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particularly careful of what you said and what you did, that you might not give offence by an indecent levity or intemperance; especially if the king should, in the course of the entertainment, address himself particularly to you, and speak kindly to you, and offer you the best things at the table : it would be your boast all your lives after, that
you had sat at the same table with a king; and yet this honour have all the saints : praise ye the Lord. This honour-yes, and a much greater honour, for you are now sitting at the table of the Prince of Peace, the Ruler of rulers, King of kings, and Lord of lords; and therefore, christians, it highly behoves us to consider diligently what is before us. To consider where we are, and what we are about; and to take care that we do not, by a slovenly undress, or by carelessness and inattention, draw upon ourselves that most mortifying censure, “ Friend, how camest thou in hither, not having on the wedding garment?" I say therefore, again, consider diligently what is before thee; consider who is before thee. Thou art sitting with a Ruler ; consider who and what he is. In one word, it is Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, “ God with us.” The princes and potentates of the earth are as nothing before him, yea, less than nothing, and vanity. They are satisfied with an external decency; indeed they can demand no more ; and persons that are well dressed and well bred, may
taken notice of and caressed, though perhaps at the same time they hate the prince in their hearts, and if an opportunity offered, would the very next day appear in arms against him. But the King of saints is not to be so put off. He cannot be deceived, and he will not be mocked; and when the King comes in to see the guests, he looks every one through at a glance, and understandeth their thoughts afar off. A decent outside is not enough. He expects that the soul be dressed; that there be not only grace in reality, but grace in exercise. A carnal, yea a trifling state of mind would highly displease him. When he has spread such a table for us, and condescends to sit himself at the head of it, he expects that all the guests should be full of respectful love and joy. And does he find us so ? Have we now those lively and elevated affections, which on such an occasion might naturally be expected from us? Can we say with the spouse, “At our gates are all manner of pleasant fruits, new and old, which I have laid up for thee, O my beloved ?” What! when our thoughts are so wandering and so vain ? when our affections are engrossed by, or at least are so hankering after things below ? when our tempers are so soured with worldly disappointments, and unbelief is so busy? O christians, in such a state of mind are we fit to appear before such a Ruler ? Awake, o north wind, and come thou south, and blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out. Let my
beloved come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruit. In this manner we should stir up ourselves by the consideration of who is before us: and then consider also what is before us- s-what dainties and what duties. It may well be supposed, that when a king makes a feast for the marriage of his son, the entertainment will be something extraordinary. This is what we may call the marriage supper of the Lamb. Here he meets his bride ; and nothing that heaven can furnish is thought too good to bring forth on the occasion.
The banquet that we eat,
Is made of heavenly things;
As our Redeemer brings. To sense it seems only a little insipid bread; but to a spiritual taste it is marrow and fatness.
It is heavenly manna ; it is angels' food; it is refreshing, strengthening, immortalizing; sweeter also than honey or the honey-comb. It is the wellknown property of some particular fruit, that it hath the fragrancy and flavour of several of the most delicious fruits in it. It is eminently true of this bread: it can adapt itself to the wants and relish of every guest; and if you were to hear the communicants, after they rise from table, talking of the feast they have had, you would hear one say, “ I never had a sweeter taste of pardoning love. I
could hardly help crying out,
Who is a God like unto thee?' I had been for some time before bowed down under a sense of guilt. I saw myself such a monster of ingratitude, for abusing so much light and goodness, that I was ashamed. I was indeed afraid to accept the invitation; for I knew not how to think that he would look upon me, or take any notice of me, unless it were to reproach me and turn me out. But with a generosity peculiar to himself, he received me with a smile, and kindly said, “Thy sins be forgiven thee, go in peace.'”
Well,” says another, “ it might taste so to you, but to me it tasted most of adopting love. When he put the bread into my hand, and said, “This is my body, which was broken for you,' it seemed as if there were
never another sinner in the world besides me; at least, as if there were never another saved sinner besides me ; and I was ready to question at first, whether my ears did not deceive me. For me, Lord ? didst thou say that thy body was broken for me? Why, Lord, for me? when such a one, and such a one, and
that I could mention, seem more deserving of such a distinction.
· Why was I made to hear thy voice,
And enter while there's room?
And rather starve than come.” “This is strange," says a third, “and yet I believe I have found it so before ; but to-day the pre
dominant taste to me was sanctifying grace. I had of late been more than commonly affected with the corruption of my nature. I could not bear to think how much sin was still cleaving to me. I loathed myself in my own sight; and then, thought I, how much more loathsome must I be in the sight of Him who is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity! And all my cry was, ' Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean;' so that, when I received Christ Jesus the Lord, my faith looked chiefly to the sovereign efficacy of his blood to cleanse from all unrighteousness; and it seemed as if I felt the blood of sprinkling, and heard him say, with a mixture of majesty and mercy, “I will; be thou clean.' And so, as I said, one communicant feeds on this thing, and another on that; and if we put all ose experiences together, it appears that there is a blessed fulness of Christ, and that of his fulness they have all received, and grace for grace.
There was reason, therefore, for saying, “ When thou eatest with a ruler, consider diligently what is before thee.” Consider which, of all this blessed variety of dainties, is that which is more peculiarly suitable to thy present circumstances, and take it freely. You are not straitened in him, be not straitened in yourselves. You never can want encouragement, while you hear the great and gracious Ruler of the feast say, Open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it. Ask what ye will, and it