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tracted by the want of this, what labour and sorrow in removing it by repentance, and recovering the lost happy temper of their childhood !
No greater charity, therefore, to our poor children, than such endeavours as these ; and which, together with devout addresses to Almighty God for his blessing and assisting grace, may, in all probability, in some measure at least, have a lasting good effect: and the generations to come have reason to rise up, and call their pious parents, pastors, and instructors, blessed.
And we beseech thee, “ O Lord of all power and might, who art the author and giver of all good
things; graft in our hearts the love of thy name, “ increase in us true religion, nourish us with all
goodness, and of thy great mercy keep us in the “ same, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."
u Collect for the Seventh Sunday after Trinity.
OF TRUE DEVOTION.
Luke ii. 25–27.
And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name
was Simeon ; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel : and the Holy
Ghost was upon him. And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he
should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ. And he came by the Spirit into the temple : and the parents
brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom
of the laro. THE law here referred to is that in the xiiith of Exodus, ver. 12, where all the firstborn males, both of man and beast, are commanded to be set apart unto the Lord : the beasts (those that were clean, according to the estimation of that law) for sacrifice; the men, to attend upon the service of the sanctuary. And this was in remembrance of the angel's slaying all the firstborn of the Egyptians, the night before God's bringing his people out of that bondage, but passing over them and all that belonged to them.
But when afterwards it pleased God to take the Levites instead of the firstborna, and sanctify them to himself for those sacred offices, the firstborn a Numb. iii. 12, 13.
b Numb. viii. 18, 19.
were at a month old to be presented to the Lord, and then redeemed with an offering of five shekels d, and the money to be given to Aaron and his sons. In obedience to this law, the blessed Jesus was brought to the temple, presented, and redeemed ; and then was there made, though never before, an offering worthy the majesty of the Most High: and to which, when our offerings of love and gratitude, obedience and charity, and the dedication of our whole selves to his service, are united by faith, and presented with sincere devotion, though worthless in themselves, yet they will receive such a value, by virtue of that union, as will render them well-pleasing to God, and procure his gracious acceptance.
But besides this presentation and redemption of her Son, the blessed Virgin, in obedience to another law of Moses e, though for no other reason, (for so perfectly holy a conception and birth as that of Jesus could leave no impurity behind it,) was to offer for her own purification; and not being able to bring a lambf, which was too chargeable an offering for her low circumstances, she brought a pair of turtledoves 8, than which no fitter emblem of herself and her holy Son; he perfectly innocent and pure from every stain, and she as near it as was possible for mere human nature to be : he likewise designed for the greatest and most acceptable sinoffering, for which one of the birds was intended ; and her grateful heart was a whole burnt-offering, like the other.
Now, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was · Numb. xvii. 14, 16.
d Numb. iii. 47, 48. e Lev. xii. 6. | Ver. 8.
& Luke ii. 24.
just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him.
The consolation of Israel which he waited for was the coming of the Messias, of whom the most pious and thoughtful among the Jews were then in longing expectation; and by the Holy Ghost being upon him, the next verse will tell us, is meant his having a revelation that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ.
And when the parents of the child Jesus had brought him into the temple to do for him after the custom of the law, this good old man was led thither by some secret impulse of the Spirit; and when he saw this wondrous child, with heavenly raptures of devotion he took him in his arms, and said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in , , ing to thy word: for mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all people, &c. He gratefully acknowledged that God had then made good his promise to him, and therefore desired to live no longer here; but having had his Saviour in his arms, and embraced Him in whom all the nations of the world were to be blessed, he could think of nothing worthy of his future hopes, but the enjoyment of the holy, blessed God in heaven. He could relish nothing here below after such ravishments as these ; and since, in the course of nature, he could not reasonably expect to live to see the glorious acts of this divine infant, he begged to be dismissed into eternity; there to join in his praises with that seraphic choir, and be let into the knowledge of his mighty works for the children of men; and be ready, with the rest of the heavenly
host, to welcome his return to those blessed regions with songs of victory and triumph.
And were our hearts affected as they should be, with the transcendent excellency of spiritual objects, the charming beauty of God and religion, and our blissful future state, we should not be so fond as we are of the inconsiderable trifles here ; but they would appear to us to be, what really they are, dull and flat and unsatisfying, mere vanities, and insipid, empty nothings. And till we are in some good degree thus mortified to the world we shall never know what true devotion means, and the spiritual joys of religion, which increase more and more proportionably, as we are more and more dead to the low satisfactions of sense; and will then be in perfection, (and not till then,) when we are arrived at that happy place, where flesh and blood cannot enter.
Who this Simeon was, that had this extraordinary favour shewn to him, it is not much material to inquire; though it is supposed he was the father of Gamaliel, St. Paul's tutor, and a rabbi of the greatest note among the Jews ; and some of the fathers say he was the priest, then waiting in his course, to whom our Lord was presented in the temple, in order to his being redeemed according to the law. But his highest character was, that he was just and devout; and it is indeed the highest character that can be given of a man, and such as includes the religion of both tables, justice to mankind and devotion to God : that is, in short, Simeon was a thoroughly good man; not so over-devout as to forget to be just, nor so entirely taken up with the duties of moral honesty, as to forget to be religious; but he was sincerely both : and so will every man be