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Title: Christ Remembered at his Table
Author: Alexander, John L.
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Transcribed from the 1854 J. Dunn and Co. edition by David Price.



                     CHRIST REMEMBERED AT HIS TABLE.


                                * * * * *

                                AN ADDRESS

                                  TO THE

               Churches of the Nottinghamshire Association,

                                * * * * *

                 ASSEMBLED AT THE LORD’S SUPPER IN FRIAR
                         LANE CHAPEL, NOTTINGHAM,

                                * * * * *

                   ON MONDAY EVENING, MARCH 20TH, 1854.

                                * * * * *

                            BY JOHN ALEXANDER,

               MINISTER OF PRINCE’S STREET CHAPEL, NORWICH.

                                * * * * *

                                * * * * *

                          PUBLISHED BY REQUEST.

                                * * * * *

                                * * * * *

                               NOTTINGHAM:
                 PRINTED BY J. DUNN AND CO., SOUTH PARADE

                                  1854.



AN ADDRESS.


WE have come together in this one place, Christian brethren, for the
purpose of celebrating a very simple yet instructive and impressive
ceremony, which has been appointed to us by Jesus Christ our Lord and
Saviour.  “This do, said he, in remembrance of me.”  To eat of this
bread, and to drink of this cup, is that which he requires us to do.  But
we are directed to do it, not as if it were a common meal, nor to satisfy
hunger and thirst, for “we have houses in which to eat and to drink,” but
as a memorial of Him by whom it was ordained.  “This do, in remembrance
_of me_.”

What is it then that we are now to remember respecting Christ?  We are,
no doubt, to remember what he is personally, as possessing in himself a
divine and human nature; as being at once the Son of God and the Son of
man—“the great God and our Saviour, Jesus Christ.”  But, in connection
with this sacred supper, we are more especially to remember _his death_.
That one event is selected out of the many and marvellous circumstances
which distinguished his wonderful history, as the only event which is to
be celebrated by a religious ceremony.  Though he triumphed over Satan,
when he was tempted in the wilderness; though he wrought superhuman and
divine miracles, by which he healed the sick and raised the dead; and
though he was transfigured on the holy mount, when his face shone as the
sun, and his raiment became white and glistering, and Moses and Elias
appeared to him in glory; yet none of these circumstances, splendid and
important as they were, are selected for commemoration at this supper.
It is his death, his death by the shedding of his blood, which he has
required his church perpetually to celebrate.  This bread denotes his
body which was broken, and this wine denotes his blood which was shed.

There must therefore be a peculiar degree of _importance connected with
his death_ which does not belong to any event of his previous life.  And
this importance is attached, by the scriptures, not merely to the mode of
his death, or to the degree of suffering which he endured in dying,
agonizing and mysterious as his sufferings were, but more especially to
the state of mind with which he suffered, and to the moral purposes which
his sufferings were intended to accomplish.  His body was broken, but it
was broken “for you.”  His blood was shed, but it was “the blood of the
New Covenant,” “the blood that was shed for many, for the remission of
sins.”  His death is to be remembered therefore, not only as a fact, but
as a doctrine founded on the fact.  He died, but he died for our sins; he
died, the Just for the unjust, that he might bring us unto God.

And in thus remembering his death, we are to connect it with his divine
as well as with his human nature.  The scriptures ascribe the sacrificial
and saving efficacy of his death principally to _the peculiar dignity of
his person_; and the language in which they teach this doctrine is
remarkably emphatic.  It is “the blood of Jesus Christ HIS SON that
cleanseth us from all sin;” “WHO, being the brightness of his glory, and
the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of
his power, BY HIMSELF purged our sins;” and “WHO HIS OWN SELF bare our
sins in HIS OWN BODY on the tree.”  Now while these and similar passages
by no means teach that the divine nature of Christ suffered and died—a
doctrine as contrary to scripture as it is to reason—yet they do teach
that he was competent to be a Saviour because he was the Son of God, and
that because such a person as he gave himself for us, his sacrificial
blood is an availing “propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only,
but also for the sins of the whole world.”

These, brethren, are some of the particulars respecting Christ which we
are to remember while we eat of this bread and drink of this cup.  It is
therefore a service intended for both bodily and mental exercise, because
both the body and the soul are interested in the redemption which it
celebrates.  As, however, it is especially intended _for the mind_, while
we are doing this, the thoughts of our hearts should be actively and
devoutly directed to Christ, that we may discern the Lord’s body, and
that we may contemplate the things signified, as well as the signs.  But
as our minds are naturally affected in accordance with the objects which
are perceived by our senses and contemplated by our thoughts, we should
now remember Christ in order to excite and strengthen in our hearts those
emotions and principles which a devout consideration of his sacrificial
death is calculated to produce.  “Mine eye,” says Jeremiah, “affecteth my
heart.”  Attention to an object awakens corresponding feelings.  Minding
the things of the Spirit is, by the agency of that Spirit, productive of
spiritual-mindedness; and, in harmony with the same divine rule, a
thoughtful and believing remembrance of Christ is rendered, by the Spirit
of God, productive of such sentiments and feelings as his person, and
grace, and dying love, are intended and adapted to awaken, and which are
so peculiarly appropriate to this solemnity.  These remarks may therefore
be illustrated by the following particulars, for the purpose of shewing
_the influence which may be produced by an attentive and devout
remembrance of Christ_.

