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God by him. “ Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.” (Acts v. 31.)—Do you look, then, at his glory, and desire that you may be like him? And, in the hope of this blessed consummation, through his merits and intercession, are you ready to renounce and to forsake all iniquity and evil? Then, take with

you the encouraging assurance, that what sins soever a penitent abandons, not a spot, not a vestige, of them shall finally remain. robe shall indeed have been washed and made white in the blood of the Lamb, then, not the eye

of an angel, in the full blaze of heaven's own light,—nay, not the more piercing eye of the God of all spirits,-shall perceive that it had ever been polluted. Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” (Isa. i. 18.) And here, in the gift of pardon for Christ's sake, you may find encouragement to study and to follow after the beauties of holiness. Be assured that, by the mercy of our God, it is possible, notwithstanding all former defilements, that you may yet be as pure and as glorious as the Saviour who is

gone
before

you

into heaven. And the gift of grace and spiritual strength has also been provided. Nevertheless,” said

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our blessed Lord before his departure, “ I tell you the truth: it is expedient for you

that I

go away : for if I

go
not
away,

the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. (John xvi. 7.) And here is an ample provision for the supply of our spiritual wants. Here is revealed to us one whose office in the work of our redemption is to take of the things of Christ, and to show them unto us,-to teach us the value and the power of his glorious exaltation,- to guide us in the path which leads to the mansions of his holy habitation,-to inspire us with resolution to enter on that way,—to give us, in answer to our prayers, strength to press forward, and to persevere in the race that is set before us, even to the end. And hence that prayer of the church,“ O God, the king of glory, who hast exalted thine only Son Jesus Christ with great triumph unto thy kingdom in heaven; we beseech thee, leave us not comfortless; but send to us thine Holy Ghost to comfort us, and exalt us unto the same place whither our Saviour Christ is gone

before.” Our text adds,—“ Yea, for the rebellious also, that the Lord God might dwell among them.” Some of the rebellious persist in their rebellion, and will not accept the gifts which are proposed to them :-and this awful refusal increases their guilt, and will add to their condemnation. “ How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation ?”—But there are others who accept the salvation which has been wrought for them,—who repose, with humility and faith, on the merits and mediation of the Redeemer,—who submit to the merciful guidance of the Holy Spirit,-—who turn, by the aid of his grace, from the paths of ungodliness, and walk in the ways of holiness and virtue. Within them, and upon them, is the blessing of their God. Let them go on their way with lowliness and patience, with sincerity and prayer, with faithfulness and hope. Let them keep ever in view the glories and the bounties of their exalted and omnipotent Redeemer, Intercessor, and Forerunner. Let them seek peace and consolation, more than in all earthly blessings, in the confident assurance, “ It doth not yet appear what we shall be ; but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him ; for we shall see him as he is.” (1 John iii. 2.)

149

SERMON

VIII.

CHRIST PRESENT IN THE CHURCH.

St. MATTHEW xviii. 20.

For where two or three are gathered together in

my name, there am I in the midst of them.

HERE is, on the one hand, the abolition or disavowal of all exclusive habitations of the divine presence upon earth; and, on the other, the foundation of Christian assemblies or congregations of the faithful. Our Lord declares, concerning the gospel dispensation, that his presence, by the Spirit, would not be confined to place ;-a truth which he had already intimated in his conversation with the woman of Samaria. (See John iv. 21—24.) At the same time, he draws our attention to another kind of temple; a temple which may at all times be reared, and may become equal in extent to the surface of the habitable globe. And this our Lord describes as the temple in which he would condescend and delight to dwell. Nothing can be more accurately defined, nothing can be more simple in its structure, than this earthly habitation of Jehovah. Nor can anything be more appropriate to the universal dispensation of the grace of God. An assembly, how small soever, of the faithful,—two or three met together in the name of Christ,that is it which the Lord has chosen as his peculiar dwelling-place among the sons of men. Wheresoever, or under whatsoever circumstances, two or three meet together as disciples of the Lord Jesus, and for the purpose of united worship, there, and in that moment, Christ is present by his Spirit, to give a blessing to that assembly, and to accept that worship. Thus extensive is the promise conveyed to us in the text.

But what is the precise nature or import of this promise? The presence of God, Father, Son, and Spirit, doubtless pervades the universe. But when the presence of Deity is spoken of in a peculiar sense, we are to understand his immediate agency and operation in some particular way, or for some express purpose; in one word, the manifestation of his presence by the exertion of his power. And thus our Lord is in the midst of his assembled people, when his Spirit, being pre

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