Sermon 2131. To Those Who Feel Unfit for Communion
C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"For there were many in the congregation that were not sanctified: therefore the Levites had the charge of the killing ofthe Passover lambs for everyone that was not clean to sanctify them unto the Lord. For a multitude of the people, even manyof Ephraim and Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun, had not cleansed themselves, yet did they eat the Passover contrary to whatwas written. But Hezekiah prayed for them, saying "The good Lord pardon everyone that prepares his heart to seek God, theLord God of his fathers, though he is not cleansed according to the purification of the sanctuary. And the Lord listened toHezekiah, and healed the people." 2 Chronicles 30:17-20.
BRETHREN, it should be much to our joy that we do not serve under the ceremonial Law, nor live within the legal dispensation.The legal economy exhibited to the people a multitude of types and figures and consequently it laid down many rules and rituals-andthese were enacted with such solemn and terrible penalties that the people were in constant fear of offending and found obedienceirksome by reason of the weakness of their flesh and the unspirituality of their minds. As for our Lord Jesus, His yoke iseasy and His burden is light. But concerning the Law, even Peter speaks of it as "a yoke which neither our fathers nor wewere able to bear."
We are now brought into the glorious liberty of the children of God, a liberty which those who had been in the bondage couldbest appreciate. Those who are still under legal restrictions feel the pressure of them when they see the liberty of others.Sitting at dinner with a Samaritan who considered himself under the Law of the Pentateuch, I noticed that the worthy man refusedfirst one dish and then another, and at length he exclaimed, "Moses very hard," evidently feeling that the limit upon hisdiet involved a good deal of self-denial.
Some of us could cheerfully bear such small matters as abstinence from certain meats and drinks, but if we were surroundedwith regulations and prescriptions entering into minute details, our life would be full of cares and we should feel ill atease. We have attained the liberty of the Gospel and we are not called upon to observe days, and months and years-nor to borderour garments with a certain color, nor to trim our hair by rule. Neither are we called to practice different washing and purifying,or to observe laws and regulations amounting to a continual round of rites. The "free Spirit" dwells in us-to us every placeis hallowed!
Our religion is not of the outward and in the matter of meats we call nothing common or unclean. We have ordinances, it istrue, but they are few and simple. They are but two and each of them is instructive and easy. Baptism and the Supper of theLord, which are for the Lord's people only, are easy of observance and are for our help and comfort, but are by no means burdensome.These are not laid upon us as yokes but given to us as privileges. Neither are they enforced by such a sentence as this-"Thesoul that forbears to keep the Passover shall be cut off from among his people."
Gospel ordinances are choice enjoyments, enjoined upon us by the loving rule of Him whom we call Master and Lord. We acceptthem with joy and delight. In keeping these commandments there is great reward-but they are not presented to us as mattersof servitude. In Baptism we are made to see the burial of our Lord and are helped to enter into spiritual fellowship withHim therein-this is not a burdensome ordinance, but a delight! The Lord's own Supper is a joyful festival, a feast of fatthings-of fat things full of marrow-of wines on the lees well-refined. All is joy and rest about these two ordinances.
In enjoying them we feel that we are not under Law, but under Grace. I would not have you come to this table with the sametrembling with which an Israelite ate the Passover, or stand there as the Israelite did, with your loins girt and your staffin your hand, eating in haste and apprehension. No, but you may sit at ease, or even recline to express the rest
which you enjoy at the Lord's Table and the close communion to which your Redeemer invites you. He has called you His friendsand He has honored you to be His table companions, to sit and feast with Him without reserve.
Lest liberty should degenerate into license, I am bound to remind you that we are not left without command and direction.The Law of Love is as binding on us as ever the Law of Works could have been. We are still called to obedience-the obedienceof faith. A most strict but most happy service grows out of sonship and no true son wishes to disown it. Should not the sonhonor his Father? Does not the Lord Himself say, "If I am a father, where is My honor?" There is a service of which we readthat God spares such a one, "as a man spares his own son that serves him."