1.  In the first place, such a remembrance of Christ will encourage our
approach to him as sinners.  This indeed is the only character in which
we can approach him.  We cannot go with any degree of previous
preparation or of personal merit.  If we go to him at all, we must carry
with us our burden of sin and unworthiness.  Now, the remembrance of
Christ who died for sinners, will greatly encourage us to do this, for we
are told that the Son of man came to seek and to save that which was
lost; that he approved the prayer of the publican, “God be merciful to me
a sinner;” that he promptly received the weeping penitent whom the
self-righteous Pharisee rejected, and said to her “Go in peace, thy sins
are forgiven thee;” that he threw his arms around the neck of the
returning prodigal, and said, “This my son was dead and is alive again,
he was lost and is found!” and that his constant and constraining
invitation is, “Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and
I will give you rest.”  Now this invitation, combined with these
remembrances, is a special and powerful encouragement to go to Christ,
because it gives us authority and right to go.  It is not a sense of
need, nor an earnest desire, nor hungering and thirsting for the
righteousness which the gospel feast provides, that gives us primary
authority to sit down with the guests, however much these feelings may
dispose us to go; but it is his own invitation which, as Master of the
feast, he addresses to the perishing and the lost.  That is our
authority, and with that in our hand, we may go “boldly to the throne of
grace that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”

2.  Remembrance of Christ will excite and strengthen our penitential
feelings.  Remembrance and reflection are the means of producing
conviction and contrition, especially if we remember Christ as well as
our own sins.  David says, “I thought on my ways, and turned my feet to
thy commandments.”  And reflection produced a similar effect upon Peter,
after his denial of the Lord; for, “when he thought thereon, he wept.”
On this same principle it is written, “They shall look on him whom they
have pierced and mourn;” so that repentance, evangelical repentance, the
repentance which includes a change of heart and conduct, is derived not
so much from looking at the broken tables of the law, important as it is
to remember them, but from looking at the broken body of the Lord.  We
must remember the groans and agonies of Gethsemane, rather than the
thunder and earthquake of “the mount that might be touched;” we must look
to Jesus rather than to Moses; and our sorrow and mourning for sin must
be produced on Calvary rather than on Sinai.

    Law and terrors do but harden,
       All the while they work alone;
    But a sense of blood bought pardon,
       Can dissolve a heart of stone.

3.  Grateful love to Christ will also be produced by this remembrance.
Love to Christ is a principle essential to personal religion, and without
it we are nothing.  But our hearts are so constituted that love cannot be
excited in them by any commands however authoritative, or by any
threatenings however terrible.  We cannot love an object unless we
perceive that it is lovely; nor can we love Christ unless we perceive the
loveliness of his person and character.  And this perception is derived
from reflection and remembrance.  While we are musing the fire begins to
burn; and when we remember the great love with which he loved us, when he
gave himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God, that love
excites and constrains our own, and “we love him because he first loved
us.”  When we thus begin by loving him for what he has done for us, we go
on to perfection by loving him for what he is, the noblest and the purest
love our hearts can cherish.  And as love always assimilates to its
object, and blesses the heart which it inspires, so love to Christ
conforms us to his character, and becomes a fruitful source of joy and
peace.  The Spirit takes of the things which are Christ’s and shews them
to us with increased clearness and impressiveness, so that “beholding as
in a glass the glory of the Lord, we are changed into the same image,
from glory to glory.”

4.  Nor can we thus remember Christ, and thereby feel the constraining
influences of his love, without manifesting devout subjection to his
authority, and practical conformity to his example.  The great and
pervading principle of his mind was evidently a spirit of obedience and
submission to his Father’s will.  “I am come,” said he, “not to do my own
will, but the will of him that sent me.”  “My meat is to do his will.”
“Father, not my will but thine be done.”  How perfectly and perseveringly
were these sayings exhibited in his daily life; and how precious and
powerful does his example become to those who endeavour to have these
things always in remembrance.  And shall it not be so with us?  Shall we,
his disciples, pursue any course but that which is marked by his
footsteps?  Shall we remember Christ and love the world, and comply with
temptation, and neglect watchfulness and prayer, and carefully avoid self
denial, and follow our own inclinations rather than his commands, and
feel ashamed of making a public profession of his gospel?  Oh, no!  Holy
Jesus, no!  We would ardently cling to thy cross, but we would also
humbly bow beneath thy sceptre.  And while we do this in remembrance of
thee, we would thankfully acknowledge that we are not our own; that we
have been bought with the price of thy precious blood; and that we are
under infinite obligations to glorify thee in our body and our spirit
which are thine.

