An Exhortation: THE THIRD TABLEAndrew Gray (1634-1656) - A Powerful Preacher Who Died at a Young Age
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Lo, durst I say this unto you, the morrow shall be as to-day, and much more in abundance. O let us even change the epicure’s divinity, and let us say, Eat and drink, and say, To-morrow will be as today. O but it were a blessed life to know him ere we go hence and be no more. I think, without too far encroaching upon the mysteries of heaven, there are six questions that a Christian shall propose when he goes first there.
The first question may be this, Is it I? is it I? cursed I, that has lain among the pots, and now am made like the wings of a dove, that are covered with silver, whose feathers are of yellow gold? O expectants of heaven! comfort yourselves with this, the day is coming when you shall mistake yourselves! O what a day will that be, that brings that question, Is it I? Is it I?
The second question, we suppose, may be this, Is it he? is it he? Is it that exalted he? The first sight of Christ will make them say, is it he, whom I saw in prayer and sacraments? Is it he, whom I saw in preaching? O what will your thoughts be, when ye get first that blessed One in your arms, and are made to cry out, now I am rich! Now I am full! Now I am eternally made up? Ye shall then be forced to cry out, Hold thy hand, precious Christ, for I can hold no more.
The third question we suppose, may be this, Is this the communion that I had when I was below? Is this the bread indeed, that blessed bread that is above? It is bread of another grain, and another taste. And I think, if angels were to come down from heaven to this church, and choose for their subject, the taste of that bread that is above, they would close with that in Heb. xi. 32, What shall we say more ? for time would fail us.
The fourth question that we think a Christian shall be put to at his first landing, is, Is it they? is it they? I suppose, that if two that are sitting here, and who know one another most distinctly, were presently transported up to heaven, their first question should be, Is it she, or he that I was sitting with? Is it he that trampled under foot the blood of the Lamb? I think there will be some of the Christian’s time in heaven, spent in interrogations betwixt Christ and him. When I feasted you at such a communion, did I not well? And when I deserted you, did I not well? When I humbled you, did I not well? And when I lifted you up, did I not well? And when I sent you to such a place of my world, did I not well? And so you shall be forced to cry out, and say this to the commendation of him – O precious Christ has done all things well.
The fifth question that we think a Christian should be put to at his first landing, is, Is this the blessedness of the saints? Is this the blessedness of the saints? I know none that go to heaven, but they have some dark discoveries of it before they go there. But, O what a broad sight will that be, when Christ shall come to the gate, and shall say, Welcome friends! What alacrity will there be, when Christ shall take you in his arms! O the raptures of love that will be there! Heard ye never tell of such a thing as this, the courtesy of the city?
The sixth and last question that we think a Christian shall be put to at his first landing, is, Shall it be always so? Shall it be always so? What think ye of eternity, friends? Did you never call time cruel, O cruel time, that hasteth not thy pace, that long eternity might approach? Were you never at that, if it had been in your power to have shortened your sand-glass, you would have given it a touch in the by-going? O but I think, love has little skill of arithmetic. Love cannot count a jot. Love counteth every moment’s absence, eternity; and is not that bad arithmetic? And love counts a thousand years in his presence, but a day; and is not that bad arithmetic? O but there is much in these two words, He and Me.
In the night he was betrayed, he took the cup. I think all that angels can say, is comprehended in these four letters, He and Me. In the night he was betrayed: In the night the Son of God, the second Person of the blessed Trinity, was betrayed, he then had his delights in the habitable parts of the earth – before the world was, he was betrayed; think ye not but that was a blessed word, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? If Christ had not been forsaken, we should have been forsaken to all eternity. We read of a king, that at his death ‘left his heart to his wife, as a precious diamond.’ I shall not approve that practice; but this we may say, Our precious King took his heart from his breast, and did distil it in his blood, and said to his friends, Drink ye all of it. O bless him, O bless him, that ever there was an All in it. This is the cup of the New Testament. I think a soul that eats not by faith, eateth poison: for Christ is the best friend, and the worst foe that ye can have.
I shall close all with these three or four things that are true of precious Christ, and true of ourselves too.
First, It is true of him, O friends, that ye can never commend precious Christ enough, and yourselves too little? Ye should see that, if it were with your blood, ye can never enough commend precious Christ. What can be the reason, that there is not a word in heaven, but one, Hallelujah to him that sits upon the throne? I shall give you these three grounds why there is not a word in heaven, but Hallelujah, Hallelujah.
First, There is much silence in heaven, and little speaking.
Secondly, Much wondering and little talking.
Thirdly, A Christian is enclosed within a circle of wonders, the angels wondering upon the right hand, and believers wondering when they reflect upon themselves; yea, there is not one piece of that city but it is a wonder. O these excellent spirits! these wells! that pleasant work that is there!
The second thing that we would say of Christ and yourselves too, is, I think ye can never enough love precious Christ, and yourselves too little. O for an heart enlarged as the sand upon the sea-shore, to love him. What a thing is it, think ye, to have Christ between your breasts?
The third thing that you may subscribe concerning Christ and yourselves too, is, I can never trust precious Christ too much, and myself too little. I would say this by the way, have ye a necessity? 0, say ye, I have many; I say, there is a name in Christ, to answer all thy necessities. And though this may seem to be a strange assertion, yet we are persuaded that it is true. Have you a necessity that Christ cannot answer? Then give it a name, and give it to Christ, and he will make it out to you.
The fourth thing that ye may say of Christ and yourselves too, is this, I can never think too much of precious Christ, and in some respect, too little of myself. I would ask this question at you, whereto were your first thoughts this day? It was a bad token, if Christ got not your first thoughts, and if he get not your last thoughts this day. Now friends, we are going to part; will we all meet again, think ye? Will we all sit down at the table where we shall never rise again? Now, let him be blessed, and bless his ordinances to you, etc.
Andrew Gray was an exceptionally gifted young preacher. This work is a set of 5 treatises to establish the heart of believers in Christ and give them assurance. Gray is one of the easiest Scottish puritans to read.