We are not under the Law, but yet we are not without law to Christ-and concerning these ordinances which I have describedas the privilege of the Lord's free men, there is an order of the Lord's house and a discipline of His family which must byno means be set aside by the loving child. We are not slaves fearing the lash, but we are sons who have a filial fear of grievingour heavenly Father. The rules concerning the Passover and the right keeping of that high festival were plain and definite-andto break them would have been a great offense to the God of Israel. These rules required a certain ceremonial cleanness onthe part of all who partook of the Paschal lamb and those who were defiled were kept back so that they could not present theoffering of the Lord in its appointed season. The sacred rite was not to be celebrated in heedless formalism, but with a carefulcleansing out of the old leaven that they might keep the feast aright.
Now, concerning the memorial Supper of the Lord, we have no rubric as to the bread or the wine and no prescribed regulationas to posture or manner of procedure. But there are certain notes of guidance which we shall do well to follow with lovingcare. For instance, when we come to this Table of the Lord, it should not be without a preparedness of heart for it-"Let aman examine himself, and so let him eat of this bread and drink of this cup." To come here irreverently, or with sinistermotive, is to secure condemnation! To come here idly and carelessly is to lose the blessing. We should approach the Tablewith hearts full of humility, gratitude, faith and expectation. We should receive the bread and wine with sincere longingafter fellowship with Christ, tender love to His blessed Person and great joy in His finished work. If we do not thus partakeof the sacred feast we shall miss its high design.
Yet, nevertheless, since I fear that there may be a certain number here tonight of the Lord's own people who are in the conditionof the multitude in Hezekiah's day out of Manasseh and Zebulun-who have not sufficiently cleansed themselves after the mannerof the purification of the sanctuary-I am anxious to show them how they may, even now, come to the Divine ordinance and realizeprofit from it through the abundance of Divine Grace. God helping them, from this moment they may commence the necessary preparednessof heart and may speedily attain to it. So long as they do sincerely wish to meet with God and to enjoy fellowship with Himin His ordinance, there is no reason why they should retire from the assembly of the saints.
They may begin, even now, I say, to make ready for this festival and by Divine Grace they may so partake of this Supper asto find in it all that their hearts desire. Our Lord is able, by His Spirit, to wash away their present defilement and quickenthem in mind and soul so that they may both draw near to God with true heart and discern the Lord's body with clear understanding.Such is the power of Divine Grace, that in a few moments the Lord can take away all iniquity and receive us graciously! OurGreat High Priest, in the sacred authority of His Divine office, can confer perfect cleansing and give us full right to sitwith the family and partake of the Lamb and to rest beneath the roof, whose door has been marked for safety by the sprinkledblood.
I. So I will begin by saying, first, that as in the case before us in the text, so at this very time, THERE ARE
SEASONS WHEN WE FEEL UNFIT FOR THE SACRED ORDINANCE OF THE LORD'S TABLE. It may be that at
this hour there are many in the congregation who are not sanctified for the feast and are not cleansed according to the dueorder. I speak not of you all-there are choice spirits in this place who "walk in the light, as God is in the light," andhave fellowship with God perpetually-so that the blood of Jesus cleanses them from all sin.
Why should we not all seek this acceptable preparedness so that we may never be unfit for the most hallowed of all engagements?Ought we ever to be unfit for our Lord's Table? Those two disciples who walked from Jerusalem to Emmaus talking together bythe way-what a mercy it was that when their Lord asked them the manner of their conversation they could give this for theirshort answer-"Concerning Jesus of Nazareth"! Could you answer in such commendable style when you talk together?
Consider, my Brothers and Sisters, and answer to your consciences. It is well to be in such a condition that in our commontalk we are still keeping near to Jesus of Nazareth. The transition from our private dialogue to our Lord's actual companyand even to His being made known unto us in the breaking of bread should be just like the gliding of a stream from one partof its channel to another as it hastens its constant flow towards the boundless sea. I fear that many of us have to complainof ourselves at times that we feel unfit for any holy thing-but most of all for the solemn engagements of this hallowed ordinance.
Let us think of the ways in which the Israelites were rendered unfit for the Passover and see how far they tally with ourunfitness for the Supper. Some were kept away by defilement. Read in Numbers, 9th chapter, 6th verse-"And there were certainmen who were defiled by the dead body of a man, that they could not keep the Passover on that day: and they came before Mosesand before Aaron on that day." For these men it was provided that they should keep the Passover a month later, but they wereto keep it without fail. Read the 9th and 10th verses-"And the Lord spoke unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel,saying, If any man of you or of your posterity shall be unclean by reason of a dead body, or be in a journey afar off, yethe shall keep the Passover unto the Lord."
