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A PRAYER BEFORE SERMON.
BLESSED LORD, who hast caused all holy scriptures to be written for our learning; grant that we may in such wise hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that by patience and comfort of Thy holy word, we may embrace, and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which Thou hast given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.
THE LORD'S PRAYER.
OUR FATHER which art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven : Give us this day our daily bread; And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us; And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil; For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, For ever and ever. Amen.
A PRAYER AFTER SERMON. GRANT, we beseech Thee, Almighty God, that the words which we have heard this day with our outward ears, may through Thy grace be so grafted inwardly in our hearts, that they may bring forth in us the fruit of good living, to the honour and praise of Thy name, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
THE APOSTOLICAL BENEDICTION. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost, be with us all evermore. Amen.
THE FIRST SUNDAY IN ADVENT.
THE ARMOUR OF LIGHT.
Romans xiii. 12.
THE NIGHT IS FAR SPENT, THE DAY IS AT HAND: LET US THEREFORECAST OFF THE WORKS OF DARKNESS, AND LET US PUT ON THE ARMOUR OF LIGHT.
The Epistle for this day, on which our ecclesiastical year commences, appears to have been selected on account of the reference made in the text to the day being at hand when the children of God, who have become such by faith in Christ Jesus, shall be admitted to partake of that eternal salvation to which it is their privilege to look forward. This expression may lead us also to turn our thoughts to that day which dawned upon our benighted world, when the heavenly hosts sang in joyful concert, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will towards men. May we be enabled to commemorate, at this
season, the advent of our most adorable Redeemer, with gratitude and praise for the benefits which have been bestowed upon us in consequence of His incarnation; and to look forward with joyful expectation to His second coming, when He shall appear again for the salvation of His believing people.
The Epistle for this day begins with the exhortation, Owe no man any thing, but to love one another. In the verse before it, the apostle had said, Render to all their dues ; tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour. He first showed that it was the duty of Christians to support the government of the country in which they lived, by the payment of the lawful taxes, which it imposed; and then to avoid being in debt to any person whatever; to discharge all debts but one, which can never be discharged, that of love towards each other. This is Christian principle. It proceeds from the love of God having been shed abroad in the heart, and producing the love of our neighbour as its necessary result. If this principle operate in our minds, it will lead us to fulfil, with alacrity, every moral obligation. But if the existence and operation of this principle be a test of Christianity, how many are there, it is to be feared, who imagine themselves entitled to the honourable name of Christians, that cannot stand the test? A profession
of Christianity requires us to provide things honest in the sight of all men, and not to defraud or injure those who may be disposed to give credit to our religious profession. The apostle says, He that loveth his brother, hath fulfilled the law. It has been observed, that “the demeanour of men towards the second table of the law, is a sure trial how they stand affected towards the first.” This the apostle John intimates, when he makes the inquiry, He that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen ?? To show what he meant by the law, our apostle gives a summary of it; For this, thou shalt not commit adultery, thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not bear false witness, thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. This is the manner in which the law of God requires mankind to act towards each other. And therefore it is evident that, Love worketh no ill to his neighbour ; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. They who are under the influence of the Christian principle of love to God and man, will be good members of society; will live in the observance of every moral and relative duty ; in subjection to the government of their country; and in good-will towards all around them. i Rom. xii. 17.
2 1 John iv. 20.