Page images

solemnity for it was ordained-In one house'shall it be eaten : thou shalt not carry forth ought of the flesh- thereof out of the house ; neither shall'ye break a bone thereof. All the congregation of Israel shall keep it! (Exod. xii. 46, 47.) Wherefore our Lorel says to his apostles-With desire have I desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer! (Luke, xxii. 15.) And for this

purpose he assembles his little flock at the same table with himself.

But because a more sacred lamb, even Christ our passover, was to be slain on the morrow'; because the passover was to be fulfilled in the kingdom of God; our Lord, in order to impress upon their minds the true design of this great solemnity__this hallowed pledge lof union in the congregation of Israel, immediately connects with it the Christian sacrament of his holy supper: for, as they were eating the paschal lamb, Jesus took bread and blessed it and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat: this is my body—this is, henceforth, your passover.–And he took the cup and gåve thanks, and gave it to them, saying,

all of it: for this is my blood of

[ocr errors]

Drink ye

the New Testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. (Matt. xxvi. 26-28.) He also commands them-This do in remembrance of me. (Luke, xxii. 19.) Do what? Be' all partakers of the same bread and of the same cup: use this sanctified rite of hospitality in commemoration of your mutual fellowship with your dying Saviour and with each other. This was surely a most sacred pledge of union amongst the disciples of our Lord. But how abundantly is the obligation of this union enforced by the impressive and pathetic charge with which it was accompanied, and which is recorded by the evangelist St. John!

The great lesson ihculcated by this institution, is thus opened by our blessed Lörd. He declares to his apostles, that he should be betrayed to death by one of the chosen few who had received bread from his hand. And when this ungrateful wretch had withdrawn for the perpetration of his meditated design, he says to his faithful associates Little children, yet a little while I am with you ! When their attention is fully awaked by this tender address, he proceeds, A piew commandment I give unto you, that yo love ane another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. (John, xiii. 34, 35.) Thus we find that the first thing impressed upon the minds of the apostles, by this holy rite of hospitality at their Lord's table, is that unity, that mutual love and affection, which he points out as the peculiar mark of all his true disciples; as the characteristic by which they were to be distinguished in the sight of all mankind.

From this injunction of union in affection, our Lord proceeds to inforce the necessity of professing a sincere faith in the Son, as, united with his heavenly Father.—Let not your heart be troubled. Ye believe in God; believe ye also in me. I am the


the truth, and the life. No man cometh to the Father but by me. He that hath seen me, hath seen the Father.-I am in the Father, and the Father in me.

Whilst they preserve this union of love, and this purity of faith, he assures them that the prayers which they make in his name shall not fail of their due effect. Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that

will, I do, that the Father Inay be glorified in the Son But, lesť, they should retain a presumptųous.: Confidence in is his favour, whilst they neglected his laws, he repeats the charger.If yel love me, keep my com mandments... And again --He that hath my gommandments, and keepeth them, he: it is that, loveth me : and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest, myself to him. -- This, [obedience, to this precepts, which Christ requires of his disciples as a proof of their love to him, and as a pledge of the divine love to be manifested in their own souls, has an especial reference to that new commandment of union and mutual affection, which is ratified by the solemnities of their present meeting by the memorial of a dying Saviour: "!

.92 voors Wherefore our’, Lord continues Peace I leave with you : my peace I give unto you. And this peace is to be evident to all man kind's, for it is to operate to this, endThat the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do

Our Lord had already taught his apostles

[ocr errors]

that the conviction of the world, in this particular, was to arise from an observance of their mutual love and union. And, to il lustrate and enforce this important lesson, he goes on to represent his universal church under the figure of one individual vine. Of this vine he himself was the root or stem, and his disciples constituted the several branches. To their continuance in the unity of this sacred vine, or church of Christ, it is essentially required, not only that they profess the true faith of the Gospel, and bring forth the general fruits of righteousness; but also that they keep his commandments; iz If ye keep hy commandments, ye shall abide in my love, even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love. And here, as 'if his whole law were sunimed up in the new commandment which he now gave them at the institution of his huly supper

his, and this alone, is repeatedly impressed upon their hearts:--This is my commandmenit, That ye love one another, as I gave you commandment. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsadver I command you, I have chosen your

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »