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You will perceive, by what I have here said on the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, that I have confined myself to that which was immediately before me, the original institution of it by our blessed Lord. I have not entered into those further illustrations of this holy rite, which are presented to us in other parts of Scripture; particularly in the 11th chapter of the First Epistle to the Corinthians. To go at length into the consideration of this important subject, would lead me into a much longer discussion than the nature of this discourse will admit. I shall therefore only observe further, that whoever reads with attention this first institution of the Lord's Supper, whoever reflects that it was the very last meal that our Lord ate with his disciples, that the next day he underwent for our sakes a most excruciating and ignominious death, and that he requires us to receive this sacrament in remembrance of him ; whoever, I say, can, notwithstanding all this, disobey the last commanil of his dying Redeemer, must be destitute, not only of all the devout sentiments of a Christian, but of all the honest feelings of
After having thus kept the passover for the last time, our Lord and his apostles sung a hymn, as was usual with the Jews after their repasts; and the hymn they sung on this occasion was probably what they called the Paschal Psalms, from the 113th to the 118th, in which the disciples, accustomed to that recital, readily joined. They then went out into the Mount of Olives; and as they were going, Jesus saith unto them, “ All
shall be offended because of me this night : for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad. But after I am risen again, I will go
before you into Galilee.”
This was a prophetic warning to the disciples, that they would all be terrified by the dangers that awaited him, and would desert and virtually renounce him that very night. The words here quoted,
, “ I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the fock shall be scattered abroad," are from the thirteenth chapter of Zechariah. But to console and support them under this trial, our Lord assures them that he would rise again from the dead, and after his resurrection would meet them at a certain place he apVOL. II.
pointed pointed in Galilee. The apostles, as we may easily imagine, were greatly hurt at this admonitory prediction of our Lord, and protested that they would never forsake him. But St. Peter more particularly, who, from the ardour of his disposition, was always more forward in his professions, and more indignant at the slightest reflection on his character, than any of the rest, immediately cried out with warmth and eagerness, “ Though all men should be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended." But Jesus, who knew him much better than he did himself, said unto him, “ Verily I say unto thee, 'That this night, before the cock crow, (that is, before three in the morning,) thou shalt deny me thrice.” Peter, still confident of his own integrity and sincere attachment to his divine Master, and ignorant of the weakness of human nature at the approach of danger, replied, with still greater vehemence, “ Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee;" and the rest of the disciples joined with him in these earnest protestations of inviolable fidelity. How far they were verified by the event, we shall soon see.
We are now arrived at a very awful and somewhat mysterious part of our Saviour's history, his agony in the Garden, which is next related to us by St. Matthew.
" Then cometh Jesus (says the evangelist) with them to a place called Gethsemane, a rich valley near the Mount of Olives, through which ran the brook Cedron, and on the side was a garden, into which Jesus entered. And he said unto his disciples, Sit ye here (at the entrance probably of the garden), while I go and pray yonder. And he took with him, into a more retired part of the garden, Peter, and the two sons of Zebedee, James and John, the
very same disciples who accompanied him at his transfiguration ; that they who had been witnesses of his glory might be witnesses also of his humiliation and affliction. Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me. And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible (that is, if it be possible for man to be saved, and thy glory promoted as effectually in any
other way as by my death) let this cup, this bitter
affliction, pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt. And he cometh unto his disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour ? you who so lately made such vehement professions of attachment to me! Watch and pray,
ye enter not into temptation.”
Ye have need to watch and pray
for your own sakes, as well as mine, that you may not be overcome by the severe trials that await you, nor be tempted to desert me. Yet at the same moment, feeling for the infirmity of human nature, he adds, “ the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” That is, I know your hearts are right, and your
intentions good; but the weakness of your frail nature overpowers your best resolutions, “and the thing which ye
do not." went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done. And he came and found them asleep again, for their eyes were heavy. And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words. Then cometh he to his disciples, and saith unto