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SERMON III,

Dur Lord's Last Supper and His First.

(QUINQUAGESIMA.)

" And He said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this pass.

over with you before I suffer."--LUKE xxii. 15.

very

touching in the earnestness displayed in these words of our Lord, and in the acts which preceded them. He had showed beforehand that great desire, of which He here speaks. That He had thought much of His last passover which He was to eat with His disciples, is plain from the solemnity with which He marked out the place to them, and the display of supernatural knowledge with which He accompanied His directions. " He sendeth forth two of His disciples," "Peter and John," "and saith unto them, Go ye into the city, and there shall meet you a man bearing a pitcher of water: follow him. And wheresoever he shall go in, say ye to the good-man of the house," “ The Master saith, My time is at hand ;” “My time is at hand, I will keep the passover at thy house with My disciples."

“And he shall show you a large upper room furnished; there make ready." And then, “when the hour was come, He sat down, and the twelve Apostles with Him. And He said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer. For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God'."

You may say, indeed, that most important occurrences took place at that feast; and that these He had in view when He gave the command to prepare for it, and when He expressed His satisfaction in celebrating it. Then He washed His disciples' feet, and gave the precept of humility; then He laid down the great note of the Church, brotherly love, impressing it on them most persuasively by His own example; and then He instituted His own heavenly Sacrament, which was to remain on earth, together with that humility and love, unto the end. It is true; but still it is true also, that He chose a festive occasion as the season for these solemn and gracious acts. He closed His earthly ministry, He parted with His disciples, He entered upon His trial, at a feast. The Son of Man had come, in His own words, eating and drinking; and He preserved this peculiarity of His mission unto the end.

There must be something natural, I mean something in accordance with deep principles in our nature, in this action of our Lord's, considering how widely similar observances have prevailed, how congenial they are to us, and that He who thus acted had taken upon Him human nature in its perfection. God has given us “wine that

* Matt. xxvi. 17-19. Mark xiv, 12-16, Luke xxi. 7-18.

maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make him a cheerful countenance, and bread to strengthen man's heart?.” And these good gifts of His, by which our life is strengthened, send the soul forth out of itself in search of sympathy and fellowship; they end not in themselves, nor can be enjoyed in solitude; they create, and convey, and blend with social feelings; they are means and tokens of mutual good-will and kindness ; or, to speak more religiously, they are of a sacramental nature. They are intended, by being partaken in common, to open our hearts towards each other in love; and this being the case, we may judge how fearful is the abuse of God's gifts in riot or sensuality, for it is in some sort a profanation of a Divine ordinance, a sacrilege. When then our Lord parted from His disciples in a feast, He took the most tender, affectionate, loving leave of them which could be taken.

Laban, hard man as he was, shows us this in the words in which he expostulates with Jacob, who had stolen away from him.

“ Wherefore didst thou flee away secretly,” he says, "and steal away from me; and didst not tell me, that I might have sent thee away with mirth and with songs, with tabret and with harp; and hast not suffered me to kiss my sons and my daughters ? thou hast now done foolishly in so doing?” And when at length son and father-in-law departed from each other, Jacob offered sacrifice upon the mount, and called his brethren to eat bread; and they did eat bread, and tarried all night in the mount. And early in the morning Laban rose up, and kissed his sons and his daughters,

I P8. civ. 15.

your feet, and

and blessed them. And Laban departed, and returned unto his place."

And next, I hope it is no refinement to observe that the very

time when the Passover was instituted was a time of departure. The Israelites indeed did not feast with those whom they were leaving; for they, ... though

they had received them with feastings,” then“ very grievously afflicted them ‘;" but still it was a solemn leave-taking on their part of the land of their captivity, and in the very form of it betokened a journey. “Thus shall ye eat it: with your loins girded, your shoes on your staff in your hand; and ye

shall eat it in haste.

Another instance, and more apposite, is supplied in the history of the call of the great Prophet Elisha. Elijah, when he had left the wilderness, “ found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he with the twelfth : and Elijah passed by him, and cast his mantle upon him.”

him.” Elisha understood that it was a call to follow the persecuted Prophet in his forlorn course. So he asked his leave to bid his friends farewell. “ And he left the oxen, and ran after Elijah, and said, Let me, I pray thee, kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow thee." God's calls are not commands, but favours; so the Prophet said to him, “Go back again; for what have I done to thee?” but Elisha, though so suddenly visited, had no intention of shrinking from the summons; he asked indeed to bid his kindred farewell, but he was not of

% Wisd. xix. 16.

I Gen. xxxi. 27, 28. 54, 55.

3 Exod. xii. 11.

those whom our Saviour notices, who, having put their hand to the plough, look back, and are unfit for the kingdom of God'. He did but wish, before commencing his new life and eventful ministry, to hold a last feast with his friends; and in his mode of doing so, he showed that his mind was made up to leave his former occupations for ever. The materials of his husbandry provided him with an entertainment. “He returned back from him, and took a yoke of oxen, and slew them, and boiled their flesh with the instruments of the oxen, and gave unto the people, and they did eat. Then he arose, and went after Elijah, and ministered unto him."

Again, another instance occurs in the history of St. Matthew. Christ “went forth, and saw a publican named Levi sitting at the receipt of custom, and said unto him, Follow Me. And he left all, rose up, and followed Him. And Levi made Him a great feast in his own house, and there was a great company of publicans, and of others that sat down with them."

Nay, may we not say that our Lord Himself had commenced His ministry, that is, bade farewell to His earthly home, at a feast ? for it was at the marriage entertainment at Cana of Galilee that He did His first miracle, and manifested forth His glory. He was in the house of friends, He was surrounded by intimates and followers, and He took a familiar interest in the exigences of the feast. He supplied a principal want which was interfering with their festivity. It was His contribution to it. By supplying it miraculously He showed that He was beginning a new life, the life of a Messen

I Luke ix. 62. 2 1 Kings xix. 19--21. 3 Luke v. 27 - 29

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