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the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness for what he receives or rejects, it may be well unto him ; neither can he know them, because to spend a little time in exposing the fallacy they are spiritually discerned" (1 Cor. ii. 14). of the Roman Catholic interpretation of the This inspired declaration has been verified passage before us. under every variety of circumstance. Take First, then, let it be remembered, that nothe incident recorded in the fourth chapter of thing is more frequent among the eastern this Gospel. When our Lord spoke to the nations than to use the metaphor of eating woman of Samaria about "living water," she and drinking, when they are speaking, not of ignorantly supposed that he spoke merely of common meat and drink, which supports the common spring-water, and accordingly made body, but of spiritual food, which nourishes reply, “Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, the soul. Thus Wisdom, as we read in Prov. and the well is deep: from whence then hast is., gives this exhortation : “ Come, eat of my thou this living water ?” The commencement bread, and drink of the wine that I have of the third chapter of this Gospel furnishes a mingled ;” and St. Paul also, in writing to still more forcible illustration of it. There the Hebrews, saith, “I have fed you with we have an account of the conversation of our milk, and not with meat," that is, with the Lord with Nicodemus, on the all-essential first principles, and not the higher doctrines doctrine of the new birth; and we find that of the oracles of God. individual, though a master in Israel, so Hence it is plain, that taking merely the grossly mistakes his meaning, that he replies, language of our text, it may fairly be interHow can a man be born when he is old ? preted otherwise than literally ; and if we can he enter a second time into his mother's observe the context, we shall see that it must womb, and be born?" And in the chapter be interpreted spiritually; for you will perbefore us, the Jews manifest precisely simi- ceive that our Lord again and again declares, lar blindness; for when our Lord had said, that to eat this meat is the same thing as to “The bread that I will give is my flesh, believe on him: this you will see by comwhich I will give for the life of the world;" paring ver. 27 and 29. When our Lord had we are told (ver. 52), that they strove exhorted those to whom he spake, "to labour among themselves, saying, How can this for that meat which endureth unto everlasting man give us his flesh to eat ?" We see, then, life,” and they ask for an explanation of his brethren, that when we are ill-informed as a meaning, he tells them, ver. 29, that he Samaritan woman, or when we are learned means by it, that they should believe on Him as a master in Israel, we must, according to whom God hath sent. Again, in ver. 35, when the language of verses 44 and 45, be “all he had told them that he was "the bread of taught of God," and thus be drawn of the life," he immediately adds, to shew that it was Father, ere we shall understand and receive to be understood spiritually," he that cometh the spiritual truths of the Gospel. May we me shall never hunger, and he that beall experience the illuminating and constrain- lieveth on me shall never thirst ;” and yet ing influence of Divine grace, while meditating again, ver. 47, 48, he says, “Verily, verily, on the important doctrine contained in the I say unto you, he that believeth on me words before us.

hath everlasting life ; I am the bread of life.” In pursuing our subject, we shall endea What, then, can be more plain than that this vour,

food is to be eaten, not literally, but by faith ; I. To explain the figurative language and that the words before us must be underemployed by our Lord in the text.

stood in a spiritual, and not literal, manner ? II. To shew the excellency of the food of But this further appears from the mistake which it speaks.

into which the Jews fell; they, understanding In explaining the figurative language, we our Lord literally, murmured, and said, “How observe that it must not be understood lite- can this man give us his flesh to eat ?". Now, rally. It may seem unnecessary almost to that they were wrong in thus understanding mention this in addressing Protestants, who our Lord,—which they were not, if the Roman have been rescued from this and the many Catholic interpretation be true,-our Lord delusions of popery for a period of well-nigh himself plainly declares ; for it is in order to 300 years; but seeing that this apostate set them right in this matter, that he says to church is at this time rallying all her ener- them, in ver. 53, “ It is the Spirit that quickgies; seeing that her ever-active emissaries eneth, the flesh profiteth little; the words are now more than ever active amongst us, that I speak unto you, they are spirit and compassing sea and land to make one prose- they are life.” But in addition to these, I lyte ; seeing, too, that we live in an age when think conclusive, arguments against the liteit is not only particularly desirable that every ral interpretation, we observe, that were our one should be thoroughly persuaded in his Lord's words to be so understood, it would own mind, but also be ready to give a reason follow, since the ordinance of the Lord's supa per was not instituted for above a year after shall give for the life of the world.” And our Lord spake these words,-it would fol. this is fully confirmed by the words which low, I say, that all those of his hearers who our blessed Lord used at the institution of died during that year, or any that have since the holy communion ; for he there employs died without partaking of the holy com- language exactly similar to that of our text, munion, must be inevitably lost; for our Lord and speaks of his body being broken, and his solemnly declares, in ver. 53, “ Verily, verily, blood poured out, to represent his dying as a I say unto you, except ye eat the flesh of the sacrifice for us, his dying to make atoneSon of man and drink his blood, ye have no ment for our sin. And it is the expiatory life in you." It would necessarily follow, on sacrifice of Christ, this grand doctrine of the this interpretation, that none who communi- atonement, this thrice-blessed truth, that cate, however they live, or however they die, Christ, by the one oblation of himself once could possibly perish ; for our Lord as impli- offered, made a full, perfect, and sufficient citly and unconditionally declares (ver. 54) oblation and satisfaction for the sins of the " that whoso eateth my flesh and drinketh whole world ; it is this which is not only the my blood hath eternal life, and I will raise grand distinguishing doctrine of the Gospel, him up at the last day." If these words are but which is pre-eminently the food of the interpreted literally, as the fallen church of believer's soul. Rome would have us interpret them, Judas, But this leads us to the second head of our who in this sense partook with the other subject, under which we purposed, eleven of the body and blood of Jesus Christ, II. To shew the excellency of this food. as well as the multitudes of ungodly charac- This is strongly marked by the mode of ters who have also done the same, must have expression employed in our text: it is called eternal life, and be the children of a glorious "meat indeed and drink indeed." The word resurrection.

indeed, not, as the Roman Catholics affirm, You see then, brethren, what unscriptural signifying that it is meat and drink literallyconsequences follow from a literal interpre- this, we have already proved, it cannot meantation; and, indeed, the holding of so mon- but being intended to mark its superiority to strous a doctrine by the Roman Catholic every other kind of food. It is a mode of church appears to be a remarkable instance expression frequently adopted in order to set of the fulfilment of that most awful denuncia- forth the pre-eminency of our blessed Lord. tion recorded against them (2 Thess. ii.), that Thus he is said to be the "true light," inasGod would "send them strong delusion, that much as in comparison of him all other light is they should believe a lie." Again, not only darkness; and in other places, the “true vine," must the words now under our consideration and the "true bread from heaven," to teach not be understood literally ; but we observe, us that feeding on Jesus Christ will in a far also, that they must not be understood merely greater degree strengthen, refresh, and gladof the instruction which Christ gave. This, den the soul, than the finest wheat-flour, than though a spiritual interpretation, and one manna itself, or the choicest " wines of the sanctioned by the names of not a few learned lees," can invigorate our bodies or cheer our men, by no means gives the true force of the hearts. We have likewise in the context its metaphor; for although it be granted, that the excellency distinctly marked out in three parsacred writers continually represent Divine ticulars: it imparts life to the soul; it supinstruction as the food of the soul, still, where ports the life of the soul; it perpetuates the is there an instance to be found in which the life of the soul. instructor himself, as such, is called food, 1. It imparts life. The most excellent much less in which we are said to eat his natural food cannot profit a dead person ; flesh and drink his blood ? Brethren, if this the functions of life must be going on, mode of interpreting the words before us be no benefit can be derived from it. true, then, when we are reading the instruc- This divine food, however, of which we tion of Moses, or the prophets, or the apos- are speaking, quickens those who are actles, we must with equal propriety say, that tually dead~" dead in trespasses and sins." we are eating their flesh and drinking their Hence (ver. 51) it is called the living, or, blood. If, then, these words must not be as it might be rendered, the life-giving understood either literally with the Romanist, “ bread ;and thus our Lord says also nor merely of the instruction which Christ (ver. 33) of this same food, that " it giveth gave, as minds of a Socinian tendency would life unto the world;" and this is again implied interpret them, to what must they be under- (ver. 53), “ Verily, verily, I say unto you, stood as referred? We reply, To the atone- Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man ment which he offered. This is clearly taught and drink his blood, ye have no life in you." us in ver. 51, where our Lord says, “ The Brethren, the doctrine of the atonement is bread which I shall give is my flesh, which I the grand life-giving doctrine of the Gospel.


