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er,”) to “constitutional distèmper in body or in mind, or by reciprocal influence in both ;” or to “erroneous or defective views of divine truth;” or to “a departure from God, either in open or in secret sin–backsliding in life or at least in heart.” The last is the cause which usually operates. When none of them exist, the brightness of the hopes of the believer is generally proportioned to the degree in which he exemplifies the Christian character. Christian hope is then rational, tranquil, and progressive. These are some of its properties. IV. We proceed to remark upon the Influence of the hope of the believer upon his conduct in life. “Every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself.” While he trusts in the mercy of God, and hopes to enjoy his presence, he daily strives after a conformity with him in character. He knows that the Most High is spotless in holiness; and therefore he longs to be holy also. He is true to himself. Like the patient, willing to know the worst of his disease, that he may be effectually healed; he beseeches God to probe his wounded heart to the bottom—to explore the hidden recesses of his soul, and cleanse him from every secret sin. He constantly endeavours to subjugate the evil propensities of his heart, and to purify the corrupt fountain within him. He always remembers that this is the indispensable condition upon which his celestial inheritance rests. “ There shall in no wise enter” into the heavenly Jerusalem “any thing that defileth.” This is the sentence of God, and the real believer conducts accordingly. The subject of Christian hope, then, purifies himself. Again; the hope of the believer is described in our text, “as an anchor of the soul both sure and stedfast.” This it proves itself to be by its influence upon the Christian's conduct with regard to his religious principles and opinions. With a meek
and teachable disposition he investigates the ground upon which his tenets rest. After having given them a candid, dispassionate and thorough examination,-after having employed all possible means of ascertaining the truth; he is not thenceforth to be “tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine.” As to the mysterious and incomprehensible truths of religion; the only question with him is, are they clearly revealed in the word of God P. This once decided; unhallowed curiosity is set at rest forever. What though God has here and there revealed a fact, which his pigmy understanding cannot fully comprehend—what though here and there a cloud obscure the sky; he knows that these will not long intercept the rays even now beaming in full splendour behind them. How inexpressibly more blessed is this situation, than that of the man “without hope and without God,” who is already enveloped in thick darkness never to be dissipated, but to be deep. ening through eternity. Further; how emphatically is Christian hope a sure and stedfast anchor to the believer’s soul when passion rages;–when the waves of temptation threaten to sweep all before them; and especially when the floods of affliction seem to be about to overwhelm him The darkness which in these seasons surrounds him, but makes the light within the more visible and conspicuous. When persecuted for righteousness' sake, he remembers the words of the Lord Jesus: “Fear not those which kill the body but are not able to kill the soul.” “The eternal God is" his “refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” He has an inheritance beyond the grave, to which death completes his title. He is then to enter upon the enjoyment of never-ending and continually-increasing bliss. Like Moses on Pisgah's heights, he fastens his eye upon the promised land. Assured that he shall reach the end of his pilgrimage, he is regardless of intervening difficulties. “The grave is his subterranean road to bliss:” what else shall he fear 2 The death-bed, that searcher of the heart, has no terrors for him. “The sting of death is sin;” but his sins are cancelled from the record of heaven ;-the blood of the Lamb has washed them away. “The righteous hath hope in his death.” View him in this trying hour. With calmness and resignation,he endures his dissolution. He triumphantly anticipates the approaching moment when his body shall commence its long sleep, and his unshackled soul shall wing her flight to the Father of Spirits.-This moment of deep interest is arrived.—He is gone. Anticipation is now reality; hope, fruition. Time is ended; and a blessed etermity begun. “Thanks be to God who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” In application of what has been said, let me now intreat you solemnly to ask yourselves, as in the presence of Him who cannot be deceived, whether you have this hope in you? Do you rely upon the death of the Lord Jesus as your only foundation? Do you practically and constantly relinquish all self-righteousness and rest upon this and this alone Is happiness beyond the grave the object of your hope P Do you now love those employments which will continually occupy the redeemed P Do you love to commune with your God and Saviour? Is it your delight to meditate upon his perfections—to trace through all the mysteries of his providence the hand of the Almighty P Do you cheerfully commit all your concerns, both for time and eternity, to his protection ? Do you rejoice that your all is at his disposal P In every situation, is your hope and trust in God? What are the characteristical properties of your hope P Will it bear examination ? Does it tranquilize the soul? Does it increase within you? What is its influence? Does it cleanse your heart from corruption,-promote the government of your passions and temper, enable you to bridle your tongue, keep you from obscen
ity, slander and falsehood P Does it induce you to forsake every evil way, and to strive after perfect purity of heart and universal integrity of life? In a word, are you through its influence “prepared to meet your God?'
