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the Jews whose understanding was most clear. ) ing the reign of grace, is that which Simeon ly enlightened, had much less penetration into made; he was just and devout, and he waitthe mystery of the cross than the meanest of ed for the consolation of Israel. On the other Christians, and according to the saying of Je- hand, that the most insurmountable obstacle sus Christ, • He that is least in the kingdom of which can be opposed to this reign, is impiety heaven, is, in this respect, greater than John and injustice. Prepare ye the way of the Baptist, Matt. xi. 11, and than all the pro- Lord, make straight in the desert a highway phets ; nevertheless they all lived in expecta- for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, tion of a deliverer : they all considered him and every mountain and hill shall be made as the centre of every divine grace: they all low: and the crooked shall be made straight, waited for him as the consolation of Israel.' and the rough places plain, and all flesh shall This is the first character given us of Simeon. see the salvation of God,' Isa. xl. 3; Matt. iii.
2. He was just and devout. The epithet 3; Luke iïi. 6. This was the voice of the just must not be taken in a literal and exact forerunner of Jesus Christ, and wherein did
Beware how you give a lie to revela- he make this preparation to consist? The tion, to experience, to your own heart, whose preparation of him who had two coats' was concurring testimony evinces that 'there is to impart to him who had none,' Luke ji. none righteous' upon the earth, ' no not one;' 11. The preparation of him who had meat imagine not that Simeon by his virtues merit- was to act in like manner. That of the pubed the privilege of seeing the Lord's Christ,"licans was to exact no more than that which and of partaking of the fruits of his incarna- was appointed them,' ver. 13. That of the tion. The righteousness of Simeon consisted soldier was to do violence to no man, to acin the efforts which he made to work righteous- cuse no one falsely, and to be content with his ness: his perfection, in the desire with which wages,' ver. 14. The preparation of all was he was animated to go on to perfection, and in to bring forth fruits worthy of repentance,' the regret which he felt that his attainments ver. 8. Without these, the reign of grace was were so inconsiderable. The sacrifices which the reign of wrath : without these, the axe he made to God, derived all their value from was already laid unto the root of the trees; the mercy of that God who was the object of and every tree which brought not forth good his fear. Let this great principle of Christian fruit was to be hewn down, and cast into the theology be deeply impressed on your minds: fire,' ver. 9; and this Messiah, this Redeemer lose sight of it no not for a moment, and be con- of mankind, was to come with his fan in bis stantly vigilant lest the impure doctrine of the hand, thoroughly to purge his floor ; to gather merit of good works find admission among the wheat into his garner; but to burn the you.
chaff with fire unquenchable,' ver. 17. But wherefore suggest cautions to this ef- Ah! if at this period of the gospel dispensa. fect? Wherefore should these walls so fre- tion, when we are exercising, in some manner, quently resound with truths of this class ? My the functions of John Baptist, if in these days brethren, you have so effectually excluded, by wherein we come to announce the revival of your coldness in the performance of good the reign of Jesus Christ in the midst of us, by works, the doctrine of their merit, that there the celebration of his incarnation and birth; is little room to entertain the apprehension of by the commemoration which we are to make its ever finding an establishment in the midst of next Lord's day in the sacrament of the supus. And it is an undeniable fact, that this er- per: if at this season, when we are crying ror has gained no partisans in our churches ; aloud to you in the words of St John, 'preat least, if there be any, they have kept them- pare ye the way of the Lord : should you selves invisible. We have seen many persons with the multitudes who attended his miniswho, under the power of illusion, imagined try, inquire, saying, “and what shall we do?" they had fulfilled the conditions upon which We would reply, wait for the consolation of the promises of salvation are founded; but Israel,' as Simeon waited for it: . bring forth never did we find one who advanced a plea of fruits worthy of repentance.' merit. But what we have seen, and what we • Prepare the way of the Lord,' ye great have cause every day to deplore, and what is ones of the earth; lead the way in a procession involving multitudes in utter ruin, is our fre- of penitents, as the king of Nineveh did, when quently deceiving ourselves with the belief, the preaching of Jonab thundered impending that because righteousness and the fear of God lestruction in his ears, Jon. iii. 4. 