I am afraid that you and I touch a great many dead bodies and are often defiled. You cannot go out to your business tomorrowmorning but you will meet with that spiritual death which loads with corruption the air of "this present evil world." Thedead in sin lie all around us-contact with their ways and motives, unless we are continually cleansed by Divine Grace-is defilingin many ways. Worse, still, we cannot even stay at home without finding sin in our own dwellings. Yes, the mass of sin withinyour own selves, "the body of this death," as Paul calls it, is a constant source of defilement.
Some quickness of temper, or levity of language, or excess of care, or thought of pride, or desire of covetousness will occur.Oh, that we were delivered from the liability! These dead and corrupt things lie not only in a corner but on the table, inthe bed and everywhere-and when we touch them we are defiled. Whatever kind of sin it may be, whether of act, or of word,or of thought, or of imagination, or desire, it defiles more than most men imagine. Oh, that those who prate about perfectionknew their own uncleanness! It were for their humbling, if they knew the sadly all-pervading influence of evil. How shallwe pass through this huge morgue of a world, so full of everything that is corrupt, without becoming daily defiled? Thereare sins even in our holy things! Who shall deliver us?
A sense of defilement sadly tends to hinder fellowship. I know that if you are laboring, tonight, under a sense of sin youdo not feel the joyful liberty you would desire in coming to the hallowed Table of your Divine Lord. You long to have thatsense of defilement sweetly removed by the application of the precious blood which cleanses from all sin. Thank God, thatsacred purification is always available! You can at once wash and be clean and know yourself to be "accepted in the Beloved."Thus may you eat the Passover even "as it is written." But in any case, even if burdened with sin, the Lord does not forbidyou to remember the death of His dear Son. Like the men of Ephraim you shall find pardon.
Perhaps, however, you are not conscious of having fallen into any known sin, but you feel like one who is not at home withGod-even at some measure of a distance from Him. You are out of your usual walk and rest. That calm and holy frame-that perfectpeace which once you enjoyed from hour to hour has gone from you. Thus you have about you, spiritually, the second disqualificationfor the Passover. When a man was on a journey afar off he could not keep the Passover. The Passover was a household institution.It required a house wherein the lamb could be slain and prepared for eating and a door where the lintel and two side postscould be sprinkled with blood so that, when a man was moving rapidly from place to place and had no house where to sojourn,he could not observe the holy festival.
Even thus, when you and I are out of our usual abode in Christ Jesus and are wandering in anxiety, care and doubt, we do notfeel able to commune with our Lord as our hearts would desire. Brethren, do we not sometimes flit to and fro, like Noah'sdove, finding no rest? How hard, then, is it to get into the full teaching of this holy Supper! It is well to sing, "Returnunto your rest, O my Soul, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you." But till the prayer is answered the ordinance isnot enjoyed. The heart's blood of the Eucharist is nearness to God-and when we are afar off it is a poor, dead ceremony. Itscrown and joy is rest-and if we are tossed to and fro like the locust and are like a rolling thing before the whirlwind-whatuse can we make of the mere form of the feast?
Then are we very sadly disqualified for the sweets of communion and feel disposed to go home and leave the holy feast to others.Yet such going home would be painful, and might even be injurious. O Lord, what shall Your servants do? We
feel like men on a battlefield and this ordinance is as green pastures where the sheep feed and lie down while the Shepherdcomes among them, manifesting Himself to them. Gracious Lord, quiet the inward warfare and make us to lie down, as says thePsalmist, "He makes me to lie down," for if You do not thus give us rest, we shall trample down even these holy pastures andgrieve Your Spirit!
Beloved Friends, some of you have come here tonight weary with the greatness of the way. You have been on a journey all thisweek and you came to a halt on Saturday night afar off from that spirit of devotion which you should cultivate. Life of latehas been full of troubles and perplexities. I pray the Lord to give you sweet rest at this moment and bring you near to Himself."Cast your care on Him; for He cares for you." Lay your burdens down at the foot of the great Burden-Bearer's Cross. Be quieteven as a weaned child. At the same time, cry unto the Well-Beloved, "Draw me, we will run after You" and, before you areaware, your soul shall make you "like the chariots of Amminadab." If you cannot come to the Beloved, He can come to you, "leapingover the mountains, skipping upon the hills" and all your distance and disquiet will cease at once-so shall you keep the feast.
