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for the gracious aids of the holy Spirit, that, in the language of our excellent Liturgy, we may be enabled "so to follow his doctrine and holy life, that we may truly repent, according to his preaching; and, after his example, constantly speak the truth, boldly rebuke vice, and patiently suffer for the truth's sake, through Jesus Christ our Lord." Amen.
ON THE ADVENT OF CHRIST, AND THE DUTIES
ROM. XIII. 12.
The night is far spent, the day is at hand; let us, therefore, cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.
AMONG the natural propensities of the human mind, there are few more prevalent, than those which lead us to commemorate interesting, and important events, by some significant and appropriate act. Festivals that mark the origin, and perpetuate the memory, of political revolutions, the foundation of empires, the birth of monarchs, the achievements of heroes, and the triumphs of legitimate government over despotism and anarchy, arise from this source.
*This, and the three following Sermons, were preached on the four Sundays in Advent.
The same principle may be recognised in some of the transactions of private life; more especially, in the annual return of the marriagefeast, and the birth-day of a parent, or a child : but it is never seen to such advantage, nor contemplated with so much pleasure, as in the observance of the holy Festivals of religion. These, indeed, with respect both to their nature, and their origin, are so infinitely superior to the celebration of any of the passing events of the world, that we need not wonder they should have always held a very different rank, and character, in the estimation of rational and immortal creatures.
In considering, therefore, the divine institution of the Sabbath, and some of the many glorious events, which mark the history of human redemption, our obedience in commemorating them, with suitable devotion, might be the more regular and chearful, when we are forced to acknowledge, that the law of God, in this respect, is also the law of nature.
But such was the zeal, and fervent piety of the early fathers of the Christian church, that they were not satisfied to keep holy the Fasts and Festivals, as they successively returned ;— they set apart certain seasons, for previous dis
cipline, self-examination, and repentance, that they might be prepared to meet them with becoming seriousness; and that their devotions might be attended with greater sanctification, and improvement. Such, more particularly, was the appointment of Lent, the Vigils, the Ember days, and the holy season of Advent, on which we are now just entered.
The principle of Christian devotion, at pre. sent, indeed, seems not sufficiently vigorous to induce men to perform strictly those services, which have been piously established; much less would it have led them to institute and practise such preparatory duties, as we have just noticed. But much of the ardent zeal, and high devotional spirit, which distinguished the primitive professors of Christianity, must be ascribed to the proximity of the age in which they lived; to that glorious era, when all its miracles of love, its blessings, and its benefits, were first manifested to the world. We have had the happiness of being born in a Christian country; and, at the distance of nearly twothousand years, are treading in the footsteps of our forefathers, believing the doctrines, and admitting the sober discipline, of our established Protestant Church. With us, therefore, for the
most part, all is settled, peaceful, and familiar. But let us, for a moment, direct our attention to the state of the converted Jew, and Gentile, on the first promulgation of the Holy Gospel.
The former now saw, that the rites and ceremonies, the sacrifices and oblations, which engaged so much of his attention, and in which he placed so much confidence, were little more than types of the great atonement for sin by the promised Messiah, and that the whole ceremonial law of Moses was the "mere shadow of good things to come." "The middle wall of partition was broken down," and he was told that "God is no respecter of persons; but in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with Him." The sceptre, he must have known, was departed from Judah; and, on searching the holy Scriptures, it must evidently appear, that Daniel's weeks were about to expire;-the period expressly fixed on by the Almighty for "finishing the transgression, for making reconciliation for iniquity, and bringing in everlasting righteousness." Farther, "the vision and the prophecy were now sealed up ;" and, instead of contemplating, at an immense distance, the power of the great Jehovah, as exerted in the deluge,