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BY REV. J. A. CLAPPERTO, M.A.
" This is my blood of the new testament which is shed . . .
for the remission of sins." MATT. xxvi. 28.
THIS is Christ s explanation of the cup of wine
employed in the Lord s Supper, and this saying
made a great impression on His apostles. St John
said, years after, " The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth
us from all sin." St Peter said, " We are redeemed
. . . with the precious blood of Christ." St Paul
said (Rom. v. 9), "We are justified by His blood"
The apostles had all the same story to tell that
we are only saved because Christ offered His life for
ours. But Christ says that He wishes to tell us that
story Himself, by the wine-cup in the sacrament.
When we take the cup in our hands to-night, we are
to say to ourselves, " This wine is Christ s own
picture of the love that caused Him to die for me.
He loved me and washed me from my sins in His own
blood." For none of us should forget that He has
said, " Drink ye ALL of it." He was anxious that
ALL His followers should come to feel that they had
their share in His rich love.
152 THE HEART OF CHRISTIAITY
ow this is the very heart of the Christian religion
to know and to feel Christ s love to us. Whatever
mistakes a man may make, if only he enjoys the love
of Christ, he is worthy of being called a Christian.*
But so forgetful and blind is the human heart that
Christians have often missed this lesson. In this
present service, although we have all heard of the
love of Christ, and know that He died for us, can it
be said that we all really feel that Christ has died for
us in love ? Can each one here say sincerely,
" Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all."
But in the eighteenth century Christians were
much more forgetful of the very heart of their
religion. Very few realised the individual love of
Christ. Take two remarkable examples.
Dr Samuel Johnson was in those days the king of
letters. Hannah More says that when he came to
die his friends tried to comfort him by reminding
him of what he had written in defence of virtue
and religion. But he moaned in reply, " How can I
tell when I have done enough?" He wished to see
a minister, and sent for Mr Winstanley. But that
gentleman was not well enough to come, and instead
wrote to the dying doctor a faithful, simple, evan-
* "Every one that loveth is born of God and knoweth God"
JOH iv. 7.
THE HEART OF CHRISTIAITY 153
gelical letter, in which he pressed upon the doctor s
notice the words of the Baptist, " Behold, the Lamb
of God, which taketh away the sin of the world."
Through that message the good old doctor found
peace. He was led to renounce himself and his
own works, and to rely upon Christ for forgiveness.
But it was only in his last hours, only at the end of
a long and famous career, that he learned that simple
lesson of taking Christ as his own Saviour.
The second example is still more astounding.
Bishop Butler was the leading defender of Christian
ity during that century. His " Analogy of Religion "
is still regarded as one of the ablest defences of our
religion, if not the ablest, that has been given to the
world. But when he came to die, he called his
chaplain and said to him, " I have endeavoured to
avoid sin and to please God to the utmost of my
power. Yet, from the consciousness of perpetual
infirmities, I am afraid to die."
" My lord," said the chaplain, "you have forgotten
that Jesus Christ is a SAVIOUR."
" True," said the dying bishop, " but how shall I
know that He is a Saviour for me?"
"My lord," replied the chaplain, "it is written,
* Him that cometh to Me I will in nowise cast out. "
"True," answered the bishop again, and then he
added, " I am surprised that though I have read that
154 THE HEART OF CHRISTIAITY
scripture a thousand times over, I never felt its
virtue till this moment, and now I die happy."
With all his learning and reading and profound
thinking, Bishop Butler was ignorant of the one thing
needful, the individual application of the love of
Christ. " How shall I know that He is a Saviour for
me ? " He knew that Christ had loved the world,
but he had never taken to heart the cheering fact
that Christ had loved him personally. Yet he was
the leading teacher of the ational Church of that
Dr Johnson and Bishop Butler were both good and
great men. But they both missed the teaching of the
Lord s Supper ! Until they came to die they knew
nothing of personal forgiveness or of Christ s love to
them as individuals. And they represented the
ordinary thoughts of the Christians of their day.
But that century witnessed, on the part of thou
sands, a grand rediscovery of the love of Christ ;
and in at least one case, it was the sacrament that
led to the great discovery. About the middle
of the century John Wesley and his mother
were conversing. The sainted lady told her son that
it was only within a year or two that she had heard
of such a thing as enjoying the forgiveness of sins
in this life, or of its being the common privilege of
Christians, She had thought that it was more a
THE HEART OF CHRISTIAITY 155
matter for eternity, and that if any could anticipate
the joy of eternity, it could only be a few of the
greatest and most glorious saints.
But two or three weeks before the conversation
took place, she had received the sacrament. Up to
that time she had never dared to ask for the know
ledge of the remission of her sins. But, as her son-
in-law, the Rev. Wesley Hall, handed her the cup, he
used the words, " The blood of Jesus Christ, which
was given for THEE." The word struck through her
heart, and she then knew that God, for the sake of
Christ, had forgiven her her sins.
ow, that was the natural effect of receiving the
sacramental cup. It was the effect intended by
Christ. He Himself says of the wine : " This is My
blood of the ew Testament, which is shed . . . for
the remission of sins." His blood has been shed for
the remission of OUR sins, and this sacrament is
instituted to ASSURE us of the fact. The message of
the cup to every one who will drink from it, is this :
Christ s blood was shed for your remission. It is the
application of the gospel message to every single
partaker of the communion.
There are those who take this sacrament with great
misgivings. They feel unworthy of it, for they think
that it is meant as a spiritual feast for saints. Such
it certainly is, but by Christ it was primarily intended
156 THE HEART OF CHRISTIAITY
as an encouraging feast for sinners. To whom was
the feast first thrown open? It was to Peter and to
John that Christ said, " Take, eat, drink ye ALL of it,"
and at that very feast He said, " The cock shall not
crow till thou hast denied Me thrice " (John xiii. 38).
He saw in Peter s heart the seed of sin, the weak
ness that led before dawn to profanity, cowardice,
desertion. Christ saw it all. Yet He said, " Take,
It is clear that the feast was not to be confined to
the sinless or to the saintly, but that Christ intended
it for the comfort of poor sinners. For He says
plainly, " This is My blood which is shed for the
remission of SIS." That is the essential meaning of
the rite. It suits saints, but it suits sinners still
better, for it brings them pardon, and peace, and
comfort, and love, and joy. othing, surely, could
bring Christ s personal love closer to our hearts. He
implores us to drink individually of the wine-cup, and
if it could speak to us, this is the language that it
would use in the name of the Saviour of the world :
" I love thee ; I love thee." By this sacrament Christ
repeats to each partaker His central promise of love,
" Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy
laden, and I will give you rest." May the Saviour
bring His restful love into each heart here ! AME,
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