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But wherefore suggest cautions to this effect? | wherein we come to announce the revival of
bring forth fruits worthy of repent- ering futurity, vicissitudes still more calamiance,” ver. 8.
Without these, the reign of tous and more deeply ensanguined than those grace was the reign of wrath: without these, which have already cost us so many tears, and " the axe was already laid unto the root of the so much blood. tree; and every tree which brought not forth This, this is the only effectual method of good fruit was to be hewn down, and cast into waiting for deliverance and redemption. Far the fire,” ver. 9; and this Messiah, this Re- removed from us be those frivolous terrors, deemer of mankind, was to come with his which would suggest that to be subjected to fan in his hand, thoroughly to purge his floor; the yoke of Jesus Christ, is to derogate from to gather the wheat into his garner; but to his merits! And let us not deceive ourselves; burn the chaff with fire unquenchable,” ver. 17. there is not a single particular in the system of
Ah! if at this period of the gospel dispensa- the gospel; there is not a single article of Christion, when we are exercising, in some manner, tian theology, but what preaches terror, if we the functions of John Baptist, if in these days are destitute of that righteousness, and of that
fear of God with which Simeon “waited for have the commencement of the latter days.
Farther, in order to our having a knowledge this suffice as to the character of Simeon.
3. Finally, we are informed by the evange- against the terrors of death. Wherefore should list, that "the Holy Ghost was upon Simeon; he wish to live longer in this world? Could it and it was revealed to him by the Holy Ghost, be to behold some wonderful event, or to acthat he should not see death, before he had quire some valuable possession? But his whole seen the Lord's Christ.”
soul is rapt in admiration of the object with On this particular, I shall confine myself to which his eyes are feasted; the delight he feels a single reflection. It supplies us with an ex- in contemplating the Redeemer, "the Lord's plication of several ancient oracles, and parti- Christ,” absorbs every faculty. Could the fear cularly that of the prophet: “And it shall of the punishment of sin suggest a wish to live come to pass afterward, that I will pour out longer? He holds in his arms the victim which my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and is going to be offered up to divine justice. your daughters shall prophecy, your old men could he desire longer life from any doubt he shall dream dreams, your young men shall see entertained respecting the doctrine of a life to visions,” Joel ii. 28. The Jews themselves come? He is at the very source of life, and acknowledge,* that the spirit of prophecy was needs only to be released from a mortal body, one of the prerogatives, which had been denied to arrive at immortality. Three sources of to the second temple. This gift seems to have meditation, well worthy, I am bold to say, of expired with Malachi. For an uninterrupted all the attention you are able to bestow. series of more than four hundred years no pro- 1. The desire of beholding some wonderful phet had arisen. This high privilege was not and interesting event, is one of the most usual to be restored to the church till the latter days causes of attachment to life. There are cershould come; and conformably to the style of tain fixed points, in which all our hopes seem the Old Testament, the latter days denote the to be concentrated. Nothing is more common dispensation of the Messiah. Here then, we among men, even among those whose charac
ter as Christians is the least liable to suspicion, Lol. xxi. 2. Talmud Hieros . Taanith, fol. vi. I. Babylon. Joma, than to say, could I but live to see such and
such an event take place, I should die content:
could I but live to see that adversary of the nearer view of the person of whom so lofty an church confounded: could I but live to see that idea is conveyed from preparations so magnifimystery of Providence unfolded: could I but centAll these preparations, however, are in live to see Zion arise out of her ruins, and the many cases, not so much the badges of the real chains of her bondmen broken asunder: could greatness of the personage whom they anI but live to see my son attain such and such a nounce, as of his vanity. It has oftener than period. Such emotions are not in every case once been felt, that the object of the least imto be condemned as unlawful; but how much portance in a splendid procession, was the very do they frequently savour of human infirmity! man who acted as the hero of it. But what Let it be our study to die in peace with God, could the Levitical dispensation furnish, to and we shall be disposed to die, whenever it convey an idea of the Messiah, but what fell shall please him, who has sent us into the infinitely short of the Messiah himself? world, to call us out of it again.
