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utterly uncertain. One thing, however, we know, that it can be at no great distance. Let the reader reflect on the present arrival of another Advent season. Let him recollect how many of his neighbours, since last Advent, have finished their "mortal" career, and are gone down into the grave. And before another comes, how many more will follow! perhaps the reader, perhaps the writer of these pages! If therefore any thing remains to be done, for the purpose of making "our calling and elec"tion sure;" no time is to be lost.
The time of this mortal life is the time exclusively allotted for obtaining "grace that we may cast away the works of darkness and put upon us the armour of light." If it be not now sought, it cannot be obtained. For "as the tree falls, it must lie." God forbid that, like the foolish virgins, we should so slumber away the precious moments of this "mor"tal life," that, when he Bridegroom cometh, our lamps be found destitute of oil! for, then, the door will be shut against us, and we shall be eternally excluded from the marriage-feast! "Now is the accepted time: now is the day of "salvation." How strongly, by this short hint, has our church enforced the necessity of fervency in the use of her collect! May the awful hint produce its due effect on our souls!
In the parenthesis which follows the church leads us to her grand object; to Him who is the Alpha and Omega of all her forms, the beginning and the ending of all her devotions, the sum and substance of all her services, to Jesus Christ. To her the language of St. Paul may be transferred, since she may be considered as addressing her members in every part of her
liturgy, in his words, “ I am determined to “ know nothing among you, save Jesus Christ “ and Him Crucified.” For the purpose of introducing and connecting the twofold subject of Advent, Christ the Saviour and Christ the Judge; for the purpose of consoling our minds under the consideration of our mortality, of encouraging our faith in the act of prayer for renewing grace, and of confirming it in the prospect of our Lord's second appearance, we are reminded that, “in the time of this mortal “ life, Christ came to visit us in great humility.”.
As this subject will be discussed when we come to contemplate the collect for Christmasday, we shall now notice it no further than with a view to that for which it seems to be introduced. We ask for the renewing influence of the Holy Ghost; and the ground on which the request is made, is solid; for the readiness of God to bestow on us whatever is needful to our salvation, is demonstrated by the incarnation of His adorable Son. And in the prosecution of our great work we are encouraged by the assurance, which Christ's first appearance in great humility affords, of a resurrection to “ the life a immortal.” For He cometh again to be.
glorified in His saints, and to be admired in “ all them that believe."
We now proceed to consider the final cause for which we implore “ grace," viz. “ that in “ the last day, when he shall come again in his
glorious majesty to judge both the quick and « dead, we may rise to the life immortal, “ through Him who liveth and reigneth with " the Father and the Holy Ghost, now and “ ever.” The consideration which is here suggested may be compared to the pillar of a cloud,
which came between the camp of the Egyptians “ and the camp of Israel, and was a cloud and “ darkness to them, but gave light by night to o these.” Thus the awful prospect of a judgment-day is a source of sweet consolation to the Christian believer, but must fill with dismay the conscious mind which is a stranger to “redemp“ tion in His blood, even the remission of sins."
There is a day at hand which will prove“ the « last." Then time will cease to be divided as it is now, by days and weeks, and months and years. That day arrived, the revolutions of time will be lost in the vast vortex of eternity. It is our privilege and duty by faith to realise this “ last day," with all its tremendous solemnities. We are deeply interested in its approach. A proper view of it will add fervour to our supplications for grace to prepare us for its arrival. Then the season of hearing, praying, and working, will be past; the time of judgment will be come.
Then he that “ is unjust, will be unjust “ still; and he that is filthy, will be filthy still; " he that is righteous, will be righteous still; ^ and he that is holy, will be holy still.”. No change, either of state or character, will be possible; for the mediatorial hour will be elapsed.
In this “last day” that process will take place, the mention of which by the lips of the prisoner Paul made Felix to tremble, and which, duly weighed, is enough to make the countenance of every impenitent sinner to change, and his thoughts to trouble him, the joints of liis loins to be loosed, and his knees to smite one against another. For the Lord Jesus shall come again in His glorious majesty to "judge both the quick “and dead.” Unbelief may ask, “ Where is
, " is the promise of His coming ?" It may pre
sume for impunity on his delay. But the pledge given in His first advent dashes the hopes of the infidel in pieces, like a potter's vessel, whilst it establishes beyond a doubt the expectation of the faithful. Let the reader who neglects the great salvation inquire, whether the language of his spirit and conduct do not concur with the sceptical inquiry, " Where is the promise of “ His coming ?” whether his comfort in the moment of reflection be not a supposed uncertainty in the Scripture-account of futurity, and whether he be not in imminent danger of having his portion with the unbelievers.
Christ's second advent will differ widely from his first. “He came” once “ to visit us in great
humility;" He assumed the form of a servant, and was "made obedient unto death, even the « death of the cross, for us men and for our sal“ vation.” But when He cometh again, it will be “in glorious majesty.” When He descended at the giving of the law, His appearance was accompanied with circumstances of majesty which made all the Israelites to tremble, and even Moses said, “ 1 exceedingly fear and quake.” And no wonder, for there were “thunders and lightnings, and "a thick cloud on the mount, and the voice of a
trumpet exceeding loud : and mount Sinai was
altogether on a smoke, because the Lord de“ scended upon it in fire; and the smoke thereof • ascended as the smoke of a furnaće, and the “ whole mount quaked greatly.” When our Lord was transfigured on mount Tabor in the days of His flesh, a ray only of His glory bursting through the veil of His manhood, “His countenance shone " as the sun, and His raiment was white as the
light." When He appeared to St. John in the isle of Patmos, in the character of the glorified
High-Priest of his church, “His head and his “ hairs were white like wool, as white as snow, “ and his eyes were as a flame of fire; his feet were “ like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a fur“ nace, and his voice as the sound of many wa• ters; out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged “ sword, and his countenance was as the sun
shining in his strength.” Is it a matter of surprise that John “fell at his feet as dead ?" These, however, and other circumstances of majesty which might be mentioned as accompanying the various manifestations of God to man, which he has graciously been pleased to make, are but faint coruscations, imperfect prelibations, of the tremendous splendour of “ the last day,” when He shall “come in the glory of His Father and of " His holy angels;" when no circumstance which can dignify the scene, solemnize the process, and give honour to the Judge, shall be wanting. “ The heavens shall pass away with a great noise, “ the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the “ earth also and the works that are therein shall « be burnt up."
“ A great white throne" shall be erected, on which the Judge shall sit, “ from “ whose face the earth and the heaven shall flee “ away."
“ The dead, small and great, shall “ stand before Him: the books shall be opened, " and the dead be judged according to their “ works." The irreversible sentence will be pronounced on all-on you, reader, and on me!! Will it be the sentence of acquittal, or of condemnation--" Come, ye blessed,” or “ Go, ye “ “ cursed”? Tremendous alternative! Let my present state of heart decide it. “ He that soweth ss to the flesh, shall of the flesh reap corruption; “ but he that soweth to the Spirit, shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting." o what a motive VOL. I.