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MUTUAL RECOLLECTIONS; OR, MUSINGS FOR A
BY THE REV. JAMES LEWITT. “ This do in remembrance of me.” “Jesus, Lord, remember me when thoa comest into thy kingdom.” - Luke xxii. 19; xxii. 42.
The human memory cannot be more worthily exercised than in the recollection of a faithful friend ; and this is ever one of its most grateful employments when friendship is mutual, though perhaps not equally strong. The lapse of years, and the separations of space, neither dull nor diminish such reminiscences; and we are pleased with the numberless incidents which recall the dear familiar face and form of the man who has spread sunshine on our path, and cheered our wearyful way. The house where he lived; his portrait hanging on the wall; the book that bears his autograph; the walks that rang with his footsteps, as in his company we sauntered forth to gather strength and consolation from the contem. plation of the works of God; the hearth, of which he was the ornament and charm; and the arm-chair, in which he sat and gave forth the faithful and edifying lessons he knew so well how to impart: all these, and a thousand other circumstances, are gratefully recognised as giving increased and abiding vividness to the image of a friend. And there are many things which aid the memory of the believer in the loftiest exercise of this faculty, namely, its relation to Him who is the saint and the sinner's Friend. But, are they needful? Can the memory prove unfaithful to one who has befriended our race as none beside had the power or the will to do? He remembered us in our low estate. He lavished on us the opulence of his unsearchable love, when that love alone could aid us, in the form of the deepest humiliation and the most cruel death. Surely, before he is forgotten, “our right hand will forget her cunning," and memory itself will be extinguished. Not so: if there were no danger of forgetting him, he would not have said, when he instituted the Supper, “Do this in remembrance of me." And though the earth and sky, though the flowers, and sun, and stars, bid us remember that he is their maker; though the Sabbath, with its peace and calm, and the Bible, with its ever-recurring mention of his love and his name, suggest him to our mind, experience has taught us that it was a wise mercy which spread this table, and bade us “do this in remembrance of him." To stimulate us, therefore, to a cheerful and constant compliance with his command, let us be impressed with the thought, that while we are remembering him on earth, he is remembering us in heaven.
I. Let us notice the act of remembering Jesus we shall perform to-day. It is the celebration of the Supper instituted by him to perpetuate the recollection of his sufferings and death. * Do this,” said he, “in remembrance of me," as he gave the broken bread into the hands of those who sat with him at the table; and these words are echoing down through all time, to every company of Christians who meet thus to honour him. Then, the Supper is an act or institution of memorial ; and in it both the memory and the affections are exercised. Let us observe, too, that he says, “Do this in remembrance of Me;" not of the minor truths and facts of the Gospel, but of its grand and central principles. Of me; not as a myth, but as a real person; not as a poetic creation, but as your Master and Lord. Doubtless there is a sense in which the Supper, as a memorial, covers all the facts of the Saviour's life ; and though the memory cannot gather into one act all that Jesus was and did, yet the Supper implies the duty of remembering all that life, in its principles and actions. But the words of Paul to the Corinthians very briefly but emphatically teach us what the Supper recalls and anticipates : “As oft as ye eat this bread, and drink this
cup, yè do show forth the Lord's death till he come.” Hence we remember his death as a fact; for all the import of the memorial hangs here. If Christ died not, the Gospel is a delusion, and all the hopes it inspires are illusory; but if he died, Christian character has a substantial basis, and Christian joy a sufficient ground.
The manner of his death rises upon the memory : “ This is my body, broken for you.” So at the table, the Cross, with all its attendant horrors, present themselves before us ; the betrayal, the denial, the mocking, the scourging, the thirst, and the vinegar mingled with gall, the darkened sun, the rending rocks, the yawning graves, the agony and dying cry of the Victim, the quivering flesh and breaking heart, are all vividly reproduced by the Supper of the Lord. · The peculiar nature of his death recurs to recollection to-day: his body was “ broken" for us ; his blood was shed for many, for the remission of sins. This feature we must never forget; for our life in God, our pardon, peace, power, joy, purity, and hope, arise in the fact, that the Cross of Calvary is hung with the garlands of a Sacrifice, on whom the Lord has laid the iniquity of us all. We remember this, if we remember anything; and if this be denied or forgotten, little else is worth recollection. We stay not now to dwell on this act of memorial in relation to the second coming of the Lord, though it would not be an anachronism to remember what has not been realised, to remember that the Lord will come again. For it is only meant that we are to remember the certainty of his coming, and the tremendous issues of it in relation to the Divine government and the destinies of all intelligent creation. Hence the Supper beckons to the past and points to the future at the same time. It bids us look back across the ages of darkness and storm, and see that the scattered and broken gleams which play upon the restless billows radiate only from the Cross. And, at the same time, it points us onward, and bids us hope for the i dawning of that day when “ this same Jesus" shall come again, to welcome us to his presence, and admit us to his everlasting joy. Thus we see the practical tendency of this memorial and its celebration. What humility does it excite, as in the presence of the Cross our sins and helplessness are brought prominently into view! What grateful admiration of Divine love does it enkindle, as we feel that for us, in the arms and the heart of Jesus, there is room! What vigour is given to our feeble faith, as we remember the sufficiency and freeness of the atonement of the Son of God! The wings of hope are replumed and strengthened as we hover around the Cross. Joy re-lights and replenishes her expiring lamp as we remember Calvary; and fear and watchfulness have their vision cleared and quickened, in looking forward to the time when Jesus shall come again.
