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.return from your backslidings, and seek the Lord with all your hearts: that should this year terminate your lives; your setting sun may break forth with cheering beams, and gild the dark valley through which you must pass: or should you be spared; that your walk may be henceforth more close with God, more honourable and comfortable, aml more edifying and encouraging to those aroun<l you.
My Christian brethren'! let us enter on this new year, by seriously reviewing the one that we have finished: that we may be humbled for the sins, into which we have been betrayed, and rendered more simply dependent and watchful: and that we may be more thankful for the special mercies, personal,! social, and publick, with wlnch we have been favoured. Let us earnestly beg a blessing from God on every attempt we have made to sow the seed of truth, to speak a word in season, and to recommend the gospel: beseeching him also to prevent the bad effect of our mistakes and inconsistencies. We should likewise remember that time is short: that we may learn patience in tribulation, joyfulness ir* hope, indifference about things present, and diligence in our proper Work. "Whatever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might: for there is no "work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in "the grave whither thou goest.1" "Let your "loins then be girded, and your lamps burning;" and be habitually expecting the coming of the
Lord. Endeavour to recollect what designs of 'Ecclcs. ix. 10.
usefulness you had formed, and intended to have executed during the last year, or in any former pe* riod; and set about them without delay: persevere in every good work, and Christian course, on which you have entered; and aim to press forward, to grow in grace, and abound more and more in all the fruits of righteousness. Then should this be your last year, as it possibly may, and as some have probable reason to expect; death will be your gain: and while the survivors among us may meet together at the return of this season to set up another Eben-ezer to our merciful God; others will have joined the company before the throne, and be triumphantly rejoicing and blessing the Lord, that he hath helped them quite through, made them more than conquerors, and placed them, for ever out of the reach of dangers and enemies.— May we all, as in succession called out of this world, thus join the heavenly worshippers; till at length,
'When all the chosen race
1 To bless the conduct of his grace,
we may be found of that happy number, and meet once more to set up an Eben-ezer in the world above, and to join in eternal adorations of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, the one God of our salvation, to whom be praise and glory for ever* more. Amen.
JOHN, 1. 29.
Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.
John Baptist, the predicted forerunner of the Messiah, was doubtless well informed of his person, offices, and kingdom. He prepared the way of the Lord, by preaching repentance, as indispensably necessary to a participation of the blessings about to be communicated: and while he baptized the people with water, as an outward emblem of their souls being washed from sin; he declared that the Redeemer would baptize thent with the Holy Ghost and with fire. He bare witness to the Saviour as the Son of God, the Bridegroom of the Church, and "the Lamb of God, "which taketh away the sin of the world." He cried, saying, l< This was he of whom I spake, He "that cometh after me is preferred before me;
• Preached Good-friday, 179$. Vol. IL F
"for he was before me: and of his fulness have "we all received."' He added on another occasion, "The Father loveth the Son, and hath "given all things into his hand. He that be"lieveth on the Son hath everlasting life; and he "that believeth not the Son shall not see life : but "the wrath of God abideth upon him.1"
It is evident, that this most eminent servant of God laboured to communicate to his disciples exalted apprehensions of the Lord Jesus, and to excite in them large expectations from him. In honouring the Son of God he was willing to abase himself, "as unworthy to loose his shoe-latchet." He was astonished to think that the Saviour -should come to be baptized of him, when he was conscious that as a sinner he stood in need of hit spiritual baptism: and when we consider the excellency of John's character, with the extraordinary things spoken of him in scripture; we shall know what conclusions to draw from his testimony. Certainly he would not have concurred with those, who employ all their abilities in trying to persuade mankind not to think too highly of Christ, not to honour him too much, and not to depend on him too entirely in the great concerns of eternal salvation.—But the words of the text must be exclusively our present subject; and from them we may enquire,
Jokn, iii. 35, 35.
I. On what account Christ is called "The » Lamb of God."
II. The import of the words, "Who taketh "away the sin of the world."
III. The call to "Behold the Lamb of God."
IV. The peculiar instructions to be derived from meditating on this subject.
I. On what account is the Lord Jesus called rt The Lamb of God?"
We should not forget, my brethren, that the language of scripture was dictated by the Holy Spirit, and demands our most reverent attention on that account. If then we interpret it in a general way, and treat those metaphors under which divine mysteries are revealed, as we would do the language of mere men, who often use pompous words and extravagant figures of speech without much meaning; we shall be found guilty of despising the sacred oracles. No doubt every metaphor or illustration was selected, in preference to all others, for some wise and holy reasons; and suggests important instruction to the teachable