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clouds, with power and great glory; And when these things ‡ begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh. And he fpake to them a parable, Behold the Fig-tree, and all the trees; When they now shoot forth, ye fee and know of your own felves that fummer is now nigh at hand. at hand. So likewife ye, when fee these things come to pafs, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand. Verily I fay unto you, § This generation fhall not pafs away, till all be fulfilled: heaven and earth fhall pass away; but my words fhall not pass away.
The third Sunday in Advent.
|| The Collect.
Lord Jefu Chrift, who at thy first coming didst fend thy meffenger to prepare thy way before thee; Grant that the ministers and stewards of thy myfteries, may likewise fo prepare and make ready thy way, by turning the hearts of the difobe
Paraphrafe on the Collect for O Saviour of the World, who, at thy first appearance, didit fend John the Baptift to prepare the People for thy reception by the preaching of Repentance; give Grace to the Minifters of thy Word fo to imitate the. Baptift's example, by labouring to convert Sinners
§ This generation fhall not pass &c. This expreffion plainly fhews that the foregoing prophecy relates to the deftruction of Jerufalem which happened about thirty-eight Years after our Lord's Crucifixion; when, it may be fuppofed that the greatest part of the People were living who were born at the Time of our Saviour's preaching. And tho' many of the circumftances of this Prophecy may feem to be ftrongly defcriptive of the Day of Judgment: yet the figns in the Sun and in the Moon and in the Stars, or as St. Mat
the third Sunday in Advent.
from the paths of Error into the way of Righteoufnefs, that when thou fhalt come again at the last Day to judge the quick and the dead, we may obtain Mercy and Favour from thee, who reigneft with the Father, and the Holy Spirit, one God, through all Eternity.
thew and Mark exprefs it the Sun fhall be darkened, and the Moon fhall not give her Light, and the Stars ball fall from Heaven, thefe are figurative Expreffions which fignified that the Jewish Government fhould be utterly diffolved, as alfo the Son of Man coming in a Cloud with Power and great Glory, fignified the Roman Armies who by the authority of Chrift fhould come to execute punishment on the Jewish Nation.
As John the Baptift was fent to prepare our Saviour's way before him, with a view to his first coming; fo the Minifters of the Gospel are appointed for the fame purpofe, with a regard to his, fecond coming. It becomes them therefore to imitate his example, not only in calling Men to Repentance by their Doctrines; but alfo in giving weight to their Doctrines by a life of ftrict Virtue. And it no lefs becomes the People to pay due attention to their Inftructions, and to pray that God will give fuccefs to their labours.
dient to the wisdom of the just that at thy fecond coming to judge the world, we may be found an acceptable people in thy fight, who liveft and reigneft with the Father and the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.
ET a man fo account of us, as of the minifters of Chrift, and stewards of the myfteries of God. Moreover, it is required in ftewards, that a man be found faithful. But with me it is a very fmall thing, that I fhould be judged of you, or of mans judgment: yea, I judge not my own felf. For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby juftified: but he that judgeth me, is the Lord. * Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifeft the counfels of the hearts; and then shall every man have praise of God. The Gospel. S. Matth. 11. 2..
OW when John had heard in the prifon the works of Christ, he fent two of his difciples, and faid unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another? Jefus anfwered and faid unto them, Go and fhew John again those things which ye do hear and fee: The blind receive their fight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel
• Therefore judge nothing before the Time, &c. i. e. beware of indulging yourfelves in evilfpeaking, or uncharitable cenfures against your Teachers, or the reft of your Chriftian Brethren; because you can neither be proper judges of the principles or ends of their actions. But wait with Humility for that great Day, when the Lord Jefus fhall appear, and call every Man to an account. Then, even the moft fecret actions fhall be laid open, and the inmoft Thoughts and Intentions of the Heart fhall be difclosed; and every Man fhall be rewarded according to his Works.
Now when John had heard, &c. This Meffage from John to enquire whether Jefus was the Meffias or not, does not feem to have proceeded from want of Faith, (because that feems to have been established by
the extraordinary Teftimonies which were given to our Lord at his Baptifm) but from difcontent that Jefus did not exert his power to deliver him from Prifon: probably fuppofing, like the Jews, that the Kingdom of the Meffias would be temporal, and that he would preferve his People from the malice of their Enemies.Thus even good Men are fometimes apt to be diffatiffied with the dealings of Providence, through not confidering for what wife purposes God may fuffer them to be tried and afflicted. For had our Saviour delivered John from Prifon, it would have been fo far from be ing a furtherance to the Gospel, that Men might have been apt to fay, that they two were combined together to advance each others reputation.
preached to them. And bleffed is he whofoever fhall not be offended in me. And as they departed, Jefus began to fay unto the multitudes concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to fee? A reed fhaken with the wind? But what went ye out for to fee? A man clothed in soft raiment ? Behold, they that wear foft clothing are in kings houfes. But what went ye out for to fee? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet. For this is he of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.
The fourth Sunday in Advent.
Lord, raise up (we pray thee) thy power, and come among us, and with great might fuccour us; that whereas, through our fins and wickedness, we are fore let and hindered in running the race that is fet before us, thy bountiful grace and mercy may speedily help and deliver us, through the fatisfaction of thy Son our Lord; to whom with thee and the Holy Ghost be honour and glory, world without end. Amen.