Thus, to-day we shall remember him; and we would now remind you
II. That while thus remembering him on earth, he is remembering you in heaven.
This is implied in his answer to the prayer of the dying thief, and in the fact of the intercession of Jesus at the Father's right hand; while that prayer also implies the doctrines of a future and conscious state, and the existence and play of memory. And Jesus now has the faculty of recollection in all its strength and fulness: it is part of his sanctified human consciousness; it is indispensable to his identity. He can, he does, remember us still. “Lo, I am with you alway.” “I will not leave you comfortless ; I will come to you.” It is a | ! joyous thought, that exaltation to unequalled dignity and splendour has not made his memory treacherous, and that every child of his, redeemed by blood and enlightened by his Spirit, are among his most cherished and imperishable recollections. When, then, we come to the table to remember Jesus, let us rejoice in the fact, First, that he remembers all our physical weakness, and will
provide us all needful good. His memory is not partial, and therefore limited : the fact of his own manhood and miseries assures us that his recollection takes in all our necessities. His children are flesh and blood, and he himself took part of the game, and so has carried with him into heaven, in his glorified body, an undying memento of the physical ills they endure. This thought the psalmist anticipated in those tender and touching words, “He knoweth our frame ; he remembereth that we are dust." He knows its composition, all its earthly wants and weaknesses, and he knows its tendency to decay. Therefore, suffering brother, you are ever in his eye and on his heart; and every thrill of anguish, and every groan of sorrow, Jesus remembers, while you remember him. He knows the intimate sympathy existing between the mind and the body, and how the labours and afflictions of the latter depress and weary the former, and so hinder your communion with heaven. And as he wields universal providence, be assured he cannot forget you; for as he feeds the young ravens when they cry, you who are his children shall not lack any good thing. Therefore, at his table look to him with the fullest assurance that he will not exact what you have not the strength to render; and be cheered as you remember, that “my God shall supply all your need from his riches in glory by Christ Jesus the Lord.”
Secondly, Jesus remembers the sufferings of his children, and will modify their intensity, and sanctify their stroke. There is no truer act of friendship than to remember our loved ones when sorrow clouds their path, and to try to scatter its gloom. But how rare are such friendship and such friends! It was a bitter but truthful sentiment of Moore
“ The friends who in our sunshine live,
When winter comes are flown;
Must weep those tears alone.” But it is not so with Jesus. He remembers us in our low estate, and sympathises with us in all our pains. He remembers us when our good is evil spoken of; when calumny does its best, with foul breath and bitter tongue, to ruin our reputation and hinder our usefulness. Is this your case ? Faint not; for He must remember this of whom men once said, "He hath a devil.” Sa he remembered Peter in prison, Paul before Nero, and John in Patmos, and helped them in the day of trouble. He remembers us when the cares of the world weigh us down, " when no small tempest lies on us,” and we have to struggle op from day to day, uncertain as to the issue of accumulating responsibilities. Then, how soothing and sweet is the command, “ Cast thy burden on the Lord, and he shall sustain thee." He remembers us in those fierce conflicts with evil which no eye sees and no hand can make victorious but his own, and has promised we shall be more than conquerors. And in the days of deepest darkness he does not forget us. “When lover and friend are put far from us," he earnestly remembers us still. My brother, when the desire of thine eyes was taken from thee, he did not forget thee, but bound up thy bleeding heart, and bade thee trust him still. Oh, how sweet and consoling were his recollections of us, in the fiery trials with which he tried us! How precious were his promises, how sustaining his sympathy, how our souls rejoiced in the communication of his love! "He is faithful,” is an inscription borne by many past deliverances ; then let us learn to repose on him still. Are you passing through deep waters ? are you afflicted with all his waves ? Then come to his table, though your heart is bursting with sorrow, and Jesus will remember you, and comfort you by his presence and grace.
Thirdly, he is remembering the prayers you offer, and will answer them in his own good time. This is his name and memorial : “A God that heareth and answereth prayer ;” and his own gracious promise runs thus : “ Whatsoever
ye shall ask the Father in my name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son." “And we know that if we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us." Yet he does not sometimes seem to do this : the vision tarries, and we construe delay into denial, and so dishonour him, and destroy our own peace. But as he bottles up our tears, surely he will remember our prayers, or else he will deny his name. So he has not forgotten the supplications you offered for your enemies, and are still presenting at his throne for those who hate you, but will graciously respond to them all. Every petition you present for the salvation of those who are dear to you, he hears and remembers; and all your strong cries and tears for the diffusion of his Gospel shall be answered. You are praying for more light, and love, and power, and purity: pray on, and faint not, for Jesus remembers, and he shall answer them all.
