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blesses, as the means of nourishing and strengthening our souls and bodies to everlasting life?

Brethren, see that we neglect not this great salvation, that we refuse not the divinely instituted means and pledges by which it is conveyed and assured.

“God who, at sundry times, and in divers manners, spake in times past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath, in these last days, spoken unto us by his Son." And if, to use the forcible reasoning of an inspired Apostle, “they who refused Moses's laws perished, of how much sorer punishment shall they be thought worthy who trample under foot the Son of God, and count the blood of the covenant an unholy thing." " See then that we refuse not him that speaketh.” He proclaims the glad tidings, that “God is reconciling the world unto himselfo,” and that “whosoever believeth in him shall be saved p." Let us then hear his heavenly voice, and receive, with penitence and with faith, his message of mercy. Let us secure our interest in that great salvation which he proclaims. And then, through all the changes of this mortal state, in prosperity, and in adversity, in life and in death, we may utter, with a lively experience of the salvation which it celebrates, the song of the devout Zacharias : « Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he hath visited and redeemed his people, and hath raised up a mighty salvation for us.”

m Heb. i. 1.

Heb. x. 29. o2 Cor. ii. 19.

p Mark xvi. 16.

SERMON VI.

THE TIME OF CHRIST'S APPEARANCE.

(FIRST SUNDAY AFTER CHRISTMAS.]

I PETER ii. 20.

Who, verily, was fore-ordained before the foundation of the

world, but was manifest in these last times for you.

The Advent of the Son of God, in the flesh, the event which the Church has been celebrating, was “ fore-ordained” in the counsels of the Godhead, “ before the foundation of the world."

But why was he not made manifest until these last times? Why did so many ages of darkness elapse, before the appearance of that Sun of righteousness who was to enlighten the world? Why were the fallen race of men permitted so long to remain in ignorance of the way of access unto their offended Maker, oppressed with the burden of sin, and destitute of the means of deliverance ? Why, indeed, was not that divine Personage, who was to be the Saviour of the world, manifested, as soon as the world needed his redemption, immediately on the occurrence of that fatal event, when “sin entered into the world, and death by sin?” Why was not this Saviour, whom fallen man so much needed, made manifest, until ages had elapsed, and “the last times” had come ?

These are questions which scepticism boldly states; which sometimes perplex the sincere believer, and which it is necessary should receive a serious consideration,

The particular time of Christ's appearance was the most suitable for that event, because,

I. That was the time appointed by him, who, as the Sovereign of the world, keeps the times and the seasons in his own power,

II. It was the design of the Almighty Ruler of the universe to conduct men through various degrees of religious knowledge to the full manifestation of his glory in the face of Jesus Christ.

III. At the time of Christ's appearing, the inefficacy of the Jewish dispensation and of the light of nature, had been fully proved.

IV. The world was then in a state peculiarly calculated to test the truth of his divine pretensions, and, at the same time, to advance the establishment of his Gospel.

V. The prophecies precisely fixed the period of Christ's appearing to this particular time.

The particular time of Christ's appearance was the most suitable for that event-because,

1. It was the time appointed by that Almighty Being, who, as the Sovereign of the world, keeps the times and the seasons in his own power.

In what mode, to what degree, and at what period, the Ruler of the universe will dispense his blessings, are points not to be determined by the subjects of his bounty. “It is not for the thing formed to say to him that formed it, why hast thou made me thus??" It is not for man, who is but as of yesterday, and knows nothing, to reply against God! “ The times and the seasons God has” thought fit to “keep within in his own power." He who rules the universe, and who is providing for the happiness of countless worlds, can best determine, at what time, and in what manner, to dispense his favours to each part of his intelligent creation,

The time of our Saviour's appearance we judge, therefore, the most suitable for that event, because that precise time was determined in the divine counsels; and it is our duty, with humble reverence, to acquiesce in the pleasure of that Judge of the earth, who will do right.

If, indeed, previously to the period when God saw fit to manifest his Son, weak and erring man had been entirely destitute of a revelation of the will of the Author of his being; if the mercy-seat of heaven had been entirely veiled from the guilty race, who, at the throne of Heaven's justice, were to receive the doom of sinners; and if, deprived of the means of his favour in this world, eternal wrath awaited, beyond the grave, those whom transgression rendered obnoxious to this doom; then, indeed, the delay in sending that divine Personage who only could save man from the darkness of error, the bondage of sin, and the curse of eternal death, would have been an impeachment of the goodness and the justice of the Sovereign of the universe. But the ages previous to the appearance of Jesus Christ, were not entirely enveloped in spiritual darkness, and the generations who lived before the Advent of the Saviour, were not destitute of an interest in his merits. “ God," before he "spake unto the world by his Son, at sundry times, and in divers manners, spake unto the fathers by the prophets..". The knowledge of his attributes and laws, which was enjoyed by the first parents of our race, was handed down to their posterity; and enlarged by successive communications to patriarchs and prophets. A select people were made the depositary of the divine will, in order that, amidst the surrounding darkness, they might preserve the light of truth. And even among the Gentile nations there were those who, according to the measure of knowledge which they enjoyed, “feared God, and wrought righteousness ,

4 Rom. ix. 20.

r Acts i. 7.

• Heb. i. 1.

* Acts x. 35.

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