It may so happen that up to this moment you have been in an evil case from unknown causes. You cannot say how or why, butcertainly it is not with you as in days past. Marring influences not mentioned in the Book of Numbers and possibly not mentionableat all-but none the less real for all that-may have been keeping you from eating the spiritual Passover to your heart's contentand may now tend to keep you from a truly happy approach to the Lord's Table in spirit and in truth. Whatever the cause maybe I want you to confess it frankly, just as those men in Numbers confessed to Moses that they had touched a dead body. Sofar as you know the cause of defilement and division, admit it. Look at the mischief as best you can and mourn over it asfar as it is sinful.
Then carefully put it away from you, so far as it is a matter of care or distrust, and labor earnestly at this moment to prepareyour heart to seek the Lord your God-even though you cannot quite feel that you are cleansed according to the purificationof the sanctuary-I mean even though you do not feel in the best possible frame of mind for holy fellowship. Some supposeddisqualifications may be removed by an act offaith or by a fuller knowledge. Do you fear to come because you have such littlefaith? May not the little children have their supper as well as the grown sons? Are not these precisely the members of thefamily who most need to be fed and comforted? The utter absence of faith could shut you out, but not the feebleness of it.
Come, you little one! To you I say, "Come in, you blessed of the Lord! Why do you stand outside?" Do you hesitate becauseyour joy is not now overflowing? Is this a sufficient reason for refusing to obey the command, "This do in remembrance ofMe"? Were the 12 full ofjoy at the founding of this feast? Had they no questions, saying, "Lord, is it I?" May not the feast,itself, furnish the joy? Is not the Lord of the feast your exceeding joy? If you cannot bring joy with you, come that youmay find it here! Do you say, I am spiritually weak in all points? Again I ask, is that a reason why you should not feed onthe best of food? It seems to me that it is a chief reason why you should feed often and heartily!
"Eat you that which is good" is a safe prescription for you and a generous invitation from your Lord. Greatly you need it-freelytake it! The supply of heavenly bread is intended for those who are faint. "He has filled the hungry with good things." Hewill fill you! Do you complain that you feel so useless? This is a deplorable fact-but what has it to do with the matter inhand? Are you to come to your Lord's Table because you are useful to Him? No, but that the Lord Jesus may be useful to you!Surely this is not a wage, but a provision of free Grace. You do not bring the feast-your part is to receive it. So you canonly become useful to Christ as Christ is abundantly useful to you! You cannot help to feed the multitude till your Lord firstputs the bread into your hands. Come, now, and take what He has blessed.
I know that for many reasons the choicest saints at times deem themselves disqualified for this holy banquet and I have sometimesthought that that is not altogether an ill feeling. At any rate, it is a symptom of many healthy things. If I felt myselfworthy in any sense except the Scriptural one, I should infer from my self-satisfaction that I was unworthy. This Table isno place for Pharisees. Where the Savior presides there may come none but sinners saved by His Grace. If you have merits ofyour own which you can boast and no sin to confess, you are not the man for whose salvation the Substitute has shed His preciousblood! How could He atone for those who have no fault?
But if you are a sinner, you are the sort of person whom Jesus came to save. Jesus is the sinner's Friend. He will be yoursif you go to Him in that capacity. How can we commemorate the shedding of His blood unless we daily feel that we have solemnneed to be washed by it? How can we remember Him except as we see how we derive all from Him? Jesus is
never seen to be a full Christ except by those who feel their own emptiness apart from Him. He is never prized at a true valueby those who have a high esteem of themselves. A broken heart knows best His power to comfort. A bleeding heart sees bestHis power to heal. If you are sensible of your unworthiness you are not unworthy in the Scriptural sense, but may freely come.
For my own part, I enjoy my holiest seasons when my heart lies low before the Lord. No communion is more intensely sweet thanthat which washes His feet with tears and covers them with kisses of penitential love. When I have been most ashamed of myself,my Lord has been most glorious in my eyes. When I have, in shame, covered my face, He has, in love, uncovered His own Countenance.Come, then, you weeping saints, for I know that you seek Jesus-and you are such as He welcomes to His table! Bring your disqualificationsand turn them into confessions of sin! And these, by increasing your hunger-will enable you the better to enjoy the provisionsof that sacred Table where Jesus is both the Host and the Food-the bread and the wine and yet the Master of the feast.
