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famished condition of poor sinners, was at the expense of this costly feast for them; for the maker of it is the same who swallows up death and victory, ver. 8. A warlike title is ascribed to him, the "Lord of hosts," for there is a banner in Christ's banqueting-house; and this feast looks both backward and forward to a war. You will observe,
2. The guests for whom this feast is provided: it is made for "all people." Not that every person does actually partake of it, nor that every person without exception is invited to it; the event shows the contrary, there being many to whom the sound of the gospel never comes; but intimating, that the invitation is given to all who come in its way, without distinction, or exception of any sort of persons; Matth. xxii. 9, "Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage." The invitation is to the Gentiles, as well as to the Jews, to those in the highways and hedges, as well as those in the city. All who will come are welcome. You may observe,
3. The guest-chamber where this feast is held; "In this mountain," namely, mount Zion, that is, the church. To that society all must join who would partake of this feast. And as mount Zion represents both the church militant and the church triumphant, so these are one church, one body; and it is one feast, as to its substance, Heb. xii. 22-24. You will observe,
4. The matter of the feast: a feast imports abundance and variety of good entertainment; and here nothing is wanting which is suitable for hungry souls. This is held forth under the notion of the best meat and drink, because what these are to the body, the same is the gospel-feast to the soul. In this valley of the world. lying in wickedness, there is nothing for the soul to feed on but carrion, nothing but what would be loathed, except by those who were never used to better: but in this mountain, there is a "feast of fat things," things most relishing to those who taste them, most nourishing to those who feed on them; and these are full of marrow," most satisfying to the soul.-In this valley of the world, there is nothing but muddy waters, which can never quench the thirst of the soul, but must ruin it with the dregs ever cleaving to them; but here, on this mountain, are "wines on the lees," that is, the best of wines, which having been kept long upon the lees, are therefore strong and nourishing. And these wines are well refined, being carefully drawn off, and quite separated from the lees or dregs, and therefore clear and fine. They are undreggy comforts; they afford the most refined satisfaction and delight. From this subject we take the following
DOCTRINE, That Jesus Christ has prepared a most rich and delicious feast for the souls of all those who will come to him, and partake of it as presented to them.
In speaking upon this pleasant and interesting subject, it is intended,
I. To shew the absolute need that there is of this provision.
II. To explain what the provision is which Christ has prepared for the souls of a famished world.
III. To consider what sort of a feast it is.
IV. To confirm, that all people who will come, may come, and partake of this feast. And then,
V. Conclude with a practical improvement of the subject.
We are then,
I. To show the absolute need that there is of this provision.
The distinguishing need for this provision was the extreme necessity of a lost world, which, by Adam's fall, the great prodigal, was reduced to a starving and famishing condition. The King of heaven set down Adam, and his posterity in him, to a well-covered table in paradise, in this lower world, making a covenant of friendship with him, and with them in him. Man consists of an earthly part and a heavenly part, a body, and a soul: and as every thing must have nourishment suitable to its nature, so, although the body might, yet the soul could never be nourished by the best produce of the earth. Therefore, by virtue of that covenant, it was concluded, that, upon condition of perfect obedience to it, they should have provision for their souls from the King's country. But man being drawn into rebellion against God, this prospect was lost, and their table is drawn; Adam and all his posterity in his loins were driven out of the guestchamber, the family was ruined, broken, and scattered, having nothing left them.-To impress this the more upon us, let us view how our first father left us.
1. In point of need, he left us with hungry hearts, like the prodigal; Luke xv. 16, "And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks which the swine did eat; and no man gave unto him." Every man and woman naturally has a gnawing appetite after happiness and satisfaction. This is so interwoven with man's nature, that it never leaves him in any state whatever, and so will make a part of the torment of the damned: Isa. viii. 21, " And they shall pass through it, hardly bestead and hungry; and it shall come to pass, that when they shall be hungry, they shall fret themselves, and curse their King and their God, and look upward." Every one finds himself not self-sufficient, and therefore his soul cleaves to something without itself to satisfy it. Listen, O Christless sinner! VOL. X.
who art destitute of holy desires, and thou shalt hear a voice within thine own breast, saying, Give, give, a continual noise. Look into thine own heart, and thou wilt see it, in respect of desires, like a nest of young birds, all gaping for a fill, but never satisfied, still gaping, after all that is put in their mouths. He left us also with thirsty consciences, scorched and burned up with heat, so that most of them are in the dead-thraw, and many of them quite seared. Hence the gospel-invitation is, Isa. lv. 1, "Ho! every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters." In a natural state there can be no conscience but an evil conscience, the thorn of guilt is not pulled out of it; it is a defiled conscience which needs to be sprinkled, Heb. x. 22. And though a sleeping conscience in many, yet such is the thirst of it in all the sons of Adam, that, when awakened, they cry out, We die, we perish, we all perish, Luke xv. 17.
