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gracious invitations he perpetually gives us to his house and table? . He will neither know nor own those for his, who will not come in even on an affectionate compulsion. Were our love in any proportion to the goodness, or our reverence to the greatness of our divine inviter, not death itself would be able to frighten us from his table. Since he is pleased to accept of our eating and drinking there, as a mark of our reverence and affection for him, and since there is no difficulty in doing this, but such as we are infinitely concerned to overcome for the eternal safety and welfare of our own souls, if we absent ourselves, we are neither his friends, nor
Did some rich and powerful prince make frequent feasts for his neighbours of lower rank and condition; did he in repeated and pressing invitations assure them, that he wonld consider all who came as his friends, and all who did not as his enemies; we may be sure not one would stay away, who either feared his power or wanted his favour. They would, all of them, constantly attend his table, dressed out in their best apparel, and eager to pay the expected compliment. Garments fit for such company, must be had for love, money, or credit, cost what they will. The new-bought ground must be left unviewed, the oxen, just 'purchased, must remain unproved in the field, and even the bride, on the day of her marriage, must wait, till his highness is attended.
But in case some of the princes dependents should absent themselves from three or four of his entertainments, for one they appeared at, and he should see them from his windows visiting his enemy at next door, I leave you, who so often stay away from the Lord's table, only that you may confederate with his enemy, to judge in what light these trimmers, these time-servers, must stand before their great patron and benefactor.
Shall we not be as ready to answer the invitation of Christ, that patron, to whom ' all power in heaven and earth is given,' that benefactor, who hath laid down his life to deliver us from the most wretched kind of slavery, and to exalt us into the glorious liberty,' the happy inheritance,
of the son's of God? Is 'the mighty God, the Prince of peace,' less powerful to befriend or hurt us than an earthly patron? Is his person less respectable, or his presence less
desirable? Is his food less delicious, or his guests less entitled to our love? Is the protection of a man worth so much courting, and that of God fit only to be slighted ? Is bodily meat and drink, which cannot long please, cannot long preserve life, and may destroy it, worth so much bustle and attendance, and those of the soul, which if a man partake of, • he shall live for ever,' worth nothing ? Though these are questions fitter to be asked in a mad-house, than in this, yet nothing but stupidity here, equal to distraction there, can blunt the sting, or deaden the sense, of the reproach they carry with them to the general practice of those who
Is it possible that any one of you, who here at least in this house, if not at your own, hath asked his daily bread' from our common' father which is in heaven,' from the great dispenser of spiritual sustenance, should absolutely refuse it, when offered, immediately after praying and entreating God to give it, as you have all done more than once this day, since you entered the house of God, and came in sight of his table, should not accept it, though he sees it is there ready to be delivered to him! You have asked, why will you not receive? You seek, and here may find, why draw you back your hand, and go away empty? You have knocked, and behold 'God hath opened to you,' why turn you about, and suffer his door to be shut at your heels? Give us this day or daily bread,' say you, “Take, eat,' saith Christ. We will neither take nor eat, you reply. What earthly father would bear so perverse a child ? What entertainer in this world endure such insolent mockery in his guests? How, then, think you, shall the majesty of heaven digest this worse than blasphemous trifling? You did not know, it may be, what you was saying when you was repeating the Lord's prayer. What! not attend to your own words, when you was speaking to God! Or, perhaps, you changed your mind. Did you so ? And what if God should change his too, and resolve never to make you the same offer again, nor afford you another opportunity ?
A certain wealthy clergyman, deeply affected with this observation, that the tables of great men are much better attended than that of God, fell into a method of asking his parishioners, great and small, by ten at a time, to dine with him on Sundays. They all came in their turns, neatly
dressed, and with good appetites and cheerful countenances sat out his entertainments. Some, on a general invitation, gave him their company at every dinner.
A soon as all had done him that favour, he then invited them to the sacrament on the Sunday following, at which time, observing almost the whole congregation, as usual, quitting the church immediately after sermon, he called them back, and said ;
I am heartily concerned to find you prefer my company, who am but a vile mortal, like yourselves, to the company and communion of Christ ; and my meat, which is only dust and ashes, to the bread of eternal life. After this, can you call yourselves Christians, candidates for heaven,' and lovers of God more than of earthly things ?' There is the table of God; and there Christ is going in a few moments, to feed those who will come to him with his own precious flesh and blood. You, in the mean time, are turning your backs on him, facing about to the world, which you renounced by a solemn vow, when you were baptized, and going home to feed on the flesh of beasts. Go, then, as you have no appetite for this kind of food ; go, and mess with the swine on dung, and with the serpent on dust. Go, earth to earth, and ashes to ashes, for this is your own chosen portion, and this the lot you like best; while Christ and the true Christian unite, and spirit feeds on spirit.
