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such is his object, how careful should we be to abstain from whatever will be so injurious to us, and will gratify the malignity of the enemy of God and man, who envies to the creatures of God the happiness which he himself has forfeited. Let us then cast off the works of darkness, which afford so little transitory gratification, and bring destruction in their train. And let us put on the armour of light, the Lord Jesus Christ ; that, having our faith and hope in Him, and loving Him above all things, we may be defended by His mighty power, and be made more than conquerors through Him that loved us, 31 over all the power of the enemy. We are to put Him on as our armour, which is proof against all the weapons of our adversaries. We are to make Him our refuge, being assured that, under His protection, we are safe from all assault. He is a shield of salvation to all that put their trust in Him. He will defend them from all evil, and not suffer any thing hurtful to come near them, much less to injure or prevail against them.
The exhortations in the text are enforced by the consideration, that the night is far spent, and the day is at hand. This mortal life will soon come to an end. The day of eternity dawns upon the horizon. Let not any then sleep securely in sin, lest they should wake to shame and everlasting contempt32 in the great day of God, which is at hand. It is declared of that day of the Lord, that it will be a day of darkness, and not of light,33 to many. God grant that this may not be its character to any of us; but while we are reminded of its approach, may we seek earnestly to be prepared for it.
31 Rom. viii, 37.
We are taught by our church at this season, to look forward from the first advent of our Lord Jesus Christ, to His second coming. These two are so connected together, that those only who are made partakers of the blessings which He came into the world to bestow by His first advent, will be prepared for the second. Let us ask ourselves whether this be our case? By the profession which we make of being Christians, we declare that it is. But will our profession stand the test of the scrutiny of the great and very terrible day of the Lord ?34 Alas! how many are there who call themselves Christians, who are not ashamed to do openly those things which the word of God condemns. Let such be persuaded to repent, and pray to God for Christ's sake to forgive them their trespasses, lest the day of judgment should overtake them; and, dying in their sins, they should fall into the hands of the liviny God,35 the Avenger of sin.
But if I address those who have so far cast off the
32 Daniel xii. 2. 33 Amos v. 18. 34 Joel ii. 11. 35 Heb. x. 31.
works of darkness, that their conduct in society is moral and respectable, and free from reproach; allow me to ask you, Have you put on the armour of light? Have you put on the Lord Jesus Christ? Unless faith in Christ and love to Him influence our hearts and lives, and the hope of salvation through Him animate us to run in the way of God's commandments, and to turn from every evil way, we have reason to fear lest that day should overtake us as a thief:36 Let us then pray earnestly, that these gifts of Divine grace may be vouchsafed to us.
And let those who have believed through grace remember, that it is only by faith in Christ and love to Him that their hearts will be kept in the fear of God. By faith in Christ you will walk with God, as your Father. By love to Christ, you will be constrained to live in obedience to His holy commandments. By having the hope of salvation through Christ before your eyes continually, you will be preserved from turning aside to the right hand or to the left, and be led to walk suitably to your high and holy and heavenly calling, as heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ.37 May we then put on the Lord Jesus Christ, that when He shall appear, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming, 38 but when His glory shall be revealed, may be glad also with exceeding joy. 39
36 1 Thess. v. 4. 37 Rom. viii. 17. 38 1 John ij. 28. 39 1 Pet.iv. 13.
THE SECOND SUNDAY IN ADVENT.
THE BENEFIT OF THE HOLY SCRIPTURES.
Romans xv. 4.
FOR WHATSOEVER THINGS WERE WRITTEN
A FORETIME WERE WRITTEN FOR OUR LEARNING; THAT WE, THROUGH PATIENCE AND COMFORT OF THE SCRIPTURES, MIGHT HAVE HOPE.
The glory of God, and the welfare of his fellowcreatures actuated the mind of the apostle Paul in the whole course of his ministry. To promote these objects, he recommended the holy scriptures of the Old Testament to the diligent perusal of the persons to whom he addressed his Epistles. And he was particularly desirous that they should regard the sacred volume of inspiration as a testimony concerning our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the pattern that His believing people are to set before them for their imitation. In the verse before the text, he speaks of Him
as the great pattern of humility, which appeared especially in the reproaches that He meekly endured; since, as St. Peter observes, when He was reviled, He reviled not again, when He suffered, He threatened not, but committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously.40 So likewise our apostle states, that even Christ pleased not Himself ; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached Thee fell on Me. This was foretold respecting Him by the Psalmist.41 From thence he makes the inference in the text; and follows it up with a prayer and exhortation on the subject of brotherly love, which he had before inculcated. Let it be our prayer, brethren, that while our attention is directed to the subjects brought before us in the Epistle for this day, the Spirit of God may be pleased to seal instruction upon our minds, that we may derive from them the consolation and hope towards God, which they were designed to convey to us.
The prayer which was offered up by the apostle is as follows: Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another, according to Christ Jesus. By calling the Lord God the God of patience and consolation, he intimates that these blessings are His gifts, which He bestows of the riches of His grace upon them that wait upon Him. Patience is
40 i Peter ii. 23.
41 Psalm lxix. 9.