but the view of Jesus as the high priest of our holy call­ing, going in before the throne of God, and present­ing himself and his finished righteousness for the ac­ceptance of his people! Doth not the Holy Ghost graciously hold him up to our view, through all the Scriptures, for this express end? Did not the Re­deemer himself appear to the beloved John, in his priestly vestments, on purpose to teach the church these precious truths? And was it not in effect saying to him, and to all believers through him, ‘See, I wear the priesthood still. I ever live to make intercession for you.’

How great, how very great, the relief which the troubled soul feels from this assurance! And do I not know that by virtue of this act of the Lord Jesus, even in the very moment I am speaking of it, his blood is speaking for every one of his people before the throne in heaven!

What shall I add, unless it be an earnest prayer to God, that while under these impressions of his grace, we may enter into the full meaning of the apostle’s precept: “Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest, by the blood of Jesus; by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say his flesh; and having an High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart, in full assurance of faith.”

Dr. Hawker Index

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