9. *Humare not meritorious, they are therefore unne- ble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, cessary. What we have seen, and what we 1 Pet. v. 6, .by whom kings reign, and princes have cause every day to deplore, is the unhap- decree justice, Prov. viii. 15. Employ the py persuasion prevailing with many who bear power with which Providence has intrusted the Christian name, that because the advent of you, not in a vain display of furniture more the Messiah is a dispensation of grace, it gives magnificent, or of equipages more splendid; encouragement to licentiousness and corrup- not by assuming a deportment more lofty and tion. Let us not employ such ingenious pains intimidating; but in curbing bold and insolent to deceive ourselves. Multiply without end, vice; but in maintaining the cause of truth ye disputers of this world,' your questions and and justice; but in wiping away the tears of controversies, it will never be jn your power the widow and the orphan; but in rewarding to prevent my clearly discerning, in the doc. services rendered to the state ; but in procurtrine of the gospel, this twofold truth : on the ing respect to the solemn institutions of relione hand, that the best preparation for receiv- "gion ; but in preventing the circulation of indecent and corruptive publications; and, as I speak of myself,' John vii. 17. In order to far as in you lies, in levelling to the ground our having an interest in the promises of the that monster infidelity, which is rearing its glory to be revealed, which are made to us by daring forehead in the midst of you.
the Messiah, we must' fear God' as did Simeon, Prepare the way of the Lord,' ye pastors we must be just like him, for · without holiof the flock. Distinguish yourselves from pri- ness no man shall see the Lord,' Heb. xii. 14, vate individuals, not only by the habit which and “having these promises, let us cleanse our you wear, and by the functions which you dis- selves from all filthiness of the flesh and of the charge; but by your zeal for the church of spirit,' 2 Cor. vii. 1. If we would attain the Christ, by your unshaken firmness and forti- assurance of salvation, we must · fear God,' as tude in opposing those who impudently trans- did Simeon, we must be just like him: Let gress; but by preserving a scrupulous distance him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lost from every thing characteristic rather of the he fall,'1 Cor. x. 12, and if God spared not slaves of this world, than of the ministers of the natural branches, take heed lest he also the living God.
spare not thee,' Rom. xi. 21. • Prepare ye the way of the Lord,' profess- 3. Finally, we are informed by the evangeing Christians. Celebrate your solemn feasts, list, that the Holy Ghost was upon Simeon; not only by frequenting our religious assem- and it was revealed to him by the Holy Ghost, blies, but by a holy abstinence from those se- that he should not see death, bofore he had cret abominations, and those public scandalous seen the Lord's Christ.' practices which have so long inflamed the On this particular, I shall confine myself to wrath of heaven against us; which even now a single reflection. It supplies us with an exare scattering the seeds of discord through plication of several ancient oracles, and partithese provinces ; which are draining the re- cularly that of the prophet: “And it shall come sources of our country, which are tarnishing to pass afterward, that I will pour out my her glory, which present to our eyes, in a low- Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your ering futurity, vicissitudes still more calami- daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall tous and more deeply ensanguined than those dream dreams, your young men shall see viwhich have already cost us so many tears, and sions,' Joel ii. 28. The Jews themselves acso much blood.
