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“ Into a malicious soul wisdom shall not enter ; nor dwell in the body that is subject unto sin !.” And in the New Testament St. John has said: “If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness,” (i. e. in wickedness,) “ we lie and do not the truth "." So that Christ will not dwell in us, nor we abide in Christ, unless we put away from us the yoke of sin, and strive to follow His most holy example and doctrine.
Wilful sin, whether it be love of the world, pride, envy, malice, or impurity, or what it may,--any of these indulged, even in thought, will separate us from Him, as loving obedience will bring Him nearer to us; as He promised in those most gracious words I have already repeated, “ If any man will love Me, he will keep My words, and My Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make Our abode with him.”
Nothing then, can be more certain than that, if we did only love and obey our Saviour, we should have nothing to fear. No enemy could hurt us, no temptation enslave us. For then we should have the Father and the Son, abiding in us by the Spirit, and having Them with us, we should be sure of being more than conquerors.
And now on this first Sunday in the year, let us draw near to God, and prepare to offer and present unto Hım (together with our holy gifts of Bread and Wine), our souls and bodies, as devoted and given up entirely and sincerely as living sacrifices to His will and pleasure ; being firmly resolved henceforth to lay aside, yea, to deaden our own wills, that we may altogether make His will the one single rule of our life. For most assuredly, if we would but thus truly give ourselves up to Him, He would on His part give Himself more and more to us, so that we should ever continue one with Him, and He one with us. This is the true Chris. tian life of union with God. And if we would continue in this Grace of union with Him, praying and striving without ceasing that all our thoughts, and words, and works, may be suitable to such a holy state, then we should have no more cause to fear; for if we cleave unto Christ, He will never forsake us; and while He was with us, and in us, who could hinder us from being blessed ?
Oh how happy and blessed should we be, if we were not only frequent guests at that Holy Table, but if we really offered up
9 Wisdom i. 4.
1 1 John i. 6.
ourselves to God when we went thither, with a firm and hearty resolution, by God's grace, to live suitably to what we there profess: I mean, to the solemn vows that were made for us in our baptism, which we now are in effect to renew in our Lord's own near presence. It is a fearful thing to turn away from that Holy Table; it is so like drawing back from Christ: surely it is actually refusing an opportunity of being brought nearer, and knit more closely unto HIM,
But of course it is vain, it is far worse than in vain, to come there, unless we do give up our souls and bodies to God's service, We never can expect Him to be with us, to hold us up, or to strengthen us, unless we will walk in His ways, and really cleave to Him.
Therefore “ watch and pray always?;" for while you watch and pray, while you earnestly endeavour to keep from every thing displeasing to God, and while you diligently seek His grace by all His appointed means, He will not forsake you, and you will have nothing to fear. But if you in any way give up your care of yourselves, or your communion with Him in prayer, in reading or hearing His word, and receiving His Body and Blood, you are departing in heart from Him, and then consider, to whom are you to go, when you have turned away from Him ?
We have mighty and crafty enemies, who envy and hate us beyond expression; and these are ever by all arts seeking our destruction : and how can we, poor sheep, think to defend ourselves against these wolves and roaring lions ? how can we expect to escape them, if we forsake our Heavenly Shepherd? But if we cleave to Him, nonę, no power in earth or hell, can pluck us out of His hand.
What folly then can be like the folly of forsaking Him?
CHRIST FOUND IN HIS TEMPLE.
ST. LUKE ii. 46,
“ And it came to pass, that after three days they found Him in the Temple."
You have just heard in the Gospel' how the Blessed Virgin Mother and St. Joseph for a time lost her most Holy Son. They had gone up with Him to Jerusalem to worship at the Passover, in obedience to the Law of the LORD: on their return He was not with them. They sought Him in the villages and on the highways ; they sought Hım amongst their kindred, and in the caravan or company of Galilean pilgrims returning, together with themselves, from the feast at Jerusalem ; but they found Him nowhere. At last, when they were all but despairing, when they had become faint and sick with toil and fear, with desires and tedious expectations, they came into the Temple to pray to God for guidance and help in their distress. They came as knowing and believing assuredly, that if they could find God, they should not long fail to find the Holy Jesus. And their faith deceived them not; for they sought God, and found Him that was God and Man in the midst and circle of the Doctors and teachers of the Law.
