Page images

there is no limit to God's mercy. True, that whosoever confesses, and forsakes his sin, shall find that mercy; but it is not easy, it is not safe to trifle with the long suffering of God; the day of grace may close while you are yet in your sin-almost but not quite persuaded to be a Christian. Now, now is the accepted time, now is the day of Salvation. The night is far spent, the day is at hand, let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Let us walk honestly as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying, “but put ye on ” (and this involves all the rest, and sums up the Apostle's exhortation) “the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh to fulfil the lusts thereof."

And once again, when I speak of readiness for Christ, I must not omit that which is of the very essence of Christian preparation, the having in us the mind that was in Him: some portion of his own blessed spirit, the spirit of brotherly kindness, and of charity. Nothing will make up for lack of these. A decent life, and a religious life, what is it if charity be away? "All our doings,” says the well known collect, "without charity, are nothing worth. Charity is the bond of peace, and of all virtues, without which whosoever liveth is counted dead before God. The rich, respectable, well-living, but uncharitable man, who has increased his store year by year, and yet not parted with it in any fit degree to relieve misery, who has thought it a weakness to give-that man, if he be a Christian, if he acknowledge Christ's word as the truth of God, may well quake as he reads the lines in which the Lord declares that His judgment will be given, “I was an hungered and ye gave me no meat, I was thirsty and ye gave me no drink, I was a stranger, and ye took me not in, naked, and ye clothed me not, sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. İnasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these my brethren, ye did it not to me: and these shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous" (and by the righteous we must understand the charitable—those who administered to their brother's needs) "the righteous shall go away into life everlasting."

Such as it seems to me, much pondering the Scriptures selected for Advent, is the preparation for Death and Judgment to which we are now called by our Church. Such is that condition of readiness to which the text invites us, Be ye also ready, for at such an hour as ye think not the Son of Man cometh. It may be summed up in a very few words. What is required of us is "to have a lively faith in God's mercy through Christ;" to labour diligently in our calling; to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts; to master our besetting sin; to have


fervent charity amongst ourselves, charity that shall not stand in kind words and kind judgments only, but shall be helpful, active, ready to give; shall carry us to the homes of the poor, make us to be the friends of the friendless; bearers, in this world of many sorrows, of our brother's burden. Oh! that God would make us all to lead this, the true Christian life, that He would send the spirit of His Son more and more into our hearts; for then we should be each in his station-as men who wait for our Lord, who are ready at any moment for his appearing, no matter at what hour; "whether at midnight, or at the cock crowing, or in the morning.” The cry, “Behold the bridegroom cometh,” would not strike upon unprepared hearts. There would be no desire to put Him off; no saying, but spare me a little that I may set my house in order. Living the life I have sketched, we should be always ready, nay, even glad, to depart and to be with Him. Even like her whose praise is in the Gospel, the chooser of the “good part," who when it was told her “ the Master is come, and calleth for thee," as soon as she heard it, arose quickly and came unto Him.




ST. MATT. XXI. 37.

“ Last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, they will revorence

my son."

AGAIN to-day we meet in the Church to celebrate the return of our Lord's birthday-His birthday into this earth-for the Lord Jesus Christ did not begin His life to-day; He existed from everlasting: He was with God in Heaven, or ever the earth and the world was made. But to-day He entered into our human lot, to-day He was made flesh, and dwelt among men, Emanuel-God with us.

We keep the day as our great holiday, the most joyous festival of the year, and in the services of our Church we have the expressions of that joy. They are full, you will have noticed, of gladness and triumph. Thus for example, what a note is that which sounds through the lessons from Isaiah, “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light, and they that dwell in the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.” “Thou hast broken the yoke of his burden, and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, as in the day of Midian.” “Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given, and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace."

And again, what joyous words are there concerning Jesus Christ and His coming, which we read in the Psalms selected for this day. “ Thou art fairer than the children of men, full of grace are Thy lips, because God hath blessed Thee for ever;" and again in the 85th Psalm, "Lord, Thou art become gracious unto Thy land : Thou hast turned away the captivity of Jacob: Thou hast forgiven the offence of Thy people, and covered all their sins.” Mercy and truth are met together : righteousness and peace have kissed each other.” And then in the lesson for the evening, III. Titus, we are told of the kindness and love of God our Saviour; how by “His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost, which is shed on

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »