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man should bruise the serpent's head." A long series of gracious intimations and expressive figures followed and confirmed this pledge of mercy. The blood of Abel, which cried from the ground for vengeance, prefigured "that blood which speaketh better things." The ark which preserved the family of Noah; the rainbow in the heavens; the covenant with Abraham; the miracles of the desert; the ark of the covenant; the peculiar people;-all these continue and establish the promise.
Although prophecy breaks forth with greater splendour after the time of David, it is of earlier origin. It spoke during the life of Adam. In the days of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, it announced Him "in whom all the nations of the earth shall be blessed." But, by the last of these patriarchs (Jacob), did the voice of prophecy speak in its loftiest tone: "The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come;" and it is remarkable, that a separate jurisdiction did depart from all the other tribes several hundred years before Christ's advent, but Judah retained it, in a measure, even during the captivity in Babylon, and never completely lost it until Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans, and the whole Jewish polity was dissolved. Moses was the word next vouchsafed, and thus did it speak of the future Saviour: "The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren. Unto him shall ye hearken." Of whom could these words be uttered, save of Him concerning whom God spake from heaven, saying, "This is my beloved Son: hear ye him." Many of the Psalms of David breathe throughout an evangelical anticipation of the Messiah, expressed in the language of poetry, of strong affection, of thanksgiving, and of pious desire. The second Psalm calls up the majestic presence of Christ himself; the kings and rulers of the earth leagued against him -God from his throne in heaven deriding them, and, before men and angels, addressing to the Saviour those memorable words, "Thou art my Son!" David, with the eye of faith, saw Him who was at once his descendant and his Lord. He beheld Him as a sovereign king in his majesty riding prosperously, because of truth, and meekness, and righteousness. He worshipped Him as the God whose throne was for ever and ever; as the King of Glory, whose people should be willing in the day of his power. He rejoiced in spirit to behold Him send forth the Gospel to the Gentiles, and call together that great congregation in which all the kindreds of the nations should assemble. He saw and worshipped Him who led captivity captive, and
sat down for ever at the right hand of God. The field of prophecy extends and opens brighter and yet brighter prospects as we advance in the examination. Isaiah declared the person of whom Christ was to be born. After the restoration of the Jews from Babylon, Haggai predicted that the Messiah should come while the second temple was standing; and by his presence in it, should add greater glory to it than the former temple, with all its magnificence and peculiar appendages, possessed. Micah foretold the place of his nativity: "Out of Bethlehem shall he come forth, that shall rule my people Israel." But that which marked the period with most precision was the prophecy of Daniel, which declared that in seventy weeks" (of years), or four hundred and ninety years from the command given by Artaxerxes to rebuild Jerusalem, the "Messiah should be cut off" (ix. 24, 25). This determined the time with such accuracy, that the expectation of Messiah's advent was very general among the Jews when our Lord made his appearance upon earth. And then it was, when the fulness of the time appointed in the divine counsels arrived, that God sent his Son into the world,his Son, born of a woman, and under the covenant of the Mosaic law.
(2.) Let us further contemplate the design for which the Son of God "took our nature upon him," viz. to redeem us from the yoke and curse of the law, that he might make us the children of God, and finally exalt us to everlasting life. "Herein (says the apostle John) is love; not that we loved God, but that he" freely and gratuitously "loved us, and gave his Son to be the propitiation for our sins." Had we always and undeviatingly executed his commands, without transgressing at any time his most sacred will, yet how far should we still have been from deserving such a mercy! That He who was "the brightness of his Father's glory, and the express image of his person," should eclipse all that splendour by taking our nature upon himself; should submit to have no form or comeliness, nothing of beauty, that we should desire him; and to level himself with us sinners, in order that he might exalt us with himself to honour and happiness! That when we were rebellious and contumacious, and in a state of hostility against him—that he should then look with an eye of mercy upon us, who were only fit objects of his incensed justice-is a miracle of such amazing goodness as can only be acknowledged by devout and silent admiration. How would a condemned criminal be astonished at the unaccountable mercy of his sovereign, whom he had attempted to dethrone or assassinate, if he should condescend to put himself in the culprit's place, and bear
the punishment justly due to his treason, that he might rescue him from the danger he had incurred! Yet greater even than this, and higher than the loftiest comparison can reach, was the ineffable love of our compassionate Redeemer; for we were traitors and rebels in the highest degree, and stood condemned to undergo the penalty of our offences. When, lo, he, whom we had injured in the most sensible part, arrested the execution of it, and voluntarily bore the whole weight of his Father's indignation, that he might thereby procure our acquittal, and reinstate us in the favour of our offended God! O let our thoughts dwell continually upon this unparalleled tenderness of our Lord and Saviour, that so we may be able "to comprehend with all saints, what is the breadth and length, and to know the surpassing love of Christ." Yet
(3.) Let us "rejoice in the Lord," as we are exhorted in the epistle for this day. Rejoice in the Lord alway;" endeavour to maintain an habitual joy in Christ, and in the hopes and privileges which we derive from him, at all times and in all circumstances, whether prosperous or adverse. Let us rejoice in the Lord the Saviour, the strength, the God of our salvation. Rejoice in him who, having poured out his soul unto death for the redemption of man, is now exalted on the right hand of the Majesty on high, to be a Prince as well as a Saviour, to give repentance unto his people for the forgiveness of their sins.
And in order that we may thus "rejoice in the Lord, and joy in the God of our salvation," let us strive to keep a conscience void of offence towards God and man ;' that we may be able to say with the apostle, "Our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world." For this purpose we must endeavour to preserve that holy calmness and equanimity, which may enable us to rejoice in God, and to enjoy him, whatever may be our state or condition in life; and for this purpose is the direction given, which immediately follows our text. "Let moderation," your evenness of temper and gentleness, "be known unto all men;" for "the Lord is at hand" to assist you in maintaining it. In the meantime, whatever difficulties or trials may arise, be anxiously "careful for nothing; but in every thing" that occurs, in every condition, and on every occasion, "by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God." Live above this world, and have your conversation in heaven. If
riches increase, set not your hearts upon them; if pleasures, learn to esteem them as nothing in competition with the joys of eternity; if sorrows befall you, consider whence they come, and to what they tend, that your heavenly Father designs them for your good, and that your sorrow will not only have an end, but that it will terminate in endless joy. (4.) Finally, let us beseech the Holy Spirit of grace to cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by his divine inspiration, that we may have a right judgment in all things, and evermore rejoice in his holy comfort who is called the Comforter, because we can have no true comfort but by him. While in him and through him we may have the greatest comfort of which our nature is capable; comfort in God himself, the fountain of all comfort, the Author and Giver of everlasting joy.
"Blessed are the people," O Lord! who can thus rejoice in thee! They shall walk in the light of thy countenance; their delight shall be daily in thy name; and in thy righteousness shall they make their boast." They live in heaven while they are upon earth: and while the children of this world are immersed in unhallowed cares, in despicable pursuits, and self-created miseries, these children of the light and of the day, now— even now-participate (may the God of all mercy grant you, brethren, also to participate) in those glorious and exalted pleasures, which the blessed angels and glorified saints enjoy in the kingdom of their Father; evermore lauding and magnifying the Lord God omnipotent, evermore rejoicing in his presence, evermore singing praises unto his "name, which is great, and wonderful, and holy."
To whom, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, let us devoutly ascribe all adoration and thanksgiving. Amen.
LITURGICAL HINTS.-No. IV. "Understandest thou what thou readest?"-Acts, viii. 30.
FOURTH SUNDAY IN ADVENT.
THE Latin Collect for this Sunday, which is the basis of that in our Prayer-Book, runs thus-" Raise up, we pray thee, O Lord, thy power, and come, and with great might succour us; that, by the help of thy grace, that which our sins hinder, the bounty of thy propitiation may speed forward; who livest and reignest with God the Father." This Latin Collect is of great antiquity, being found in the Sacramentary of Gregory, the Missals of Salisbury and Ambrose, the Sacramentary of Gelasius, and the MS. Sacramentary of Leofric.*
The last COLLECT was a prayer that the ministers of religion might effectually prepare the way for Christ's second coming, by the preaching of God's word: in this collect, the Church prays that the people may have grace to obey that ministry. The pursuit of eternal life is likened to a race-an enterprise of conflict and danger. He who runs a race with any hope of success, must lay aside every part of his dress which would entangle him, or cause him to trip. Such impediments in the Christian race are our sins and wickedness." By these we are "sore let," that is to say, severely hindered in our path; and nothing but God's "bountiful grace" can come in to our aid, and cheer us onward "to the mark for the prize of our high calling." This can "keep us from falling;" and for this we pray, that it may be powerfully raised up in the midst of us, and afford a mighty succour in all our dangers and necessities. We further entreat that this prayer may find acceptance through the satisfaction, or propitiatory merits, of God's dear Son.
