Page images

mercy and goodness of God, dispose at will of his justice and indignation. I advert to that fatal curiosity, which, with the genius of a neighbouring country, has imported a wildness of imagination, that despises sober restraint; a fictitious morality, that degrades re ligion; and abandoned principles, that pollute common life.

I advert to those dramatic representations, which, by bestowing on vice the attractions of virtue, and through the recommendatory splendour of some popular qualities, bribe the integrity of the judgment, in its decision on the worst of conduct and the basest of characters. And when (to resume our metaphor) these are branches of the same fatal tree, which has been planted on the ruins of kingdoms, and watered with the blood of their inhabitants, is it a tree to be desired to make one wise? Is it a time to see it naturalized in our English soil? Is it a time to be silent, when so many thoughtless beings are aiding its growth, and grafting its pernicious scions on the fairest shoots in the christian vineyard.

In this state of things, (for it ill becomes us to look back on the calamities which the iniquity of man has ever produced, without any self-application; or as servants of God, to arraign the impiety and enormities of others, without any national charge, or accusation against ourselves) in this state of things-not drawn, I trust, in the spirit of censure; not trespassing even beyond the bounds of common observation-what have we to oppose to the delusions of this world, but the testimony of God, the evidences afforded to the unalterable design and purpose of its great Creator? What stop can we hope to put to the frantic experiments and wild machinations of human policy, but the voice of Him who to the passions, as well as to the elements, can say, Peace, be still? who, from the beginning hath made bare his arm in the eyes of all nations, and travelling in the greatness of his strength, hath trodden down the people in his anger; who, arrayed in the splendour of that glory which He had with the Fathér before the foundation of the world, wielding the arms, and invested with all the titles, of Omnipotence, is represented as weigh ing the earth in his balance, as upholding the cause of righteousness, and vindicating by his judgments, and protecting by his mercy, the honour due unto his name. The sound is

gone forth into all nations, thy salvation is near; and like the shepherds of old, we, upon whom the glory of the Lord has shone, are now travelling onwards in faith to see this thing which is come to pass; to learn the mystery which the Lord hath made known to us, of God in Christ reconciling the world to himself, of 'Christ in the Father, and the Father in Him. It is the Lord, who in the garden gave comfort to the guilty progenitors in whom we fell; it is the Angel of the old covenant whom we are now going meet, as the messenger of the new; it is the JEHOVAH of Israel, as we trust to prove, whom we are approaching to worship as the incarnate Son of God; it is the Lord of Hosts, whom we are to welcome as the Prince of Peace, and who, at the head of his faithful Israel, redeemed out of all kindreds, tongues, and nations, is again to appear as their everlasting Deliverer, the King of Glory; it is, in short, Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and today, and for ever, who came to visit us in great humility; not the son of Joseph and Mary, but

He, whom all the Angels of God were to worship; not a Prophet sent from God, but the everlasting Counsellor; not a pre-existent spirit descended from Heaven to proclaim the truths of the Gospel, but the eternal Mediator, for ever promised to, and for ever looked for, by the faithful; in whom they waited for that glorious consummation foretold in him, behold thy salvation cometh; in whom they expected that great and atoning Saviour, whose consoling voice had uttered, Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth.

The evidences of this important truth we mean to make, during the ensuing Sundays of Advent, the subject of our meditation; to concentrate every name by which our Redeemer has been called, every appellation by which He has been known to his people; every relation in which He stands to them, in that comprehensive and endearing one, the Lord our right

That these evidences may be found, and that they will be produced against the scoffers of his word and the debasers of his character, we have many an apostolic affirmamation, many a declaration of inspired history,


[ocr errors]

What is the language of St. Peter? Repent ye, therefore, says he, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come, from the presence of the Lord. And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you, whom the heaven must receive, until the time of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of his prophets, since the world began. In the same strain, and with the same decision as to the nature and object of faith, the Apostle also, in this Epistle to the Hebrews, sets forth the efficacy of it as a principle of religious action, and illustrates it in many cases of pure, unshaken, suffering, and triumphant faith, from Abel (the son of Adam) to the time of the Maccabees. And after a continued series of facts, deduced in regular order, both before the law and under the law, concludes with this direct assurance- All having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise, God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us might not be made perfect ; that is, they relied on the promise, but this promise was given onlyin, and thro’the seed, that was to come, which seed, the Apostle says, was Christ.

« PreviousContinue »