Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

his fellow-creatures, and who, without neglecting the prior claims of the household of faith," is desirous, according to his power,

“ to do good to all men." They were these claims, and claims like these, appreci. ated by a heart and head, than which few in the history of British India have been so warm and so cool, so ardent in the relief of distress and so calmly judicious in the choice of measures for alleviating it, which procured for this institution a more than common share of the attention and liberality of that great man whose life was cherished still, though his presence and counsels had been withdrawn from these colonies, not by his private friends alone, but by every well-wisher to India; by every one who had learnt to honour private worth or public integrity and firmness ; by the guests who had drawn delight and improvement from his conversation while they partook in his hospitality; and by the poor against whom his doors, his attention, his indulgence, and his purse had never been for an instant closed. His loss, the institution which I am now recommending, laments in common with almost every other religious or humane institution in the city ; but it may be well to state, in order to intimate the extent of our misfortune in losing him, and to incite those who hear me to the exercise of a similar liberality, that accessible as Mr. Adam always was to the petitions and personal applications, of the frequency of which I have spoken, there was no charity whose claims he felt so strongly as this the eldest of all; that, ample as the donations were which the world saw affixed to his name, those donations fell considerably short of the sums which he contributed anonymously; and that even when he had left India without an idea of seeing it more, he had determined that, while life was spared him, his charities should linger here still. In him, in that other benevolent and virtuous statesmen, whom, at a yet more recent date, the will of providence has called to his reward; in others of less exalted rank, but of zeal not inferior for God's good cause, and the relief of their suffering fellowcreatures, whom since I last addressed you, a year of unusual mortality has swept from our social circles, the cause of charity has lost much; but to replace the void is not be

yond the scope of our own increased exertions and the exertions of those fresh labourers who have, during that time, been added to the vineyard. Only let it be our endeavour to bestow alms as of the ability which God giveth, and that God may bless our bounty to its objects and to ourselves, let us devote it in humble prayer at His Altar from whom we have received all things, and from whose grace only it cometh that we can render Him any true or laudable service.

To Him the Father of the fatherless, the Defender of the cause of the widow, to Him who heareth the cry the destitute, and whose Son is not ashamed to call the poor His brethren, to Him, with that blessed Son, and the Spirit of bounty and love, be accounted all honour, praise, and glory!

of SERMON XVI.

NEW YEAR'S DAY.

(Preached in the Cathedral, Calcutta, Jan. 1, 1824.]

ST. LUKE ii. 21. And when eight days were accomplished, for the circumcising

of the child, his name was called Jesus.

In reviewing those circumstances in the life of our Lord, which it is the custom of the Church to commemorate on the first day of every year, there are two observations which would seem to force themselves on our notice; the one personal and respecting Christ alone, the other of a more general character, and relating to the institution itself to which he thus, in great humility, became subject. The first is the apparent strangeness of the fact that at His earliest entrance into the world, the Son of God should be made liable to suffering ; the other the authority and sanction which, from the analogy of the Jewish covenant, is afforded to the practice of the general Christian Church, in not denying baptism to persons of like tender years.

The first of these is a reflection of no inconsiderable importance, as it conduces, or should conduce, to our love and admiration of His goodness who, being throned above all created things, endured the elements of the world to save us; who, being born before all worlds, became for our sakes a suckling ; whose entrance and exit into life were sprinkled alike with blood; and who though Himself spotless and pure, thought it not unworthy of His nature or His character to fulfil even the most revolting forms of legal righteousness. It may teach, too, that even the forms and ceremonies of religion (particularly when those forms and ceremonies have received the sanction of the Most High) are neither to be neglected without abundant cause, nor dispensed with by a less authority than that which imposed them; but that, in these outward signs, an inward blessing dwells. And that He who Himself condescended to observe that law which was so soon to vanish away, will far less hold them guiltless who neglect or regard as trifling those rites which are to endure till He shall return again; of which the one was the legacy of His death, and the other the injunction of His triumph; His “ do this in remembrance of me," and His "go ye baptize all nations."* The second is a remark of a more controversial, but of a scarcely less practical nature; it is a reflection which penetrates into the recesses of every family, and which blends with the earliest affection and the earliest duties which we can feel for, or extend to our offspring. And, in this region of India, it is a question the more seasonable, and the more obvious to our consideration from the numbers, the popularity and distinguished learning of those among our Christian brethren who have embraced a contrary opinion and practice. I am anxious, therefore, to offer (with as much brevity as the subject will admit, and I trust with as little violation of mutual charity as the infirmity of our nature suffers) a few of the many reasons which have induced the great body of Christians to apply the analogy of the ancient rite to that rite by which it was superseded, and to bring the first fruit of their infants' days to that merciful Saviour of all, who did not forbid the little children to come unto Him, and who, Himself, when a child, became partaker of the covenant of Israel.

That the intention and advantage of the federal rite of the Jews were in many, nay, in most particulars, very closely answerable to the intention and advantages of baptism, is an assertion which even a moderate acquaintance with the Old Testament and the writings of St. Paul might seem sufficient to convince us. In the first appointment you."

* 1 Cor. xi. 25. St. Matt. xxvij. 19.

of circumcision by the Almighty, it is represented as an expression of the faith of the person initiated in the power and promises of Jehovah. “I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed, for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee and thy seed after thee."

Every man child among you shall be circumcised," “and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and Abraham,”

," saith St. Paul, “received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised."* Nor was it of faith only in the promises of God that circumcision was expressive. It was expressive also of a control over men's unruly appetites, a purification of the inward man from every foul and sordid affection, and a renunciation of the superfluities of the world for the service of that God who is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity. And it is hard to deny, when reading some of the later prophets, that the same change in the inner man of which baptism is typical, was betokened by and confirmed in circumcision ; that " the circumcision of the heart” must have been something very like in its import to our term of “regeneration;" and that to them who, under affliction and persecution, kept the law, “circumcision verily profiteth”f in the only way by which it could profit them, by purchasing the praise not of men but of God, and a participation in the benefits of those promises, the fulfilment of which they did not in life receive, but in which they died stedfastly believing.

Nor am I aware that any thing further or greater is expressed or received by the Christian in baptism than is attributed by St. Paul to circumcision in the Jew; a declaration of faith, an assurance of mercy, an admission into the privilege of God's elect people upon earth, and a renunciation of those sins and vanities which unfit us for that Heaven whither our hopes are tending. Nor can any words, as I conceive, be devised, which, mutatis mutandis, more accurately express the obligations and the benefits of a truly Christian baptism, which more strongly

* Gen. xvji. 7, 10, 11. Rom. iv. 11.

† Rom. ii. 25.

« AnteriorContinuar »