We are all now invited to become the subjects of christian hope, and to partake of its consolations. How miserable shall we hereafter be, if found destitute of the “faith, hope and charity” of the gospel? Let us remember that we are hastening to that world where the secrets of the heart shall be revealed. We are probationers for eternity—candidates for heaven or hell. There is here no neutral ground—no middle course. We must be saved or lost. The Most High has in his providence now left it for each of us to s'y for ourselves, whether we will be endlessly happy or endlessly miserable. God has done all that was necessary on His part: “What could have been done more to my vineyard than I have not done in it o’’ The Most High has not only sent the Son of his love to “taste death for every man;” but He has also offered his Spirit to all: “If ye then being evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give his Holy Spir. it to them that ask him ** The gates of heaven are now unfolded to every penitent believer, and God is urging all to enter in: “Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.” “God our Saviour will have all men to be saved and come unto the knowledge of the truth.” “The Lord is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” Nay more. “God now commandeth all men every where to repent.” What language could be more expressive? what invitations, more ample? what persuasion more urgent P And why do any resist? Why do any delay their reconciliation to God? Let each put the question to himself: ‘Why do I not become reconciled to
God? Why am I not now the sub-
pest of his wrath, and “lay hold upon the hope set before you.” Give no rest to your soul, until you have made your peace with God.
For the Christian Spectator.
Explanation of Rom. viii. 19, and
Rom. viii. 19.-4: For the earnest “expectation of the creature (xridis) waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.” In the conclusion of the preceding chapter, the apostle feelingly deplores that spiritual conflict to which all christians are subjected. “Oh wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death.” He then rises to the consolations and hopes of the believer who is justified by the righteousness of Christ; and glances forward to that glorious state, when we shall be delivered from the bondage of sin, and translated into the presence of God. This leads him to institute, in the 18th verse, a comparison between the sufferings of the christian here, and his felicity hereafter. “For Ireckon that the sufferings of this present time, are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For (continues he, pursuing the same subject) the earnest expectation of the creature, (i. e. the xcavn xrigg, or new ..". waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God; (the glory of heaven.) For the creature (christian) was made subject to vanity, (to the influence of vain and sinful objects) not willingly, (as finding pleasure in them) but by reason of him that hath subjected the same in hope. Because the creature (chris
* xria out ur row Inorsy, created in Christ Jesus, is a common designation of christians.
+How beautiful is the coincidence between this subjection of the believer to the vanity of the world in order, to honour Christ, and Paul’s glorying in his infirmities that the power of Christ might rest
beseech you, from the devouring tem- upon him. 2 Cor. xii. 9.
tian) shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the sons of God. For we know that the whole creation (xvitig, body of believers) groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, (the apostles) which have the first fruits of the Spirit, (the peculiar gifts and graces of the apostolic office) even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body (from the power of sin, and its translation to heaven.) This translation has the advantage of being perfectly coincident with the preceding and subsequent context. Of this passage, which has greatly perplexed the commentators, two interpretations have been chiefly relied upon. The first, which supposes the creature here spoken of to be the inanimate or brute creation, has the absurdity of declaring that brutes, or even mere matter, shall be received “into the glorious liberty of the sons of God.” The other interpretation, which makes the whole race of men
to be the creature, or creation, is nothing short of downright Universalism. Luke xvi. 9.—“And I say unto you, make unto yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness, that when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.” . The question has been agitated with some warmth, to what is the pronoun they to be referred, in this passage. One class of commentators understand by it, “the Angels;” another, “the mammon of unrighteousness,” &c. The discussion might have been spared by a reference to the 4th verse, from which the phraseology in question is plainly adopted— “I am resolved what to do, that when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses.” Are any particular individuals here intended ? Certainly not. Nothing more is meant than “that I may be received.” This indefinite use of the pronoun is common in most languages; and corresponds exactly to the sense of the French on, on dit, they say, i.e. it is said.
