this contemplation add to the virtues and affections of youth-what firmness will it bestow among the increasing cares and temptations of advancing life,--and in what peace will it make our declining years go down-if, like Simeon and Anna, we continue to “ wait for the consolation of Israel, and depart not from the Temple, but serve God night and day !"

To us who this day were assembled around the Altar of our Saviour, did He not once more seem to be presented before us in the Temple? And can we be too frequent in this holy service, or in continuing to renew at that Altar, our vows of faith and obedience? The world, we are well aware, is ever around us, and we are but too constantly misled by its allurements, and swayed by its spirit. What, then, more salutary, whenever an opportunity is afforded us, than to fly to that sacred shelter, which, if we approach in humility, gratitude, and faith, we shall indeed find ourselves in the presence, and under the protecting spirit of our Saviour, and our God !

Yet, in the present auspicious season, even the World assumes a character of holiness, and of more genuine happiness. There is an union felt to subsist of “ glory to God in the High

est,” with “ peace and good will to men.” The salutations of friends and companions seem to point beyond the fleeting and transitory hour, and there is a sentiment of deeper affection which seems to carry in it the foretaste of immortality.-Go, then, my brethren, and now quitting the Altar, open your hearts without reserve to every kind and domestic wish and congratulation, and feel amid the dearness of the ties which call them forth, what is the true character of your Faith! Feel that it has descended to add force to all these affections by giving them an expansion which looks far beyond mortal things; and if, in these hours of hope and joy, some shades of sorrow are intermingled, and memories arise of those who once brightened with their love the social circles from which they are now withdrawn; yet, let not any desponding gloom darken the picture, while the Gospel speaks to you of the family of Heaven and earth as but one family, over which one equal Father presides, and the members of which, whether they stay here, or depart to higher scenes, are alike occupying the place appointed them, and are all called to the same blessed “ peace,” and through one Saviour, to the same great “salvation !"



1 CORINTHIANS, xiii. 2. Though I have the gifts of prophecy, and

understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith so that I could remove mountains, and have no charity, I am nothing

In the instruction of this day, my brethren, we are made acquainted with the leading object of the Gospel. We are taught, that this Divine Institution was designed for training the minds of men upon earth into the character and resemblance of the blessed spirits in Heaven; and that the principle of love, which is there diffused without stop or failure, is here, too, intended to be the rule of our conduct, and the chief source of our happinesss. In the midst of the infirmities and corruptions of human nature, there will always, indeed, be many opposing circumstances to prevent the full influence of this Heavenly spirit upon earth ; but the Gospel opens to us a clear conception of its nature, and affords us the most powerful motives for its cultivation, so that whatever may be the obstacles to its prevalence, either from the vices of our own minds, or from those of society around us, we yet cannot but perceive the excellence of the principle itself, and be prompted to make some efforts to attain it. Perhaps these would be still more steady and persevering, if we were not often misled, in the outset, by false notions of Religion ; if we had not acquired the habit, in some measure, of looking upon piety as of a kind quite separate from our other affections, and such as can only be cultivated in retirement and by itself—as depending upon “mysteries,” and a species of “knowledge,” which men in general feel as if they were not called upon to understand and as requiring an exertion of “ faith,” which, however sublime or admirable, yet seems not always within the reach of ordinary minds. The Apostle, in the text, seeks to remove this common error. He af. firms, that the elevated Knowledge, or the ardent Faith, which spring from Religious medita. tion, are utterly insignificant, if they are disjoined from an active spirit of Charity—if they terminate chiefly in opinions and emotions, and do not spread themselves abroad over human life, and warm the hearts of men to mutual kindness and sympathy. In a word, Religion is throughout represented as being a great deal more of a social than of a secret and retired character and as having much less to do with meditation than with action. Its principles are . few, and such as he who runs may read ; but its application to the conduct of life, and to all the relations in which we are placed in society, is incessant and universal.

* Preached on Quinquagesima Sunday.


I. In the first place, the leading principles of Religious truth are few, and at all times before

We cannot open our eyes without having the wisdom and the goodness of God presented to us in the constitution of Nature'; we cannot engage in any study without innumerable re

« VorigeDoorgaan »