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his power, could make his body both to be eaten and broken, and to be born of a woman without man, as to walk upon the sea, having a body, and other such like miracles as he wrought by his power only?
Lady Jane. Yes, verily, if God would have done at his Supper any miracle, he might have done so; but I say, that then he minded no work nor miracle, but only to break his body, and to shed his blood on the cross for our sins. But I pray you to answer me to this one question; Where was Christ when he said, "Take, eat, this is my body"? was he not at the table when he said so? He was at that time alive, and suffered not till the next day. What took he but bread? what brake he but bread? Look, what he took, he brake; look, what he brake, he gave; look, what he gave, they did eat: and yet all this time he himself was alive, and at supper before his disciples, or else they were deceived.
Feckenham. You ground your faith upon such authors as both say and unsay with a breath, and not upon the church, to whom ye ought to give credit.
Lady Jane. No; I ground my faith on God's word, and not upon the church; for if the church be a good church, the faith of the church must be tried by God's word, and not God's word by the church, nor yet by faith. Shall I believe the church, because of antiquity? or shall I give credit to the church, because it taketh away from me the half part of the Lord's Supper, and will not let any man receive it in both kinds? which thing if they deny to us, then deny they to us part of our salvation. And I say, it is an evil church, and not the spouse of Christ, but the spouse of the devil, that altereth the Lord's Supper, and both taketh from it and addeth to it. To that church, say I, God will add plagues to it; and from that church he will take their part out of the book of life. Do they learn that of St. Paul, when he ministered to the Corinthians in both kinds? Shall I believe this church? God forbid.
Feckenham. This was done for a good intent of the church, to avoid a heresy that sprung in it.
Lady Jane. Why shall the church alter God's will
and ordinance for a good intent? How did king Saul? The Lord God defend.
After this, Mr. Feckenham took his leave, saying, that he was sorry for her; "for I am sure," saith he, "we two shall never meet." "True it is," said Lady Jane, "that we shall never meet, except God turn your heart; for I am assured, unless you repent, and turn to God, you are in an evil case; and I pray God, in the bowels of his mercy, to send you his Holy Spirit: for he hath given you his great gift of utterance, if it please him also to open the eyes of your heart."
ALL THINGS ARE READY.
All things are ready; all things requisite to a noble feast. Let us a little improve the metaphor.
1. There is a house ready for the entertainment of the guests, the Gospel church, wisdom's house, which she hath built upon seven pillars. God hath set up his tabernacle among men, and the place of his tent is enlarged, and made capacious enough, so that though the table has been replenished with guests, yet still there is room.
2. There is a table ready spread in the word and ordinances, like the table in the temple on which the show-bread was placed, a loaf for every tribe. The Scripture is written, the canon of it completed, and in it a full declaration made of God's good will towards
3 There is a fountain ready for us to wash in. As at the marriage feast at Cana, there were six water pots set for purification. Lest sense of pollutions contracted should deter us from the participation of these comforts, behold there is a "fountain opened," come and wash in it, that being purged from an evil conscience by the blood of Jesus, you may, with humble confidence, compass God's altar.
4. There are servants ready to attend you, and those are the ministers, whose work it is to direct you to the table, and "to give every one their portion of meat in
due season, rightly dividing the word of truth." They are not masters of the feast, but only stewards, and "your servants for Christ's sake."
5. There is much company already come; many have accepted the invitation, and have found a hearty welcome. Why then should your place be empty? Let the communion of saints invite you into communion with Christ.
6. A blessing is ready to be craved. He is ready to bless the sacrifice. The great High Priest of our profession, ever living to intercede for us, and attending continually to this very thing, is ready to command a blessing upon our spiritual food.
7. The master of the feast is ready to bid you welcome; as ready as the father of the prodigal was to receive his repenting, returning son, whom he saw when "he was yet a great way off." God's ear is open to hear, and his hand open to give.
8. The provision is ready for your entertainment.
"YE ASK AMISS.'
This is the reason given by the inspired apostle, why prayer is often unanswered. There is much unavailing prayer in these days offered unto God; and those who offer it are at a loss to understand why they fail to receive the divine blessing. They read the promise, "Ask, and ye shall receive;" and supposing they have complied with its conditions, wonder at its non-fulfilment. But all such may rest assured, that "the promise of God standeth sure;" and that they receive not, only because they asked "amiss."
