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remembrance of me." Only you must remember, that those who come to this heavenly feast, must come in the wedding garment; they must come in penitence, and faith, and charity; in a spirit of deep thankfulness, and in all those tempers and dispositions of mind, so beautifully described in the Church Catechism, and in the communion service. There is danger in neglecting this holy ordinance-there is the utmost danger in profaning it, in coming to it carelessly and irreverently! But so is the benefit great, unspeakably great, if we keep the feast with humility and reverence, with faith and thanksgiving; as a memorial of Christ's death, and a solemn means of communion with Him.
See Matt. xxvi. 1-5, 14-20, 26-29. Mark xiv. 1, 2, 10-17, 23-25. Luke xxii. 1-20.
FIFTY-THIRD SUNDAY EVENING.
THE SUPPER CHAMBER.
THE GARDEN OF
M. We have already spoken of the last supper of which our Lord partook with His disciples, when He instituted that blessed ordinance, in which we keep up a perpetual memory of His death until His coming again. But besides the institution of that holy Sacrament, many interesting particulars are recorded of that solemn evening. It was then that our Saviour gave His disciples that affecting "example of lowliest humility," at which you have often wondered.
E. You mean when He washed their feet.
M. Yes; the Son of God, most high and holy, did Himself wash the feet of His poor, frail disciples; thereby teaching them to hesitate at no act of condescension to each other. Well might the disciples be astonished to see their Lord and Master approaching them to perform so mean and servile an office. Well might the affectionate Peter at the first impulse exclaim, "Lord, dost thou wash my feet?" might he even start back and "Thou shalt never wash my feet." We cannot be surprised that he should be amazed at such wonderful humility, for he was ignorant of our Lord's meaning in it. "What I do thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know after" such was the gentle reply of the Redeemer, when His disciples would have resisted His gracious intentions; and when even that was not enough to overcome the scruples of Peter, He condescended graciously to explain to him the meaning of what He had done, saying, "If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me;" thus intimating that this washing meant, or typified, something more than appeared, even the washing of the soul from sin, which we all require at the hands of Christ, and without which we cannot share in His salvation. Simon Peter, when he heard this, no longer resisted, but said, "Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.” The holiest men are generally the most sensible of their sins, and the most anxious to be thoroughly purified from them by Christ their Saviour.
E. What did our Lord say to that, Mamma?
M. "He that is washed needeth not, save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit." To understand
this, we must call to mind that it was the custom in eastern countries to wear no shoes on the feet, but sandals covering but a small part of them. The consequence was, that the feet required continual washing, although the rest of the person was clean. In like manner the servants of God, even the chief among them, though already washed from their sins in the blood of Christ, yet soil, as it were, their feet in walking through this sinful world; and stand in need of daily washing by continual application to their Saviour's mercy. Not indeed wilful sin; but some error or frailty is ever requiring forgiveness.
E. You said that our Lord intended to set His disciples an example of humility and kindness: did He tell them so, as plainly as He told them that the water was to show them how much they needed pardon?
M. He did not leave either them or us in doubt about this matter: for "after he had washed their feet and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done unto you? Ye call me Master and Lord and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master have washed your feet, ye ought also to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example that ye should do as I have done unto you."
It was in the supper chamber too that the Saviour plainly foretold how Judas Iscariot should betray Him, and how Peter, even Peter, who loved his Lord so ardently, should thrice deny Him.
E. Ah, who would have thought that Peter would have acted thus?
M. None; but least of all himself.
He had yet
to learn how weak and frail a being he was; to learn it by painful experience. That he had no idea at this moment that it would be possible for him to forsake his Master, is very clear; for when Jesus told them all that He was now going to leave them, and that they could not follow Him at present, Peter said unto Him, "Lord, why cannot I follow thee now? I will lay down my life for thy sake." But Jesus knew His poor disciple better than he knew himself, when He answered him, "Wilt thou lay down thy life for my sake? Verily, verily I say unto thee, the cock shall not crow till thou hast denied me thrice." A sad forewarning indeed! and had Peter laid it seriously to heart, it might have saved him from much shame and sorrow. Had it led him humbly to search his own heart, he might, perhaps, have detected the weakness that lurked there, and have been led to throw himself upon the mighty for strength, and to cry out once more, "Lord, save me, I perish.”
E. Oh! that he had done so; for I am sure Jesus would have stretched out His hand to him again; but go on, dear Mamma.
M. You see there was much sorrowful discourse at this last supper; but there was much comfort too. The Lord Jesus could not bear to make His disciples sad; and therefore, although He was obliged to tell them these painful things, He entreated them at the same time to be comforted, and poured the balm of His own healing words into their hearts. It was necessary, indeed, now to prepare them for His departure, for in a very few hours more He would have left them; but to the very utmost He would console them under this sad separation. "Let not your
hearts be troubled: ye believe in God; believe also
"Oh! many are the mansions there :
But there were some blessings promised them then, of which they should begin to partake whilst still pilgrims upon earth. When their Lord should be taken away from them, He would not leave them alone and comfortless, He promised to send them "another comforter who should abide with them for ever," even the Holy Spirit of truth, who should dwell continually within them, to guide and strengthen them in their great work, to cheer and support their drooping hearts, and by His purifying and sanctifying grace to prepare them more and more to join their Saviour again.
E. But would the Holy Spirit make amends for Christ's absence?