knowledge,* that the spirit of prophecy was This, this is the only effectual method of one of the prerogatives, which had been denied waiting for deliverance and redemption. Far to the second temple. This gift seems to have removed from us be those frivolous terrors, expired with Malachi. For an uninterrupted which would suggest, that to be subjected to series of more than four hundred years no prothe yoke of Jesus Christ, is to derogate from phet had arisen. This high privilege was not his merits! And let us not deceive ourselves; to be restored to the church till the latter days there is not a single particular in the system of should come ; and conformably to the style of the gospel ; there is not a single article of the Old Testament, the latter days denote the Christian theology, but what preaches terror, dispensation of the Messiah. Here then, we if we are destitute of that righteousness, and have the commencement of the latter days. of that fear of God with which Simeon 'waited Here we behold the prophetic illumination refor the consolation of Israel.' In order to our appearing in all its lustre. Here the hallowed having an interest in the pardoning mercy fire is rekindling, and celestial revelations en which the Messiah has purchased for us, we lighten a dark world. These exalted privimust. fear God, as Simeon did; we must be leges are communicated first to Zacharias, who just as he was; we must hold sin in detestation; beholds an angel of the Lord 'standing on the we must be of a poor and of a contrite spirit,' right side of the altar of incense,' Luke i. 11. Isa. Ixvi. 2, because of it; we must cease to do they are next bestowed on the blessed Virgin, evil,and learn to do well,'Isa. i. 16,17. In order whom the angel thus addresses, . Hail thou to our having an interest in sanctifying grace that art highly favoured, the Lord is with and in the spirit of regeneration, communicated thee: blessed art thou among women,' ver. 28. to us by the Messiah, we must 'fear God' as They are extended even to the shepherds, to did Simeon; we must be just like him, we whom another angel announces the birth of must love wisdom; we must ask it of God... the Saviour of the world, and who suddenly nothing wavering,' James i. 5, 6; or, as the hear a multitude of the heavenly host, praising passage of St. James to which I refer might be God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, rendered, not halting, or hesitating between and on earth peace, good-will towards men,' the choice of wisdom and folly; we must not Luke ii. 13, 14. They are poured down upon be like a wave of the sea,' which seems to be Simeon ; and we shall presently behold the making a movement towards the shore, but whole Christian church inundated with an anon returns with impetuosity into the gulf overflowing flood of divine irradiation. Let from which it issued.
this suffice as to the character of Simeon. Farther, in order to our having a knowledge II. We are to attempt to unfold the import of the doctrines which were taught by the of the devout rapture which he felt. And Messiah, we must fear God' as did Simeon, here let us give undivided attention to the obwe must be just like him; for the secret of ject before us, and let every power of thought the Lord is with them that fear him; and he be applied to discover, and to display, the will show them his covenant,' Ps. xxv. 14, and 'if any man will do his will, he shall know of * Talmud Hieros. Taanith, fol. vi. 1. Babylon. Jothe doctrine whether it be of God, or whether' ma, fol. xxi. 2.
emotions by which this holy man of God was flight all thy darkness. Thou shalt behold
was in the case of those believers, who lived 1. The desire of beholding some wonderful at the period when the Messiah was expected. and interesting event, is one of the most usual This was the case with Simeon. Brought up causes of attachment to life. There are cer- under an economy in which every thing was tain fixed points, in which all our hopes seem mysterious and emblematical, he is justifiable, to be concentrated. Nothing is more common should he have expressed a wish to see the among men, even among those whose character elucidation of all these sacred enigmas. When as Christians is the least liable to suspicion, a prince is expected to visit one of our cities ; than to say, could I but live to see such and when we behold the sumptuous equipages by such an event take place, I should die content: which he is preceded, the train of messengers could I but live to see that adversary of the who announce his approach; palaces decorated, church confounded: could I but live to see and triumphal arches reared, for his reception: that mystery of Providence unfolded : could I does not all this excite a desire of obtaining a but live to see Zion arise out of her ruins, and nearer view of the person of whom so