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Communion Sunday
The Fencing of the Tables The First


Through the green glen, out from the town of Sychar, comes a woman with her pitcher on her head, to fill it with water. And there, in the wide plain of waving corn, seeking us, He is sitting Wearied: for a greater than Jacob was there that day: and our Blessed Redeemer was resting by knob's well.

He asked the woman to give Him some water to drink: and she, not quite refusing, yet expressed surprise that a Jew should ask anything of a woman of Samaria. Then our Saviour, always ready to pass from common to spiritual things, told her that if she knew who He was, she would have asked Him, and He would have given her living water. 'Whosoever drinketh of this water' He said (and He pointed to that honoured well), 'shall thirst again;' and the woman knew He said true: 'but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.' The woman answered ignorantly: for she thought He spake of such water as lay deep in the rock below: and she said, 'Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.' It was not that water Christ meant: it is not such water we mean: yet we may very fitly at a Communion Table take up the Samaritan woman’s words, and say, Lord, give us this water, that we thirst no more.

And what was this water, so wonderfully adapted to quench the thirst of the longing and fainting soul? Was it such water as the Apostle John saw in vision, when the angel showed him ‘a pure river of water of life, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb?' Was it such as-the Psalmist thought of, when he said of his God, 'He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters?' Was it such as the prophet meant, when he cried, 'How every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters?' or as the Spirit and the Bride spake of when they gave forth the invitation, 'Whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely?' Doubtless it was that water which Christ Himself offered when in the great day of the Feast at Jerusalem He stood and cried, 'If any man thirst, let him come to Me and drink', or when He said, 'I am the bread of life: he that cometh to Me shall never hunger, and he that believeth on Me shall never thirst'. ‘I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread which I give is My flesh, which I give for the life of the world.' 'Whosoever eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day: For My flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.' Is it not our humble desire, then, at a Communion Table, — ‘Lord, evermore give us this bread:' 'Lord, give us this water, that we thirst no more?'

'His flesh is meat indeed, His blood is drink indeed:' and you have now come to that Table where, not after a corporal and. carnal manner, but by faith His people are made partakers of His body and blood. You have before you now the memorials of Christ's shed blood and broken body: May these elements be to us as the bread and water of life, for the nourishment of our immortal souls. But we should err as far as the poor Samaritan woman, if we fancied that in these elements, or in this rite, there was anything which could of itself nourish our souls. It is not materially but by faith we are here to eat and drink: and it is on Christ Himself we must feed; if we would partake of that bread of which if a man eat he shall never die; and of that water of which if a man drink he shall live for ever.

And that we may savingly feed upon Christ, it is needful that we should receive not these elements in our lips, but His atonement in our hearts. The sign is well: but the value lies in the thing it signifies. If it were, as some have fancied it, the very flesh and blood of the Redeemer that lay upon that Table before us, we might partake of both, and yet have not the least interest in the promise, Whosoever eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath eternal life. That flesh would not be meat indeed to the soul, nor that blood drink indeed. No: the living water Christ promised to the woman of Samaria, was a purely spiritual blessing: and the believer partakes of the body and blood of his Saviour in a purely spiritual way. Yet, in very truth, do the Saviour's people at His Table partake of the bread and water of life, when they feel with more than ordinary clearness the all-sufficiency of Christ, and with firmer faith appropriate His promises, and realize more substantially how safe they are in Him for time and eternity: and in very truth, do they day by day feed upon Christ, and find Him all that is signified by the figures of which we have been thinking, when they receive Him with all their hearts, trust in Him with all their souls, enjoy the consolations and hopes of His religion amid all their daily trials and duties, find the perfect peace even here of the man whose mind is stayed upon his God, and anticipate the unmingled quiet and happiness of the sanctuary above.

Lord, evermore give us this bread, for the support, and growth, and consolation of our souls. Lord, give us this water, the influences of Thy Blessed Spirit, the sense of Thy favourable presence: and so shall our souls have all their desire; so shall the thirsty longing of our hearts be satisfied\ so shall we thirst no more!

On that ever-memorable Night, in which our Saviour was betrayed into the hands of sinners, He 'took bread:' But before He brake the bread or gave the cup He gave thanks and prayed. In His Name, after His example, let us now lift up our hearts, and give thanks unto the Lord our God.

Prayer of Consecration.

O gracious God, Who art most merciful and most mighty, we, creatures of Thy hand, and (as we humbly trust) heirs of Thy salvation, do with all thankfulness of heart approach Thee in the name of our blessed Redeemer. For all Thy bounties known to us, for all unknown, we give Thee thanks. Not as we ought, but as we are able, we bless Thee that after by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, it pleased Thee to look on us with pity, and to lay help on One mighty to save. We thank Thee that in the hour of the primal sin, there was mercy mingled with Thy words of just sentence, in the promise that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent’s head. We bless Thee that through many ages, with growing light, types and sacrifices foretold better things to come. We bless Thee that the blood, shed on Thine altars of old, spake of the atoning blood that taketh sin away; and that the incense that went up in memorial morning and evening, foreshadowed that great sacrifice of richer fragrance and deeper worth. Specially we bless Thee, that when the fulness of the time was come, Thy Son our Redeemer became Incarnate. We bless Thee for His life upon earth; but above all, that He suffered death on the cross for our salvation, and made therein, by His one oblation of Himself once offered, a full and perfect sacrifice and satisfaction for the sins of His people. We bless Thee for the coming of the Holy Ghost; for the sacraments and ordinances of the Church; and specially that our Lord did institute, and in His holy Gospel command us to continue, a perpetual memory of that His precious death, till His coming again. We bless Thee for the Table spread in the wilderness, and the Feast prepared: and being here met to obey our Redeemer's dying command, we ask that these elements, which now in His name and by His authority we set apart from a common to a sacred purpose, may convey to Thy people the grace of the new Covenant; and being received by faithful hearts, may be as earnests of that Bread of which if a man eat he shall never die, and of that Water of which if a man drink he shall live for ever.

