Sing to the LORD, O you His saints, and give thanks to His holy name.
I. GLORIOUSLY INDEPENDENT. The holiness of the creature is derived. It is not by will, or by effort, or by discipline as something that has been wrought out by himself; it is of God. But the holiness of Christ was his own; it was essential to his being; it was the outshining of the glory that he had from eternity (Isaiah 6:3; John 12:41).
II. ABSOLUTELY PERFECT. Thank God, there have been, and there are, good men upon earth; but none of them is perfect. None is good from the first; none is wholly and always good. The holiness of the best is not only derived, but imperfect. This is the confession of every one that is godly when coming before God. But the holiness of Christ was perfect. Nothing could be added to it - nothing higher could be conceived. In this respect be stands alone, the first, and the last, and the only one, in human likeness, who had kept the Law perfectly, and who could say, in the face of enemies and of friends, "Which of you convinceth me of sin?" (John 8:46).
III. INVIOLABLY PURE. Some may seem pure because they have not been tried. But Christ was subjected to the severest trials and temptations; yet his holy soul was never stained by sin. He was born without sin (Luke 1:35); he lived in an evil world without sin (1 John 3:5); he died without sin (Hebrews 9:14). "Such an High Priest became us:" (Hebrews 7:26).
IV. ETERNALLY BEAUTIFUL. We read of "the beauty of holiness," and it is the supreme and perfect beauty of character.
1. Challenges our admiration.
2. Inspires our confidence.
3. Commands our love.
Christ's holiness is not against us, but for us. It does not repel, but attract; it shows us what we ought to be, and thus humbles us under a sense of our sins; it shows us what we may become, and thus raises our hopes to heaven. It is because of his holiness he is fitted to be our Saviour. He not only perfectly represents God to man, but also man to God. Never was it more needful than in our day to remember Christ's holiness. Men are ready enough to speak of Christ's truth, Christ's goodness, Christ's self-sacrifice, and so forth; but few speak of his holiness. But in the Old Testament and the New holiness has a first place. Our Lord addressed God as "Holy Father" (John 17:11). He has taught us that without holiness no one shall see God; and he, and he alone, reveals to us the way whereby we who are sinners may cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, and perfect holiness in God's fear. It is as we become holy that we grow up into Christ, to the stature of the perfect man. It is as we are holy that we can best serve Christ here, and sing his praise for ever (1 Peter 1:15; 1 Peter 2:5; Revelation 4:8; Revelation 14:3). - W.F.
Sing unto the Lord, O ye saints of His.
I. THE PECULIAR FITNESS OF THE EXHORTATION TO OUR PRESENT ENGAGEMENT. You are to come to the table where you remember your Saviour's death, where you are to feed upon the memorials of His passion. Come thither with a heart prepared for song. "Oh!" says one, "I thought I had better come with tears." Yes, come with tears; they will be very sweet to Christ if you let them fall upon His feet to wash them with your penitential streams. "Oh, sir!" says another, "I thought that surely I must come with deep solemnity." So you must, woe be unto you if you come in any other way; but do you know of any divorce between solemnity and joy? I do not.
1. We celebrate a work accomplished. Talk of the labours of Hercules? What are these compared with the toil of the Christ of God? Talk of the conquests of Caesar? What are these beside the victories of Christ, who hath led captivity captive, and received gifts for men?
2. We celebrate a result realized, at least in a measure. I know that the bread and the wine are symbols of the flesh and the blood, but I know also that they are something more; they are not only symbols of the things themselves, but also of that which comes out of those things. The very setting-up of the communion-table, and the gathering of men and women to it that they may spiritually feast upon their dying Lord, is a reason for thankfulness.
3. There is this reason why some of us should sing unto the Lord, for here is a blessing enjoyed.
4. This communion reminds us of a hope revived. "Till He come." Every hour brings Him nearer.
II. THE SPECIAL SUITABILITY OF THE SUBJECT FOR OUR MEDITATION. "Give thanks at the remembrance of His holiness."
1. Think of Divine holiness vindicated. God is just, yet the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus. We are going to commune with a God who, even that He might commune with us, and indulge His love to His chosen, would not break His own law, or do that which, on the strictest judgment, could be regarded as unjust. I do rejoice in that unquestionable fact, and my heart is glad as I remind you of it.
