Images de page
PDF
ePub

It was at the institution of this Supper that our Lord asked for a “guest-chamber," and it is as His guests He regards us when we are seated at it. We all know the interest we feel in our guests. At an ordinary human supper how concerned a kind host is that his guests should sup well, having provided the best his house affords; and he is grieved if he sees that it is slighted, or not relished. How much more does Jesus, our Lord, observe whether our appetite for His supper is good and keen! And how grieved must He be when His guests are either absent from it altogether, or make use of the heavenly provision in a listless and formal way!

True, it is only ordinary, every-day bread that He puts on the table, and simple ordinary wine. But in HIS eyes who provides it, how costly and full of meaning is that bread, and how precious the wine! And verily they should be a rich feast also to our souls. To the believing, hungry soul they will be so; but to those who are Laodicea-like, “ rich and increased with goods,” that is, earthly things, or any form of self, what a merely outward act will be the “ breaking of bread," and what a shell without its true and blessed kernel will be the entire Supper!

The partaking of the Lord's Supper is so simple, and occupies so little time, that only true preparation of heart and previous meditation can give divine and proper weight and fulness to so brief an act.

The attitude in which we partake of it is also significant. Our Lord took the Passover reclining on a couch, and followed it with the breaking of bread and the cup, and in

, that same reclining attitude the disciples received it, and obeyed His word, “Drink ye all of it." But they knew the murderous character of Jerusalem, and their Master's warning that His death was at hand helped to give emphasis to His word, “Do this in remembrance of Me."

Now, week by week, we sit at the Lord's table in comparatively smooth surroundings, and the holy feast is soon over. Oh, then, how much the more do we need a Lord'sday morning to prepare ourselves for it beforehand, and also to watch against wandering thoughts when the hour for partaking comes! Prayer, reading, and meditation on Christ's “wondrous cross," and on God's love to us in giving Him, are surely the chief means of obtaining a heavenly appetite for the Lord's supper. But how can the idle saint, who perhaps has left his bed later of a Lord's-day morning than other mornings of the week, or the worldly-minded, and sin-excusing saint, who has not judged himself for careless walk and lightsome talk during the week-how can such expect to find in the morsel of bread and the sip of wine which the Lord's table provides, any real supper at all? No; God gives His spiritual bread only to the hungry, and of His costly wine of redeeming love He is equally careful. (See Prov. xxxi. 4-7.)

One word more. This God-given appetite of which we speak, is in two forms. There is first the appetite of conscience, and then that of affection.

As saints who frequent the Lord's Table, we need to have a conscience about all sins and wanderings of which God's good Spirit has made us aware, since the previous occasion we sat as partakers. For how can we learn to live godly in Christ Jesus except we have and also cultivate a tender conscience ? As we look back on the days and hours of the past week, and are reminded of failure and shortcoming, which we have had to confess to our Father and God, how sweet and rich becomes that broken loaf to us at the Lord's Supper! Every crumb of it reminds us that Jesus was bruised on the tree for our sins; yes, for ALL of them; for HE died for every sin of our believing days as well as for those of our unregeneracy.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

“ His precious blood was shed,

His body bruised for sin ;
REMEMBERING THIS we break the bread

And joyful drink the wine.”
Or again we sing-

" Here conscience ends its strife;

And faith delights to prove
The sweetness of the bread of life,

The fulness of Thy love."
And as the hunger of conscience is satisfied and ends, the
sweet and happy hungering and thirsting of love only
grows
within us.

We inwardly long after Him who has so truly lifted off us "sin's accursed load."

“Here we forget our griefs and pains ;
We ink, but still our thirst remains :
Only the Fountain-head above

Can satisfy the thirst of love."
This is a blessed hunger and a precious thirst, and it shall
one day be satisfied. (See Matt. v. 6.) Hence it is that
hungering and thirsting saints would fain prolong the
Lord's Supper, instead of stinting either its frequency or
its length, did other service to Christ but allow of it.
Hence, too, the precious frequency with which the Pente-
cost saints kept it (see Acts ii. 46), daily finding in it some
fresh supply for their conscience and some new joy to their
hearts. Hence, lastly, the joy it would be to really

. spiritually-minded partakers of the Lord's Supper if, ere they left the meeting and the table, the moment had come for the Lord's descending into the air, and shouting us to meet Him at the everlasting and for ever relished marriage supper of the Lamb! Thus linked together are the feast below and the feast above, as were the foot and the top of Jacob's ladder of old. As Paul says, when writing against all shallowness, all levity, and all self-pleasing of saints at the Lord's Supper, "For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till He come."

Blessed be God for the many assemblies of His children that in our time do each week celebrate redeeming love at the Lord's Supper. May HE give all of us grace that it may always be to our souls a “supper” indeed, and a feast of fat things!

H. D.

MEATS CLEAN AND UNCLEAN.

This subject is one well worthy of careful study, first, because it opens up to our view one of the great sources of trouble in the early church, and enables us to understand the immense difficulties in the way of breaking down the middle wall of partition between Jew and Gentile, and of gathering them around one table, there to commemorate the dying love of the Lord; secondly, because the principles which guided the early Christians in their perplexities on this point are applicable in many matters which now perplex us.

The difference between clean and unclean animals was known and evidently acted upon in Noah's days (see Gen. vii. 2); but not until the time of Moses (see Lev. xi.) were full and particular instructions given on this subject.

A Jew, strictly trained to observe the law, would look with absolute horror upon those who ate “unclean” meat, such as we are accustomed to see upon our tables. So much was this the case that he would not even enter the house of a Gentile (John iv. 9; Acts x. 28); and the strength of this conviction may be gathered from the fact that even a revelation from heaven scarcely convinced the apostle Peter that by the death and resurrection of Christ he was freed from this ordinance. The vision required to be repeated three times in order to accomplish this, though about eight years had elapsed since the Lord's ascension.

So close a watch was kept against any association with Gentiles that when Peter came to Jerusalem, where the other apostles were, he was called to account for eating with Gentiles in the house of Cornelius. But on his relating the vision and attendant circumstances the objectors were satisfied, and only then did the apostles themselves appear to apprehend the Lord's plain command, that the gospel was to be preached to "every creature,” and not merely to Jews and proselytes, as they had thought.

No doubt the news of Peter's vision would spread far and wide, and he would himself inculcate its teaching wherever he went; yet in Acts xv., twelve years later, we are told that certain men came down to Antioch from Judæa, and troubled the disciples by telling them they could not be saved unless they were circumcised and kept the law of Moses, observing, of course, among other things the distinction between meats clean and unclean.

It was probably on this occasion that Peter, notwithstanding his thrice-repeated vision, dissembled, as recorded in Gal. ii. He had held fellowship and broken bread with the church at Antioch, in which were both Jews and Gentiles; but when certain of the Pharisees who believed came from Jerusalem, fear again overcame him, and he withdrew and separated himself from the Gentiles. The spirit which these Judaizers manifested may be inferred (Gal. ii. 4), and it is no wonder that dissension and disputation took the place of godly edifying. They evidently denounced, as an unholy act, the bringing of the uncircumcised into the church, and doubtless pleaded that they alone were carrying out the word of God. If they had been told that the Gentiles had been visibly baptized with the Holy Ghost they would, perhaps, have pointed to Leviticus xi., and refused to move therefrom. To these Judaizers Peter yielded, and then Barnabas, Paul's own fellow-labourer, was carried away with their dissimulation. They may have

[ocr errors]
« PrécédentContinuer »