There are various reasons why the thing sought is not obtained. It is sometimes the case, that the blessing asked is not sufficiently valued. Ought it to be a matter of surprise, that such prayer fails to attain its object? Does it accord with common-sense principles, setting aside those which actuate the divine mind, to suppose that an undervalued blessing will be obtained? The very essence of approved prayer consists in an appropriation of that which it seeks to obtain. The blessings which prayer draws from the skies are inexpressibly great. God has no small gifts to bestow-they are all "good and perfect gifts which come down from the Father of
lights;" and unless the petitioner recognizes them as such, his requests cannot consistently be granted.
But there are those who "ask amiss," because they approach
God with improper views of his character.
God is in heaven, and we are on earth. He is our great Creator-we are his sinful and dependent creatures. He therefore justly requires that the whole heart be engaged in his service. How, then, can it be expected that the cold, formal petition should be received by him who lays claim to the best affections of our nature. He has nothing to bestow on those who approach him with a divided heart-with thoughts running to and fro in the earth, and minds occupied with worldly things. He who always finds the world uppermost during his seasons of prayer, may well doubt the acceptableness of the service he attempts to render; and though he may seek to palliate his worldly-mindedness in devotion, by referring it to the influence of an imperfectly sanctified nature, he may rest assured that such an offering is sin; for if "out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh," it is equally true that the invariable current of the thoughts determines the character of the worshipper.
There are those, also, who "ask amiss," because they are fitful in their supplications. For a while they ply that importunity which God loves; and then, again, they sink into listlessness and formality. Stated seasons of prayer are punctually observed during times of affliction: but when the rod is withdrawn, the hand that applied it is soon forgotten. At times, the value of the soul assumes its true importance, and its mighty interests are with earnestness laid before Him who alone can fully promote them; but a relapse soon succeeds, and the influences of time and sense overshadow and draw away the mind from God; the mercy-seat is then forsaken, and the fitful seeker receives not, because he has asked "amiss."
"We pray to the Lord to have mercy on those who are inquiring the way to Zion with their faces thitherward." (Jer. lv. 4, 5.) "In those days, and in that time, saith the Lord, the children of Israel shall come, they and the children together, going and weeping; they shall go, and seek the Lord their God." (Jer. 1. 4.)
"They shall ask the way to Zion with their faces thitherward,
saying, Come, and let us join ourselves to the Lord in a perpetual covenant, that shall not be forgotten."
Persons may inquire the way to heaven, whose faces are not "thitherward." If their faces are really towards Zion, we shall find them "going and weeping," being deeply contrite for their sins. They will relinquish self, and will "seek the Lord their God." They will say to others, "Come." They will join themselves "to the Lord in a perpetual covenant, never to be forgotten." Many are now inquiring, but which way are their faces? Every moment the inquirer rejects Christ, though he may ask many questions about the way to heaven, he is going wrong-his face is not "THITHERWARD."
THE TRIAL OF FAITH.
God, by afflictions, tries whether your faith be well grounded and saving, or whether it be only temporary and flitting; whether it be weak or strong; whether it be able to stay and support itself on a promise, or wants the crutches of sense and visible enjoyments to bear it up; whether it be a faith that is wrought in you only by conviction, or a faith that hath wrought in you a thorough conversion; whether it be a faith wrought in you only by evidence of the truth, or a faith that is accompanied with a sincere love of the truth. And, therefore, rejoice in your sufferings and afflictions: for these will help you to determine this great and important question. If your faith be such as can overcome the world; if it can persuade you to esteem the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of the world; if it respect more the promises of God than the threatenings of man, and future rewards more than present advantages; if it can bear both the anvil and the furnace: this is a faith that is true and genuine; and when it is thus tried, it shall "be found unto praise, and honour, and glory, at the appearing of Jesus Christ." (1 Pet. i. 7.)
The trial of faith worketh patience. If thy sorrows and troubles add any degree of fortitude to thy patience, thou hast far more reason to rejoice than repine; for nothing in this present life is to be accounted good or evil, but only as it respects the advantage or disadvantage which our graces receive by it. Now, if God confirm and augment thy patience under sufferings, sufferings are mercies, afflictions are favours. He blesseth thee by chastisements, and