lofty an the chains of her bondmen broken asunder : idea is conveyed from preparations so magnificould I but live to see my son attain such and cent? All these preparations, however, are in such a period. Such emotions are not in every many cases, not so much the badges of the real case to be condemned as unlawful; but how greatness of the personage whom they anmuch do they frequently savour of human in- nounce, as of his vanity. It has oftener than firmity! Let it be our study to die in peace once been felt, that the object of the least imwith God, and we shall be disposed to die, portance in a splendid procession, was the very whenever it shall please him, who has sent us man who acted as the hero of it. But what into the world, to call us out of it again. could the Levitical dispensation furnish, to con
Death draws aside the curtain, which con- vey an idea of the Messiah, but what fell inficeals from our eyes what is most worthy of our nitely short of the Messiah himself? regard, of our desire, of our admiration. If Simeon at length beholds this Messiah, so thou diest in a state of reconciliation with God, eagerly expected through so many ages. Sithine eyes shall behold events intivitely more meon, more highly favoured than Jacob, who, interesting and important than all those which on his dying bed exclaimed, 'I have waited for can suggest a wish to continue longer in this thy salvation, O Lord! Gen. xlix. 8. Simeon world. Thou shalt behold something un- exulting, says, 'Lord I have seen thy salvaspeakably greater than the solution of some tion:' more highly favoured than so many particular mystery of Providence : thou shalt kings, and so many prophets, who desired to discern a universal light, which shall dispel all see the Redeemer, but did not see him, Luke thy doubts, resolve all thy difficulties, put to xi 24, more highly privileged than so many believers of former ages, who saw only the by means of the prophetic illumination wbich promises of him “afar off, and embraced them,' was upon him, he perceives this Christ of God İleb. xi. 13, he receives the effect of those pro- . making his soul an offering for sin,' Isa. liii. mises; he contemplates, not afar off, but nigh, 10. He expects not, as did his worlilly-minded 'the star which was to come out of Jacob,' countrymen, a temporal kingdom ; he forms Numb. xxiv. 17, he beholds the accomplish- far juster ideas of the glory of the Messiah; he ment of the prophecies, Christ the end of the contemplates him .spoiling principalities and law for righteousness to every one that be powers, making a show of them openly, naillieveth, Rom. x. 4, the ark, the Shechinah, ing them to his cross, Col. ii. 15. Let us not the habitation of the Deity in his temple, he in be accused of having derived these ideas from whom all the fulness of the Godhead dwell. the schools, and from our courses of theological eth bodily,'Col. ii. 9, he sees the manna, and study: no, we deduce this all important truth inore than the manna, for your fathers did eat imme liately from the substance of the gospel. manna in the wilderness and are dead,' John Ponder seriously, I beseech you, what Simeon vi. 58, but, whoso eateth my flesh and drink- himseli says to Mary, as he showed to her the eth my blood, hath eternal life,' ver. 54. •Fa infant Jesus : • Behold this child is set for the ther of day,' exclaimed a Pagan prince, thou falling and rising again of mary in Israel; and radiant Sun, I thank thee that before I leave for a sign which shall be spoken against : yea, the world, I have had the felicity of seeing a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,' Cornelius Scipio in my kingdom and palace; Luke ii. 34, 35. wow I have lived as long as I can desire. It What could be meant by that sword with is the very emotion with which Simeon is an- which the mother of our Lord was to have her imated: he has lived long enough, because he soul pierced through?' That anguish, unhas seen the salvation of God.' Let the Ro- doubtedly, which she should undergo, on see. man republic henceforth cxtend her empire, ing her Son nailed to a cross. What an object or let its limits be contracted; let the great for a mother's eye! Who among you, my brequestions revolving in the recesses of cabinets thren, has concentrated every anxious care, be determined this way or that ; let the globe every tender affection on one darling object, subsist a few ages longer, or crumble imme- say a beloved child, whom he fondly looks to, diately into dust; Simeon has no desire to see as his consolation in adversity, as the glory of any thing farther: Lord now lettest thou thy his family, as the support of his feeble old age? servant depart in peace, according to thy word, Let him be supposed to feel what no power of for mine eyes have seen thy salvation.' language is able to express : let him put him.