2. Let us give thanks at the remembrance of Christ's holiness declared. It is a happy occupation to look upon the perfect character of our dear Redeemer.
3. I think also that it will be quite congruous with our present engagement if we think of God's holiness as the guarantee of our salvation. It is upon the righteousness of God that we rest our hope, after all. If God can lie, then not one promise of His is to be trusted. If God can do an unrighteous thing, then His covenant may be flung to the winds. But God is not unrighteous to forget the work of His dear Son, and "God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love."
4. At this table we may give thanks that the holiness of God is our mark, the object for us to aim at — aye, and that to which we shall one day attain. He does not begin to make a vessel unto honour, and then cease His work; but He perfects that which He begins.
III. The text is very appropriate for the communion, because of THE SUITABILITY OF THE PEOPLE of whom it speaks, for they are the same people who ought to come to this table.
1. Those who come to this table should be saints. A "saint" is a holy person, one who aims at being holy, one who is set apart for the service and glory of God. These are the people who are to give thanks at the remembrance of God's holiness, because God has made them holy, too. They are partakers of the Divine nature, having escaped the corruption which is in the world through lust, and so they are saints, and they are the people who ought to come to the table of the Lord.
2. They are not only saints, but they are "saints of His." That is to say, they are God's saints; they are saints of His making, for they were great sinners till He made saints of them; and they are saints of His keeping, for they would soon be sinners again if He did not keep them. They are saints enlisted in His service, sworn to serve under His banner, to be faithful to Him unto death. They are "saints of His," that is, they are saints whom He purchased with His precious blood, and whom He means to have as His for ever because He has bought them with so great a price. They are saints who shall be with Him in that day when He shall appear with all His holy ones.
3. They are God's thankful saints. The communion is a eucharist, a giving of thanks from beginning to end.
4. They should be singing saints. People express their praise and delight spontaneously concerning far less things than the joys of God, and the privileges of His people; therefore, "Sing unto the Lord, O ye saints of His, and give thanks at the remembrance of His holiness."
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
(H. W. Beecher.)
At the remembrance of His holiness.
I. THE HOLINESS OF GOD. It affirms that in God all good is present and all evil absent. He calls His saints on earth holy, but they are so only by comparison with their fellow-men: and the holiness of the angels is not only limited, but, as all creature holiness, it is derived, it has its origin not in themselves, but in God. He alone is holy in Himself. And now consider —
II. THE EFFECT THIS WONDERFUL HOLINESS SHOULD HAVE UPON US. We are called upon "to sing unto the Lord and to give thanks." Now this implies —
1. A happy confidence in the Lord's mercy. For none can ever thank the Lord for His holiness till he is able to take a firm stand in His mercy. His holiness looked at alone is appalling to us. We can scarcely bear to hear of it. But when we are in Christ, resting on Him, then we can look calmly upon His holiness. Embraced in His mercy, the soul feels as Noah, shut in the ark — safe, though destruction be all around.
2. A delightful admiration of God's holiness. God delights in it Himself. Nearly fifty times He calls Himself "the Holy One." And the angels and saints in heaven glory in it. See the trisagion, "Holy, holy, holy," etc. And we are called upon to share in this delight. The communion service bids us say, "Therefore with angels and archangels," etc. Happy are we if we can understand such language and really join in it.
3. A grateful sense of his obligations to the Divine holiness. What delight to turn from the dreary sinfulness of men, to the holiness of God. The thought of it is as an oasis in the wilderness. And it sheds a radiance on all His other attributes. What would any of them be apart from this? And what holiness we have is an emanation from His, and, because of His, will be perfected. Therefore let us live in remembrance of it.
(C. Bradley, M. A.)
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