Page images


incumbrances, and your infirmities, and your sins; because you have cast all your care on him who careth for you; because you have committed to him that invaluable deposit which he alone is able to keep against that day; because you are feeling or desire to feel that

you are in him, and there is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus? O let us think how many, during the year of which this service is the last, have passed into eternity, who never saw and never knew what it most concerned them to know and to see, when the light that dawns on them will be that of terror, and the knowledge that dawns on them will be that of condemnation; men whose last breath would have expired in the unavailing wish that they had never been born! But many we trust, and some we know, are now mingling with that goodly company who are now hymning the praises of their Redeemer ; some who were wont to worship within these walls; some of whom we may say that we trust they found rest in the

mercy a crucified Redeemer, for they sought it carefully with tears; but others of whom we may declare that they departed in peace and hope—in peace that was achieved for them by the blood of Christ, and hope which was the foretaste of immortality and glory. Would to God it were ever thus, that you might be all partakers of like precious faith, and thus become followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises; who once saw through a glass darkly, but now face to face; who once knew but in part, but now know even as they are known.

Having then such promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord.” Let us walk as strangers and pilgrims on earth, confessing plainly by the tenor of our conversation, that we are seeking a better country, that is, an heavenly; declaring by our actions that, conscious we have here no continuing city, we are seeking one to come. Let us infer from what we now see through a glass darkly of the exceeding preciousness of Christ, what we shall hereafter see face to face; and from the measure of the knowledge which we possess in part, let us learn to form some estimate of that which will be disclosed in the day when we shall know even as also we are known. What, let us ask ourselves, do we think of our former state of darkness, out of which we have been brought, into such marvellous light? And what do we think of the sufficiency of the sacrifice of Christ in its relation to our own unworthiness? And what do we daily feel concerning the effectual influences of the Holy Spirit in the performance of our daily duties, in the endurance of our daily trials, in the supply of our daily wants ? What is the principle, and what is the purpose, and what is the desire, and the concern, with which we commence each successive day? Is it our principle that we are not our own, but that we are bought with a price? And is it our purpose to glorify God in our bodies and our souls which are His? And is it our desire and our concern that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ?

And, in asking this, we do not--you know we do not-require that any individual should be taken out of what is the sphere of life in which God has placed him, or detach him from the performance of those duties which God has assigned to him therein. God may be as acceptably served, and as eminently glorified, in the place of traffic or labour as in the house of prayer; and business conducted in a Christian spirit, and on Christian principles, shall rise to the throne of heaven with incense as welcome and as grateful as the aspirations of the heart in the sanctuary of God, or in the secret chamber which is hallowed by the devotion of the soul. The true believer puts on the Lord Jesus Christ, and with him, go wherever he will, his garment is never changed. With whomsoever he may sojourn, or whatever he may do, he will surely be marked out from the children of the world, first, by the absence of what is evil, and then by the presence of what is good. And as he advances in the path of life, he will grow in grace ; as he ascends higher in the moral firmament, he will throw a brighter light around; and the more he sees of Christ, though through a glass darkly, the more of the image of Christ will be reflected in his own life; and the more he is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him who created him, the more will he be renewed in holiness after the example of Him who redeemed him. His life will be a perpetual homily, an abiding witness for Christ. The persuasive eloquence of a conscience void of offence towards God and towards man, which speaks in shewing mercy, and in following peace, in working righteousness, and in uttering truth, will not be without effect on those who are around him; and he may expect the high privilege, the exceeding great reward, of beholding those for whom he is interested, and over whom he possesses influence, turned from the error of their way, and insensibly led to turn to the God of their salvation. O how amiable, how endearing the distinction, to be made like to him, that illustrious man of God, whose very presence preserved two hundred threescore and sixteen souls from sinking unprepared into eternity-him to whom it was said 6 God hath given thee all that sail with thee!" Ah! brethren, if God should give us one as he gave to Paul so many, how would all our exertions, all the sacrifices, for the gospel's sake, be immeasurably overpaid !

