« PreviousContinue »
our example; to show, by the influence which it has on our heart and conduct, that it is worthy of all acceptation, and to offer up our prayers to heaven, that the gospel may have free course and be glorified, that the kingdoms of this world may become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ; that there may be one fold and one shepherd.
Note-The illustration of the third division of this subject, as projected by the authour, was not found among his manuscripts.
On the holy sacrament of the Lord's Supper.
LUKE, CHAP. 22, VERSE 15,
66 With desire I have desired to eat this passover with
you, before I suffer."
THE passover was an anniversary festival celebrated by the Jews, in commemoration of their deliverance from Egyptian bondage. Jesus, who came not to destroy the law but to fulfil it, had always set before his followers an example of all-righteousness, and had been punctual therefore in discharging even those ritual and ceremonial observances which were imposed on the Jews by the law of Moses. We find him attending the publick worship in the synagogues; we find him making the customary offerings and oblations in the temple, and we read of him, on former occasions, regularly and zealously going up to Jerusalem
to celebrate with his countrymen this grand feast of the
passover. But we learn, from the preceding part of the history, that the approach of this particular festival, here alluded to, was accompanied with more important preparation than had ever been the case on any former occasion. The reason was, that the baptism wherewith he was to be baptized drew near, and he was straitened 'till it was accomplished. He foresaw, that, on this occasion, his soul was to be offered up unto God; that his enemies would triumph over him; and that his life of trouble was to be finished by an ignominious death. This was the last time that he should eat the passover with his disciples, until it was fulfilled in the kingdom of
But though these gloomy prospects lay before him, and he felt with the deepest sensibility of soul the wounds which they inflicted, yet we do not find that he was at all discouraged or dismayed. On the contrary, he went up to Jerusalem not merely with resignation, but even with boldness, alacrity and cheerfulness. Instead of shrinking from the conflict, and seeking to avoid by flight or concealment the place or the occasion of his troubles and persecution, he went up in a more open and
magnificent manner than heretofore; and even vehemently desired to eat this passover with his disciples. With a generosity, of which he is the only example, he was less affected by the consideration of his own sufferings than he was encouraged and elevated by the happiness he was to secure to his followers. For the joy that was set before him he cheerfully endured the cross, despising the shame.
But what, no doubt, chiefly occupied his thoughts on occasion of this passover, and which was the cause of that desire which he had to celebrate it, was the favourable opportunity which it presented of instituting a simple, but significative and solemn service, which would tend to recall the remembrance of him, when he was gone from them ; which would be a token and memorial of the familiarity and friendship which they had enjoyed with him for several years; and which would be a distinguishing badge of his followers in all succeeding ages. This appears to be the meaning and scope
But what seems no less worthy of attention, is the contrast which may be remarked between the disposition and conduct of our Saviour on this occasion, and those of his professed followers when the Christian passover, which is the substitute of the Jewish, is about to be celebrated. With whatever bitter herbs this festival was accompanied to our Lord, he not only cheerfully partook of it, in obedience to his father's will, and in conformity to the great design of his mission into the world, but he even felt an anxious desire to be present at this feast, though he knew that bonds and imprisonment and death awaited him. How different this from the conduct of his followers, who, notwithstanding it is their express duty to partake of the Christian passover, notwithstanding it is a most delightful feast to every worthy partaker, notwithstanding it is accompanied with unspeakable advantages, not only to individuals but to the Church in general, do yet either perform this duty with lukewarmness and indifference, or are found to be absent when this ordinance is to be celebrated, or perhaps absolutely refuse to perform it, consider it as a duty of slight obligation and trifling importance, and thus trample under foot the blood of the covenant wherewith we are sanctified.
of the verse.