Thee, mighty God, heavenly King, we magnify and praise. With angels and archangels, and with all the company of heaven, we laud and magnify Thy glorious name, evermore praising Thee, and saying, Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of hosts : Heaven and earth are full of Thy glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord.

And to Thee, Blessed God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, be glory for ever. Amen.

On that ever-memorable night, in which our Saviour was betrayed into the hands of SINNERS, HE TOOK BREAD. AND HAVING BLESSED IT, AS HAS NOW BEEN DONE IN HIS NAME AND AFTER HIS EXAMPLE, HE BRAKE IT, AND GAVE IT TO THE DISCIPLES, SAYING, TAKE, EAT: THIS IS MY BODY WHICH IS BROKEN FOR YOU: THIS DO IN REMEMBRANCE OF ME.

IN LIKE MANNER, WHEN HE HAD SUPPED, HE TOOK THE CUP AND GAVE IT TO THE DISCIPLES, saying, This cup is the new testament in my BLOOD, SHED FOR MANY FOR THE REMISSION OF sins: Drink ye all of it. For as often as ye eat this bread, and DRINK THIS CUP, YE DO SHOW THE LORD*S DEATH TILL HE COME.

So saying, the presiding minister gives first the bread and then the cup to the assisting ministers and elders. Then the elders carry the consecrated elements to the communicants, reverently seated at tables covered with white cloth. Entire silence is preserved till all have received. Then the minister Proceeds;

He that drinketh of this water shall thirst again: so said Christ of the water of Jacob's well. It was a pure fountain of cool waters: they tell us it is so yet: and it could refresh the weary traveller for the time. But let him again plod on his journey; again tread on the heated sand, and again feel the burning sun: and in a little his tongue would be parched and his heart faint as before.

But may we not extend the statement to every fountain at which man can seek to quench his thirst, save that spiritual one of living waters? Drink at the fountain of worldly wealth: the soul will still find that there remains an aching void within, a thirst unslaked, which worldly wealth cannot satisfy. Drink at the fountain of worldly distinction: the soul will still find a great thirst within, which that cannot slake. Drink at the fountain of home comforts and joys, of kindly domestic affections : ah, how often that cup is dashed from the lips, leaving the man to thirst again; how often, by the cold fire-side, lonely and desolate, the mourner feels in his sinking heart that that fountain is dry!

But he who drinks at the fountain of living waters, will there find what will perfectly satisfy the desires of his spiritual nature. He who feels spiritual thirst will find at this fountain a supply which will leave no uneasy craving behind. Is it pardon he needs? He will find that there. Is it •purity of heart he longs for? Day by day he may grow in grace, nourished by what he will find there. Is it peace he wants? If in this world, he will find it there. Guidance, strength, comfort, hope, a friend, a father, a home, - glory, honour, and immortality, — he will find all there. If he do not find all, it is not that they are not there to find: it is because he will not seek for them, or will not seek the right way.

And in the infirmity of our nature, and the imperfection of our grace, even to the end of life the believer may thirst, and thirst sorely. He may long for an assurance of acceptance with God he cannot get; sigh for holiness he cannot reach; long for perfect peace while his heart is careful and troubled about many things. The living water runs indeed by his side: he might drink of that Rock which follows him (and that Rock is Christ: and alongside his dusty path of work-day life there murmurs on the rill of spiritual comfort and privilege and hope; but in his waywardness he may be looking everywhere for something to satisfy his thirst, except to that which alone can do it. Ah, communicants, how often we all do what is so well described in the Scriptural figure; turn away from the fountain of life, and hew out to ourselves broken cisterns which can hold no water! How often we think to satisfy the longings of our souls with earthly comforts and blessings, as if these were all they needed :—earthly comforts and blessings many of them valuable and excellent in their way :— but not the bread of which if a man eat he shall never die, not the water of which the soul that drinks shall thirst no more. Even as regards spiritual blessing, we must daily drink at the fountain: the Rock follows us, the stream from the smitten Rock of Ages keeps by the believer’s side; and from that satisfying and refreshing water we must drink day by day.

And a time will come at last, when there shall be a perfect fulfilment of that promise which is here fulfilled only in part, 'He that drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst.’ If even to the end of his pilgrimage through this world, the believer should sometimes be constrained to complain with the Psalmist, ‘My soul thirsteth for God, my flesh longeth for Him in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is' he can look forward to a life and a world wherein all that shall be over. For how speaks the Apostle of the Christian's happy home? ‘They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more, neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of water: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.'

Oh for that happy time! Blessed Saviour, guide us safely to that delightful country! For 'our souls thirst for God, for the living God: when shall we come and appear before God!'

Go in peace from the Table of the Lord: and may the God of all love and peace go with you, to bless you and do you good.

Then is sung a portion of Psalm CIII., to the tune Coles hill.

1 O thou my soul, bless God the Lord;
and all that in me is
Be stirred up His holy name
to magnify and bless.

2 Bless, O my soul, the Lord thy God,
and not forgetful be
Of all His gracious benefits
He hath bestow'd on thee.

After this, the communicants who have received rise and depart from the Communion Table. And their places are filled by others.


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