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EZRA viii. 22.

"The hand of our God is upon all them for good that seek him; but his power and his wrath is against all them that forsake him."

So spake Ezra, the "ready Scribe in the law of Moses," who "had prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments." And the occasion was his return from Babylon to Jerusalem with the gracious commission of Artaxerxes, "to beautify the house of the Lord." And he was now on his

way, and had gathered his companions together "to the river that runneth to Ahava," "and then," says he, "I proclaimed a fast, that we might afflict ourselves before our God, to seek of him a right way for us and for our little ones, and for all our substance. For I was ashamed to require of the king a band of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy in the way; because we had spoken unto the king, saying, The hand of our God is upon all them for good that seek him; but his power and his wrath is against all them that forsake him. So we fasted and besought our God for this; and he was entreated of us." Such was the occasion, and they who had put their trust in the Lord were not confounded, for he adds, "the hand of our God was upon us, and he delivered us from the hand of the enemy, and of such as lay in wait by the way. And we came to Jerusalem."

And enough this for the history, to which you may refer yourselves, and read at length the Book of Ezra, wherein you will find the portraiture of a good man intent upon doing his duty, and so serving faithfully his God.

Meanwhile, my purpose is from the words of the text, which are true to the end of time, to call your attention to, the Holy Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, under the full assurance that the health and prosperity of a man's soul is just in accordance as "the hand of the Lord is upon him" by reason of his obedience in this matter. As his obedience is to his Lord's command, "This do in remembrance of me," so is mercy extended to each man, and so is he strengthened to go on his way like Ezra, and in his journey towards the Jerusalem which is above, to contend with and to overcome the dangers which beset him. As he doth help himself, as Ezra did, so is God his "helper and

defender." It is the voice of wisdom, let us hear her cry! "Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars; she hath killed her beasts; she hath mingled her wine; she hath also furnished her table. She hath sent forth her maidens; she crieth upon the highest places of the city, Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither; as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him, Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine which I have mingled. Forsake the foolish and live; and go in the way of understanding."

I. And now, first, touching Sacraments generally necessary to salvation,—that is, where they may be had.—In the Christian Church there are but two ordained by Christ Himself, and these are Baptism and the Lord's Supper; and they are "not only badges or tokens of Christian men's profession, but rather they be certain sure witnesses, and effectual signs of grace, and God's good will

towards us, by the which He doth work invisibly in us, and doth not only quicken, but also strengthen and confirm our faith in Him." So to say, when we are regenerate in Baptism our faith is quickened, is ready to burst into life when reason dawns and we are rightly catechised; and in the Lord's Supper it is strengthened and confirmed. And hence all thoughtful Christians connect these holy rites together and are thankful. "So many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death;" and when we come to his Holy Table we do so, "For the continual remembrance of the sacrifice of the death of Christ, and of the benefits which we receive thereby." His death is uppermost in the true communicant's mind, even that "meritorious cross and passion, whereby alone we obtain remission of our sins, and are made partakers of the kingdom of heaven."

Would to God, Christian Brethren,

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