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company of angels; of associating with his person; of contemplating the marks of the wounds which he received, of the humiliations which he endured, in effecting the rescue of sinners; of at once experiencing in themselves, and of beholding everywhere around, the fruits of his marvellous loving kindness? And then, in new and fitting language` to give vent to their crowded affections; to utter, face to face, the sense which they entertain of his matchless grace ;-does not the thought of this, even now, yield joy unspeakable, and impart the triumph of heaven, in a measure large as mortal capacities can receive? Distracted as the believer is on earth, by fightings without, and fears within, still Christ is all his confidence, Christ his theme, Christ his happiness. But to be absent from the body, and present with the Lord, will then afford him more than experience below hath ever known, or than it hath yet entered into his heart to conceive. -When it is considered, indeed, how much the thoughts of Christ predominate in his mind, with respect to every circumstance in his character or situation, we cannot but conclude that the immediate enjoyment of Christ himself will yield him bliss the purest and most transcendent. Is he, for example, eminent in every good work? It is "not I, but the grace of God which is with me." "Not unto me, "O Lord, not unto me, but unto thy name give "glory."* Are his honours and his privileges great? I count all things but loss, for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, my "Lord."+ Is he pressed by afflictions? "The "Lord," even the Lord my Redeemer, who is
Cor. xv. 10 and Psalm cxV. A.
Phil. iii. &
head over all things to his church," The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be "the name of the Lord!"* Do the pillars of the house tremble? Does the earthly tabernacle seem about to be dissolved?" Whether I live, I live "unto the Lord; and whether I die, I die unto the "Lord whether I live or die, I am the Lord's."† And does his Lord issue the irresistible summons, "Come away; the number of thy days is ended?" He replies, in the language of gratitude and joy, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace." I come, Lord Jesus. Even so amen! The guardian spirits that minister to the heirs of salvation, bear his soul to its appointed mansion in the city of God. The gates of the New Jerusalem fly open. A host of the redeemed, with palms of victory and harps of praise, welcome his arrival, and sing the glories of the Lamb. All hail, he cries, ye inhabitants of heaven! But where is my Saviour? He, whom my soul loveth, is not among you. Lead me to his footstool.-And now, brought near to him, who is all his salvation, and all his desire, what ardency of love, what transports of joy, what overflowings of gratitude shall he experience, when earth-born faith bursts out into heavenly vision; and Christ, in light unclouded, stands revealed! Joy unspeakable and full of glory! To anticipate in hope the blessedness of that hour, when we shall take our leave for ever of misery and of sin; depart from the discordant society of imperfect creatures, and rise into the region of love and bliss, the "inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that ↑ Rom. xiv. 8. Luke ii. 29. Y Y
*Job i. 21.
"fadeth not away;" and there to dwell with the assembly of the redeemed, to have society with angels, to hold fellowship with God himself, the Judge of all, and with Jesus the mediator of the new covenant; while we bear our part in the song of the "ten thousand times ten thousand, and "thousands of thousands,"" Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that "sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, for "ever and ever."*
Let joy and love, then, now fill your hearts, in receiving the supper of the Lord. There may be heaviness among you, through manifold trials; but "the sufferings of this present time are not worthy "to be compared with the glory which shall be re"vealed!" And this ordinance was instituted by our Lord to cheer your hearts; to afford you spiritual nourishment, and to promote your growth in grace. Receive it in love to him, in unity with your brethren, in peace within yourselves. Christ is near, though unseen by the carnal eye. Love is suitable, when by faith you contemplate his excellencies. Gladness of heart is comely in the presence of your greatest benefactor; and more especially when you are employed in receiving the seals of his covenant, and in them a foretaste of the blessings which he has still in store for your behoof. "Love the Lord, all ye his saints!" "Let Israel
rejoice in him that made him. Let the children "of Zion be joyful in their King."
* Rev. v. 11, 13.
† Rom. viii. 18.
FELLOWSHIP WITH THE FATHER AND WITH THE SON.
[Action Sermon before the Lord's Supper; preached at Brechin.] 1 JOHN 1. 3.—“Truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son, Jesus Christ."
MAN was made for society, as every feeling of his mind indicates; even in his fallen state, in which indeed his need of it is increased, his dispositions for it, though corrupted, are still strong. There are few who are satisfied with solitary joy; and in distress, every man looks to his neighbour for commiseration. It were well, however, if in our pursuit of sympathy, the creature were 'confined to its proper place; were employed rather as a mean to assist us, in laying our joys and sorrows on the bosom of our Saviour and our God, than as itself affording our ultimate resource. But fallen and unregenerate man, like his offending first parent, flies from the presence of the Lord God; and will rather be without a comforter, than pour out his complaint to the Father of spirits. It is the glory of the gospel that, while it maintains inviolate the honour of all the divine perfections, it exhibits to us the Deity divested of his terrors, reconciled, and extending the arms of mercy to receive us; that while at the same time, it invites man to re
conciliation and amity, it disposes and qualifies him, by the power which accompanies it, for such sublime communion. Ye," saith the Lord, by his apostle, "who sometimes were far off, are made nigh by the blood of Christ;"* and believers reply, "truly our fellowship is with the Father, and "with his Son, Jesus Christ."
In illustrating this text, we propose to considerI. The nature of the fellowship which it men
II. The blessedness of that fellowship.
I. We are to consider the nature of the fellow
ship mentioned in the text.
Fellowship, in its common acceptation, means intimate acquaintance, or familiar converse; it supposes, in those who maintain it, a thorough knowledge of one another; a similarity of opinions and dispositions, mutual love, and frequent opportunities of intercourse. If the dispositions and sentiments of the parties differ, conversation must be confined to those subjects on which they are agreed; and then there can, at best, be but partial harmony and respect; or if it embrace those also on which they differ, variance and discord must unavoidably ensue. In persons, ignorant of each other, we can imagine no rational motive that should induce them to prefer each others society. By those, whose affections are mutually alienated, intercourse will be always felt unpleasing, and will, as much as possible, be avoided.
The same principles are supposed in the fellowship which christians hold "with the Father, and with his Son, Jesus Christ." We must know and Eph. ii. 13.