Secondly, Simeon remains no longer attach- self in the place of Mary, let that belovedl chill ed to life from terror of the punishment of be supposed in the place of Jesus Christ: faint sin after death. The sting of death is sin;' image still of the conflict which nature is prethat sting so painfully acute to all mankind, is paring for that tender mother : feeble compeculiarly so to the aged. An old man has mentary on the words of Simeon to Mary, rendered himself responsible for all the stations yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own which he occupied, for all the relations which soul also.' Mary must lose that son whose he formed in social life, and in the church. birth was announced to her by an angel from And these in general, become so many sources heaven ; 'that Son on whose advent the celesof remorse. Generally speaking, it is not se- tial hosts descended to congratulate the listenparation from the world merely which ren ing earth; that Son whom so many perfecders death an object of horror ; it is the idea tions, whom such ardour of charity, whom beof the account which must be given in, when nefits so innumerable should have for ever enwe leave it. If nothing else were at stake, but deared to mankind : already she represents to merely to prepare for removing out of the herself that frightful solitude, that state of world, a small degree of reflection, a little phi. universal desertion in which the soul finds itlosophy, a little fortitude, might answer the self, when, having been bereaved of all that it parpose. What is the amount of human life, held dear, it feels as if the whole world were especially to a man arrived at a certain period dead, as if nothing else remained in the vast of existence? What delight can an old man universe, as if every thing that communicated find in society, after his memory is decayed, motion and life had been annihilated. after his senses are blunted, after the fire of im- And through what a path was she to behold agination is extinguished, when he is from day this Son departing out of the world? By a speto day losing one faculty after another, when cies of martyrdom, the bare idea of which he is reduced so low as to be the object of for- scares the imagination. She beholds those bearance at most, if not that of universal dis-bountiful hands which had so frequently fed gust and dereliction? But the idea of four.core the hungry, which had performed so many years passed in hostility against God, but the miracles of mercy, pierced through with nails: idea of a thousand crimes starting into light, she beholds that royal head, which would have and calling for vengeance; by their number shed lustre on the diadem of the universe, and their atrocity exciting •a fearful looking crowned with thorns, and that arın, destined to for of judgment—this, this presents a just wield the sceptre of the world, bearing a reed, ground of terror and astonishment.
the emblem of mock-majesty; she beholds that But all such terrors disappear in the eyes of temple in which dwelleth all the fulness of Simeon; he knows the end for which this
child the godhead bodily,' Col. ii. 9, with all his was horn, whom he now holds in his arms: he wisdom, with all his illumination, with all his directs his eyes beyo:d the cradle, to his cross; justice, with all his mercy, with all the perfec
tions which enter into the notion of the su- ; of futurity. Death, in this point of view, is a preme Being ; she beholds it assaulted with a transition merely from one scene of enjoyment profane hatchet, and an impious spear: she to another. If present objects fatigue and exhears the voices of the children of Edom crying cite disgust, it is only in order to prepare the aloud, concerning this august habitation of the soul for enjoying, more exquisitely, pleasures Most High, Rase it, rase it, even to the foun- of a different nature, ever new, and ever satisdation thereof.'
