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ISAIAH xlix. 13.
Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains; for the Lord hath comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted.
THE celebration of Anniversaries has a great and unquestionable effect upon the mind, whether in reviving all the freshness of gratitude and love for our friends and benefactors, when time in its course brings back the period for commemorating an event attended with important benefits; or in opening anew the wounds of sorrowing affection, when it recalls us to the full sense of our bereavement in the loss or absence of those most dear to us.
This, My Brethren, is no day for sorrowit is a day of festival, an anniversary of joy.
* Preached on Christmas Day.
It was as on this day that God laid aside the sword of justice, in order to display the treasures of his mercy-as on this day, he gave us his Son. To judge from appearances, the return of this joyful solemnity affects us deeply: we have interrupted every other business; the multitude are assembled in the house of God, to magnify their Deliverer; our voices have raised the song of triumph, and our souls have united in praising the Lord.-God grant, that it may not have been respect to human ordinances, or a regard to mere decency, that brought us to this place; but that a heart-felt sense of the immensity of the Divine benefits, and grateful love towards Him who hath comforted and redeemed his people, by sending his Son into the world, may have led us, as of old it led the shepherds and the Magi, to the cradle of Jesus Christ!
Present together in thought before the Divine Child, and pondering with Mary upon all the wonders of a period prolific in miracle, our meditations naturally turn toward the blessings conferred upon us by our Saviour.
It will be necessary, however, to confine ourselves to a portion of this boundless theme; we propose, therefore, to direct your minds to three particulars in the Religion of ChristCHRISTIANITY IS AN EMINENTLY SOCIAL INSTITUTION; IT IS HONOURABLE, AND CONSOLATORY, TO MAN AS AN INDIVIDUAL:
a threefold subject is here presented of rejoicing for ourselves, and of benediction on the Lord and his Anointed.
We too collect with delight round that lowly cradle, the sacred depository of the object of so many prayers and hopes. It is a sight which melts our hearts with gratitude, and exalts them to our great Benefactor. As long as we have our abode on earth-in joy or in grieffull of youth and strength, or bowed towards the grave-in places where the name of Christ is venerated, or wandering in distant lands, whose inhabitants yet know it not-the annual return of this day will to us be dear and hallowed; and because the lips of men are unable worthily to celebrate the goodness of the Lord, we will borrow the language of the Holy Ghost, and, in
compliance with the prophet's invitation, will
I. If there are persons who have not hesitated to assert that a community of Christians, faithfully following the commandments of their Master, would include in its bosom the germ of its destruction, and therefore could not exist,we know that they have been contradicted, and successfully combated, by profound philosophical thinkers, and by writers whose eloquent pages vehemently protest against this groundless position. Let us not blindly submit to the dictates of authority; but, true to the grand principle of the Reformation, let us, with a view to our own conviction, examine the question for ourselves.
Christianity, we are prepared to maintain, is an institution of an eminently social nature: it was revealed by its Author in order to unite men in the bonds of mutual kindness; like the instructions of a wise parent, its object is
to teach its children to love one another; it spares neither precept, example, nor injunction, to make them concur in the promotion of their common happiness; in a word, it is the protector of every relation of social life.-This is the point we undertake to establish.
What is the principle most vitally necessary to the security and happiness of men in society? It is Order, in its establishment and maintenance; the co-ordination of every part of the social edifice, relatively to the whole of individuals relatively to families, of families relatively to the particular society of which they form part, of each particular society relatively to the great community of human kind; and, lastly, the subordination of the human race to God, the eternal source of all law. Now, to the production of this principle of order and equilibrium, Christianity, with surprising wisdom, concurs. As long as there are men on earth, it is manifest there will be differences between them: could you reduce them all to the same level every morning, each evening would find some heads raised above others. These social inequalities