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necessitous that had the feast. "Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled." The living water, the life-giving bread, the manna that came down from heaven, the wine and milk without money, and without price, all his provisions are bestowed alike. "He filleth the hungry with good things, and the rich he sends empty away."
Our title to partake of the Sacrament is the same as our title to partake of Christ; we do not purchase the tokens, while we take the grace for nought; merit the shadows, and have the substance free. If the fears of the timid are to be removed, I think they must be met upon this ground: for whatever be the exclusive character of the ceremony, as limited to the family of God, the seal of adoption is an invisible one; until it be realised, sometimes slowly, often imperfectly, and it may be never fully, in the signs of divine life within the soul. Admitting that the benefits to be derived from the Holy Communion are confined to those who are alive in Christ, and united to him by a living faith, and cannot in any wise be partaken of by those who are yet dead in trespasses and sins, which I most fully do: I for myself must say, that I cannot agree with those who require that the communicant should certainly know that he is born again of the Spirit, and made one with Christ, before he presents himself to eat and drink at the table of the faithful. It is one thing to be
in a state of grace, and another to realise confidently the fact that we are so. I doubt if the apostles themselves, at the time they received their first commnnion, could have met the inquiry so put; though to the simple question, "Lovest thou me?" they could all have answered, "Yea, Lord." Many are renewed in the Spirit, and justly hope they are, and with more or less confidence, do even believe they are— who would yet hesitate to approach the altar, and declare that they know themselves to be so. The suggestions of Satan, and the infirmities of the flesh, produce uncertainties, where there need be none; while there is many a living member of the body of Christ, in whom the signs of life are for a season so indefinite, and overborne by earthliness, it is only God can know if they be genuine: the doubting disciple may be afraid, and may have some reason to be afraid that sin has still dominion over him: but so far from forbidding such a one, awakened to a sense of his condition, and seeking deliverance by the blood of Christ, I should invite and urge him to communicate, as a means through which more grace might prayerfully and hopefully be expected.
Satan is very subtle, and there is a principle within us more subtle even than he; the principle of self-righteousness, so tenacious, it will catch at the shadow of a straw to maintain itself. Christ is our title to salvation, but where
is our title to Christ? Here are the emblems of his blood shed, and body broken, but how do we know if they are designed for us? The secret decrees of the eternal godhead have not been found too distant a place to hide away the sinner's title to his Saviour, lest haply he should find it, and take possession. How do we know if we were in Christ before the foundation of the world, chosen of God and precious, foreknown and predestinate to life and union with him;without which we cannot eat his flesh, or drink his blood, or appropriate the blessings of these holy mysteries? I believe that Jehovah has, because he says he has, his hidden ones, his secret covenant, his eternal purpose, his fixed immutable decrees. But, like the plan itself of their salvation, the election of grace is the secret of omnipotence, into which we are not called upon to look, nor can look, except as it is manifested in its effects. We are not called upon to know, we cannot know, that we were in Christ when he died, or in the covenant when he undertook to die, otherwise than by discerning that we are in him now. "Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven?—that is to bring Christ down from above; or Who shall descend into the deep?-that is to bring Christ again from the dead. But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is the word of faith which we preach." Whatever may have been done, or
written, or determined in the eternal councils of Jehovah, all that we are cognizant of is transacted here: salvation was wrought out on earth, within the reach of mortal sense and knowledge: and it is on earth that our title to it must be made out, our interest in it made sure, not by discovery of our names written in those unopened books of heaven, but in the traces of the Spirit working in our hearts, in the word that our mouths can utter, and the faith that our hearts can feel; the word of promise that tells us, such and such are the heirs of salvation; in the answer of faith that testifies we are such and such, and takes the promise home. The doctrine of an elect and foreordained people, in connection with the responsibility of man, is a mystery as unsearchable to human reason, as that of the atonement, God manifest in the flesh: but like that also, it appears to me in its application to the soul, the simplest thing possible: never more simply exhibited, than in the teaching of Him, to whom those secret decrees were no secret, but who used them only as he left them for our use. When Jesus had his pre-elected twelve to bring out from that unbelieving nation, his first address to them was, "Follow me;" the same it is to all of us, as if they were to do it of their own free-will. "If any man will be my disciple, let him forsake all that he hath, and follow me, and he shall have treasure in heaven;" as if it were submitted to their preference.
any man will keep my commandments, the Father will love him ;" as if divine love were the reward of obedience. "Thy faith hath saved thee;" as if faith were the originating cause of salvation. "Ask, and ye shall have, seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you;" as if the first movement was to be their own, something which they could do if they would, and were responsible if they would not. Would he have satisfied them, think ye, if they had wanted first to be assured of their interest in him who bade them follow; if Peter had refused to leave his nets, and Matthew his receipt of custom, till they could make out their title in the eternal covenant: if they had insisted on realising the personal application, the individual benefit of that bread before they ate it, that wine before they drank it:-" What is that to thee?" Jesus addressed all upon their responsibility: with motives and inducements that should act upon their determination: but Jesus did not leave them without the blessed assurance of their title to salvation; nor in any mistake as to the means by which it had become theirs: for he tells them they were the Father's, before they became his, that he had chosen them, they had not chosen him; and blessed were they whose names were written in heaven. This is irreconcileable. It is so: and be it so. But here are the precious emblems of the body and blood of Christ; they are offered, not to a person, but to a character,