fying.' But if even then, while she beholde Jesus The conclusion deducible from the preparaexpiring, she could have been permitted to ap- tions of nature, may likewise be derived from proach sin, to comfort him, to collect the last the preparations of grace. Let us not lose sigh of that departing spirit! Could she but sight of our leading object. How magnificent have embraced that dearly beloved Son, to had the preparations of grace appeared in the bathe him with her tears, and bid him a last eyes of Simeon! This we have already hinted: farewell! Could she but for a few moments the whole of the Levitical dispensation conhave stopped that precious fluid draining off in sisted of preparations for the appearance of the copious streams, and consumin: the sad re- Messiah; if we form a judgment of the bless. mains of exhausted nature! Could she but ings wbieh he was to bestow upon the human have been permitted to support that sacred, race, from the representations given us of him, sinking head, and to pour balm into his it is impossible to refrain from drawing this wounds! But she must submit to the hand of conclusion. That the Messiah was to give unviolence: she too is borne down by the power bounded scope to the desires of the heart of of darkness,' Luke xxii, 53. She has nothing man, was to communicate to him that unspeakto present to the expiring sufferer but unavailable felicity, for the enjoyment of which naing solicitude, and fruitless tears: "a sword ture had already prepared him, but which nashall pierce through thy own soul also :' Sic ture had not the power to bestow. There, I meon understood, then, the mystery of the mean’in the Levitical dispensation, you found cross: he looked to the efficacy of that blood the shadows which retraced the Messiah; there which was to be shed by the Redeemer whom you found types which represented him; there he now held in his arms, and under that holy oracles which predicted him ; there an exhiimpression exclaims, • Lord, now lette-t thou bition in which were displayed his riches, his thy servant depart in peace, according to thy pomp, bis magnificence; there you heard the word, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation.' prophets crying aloud : •Drop down, ye hea
3. Finally, Simeon no longer feels an at. vens, from above, and let the skies pour down tachment to this world, from any doubt or sus- righteousness : let the earth open, and let them picion he entertained respecting the doctrine bring forth salvation; and let righteousness of a life to come. He is now at the very foun- spring up together,' Isa. xlv. 8. For unto us tain of life, and all that now remains is to be a Child is born, unto us a Son is given, and the set free from a mortal body, in order to attain government shall be upon his shoulder ; and immortality. We may deduce, from the pre- his name shall be called, Wonderful, Counselparations of grace, a conclusion nearly similar lor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, to that which we draw from the preparations The Prince of Peace,' Isa. ix. 6. • Lift up of nature, in order to establish the doctrine of your eyes to the heavens, and look upon the a future state of eternal felicity. How mag- earth beneath : for the heavens shall vanish nificent are the preparations which nature away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old makes! What glory do they promise after like a garment, and they that dwell therein death! The author of our being has endowed shall die in like manner ; but my salvation the human soul with an unbounded capacity shall be for ever, and my righteousness shall of advancing from knowledge to knowledge, not be abolished,' Isa. li. 6. from sensation to sensation. I make free here Now, what state of felicity could possibly to horrow the thought of an illustrious modern correspond to conceptions raised so high by author:* • A perpetual circulation,' says he, preparations of such mighty import? What! • of the same objects, were they subject to no amount to no more than that which the Mesother inconvenience, would be sufficient to give siah bestows in this world? What! no more us a disgust of the world. When a man has than to frequent these temples ? What! no behcid frequently reiterated vicissitudes of day more than to raise these sacred songs of praise: and night, of summer and winter, of spring and to celebrate our solemn feasts : to eat a little autumn; in a word, of the different appear- bread, and to drink a little wine at the comances of nature, what is there here below ca- munion table! And then to die? And then to pable of satisfyin, the mind ? I am well aware,' exist no more? And can this be all that salva. adds he, 'how brilliant, how magnificent this tion which the earth was to bring forth ? And spectacle is, I know how possible it is to in- can this be all that righteousness which the dulge in it with a steady and increasing de- skies were to pour doun? And can this be the light; but I likewise know that, àt length, the dew which the heavens were to drop down from continual recurrence of the same images cloys abore? And can this be the whole amount of the imagination, which is eagerly looking for the achievements of that Counsellor, of that wari to the removal of the curtain, that it may Wonderful one, of that Prince of Peace, or contemplate new scenes, of which it can catch that Father of Eternity? •Lord, now lettest only a confused glimpse in the dark perspective thou thy servant depart in peace, according to
thy word, for mine eyes have seen thy salva* Mentor, tom. iii. Disc. cxli. p. 310.
tion.' Good Simeon, what meaning do you in