5.  This remembrance of Christ will also promote our love to the
brethren.  How affecting and constraining were the manifestations of
Christ’s love to his disciples.  He lived for them; he died for them; he
bore with their infirmities; he prayed for them that their faith might
not fail; he washed their feet, to teach them to wash one another’s feet;
and when his soul had begun to be exceeding sorrowful, even unto death,
and they were striving which of them should be greatest in that earthly
Kingdom which they expected him to establish, he looked mildly on and
said, “Whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth?
Is not he that sitteth at meat?  But I am among you as one that serveth.”
“While you sit, and strive, and aspire to lofty stations, I am content to
stand and wait.”  “I am come, not to be ministered unto but to minister,
and to give my life a ransom for many.”  Brethren, was this in any degree
the spirit of the world?  Was not this love that passeth knowledge?  And
can we do this in remembrance of such a meek and lowly Jesus, and yet
cherish towards any of his disciples a spirit of cold-hearted selfishness
and proud sectarianism, which would refuse to recognise them as brethren,
or to co-operate with them in promoting the cause of Christ.  Oh no!  Let
us rather sit at the feet of Jesus and learn of him; let us love mankind
at large, even our enemies, with a benevolent desire to do them good; but
let us love the brethren because they are brethren and because “Christ
hath loved them and given himself for them.”  And let our love to them
include forbearance and longsuffering in reference to their infirmities,
a cordial recognition of their as well as our spiritual relationship to
Christ, an affectionate sympathy with them in all their difficulties and
tribulations, and a fraternal communion and co-operation with them in all
their works of faith and labours of love.

6.  Such remembrance of Christ will bring us, even now, into a state of
harmony with heaven.  Heaven is that “upper room” in the new Jerusalem
where Christ sits down at his table with his disciples; where he partakes
with them of the new wine of his kingdom; and where all that is signified
and shadowed by this earthly supper is “fulfilled.”  When therefore we
thus come together in this one place to remember Christ, by eating of
this bread and drinking of this cup, we come also “to the heavenly
Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly
and church of the first born which are enrolled in heaven, to the spirits
of just men made perfect, and even to Jesus himself, the mediator of the
new covenant.”  Our spiritual circumstances, though in many respects very
inferior to theirs, are nevertheless the same in kind.  “As is the
heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.”  All things which are in
heaven and which are on earth, are gathered together in one by Christ,
even in him.  We and they therefore are one church; one whole family in
heaven and earth; one communion of saints, partakers of the same blessed
privileges, and cherishing a devout remembrance of the same Lord.  Our
justification is as complete as theirs; our holiness is derived from the
same source, and assimilates to the same image; our joy, as well as
theirs, is “unspeakable and full of glory.”  Thus the pure river of water
of life, which flows from the throne of God and the Lamb, pours down its
clear and crystal streams to make glad this earthly city of our God.
Thus the Tree of life, which grows in the midst of the Paradise of God,
bends its fruitful branches down to earth, that we may sit under its
shadow with great delight, and find its fruit sweet unto our taste.  And
thus

    The men of grace have found
       Glory begun below;
    Celestial fruits on earthly ground,
       From faith and hope may grow.

Finally.  Our remembrance of Christ will be the means of preparing us for
his coming.  We are directed to do this “till he come.”  He has been
once, and his first advent is the pledge of a second.  He will come to
all mankind at the last day; and till that day arrives, his church is
continually to shew forth his death.  The Lord’s supper is therefore
designed to be prospective as well as retrospective.  It is a chain which
connects together the two advents, and requires us to remember not only
the cross on which he suffered, but also the throne which he will occupy,
when he comes “the second time without sin unto salvation.”  He will also
come to us individually at death.  “I go,” said he, “to prepare a place
for you, and I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I
am, there ye may be also.”  He will not send for us; he will come
himself.  And when he appears, his presence will deprive death of its
darkness; only a faint “shadow” will be thrown across “the valley”
through which we shall have to walk; only a shadow; the shadow of a sword
which cannot pierce, and the shadow of a serpent which cannot sting; and
a shadow through which we shall walk till we reach the sunshine of
everlasting light.  The brightest object amidst that light is Christ: and
when we behold him, “we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he
is.”  His presence is heaven; the highest, the holiest, and the happiest
heaven that we can desire or enjoy.  “Then shall we be satisfied when we
awake in his likeness; for in his presence is fulness of joy and at his
right hand are pleasures for evermore.”  “AMEN, EVEN SO, COME LORD
JESUS.”





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