And be assured Jesus will remember you in the last struggle of mortality, and will give you a full and final victory. If a friend loveth at all times, your heavenly Friend will specially prove the sincerity and depth of his love in the greatest extremity of your being. Though the circumstances and time of that struggle you know not, he knows them well, and will appear for your aid when no other power can avail. Yes, in death-that hour of dissolution and decay-that time of separation from all you hold dear on earth—that period of venture on the unknown and untried sea—the Friend whose love you recall to-day will prove the strength and faithfulness of his friendship for you. He answered the prayer of the dying malefactor; he remembered and admitted him to his kingdom. Stephen, when struggling with the last enemy, cried, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit;” and though myriads of spirits were at that moment on the wing for the unknown world, the eye of Jesus singled out that of his first martyr, and it was welcomed to glory, amid the high and joyous anthem of angels, and the hallelujahs of the blessed. He remembered Paul in his prison at Rome, and, in the prospect of his execution, enabled him to write the memorable words, “I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.” So, my brother, fear not that you will be forgotten in the article of death. Forgotten! No. Jesus will forget himself before he will forget you. Till then, you shall be remembered; till then, fear not, for yours is the crown awaiting you above. Then,
“ Shudder not to cross the stream;
Ever suffered shipwreck there,” So come to his table, remembering him, and try to realise all the joy arising from the fact that he ever remembers you.
“ Yes, we will remember Thee,
Friend and Saviour; and Thy feast
THE TRUE ORACLE.
BY REV. W. P. BALFERN. “And there will I meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat.”
Exod. xxv. 22. IN proportion as a man becomes truly | please, and believe what they like, and yet great, in that proportion it will be difficult have communion with God. Let us, say to understand him, and his character must they, go from nature up to nature's God; be contemplated through or in relation to let us commune with him through the many things. We read of the many-minded teachings of the great and good of every Shakspeare, and of the mary-sided Goethe, age, -the inspiration of genius, the disand such men resemble prisms, which de coveries of science, and the wonderful creacompose and break up the ordinary ele tions of art. This may sound well, read ments of human character, and require to prettily, transcendently, but it will ultibe studied carefully and in detail, in order mately be found that communion with God, to our having any perfect knowledge of now as of old, involves the subjection of them. And that which is true of the crea- | the mind to revealed truth and “ there ture, is pre-eminently true of God-be has will I meet with thee, and commune with been pleased to reveal himself to us through thee from above the mercy seat." many things, and if we would apprehend II. THAT IT INVOLVES THE EXERCISE OF him aright, we must contemplate the various | A CERTAIN ATTRIBUTE IN GOD.-" There attributes of his nature, as they are reflected will I commune with thee from above the upon us by the things, institutions, and MERCY seat." There are other attributes words he has selected. Under the law he was in God upon the ground of which perfect pleased to institute a most striking and and unfallen creatures might realize fellowelaborate order of things through which he ship with him : but men are now fallen and would display his mercy, and the especial imperfect: misery often reigns supreme medium through which he revealed it is without them in the conditions and circumcalled “the mercy seat.” We shall not, stances of their outward life ; but there is however, go into the details of what be | ever misery within them, in the understandlonged to this sacred instrument of | ing, the will, the affections, the conscience ; ancient intercourse with Jehovah, but | and all this as the result of sin. On account, would simply observe that it certainly I therefore, of what we are, God could justly teaches us the importance of communion have forsaken us, and have held no comwith God;" and there will I commune munion with us at all. He could have left with thee”! The people to whom this us to ourselves, toutter darkness and despair, language was addressed, were highly dis to breathe out our lives in one life-long tinguished of God. He had set them apart wail of sorrow and wretchedness, exclaiming as his own peculiar treasure ; he had given with one of old, “Be not silent to me.” to them the most minute, costly, and ex He could have kept silence, and never have plicit instructions as to how they were to spoken to us, and yet have been holy and worship him; but the true work, vitality, just; but mercy, free,' unmerited, boundless, and acceptance of all their public ser infinite, eternal mercy, the mercy of his own vice was to be found in their conformity nature, induced him to break the silence, to this precept—" There will I commune and from the secret and unfathomed depths with thee from above the mercy seat." | of his own Godlike compassion to say, Taking for granted, therefore, that com- "And there will I commune with thee from munion with God is as important now as above the mercy seat.” Thus the voice of it was of old, let us view this sacred utensil, | Covenant Love spake to her children of old, and other things connected with it, as | amid all their sins, sorrows, and woes, and symbolically setting before us some in the humble, thoughtful Israelite caught the structive particulars, respecting real spirit first glimmerings of the star of hope as he ual cominunion with God. Observe then : turned his eyes towards that mystic chest
I. THAT COMMUNION WITH GOD CAN which God had specially consecrated to his ONLY BE REALIZED IN HIS OWN WAY. people as the outward symbol and pledge of
affirmation is very much opposed to l his love. And thus, too, the same voice speaks the theology of the world. Men for the to the travelling militant church now; and most part think that they can do as they if we would be directed, elevated, and