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“ world to himself.” Great is the mystery xx. of godliness ! that is, it is grand in all its
parts, magnificent in all its purposes, stupendously above our comprehension at present, and far exceeding our utmost merits and deserts; yet no greater a mystery, as to its possibility, than a thousand natural effects that pass before our eyes. And what is the share then that we have in this great mystery of godliness? Try to withdraw your minds a moment from the concerns of this world; for “ what is this life, it is even
a vapour ?” Consider that you have a wretched body of sin hanging about you, which must be put off, ere you can behold the glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of
and truth. And has dwelt among us! “ He was in the world, “ and the world was made by him, and the “ world knew him 'not : he came to his own, 6 and his own received him not.” Does not this shock your minds ? Are you not tempted to cry out, as the Pharisees did in regard to the Prophets, “ If we had been in “ the days of our fathers, we would not have “ been partakers with them in the blood of
our Saviour.” But beware of condemn- SERM. ing yourselves by such declarations. Christ XX. still dwells among us! At the very
time in which he did actually appear in the flesh, all were not in opposition to him ; some did receive him; and the same Evangelist, who tells us, “ he came to bis own, “ and his own received him not," tells us also, that “ as many as received bim, to them gave
be power to become the sons of God, “ even to them that believe on his name.”. But if
would ask me what is the true import of becoming the sons of God through Christ, and believing on his name, and therefore, what is the testimony we ought to give of our readiness to receive him as our Saviour, I shall reply in the words of the holy Apostle St. Paul. In the 8th chapter of Romans, v. 14, he expressly declares, that “as many
as are led by the spirit, they are the sons of 66 God;" and if this should lead to a further question, namely, what it is to be “ led by the spirit ?" let the same Apostle resolve the question, from the very same chapter already referred to.
66 There is,
SERM. 66 therefore, now no condemnation to them XX.
“ which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not
after the flesh, but after the spirit,” v. 1. “ For if ye live after the flesh ye shall die, but
if ye, through the spirit, do mortify the “ deeds of the body, ye shall live," v. 13. To“ believe in the name of Christ is quite a scriptural expression, but yet so often used, as to be of easy interpretation. It is, in short, to believe in his power and authority, in his divine mission, in his threats and promises; to trust in him for salvation and redemption, to confess him as well in the outward services of our lives, as in the inward dispositions of our hearts; to love, honour, and obey him; and, to sum up all, to fulfil the terms and conditions of our baptismal vow, by manfully fighting under his banner against sin, the world, and the devil. And what have we done in regard to these particulars ? What are we prepared to do? Is this our commemoration of the birth of Christ, a mere Pharisaical ceremony ? or are we really come hither, invited by the good tidings of a Saviour and Deliverer, to lay
down our sins at the foot of his altar, de- SERM. termined within ourselves to make
every effort to merit his redemption, by turning away from our wickednesses, that we may live? Surely we are not come hither, only hypocritically to sanctify his day, heedless, from the moment our devotions are over, how, by the indulgence of our lusts and passions, we “
crucify the Son of “ God afresh, and put him to an open shame." Surely we are not come hither under pretence of commemorating his advent in the flesh, and yet can quit this place, turning our backs upon his altar, and upon those holy mysteries which he instituted and ordained himself as pledges of his love, and for a continual remembrance of his death and passion, to our great and endless comfort ? If our pretended devotions are so lukewarm and indifferent, or rather so base and unworthy, as this, we had better retire from the commemoration of our Lord's Day; for he came to bring no good tidings to such worthless and ungrateful servants. How can we dare to join in the angelic hymn which we adopt in our ser
SERM. vices, if our actions tend neither to the XX.
glory of God, the peace of the world, nor to the establishment of the Covenant of Christ's Gospel, whereby the good-will of God to fallen man is manifested and made
To conclude_You are called, you are invited, to become joint heirs with Christ in the glory of God the Father! Are
you sensible of this ? If you are, have you ever studied the conditions
which your adoption depends ? If you know these conditions, have
your utmost to live up to them? If you have at any time violated them, have you done all in your power to repair the breach ? Have you repented of such wickedness, and prayed to God to forgive you ? Have you been careful to seal and confirm your repentance by an amendment of your lives, and a studious endeavour, by the cultivation of every Christian virtue, to bring forth fruits meet for repentance? Do not go from hence, fancying it to be a day of joy, because it is so denominated, and so marked by the appointed services. Christ, by his own Covenant, is precluded from being the Sa.