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Communion Sunday
The Fencing of the Tables The Third


We all know, communicants, that when we are very much interested in a thing, there is no end of the lights in which we shall place it, or of the points of view from which we shall regard it. And if Christ be the Christian's all in all: if Christ be not only the first thing in the Christian's heart, but everything: it will not be at all needful, though he should come ever so frequently to the Communion Table, that the communicant's thoughts should run always just in the beaten track. We can look at the Saviour in a hundred lights: we can regard Him from a hundred different points of view. Our ‘meditation of Him' which let us hope that many of us, like the Psalmist, have found to be ‘sweet;' need not consist, as our remembrance of earthly friends generally does, in going backwards and forwards over the same two or three perpetually-repeated thoughts. It is a pleasant occupation for the Christian at all times, and here more especially, to let the mind dwell upon the thought of Christ, looking at Him in many different ways: and the Bible shows us that a like spirit has come down among believers since the birth of time; and that nature has been scanned and searched through for analogies and emblems, to bring fresher and warmer home to the heart the thought of our Blessed Lord. All that seemed to type wisdom, and strength, and beauty, and fragrance, and refreshment, and unchanging sameness, and life, and light, and joy, has been taken in one age or another of the world’s story, to set out more clearly the bright attributes of the Redeemer, and to swell the list of his ‘many names' There are manifold ways of regarding Christ, and the benefits we derive from Him, which might each furnish us with matter for meditation on such an occasion as this. We might think of Him as the ‘Branch of Right' that ‘Plant of Renown' which should grow from the root of Jesse: as the ‘Bread of Life' of which if a man eat he shall never die: as the ‘Bright and Morning Star’ that dawned upon the Gospel-day, and that leads on to glory and immortality-We might think of Him as the ‘Captain of Salvation’ who has routed our spiritual foes: as the ‘Corner-Stone' that ‘Foundation of God’ whereon the soul that rests is safe from the storms and floods of judgment: as the 'Counsellor’ to all true wisdom: as the 'Deliverer9 from all real danger:' the 'Faithful Witness’ who tells us all we need to know: the (Fountain Opened/ whence flow the gladdening waters of eternal life. We might think of Him as the ‘High Priest' who offered the one sacrifice that since time began had virtue to take sin away: the € King9 before whom all nations and all hearts shall yet bow down: the ‘Prophet' who reveals to us God’s will: the 'Lamb of God’ whose blood has the strange power to wash the guilty soul back to the whiteness of innocence: the 'Light of the World' but for whom the outward sun would shed His beams in vain the 'Prince of Peace’ who yet shall reckon all human beings amid the subjects of His worldwide sway. We do not wonder that the prophet spake of Him as the 'Refiner' Who cleanses all the heart: we do not wonder if thinking of guidance kinder and more constant than ever was bestowed by man, the Apostle should repeat his own declaration that He is the 'Good Shepherd' the 'Shepherd and Bishop of Souls:' we do not wonder if such as remembered how He dispelled the shadows of ignorance and eternal death from a benighted earth, should speak of Him as the 'Sun of Righteousness9 that rose upon the world with healing in His wings: we do not wonder if many a time, in quiet thought, His people have found food for reflection in following up the thoughts suggested by His own declaration, that He is 'the Way, and the Truth, and the Life/ I knowr that each has his own manner of regarding our Blessed Redeemer, which early associations have made most pleasant: but I think that none of us can fail to linger with a great delight upon that beautiful combination of pleasant images in which our Saviour is represented by the prophet;—I think that at a Communion Table few words can fall more pleasantly or more fitly on the ear;—than those in which the prophet tells us, that 'a Man shall be as an hiding-place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place; and as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.'

How sweetly does that ancient, yet never-forgotten combination of pleasant images, fall upon the Christian pilgrim's heart! How dear to the dweller in the parched Oriental lands, the thought of the hot wind of the desert searching round our 'hiding-place' but finding no entrance there: of the howling storm wrestling with the mighty trees, and calling forth from them their stern wails as of agony, yet shut out from that ‘covert,' where, safe from all its assault, our souls are sweetly sheltered! With what cool breaths, only to think of it, would come the mention of ‘rivers of water in a dry place:' of the clear, sparkling, ever-flowing murmur that makes all things round green and glad: or of the (shadow of a great rock in a weary land; with all it tells of rest and joy in the ceaseless pilgrimage; with its pictures of the weary wayfarers, stretched in the luxury of repose upon the cool turf, and baring their brows to the fanning wind; and of the patient camel, loosed from its heavy load, browsing lazily upon the prickly herbage of the desert! So pleasant and refreshful would be the thoughts called up before the mind of an Oriental, by these images wherein our Redeemer’s character and work are represented s and though in a country like ours, some of the images may lose somewhat of their vividness, even we can understand the value of shelter from the storm, and refreshment in the hour of weakness and weariness. And yet more, when we look to the spiritual significance of the words, and remember how beautifully they set out what the Redeemer is to our souls, it should be a delightful employment at a Communion Table, to think of Him as a ‘ hiding-place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place; as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.'