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We might set before you, who are spiritually | adorable Redeemer, either at the table of the dead, the odiousness of sin, and the beauty of Lord, or in meditation in his closet, whether holiness; the horrors of hell, and the glories it is not at such times that he feels the reof heaven; the extent of the law, and the membrance of his sins most grievous unto doom denounced against transgressors ; and him? Then, again, what divine truth so these divine truths might be the means of strengthens faith as this? O, how are disstirring up persons to labour for this excel tressing doubts and fears of the soul dissilent meat; but there is no real life in the pated in a moment, driven as the chaff before soul until it has heartily embraced by faith the wind, when the soul has been enabled the grand doctrines of the atonement. There to feed upon the full, perfect, and sufficient may be knowledge; there may be morality, atonement which Christ hath made for sin ! in some sense ; there may be a name to live; Or, would we become more dead to the world? but all the while the soul will be dead, except this is the grand means for promoting it. it spiritually eat the flesh of Christ and drink Yes, “it is by the cross of Christ," says the his blood.

great apostle of the Gentiles (Gal. vi. 14)," that Brethren, it must be so. By nature we the world is most effectually crucified unto are branches severed from the vine ; withered, us, and we unto the world.” Or would we and dead, and destitute of life, of course, become more devoted ? the keeping in mind must we ever continue, till we are grafted this blessed truth is the prime method of into the true vine again. Now it is the becoming so. What, know ye not," dehearty acceptance of this blessed doctrine mands St. Paul of the Corinthians, " that ye that unites us to Christ; it is by feeding by are not your own, being bought with a price? saith thereupon, that we become one with therefore,” says he, " glorify God in your Christ, and he with us; or, as it is said in body and your spirit, which are his"— lanthe verse after the text, we dwell in Christ, guage evidently implying that we know not, and Christ in us." This alone can avail to or at least feed not, upon this divine truth, produce in us the spirit of dependence, which who are not powerfully constrained thereby (as has been well observed) opens the veins to live to Him who died for them, and rose of the branches, as it were, to receive the again. It were easy also to shew how this sap of the root, and repairs the decayed aque- blessed doctrine feeds the flame of unfeigned duct that conveys the waters of life to the soul. gratitude ; how it strengthens the principles Indeed, this is plain also from experience. of Christian charity, holy patience, heavenly Look at those individuals who deny, or that meekness, and, in short, all the graces of the more numerous class who hold in a low and Holy Spirit. Other blessed doctrines of the diluted form, the doctrine of the atonement; Gospel are suited especially to the support of or look at those congregations where the one or more particular graces ; but this supdue prominency is not given to this alle ports all, yea, it is this that imparts to all essential truth,—and what do we see ? A the other blessed doctrines of the Gospel candlestick without a light; a lamp without virtue and efficacy. In short, it is the staff oil; a branch without sap; a body without of the believer's life; so that we may well a spirit to animate it; the form of godliness, apply to the body and blood of Jesus Christ but nothing of its life and power. Leave out the words of the pious Hey, "By these things this doctrine, and the Gospel becomes a dead do men live; and in all these things is the letter---as devoid of all life-giving energy life of the soul.". Moreover the soul finds as the law itself. The doctrine of the atone- the body and blood of Jesus Christ not merely ment in the system of divine truth is exactly supporting, but most satisfying, most gratewhat the sun is in the solar system-all is ful food; this verily is the wine that cheereth darkness, dreariness, and death, without it. the heart of God and man.

Never can a 2. But, further, this divine food pre-emi- soul more fully enter into the experience nently supports life; and in this respect which David records (Ps. xxxvi.) than when also ~ it is meat indeed and drink indeed." | it has been feeding by faith on the body and Where this food is not constantly fed upon, blood of Christ; then can it in truth say, “I whatever life a soul may possess, it will soon have been abundantly satisfied with the fatbecome feeble, and decay. It is essential ness of thy house, and thou hast made me to for the renewal of our strength, and for our drink of the river of thy pleasures." Yes, it progressing in divine matters. There is is satisfying, as well as supporting food ; so nothing like this for deepening our peni- supporting, so satisfying, that, as our Lord tence. It is, brethren, when we look on says,

“ He that cometh to me shall never Him whom we have pierced, that we shall hunger; he that believeth on me shall never mourn for sin after a godly sort. I ask the thirst." believer, whether it is not when he is feeding 3. But, once more, see its excellency in that by faith on the body and blood of our it perpetuates life. Common food, however

suited to support, cannot perpetuate the natural life; nay, even manna itself could not do this. "Your fathers," says our Lord, a verse or two after the text, "did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead;" yea, it was incapable of even prolonging life beyond its usual limits. But this (as our Lord again and again asserts in the context) "preserves the soul unto everlasting life:" "this," says he (ver. 50), "is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die." "If any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever." "He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day." So that the partaking of this divine food not merely prolongs, but perpetuates spiritual life; yea, we may add, it not only perpetuates the life of the soul, but secures the revivification of the body itself to a glorious immortality. The partaking by faith of the body broken and the blood shed, will, according to that cheering language of our communionservice, "preserve our bodies, as well as souls, unto everlasting life."

