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fellowship of suffering, of a very high order, if we are to realise in its fulness the possession of His glorious likeness in the day of the manifestation of the sons of God.
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150, ALBANY STREET, REGENT'S PARK
AIDS TO THE DEVELOPMENT
REV. J. BALDWIN BROWN, B.A.
DECEASE ACCOMPLISHED AT JERUSALEM.
" For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do
shew the Lord's death till he come.” 1 Cor. xi, 26. " DEATH the gate of life” — earth’s outer, heaven's inner gate, is the key of all Christian teaching. Let a man master that thought in the school of Christ, and he has solved the problem of life, and forecast eternity. This is the grand result of the life and the death of the Lord. That which shows it forth most fully, which exhibits its complete symbols, is a “showing forth of His death till He come.” And that is the true showing forth of His life—that life to which death was no calamity, not even an accident, but a beneficent development; the shedding of a fleshly vesture, the revelation of a glorious man. “YE DO SHOW FORTH THE LORD'S DEATH TILL HE COME.” What calm triumph, what assured hope is here. Whát transformation had passed in the belief of the apostolic band, since two of them trod sadly and wearily the path to Emmaus, discoursing tearfully of the decease which the Lord had accomplished at Jerusalem, and of the hope they had buried in His tomb. Since that day, the risen Lord had lived with them awhile; and angels from heaven had announced His entrance into the world of glory which His death had opened, and prophesied His return to fulfil the promise which His resurrection had uttered to the world. And then the thought entered into the disciples' hearts, “He who was dead and is alive, is truly the living Lord.” His death was the condition of the unfolding of His life as the second Adam. He LIVES now: it was but a death life once. Earth’s life is but a gestation for all of us. That sorrowful shame oppressed life was but His share, His lordly share, of the groaning and travailing of all things here; through death, even the death of the cross, He was born out of it to glorythrough death we have to be new-born. Dimly the disciples saw it once, when they rained their tears on the new-made tomb. Paul with the rest had attained to a clearer vision ; and as they gathered around the emblem which renewed the anguish of the saddest night of earth's sad history, they knew that they were showing forth a death which was the fountain of strong and glorious life to them, and to the redeemed through eternity.
The Lord's Supper is here spoken of, not as an ordinance for the private satisfaction and edification of the Christian, but as a solemn witness to himself and to the world : or rather, let me say, his private edification lies in his reception of this witness, in the discovery of all that it implies, and the making it known to men. It is not to nurse the sense of privilege, to realise that you belong to a class which has opportunities, advantages, and hopes which other classes cannot share ; but to receive the vital influence of a deed which was done, a sacrifice which was offered, a decease which was accomplished, for the great human world, of which you are to offer, by the celebration of this ordinance, perpetual tokens to mankind. You show forth the Lord's death, and your own relation to it. “ I am not my own
but bought with a price, and bound therefore to glorify God,
both with my body and my spirit, which are His. 'I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me, and the life which I live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.'”
I. Let us consider the significance of the fact that the chief ordinance of Christianity, is the showing forth of a death--the death of the Lord Jesus—which therefore must lie very near the root of the relation which He sustains to the world.
And this appears to dispose of the idea which occupies a very prominent place in the theology of some Unitarian schools, that the life of the Lord Jesus, as the purest witness to God's truth and the realities of things, the most perfect pattern of holy living ever set before men, is the great feature of His work, the great source of His power : that His death was the great seal of His life's witness, a noble martyr's death-no more; to be remembered with sacred sorrow, to be commemorated with tender regret, but by no means to be put in comparison with His life as God's great witness to mankind. I believe that the question at issue between the two schools can only be settled on this ground. We may quote texts to each other for ever, without much impression on either side. The real question is, does the death or the life of the Lord, His sacrifice, or His example, contain the fuller measure of Divine teaching to the world. As often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till He come," seems to me to throw a very solemn light on this matter. The Roman Church keeps the festivals of the Annunciation and the Nativity. I am not here questioning the wisdom and beauty of the hallowed associations which the church universal has gathered around these and kindred seasons. I venture here no opinion as to whether our weakness needs such helps, or whether our strength can
dispense with them. The life of Christ is full of liglit to us. Every fact shines like a planet in the darkness of the moral firmament of our world. Each word of truth, deed of charity, miracle of mercy, season of suffering and consolation, is lumi
The light flows down from them and bathes with its soft lustre the track of man's spiritual progress through all the ages of time. We may honour the Christian fasts and festivals, while we dread and guard against the tendency of all elaborately organized churches to honour on a day what should be the light of all days, and to gather into an isolated celebration what should leaven our whole lives with joy and hope. But mark you—the church commemorates every sad or joyful event in the life of the Lord Jesus as a man among men; but the Lord Christ Himself, in the one commemorative feast which he ordained, bade commemorate His death. His wisdom fixed on the death as the central feature, to which, as it were, the life was satellite. If to His eye the facts and experiences of His life were as planets to earth's firmament, His death is
It is strange and startling. The sunlight of earth's moral firmament a death! But we are bound to believe it, unless we can believe that He came to give not sunlight but darkness to mankind. If His death be the darkest fact in His history, a martyr's death-the extinction of a light which might have illumined, a fire which might have cherished and quickened the world, leaving to it only a memory, then the commemoration of it is the darkest thing in our history. But if we regard that death, not from the low standing ground and with the limited horizon which a child of earth can command, but from that point of view which the Saviour commanded, when He said, “ And I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto me,” that death will be, not for what the sufferer endured, but for what the sufferer did by it, the very brightest and most glorious thing in the history of this universe, to remain the brightest