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pose, namely, that of inward purity, and SERM. a sincere reformation of their lives: but XIX. you know the meaning of repentance-you know that it is essential to your salvationyou know that repentance, without a purpose of amendment in future, is vain and ineffectual; and that such purposes are equally vain, if not followed up by a sincere endeavour to correct what is amiss.
you will not be forwarned, then surely your condemnation will be just. But let. me entreat you to remember the great and glorious events we are now about to commemorate. The blessed Saviour and Redeemer of the world is again set before you, as entering on the theatre of mortal life: "Comfort ye, comfort ye, my people, "saith the Lord." Christianity cries out to you in a voice powerful as that of the holy Baptist," Make straight the way of the "Lord!" Turn away from your evil deeds, and repent, ere ye presume to meet him face to face, to greet him on his nativity. Wash you, make you clean, put away the evil of your doings," that they offend him not when he appeareth.
"Cease to do evil, learn to do good, seek
judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the "fatherless, plead for the widow!" then will the day of the Lord rise upon you with joy and consolation; then will you be prepared to meet him at his altar, where, commemorating, as it were, by anticipation, what you all know he came into the world to suffer for your sakes, you may receive remission of your sins. Though they should be "now as scarlet,
they shall become white as snow; though "they be red like crimson, they shall be as "wool." There is always some danger of superstition in the use of external ceremonies, and therefore our Church did well when she abolished many, which, in common with the Church of Rome, she once admitted into her services. But if no such danger was to be apprehended, of substituting the outward form for the inward and spiritual design, it might be made a question whether we had not so far laid them aside as to stand in some need now of such symbols, to awaken our attention more immediately to the particular
objects of our several services, as they oc- SERM. cur in succession. I should be the last to XIX recommend the re-admission of such customs as the wisdom of our reformers determined them to relinquish, (for indeed some of the forms and customs of the Church of Rome have been known to lead to the saddest corruptions of Christianity); but by way of impressing your minds more strongly with a sense of the preparation requisite for the fit commemoration of the birth of Christ, I shall just notice, that in the Church of Rome, the season of Advent was always observed with a mixture of joy and sorrow-joy that the season of redemption was at hand, and sorrow for the cause and necessity of it. Hymns of glory, suited to the higher festivals, were at this time omitted; the more magnificent ornaments of their churches and ministers laid aside, and in some places a strict fast observed. But the fourth Sunday in Advent (the day we now commemorate) was kept with great joy and festivity, the accomplishment of the prophecies being so near at end. Here, then, we see the preparation
SERM. paration for Christ's coming was at least XIX. rightly understood. Sorrow and repen
tance for past sins, were held to be necessary to fit men for a worthy reception of their Redeemer. The customs were not amiss in themselves, had they been allowed to take their proper effect; but it is to be feared that, in too many instances, like the vain pretences of the Pharisees, the outward ceremony was all that was attended to. Let us, however, not be in haste to judge others; let us rather consider our own condition. I would hope that we may not have passed through the former part of this holy season, without such serious meditation and reflection, such efforts of amendment, and such testimonies of sincere repentance, as may entitle us now to put off our robes of sorrow and contrition, and prepare to meet our Lord with uninterrupted joy and gladness; that, with the blessed Mary, when the day cometh on which the Lord of Life condescended to take our nature upon him, our souls may be fit to " magnify the Lord," and "our "spirits to rejoice in God our Saviour!"
FOR CHRISTMAS DAY.
1 TIM. III. 16.
And without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the
we are not only told by the Apostle St. Paul, that " God was manifest in
the flesh," but it is acknowledged to be, by the same Apostle himself, "a great mystery;" that is, a most stupendous event far exceeding our present powers of comprehension. God was manifest in the flesh, in the person of our Saviour Jesus Christ. By that extraordinary method of taking our nature upon him, he came into the world to save sinners; he came to set right, and to redeem, what in the person of our great progenitor, Adam, had, through