The EPISTLE exhorts us to "rejoice in God always:" it is both the privilege and duty of Christians to do this, at all times and in all conditions, even when we suffer for him, or are afflicted by him. Our “ deration" also is to be conspicuous; the calm endurance of trial, and a chastised indifference to outward things. The coming of the Lord is the argument for this patience. We are forbidden to have anxious care for any thing; but by prayer to "cast all our care" upon God;-such a state of mind shall be blessed with the possession of that "peace of God which passeth all understanding."
The GOSPEL of the former Sunday contained Christ's testimony to John the Baptist: this day's gospel contains John's testimony to Christ. John disowns himself to be the Christ, and will not allow the people to be deceived by an idea that he was greater than he
Sacramentary, the latter the Lectionary. The Sacramentary comprised the collects, and the canon or prayers that never varied. The Lectionary consisted of lessons from the Old and New Testaments, corresponding to our law, epistles, and gospels. The majority of the collects occur, in the Latin language, in the ancient mistals of Salisbury, York, Hereford, &e., and they are also in the Sacramentaries of the English Church written before the Norman conquest. We meet them in all the ancient MSS. of Gregory's Sacramentary as used in the Roman, Italian, and other western Churches; and thence shew that they formed part of that Sacramentary when it was introduced into England by Augustin, first Archbishop of Canterbury; and, in consequence, that they have been used by the Church in this country for above twelve hundred years. Many of the collects, however, are much more ancient than the time of Gregory, A.D. 590; they occur in the Sacramentary of Gelasius, Patriarch of Rome, A. D. 494; and some may be traced to the Leonian Sacramentary used in the Roman Church about A.D. 483." Besides the above, Palmer mentions "a manuscript Sacramentary of the Anglo-Saxon Church, written probably about the 9th or 10th century, and given by Leofric, bishop of Exeter, to his church before the Norman conquest. The collects traced to the Sacramentary of Leo are much more ancient than the time of Gelasius, and may be referred to the end of the 4th, or the earlier part of the 5th century. The Sacramentary or Missal of Ambrose (or more properly of the Church of Milan), and the Sacramentaries of the ancient Gallican Church, which were in use before the Emperor Charlemagne introduced the Roman liturgy into France," are other sources to which the above ritualist refers many of the collects of the Church of England. Let the readers of our "Liturgical Hints," take the trouble, from time to time, to turn to the above note, and they will see the origin and the age of most of the collects throughout the year.
really was. Many excellent things had been spoken of John, all of which he might have quoted to prove his dignity; but he "describes himself only in the character of one crying in the wilderness,' the lowest of all the characters by which the ancient prophets had represented him." He affords us an example how we should be found at all times, "in honour preferring one another." The mysterious dignity of Christ is pointed out in these words, "whose shoes' latchet. I am not worthy to unloose;" expressing John's sense of his unworthiness to perform even the meanest act of service for Jesus. Let us learn from this in what light we should regard the Saviour. If so great a man as John accounted himself unworthy of the honour of being near Christ, how unworthy should we esteem ourselves: while, if Christ be indeed precious to us, we shall esteem one day in his courts better than a thousand" of sin or frivolity, and shall reckon his service, even the most despised instances of it, to be a high honour.
ST. THOMAS's Day, 21st December.
ST. THOMAS was also called Didymus: the meaning of the name is "a twin:" Thomas being the Syriac, Didymus the Greek word for “twin." The Scriptures tell us nothing of his lineage: but it is most probable he was a Galilean; he was by trade a fisherman, and partner with Peter in that occupation. He shewed great zeal for his Master: for when the other disciples would have kept Jesus from returning to Judea, lest the Jews should stone him (John, xi. 8), St. Thomas avowed his readiness to go and die there, v. 16. And though his faith was sluggish after our Lord's crucifixion, yet when he was at last persuaded, he bore a noble testimony to the reality of Christ's resurrection, and also to his deity. After Christ's ascension, St. Thomas preached in Parthia; and it has been said he went preaching as far as India. St. Chrysostom seems to imply that this apostle preached in Ethiopia, for he says, " and Thomas has whitened the Ethiopians." Theodoret considers that he was the instrument of converting the Persians and Medes, and says that he preached among the Indian Brachmans. The oldest church in Malabar, belonging to the Syrian Christians, still in India, is dedicated to the apostle Thomas. He is said to have been martyred in India, at the instigation of the Brachmans, the Indian priests, who could not endure his preaching of the Gospel. The late Bishop Heber thought that the place where he was murdered was Meilapoor, near Madras. The year of his martyrdom was A. D. 73.
