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full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenant-breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful.” (Rom. i. 29–31.) That may seem too awful a condition ever to be
But be sure of this, that there are in our nature the seeds of all this wickedness; and were it not, that a better nature has been joined to ours, were it not for Christ's tabernacling among us, dwelling in us, and working in us through His Spirit, there is nothing to hinder our relapse into this foul mire of ancient heathenism.
Then, let us bless God for our Redemption! Let us thank Him with unfeigned hearts for sending us His Son—“ the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person”- let us bless God that Jesus Christ has come, and that He tarries with us in the world.
We look on Him to-day, a little child in the manger at Bethlehem: but let us also consider What since He has become, What He is still to us men-our Wisdom, our Righteousness, our Sanctification, our Redemption. Let us see, in the event of this day, the carrying out of God's great plan, laid from the foundation of the world, for the renewal of fallen man: nor let us doubt, but that, as the years go on, His purpose will be the more fulfilled; and men, made
again His children by adoption and grace, will grow milder, and better, and more 'gentle, and unselfish—“ until we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.” (Eph. iv. 13.)
Nor should this be all. While we praise and thank God for our deliverance and restoration, by and through the Incarnation—we ought not to forget at what a cost this has been done. To leave His Father's side! to come down from heaven! to be made man! to take up with poverty and privation ! to tread the lowliest path! to be a servant of servants! to taste every bitter cup! to feel hunger and cold, and to have no place where to lay His head ! to endure the contradiction of sinners ! to be jeered and mocked at! to see His own friends -- those whom He had chosen- fall off and forsake Him! to be left alone in the hour of sharpest trial! to bear, His own self our sins !- this is what, knowing it all before, God's blessed Son had to undergo: this was all stretched out in view before Him, when He willingly offered” Himself to His Father—“Lo!
. I come, to do Thy will, O God!”
But His love and His pity bore Him through it all. That we might have life, He was content to die.
Himself a ransom for all !”O let us think of this also to-day!—and if there be a way in which to express our gratitude for such
mercies, oh, let us not be slow now to avail ourselves of it.
Such a way—the best of all ways— will be, the gathering together around the Table of our Lord, and eating of that Bread, and drinking of that Cup, which He Himself has appointed us.
To give reasons why we ought to take this Holy Sacrament— why, on this day more especially seems a cold and unfit conclusion to a sermon on the Lord's Nativity!-- But I cannot close these remarks without first pointing out one such reason: and that, too, a reason which is suggested by the words of the text.
“Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men: and He will dwell with them.”— We have seen how this has been realized in no small degree, already.The Spirit of Christ is the salt that seasons the earth. All that is good, pure, gentle, beneficent, generous, unselfish-all that we most admire in the lives and conduct of our fellows, springs from, and is the result of, His abiding Presence. But think you, brethren, we have yet got all the
, good we might from that Presence? all the good we ought to have got, during the long period He has been with us, and our fathers ? Do we not feel that we fall far short of the Christian mark, that we want more of the mind of our Lord, a greater measure of His Spirit ?
I am sure, if we know ourselves, we must confess this. Then why delay to seek what we so need, where it is to be found? Why go on bewailing our shortcomings, and failures in duty, without applying in the readiest quarter for the remedy? Why continue in weakness, when strength is to be obtained? Why not seek, in partaking of the Sacrament, closer fellowship with our Lord ? Why not prove, in that Holy Communion, how really and effectually Christ has been made man, and has come into the world?
It is not a fancy of my own, brethren: it is the teaching of that English Church to which we belong
-that Jesus Christ, present as He is always, in the assemblies of His worshippers, is especially present, and with most saving power, in the hearts of His faithful communicants.
May many of us find it so to-day! Drawing near with true penitent hearts and lively faith, may we now enter into our Lord's joy! May “we dwell in Christ, and Christ in us !” May our spirits be strengthened and refreshed by the Body and Blood of our Redeemer! May we go home, not a little comforted, when we have rolled off the load of our sins at His mercy-seat, and received anew the assurance that we are pardoned; and with that, the earnest and pledge of an everlasting life with Him in His kingdom!
THE END OF THE YEAR.
Ps. xc. 9.
“ We bring our years to an end, as it were a tale that
HERE, brethren, is a text that needs no explanation. It asserts only what we all already know,a plain, undeniable truth. And yet it is a text we never hear without it calling up serious and religious thoughts—thoughts about the shortness of life; about what will follow when it is over; about the grave; about judgment; about the life life to come.
I say, such thoughts flow instantly into our minds on hearing or reading these words of David, in the 90th Psalm.
Perhaps we are the more disposed to such thoughts from the circumstances under which that psalm is most frequently read in our Church, viz. in the Burial Service. Stand
Standing at such a time with the relics of mortality, as it were, in sight, within sound of the mourners' sobs, this Scripture