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is going to be rent from thee, because he is already come?
Ah! my brethren, how widely different are the ideas which this holy man of God entertained ! Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace. Wherefore now ? Because now I know, from the accomplishment of thy promises, what was before a matter of presumption, only, namely, that my soul is not a mere modification of matter, and a result of the arrangement, and of the harmony of my organs : because I am now convinced, that this soul of mine, on being separated from the body, shall not become a forlorn wanderer in a strange and solitary land: because now I no longer entertain any doubt respecting my own immortality, and because I hold in my arms him who has purchased it, and who bestows it upon me: because to see Jesus Christ, and to die, is the highest blessedness that can be conferred on a mortal creature.
Permit me, my beloved brethren, to repeat my words, and with them to finish this discourse: To see Jesus Christ, and to die, is the highest blessedness that can be conferred on a mortal creature. Enjoy, my friends, enjoy the felicity which the Saviour bestows upon you, during the course of a transitory life : gratify, as you this day turn a wondering eye to the manger in which this divine Saviour lies, and as you celebrate the memory of his incarnation, gratify the taste which you have for the great and the marvellous : and cry out with an enraptured apostle, Without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness : God was manifest in the flesh, i Tim. iii. 16. Gratify, as in the retirement of the closet you devote yourselves to the study of the doctrine of this Jesus, gratify the desire you feel to learn and to know: draw constant supplies of light and truth from those treasures of
wisdom and knowledge, Col. ii. 3. which he opens to you in his gospel. Gratify, as you receive, next Lord's day, the effusions of his love, gratify the propensity which naturally disposes you to love him. Let every power of the soul expand on hearing the tender expressions which he addresses to you in the sacrament of the supper: Come unto me, all ye that labor, and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest, Matt. xi. 28. Behold I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come into him, and will sup with him, and he with me, Rev. iii. 20.
But, after all, it is not during the course of a transitory life, at least it is not while you consider death as still remote, that you are capable of knowing the pleasure there is in being a Christian. No, it is neither in the retirement of the closet, nor seated at the table of the Lord; it is not in your solemn feasts, that you are capable of relishing the sweetness which is to be found in beholding Jesus Christ, in embracing him, in believing on him : it is in the last moments of life ; it is when stretched on a death-bed. Till then, your passions will sometimes call it in question, whether the man of the world do not actually enjoy more happiness than the Christian ; whether the commerce of society, whether spectacles, play, the splendor of a court, do not confer more real pleasure than that which flows from communion with Jesus Christ.
But when you shall find yourselves, like Simeon, in a state of universal dereliction; but when you shall behold nothing around you save unavailing solicitudes, save ineffectual medicines, save fruitless tears, then you will know what the religion of Jesus Christ is; then, my brethren, you will taste the delight of being a Christian ; then you will feel all the powerful attraction of that peace which is mentioned in the text: Lord now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation.
May these ideas of the Christian religion attach us inviolably unto it. Let us, with Simeon, embrace the Saviour of the world ; let us, with the wise men of the East, present unto him our gold, and frankincense, and myrrh : or rather, let us present unto him hearts penetrated with admiration, with gratitude, with love. Yes, divine Infant, desire of all nations, glory of Israel, Saviour of mankind; divine Infant, whom so many oracles have predicted, whom so many prophets have announced, whom so many types have represented, and whose radiant day so many kings and prophets were desirous to behuld: my faith pierces through all those veils which overspread and conceal thee: I behold, in the person of a creature feeble and humbled, my God, and my Redeemer: I contemplate thee not only as born a few days ago at Bethlehem of Judah, but subsisting before the mountains were brought forth, before the earth was formed, even from everlasting to everlasting, Psalm xc. 2. I behold thee not only lying in a manger, wrapped in swaddling clothes, but I behold thee seated on a throne of glory, highly exalted, having a name that is above every name, adored by angels and seraphims, encircled with rays of divinity.
Every power of my understanding shall henceforth be devoted to the knowledge of thee: it shall be my constant endeavor to please thee, my supreme delight to possess thee; and it shall be my. noblest ambition to prostrate myself one day before thy throne, and to sing with the innumerable multitudes of the redeemed of every nation, and people, and tongue: Unto him who sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, be honor and glory, and power, for ever and ever. Amen.
CHRIST'S VALEDICTORY ADDRESS TO HIS
John xiv. xv. xvi.
* Let not your heart be troubled : ye believe in God, believe
also in me, &C.
E begin, this morning, with explaining to
Saviour's passion. If the knowledge of the Christian be all reducible to this, to know Jesus Christ, and him crucified, i Cor. ii. 2. it is impossible to fix your eyes too frequently on the mysteries of the cross. Very few discourses, accordingly, are addressed to you, in which these great objects are not brought forward to view. Nay more, it is the pleasure of this church, that, at certain stated seasons, the doctrine of the cross, to the exclusion of every other, should be the subject of our preaching : that all the circumstances attending it should be detailed, and every view of it displayed. But whatever powers may be applied to the execution
* Those who wish to derive benefit from the following discourse, must previously peruse, with attention, the xiv. XV. and xvi. chapters of John's gospel.