In the COLLECT for this day we acknowledge, that the hesitating faith of Thomas was permitted by God for the establishing the faith of the Church in aftertime; for to Thomas's doubts we owe one of the most convincing proofs of that capital article of our faith, Christ's resurrection from the dead. Having this in addition to many other ample evidences, we have good reason to pray that we may perfectly, and without all doubt, believe in our Lord Jesus Christ." Be not faithless, but believing," was the reproof of Jesus to his hesitating servant. With such accumulated evidence as we possess, may our faith in God's sight never be similarly reproved.
The EPISTLE seems to have no peculiar reference
to the history of St. Thomas; but it may be supposed to have a regard to his memorable confession of Christ, 'My Lord and my God," when it reminds Christians that they are built upon a foundation, the "chief corner-stone" of which is Jesus Christ. The oneness of the Church (we are taught) consists in these five particulars; first, in the unity of the Head, which is Christ; next, in the unity of the "Spirit;" thirdly, in having "one faith;" fourthly, in the uniting bond of "baptism;" and, lastly, in the unity of the foundation, which is Christ the head-stone of the corner. Let us strive to exemplify this unity with one mind and one mouth glorifying God.
The GOSPEL consists of the narrative of that occasion when St. Thomas exhibited his doubt of Christ's resurrection; and when our Lord condescended to give him a convincing proof of its reality. "The evangelists, in delivering to us the history of the Gospel, have so strictly adhered to truth, that they declare even the failings of themselves and of their brethren. The cowardice of the disciples, who, in the season of need, all forsook Jesus and fled;' the fall of Peter, who denied the very Friend for whom he had declared himself ready to die; and the doubts of Thomas, who once proposed to go with his Master unto death: these circumstances are recorded with a minute exactness which not only stamps the record itself as true, but tends, in a striking manner, to confirm the other parts of sacred history, and thereby to confirm also our faith in it. Why, except for truth's sake, should men hand down facts which manifestly tend to their own disgrace? Hence our Church concludes that Almighty God did suffer his holy Apostle Thomas to be doubtful of his Son's resurrection, for the more confirmation of the faith.' Her conclusion is just. The reason, indeed, upon which it is founded holds good universally. In proportion to the extent of doubt and difficulty against which any fact is established, so is its certainty assured to us: truth, like the sun, then seeming to shine brightest when emerging from the dark cloud which shadowed it. The apostle Thomas persisted in not believing till he could judge for himself, upon the most satisfactory testimony: 'unless I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.' The testimony was given; and the same decisive manner which marked the suspension of his faith marked its confirmation: his answer, abrupt, short, and comprehensive, shews that the testimony he received was irresistible: he no longer hesitated; but believed, nothing doubting. In giving utterance to his changed feelings, amazement, admiration, joy, and gratitude, were all united in the memorable burst of admiration, My Lord and my God!' Thus we learn that credulity is no part of faith. Christianity, far from requiring the sacrifice of our reason, demands a just exercise of it. The language of the Gospel is still the same-Handle me, and see.' The doctrine of Christ challengeth inquiry. No man ever seriously set himself to an ingenuous examination of the holy Scriptures, but he rose from the inquiry with a conviction that they could have been revealed by the God of truth alone. None ever applied to them in the time of trouble without finding the promised support and comfort. None ever trusted in their
sanctifying influence, and trusted in vain. heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life.' It is, however, when labouring under the severer trials of life, that the professing disciple of Christ too often exhibits, in his own conduct, the doubting heart of Thomas. Possibly this may be the very case with my reader. Sorrows encompass you, or enemies oppress you, and you complain with the Psalmist they of malice persecute me, without any offence or fault of me, O God.' You doubt for a moment, and say with the children of Israel at Meribah, Is the Lord amongst us, or not?' You require additional testimony to your faith. Behold then the Saviour! view him in his word! view him as there pictured. See the print of the nails in his handssee his wounded side; and be not faithless, but believing. He who once endured those nails, and submitted to that wound for your sake- He will never forsake you. If, in a moment of agony, you are surprised into the desponding lamentation of David, 'Wherefore hidest thou thy face, and forgettest our affliction, and our oppression?' let faith bear up your sinking spirit. Adopt the more worthy confession, This is my infirmity.' Resolve to strengthen your faith by recalling past mercies: I will remember thy wonders of old.' You will at length exclaim in gratitude and joy, Who is so great a God as our God?'"'*
In one point of view the example of the doubting apostle may be held out to our imitation. He was faithless only till he could assure himself of the grounds of faith. The risen Saviour-risen, not yet to glory, but to the usual appearance of a being of this worldwas to him so great a mystery, that he resolved to examine into it himself. Let us be persuaded to do likewise. "Great is the mystery of godliness." Justification by the Son of God, and sanctification by the Spirit of God, are truths which the faithful in Christ Jesuz will ever joyfully declare. But let us not be satisfied with hearing the good tidings from others. Let us inquire and scrutinise for ourselves. Let us search diligently the Holy Scriptures: in them we shall find him of whom "all the prophets have spoken; who united in his own person the crucified victim, and the risen Saviour; the despised teacher, and the glorified Redeemer; the man of sorrows, and the everlasting God. Above all, let us wait for him in his service and holy ordinances. There, if any where, while the world is shut out, and our whole souls are wrapt in holy meditation upon the mysteries of redemption— there the eye of faith may still see the Saviour in the midst, speaking peace to his people;' while with Thomas every heart shall believe, and every tongue confess of the crucified and wounded Jesus, My Lord and my God."”'
