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table will not improve the soul, increase its strength, fill it with peace, nor transport it with joy. *.2. Close and fixed meditation on Christ belong to the due celebration of the holy supper.
The genuine believer attends conscientiously to the reading and hearing of the word, as means of divine instruction; but he does not rest here. By these means he finds matter for holy contemplation, in his retired exercises. His mind dwells on what he has heard or read, in order to renew former impressions, and recover lost ideas of the excellence of Jesus. Meditation is different from reasoning, in which we compare one thing with another, class different things together, and draw inferences from certain premises, in order to enlarge our stock of knowledge. Meditation is more properly the work of the heart and spiritual under. standing, dwelling closely upon the same object, in order to obtain spiritual impressions, increase our esteem, and influence our desires. This adds to our spiritual and experimental knowledge.
In this exercise the devout soul selects its favour. ite object from among all others, and, to prevent any interruption, dismisses them, that its whole attention may, be employed about it.
A transient glance at Jesus, which is all the attention too, too many, pay to him, leaves. no other impressions on the mind, than a gleam of lightning on the corporeal eye. The believer lays hold of his favourite object and retains it un. til he has carefully examined and considered it. “I found him," says
says the spouse, “ whom my soul loveth: I held him; I would not let him go.” Song iii. 4. While contemplating this delightful object, he will often find various atempts made, by the workings of corruption, the solicitations of the world, and the molestations of Satan, to divert his attention from it, and to introduce something else into his thoughts. These he considers as evil-designing enemies, seeking to disturb his peace, injure his interest, and effect his ruin; and vigorously resists them. They try to steal Jesus from his em- . brace, but he makes a valiant opposition and retains his object. The natural propensity of the heart to wander from Christ is more difficult to resist, and more vexatious to him, than all his other enemies together.
The crucified Saviour opens a wide field of meditation, and makes every other object, when contemplated in connection with him, appear in a very different light. Contemplate God in Christ, he is a God of mercy; otherwise, he is a consuming fire. View his counsels in Christ, and the execution of them will infallibly save sinners; otherwise, they will as certainly accomplish their ruin. View sin in Christ, and we see its destruction, and our salvation; otherwise we perish by it. View the law with its curse in Christ, and
every demand is already answered; but otherwise it remains in full force against us. Consider the promises in Christ, and they are all, Yea and Amen; otherwise they have no existence. Let the believer view himself in Christ, and he is a new creature, the friend of God, and an heir of heaven; but without this connection, he is dead in sin, the enemy of God, and an heir of hell. Jesus is the true medium in which all objects may be seen to much advantage: and their connection with him alters the consideration of them to the believer.
Such contemplations on Christ and other things in connection with him, tend much to improve the believer. They greatly enlarge his acquaintance with
divine things, command more powerfully his approbation of the scheme of grace, and lead him to more extensive discoveries of the excellence of the Redeem
This will more effectually engage his heart to him and produce strong desires for him.
66 When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches. · My soul followeth hard after thee.” Psalm 1xiii. 6, 8. This exercise affords exquisite delight to the soul. “My meditation of him shall be sweet."
Psalm civ. 34. 3. It implies supreme love to Jesus, and delight in him, as an object of inestimable excellence and beauty.
NOTHING is more suitable, nothing more necessary,
in the observation of gospel ordinances, especially the Lord's supper, than supreme love to their author. The latter, which we are about to celebrate, is eminently a love feast, at which Jesus and his people are to hold the happiest intercourse from mutual love. Love to his people induced him to lay down his life, to offer himself in sacrifice for sin, in order to make suitable provision for their entertainment; love induced him to institute this ordinance; and love brings him to it, to meet with them, to manifest his love, and entertain them with the best fruits of it. When Jesus was about to eat the last passover, and institute the holy supper, on the eve of his last sufferings, the evangelist represents him as acting from love. John xiii. 1.-" Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, hav. ing loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end." Those instructions, exhortations, and promises, contained in the xiii. xiv. xv. and xvi. chapters, which he delivered to his dis
ciples at the institution of this ordinance, with that very remarkable prayer which followed them, are full of the breathings of divine love, and clearly mark the design of the ordinance. “ These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” Chap. xv. 11....
When this is considered, the propriety of love, on the
part of the believer, will readily be admitted. Jesus could not hold intimacy with his people unless he loved them; neither can they hold intercourse with him without being influenced by the same principle. As his love to them takes the lead, to promote their enjoyment, their love to him ought to follow, to promote his glory. “ We love him because he first loved us." i John iv, 19. And as Jesus has institut. ed this ordinance for the purpose of giving them an opportunity of enjoying his love, they ought to improve
it to this end, and also to manifest their love to him. The spouse well understood this, when she invited her beloved to his ordinances, “ Come, my beloved, let us go forth into the field; let us lodge in the villages. Let us get up early to the vineyards; let us see if the vine flourish:—there will I give thee my loves." Song vii. 11, 12.
Song vii. 11, 12. In vain will the believer expect fellowship with Jesus without this love; because Jesus is love, and he that would dwell in Jesus, and have Jesus to dwell in him, must dwell in love.
This love will be carefully studied by the believer, when he considers the transcendent excellence of the Redeemer. He is a perfection of beauty and worth: all divine and human excellences centre in him. His mediatory character, offices, merit and fulness, highly recommend him to the believer's esteem. His love
too, pregnant with all divine blessings, ought to have a powerful influence to captivate his heart. His beauty is complete. He possesses every excellence, and in the highest perfection. In him there is no imperfection; no defeat; no deformity; nothing disgusting or unpleasant.
" He is fairer than the sons of men; grace is poured into his lips.” Such an assemblage of incomparable excellencies ought undoubtedly to command the highest esteem of the believer. And when he considers these aright, he will make this his study. He cannot be deceived nor disappointed; nor need he be afraid of placing too much of his affections on Jesus. He will never be able to love Jesus equally to his worth. The spouse had truly appreciated the excellence of her beloved when she gave such an appropriate description of him. Song v. 10-16. which she concludes thus; “ His mouth is most sweet: yea, he is altogether lovely.” The more the believer sees of his excellence, he appears the more valuable and desirable. It inflames his soul, captivates his heart, and heightens his es
In the banqueting house the spouse beheld the king in his beauty, she saw the royal standard displayed, and felt herself overpowered with the extraordinary displays of his love. Now she enjoyed her beloved to the utmost extent of her capacity and her desires; and now she places him on the throne in her heart, crowns him with her highest' esteem, and embraces him with exquisite delight. Now her great care is to prevent every thing which might interrupt her enjoyment. “I charge you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, by the roes, and by the hinds of the field, that ye stir not up, nor awake my love, till he please." Song ii. 7.
4. That frame of soul, which is adapted to the celebration of this ordinance, implies a suitable exercise