Consider yourselves as solemnly charged, then, beloved brethren, not only by man that must die, and the son of man that is but as grass—not only by one who has the excellency of the power and of the treasure in an earthen vessel—but by a voice from departing friends, yea, rather, by a voice from the glorified spirits in heaven—consider yourselves charged this day to reflect more of what you have seen, and to practise more of what you have known. Commence the new year on the principle that every true believer is a minister of Christ, and that he who belongs to a royal priesthood is bound to make full proof of his ministry, for the Saviour and his brethren's sake. Consider yourselves bound to do all the good you can in the neighbourhood wherein God's providence has placed you: and, whether by persuasion, by influence, or by example ; whether by exhorting to what is right, or dissuading from what is wicked; whether you can influence your own family and friends to regard the one thing needful, and to choose the better part; or whether you can enlighten the ignorant in the knowledge of Christ, or visit the fatherless and the widows in their affliction; or whether you can win those who are living in the neglect of religious ordinances, to forsake no longer the assembling of themselves together ; or whether you can persuade the sabbath-vendor' or the sabbath-purchaser to desist from polluting the holy day of God; or whether you can work on the intemperate to renounce that deadly vice which, under the specious disguise of indulgence, undermines the most vigorous constitution, and opens the access to every vice that tempts and degrades the soul-all that makes misery man's companion through life, and despair his portion in the grave; accustom yourselves to regard every opportunity of this kind as a call of duty. You are indeed to “ seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness ;” but not to seek them for yourselves alone: and it is mercifully ordered that we should advance in usefulness as we grow in


and that our love to the brethren shall be as certainly the measure as it is the evidence of Christ's love to us. 66 The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself.”

“ Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as you know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” Abound in acts of mercy, and ye shall receive the abundance of mercy; abound in prayers, and they shall return ten fold into yourbosom ; abound in charity, and the love of God shall be copiously shed forth within yourselves ; abound in Christian sympathy, rejoicing with them that rejoice, and weeping with them that weep, and you shall receive manifold from your own High Priest, who is touched with the feeling of your infirmities, and who will do for you what you strive to do for others who are members of his body and the purchase of his blood. What you attempt for then he will ensure for you ; what you now see darkly through a glass, he will reveal to the eye of faith without a cloud; what you know but partially he will teach perfectly. You now resemble him but indistinctly ; he will make you like him entirely and truly: you now behold him afar off'; the time is coming when you shall see him nigh, and see him as he is.



me, she

You cannot read the brief record of occurrences following immediately on the fall, without perceiving that such a change had actually passed on the dispositions of Adam ; and that this father of our race had parted with the principles of innocence, as well as provoked the penalties of guilt. The excuse which he makes to God for having eaten the forbidden fruit, involves almost a direct and deliberate blasphemy. “« The woman whom thou gavest to be with

gave me of the tree, and I did eat.” I pass over the paltry and disingenuous evasion by which he endeavours to shift the blame on Eve; although this demonstrates that lofty integrity no longer bore sway within him.

within him. “ The woman whom thou gavest to be with me.” He tacitly insinuates that God himself was the author of evil: he traces his disobedience to the gift of the Creator; implying, if not directly affirming, that had that gift been withheld, or been more capable of resisting temptation, he should not himself have incurred displeasure: and thus his representation was strongly tinctured with blasphemy. This stands forth as sufficient witness, that Adam had become a corrupted as well as a condemned creature: he was condemned, for he had broken a positive command; he was corrupted, for he had arraigned the proceedings of a perfect being. Thus we must take the consequences of the fall under a two-fold aspect: we have a share in the guilt of Adam; and we have a share in the degeneracy of Adam: there is penalty hanging over us on the one hand, and there is pollution attaching to us on the other. And when you demand of me to explain all that from which God drove out the human race, I must open before you two distinct and separate store-houses. In the first there shall be the glories of immortality, and the crowns and palms of accepted creatures: and from all the enjoyments of the eternal inheritance, I tell you God drove out the man. In the second there shall be holy dispositions, and pure affections, and lofty and noble desires; and from all the array of feelings which belong to unsullied innocence, I tell you that God drove out the man. Man, in the strictest and most unlimited sense, was driven out from God: punishment pursued him, and the power of seeking God was lost. So that it was not a temporary alienation it was not the banishment of a day, or a year, or a century: for even had the penalty incurred been a finite penalty, still, inasmuch as there was now an obliquity in the will, and a corruption in the

« PreviousContinue »