THE SECOND ADVENT OF OUR LORD.-There is no subject more frequently or copiously spoken of in the holy Scriptures than the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ-and no wonder, for it is the crowning subject of all, towards which every intermediate subject leads. It is the final chorus, in which all the harmony of prophecy combines. It is the ocean, into
* James on the Collects.
which all the streams of revelation empty themselves as their great home. Sin and misery till he comes; righteousness and happiness at his coming! Groanings and agony till he comes; songs of triumph at his coming! Faint glimmerings of hope, amidst surrounding and prevailing darkness, and desolation, and despair, till he comes; everlasting light, and life, and joy, at his coming! These are the cadences which continually fall upon our ear from the sacred harp. My brethren, with what marvellous variety of feelings do we await this crisis! To every dishonest mind, to every plausible hypocrite, to every flatterer and backbiter, to every self-righteous formalist, every self-deceived antinomian, to every unbeliever of every class and every character, the glorious appearing of Jesus Christ will prove the thunder-clap of deatheternal death. But to the children of God, to the believer in Jesus crucified and risen from the dead, to the self-condemning penitent humbly weeping at the foot of the cross, and reposing in peace upon the precious blood of sprinkling; to every new creature quickened by the Holy Ghost, groaning after deliverance from this body of death, and thirsting for nearer conformity to the character of God's dear Son; to every such child of God who has fallen asleep in Jesus since the beginning of the world, and to every such child of God who shall then be alive upon the earth, the glorious appearing of Jesus Christ will be life and joy; deliverance from every danger, every sorrow, every sin; the birth-day of admission to an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away; unmingled happiness, because unmingled holiness; perfect conformity to the image of Jesus. The Lord hasten it, in his time !-Rev. H. M'Neile.
I ENVY not their nearer view,
Who, star-led all their journey through,
A Saviour went to meet;
Nor theirs, who from the plains of light
He came; and I have felt the pow'r
An advent to my breast;
I fear not thou art welcome, Lord;
REV. J. EAST.
THE INCREDULITY OF ST. THOMAS.
(For December 21st.)
THERE was a seal upon the stone,
A guard around the tomb; The spurned and trembling band alone Bewailed their Master's doom. They deemed the barriers of the grave Had closed o'er him who came to save; And thoughts of grief and gloom Were darkening, while depressed, dismayed, Silent they wept, or weeping prayed.
He died-for justice claimed her due
The risen Lord of heaven!
With mute surprise he gazed;
He stood then bitter words, and brief, Betrayed the heart of unbelief.
Days past, and still the frequent groan
Convulsed his labouring breast; When round him light celestial shone, And Jesus stood confessed.
MENTAL FEVER.Of the causes of disease, anxiety of mind is one of the most frequent and important. When we walk the streets of large commercial towns, we can scarcely fail to remark the hurried gait and care-worn features of the well-dressed passengers. Some young men, indeed, we may see, with countenances possessing natural cheerfulness and colour; but these appearances rarely survive the age of manhood. Cuvier closes an eloquent description of animal existence and change, with the conclusion that "life is in a state of force." What he would urge is a moral. Civilisation has changed our character of mind as well as body. We live in a state of unnatural excitement; unnatural, because it is partial, irregular, and excessive. Our muscles waste for want of action; our nervous system is worn out by excess of action.- Thackrah on the Effects of Arts, &c.
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