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and only desires the prosperity of such as love her, so he must ever mourn when she is torn by inward contentions, and is impaired and injured in her strength, or tarnished in her glory, or impeded in her triumphs, though it be but a moment, by the attacks of her foes. "If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning: if I remember not Jerusalem above my chiefest joy, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth."
Still further, blessed are they that mourn for the world. Deeply must the eye of the godly man affect his heart, when he looks abroad and sees the universal prevalence of impiety, irreligion, and crime; the neglect and contempt of God among all ranks and classes of society; the vice and iniquity that abound in the streets of our crowded cities--the great marts of merchandizeand that fills the land in the length and breadth of it, from the palace to the cottage. What ignorance; what recklessness; what impiety; what cursing and swearing; what sabbath-breaking ; what acts of injustice; wha: deeds of enormity; what guilt! O how hideous, how disgusting, how revolting the scene! His spirit is stirred within him with grief as he beholds populous and mighty regions of this fair world wholly given to idolatry. With the Psalmist, as he beholds these things, “rivers of water run down his eyes, because men keep not the law of God.” He exclaims with the prophet, “O that mine head were waters, and mine eyes fountains of tears, that I might weep day and night for the sins of the daughter of my people;" for the infatuated multitudes of a Christian land, who are perishing in their sins, and pressing, with a madness that might make angels weep, down the broad road that leadeth to destruction.
We might proceed much further in illustrating the various sources of godly sorrow; of that mourning which the Christian must ever feel, and with which the blessing of the text is inseparably attached. “ Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
OF THAT COM
But, in the second place, WHAT PORT WHICH THE REDEEMER HERE ASSURES US IS ATTACHED TO THIS MOURNING? In the first place, we assert it is present and positive.
“ Blessed are they that inourn, for they shall be comforted.” They have the assurance of the pardon of sin. “ Comfort ye, comfort ye, my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned.” It is to such that Jehovah speaks when he says, “ Behold I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions.” The sacrifices of God, what are they? The riches and costly things, the purchase of this world's silver and gold ? No. “ The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” Despise it! No; for though he is “ the high and the holy One that inhabiteth eternity,” yet will he dwell in such a heart; that is the residence of his Spirit.
“ Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Herein is the consolation of the saints: they shall be comforted; for their's are the consulations of the Gospel, in all their richness, in all their variety, in all their adaptation, in all their intimacy, in all their exceeding great and precious promises; they are all yea and amen in Christ Jesus, to the glory of God. The dispensation of the Gospel and the ministry of mercy are especially to them. “ The Spirit
of the Lord God is upon me," said the Redeemer when he opened his commission and commenced his ministry, “ because he hath appointed me to preach glad tidings unto the meek, to bind up the broken heart,"—to strengthen thy bruised reed, to fan thy smoking flax, and to confirm and establish thee, trembling Christian ; to bind up thy broken heart, and pour into it the balın of gladness and joy. “ He hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captive, the opening of the prison to them that are bound, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn :" the day of vengeance is not for them; but the comfort, the consolation, the soothing and sustaining influence of the ministry of reconciliation and peace. They are blessed; for in their sorrow they deeply resemble Christ, and the saints, and the holy and the excellent of all ages of the world, and all dispensations of the Church. What was Jesus ? A inan of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. What are these afflictions, these sorrow's, these tears ? Are you not, brethren, accomplishing thus the same afflictions which were accomplished in your brethren, who in successive generations have gone before you ? Like you, it was through much tribulation they entered the kingdom; they knew what sadness and what sorrows meant: their tears were put into the Almighty's bottle. But now they “have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb;" “ they are before the throne of God, and serve himn day and night in his temple; and the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne leads them, and God himself has wiped away all tears from their eyes.” Be ye followers of them, then, who through faith and patience thus inherit the promises.