Simeon at length beholds this Messiah, so I Death draws aside the curtain, which con- eagerly expected through so many ages. Siceals from our eyes what is most worthy of our meon, more highly favoured than Jacob, who, regard, of our desire, of our admiration. If on his dying bed exclaimed, “I have waited for thou diest in a state of reconciliation with God, thy salvation, O Lord!" Gen. xlix. 8. Simeon thine eyes shall behold events infinitely more exulting, says, "Lord, I have seen thy salvainteresting and important than all those which tion:" more highly favoured than so many can suggest a wish to continue longer in this kings, and so many prophets, who desired to world. Thou shalt behold something unspeaka- see the Redeemer, but did not see him, Luke bly greater than the solution of some particular xi. 24, more highly privileged than so many mystery of Providence: thou shalt discern a uni- believers of former ages, who saw only the versal light, which shall dispel all thy doubts, re- promises of him “afar off, and embraced solve all thy difficulties, put to flight all thy dark- them,” Heb. xi. 13, he receives the effect of
Thou shalt behold something incompa- | those promises; he contemplates, not afar off, rably surpassing the confusion of those tyrants, but nigh, “the star which was to come out of whose prosperity astonishes and offends thee: Jacob,” Numb. xxiv. 17, he beholds the acthou shalt behold Jesus at the right hand of complishment of the prophecies, “ Christ the his Father, holding “a rod of iron,” ready to end of the law for righteousness to every one “dash in pieces, like a potter's vessel,” Ps. ii. that believeth,” Rom. x. 4, the ark, the She9, all those who dare oppose his empire. Thou chinah, the habitation of the Deity in his temshalt behold something incomparably more ple, he in whom “all the fulness of the Godsublime than the dust of Zion reanimated: head dwelleth bodily,” Col. ii. 9, he sees the thou shalt behold the “new Jerusalem," of manna, and more than the manna, for “your which “God and the Lamb,” are the sun and fathers did eat manna in the wilderness and are temple, Rev. xxi. 2. 22, 23. Thou shalt be dead," John vi. 58, but, “whoso eateth my hold something incomparably more interesting flesh and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life, than the chains of the bondmen broken asun- ver. 54. “Father of day,” exclaimed a Pagan der: thou shalt behold the souls of a thousand prince, “thou radiant Sun, I thank thee that martyrs invested with white robes, Rev. vi. 11, before I leave the world, I have had the felicity because they fought under the banner of the of seeing Cornelius Scipio in my kingdom and cross: thou shalt hear them crying one to an- palace; now I have lived as long as I can deother; “ Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipo- sire." It is the very emotion with which Sitent reigneth. Let us be glad and rejoice, and meon is animated: he has lived long enough, give honour to him; for the marriage of the because he has seen “the salvation of God.” Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself Let the Roman republic henceforth extend her ready," Rev. xix. 6, 7. Thou shalt behold empire, or let its limits be contracted; let the something incomparably more interesting than great questions revolving in the recesses of the establishment of that son, the object of so cabinets be determined this way or that; let the many tender affections: thou shalt behold those globe subsist a few ages longer, or crumble immultitudes of glorified saints who are eternally mediately into dust; Simeon has no desire to to partake with thee in the felicity of the ever see any thing farther: “Lord, now lettest thou blessed God: thine eyes shall behold that ado- thy servant depart in peace, according to thy rable face, the looks of which absorb, if I may word, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation." use the expression, all those of the creature. Secondly, Simeon remains no longer at
Let it be admitted, at the same time, that if tached to life from terror of the punishment of ever any one could he justified in expressing a sin after death. “The sting of death is sin;" wish to have the hour of death deferred, it that sting so painfully acute to all mankind, is was in the case of those believers, who lived peculiarly so to the aged. An old man has at the period when the Messiah was expected. rendered himself responsible for all the stations This was the case with Simeon. Brought up which he occupied, for all the relations which under an economy in which every thing was he formed in social life, and in the church. mysterious and emblematical, he is justifiable, And these in general, become so many sources should he have expressed a wish to see the elu- of remorse. Generally speaking, it is not secidation of all these sacred enigmas. When a paration from the world merely which renders prince is expected to visit one of our cities; death an object of horror; it is the idea of the when we behold the sumptuous equipages by account which must be given in, when we leave which he is preceded, the train of messengers it. If nothing else were at stake, but merely who announce his approach; palaces decorated, to prepare for removing out the world, a and triumphal arches reared, for his reception: small degree of reflection, a little philosophy, a does not all this excite a desire of obtaining a little fortitudo, might answer the purpose.
