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love God, and keep his commandments. Procrastination, even in our worldly affairs, is always foolish, and often dangerous; but, in entering on the discharge of those duties, which regard our eternal welfare, it seems to border on presumption, and to imply all the wilfulness of sin.
When we have been enabled, by God's blessing, and the gracious aids of the Holy Spirit, to vanquish the lusts of the flesh, and to " renew a right mind within us," we may then pursue our Christian task, at such a season as this, with greater prospects of success. Without confining our attention to any single point, we may humbly endeavour to shew ourselves, generally speaking, "worthy of the vocation wherewith we are called." Admitting that our faith is unfeigned, and such as "worketh by love;"admitting, also, that we are not negligent in the discharge of religious duties, both public and private ;--let us studiously cultivate those Christian graces, which ought to pervade our general conduct, and shew that the Holy Gospel has produced some of its genuine fruits in our hearts. Recollecting that our heavenly Father is pleased to call himself " the God of Peace," and that his only-begotten Son was an
nounced to the world as "the Prince of Peace;" -considering, also, that Peace forms an essential part of the apostolic blessing,-that it was the proclamation of angels on the birth of Christ, and that it was his last bequest to his faithful disciples; let us earnestly endeavour, at this holy season, to be at peace with ourselves, and with our brethren. Founded on the sublime doctrines, and blended with nearly all the important duties of the Gospel, Peace would not be a mere passive quality, but a truly virtuous habit of the soul;-not altogether a calm, quiescent effect; but also a practical, operative principle of Christian gentleness and love. As such, it will, when duly cherished, propagate itself throughout the family of the truly pious man, and extend its influence to all around him ; — encountering the proud and envious, the selfish, turbulent, and angry passions of our corrupt nature, with the most beneficial efficacy, and enabling us to " walk," as the apostle exhorts, "with all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love."
The only additional virtue that I shall at present particularly notice, as singularly proper to prepare us for the Coming of our Lord, is
charity towards our fellow-creatures ;—a virtue of such paramount importance in the Gospel of Christ, that the apostle calls it "the fulfilling of the law." Without it, all faith, we are told, is as nothing, and the eloquence even of angels is "as tinkling brass, or a sounding cymbal." We must be careful, therefore, in taking this general view of it, not to restrict its operations within too narrow limits; for its duties, in the wide field of Christian morals, take a very extensive range. It is by no means confined to almsgiving, or to relieving the wants, and mitigating the sufferings of the poor, though these will always be some of its obvious branches ;-it will go much farther-it will make all due allowance for the hardships of their condition, for their prejudices and errors, their ignorance and improvidence; and, also, for the want of that ef fectual discipline, which would teach them to keep the heart with all diligence."
Farther, it will endeavour, by "every good word and work," to prevent evil, as well as to remedy it; and, in certain cases, will always feel more pleasure in concealing the deformity of wickedness and vice, than in exposing its filthiness and contagion to the eyes of the world. Charity indeed hideth a multitude of sins;"
nor is its divine love and compassion limited to any order, or condition of human beings-the light of its benevolence, and of that "Wisdom which is from above," will be directed to the trials and temptations, the failings and infirmities of the rich, as well as the poor ;-to the privations and distresses of the aged, as well as to the excesses of the young;-to the arduous duties of those "who have the rule over us," and who always live as it were in the public eye, as well as to the multiplied complaints and sorrows of the weak and helpless.
Contemplated, therefore, and practised on this enlarged scale, the apostle might well say of true Christian charity, that it "never faileth;" for we may regard it, not merely as a single virtue, but as a general exemplification of the divine morality of the Gospel in human conduct, and as the natural and combined result of its wisdom, humility, and brotherly love.
Allow me to observe, by way of conclusion, that the coming of Christ in the flesh, to enlighten and redeem the world, naturally reminds us of that awful day, when, in the language of our admirable Collect," he shall come again in his glorious Majesty to judge both the quick and dead." How near, or how distant, that
tremendous day may be, when the dead shall be raised, and every one shall be required "to give account of the things done in the body," we know not; nor can we tell how soon the grave will close over us, and "we shall be no more seen." All that we are assured of is, that life is short, and that death is certain. In this gracious concealment, which marks the peculiar ordinances of divine Providence, we may discover the wisdom, and the mercy, of our great Creator. Any thing like distinct knowledge, on these awfully interesting subjects, would have an evident effect in disqualifying us for the duties of this probationary life, and in rendering us incapable of relishing its few enjoyments. Even as it is, the contemplation of an immortal soul, freed from the infirmities of the body, and in the fruition of eternal bliss; or condemned, by the righteous judgments of God, to a state of eternal degradation and misery, inspires such a holy fear of offending,-furnishes such an awful sanction, and such a powerful, permanent, and, one might suppose, irresistible motive to obedience, to virtue, and godliness of life, that all others might be considered as comparatively insignificant and useless. But here, also, we may adore the wisdom and the mercy of our Al