And now, to pass by various other particulars--for I have confined my observations simply to those suggested by our context-to pass by, I say, other particulars in which the excellency appears, I ask, Since it imparts life, and supports life, and perpetuates the life of the soul, might not our blessed Lord well say respecting it, "My flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed ?" In conclusion, brethren, you must allow me to give you the exhortation which our Lord himself gives with respect to this heavenly food, and to say, "Labour for this meat."

Those that rise up early, and late take rest, and eat the bread of carefulness, in eager toil after the things of this life, are spending their money for that which is not bread, and their labour for that which satisfieth not. It is to them, then, that I give our Lord's entreaty, and say, "O, labour not thus for the meat that perisheth, but labour for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life." I have endeavoured to shew you, brethren, somewhat of its excellency; and let me remind you again of the indispensable necessity of your partaking of it. "Verily, verily, I say unto you," says our Lord (and that double asseveration marks not only the certainty, but the importance of the declaration) — 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." Brethren, is not this a solemn word? should it not stir up each to inquire diligently whether he hath truly partaken of Jesus Christ? And do you ask how you are to ascertain this?



I answer it by another question, How do you regard the doctrine of the atonement? do you hold it at all? do you hold it loosely? do you hold it to be of no great importance? do you hold it theoretically merely? Or, on the contrary, is it to you unspeakably precious-the one ground of your hopes, the daily food of your souls? This is what it should be, this is what it must be; and if it be not so with us, if we are not feeding on this divine food, then, as you have already seen, we have no life, and perish we must.


pray you, then, brethren, as you would not die, but live, labour for this meat; and be assured you shall not labour in vain, for Christ will freely give it to you; for him hath God the Father sealed, appointed for this purpose; yes, though you have no money, come and buy without money and without price."


But, alas! men will not labour for it; men will not seek it, because they have no appetite for such food. Labour, then, I say, for an appetite. And do you ask how you are to acquire an appetite? Consider what the having of an appetite in regard to common food signifies. It implies a sense of our want of food. So, then, I say, labour to acquire a full conviction of your need of an atonement. Look well at the holy law of God, which says, " Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things written in the book of the law to do them;" look well at your hearts and lives, and you will see that you have broken the law times without number; look at your very righteousnesses, and if you have eyes to see, you will perceive that they cannot stand and answer for themselves, much less fulfil that law which cannot be broken, and satisfy that justice which must have compensation. Ponder on these truths, till, by the Divine blessing, your minds clearly perceive, and your hearts are duly impressed with, a sense of your undone condition; then will you no more despise this heavenly food than a starving man a loaf of bread; nay, then will you hunger and thirst after it; and feeding upon it, you will find it "meat indeed and drink indeed." To those that know what it is spiritually to eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, we say, Feed daily upon it.

This should be our daily bread; and there is something unhealthy in the state of that soul that does not relish this food. Brethren, if you would not starve your souls; if you would be spiritually fat and well liking, as the Psalmist speaks; if you would have your repentance deepened, your faith strengthened, your gratitude enlarged, your hopes lively, and your heart more devoted-the principles of your character, holy patience and holy

meekness; in short, all the graces of the Spirit to prosper and grow exceedingly;-if you would not merely have life, but have it more abundantly, I pray you, brethren, feed daily on the Redeemer's flesh, which is "meat indeed," and on that blood which is "drink indeed." Come, as the seasons recur, to the table of the Lord, and partake of that ordinance, which is so especially appointed for the purpose of our feeding upon this most nourishing food; come in faith, and with an appetite; come with a deep sense of your need of an atonement, and you shall, in your own blessed experience, find the words on which we have been meditating to be trueMy flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.”