[The following is an extract from an essay ‘on the origin of the celebration of Christmas,” contained in No. I. of the New Monthly Magazine or Literary Journal, New Series, edited by Thomas CAMPBEll, author of the “Pleasures of Hope,’ and “Gertrude of Wyoming.’]
Many of the anniversaries solemnized by the Christian &n Were transplanted into it from the Heathen soil. Whilst Easter has succeeded to the “Feralia’ of the Romans, there can be little doubt that Christmas has taken the place of their “Saturnalia.”
* ‘Christmas,” says Selden, “succeeds the Saturnalia; the same time, the same number of holy days.”
This festival, instituted in honour of Saturn, was celebrated by them with the greatest splendour, debauchery, and extravagance. It was, during its duration, an epoch of freedom and equality: the master ceased to be master, and the slave to be slave; the former waited, at his own board, upon the latter. The ceremonial of this festival was opened on the 19th of December, by the lighting of a profusion of waxen flambeaux in the temple of Saturn, as an expiatory of sering to the relenting god, who had, in remoter times, been worshipped with human sacrifices. At this festive season, boughs and laurel were profusely suspended in every quarter, and presents were interchanged on all sides.* The Christian church was anxious to abolish the celebration of these Saturnalia, in which she blushed to see her own disciples partaking; and therefore appointed a festival, in honour of her Divine Master, to supersede them. If, during the Roman games, the order of social affairs was inverted, and the menial was raised to be master, surely it was not unnatural that they should, in their purer features, be adopted as the model of an anniversary in commemoration of that Christ, the King of Kings, who had appeared in the garb of a menial, and had elevated those who were the slaves of their sins, to be lords and chiefs among the heavenly hosts' Though of Heathen origin, the festival of Christmas no longer exhibited sacrifices of bulls or goats: it was carefully pruned of those disgusting features and extravagances which nourished and excited debasing passions; and yet, in order that it might not prove revolting to the habits and feelings of the new convert who was called upon to resign the meretricious blandishments of the Saturnalia, it was permitted to retain such innoxious customs from the Pagan celebration, as were not wholly irreconcilable with the bland and cheerful spirit of Christianity. The torches, which had shed their effulgence through the temple of Saturn, shone with undiminished splendour in the temple of Christian worship, and presented, as it were, a symbol of Jesus, ‘that etermal light which was born in the world’ to waken the whole human race to life and immortality;-which illuminated the fields of Bethlehem, and shone about the shepherds, ‘a lamp unto their feet, and a light unto their paths.” The Saturnalian custom of decking the streets and houses with laurel and boughs, and exchanging presents, was also preserved, and has
* It is singular that our Druid ancestors, as well as the Greeks and Romans, devoted this season of the year to ceremonies and religious observances.
partially descended to our own times. The interchange of presents was supposed to typify the spiritual and heavenly gifts which our Saviour, by his coming, had lavished upon mankind. There is one custom in particular, prevalent in some countries, and formerly common in England, which strikingly designates the origin of our Christmas festivities. And it is this: from amongst the domestics of a family, it was the practice to elect one as the Master of the Household, under the appellation of the Christmas King, or Lord of Misrule, and to assign him a species of sovereignty both over the other servants, as well as the immediate members of the family. In this way, as Selden remarks, “the master waited on his servant as the Lord of Misrule;’ and ‘the like,” says Stow, “had ye in the house of every nobleman of honour or good worship, were he spiritual or temporal.” In some Catholic countries there is a custom of dressing up puppets, called Christmas children, hiding them on Christmas eve, setting persos in quest of them, and giving a reward to the finder; nor is it improbable that this custom was also derived from the Heathen practice of sending puppets as presents during the Saturnalia. “At Rome,” says an ancient calendar, “sweet-meats were presented to the fathers in the Vatican, as well as all kinds of little images ;* and these last were found in abundance in the consectioners'shops.” Nay, in England, the bakers used formerly to bake a kind of baby, or little image of paste, which they presented to their customers; in the same way as chandlers gave Christmas candles. Before we take our leave of this subject, we cannot refrain from adverting to a singular tradition, from which some have been willing to derive the name given to this festival,
* In Vaticano— * Dulcia Patribus exhibentur, —omnium generum Imaguncula."