What is the amount of human life, especially thing that communicated motion and life had
bodily,” Col. ii. 9, with all his wisdom, with all
expiring sufferer but unavailing solicitude, and
yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own in order to establish the doctrine of a future
gust of the world. When a man has beheld munion table! And then to die? And then to frequently reiterated vicissitudes of day and exist no more? And can this be all that salvanight, of summer and winter, of spring and au- tion which the earth was to bring forth? And tumn; in a word, of the different appearances can this be all that righteousness which the skies of nature, what is there here below capable of were to pour down? And can this be the dew satisfying the mind? I am well aware,” adds which the heavens were to drop down from above? he, "how brilliant, how magnificent this spec- And can this be the whole amount of the tacle is, I know how possible it is to indulge in achievements of that Counsellor, of that Wonit with a steady and increasing delight; but I derful one, of that Prince of Peace, of that Falikewise know that, at length, the continual ther of Eternity?“Lord, now lettest thou thy recurrence of the same images cloys the ima- servant depart in peace, according to thy word, gination, which is eagerly looking forward to for mine eyes have seen thy salvation." Good the removal of the curtain, that it may con- Simeon, what meaning do you intend to convey template new scenes, of which it can catch only by these words? Into what peace art thou wisha confused glimpse in the dark perspective of ing henceforth to depart, if these eyes, which futurity. Death, in this point of view, is a behold the Messiah, are going to be doomed to transition merely from one scene of enjoyment the darkness of an eternal night? If these to another. If present objects fatigue and ex- hands, which are privileged to hold, and to cite disgust, it is only in order to prepare the embrace him, are going to become a prey to soul for enjoying, more exquisitely, pleasures worms? And if that life which thou wast enof a different nature, ever new, and ever satis- joying before thy Redeemer appeared, is going fying."
to be rent from thee, because he is already come? The conclusion deducible from the prepara- Ah! my brethren, how widely different are tions of nature, may likewise be derived from the ideas which this holy man of God enterthe preparations of grace. Let us not lose sight tained! “Lord, now letiest thou thy servant of our leading object. How magnificent had depart in peace.” Wherefore now? Because the preparations of grace appeared in the eyes now I know, from the accomplishment of thy of Simeon! This we have already hinted: the promise, what was before a matter of presumpwhole of the Levitical dispensation consisted of tion only, namely, that my soul is not a mere preparations for the appearance of the Messiah; modification of matter, and a result of the if we form a judgment of the blessings which arrangement, and of the harmony of my organs he was to bestow upon the human race, from because I am now convinced, that this soul of the representations given us of him, it is im- mine, on being separated from the body, shall possible to refrain from drawing this conclusion. not become a forlorn wanderer in a strange and That the Messiah was to give unbounded scope solitary land: because now I no longer entertain to the desires of the heart of man, was to com- any doubt respecting my own immortality, and municate to him that unspeakable felicity, for because I hold in my arms him who has purthe enjoyment of which nature had already chased it, and who bestows it upon me: because prepared him, but which nature had not the to see Jesus Christ, and to die, is the highest power to bestow. There, I mean in the Le- blessedness that can be conferred on a mortal vitical dispensation, you found the shadows creature. which retraced the Messiah; there you found Permit me, my beloved brethren, to repeat types which represented him; there oracles my words, and with them to finish this diswhich predicted him; there an exhibition in course: to see Jesus Christ, and to die, is the which were displayed his riches, his pomp, his highest blessedness that can be conferred on a magnificence; there you heard the prophets mortal creature. Enjoy, my friends, enjoy the crying aloud: “Drop down, ye heavens, from felicity which the Saviour bestows upon you, above, and let the skies pour down righteous- during the course of a transitory life: gratify, ness: let the earth open, and let them bring as you this day turn a wondering eye to the forth salvation; and let righteousness spring up manger in which this divine Saviour lies, and together,” Isa. xlv. 8. “For unto us a Child as you celebrate the memory of his incarnation, is born, unto us a Son is given, and the govern- gratify the taste which you have for the great ment shall be upon his shoulder; and his name and the marvellous: and cry out with an enshall be called, Wonderful, Counsellor, The raptured apostle, “Without controversy, great mighty God, The everlasting Father, The is tlie mystery of godliness: God was manifest Prince of Peace,” Isa. ix. 6. "Lift up your in the flesh,” 1 Tim. iii. 16. Gratify, as in eyes to the heavens, and look upon the earth the retirement of the closet you devote yourbeneath: for the heavens shall vanish away like selves to the study of the doctrine of this Jesus, smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a gar- gratify the desire you feel to learn and to know: ment, and they that dwell therein shall die in draw constant supplies of light and truth from like manner; but my salvation shall be for ever, those “ treasures of wisdom and knowledge,” and my righteousness shall not be abolished,” Col. ii. 3, which he opens to you in his gospel. Isa. li. 6.
Gratify, as you receive, next Lord's day, the Now, what state of felicity could possibly effusions of his love, gratify the propensity correspond to conceptions raised so high by pre- which naturally disposes you to love him. Let parations of such mighty import? What! every power of the soul expand on hearing the amount to no more than that which the Mes- tender expressions which he addresses to you siah bestows in this world? What! no more in the sacrament of the supper: “Come unto than to frequent these temples? What! no all ye that labour and are heaven laden, more than to raise these sacred songs of praise: and I will give you rest,” Matt. xi. 28. “Beto celebrate our solumn feasts: to eat a little hold I stand at the door and knock; if any man bread, and to drink a little wine at the com- | hear my voice, and open the door, I will come