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diator and Saviour: and that he will even make us heirs in his kingdom ; yea, and lords over all things in heaven and earth.
When the preaching of the law taketh hold on our hearts, when we find ourselves condemned with all our works, our mind is made exceedingly sorrowful, we sigh unto God and know not what to do; our conscience is evil and fearful, we can see no way to escape from the justice of God; and thus we are brought to the very brink of despair. If, when in this situation, we hear the preaching of the gospel of grace, if the way to Christ be shown us, if we be made sensible that we must be saved through him alone, by mere grace and mercy without any of our own works and merits, then is the heart made joyful, and hasteth to lay hold on this grace, as the thirsty hart runneth unto the water. Thus David saith, * As the bart desireth the water brooks, so longeth my soul after thee, O my God: my soul thirsteth for God, yea, even for the living God.”
When a man is thus taught of God, and cometh to Christ through the gospel, he heareth the voice of the Lord Jesus Christ, which strengtheneth the knowledge that God hath taught him. He findeth God to be none other than a Saviour abounding with grace, and that he will be favourable and merciful to all who will call upon him in the name of his Son. For the Lord saith, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that believeth in me hath everlasting life. I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is that bread that cometh down from heaven, that he who eateth of it shall not die. I am that living bread which came down from heaven; if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”
In these words the soul findeth a table daintily
furnished, whereat it may satiate its hunger. This is that supper, to the preparing of which our Lord hath killed his oxen and his fatlings; and he hath bidden us all to partake of it. Therefore, if we commit ourselves confidently unto him, and cleave to his word, his spirit will dwell in us, and we shall continue at this goodly table forever. The living bread of which the Lord here speaketh is Christ himself, who was slain for us, and by whom we are fed. If we receive but a morsel of this bread in our hearts, and retain it, we shall be forever satisfied. It will furnish us a repast at which we may banquet continually, without ever being cloyed.
Now to enjoy this repast, we have only to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ; that he is made unto us of God, as Paul saith, 1 Cor. i.“ Wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.” He that partaketh of this repast shall live forever : for when the Jews were in contention about the words of Christ, he saith, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, except ye eat the flesh of the son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whosoever eateth my
flesh and drinketh my blood hath eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” The manna which the fathers did eat in the desert, could not save from death ; but this food maketh us immortal. If we believe in Christ, death hath no power to hurt us ; nay, there is no more death : for Christ saith unto the Jews, John viii. 51. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, if a man keep my saying, he shall never see death.” Here it is evident he speaketh of the word of faith and the gospel.
But it may be said that the righteous die notwithstanding : that Abraham and the holy prophets are dead; as the Jews said unto Christ. I answer: The death of Christians is only a sleep, and it is commonly thus called in scripture. For a Christian tasteth and seeth no death ; that is, it hath no pangs to him,
nor doth he fear it. It is to him only a passage and gate to life ; for the Saviour Christ Jesus, in whom he believeth, hath overcome death.
Christ saith, John v. 24. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation ; but is passed from death unto life.”
Not only is the death of a Christian free from terror, but his life also is happy and joyful. To him the yoke of Christ is easy and pleasant; and that it seemeth grievous to others, is because the Father hath not yet drawn them : therefore, they can take no pleasure in doing his will, nor doth the gospel afford them any comfort. But to those whom he hath drawn, and hath taught by his spirit, the gospel of Christ is a source of exceeding joy and consolation. Thus
ye have heard how ye must feed by faith on this bread which cometh down from heaven ; that is, on the Lord Jesus Christ; which ye do when ye believe on him and acknowledge him as your Saviour; and throughout the chapter from which our text is taken, the necessity of such a belief is strongly enforced. For when the multitude followed Christ, that they might eat and drink, he taketh occasion to recommend unto them this spiritual meat; and signifieth that he fed them with bodily meat, in order that they might believe on him, and thus feed on that also which is spiritual.
In this manner doth Christ, throughout his discourse, endeavour to persuade men to lay hold on this bread of life. In what familiar and plain language doth he here offer himself unto us! How gently and graciously doth he apply himself to our hearts, in order that we may do the will of our heavenly Father! which is nothing else than to believe on his Son; that he suffered death for our sakes; that although he was without sin, be took upon him the sins of the world, and suffered as though he had
committed them himself; that he did the same wil lingly, to make atonement for our transgressions, in order that he might receive us as brethren and sisters ;-if we believe these things, we do the will of our heavenly Father; for Christ saith, in the chapter from which the text is taken, “ This is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life.” It therefore appeareth, that he who hath faith doth the will of God, and eateth of the heavenly bread of which we have been speaking.
The bread and wine whereof we partake in the sacrament of the Lord's supper, are designed to represent the body and blood of Christ. This supper was instituted for the purpose of reminding us of the sufferings of our Saviour, and to strengthen our faith, in order that we may be assured that his body and blood deliver us from sin, death, satan, and all evil. But it may be asked, how shall a man know that he partaketh of this heavenly bread, and is called to this spiritual supper? Answer:-Let him consider the matter in his own mind, and if he find that he hath comfort in the promises of God, and is persuaded that he is of that choice company, he is assuredly such a one indeed; for as we believe, so cometh it unto us. Such a man, moreover, will have a * regard for his neighbour; he will assist him as his brother; he will deal justly with him; he will comfort, support, and encourage him-in short, he will do unto him no otherwise than he desireth to be done unto himself.
The reason why the mind of such a man is thus disposed, is, because his heart is filled with the love of God, and he therefore delighteth to do his will. It is now a pleasure to him to do good to his neighbour, and he is even grieved if there be none to whom he may be serviceable. He also deporteth himself with humility towards all men; he doth not
esteem the temporal pleasures and vanities of life; he judgeth no man; he defameth no man; he interpreteth all things in the most favourable manner. When such a person seeth that matters go not well with his neighbour; if he fainteth in faith, if he waxeth cold in love, if his life is not every way approvable, he prayeth for him, and expostulateth with him as a brother. He is likewise sorely grieved if he chance to commit a fault : he imploreth pardon of God, and is ever ready to make restitution to his neighbour.
But he that is destitute of faith, he that is not taught of God, doth not feed on this heavenly bread, neither bringeth he forth these fruits; for where a right faith is not found, such fruits are always wanting. Peter therefore teacheth us to make our calling unto salvation sure, by good works ; namely, by works of love to our neighbour, doing toward him as toward our own flesh and blood. Thus much shall suffice, concerning this text.
ROMANS, xiii. From the 11th to the 14th verses, inclusive.
11 And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake
out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we be
lieved. 12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of
light. 13 Let us walk honestly, as in the day: not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and en
vying. 14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision
for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.
The apostle, in this text, treateth not of faith, but of works, the fruits of faith ; and showeth how the life of a christian should be regulated, as respects