2. In point of supply, he left us without any prospect, for all communication with heaven was stopped. War was declared against the rebels, so that there could be no transportation of provisions from thence, Gen. iii. 24. Truth had said, Gen. ii. 17, "But of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it; for in the day thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die." And therefore, though mercy might incline to supply a starving world, justice interposes, and pleads that there could be no communication betwixt God and the sinners, without a satisfaction, which they nor angels could not make; and therefore, without satisfaction, they must be famished for ever. Thus heaven's doors were closed on a starving world. -Now, there was a mighty famine upon the earth, such as was with the prodigal, Luke xv. 14, " And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want." Adam's sons, abandoned of Heaven, fell a-begging at the world's door, if so be they might find rest and satisfaction in the creature. They go after a law-righteousness, if so be they might find a rest to their consciences. But it fares with them in this search, as with the unclean spirit gone out of a man. He goes through dry places seeking rest, and finding none returns disappointed. When they have traversed all the mountains of vanity for something to satisfy their hungry hearts, they find nothing but husks to feed on with the swine; which are the empty and unsatisfying things of the world, that can never feed their souls, Luke xv. 16. The poor sinner out of Christ, is like the hungry infant, which sucks at every thing to which its mouth comes near, and shifting about, and getting nothing, falls a-weeping; but the appetite continuing, the infant falls a-sucking again, where formerly it was disappointed. Such is the life of every natural man, a continued tract of lustings after, and disap
pointments from the creature. So that he is born weeping, lives seeking, and will die disappointed, if not brought to the feast of fat things. Again, they find but dust to feed on with the serpent; Isa. lxv. 25, “And dust shall be the serpent's meat;" that is, they suck at the defiled breasts of their lusts, which can never satisfy, but poison the soul. They cannot find their satisfaction in lawful worldly comforts; and therefore, like hungry beasts, they break over into forbidden ground, and all to satisfy a gnawing appetite after happiness. But there they are as far from their mark as ever. For, though the enjoyment of a lust may please them for a while; yet it is but like a man, eating or drinking in a dream, he awaketh, and behold he is faint, and his soul has appetite, Isa. xxiv. 8. There is a bitter dreg remaining behind. Striking at this rock for water, they cause fire to flash out on their faces; and sucking at these breasts, draw out blood instead of milk. Travelling through the barren region of the law for something to satisfy their scorched consciences, they can find nothing but muddy and salt waters, which can give no ease truly satisfying, but raises the thirst again. For the purging of the conscience is what the law cannot do, Rom. vi. 3; compared with Heb. ix. 14. What can duties do to the purging of the conscience; Isa. lxiv. 6, "But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away." Will mud wash out mud? What can tears do for this end? Without shedding of blood, there is no remission of sins. Even our tears must be washed in the Mediator's blood, or they will defile the conscience, and leave a new stain in it. What can trusting to uncovenanted mercy do? and such is the mercy of God in respect of all who are not in Christ, Acts iv. 12; 2 Cor. v. 19. They may make a plaster for their wounded consciences of these, they may lay it on, but all their art can never make it stick, it will fall off before the wound heal.
We come now,
II. To explain what the provision is which Christ has prepared for the souls of such a famished world.-This, in a word, is his precious self; the Maker of the feast is the matter of it, even Christ crucified; his body broken for us, is that feast to which hungry souls are called, and which they are to feed upon: "Take, eat, this is my body broken for you." Gal. ii. 20, "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." We have heard of mothers who have eaten their own children, but who ever gave them
selves to be meat unto them? But Jesus died that we might live, gave himself to enliven and nourish our souls.-Let us consider,
1. The meat which is served up in this feast for the hungry heart. This is Christ's body; John vi. 55, "For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed." Never was there such a costly feast in the world as this, Christ's body broken and bruised by justice, that it might be food to us. This is the provision offered to you all in the word, exhibited to you, O believers! in the sacrament. And ye may eat, and must eat of it, or you will perish: John vi. 53, "Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you." Take him by faith, receive him with a faith of application, and unite with him in the covenant; relish the sweetness of Christ, improve every part of Christ, his low birth, his sorrowful life, his bitter death, his burial, resurrection, and ascension to heaven.-Christ's body is the fat things of this feast, which will completely satisfy the hungry heart; so that thy soul feeding upon it by faith, shall be filled and satisfied, like the hungry infant, when it is set to its mother's full breasts: Psalm lxxxi. 10, "Open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it." How can these things be? will an unbelieving world say. We answer, in two things,
(1.) There is a fulness of the spirit of sanctification in him, which is communicated unto all who receive him: John i. 16, "And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace." And the more eagerly that the soul feeds on him, the more of that spirit they receive. The first entering of his spirit into the soul gives life; the further measure of the spirit, gives life more abundantly. And there is a double effect of the spirit of sanctification received from Christ.-11.] The spirit of Christ in the soul dries up the devouring deeps of unmortified desires after the world of lusts, stops their mouths by stabbing them to the heart, that the soul may live spiritually: John iv. 14, "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." Never thirst, that is, at the rate he did in his natural state. Gasp they may, as a thief upon the cross, but they shall never gape so wide and so incessantly as before, the soul being determined to starve them.-[2.] The spirit of Christ in the soul stirs up holy desires in the heart, which are the predominant motions and affections there: Psalm xxvii. 4, "One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple." The man's choice is altered, his desires run in