Thus much upon those hindrances and disqualifications. It is not a cheering theme.
II. But now, secondly, though we feel and lament our lack of preparation, WE MAY STILL COME TO THE FEAST. Let us, to someextent, follow in the tracks of the men of Hezekiah's time. They forgot their differences. The one nation had been torn intotwo and even in Hezekiah's time there was ill feeling between Ephraim and Judah. But the king of Judah overlooked his boundariesand we read that the posts passed from city to city through the country of Ephraim and Manasseh, even unto Zebulun-and manyof Asher and Manasseh and Zebulun humbled themselves and came to Jerusalem.
Political and personal feuds were forgotten. They were one family and they recognized the relationship-and gathered to theone table. I trust none of us are at variance with others-but if we are-let us make peace at once! This we can do on the spot-letus put away every angry and unkind thought. From this foul stuff let all our bosoms be purged at once. The memorials of ourdying Lord have slain all our enmity and given life to our love. This will be a great help towards coming fitly to the Table.
We read that when the tribes assembled they removed the idols. They took all the altars that were in Jerusalem and cast theminto the brook Kidron. This was a fine beginning for men who did not feel quite up to the mark. Come, Brethren, let us teardown our altars of creature worship, cut down the groves of carnal confidence and break up the graven images of unholy love.If there is anything in our heart that has usurped our Lord's place, let us each one to himself sing very softly this verse-
"The dearest idol I have known, Whatever that idol be, Help me to tear it from its throne And worship only You."
NOW, open your heart to Jesus and give Him all your love! He is worthy of much more. Young man, have you any ambitions thatare apart from Christ's glory? Break them as with a sledge hammer at this moment! Christian man, have you any glory apartfrom the Cross of Jesus? At this moment crucify it! Nail your glory to His Cross and have done with it. Dear Sister, are thereany loves of yours that are alien to the love of Christ? Have you any secret delight which you could not expose to His view?Any alabaster box which you would not cheerfully break for Him? Come, cast away all idols! You cannot keep the feast arighttill this, at least, is done-but this accomplished-you may observe it with gladness!
How I long to hear the breaker's hammer going! Can it not be done at once? Unless those idols have been so long set up inyour heart that there is a question whether you love the Lord at all they will readily fall from their pedestals. If you loveJesus, your spirit will make your hands quick at this sacred iconoclasm till you shall have broken down every image whichnow defiles the temple of your soul! That done, those who were not all that they desired to be, yet endeavored to preparetheir hearts. "Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, The good Lord pardon every one that prepares his heart to seek God, the LordGod of his fathers."
Do you long to seek God tonight? Then there is access for you! I can truly say for myself that I long, above everything, tomeet with my God and Savior at the Table. Though I am in myself unworthy, yet I cannot live without my Lord. I must have Himand nothing else will satisfy me short of fellowship with Him. No outward sign, no bread, no wine, no fellowship with God'speople will content me-my heart is hungering for her Savior! My Lord, my God, my
heart cries after You! As the thirsty hart in the wilderness pants for the water brooks, so does my heart cry out for God,the living God! Is it so with you? Surely the best sort of preparation is already commencing in your soul. Let your hearttake its full of this longing and pining-that is the way in which you will be enabled to come to the sacred Table withoutbeing an intruder and without missing the blessing.
Note, next, that Hezekiah made open and explicit confession unto God that these people were not as they should have been.He did not excuse them. He came before God and cried, "The good Lord pardon everyone that prepares his heart." Herein is wisdom.If our hearts are longing after God, let us confess our neglect of meditation, our failure in private prayer, our forgetfulnessof self-examination and our failure in all those other preparations which are so appropriate to this blessed memorial of ourLord. Thus drawing near, with sorrow and regret and with the humble resolve that in the future your heart shall endeavor todwell nearer to the Lord-and further off from the defiling influences of a dead world-you will in spirit and in truth communewith Him who never yet sent a penitent from His Presence without saying, "Peace be unto you."
