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kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; that ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he might sift you as wheat: but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren. And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death. And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me.
And he said unto them, When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye any thing; and they said, Nothing. Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one. For I say unto you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in me, And he was reckoned among the transgressors: for the things concerning me have an end. And they said, Lord, behold, here are two swords. And he said unto them, It is enough.
What a mournful reflection is it that corrupt nature should still prevail so far, even in the hearts of such pious men as the apostles in the main were, that after so long a converse with Christ they should still be so unlike him, and bring their eager contentions about superiority, in a state of temporal grandeur they were never to see, into the last hours they spent with their Master, and even to one of the most holy and solemn ordinances of religion! Such are the vain dreams of ambition, and with such empty shadows does it amuse the deluded mind.
Who would not gladly continue with Christ in the strictest fidelity, amidst all the trials which can arise, when he observes how liberally he repays his servants, and how graciously he seems to relish his own honours the more in proportion to the degree in which those honours are shared with them; ap. pointing them a glorious kingdom, and erecting thrones for each of them! And surely, though the apostles of the Lamb are to have their peculiar dignity in the great day of his umph, there is a sense in which he will perform to every
one that overcometh, that yet more condesending promise, I will grant him to sit down with me on my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father on his throne. (Rev. iii. 21.) Let our souls in that confidence be strengthened to all the labours and sufferings to which he may call us forth.
Alas, how ready are we to forget ourselves; and how much safer are we in Christ's hands than in our own! How frequently do we resolve like Peter, and in how many instances do we fall like him! We see the malice of Satan, and how eagerly he desired to try the apostles, and even to sift them as wheat; we see also the gracious care of our Redeemer, who, foreseeing the danger of his servants, laid in an unsought remedy, to which they respectively owed their security, or their recovery.
Let us rejoice that the great enemy is under such restraints, and can have no power against us, unless by permission from above. Let us rejoice that Christ is a constant and invariable Friend to his people; and still appears as an Advocate with the Father, and as a tender faithful Shepherd, watching over them for good, while Satan is seeking to devour them. (1 Pet. v. 8.) If at any time that adversary get an advantage over us, let us endeavour in the strength of Divine grace an immediate recovery; and when restored, let us exert ourselves to strengthen our brethren: for surely it is most reasonable that we, who are surrounded with such various, and such sensible infirmities, should have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way. (Heb. v. 2.)
MATTHEW XXVI. 27-29. MARK XIV. 23-25. LUKE XXII. 20. 1 COR. XI. 25.
LIKEWISE also after supper he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; and they all drank of it. This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for you and for many, for the remission of sins. This do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. Verily I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom.
Let us now review, with most thankful acknowledgment, this gracious legacy of our dying Redeemer, this reviving and
nourishing ordinance, which he instituted for the benefit of his church the same night in which he was betrayed. (1 Cor. xi. 23.) So tenderly did his love for them prevail when his heart was full of his own sorrows! May we always consider to what purposes this holy rite was ordained; and as we shall see the wisdom of the appointment, so we shall also be both awakened to attend to it, and assisted in that attendance !
It is the memorial of the death of Christ, by which we represent it to others, and to ourselves. May we be ever ready to give this most regular and acceptable token, that we are not ashamed to fight under the banner of a crucified Redeemer ! It is also the seal of the new covenant in his blood. Let us adore the grace that formed and ratified that everlasting covenant, so well ordered in all things, and so sure. (2 Samuel xxiii. 5.) And whenever we approach to this sealing ordinance may we renew our consent to the demands of that covenant, and our expectation of those blessings which are conveyed by it! a consent and expectation so well suited to the circumstance of its being ratified by the blood of Jesus. Thus may every attendance nourish our souls in grace, and ripen them for glory; that at length all may be fulfilled and perfected in the kingdom of God.
In the mean time may God, by the influences of his Spirit, give to all professing Christians right notions of this ordinance, and a due regard for it; that, on the one hand, none may, under the specious pretence of honouring it, live in the habitual neglect of so plain and important a duty; and that, on the other, it may never be profanely invaded by those who have no concern about the blessings of that covenant it ratifies, and impiously prostitute it to those secular views, above which it was intended to raise them! And may none that honour the great Author of it encourage such an abuse, lest they seem to lay the very cross of Christ as the threshold to the temple of those various idols to which ambitious and interested men are bowing down their souls!
JOHN XIV. 1—14.
LET not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye
may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.
Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest: and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.
Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father: and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.
We see in the beginning of this section that care of Christ over his servants which may engage us cheerfully to trust him for providential supplies, when employed in his work; so we see in the remainder of this, and in the following discourses, the most affectionate discoveries of the very heart of our blessed Redeemer, overflowing in every sentence with the kindest concern, not only for the safety but the comfort of his people. We see a lively image of that tenderness with which he will another day wipe away all tears from their eyes. (Rev. vii. 17.) Surely when he uttered these words he was also solicitous that our hearts might not be troubled: and therefore has provided a noble cordial, the strength of which shall continue to the remost ages, even faith in his Father and in him. Oh may that blessed principle be confirmed by what we have now been reading !
Let us observe with what a holy familiarity our Lord speaks of the regions of glory; not, as his servants do, like one dazzled and overwhelmed with the brightness of the idea; but as accustomed and familiarized to it by his high birth. In my Father's house are many mansions; (delightful and reviving thought!) and many inhabitants in them, whom we hope through grace will be our companions there, and every one of them increase and multiply the joy.
It was not for the apostles alone that Christ went to prepare a place: he is entered into heaven as our Forerunner, (Heb. vi. 20); and we, if we are believers indeed, may be said, by virtue of our union with him, to sit together in heavenly places in him. (Eph. ii. 6.) Let us continually be tending thither, in more affectionate desires, and more ardent pursuits. We know the way; we hear the truth; oh may we also feel the life! By Christ, as the true and living way, may we come to the Father; that we may have eternal life, in knowing him, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom he has sent ! (John xvii. 3.) In Christ may we see him, and have our eyes and our hearts open to those beams of the Divine glory which are reflected from the face of his only-begotten Son, who is full of grace and truth! (John i. 14.) Has he been thus discovered to us, as our Father, and our God, let it suffice us. Let it diffuse a sacred and lasting pleasure over our souls, though other desirable objects may be veiled or removed; and engage us to maintain a continual fellowship with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. (1 John i. 3.)
To this we are invited by every declaration of his readiness to hear and answer our prayers: and though those miraculous powers of the Spirit are ceased, whereby the apostles were enabled to equal, or even to exceed, the works of their Master, yet as we have so many important errands to the throne of grace, in which the glory of God and the salvation of our souls is concerned, let us come with a holy boldness to it, in dependance on Jesus, that great High Priest over the house of God, who is passed into the heavens, and amidst all the grandeur of that exalted state regards his humble followers on earth, and ever appears under the character of their Advocate and their Friend.