And then, they who thus mourn are blessed; for there is a salutary influence in sanctified affliction. Their sorrow is blessed, because it has an immediate tendency to promote their highest interest and their truest welfare. It softens the heart, and subducs its obduracy ; it elevates the soul; it detaches the man from the creature, from sublunary sources and scenes of consolation and joy, and turns him to the only unfailing source. It endears to him the throne of the heavenly grace, and gives him an experience of the sustaining power of the everlasting arm ; so that he feels in his own blessed experience the rich enjosment, that God is a satisfying portion to them that trust in him, and that there is no want to thein that look to him for succour. He that goeth forth weeping thus, bears precious seed ; and seed that cannot be lost; and seed that must be productive, and yield an ample harvest : “ He that goeth forth weeping, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him." “ Though sorrow may endure for a night," and, like the Psalmist, through the darkness of the night he may “wet his couch with his tears ;" but "joy will come in the morning," from the lifting up the light of his heavenly Father's countenance, to chase away his gloom.
Thus we have observed that there is present and positive blessings connected with this mourning. But, secondly, there are comparative and contrasted blessings connected with this sorrow. “ Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall oe comforted." You observe, in the first place, that the situation of such is less dangerous than that of others. Who is it that stands in slippery places ? Not the mourner who feels the burden of guilt, and laments his worthlessness ; who is conscious of his weakness, and is looking to the throne of God for pardon,
for succour, and salvation. Who is it that stands in slippery places? The man whose path is bright, and strewed with flowers; who is rolling in affluence, has all that his heart can wish, and says to his gold, “ Thou art my God." The man who is in the midst of scenes of mirth and gaiety, and who is saying, “ Rejoice O young man in thy youth, and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and sight of thine eyes" — that is the man that stands in slippery places. But he that is humble and lowly in penitential sorrow and godly grief, he is secure; the everlasting arms are around him; he is, as it were, in the hollow of the Almighty's hand, safe as the apple of his eye.
And then, still further, the state of such as mourn after this goully sort, is less equivocal than that of others. When men go on in a course of uninterrupted prosperity and joy, when they are strangers to sorrow and grief, when all is as their heart could wish, there is reason to apprehend that all is not right as it regards their state before God: for it is written, “Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.” Now if we endure chastening, then the Lord dealeth with us as his children: “What son is he whom the Father chasteneth not?” “ If we be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers,” our experience does not correspond with the people of God; we have reason to apprehend then, that all is not right, as it regards us, before him: for if we be without chastisement, “then are we bastards and not sons."
And their situation is less critical and dangerous, as their state is less equivocal and doubtful. Sanctified affliction is a sure and certain evidence of our adoption, that we are children. When the Father corrects his children, and sends his chastisements, he sanctifies the discipline.
Then, in the third place, this blessedness is peculiar to themselves. « Blessea are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted." There are future consolations in store, of which the present is but the foretaste. For they that mourn thus, shall finally enjoy the blessing of the renewed and sanctified nature, when having laid aside the garments of mortality, they shall enter into the kingdon. prepared for them from before the foundation of the world, and shall be satisfied, waking up in his likeness. They shall be comforted with the fulness of the eternal fruition of the blessed, when the triumph of the Church and the glory of all things shall be complete : when He whom they love shall appear they shall be like him, for they shall see him as he is. O let us seek, then, this godly sorrow : let us pronounce those that mourn blessed, whose sorrow springs from such a source, and is sanctified by such an efficacious influence. Amen.
ST. MARK'S CHURCH, PENTONVILLE, DECEMBER 23, 1834.
"And when we had accomplished those days, we departed and went our way: and they all
brought us on our way, with wives and children, tili we were out of the city: and we kneeled down on the shore, and prayed.”--Acts, xxi. 5.
