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our need of patience is pleased to call Himself the God of patience, in order to lead us to seek the blessing at His hands. When we consider our natural impatience, we might well fear that if it depended upon ourselves we should be ready to sink under affliction, when we are oppressed by it. But it will ever be found that they who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength,70 and be enabled to run with patience the race that is set before them, looking unto Jesus, the Author and

Finisher of our faith.71 The promises of the word of God were written for the encouragement of His afflicted people, that they might plead them before Him, and find Him faithful to fulfil His word, on which He hath caused them to hope.

Thirdly, The holy scriptures were written for the comfort of the children of God. And oh! what good words and comfortable words do they contain. He who inspired them is the God of consolation, the God of all comfort.72 What comfort is to be derived from the revelation given in His holy word respecting the way in which forgiveness of sins is bestowed, and the penitent sinner is reconciled to God. What comfort from the testimony contained in it that God is love ; and that He manifested His love to sinful man by sending His only-begotten Son into the world, to be the propitiation for our sins, that we · might live through Him." 70 Isai. xl. 31. 71 Heb. xii. 1,2. 72 2 Cor. i. 3. 73 John iv. 8–10.

To promote the comfort of His believing people was the object also of the institution of the holy sacrament of the Lord's supper; in which they call to mind the exceeding great love of Christ, in humbling Himself to become obedient unto leath, even the death of the cross,74 for us men and for our salvation. May we take comfort from “feeding on Christ Jesus in our hearts by faith with thanksgiving," whenever we participate in this holy ordinance. May we behold Him by faith as wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities, and having poured out His soul unto death,75 as our substitute; that we might derive healing from His wounds and life from His death. May we thus be strengthened and refreshed in our souls; and go on our way rejoicing in His holy name.

The comfort of the scriptures is found most especially in the season of affliction. It is then that every other refuge fails, and the word of God is found to be an anchor of the soul both sure and stedfast,76 which enables it to bear up under the storms of life, and leads it to look forward to the haven of eternal rest, which it sets before us through Christ Jesus our Saviour. The exceeding great and precious promises77 of the word of God were given in order to afford strong consolation to them who have fled for refuge to lay

74 Phil. ii. 8. 75 Is. liii.5,12.76 Heb. vi. 19, 18. 77 2 Pet. i. 4. hold of the hope set before us76 in the gospel of Christ. May we embrace them, and ever hold them fast; that we may enjoy the comfort of them, and partake of the salvation which they hold out to us.

But the holy scriptures were written also,

Lastly, that we might have hope. He from whom this blessing is to be obtained is styled likewise the God of hope ; and He enables believers in Christ to abound in hope by the power of the Holy Ghost. They have a hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began :78 a hope that maketh not ashamed, because the love of God is shed abroad in their hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto them.79 He who hath loved them, hath given them everlasting consolation and good hope through grace 80 a hope beyond the grave, which they would not part with in exchange for all that the world can give; a hope which fills them with joy and peace in believing: for relying upon the sure word of God, it is their privilege to rejoice in hope of the glory of God,81 as their unfailing portion through Christ, when they bave done with all things here below. Let us cultivate this hope of eternal life78 through our Lord Jesus Christ; and with the apostle beseech the God of hope to fill us with all joy and peace in believing, that we may abound in hope through the power of the Holy Ghost. 78 Titus i. 2. 79 Rom. v.5. 80 2 Thess. ii. 16. 81 Rom. v.5.

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As the holy scriptures were written for the great and beneficial purposes which have been mentioned, it becomes us to seek to derive these advantages from them. Let us then search the scriptures82 for the purpose of receiving the Divine instruction which they communicate; that we may be made wise unto salvation, through the knowledge of the revelation of God. From the examples which it sets before us, let us learn to endure with patience the reproaches of the world, and the afflictions of this life. Let us seek to enjoy the consolations which the God of all grace vouchsafes to them that believe His word, in the midst of all the causes of sorrow which may be presented to us; and having our faith and hope in Him, let us not doubt but that He who hath begun the good work of His grace in our hearts will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ;8% when an entrance shall be ministered unto us abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour, 84 to praise and bless His name, and rejoice in His salvation for evermore.

82 John v, 39.

83 Phil. i, 6.

84 2 Pet, i. 11.

SERMON III.

FOR

THE THIRD SUNDAY IN ADVENT.

THE MINISTERIAL OFFICE.

1 Corinthians iv. 1.

LET A MAN SO ACCOUNT OF US AS OF THE MINISTERS OF CHRIST, AND STEWARDS OF THE MYSTERIES OF GOD.

In the Collect for this day the ministry of John the Baptist is held forth as an example for the ministers of the Lord Jesus Christ. As St. John prepared the way of the Lord Jesus, at His first coming into the world, by stirring up the people to be ready to receive Him; so the ministers of Christ are to direct the attention of the people committed to their charge to His second coming; that they may be prepared to meet Him “when He shall appear again with power and great glory.” How the Baptist prepared the way of the Lord Jesus Christ is mentioned in another Collect. It was “by preaching repentance,” by “constantly” or undauntedly“speaking the truth,”and by“ boldly

VOL. I.

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