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VI. SAt.u.r.dAY MORNING.
The End "The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me." " Being confident of this very thing, that He which began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ." - Psalm 138:8; Philippians 1:6.
How many times has the believer gone from the Lords Table with the sorrowful thought, Shall I indeed continue standing? Shall my resolutions and promises not be frustrated? Who tells me that I shall persevere unto the end? I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul (1 Samuel 27:1).
It was just in such a crisis that David said, I will cry unto G.o.d Most High, unto G.o.d that performeth all things for me (Ps. 57:2). It is in G.o.d alone that the Christian has the a.s.surance of his perseverance. To see from the beginning to the end, yea, to be Himself alike the Beginning and the End, is one of the glorious attributes of the G.o.d who dwells in eternity. And it is one of the characteristics of His work, that, while man often begins without ending, with Him the end is as certain as the beginning. What He has begun He will complete.
O my soul, if thou wouldst enjoy the comfort of this promise, be much occupied with this fact: He has begun. The Christian speaks too often of his conversion and his faith and his self-surrender. Contemplating all this from the side of man, he keeps himself too little occupied with the thought: HE has begun. My soul, understand what this means: He has sought me and found me and made me His own, and what He has thus done to me points back to that which He did for me: He gave His own Son, and by His blood He bought for Himself as His own possession. And that again points back to eternity. He chose me and loved me before the foundation of the world. My soul, ponder what this means: He has begun.
Then shalt thou be able joyfully to exclaim, He will perfect: the Lord will perfect that which concerneth me. Then shalt thy life become a life of humility and thanksgiving and confidence and joy and love. Thou seest that there is nothing in thyself, and thou learnest to expect all from G.o.d, and thank Him for all: thou learnest to rely upon Him in everything. And the end will be to you as certain as the beginning, because the end as well as the beginning has its root and stability in G.o.d. The self-same faith that, looking back, acknowledges the beginning as G.o.ds, also looks forward, and in the eternal and unchangeable G.o.d finds the end secured. What He has begun He will perfect.
Lord G.o.d, Thou art without beginning and without end. For Thou art Thyself alike the beginning and the end. Thou art the Eternal, with whom there is no yesterday and no to-morrow. Thou art Thyself yesterday, to-day, and forever. With Thee there is no changeableness nor shadow of turning. Lord, in Thee alone Thy believing people find their comfort and their security. Nothing that we have done or still desire to do, nothing that we are or shall be, can give us rest. But, thanks be to Thy name, Thou Thyself, the Eternal, with Thine unchangeableness, Thou art our rest and our strength, In Thee alone and in Thy faithfulness does our life become freed from all fear.
Father, give me to understand this. Make me to know Thee as the G.o.d who has begun a good work in me. Let Thy Spirit seal it to me that Thou receivest me as the possession which Thou hast bought for Thyself, which is precious to Thee, and which no one shall pluck out of Thy hands. And then teach me, in the midst of all the sense of my own weakness and the power of sin which I have, always to trust and always to exclaim: He that began a good work in me will perfect it.
Father, once again I thank Thee for the Supper that has been observed.
Blessed Perfecter, perfect in me also Thy work of grace. Teach me to go forward on my way, full of joy, full of confidence and courage, full of thanksgiving and love. My G.o.d, become Thou everything to me: the G.o.d who has done everything, the G.o.d who will do everything, the G.o.d to whom all is due. and give me thereafter to await the glorious end, when I too shall be in perfection what I was at the beginning, and every day hope more and more to be, a monument of the grace of G.o.d on which he that runneth may read: From Him and by Him and to Him are all things: to Him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Throughout the preceding pages the author makes such pointed reference to the statements of the Directory of Public Worslnp in the Dutch Reformed Church that bear on preparation for the Lords Supper, and also to the relevant questions of the Heidelberg Catechism, that it has been thought of advantage to the reader to have these pa.s.sages before him.
I. Self-Examanation True proving of ourselves consists of three parts: 1. In the first place, let everyone in his own heart reflect on his sin and condemnation, in order that he may loathe himself and humble himself before G.o.d: seeing that the wrath of G.o.d against sin is so great that, rather than suffer it to remain unpunished, He punished it in His dear Son Jesus Christ, in the bitter and ignominous death of the Cross.
2. In the second place, let everyone examine his heart as to whether he also believes this sure promise of G.o.d, that only on the ground of the suffering and death of Jesus Christ all his sins are forgiven him, and the perfect righteousness of Christ is bestowed upon him and imputed to him as his own: yea, as completely as if he himself in his own person had atoned for all his sins and performed all righteousness.
3. In the third place, let everyone examine his conscience as to whether he is prepared, henceforth and with his whole life, to manifest true thankfulness toward G.o.d the Lord, and to walk uprightly in G.o.ds sight.
All who are so disposed, G.o.d will a.s.suredly receive into His favor, and regard as worthy communicants at the table of His Son Jesus Christ. On the other hand, those that have no such testimony in their hearts, eat and drink judgment to themselves.
II. Christ in the Supper Question 76. What is meant by eating the crucified body and drinking the shed blood of Christ?
Answer. It is not only to receive with a believing heart the whole suffering and dying of Christ, and thereby to obtain the forgiveness of sins and life eternal, but moreover, also, to be so united more and more to His sacred body by the Holy Ghost, who dwells both in Christ and in us, that although He is in Heaven and we are upon the earth, we are nevertheless flesh of His flesh and bone of His bones, and live and are governed forever by One Spirit, as the members of one body are by one soul.
Question 79. Why, then, doth Christ call the bread His body and the cup His blood, or the New Testament in His blood; and St. Paul, the communion of the body and blood of Christ?
Answer. Christ speaks thus not without great cause, namely, not only that He may thereby teach us that like as bread and wine sustain this temporal life, so also His crucified body and shed blood are the true meat and drink of our souls unto eternal life; but, much more that by this visible sign and pledge He may a.s.sure us that we are as really partakers of His true body and blood, through the working of the Holy Spirit, as with the bodily mouth we receive these holy tokens in remembrance of Him; and that all His suffering and obedience are as surely our own as if we ourselves in our own person had suffered all and done enough.
This doc.u.ment is from the Christian Cla.s.sics Ethereal Library at Calvin College, http://www.ccel.org, generated on demand from ThML source.