The Lord’s Supper

The Lord’s Supper
John Angell James

My dear friends, I propose in this address to make some remarks on the Lord’s Supper, and to lay down some rules for the right observance of this solemn and affecting ordinance. You cannot fail to be struck with the truly spiritual nature of the Christian religion, and the contrast to Judaism, which, in this view of it, is presented to the careful observer. Speaking of the law of Moses, the apostle says, “They are only a matter of food and drink and various ceremonial washings–external regulations applying until the time of the new order.” Hebrews 9:10. Hence also the terms of depreciation in which he speaks of the ceremonial law, calling it the “flesh,” “the elements of this world,” “beggarly elements,” “the letter,” and other designations of similar import, 2 Cor. 3; Gal. 4:5. These rites and ceremonies, with all the visible pomp and splendor of the legal worship, were solemnly obligatory upon the Jews, because enjoined by God, and were proper for the church at that time, for it was then in a state of infancy and childhood, Gal. 4:1-3, and was not prepared for the full and clear revelation of unveiled truth it was taught by these shadows—as by a kind of hieroglyphic Bible in the hands of a schoolmaster.

But when Christ came, who was the substance of this shadowy system, truth was no longer to be principally taught by ceremony—but by doctrine; not by rites, which, however gorgeous, were still obscure—but by explicit and plain declaration. This is the true distinction between Judaism and Christianity; the truths taught are the same in both—but the manner of teaching is essentially different. This is the meaning of the expression, “The law was given by Moses—but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ,” John 1:17. The word, “truth,” here stands opposed, not to falsehood—but to shadow. So again, our Lord in his discourse with the woman of Samaria, tells her that the hour was coming when ‘sanctity of place’, as the seat of Divine worship, would be abolished—and men would every where worship God, who is a Spirit, “in Spirit and in truth,” John 4:23, 24; that is, he would be worshiped not only in sincerity with the heart, for such worship God required under the law—but with spiritual offerings of truth, instead of ceremonial and shadowy ones. Continue reading

The Mind of Christ

The Mind of Christ
by John Angell James

“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 2:5

You know full well, that the seat of all true religion is in the soul; and that it forms the character and guides the conduct by the power of an inward principle of spiritual life. True godliness is, in short, being right-minded. A question, however, arises as to what a right mind really is, and what kind of prevailing disposition the gospel requires in those who profess to believe it. This is answered by the apostle, where he says, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus,” Phil. 2:5-9. And he then goes on to show what Christ’s mind was. This whole passage deserves your closest attention, both on account of its doctrinal truth and its practical bearing, for it shows in a very striking manner the intimate connection between Christian truth and Christian practice—and how the truth is employed by the sacred writers to enforce Christian practice. The most sublime doctrines of our holy Christian religion, are all practical in their design and tendency—they are not mere theory or academics—but are all of them “the truth which is according to godliness.” If there is any mystery of religion which is great and high above the thoughts of men and angels, it is, without doubt, the incarnation of the Son of God; and if there be any place where this important truth is clearly and magnificently represented, it is this passage. The terms are at once so sublime and majestic, that it is impossible anything more sublime or majestic could be said; the meaning is so noble and so well established, that nothing more powerful could be imagined. Continue reading

The Duty of Meditation

The Duty of Meditation
By John Angell James

The subject I call you now to consider is the duty and benefits of MEDITATION. This is frequently either alluded to, or enjoined in the Scriptures. In describing the good man, David observes, that “his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in his law does he meditate day and night,” Psalm 1:2. In giving his instructions to Joshua, Jehovah thus addressed him: “This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth; but you shall meditate therein day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written therein,” Joshua 1:8. What was Joshua’s duty is ours: the very possession of the Scriptures implies an obligation, not only to read them, but to meditate upon them. Meditation means close and continuous thought upon some selected subject. It is much the same as contemplation, musing, or what, in popular language, is called turning over a subject in our mind. Pious meditation, then, is a devout pondering upon some religious topic. This, it must be at once confessed and lamented, is in exercise of religion, to which, however important it may be, few addict themselves.

“And it is a very great cause of the dryness and expiration of men’s devotion, because our souls are so little refreshed with the waters and holy dews of meditation. We go to our prayers by chance, or order, or by determination of accidental occurrences; and we recite them us we read a book, and sometimes we are sensible of the duty; and a flash of heavenly light makes the room bright—but our prayers end, and the light is gone, and we are as dark as ever. We draw our water from stagnant pools, which never are filled but with sudden showers, and therefore we are dry so often; whereas, if we would draw water from the fountains of our Savior, and derive them through the channel of diligent and prudent meditations, our devotion would be a continual current, and safe against the barrenness of frequent droughts.” Continue reading

The Afflicted Remnant

The Afflicted Remnant and Their Confiding Trust
Preached at Zoar Chapel, London
by J. C. Philpot – July 6, 1845

“I will also leave in the midst of you an afflicted and poor people, and they shall trust in the name of the Lord.”
Zephaniah 3:12

Jerusalem was the center of the worship of the only true God from the day that David brought the ark there, until she rejected the Lord of life and glory, and brought upon herself that sentence, “Behold your house is left unto you desolate.” For this reason, Jerusalem became a type and figure of two things–first, of the TRUE church of God, his own elect family; and secondly, of the VISIBLE church. In those passages for instance, where we read, “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem”; “Put on your beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city”; “Speak you comfortably to Jerusalem”–in these, and similar passages, Jerusalem is addressed as representing the SPIRITUAL church of God. But, on the other hand, there are many passages where she is spoken of in language only applicable to the OUTWARD PROFESSING CHURCH; as in the beginning of this chapter, “Woe to her that is filthy and polluted, to the oppressing city!”

