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with overmuch sorrow. To sit with folded hands, calling ourselves sinners, wasting time in unavailing regret, is not the part of a man or of Christian. There is service-active, earnest service—yet to be done for our Lord. In the new year that is now before us, we may yet prove that we have not received the grace of God in vain. There is yet room for showing that our Master is Christ; yet room for exercising ourselves in those good works He has prepared for us to walk in; yet room for the practice of patience, temperance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and charity. Forgetting, then, the things that are behind - forgetting them except so far as they serve for a spur to quicken us on our way — let us press on to the things that are before us. Let the new year be to us (as many as are conscious of having wasted the past) the beginning of new things — with it, let us enter upon a new path.
Have we hitherto been triflers ? let us now be in earnest. Have we till now been selfish ? let us begin to think about, and try to benefit others. Have we in the past been careless, neglectful, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God ? let us now seek Him and His righteousness first and before all things. Have we profaned His sabbath ? let us henceforth keep it holy. Have we come seldom into His courts ? let us for the future seldom be found absent. Have we kept back hitherto from the Lord's
table? now let us draw nigh. Have we forgot
. our prayers, or prayed coldly in the time past? let us now continue instant in prayer.
Have we been little watchful over our tongues ? let us keep them henceforth as with a bridle. Have we it on our conscience, that in time past we have wronged our neighbour, wronged him by our word or by our deed ? let us for the future do no harm to any one — let us try to keep a conscience void of offence both toward God and man- let us try so to live with those around us in all kindness, in all peace, that they may bless God for our help, and find comfort in us in their troubles.
With these remarks, brethren, on the past; with this counsel for our course in the ensuing year, I shall now conclude; asking you to join in thanking Almighty God for His care over us until now ;--for our preservation from numberless dangers; for all the benefits we have enjoyed; for His patience and longsuffering to usward, notwithstanding our many provocations -- and further to join in praying Him of His goodness to have us still in His keeping — to prosper us (as He only can) in our efforts to do better; to guide us over all perils and temptations by His counsel, and after that to receive us into glory.
THE HOLY INNOCENTS.
St. Matt. ii. 16.
“Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men."
CHRISTMAS-Day, which we have so lately kept, is followed by three days, for which our Church has appointed especial services: St. Stephen's Day, St. John's, and the Innocents' Day. The last of these, falling this year on a Sunday, affords a very fit and suitable theme for our meditation. And I shall take occasion to speak to you on a subject that must, I would think, be one of interest to every Christian parent, as well as every Christian child, —the advantages of innocence – how by it God is glorified, Satan disappointed, and heaven furnished with its most blessed inhabitants. And, first, let me shortly remind you of the par
, ticular circumstance which gives its name to this
day:— It is called “the Innocents' Day," to re-
may remark that Rachel, the wife of Jacob,
and mother of two chief patriarchs—Joseph and Benjamin— stands here as the representative of all Jewish mothers, and more especially of the mothers of Bethlehem; near to which (see Gen. xxxv.) was her sepulchre. In Jeremiah she is depicted as weeping for her sons led captive to Babylon; while by St. Matthew she is taken for a type of those afflicted women whose Herod's cruelty had deprived of their infant children.
It was, I have said, Herod's jealousy of Christ that led to the death of those innocents. But that jealousy would not have been exited had not Christ been born. Here, then, we have a remoter cause of what happened. We connect their death with that which is the occasion of our chief joy-with the birth of our Saviour. They were made, as our Collect puts it, “to glorify God by their deaths.” It was their privilege to be gathered in the freshness of innocence into the garner of God - very babes and sucklings, they were not too young to be the instruments of their Redeemer's praise; to lay down their lives, as it were, on behalf of their Saviour. The sword which slew them, sought to slay Jesus. They may be accounted to have perished in His cause — and because they so perished, He has them now, we may be quite sure, in His safe keeping. We know little, and can know little, of our after state—we know not with