Confession made, let prayer ascend to Heaven-"The good Lord pardon every one of us everything in which we have been lax, ordeficient, or erring. O You heart-searching God, forgive Your servants and accept us in Christ Jesus!" Thus purified and madewhite by instantaneous pardon, we need not hesitate to keep the feast. With holy desire have we desired to feed upon our Lordwho is the true Passover-and He will not refuse us! Even to Laodicea He said, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock"-evento those who dwell in that lukewarm Church He promises to sup with them, if they will but admit Him!
And therefore we are sure that He will sup with us-even with us-though we come blushingly and with shame upon our faces.
III. We come, in the last place, to notice, that IN SO COMING, WE MAY EXPECT A BLESSING. If we do but come with a preparedheart and great longing of soul, even though we confess ourselves to be disorderly and have to plead with the Lord to forgiveour unfitness, yet He will, without fail, meet with us and enrich us with the blessing which we seek. God's ways of actingare the same in all ages and if Hezekiah and his people won the blessing and "praised the Lord day by day, singing with loudinstruments unto the Lord," even we may look for the same joy and holy exultation!
We read that they "kept the feast of unleavened bread seven days with great gladness." Beloved, I want you to enter into thatgreat gladness tonight! If there is any place where we are bound to be glad, it is at the Lord's Supper. Remember, this isno funeral feast-it is no memorial of one who lies rotting in the grave. Here we remember that Jesus died, but we also bearthose prophetic words, "Until I come." He lives! And He shall shortly come with all the glory and majesty of Heaven to claimthe kingdoms as His own and to judge the nations in equity. Therefore have we joy as we come to the Table.
It is a memorial of a death by which the life of myriads was purchased. It is the memorial of a great struggle which endedin the most glorious of all victories! "It is finished," is the banner which waves over us. Such a victory is a joy forever-letit be gladly commemorated. Here we celebrate the feast of pardoning love delighting itself in being enabled justly to sparethe guilty! Here is the feast of redeemed bondsmen, the jubilee of emancipation from everlasting slavery! We come here asthose that are alive from the dead to feast with Him, who, in very truth was slain but who has risen again and has becomeour Life and our Joy!
Oh, for a well-tuned harp! Bring an instrument of ten strings and the psaltery and let every string be awakened to ecstasyon behalf of Jesus-to set forth in worthy notes His passion and His triumph. There was great gladness in Israel, even amongthe men of Ephraim who were not ceremonially fit to keep the Passover. And following upon this, there was great praise toGod. They continued singing unto the Lord all the day! The Levites and the priests and the people joined with them and theybrought forth loud instruments to add to the volume of their music. Notice the words, "singing with loud instruments untothe Lord." They employed everything by which to express their overflowing gratitude-their glowing joy!
I pray that my Lord's servants may fetch out their loud instruments tonight to sing unto Him who loved us and gave Himselffor us. Let us lift up the song, "Worthy is the Lamb, for You were slain and have redeemed us unto God by Your blood. Youshall reign forever and ever, King of kings and Lord of lords. Unto Your name be hallelujahs throughout
eternity." Oh, for the cymbals, the high-sounding cymbals that, with their mighty clash, we might express something of theoverpowering joy of our spirit before the living God!
Brothers and Sisters, these were the very people who kept the Passover, "not according as it was written." They came ill-prepared,unpurified and utterly unfit-but God blessed them and helped them to get ready for the holy feast then and there-and I trustHe will do so now to those who desire it. How much I long that all of you Christians-half-asleep Christians, lukewarm Christiansof a doubtful sort, Christians whose right to commune is gravely questioned by yourselves-I long that you may be quickenedright now by the Holy Spirit, who is still in the midst of the Church, that you may at once delight yourselves in the Lordand feel a holy nearness to Christ and a heavenly exhilaration at the mention of His name! So will you eagerly praise theBeloved of your soul and bid all that is within you bless His holy name!
Added to this, in the Passover in Hezekiah's days, there was great communion with God, at least the outward sign of it, for"they did eat throughout the feast seven days, offering peace offerings and making confession to the Lord God of their fathers."In those sacrifices other than sin offerings, a part was put on the altar for God and a part was given to the priest and theworshipper to feast upon that they might thus, in symbol, hold fellowship with God. Oh, for a measure of hallowed fellowshipwith God at this time! Many of you know what it means. If you do not, I cannot explain it to you. You must taste and see foryourselves. May it be with us tonight as it was with the elders on the side of Sinai, of whom it is written, "They did seeGod and did eat and drink."