In the text, we find Jerusalem personally addressed. And the Lord declares that he “will leave in the midst of her an afflicted and poor people;” and that this afflicted and poor people “shall trust in the name of the Lord.” By Jerusalem, then, in the text, is not meant the true church of God, the inner sanctuary; but the outer court, the VISIBLE CHURCH, as including the invisible. And the Lord says of this professing church, of this outward visible congregation, that he will leave in her midst, a circle within a circle, a peculiar people, whom he describes under two distinct marks. Continue reading

Heavenly Teaching

Heavenly Teaching
Preached at Zoar Chapel, London
by J. C. Philpot – August 6, 1843

“All your children shall be taught of the Lord.”
Isaiah 54:13

The full extent of the “spiritual blessings” with which God has blessed the church in “heavenly places in Christ” can never be thoroughly known in this present world. It is only when the ransomed of the Lord shall reach the heavenly Canaan, that they will fully know either the dreadful gulf of misery from which they have been delivered, or the height of bliss and glory to which they are exalted in Christ. But sufficient is revealed in the word of God to show that they are indeed blessed with especial privileges and mercies; and that in being thus blessed their distinction as “a peculiar people” chiefly consists. Moses, therefore, on one occasion thus pleaded with God– “Wherein shall it be known here that I and your people have found grace in your sight? Is it not in that you go with us? so shall we be separated, I and your people, from all the people that are upon the face of the earth”. Ex 33:16

But of these peculiar blessings that God has blessed his church with in Christ, four seem especially prominent above the rest– their eternal election– their particular and personal redemption– their regeneration– and their heavenly teaching, which last is the promise contained in the text, “All your children shall be taught of the Lord.” Continue reading

Are You Born Again?

Are You Born Again?
by J. C. Ryle

Are you born again?

This is one of life’s most important questions. Jesus Christ said:

“Except a man is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3)

It is not enough to reply, “I belong to the church; I suppose I’m a Christian.” Thousands of nominal Christians show none of the signs of being born again which the Scriptures have given us —many listed in the First Epistle of John.

1. No Habitual Sinning

“No one who is born of God will continue to sin” (1 John 3:9).
“We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin” (5:18).

A person who has been born again, or regenerated, does not habitually commit sin. He no longer sins with his heart and will and whole inclination. There was probably a time when he did not think about whether his actions were sinful or not, and he did not always feel grieved after doing evil. There was no quarrel between him and sin; they were friends. But the true Christian–hates sin, flees from it, fights against it, considers it his greatest plague, resents the burden of its presence, mourns when he falls under its influence, and longs to be completely delivered from it. Sin no longer pleases him, nor is it even a matter of indifference to him; it has become a horrible thing which he hates. However, he cannot eliminate its presence within him.

If he said that he had no sin, he would be lying (1 John 1:8). But he can say that he hates sin —and that the great desire of his soul is not to commit sin at all. He cannot prevent bad thoughts from entering his mind, or shortcomings, omissions, and defects from appealing in both his words and his actions. He knows that “we all stumble in many ways” (James 3:2). But he can truly say, in the sight of God, that these things cause him grief and sorrow, and that his whole nature does not consent to them.

What would the apostle say about you? Are you born again? Continue reading

Christ’s Compassion to Weak Believers

The Compassion of Christ to Weak Believers
By Samuel Davies, 1724-1761

“A bruised reed shall He not break, and smoking flax shall He not quench.” Matthew 12:20

The Lord Jesus possesses all those virtues in the highest perfection, which render him infinitely amiable, and qualify him for the administration of a just and gracious government over the world. The virtues of mortals, when carried to a high degree, very often run into those vices which have a kind of affinity to them. “Right, too rigid—hardens into wrong.” Strict justice steels itself into excessive severity; and the ‘man’ is lost in the ‘judge’. Goodness and mercy sometimes degenerate into softness and a sentimentalism, inconsistent with justice.

But in Jesus Christ these seemingly opposite virtues center and harmonize in the highest perfection, without running into extremes. Hence he is at once characterized as a Lamb, and as the Lion of the tribe of Judah: a lamb for gentleness towards humble penitents; and a lion to tear his enemies in pieces!

Christ is said to judge and make war, Rev. 19:11; and yet he is called The Prince of Peace; Isaiah 9:6. He will at length show himself dreadful to the workers of iniquity; and the terrors of the Lord are a very proper topic whence to persuade men. But now he is patient towards all men, and he is all love and tenderness towards the vilest penitent. Continue reading