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eternal inheritance," that they, withoạt us, should
not be made perfect"," as God intends that we, together with them, at the general resurrection, shall be made perfect in heaven.
If, then, the mothers in Judah and Benjamin had been properly instructed in the faith of the ancient church, when Jeremiah addressed to them the words we have been considering, though they must understand them immediately as a promise that their children should be delivered from Babylon, and brought back again to their own land; yet their thoughts would naturally be carried on, for further comfort, to that other deliverance and restoration from death, promised by all the holy prophets since the world began; 'even as we may presume the thoughts of a Christian parent would now be, whose son was a slave in Barbary, should a prophet be sent to him with the following message from God: “Your son
is gone into captivity, but he shall certainly be re"deemed from it.”
This, however, is indisputable; that, in the application which St. Matthew has taught us to make of the passage, it can admit of no other construction; because there can be no deliverance from bo. dily death, but by a bodily resurrection.
Learn we, therefore, and a more important and useful lesson cannot be learned-whenever death deprives us of those who are near and dear to us, to comfort ourselves and one another with these words; and let each of us, as occasion for consolation shall offer itself, listen to Jeremiah's prophecy, as if it were spoken to himself: “Thus saith the LORD; “ Refrain thy voice froin weeping, and thine eyes “ from tears; for thy work shall be rewarded, saith " the LORD, and they shall come again from the “ land of the enemy. And there is hope in thine
d Heb. xi. 40.
end, saith the LORD, that thy children,” thy relations, or thy friends, “shall come again to their srown border;" that from the dark and desolate regions of the grave they shall come to the light and glory of the heavenly Jerusalem; where, as holy John tells us, "there shall be no more death, neither "sorrow, nor cryingo ;" where Rachel shall finally cease her lamentations, lay aside her mourning veil, and wipe away all tears for ever from her eyes.
e Rey. xxi. 4.
LUKE, II. 21.
And when eight days were accomplished for the cir.
cumcising of the child, his name was called Jesus, which was so named of the angel, before he was conceived in the womb.
These words conclude the Gospel for the day, taken from a chapter which hath afforded ample matter of wonder and delight through the course of the present joyful season, when the church, like the blessed Virgin Mother, is never seen, but with the holy child in her arms. By the portions already selected from it, we have been made to listen to the sermon preached by an angel upon the subject of the Nativity; and the sweet notes of that anthem, sung by the choir of heaven immediately after, are still sounding in our ears. With the happy and obedient shepherds we have been at Bethlehem, and there have seen “this great thing which is come to pass, " which the Lord hath made known unto us ;” and have found reason to return, like them, “glorifying "and praising God for all the things that we have
" heard and seen, as it was told unto us." Nor , shall we ever forget, it is to be hoped (at least, never, at this hallowed and gracious time), to imitate her example, who " kept all these sayings, and pon“ dered them in her heart."
We are now conducted from the birth to the cir cumcision of our Redeemer, an account of which, immediately follows the history of the shepherds, in the words of the text. And very meet, and right, and our bounden duty it is, that we should at this time, and in this place, employ our thoughts upon it; seeing it was the beginning of sorrows to the Son of God, and the beginning of joy, because the beginning of redemption, to the sons of men, for whom the first blood of the all-propitiating victim was now shed. A stumbling-block it may prove to the Jew, foolishness it may appear to the Greek, and to all those, who, like the one, desire a sign of earthly splendour and magnificence; or, like the other, seek, after the wisdom of false philosophy: but to the intelligent, and therefore humble believer, Christ, in this state of weakness, pain, and sorrow, is "the “ wisdom of God” to contrive, “and the power of “God” to effect the deliverance of his people.
It is observable, that whensoever, in the Scriptures, mention is made of any particular relative to the abasement, the infirmity, and the shame submitted to by Christ, it is presently contrasted by something concerning his exaltation, his power, and bis glory; that so, the objection arising in the mind from a view of the former, may be obviated at once by the consideration of the latter, and the Christian
may never lose sight of that capital article of his faith, the union of the two natures, divine and human, in the person
of his Saviour. Thus we behold him in swaddling clothes; but instantly we hear the heavenly host singing an hallelujah to him. He lies in a manger; but the brightest star in the firmament points the way to his abode. He expires upon the cross; but all nature suffers with him, almost to a dissolution. And thus, in the instance now before us, he is circumcised indeed on earth, as the son of Abraham; but a name is given bim from heaven, as the Son of God. For in these lowly and ignominious circumstances, he receives the name enjoined before to be imposed on him by the angel; a name above every name; a name which evil spirits fear, and good ones adore ; a name, at which every knee should rejoice to bow, and which every tongue should exult to confess; since it is by this name that glory is given to God in the highest, peace restored to earth at war with its Maker, and good-will streams forth to sinful men.
In order to unfold the mystery of the circumcision of Christ, it will be necessary to inquire into the institution of this rite, with the reason and end thereof. “ Moses," saith our Lord to the Jews, “gave you “ circumcision, not because it is of Moses, but of the “ fathers a ;" this being one of the many legal ceremonies, which were originally communicated to the ancient patriarchs, and afterwards re-ordained in writing by Moses. The first accoụnt of it occurs in
a John, vii. 22.