11. Let The Lord is
Ejoice in the Lord alway, and again, I fay, Rejoice.
Paraphrafe on the Collect for
O Lord we beseech thee to grant us thy help and protection that by thy merciful affiftance we may be releafed from the dominion of Sin which is a woeful im
Juffly is the Chriftian Life compared to Race, becaufe we diligently purfue a certain regular courfe, in order to reach the Goal of Happiness. And we are let and hindered in running this Race by the weight of worldly cares and affections, and the Sin which doth most eafily befet us. By this Collect therefore we are taught where to apply for help and deliverance under thefe difficulties.
|| Let your Moderation be known, &c. The Mode ration hereby recommended, is fuch a Meeknefs and
the fourth Sunday in Advent.
calm Compofure of Mind, fuch a Candour and Lenity of Temper, as will difpofe us not too rigorously to exact even our just Right, nor to be impatient in fuffering wrong but to treat even our Enemies with forbearance, where the injuries they do us are of a private nature: and never to let difference of perfuafion deftroy our Chriftian Charity; becaufe the Day is coming, when, our Judge Chrift Jefus fhall make full amends for all our condefcenfions, and reward all our patience.
at hand. † Be careful for nothing: but in every thing by prayer and fupplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which paffeth all understanding, fhall keep your hearts and minds through Chrift Jefus. The Gofpel. S. John 1. 19.
T HIS is the record of John, when the Jews fent Priests and
Levites from Jerufalem, to ask him, Who art thou? And he confeffed and denied not; but confeffed, I am not the Christ. And they asked him what then? Art thou Elias? and he faith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No. Then said they unto him, Who art thou? that we may give an anfwer to them that fent us. What sayest thou of thyself? He faid, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make ftraight the way of the Lord, as faid the prophet Efaias: and they which were fent, were of the Pharifees. And they asked him, and faid unto him, Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Chrift, nor Elias, neither that Prophet? John anfwered them, saying, I baptize with water: but there ftandeth one among you, whom ye know not. He it is who coming after me, is preferred before me, whofe fhoes latchet I am not worthy to unloose. These things were done in Bethabara, beyond Jordan, wher John was baptizing.
The Nativity of our Lord, or the + Birth-day of CHRIST, commonly called Christmas-day.
Becareful for nothing, &c. It is not from hence to be fuppofed that we are to lay afide all care and concern about worldly Things; but only that we muft not indulge fuch an immoderate anxiety as will make us fretful and reftlefs, fo as to be distrustful of Providence, and negligent of the one Thing needful.
This is the Record of John, &c. It is plain from this Meffage of the Jews that at that Time they expected the coming of the Meffiah; and that they were to be Baptized, either by him or fome of his Retinue, according to that Prophecy of Zacharias, chap, xiii. 1.
He faid I am the Voice, &c. This anfwer of the
Baptift according to the prophecy of Ifaiah is in al lufion to a practice amongst the Eastern Kings; who in cafe of any public entry or proceffion were used to fend an Herald or Harbinger to give notice of their coming, and clear the Road before them.
+ As Chrift Jefus was born for us of a pure Virgin, fo muft we alfo be born again from a ftate of Sin and Corruption to a Life of Righteoufness and true Holinefs. And this we are taught is to be effected through the Adoption and Grace, and daily renewing of God's Holy Spirit which he has promised to all that fincerely ask it.
Lmighty God who hast given us thy only begotten Son to take our nature upon him, and as at this time to be born of a pure Virgin; Grant that we being regenerate, and made thy children by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by thy Holy Spirit, through the fame our Lord Jefus Chrift, who liveth and reigneth with thee, and the fame Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.
The Epiftle. Hebr. 1,
NOD, who at fundry times, and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, § hath in these laft days fpoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom alfo he made the worlds. Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his perfon, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our fins, fat down on the right hand of the majesty on high: Being made fo much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. For unto which of the angels faid he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he fhall be to me a Son? And again, * when he bringeth in the firft-begotten into the world, he faith, And let all the angels of God worship him. And of the angels he faith, Who maketh his angels fpirits, and his ministers a flame
Paraphrafe on the Collect for Christmas-Day.
Moft mighty God, who didft caufe thy beloved Son Jefus Chrift to take human Nature up in him, and as at this Seafon to be born of the Virgin Mary; grant that we being born again from Sin to a Life of Righreoufnefs, and through thy favour admitted to, partake
Hath in thefe laft Days, &c. How much reafon have we to praise God, that we have thus the advantage of living under a fo much more perfect Difpenfation than our Forefathers, and enjoy the Bleings of the Gospel!
• When he bringeth in the firft begotten, &c. This
in the privileges of thy Children, may by the help of thy Spirit, be daily reformed in our difpofitions, through the fame Jefus Chrift, who reigneth with thee and the fame Holy Spirit, one God now and for ever.
paffage in particular, as well as this whole Epiftle in general, tends to prove the Divinity and Majetty of our Redeemer; and fhews at once the unspeakable Love of God in our Redemption, and our indifpenfible obligation to ferve and obey fo powerful, fo kind a Benefactor.