How severe ! but how just! Do you feel it? Oh, how then would you feel, if Christ himself were to take the pulpit, and to speak to you, as, surely well he might, in words to this effect?
“ I often laid before you the necessity of grace in order to a good life, and of that, in order to your everlasting happiness. I provided for you the means of grace at my table,
, and by my ministers continually and importunately invited you to come and receive those means, prepared for you at the expense of my life. But you shut your ears to their voice; you despised my entertainments; you turned your backs on me ; you counted my blood of the covenant an unholy thing, and did despite unto the spirit of grace. Wedded to your own ways, and fond of a wicked life, you shunned the means of reformation. Presume not therefore to call yourselves by my name. I know you not.' Had
you loved me, no worldly considerations, no amusements, no pleasures, could have prevented your paying your ac knowledgments for my death, in the way appointed and expected by me. Had you meant to honour me, you could not have so closely adhered to your sins, and kept at so great a distance from the opportunity of uniting with me. You give the reproachful name of infidels to the Jews who bought, and of traitor, to Judas, who sold me, without considering the shameful traffic you drive on in my name in the midst of your pretended faith and professions. Pilate the pagan, having found no fault in me, gave me over to a cross on mount Calvary. You, a Christian, daily crucify me afresh before the world by an obstinate perseverance in those sins, which I died to atone, and which nevertheless you love so much better than me, that, rather than forsake them, you forsake me, and basely refuse to commemorate that atonement. How I bore to be buffeted, spit on, and crucified by my enemies, you know; but how I shall bear to be buffeted, spit on, and crucified a-new by you, my professed friends and disciples, after all I have suffered for you, ought indeed to be a little better considered by you, than it is. The miserable and total destruction of the Jews, so soon after my crucifixion, shews, I can, not only walk humbly, and love mercy,' but do justly too,' and ' execute vengeance on sins like yours. For other men, who every where, particularly at my table, discover a due sense of my love, I gave my life; for you I lost it. You may go on to hug yourself in a notion, that you are only ungrateful ; but the time approaches a-pace, when you shall feel, you have been equally stupid ; and miserably lament your having sinned as grievously against your own soul by neglecting the food of eternal life, and the necessary means of your salvation, as against my honour, in suffering my table to be spread in vain. Where is your faith, that it does not set the horrors of hell before you, from which I died to deliver you? Where is your faith, that it does not set the joys of heaven before you, to which I died to entitle you? Ye dead, hear the voice of the son of God, and ye shall live. Oh unhappy people, lost to me, and to all goodness! . Hearing ye hear, and will not understand; seeing ye see, and will not perceive; your
hearts are waxed gross, your ears are dull of hearing, your eyes are closed ; lest at any time ye should see with your eyes, and hear with your ears, and understand with your heart, and should be converted, and I should heal you.'”
Dreadful expostulation ! how does it thunder on the dulness of our ears! how does it pierce and appal our hardened hearts !
Ere you, the contemner of God's table, turn your back again on him, give me, his unworthy minister, leave to ask you; did the son of God submit to be persecuted, spit on, buffeted, scourged, crucified, and, in all, derided, to save you, a poor despicable offender from eternal flames, and lead you to everlasting glory? Did he command you, his servant, thus purchased with his blood, to cast away your sins, no less destructive to you than reproachful to him, and to honour the remembrance of his death with a grateful attendance on his table? Did he appoint this as the grand testimony of your love and thankfulness for an act of mercy, amazing even to the host of heaven, who knew him to be the infinitely compassionate God? And will you (I speak to your heart and conscience, if they have ears to hear, let them now hear;' if they have sense to feel, let them now or never feel) will you basely turn your back on his feast of love? Will you not rather fly to kiss the son, lest he be angry? Will you cling to your sins, those only causes of all your fears and miseries, and cut yourself off from Christ, your tender friend, your compassionate redeemer, your only, your all powerful intercessor? Can you repay such unexampled goodness with so infamous coldness? What a soul have you, if you can but so much as think of rewarding all his sufferings, and your great deliverance, with ingratitude, in this instance, above all others, 'exceeding the sin of witchcraft?' Do you not love that father, who, when you could not help yourself, provided for you the necessaries and comforts of life? Do you not love that mother, who washed you, when an infant, from the foulness incident to that age, often bathing you in her tears, laying you in her bosom, and feeding you with nourishment from her own breast? If you do, why infinitely rather love you not that Saviour, who, finding you drenched in a sink of pollution, washed you in his own blood? Who, finding you destitute