What a wonderful combination! Yet what an instructive conjunction! "They did see God and did eat and drink." Oh that we mighteat and drink with our Lord at this time as men eat with their friends! May we now see that Face which no earthly eye cansee! May we hear that Voice which sounds not in mortal ears but penetrates the soul! Oh, that we may see Him who is invisible!We may do so even now-I mean even you who feel least prepared can yet enjoy this supreme delight!
Oh that you may do so till you assure me that I have not told you the half of what you now taste and feel! I pray the Lordthat the soft south wind may blow warmly across this congregation till all the winter is gone from your spirits and you feelthe icebergs within your souls dissolved and running away in streams of praise and gratitude to Him who has loved you of oldand now manifests Himself to you! There is a secret charm, a silent energy of the Holy Spirit, which, in quiet, He can exertover the minds of His people. I pray that you may know it now, even you that are least prepared for the engagement which atthis moment lies before us.
Then there came upon the people a great enthusiasm, inasmuch that they resolved to have another seven days of holy convocation,just as Solomon did when they consecrated the temple. We are told, "they took counsel to keep other seven days: and they keptother seven days with gladness." I love to find people so possessed with the Spirit of God that they say, "That service wasby far too short. I wish it had kept on for another hour." I love to see them lingering, as if they could not quit a placein which they have been so greatly blessed. How pleasant to go away, not loathing but longing and watching till another Sabbathshall come, that we may hear again of the same sacred matter and feel again the same dew from the Lord!
How we tremble lest the heavenly blessings should be withdrawn! For we feel that we can no more command them than we couldbind the sweet influences of the Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion. Since we have been in the sacred chambers of the King,we have feared lest our golden keys should be missing so that we could not enter into His treasury again, or again approachHis seat. You know how you feel when your heart sings of the place-
"Where congregations never break up, And Sabbaths have no end."
When you long for that protracted worship it shows that God is very present with you-and it was so with the people in Hezekiah'sdays, who, nevertheless, were at first unprepared for the Paschal festival! May you who are now dull become so joyous thatyou are eager to turn a seven days' feast into fourteen! May your enthusiasm know no bounds! May you rise as on wings of eaglesand maintain your highest soaring for many a day!
Furthermore, this brought about a great liberality. Everybody wanted to offer sacrifices! Everybody was anxious to feed hispoorer brethren-the king gave a thousand bullocks and 7,000 sheep-and the princes would not be outdone by him! They must gojust a touch beyond him, for they gave a thousand bullocks and 10,000 sheep! Meanwhile, a host of
priests came and more fully surrendered themselves to the service of Jehovah, their God. How I wish that such a result wouldfollow the present service! Oh that many of you would give largely of your substance to the cause of God and may others givethemselves more fully to the great Master's service!
From this time forth may devoted men and consecrated women be found in all our families and may the kraals of Africa and thezenanas of India be the better for it. Did you observe in the reading how the people finished the festival? They had anothergreat breaking of idols. The hammers gave forth their music again and the images went to pieces. All that which was displeasingto God became displeasing to the people and they swept it away! That was the finale, for when God goes up, the devil goesdown! As sure as ever you love God, you must hate idols. You cannot rejoice in Him and yet rejoice in the world, the fleshand the devil.
What sacred jealousy, what holy revenge, what destruction of every evil thing within the soul is sure to follow when the Belovedunveils His charming face and all our soul is melted with the beams of His love! Nothing hastens sanctification like communionwith God! May this Table be to all of you the place of your renewed trust with Jesus! May you again take Him by the hand andsurrender to Him-while He shall take you by the hand and work in you all the good pleasure of His will! Let marriage vowswith Jesus be repeated here. May our living union with Him become more consciously a matter of fact! May this be a sanctifyingseason!
May this be so even with you who were just now saying, "I do not think that I dare stop for the communion! I do not feel aright,nor desire aright. I am dead, stupid, heavy-and I fear I should only profane the sacred Table." Cry to the Lord as Hezekiahdid! Mingle your confessions and your prayers before the Mercy Seat and may the good Lord pardon each one of you, even thoughyou are not purged after the purification of the sanctuary as you could desire! The Lord bless His waiting people, for Jesus'sake! Amen.
PORTIONS OF SCRIPTURE READ BEFORE SERMON- Numbers 9; 2 Chronicles 30.