The Gospel and the Church: 33. The Church

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I have dwelt longer than may appear necessary to some, on that darkest of all nights, but the very darkness of which only served to set in relief the perfections of Him, Who from first to last was ever the light of the world, ever shining with equal undimmed brightness, but Whose love, obedience, grace, patience, meekness, and lowliness never shone out more brightly than in that dark night. It was the Lord's will that that night in Egypt by means of the Passover should ever be kept in the remembrance of His people Israel. And it is no less His will that that night in Canaan through the Lord's Supper should be kept present to the memory of our hearts, not to overcloud our joy in His presence, but to impart that holy, subdued, and deep tone becoming at such a table, joy springing from meditation on love that shone so brightly in that night Would that that night were more fixedly in the remembrance of our consciences, and that love more constantly in the memory of our hearts!
I have ventured a few remarks on the wondrous hymn of praise ascending to God from that upper chamber. But there were very different sounds and utterances which fell upon the ear of that night, such as these, “Which of us shall be the greatest"? “What will ye give me and I will deliver him unto you”? “Hail, Master,” and then the sound of the betrayer's kiss. “Although all shall be offended because of thee, yet will not I.” “If I should die with thee, I will not deny thee in any wise.” “Woman, I know him not.” “Man, I am not [“ one of them"]. “Man, I know not what thou sayest,” accompanied by cursing and swearing. “He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? Behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy. What think ye?” Then the awful reply to that awful question. “He is guilty of death.” Then the sound of spitting, buffeting, and smiting, and the mock question, “Prophesy unto us, thou Christ, who is it, that smote thee?”
Reader! Some of these words—the worst—came from one who had preached the gospel of the kingdom and cast out demons. They came from hearts,—naturally not worse than yours or mine,—hearts with feelings of natural affections and friendship—with devotional sentiments, when in their gorgeous temple—some among them truly attached to the Lord, especially one of them. Yet they furnished each his part in the awful concert of voices and sounds heard in the night.
But in that same night a voice calm, even, and gentle, yet full of holy solemnity, in accents of purest grace and eternal love, spoke these words, “This is my body which is given for you, this do in remembrance of me.” And “This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.”
Oh may those words in divine power abide within us, producing in our hearts a truer response to Him Who spoke them and drawing forth in its constraining power the love of Christ towards those that are His! And may that grace and love shine out more brightly in a world where men are hateful and hating one another, where the darkness is thickening; in order that, during Christ's absence from this world, we may reflect more of His light, Who when here below, was ever the light of this world, the “light of life”!
After these, however poor and feeble, meditations on the love of such a Savior, it is but with reluctance that one turns to doctrinal observations on such a solemn and blessed subject. But it appears, especially in these last days, of the utmost importance that those, for whom the Just One suffered to bring them to God, should not be left in ignorance as to the Corporate as well as the individual meaning of the memorial of Christ's death and thus be deprived of an important portion of blessing, connected with it, and, what is more, enter more fully into the intentions of our gracious Master, in bequeathing unto us that legacy of His dying love.
Let us now, with His gracious help, endeavor, in the light of His word and under the guidance of His Spirit, to learn something more of the true, deep, and blissful meaning of that divine repast for our souls.