You may remember, my Christian brethren, that it was with the words of St. Paul we commenced the year: our first Sabbath morning sermon to you in the present year was from this book, the book of the Acts of the Apostles; and from the words of the blessed St. Paul, “Not knowing the things that shall befall me," we considered, by way of accommodation, (a mode of treating Scripture that ought not to be, by any means, general and common among us; but the occasional use of which is not only lawful, but profitable)—we endeavoured to consider the year on which we were then entering as the terra incognita, the unknown land. Little could we tell many things that were likely to happen-many things, I would say, that have happened. Now that the year has rolled round, and we are come to the last Sabbath-morning in this year, I am disposed to go, for my last Sunday morning's text, to the same source as I went for my first: and the passage which I have read will furnish us with useful matter of consideration; and may, I conceive, with propriety be accommodated to our present state and circumstances. We have just “accomplished our days;" we are about to take our departure: what can we do better on such an occasion as the present, when we seem looking back on the past year, and looking forward to what may be before us, with trembling uncertainty-what can we do better than they did? “ They kneeled down on the shore, and prayed." O, could I bring all my hearers this day, at this juncture, (so to speak,) standing between the two years, with one thousand eight hundred and thirty-four behind, and one thousand eight hundred and thirty-five just before them, (though they are not certain that they will see the commencement of the next year-not sure that they will live to enter upon it)-0, that I could bring erery one of my hearers this morning into a spirit of prayer ! • The text will suggest to us three topics for consideration and improvement, as well as those I have mentioned: and may the Spirit of God enable us to improve passing circumstances; to seize the present moment while it is ours; for the glory of God, and the salvation of those who are comimitted to our charge.
The first thing which we may notice is, THE ACCOMPLISHMENT Op our
Paul and his company had purposed only to remain for a little time · the days were now accomplished, and they were about to depart. Brethren, our days are numbered; they are numbered often by others; they are, alas ! out seldom numbered by ourselves: others can see, oft and again, clear indications of time passing rapidly away, of health declining, of death approaching, when it is to be feared that the parties themselves are often some of the last to suspect it. Now let me just remind you that you have very nearly accomplished another
This year, like its predecessor, has maile some alterations among you. I will not go into detail; I will not dwell upon family bereavements and afflictions: but methinks this season of the year is a solemn memento of the flight of time, and of our mortality. Yes ; we look around us, and we can see where death has laid some who, at the beginning of this year, were worshipping God with us here, but now, we trust, are worshipping in another and in a better world.
We, too, ourselves are accomplishing our days. Year after year goes by, and the thoughtless, careless creature again and again takes up the language of compliment at such a season, forgetting the flight of time, forgetting the near approach of eternity. We wish each other “the compliments of the woon.” I will not quarrel with the phrase, calculated as it is to express a cvolent, an affectionate, a neighbourly, a brotherly feeling : I confess I preser very much, however, an older English phrase than “the compliments of the season;" I mean, “the blessings of the searon." We commemorate at this season of the year the advent of our Lord Christ: on that sudject we ought to delight to dwell; and we ought to think how much comes to men in connexion with the gift of Christ; for “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?" I say we congratulate one another; but in how many cases is it that, while we look with pleasure and with a measure of thankfulness upon the past, we forget what may be before us?
Now, my Christian brethren, be it known unto you all—not only Christian, but un-christian-not only saint, but sinner-not only the child of God, but the profligate, be it known you are accomplishing your days. Time is going round; you are being borne forward into that eternal world where we all must soon make our appearance.
And yet some of you have no religion at all: others have got the name, and that is all: some possess the power, and taste the blessedness of it. But, beloved people, over whose souls God has called us to watch now for seven years—how many are there in church this morning who are no more fit to die than they were seven years ago! They have heard the funeral bell, they have seen their neighbours pass to their long homes; they have had memento upon memento, call upon call, warning upon warning: but where are they now? As far from God as ever; as much attached to the present passing scenes, as little concerned about eternity, as if eternity were only connected with the Chinese and the Hindoos, and they themselves had little to do with it. And yet we see time with them passing rapidly away; are accomplishing their days, but accomplishing their days, alas! without any spiritual improvement. It is a thought which often weighs down our spirit—a thought we have very often expressed before, and, if we live, may often express again—that we fear greatly iliat soue