Surprised with trouble and wonder, they began a little to expostulate in a tone of complaint with the most Holy Child.
They asked why He had been absent so long from them, and 1 For the first Sunday after the Epiphany. See the beginning of Bp. Taylor's Worthy Communicant, from whence much of the thoughts and some of the language of this serinon is taken.
had left them in sorrow and doubting thoughts ; as it must needs be when He is absent from any of us.
“When they saw Him,” it is said, “they were amazed : and His mother said unto Him, Son, why hast Thou thus dealt with us? Behold, Thy father and I have sought Thee sorrowing.”
This question brought forth an answer, which will be for ever useful to all that shall inquire after this Holy Child. As they complained of His absence, so did He reprove their ignorance. How is it that ye have looked for Me as for one that was used to wander in unknown paths without skill, and without a guide ? Why did ye inquire after Me in highways, and village fields ? Ye never knew ME wander or lose My way, or abide anywhere but where I ought. Why did ye not come hither to look for Me? “Wist ye not,” i. e. know ye not, “ that I ought to be in My Father's house?" For thus I surely believe it should be translated, rather than “about My FATHER's business," as it is put in our Bibles. Thus, at least, it has been understood by many wise and holy men in various ages of the Church. Fourteen hundred years ago St. Epiphanius, Bishop of Salamis, in the Isle of Cyprus, who himself spake and wrote the same language in which the New Testament was written, observed that our LORD by these words signified that the Temple in which He then was had been built to the Name of God, His own FATHER, that it was His Father's house. And whatever our Blessed Saviour says in the Holy Gospels, we should regard Him as addressing it to us, for our instruction and admonition. To us, then, He says, “Know ye not that I must be in My Father's house ?” So that here, where God is worshipped, where He loves to dwell; here, where HE imparts His blessing and holy influences ; here, and here most especially, we are sure to meet our dearest LORD.
For this reason God is pleased to call the place where we assemble to pray to Him and to hear His word, His house ; that we may the more confidently expect to meet Him here, when we come to worship Hım. So that if any man ask where on earth is the special and favoured place of Christ's abode, where we may with most confidence hope that He will shew HIMSELF, where HE even enters into and dwells in us? the answer is, Christ must be found in His Father's house ; here, where His FATHER dwells and loves to meet His servants, here we are sure to find the LORD
Jesus. God descended and came first into the tabernacle, and afterwards into the temple in a cloud; even so now Christ comes to meet us here, clothed in the hidden mysteries of His Word and Sacraments.
He has a house here below as well as in Heaven above. Here is the light of His Word imparted to us. Here is His dwelling, and here are His provisions; the table which He furnishes for us. Here is the Bread that came down from Heaven. Hither God sends His Son, and here His Son manifests HIMSELF. The Church and the Holy Table of the LORD, the prayers of God's people, the Word and the Sacraments, the oblation of bread and wine, and the offering of ourselves, the consecration, and the Holy Communion,—these things are here, and are all the things of God and of JESUS CHRIST. And he that is much amongst these is there where God loves to be, and where Christ is to be found.
We must not surely think to find our Saviour in the highways of ambition and pride, in the pleasures of wealth or luxury, or in the eager pursuit of any thing belonging to this world. These things are not to be found in the house of His Father, neither may they come nigh His dwelling.
But if we seek for Christ, we shall find Him in the methods of virtue and the paths of God's commandments; in the persons of the poor, and in the blessed privilege of waiting upon the distressed ; in the hours of our own most serious retirements. We shall find Him in holy reading and pious meditations; in mournings for sin, and in the school of contrition; in the offices of religion, and in the house of prayer; in pulpits, in Churches, and upon altars ; above all, we shall find Him in our devout prayers, in the Word and in the Sacraments.
In short, if we come hither as often as we possibly can, and live accordingly when we are not here, then here we are sure to find our BELOVED, even Him after Whom our soul longeth ; and in Whom only we can find rest.
Sure enough Christ is here; here most especially does He shew and manifest HIMSELF day by day to the humble, devout, and faithful soul.
For although He is here, and here He manifests HIMSELF, yet all do not see Him here, but only the pure in heart; even as He Himself afterwards taught in the Sermon on the Mount,