For these images, while they represent the Saviour, represent also ourselves. While they remind us of what Christ is to His own, they remind us also of how much we need Christ. They picture us as wandering over a waste wilderness, exposed to the fury of the storm: else we should not need the (hiding-place from the wind/ nor the 'covert from the tempest' And such a storm does by nature threaten us all: even the fiery flood of God’s wrath for sin; the thunders and lightnings of a broken law; the wrath and curse which are denounced against all transgression: and it is only by fleeing unto Christ that we can find shelter from these: He is the only hiding-place and covert that can protect from these: and we know that those who refuse to flee to Him will at the Judgment-day call in vain on the mountains to fall on them, and the rocks to cover them, and hide them from the wrath of God. Then, again, these images picture us as travellers through the burning desert, parched with thirst, worn out with toil, and fainting with heat; else we should not need the € rivers of water in a dry place/ nor the ( shadow of a great rock in a weary land/ And when we think, communicants, of the steep and difficult way which as Christian pilgrims we must traverse, often with the weary foot and the sinking heart, well may we love to meditate upon Him, through whom we obtain that strength and consolation of the Blessed Spirit which are to the soul what to the traveller are the fountain and the rock: save that our 'great rock', is that 'Rock of Ages' hidden in whose clefts no ill can reach us; and that our ‘rivers of water' are of that ‘water of life' which can refresh and gladden the weary and fainting soul!

And surely here, on a Communion day, we have come to a point in our pilgrimage where we are warranted to hope that we may find our Saviour all that the Prophet said He should be. As we € do this in remembrance of Him* and His atoning sacrifice, may He be to our souls what He has been to His people for ages. Shadow of the Great Rock, shelter us in this weary land! Hide us from the wind : cover us from the tempest: refresh our souls as with rivers of living water in this dry place: and may these elements, partaken of at Thy appointment, be as that bread of which whosoever eats shall never die; and that water of which whosoever drinks shall live for ever!

On that ever-memorable night, etc.

‘Till He come:' There is the limit of this Sacrament's continuance: it is not a thing that is always to go on. ‘As often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till He come? There will be a day—we do not know when —that this rite shall be celebrated for the last time. Its beginning carries our minds back to the time of our Saviour’s deepest humiliation: its end carries on our view to the season when Ke shall come in glory to judge the world. This Sacrament, then, is not a thing which is intended to last for ever: it is not even a thing which is intended to last long. 'Behold, I come quickly,’ are Christ’s own words, yet this Rite is to continue only 'till He come.’ And after time is done—after our Lord has come in glory —all these ages through which men have joined in this Sacrament will seem like almost nothing: and saved souls, millioris of years hereafter, will speak of the little time for which the Sacrament of the Supper strengthened and gladdened weary souls, as a mere hand-breadth in the countless ages of the Scheme, the Working-out, and the Results, of the Great Redemption.

And for this reason among others, communicants, perhaps it was fit enough, that in looking over Christ’s names and doings, we should select from all the characters in which we might regard our Saviour that which we did. We sat down here for a little while to think of Christ: we considered how we should think of Him: and I sought to lead your meditation of Him into an old and pleasant track: ‘A hiding-place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; rivers of water in a dry place, and the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.’ And it is fit enough, that at a Feast which is only temporary, we should regard Christ in a character which is only temporary, however pleasing and beautiful it be. It is only while the believer remains in this world of sin and sorrow, that he can regard the Saviour as standing to him in such a relation as that ou which we have dwelt. When the believer has entered that world where there is no wind and no tempest, he will need no hiding-place and no covert there. When the believer has entered that glorious world, though Christ may be the Rock of Ages still, and still the water of life, He will not be as 'rivers in a dry place;' nor will He cast His refreshing shadow over a ‘weary land.' It is now, in this evil world, where Christ is all that stands between us and the fiery floods of God's wrath for sin: it is here, where we faint and stumble along this weary pilgrimage, that this beautiful promise is being fulfilled in the experience of Christ's people. Now our Saviour is our hiding-place and our covert, our river of life and our rock of shadow. The prophet looked far forward into the future, and wrote, 'A man shall be a hiding-place from the wind and a covert from the tempest:' and after the last Communion Service is over,—when the believer drinks this earthly cup no more,—if ever he desires to think of Christ thus, he will have to look back upon his own life in this world, and say, As I laboured upon earth, as I prayed, and toiled, and sinned, and suffered there, my Saviour used to be, long ago, as 'a hiding-place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, and as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land!'

Enjoy, then, communicants, while it lasts, the present reality of this gracious promise; for it will not last long. Look to Christ in this light while He still stands in this light to you. They tell us that some of the most beautiful aspects of the sun—as, for example, the rich golden sunsets—are the result of causes in our own atmosphere: it is only to beings who dwell among earthly vapours and clouds that he appears in that majesty of purple and gold. And even so it is only to souls dwelling in a world of sin and sorrow, that our Blessed Lord can wear this aspect to which I have sought to turn your thoughts. It is only to those round whom 'winds' and 'tempests,' blow, that Jesus can look like the f hiding-place9 and the 'covert:' it is only in a 'dry place', that we know the full value of 'rivers of water;' and no one can know how precious is the ‘shadow of a great rock' half so well as he who journeys through 'a weary land.' It is just because the Sun of Righteousness shines upon us through a laden atmosphere of sin and sorrow, that He wears to our eyes this beautiful aspect of which we speak. The happy spirits who never sinned can hardly understand the delight with which we look to Jesus thus. They never needed a Saviour: they cannot feel, as we do, all that that word means. Yet though when you have entered the world where weariness, and peril, and sorrow, and sin are done with, you may choose other ways in which to regard your Lord; surely when now you rise from that table with some anxious thoughts of all that awaits you as you resume your wilderness way, you will hardly be able to look to Jesus in a light more exactly suited to your needs; and you will hardly be able to frame a more comprehensive prayer, than that this Divine € Man Christ Jesus9 may be to each and all of us c as a hiding-place from the wind and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, and as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land!’

Go in peace from the Table of the Lord: and the God of peace go with you.

Then is sung a further portion of Psalm CHI., to the same tune.

5 Who with abundance of good things
doth satisfy thy mouth;
So that, even as the eagle’s age,
renewed is thy youth.

6 God righteous judgment executes
for all oppressed ones.

7 His ways to Moses, He his acts
made known to Israel’s sons.


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