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ON THE HEAVENLY COMMUNION TO BE HEREAFTER ENJOYED WITH OUR LORD.
IN the Lord's Supper the Apostle tells the Corinthians, as often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup, ye do shew forth the Lord's death till he come. Till the return of our beloved Lord and Master the cup of blessing which we bless is the communion of the blood of Christ, and the bread which we break is the communion of the body of Christ.
But when that all-glorious and blessed hope to those who look for the Saviour is realized, and he appears in glory, we shall be like him, and see him as he is, and ever be with him. The words till he come seem to imply that we shall not need this memorial of his body and blood when we shall have his glorified body in the midst of us, and we behold all that amazing glory, with which he is now encompassed, for ever.
'TILL HE COME'-how many blessed thoughts may these words awake in the heart of every faithful communicant! They warn him first against confounding his present privileges with the mercies that
are in store. They are the voice of heavenly love, reminding him, in the time of richest present grace, Thou shalt see greater things than these. This is but the earnest and the foretaste; the fulness is to come. We are so apt to be content with little when God would give us much; the oil of divine grace is stayed so often, through want of an open vessel to receive it, that we need most of all, at this holy feast, to raise our thoughts still higher, to enlarge our desires still further, and to wait by hope for the full glory that is to be revealed.
'Till he come.' Then every sacrament is a sacrament and pledge of our Lord's return. It is a herald to announce that he is on his way. It is a present earnest of richer blessings to be given at his appearing. It is an assurance that the Lord of the vineyard will not be absent for ever; and that shortly, in the appointed season, his glory shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.
These words remind us then of our duty and our privilege in this holy ordinance. Our duty is to remember and show forth not only the death of Christ, but his kingdom also. We must not separate in our thoughts the sufferings of Christ and the glory that shall follow. Our simple faith in the one must be a pattern of our simple hope in the other. In equal simplicity we are to receive every promise in scripture, of forgiveness through his blood, of kingly power and priestly honour at his appearance. The freeness and blessedness of our communion by faith at his table, must not abate, but quicken, our desires for open vision, and the speedy arrival of that time when we shall be like him, seeing him as he is.
They remind us too of our privilege. Our Lord
himself, in the time of his sufferings, endured for the joy that was set before him. The thought of his future glory stood foremost in his mind, when he appointed this sacred rite. I will not henceforth drink of this fruit of the vine, till I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom. Our privilege is to imitate our blessed Lord and Saviour. We too may look forward with joy to his coming, as the seal and pledge of the renewal of all things, of a higher feast of new and heavenly love, of a full unveiling of the Father's kingdom. Then, not the fruit of the vine only, but all things shall be made new. Then not the apostles only, but all the people of God, shall be with Christ, and behold his glory. Then the sacramental shadows shall be swallowed up in the heavenly substance, and the wine of heavenly joy and gladness fill the hearts of the redeemed. And above all, the petition will then be accomplished, Thy kingdom come, thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven. pointing us to this glorious hope, the prayer and the supper of the Lord conspire in blessed harmony, and unite in this watchword to the sleeping church,' Yet a little while, and he that shall come, will come, and will not tarry.' Oh, that there were such an heart in every Christian as in their Lord himself, to wait and long for this promise of his appearing! How would it raise them above earthly dreams, and wean them from earthly vanities, and set their hearts on fire with the holy fervour of love, and enlarge their souls, in prayer and earnest intercession for the salvation of men and the glory of God their Father.
Every time that we celebrate the Lord's supper, brings us, then, into a nearer view of our Lord's return. So many weeks, so many months of delay
are past, and the dawning light grows clearer and clearer to the eye of faith, till the Sun of righteousness himself shall arise. By each of these sacred feasts the church is nourishing herself in the wilderness for the bridal of joy, till her numbers be full, her stains removed, the sinful bodies of her members made clean by the body of Christ, their souls washed in his most precious blood; when the King himself will appear in his beauty, and gather his saints who have here made covenant with him by sacrifice, to an eternal feast of joy, holiness, and love.
If communion with Christ on earth, with our weak faith, and feeble hope, and faint love, be so great a privilege, how much greater will be the blessedness of that WHICH WE SHALL ENJOY IN THE HEAVENLY JERUSALEM! The highest figures are used to give us some view of the future glory. It is called a kingdom, a father's kingdom; a crown, á crown of glory. It is paradise, the paradise of God; a marriage supper, the marriage supper of the Lamb. Let us then endeavour to contemplate the exceeding bliss of that day, when we shall, in the highest sense, drink new wine in the kingdom of God. Thus St. John describes that scene of glory-The marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready and to her it was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white; for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me,
These are the true sayings of God. Rev. xix. 7—9. Conceive, then, the immortal soul prepared and made meet for that eternal inheritance; wholly free
from all guilt and pollution, and admitted into the heavenly company. Conceive also the glorified body, raised from the sleeping dust, or changed from its present state of humiliation even while living, and fashioned like the glorious body of Christ, as manifested on the Mount, and all the righteous there shining as the sun in the kingdom of the Father, and then you will be able to form some better idea of that supreme happiness which we can never fully conceive until it is experienced.
Let us first notice THE JOY OF OUR LORD IN THE HAPPINESS OF HIS PEOPLE. Is there a purer or higher joy than the perfect happiness of those whom we love, when we have contributed to it? Such is the joy of our Lord and Saviour. What words can declare his love to his redeemed? How he loved them with an everlasting love, loved them when enemies, died for them, strove with them; and, when perverse and obstinate, overcame them even by love itself! They are the travail of his soul, and their happiness is the reward of his sufferings. In the scene of ineffable glory of which we now speak, Christ beholds them completely blessed in him, and with him. His, and his father's glory, are in a new way manifested to all created intelligences by the bliss of ransomed sinners. For this joy he endured the cross. How will the joy of Christ, beloved as he is by the Christian, fill and enlarge every believer's heart with the highest gladness!
The Christian shall there BEHOLD THE GLORY OF CHRIST. We think the apostles and first disciples favoured who beheld his veiled glory. We wonder not at Zaccheus climbing a tree to get even a glimpse of the Son of God, when he dwelt on earth.