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FRANCE A WARNING TO ENGLAND.* ALL nations may learn a solemn lesson in the history of Israel's Sabbath sins. When Moses declared the future woes of Israel, should they be disobedient, the prophecy began with a warning against two principal national sins, which, indeed, are to be found closely connected throughout all the Old Testament history: "Ye shall make no idols; ye shall keep my Sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary: I am the Lord" (Lev. xxvi.). Ahaz, the first king who brought idolatry into the very temple, is also recorded as having publicly slighted the Sabbath, by "turning the covert for the Sabbath from the house of the Lord for the king of Assyria." About the same time God threatened Israel by Hosea, that he would cause to cease her Sabbaths and all her solemn feasts." Long after this threatening had been fulfilled in Samaria, and when the troubles of Jerusalem also had begun, God charged Judah thus by Ezekiel: "Her priests have violated my law, have hid their eyes from my Sabbaths." He further said by Jeremiah," If ye diligently hearken unto me, saith the Lord, to bring in no burden through the gates of this city on the Sabbath-day, but hallow the Sabbathday to do no work therein, then this city shall remain for ever;" "but if ye will not hearken unto me, to hallow the Sabbath-day, then will I kindle a fire in the gates thereof, and it shall devour the palaces thereof, and it shall not be quenched." The word came to pass: the city was burned; the king dethroned, and carried captive with his nobles to Babylon; the people slain without mercy, and the land overspread with horror and misery. Observe how Jeremiah's lamentation over that national ruin connects the sin with its fruits: "The Lord hath caused the solemn feasts and Sabbaths to be forgotten in Zion, and hath despised, in the indignation of his anger, the king and the priests." After the captivity was over, God's inspired servant Nehemiah still kept before their view the connexion between Sabbath-breaking and national ruin: "What evil thing is this that ye do, and profane the Sabbath-day? Did not our fathers thus, and did not our God bring all this evil upon us and upon this city? Yet ye bring more wrath upon Israel by profaning the Sabbath." We learn from history that afterwards, between the days of Malachi and the coming of the Messiah, at a time when the Jews were cruelly persecuted by the Syrian king, to force them to open idolatry, their reverence for the true God was joined with such veneration for the Sabbath, that many, mistaking the law, rather allowed themselves to be slaughtered than defend themselves by joining

in battle with their enemies on the Sabbath-day. Nor had the nation ever been so prosperous and mighty

since the days of Jehoshaphat, as it was immediately after that persecution passed away.

But some perhaps will say, that God deals not thus with nations now. This is an error, for he still deals with nations according to their ways, even as regards the Sabbath-day. About forty years ago, the ungodly and the infidels in France gained the mastery over the nation; and having destroyed their king and lawful rulers, openly set at nought the God who made them. They first put down Christianity; not to set up a better form of it than the popery which they had before, but to do away with all national religion. A law was next made to abolish the Sabbath, and to appoint every tenth day a season of bodily rest and of recreation. Mark what followed. They soon made a decree" that there was no God;" and passed a law that no worship should be allowed in the nation, that the churches should be shut up, and that the clergy should be forced publicly to abjure and give up Christianity. It was death to any one to be found to have a Bible. Festival-days were fixed in honour of the goddess of reason; and a profligate woman was chosen, to whom they gave that name, whom they shamelessly exhibited and openly worshipped. Then was it in France as it had been in Israel just before their ruin, when God had said of his people, "They despised my statutes, and polluted my Sabbaths, and their hearts were after their fathers' idols." The same connexion of sins appeared, the like marks of God's wrath followed in the history of modern France as had happened two thousand years before: "The fool had said in his heart, There is no God;" he had set at nought God's Sabbaths, and was therefore, notwithstanding his boasted philosophy and science, instantly permitted to fall into the most debasing and despicable idolatry. God turned and gave the French up to their own heart's lusts; he poured his vengeance on the guilty nation, until they had drank the dreadful cup of wrath to the very dregs. The festivals to their impure goddess became scenes of the most scandalous and unheard-of abominations. They murdered each other by thousands, until no man could count upon his life for a day. Self-chosen judges and juries put to death all who were brought before them; their only question was not, "Are they guilty?" but, "Are they suspected?" nor did the accused know the crime for which he was to be executed, further than that he concluded the parties in power that day suspected him to differ from them in politics. Single murders were too tedious, and therefore numbers were tied together and blown to pieces by cannon, were driven into rivers, were crowded into boats and drowned. The murderers of to-day were themselves butchered on the morrow, and "blood touched blood" through that great kingdom; until those that remained were glad to obtain safety, by throwing themselves under the iron tyranny of Napoleon. Thus did God avenge the honour of his "holy day," in our own part of the world, in our own times.

Let not Britain slight such examples as these. Judgment began at the house of God, and his chosen people were driven from their land for neglect of the Sabbath. He "brought evil on the city which was called by his name, and shall others be unpunished?" We have seen that they shall not. France braved the Almighty to his face, pouring contempt on the Sabbath as a thing of nought, and she too "became an astonishment to the nations that were round about her." And shall England escape, if she despises or dishonours the Sabbath? God could easily give England up to scenes such as France knew in 1793. Things insignificant in themselves are yet sufficient to shew that elements exist among us, which could bring this about, were God to leave us to judicial blindness. Are there not to be found among some of those who

From "Five Tracts on the Sabbath." By Rev. A. W.


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