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servient to the former, for the love of both SERM. consists not together. All the faculties we possess, therefore, let us exert and employ to the glory of God; and even if we are possessed and endowed with all the external goods of fortune, let us bring them over to the service of our heavenly Father also, and never encourage by our own infidelity the too general opposition between God and mammon.
The innocent enjoyment of the pleasures of life, and even wealth acquired honestly and applied worthily, are neither forbidden or denied to us; they need only become the mammon of unrighteousness to us, if we abuse them ungratefully, or suffer ourselves to become enslaved by them; they may be made our friends by care and prudence, even so as to be a recommendation to us hereafter, and passports for us to the joys of heaven.
THE FOURTH SUNDAY IN ADVENT.
JOHN I. 23.
And he said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness; make straight the way of the Lord, as said the Prophet Esaias.
As the Church draws nearer and nearer SERM. to her celebration of the nativity of our XIX. blessed Lord, suitable portions of Scripture are selected to usher in this great event. And now that he is, as it were, the upon dawn of his appearance, we very hear the voice of his forerunner preparing the way before him. It was a custom in the East, when their kings engaged in any expedition, or undertook any journey, which should carry them through desolate or uninhabited countries, to send their harbingers before them, to provide all
SERM. things suitable to their accommodaton, and xix. pioneers to open
ways, and remove all obstructions. It is probably from this custom, that the Prophet referred to by St. John took his idea. There is something exceedingly grand and magnificent in it, if taken in its most literal acceptation; but nothing can exceed its sublimity when applied to the forerunner of our blessed Saviour. He came indeed to “ make straight the way of the Lord," by calling sinners to repentance; by
ing the bearts of the disobedient to the wis“ dom of the just ;" but not to anticipate the Evangelical interpretation of the text at present, let us first consider some of the passages of the Old Testament, wherein the peculiar presence of Jehovah is figuratively set forth. It is to the 40th chapter of Isaiah that the Evangelist refers in the words of my text; a chapter which is supposed to have had at least a two-fold, according to some interpreters, a three-fold meaning. It has been held to refer both to the departure of the Israelites from Egypt, and to the deliverance of the Jews from their captivity in Babylon. But no com- SERM. mentators have denied its direct allusion XIX. to the advent of the Messiah, in regard to which the most figurative expressions in it are highly appropriate, and the boldest flights of poetry no exaggeration. The forerunner of the blessed Saviour of the world had more to do than to make the rough places smooth, and the crooked straight; and yet these terms are strictly applicable to his commission. If, in contemplation of the deliverance of the Jews from Babylon, the Prophet could cry out,
Comfort ye, comfort ye, my people, saith your God; speak ye comfortably to Jeru
salem, and cry unto her, that ber warfare “ is accomplished, that the expiation of her ini
quity is accepted," what is this to the purport of Christ's mission, who came to deliver the whole world, Jew and Gentile, bond and free, from the dominion and bondage of sin ? Whenever the peculiar interposition of Jehovah is to be described by the Prophets, their language becomes highly animated, and the whole creation is brought to do homage to its author. “When