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SERMON IX.

SERMON FOR ADVENT SUNDAY.

Romans xiii. 11, 12. Now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.

It is not, perhaps, sufficiently considered that time is one of those talents for the due appropriation of which we are responsible to God. Every single hour that we waste so carelessly, and whose passing we so little heed, forms an important link in the chain of our being. And, unconscious as we seem of its value, yet on the right use or the abuse of some of its minutest portions the whole character of our eternal destiny may possibly depend. Silently as the sands of our

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existence run by, yet those very sands are numbered by the all-seeing providence of God. And every fleeting moment that passes—to us so imperceptibly and unheeded—is reckoned against us amongst the chances afforded for repentance. Duties and obligations more than man can of bimself fulfil, are crowded into that narrow interval which is allowed for the probationary discipline of an immortal soul. And there are demands on each allotted hour which we greatly augment the sum total of our sins by failing rightly to satisfy. “Salvation ---the time of salvation or of condemnation-draws nearer and nearer to us than when we first believed, and entered on our Christian profession. And it is a question which will be put to us with searching severity hereafter, whether we have wasted aught of the short and dwindling span that intervenes, or whether we have improved every portion of it to the best advantage in preparing for our final destination.

At every important season, therefore, which is calculated, by its solemnity, to awaken our peculiar attention, we should do well to pause, and enquire of ourselves, whether we are really better Christians than when we last examined our hearts ;-whether, now that the time of final discrimination is nearer to us than it was, we are actually the better prepared to meet the approaching crisis. And just such an occasion as I have described is the present. The returning festivals of the Christian year are designed to bring forcibly to our minds the several events on which all our eternal hopes and happiness depend. In them we are reminded, with an ever fresh and renewed impressiveness, how Christ lived and died to save a guilty world. And in the season of Advent we have more particularly forced upon our attention the awful truth, that Christ is coming again to the world ;-coming, not, as of old, clothed, as it were, in the weeds of humanity, to undergo the persecutions of a sinful generation; but triumphantly approaching, as the Son of God, in all the glories of his father's kingdom. For this coming,--for this advent, therefore, it is natural that we should now ask, Are we prepared ? It is but right that we should recollect how much nearer salvation now is than when we first believed ; and that we should examine ourselves whether we have so employed the intervening time, and so, in anticipation of the event, disposed our minds, that when the Lord cometh in reality and in truth, he shall find us “with our loins girded, and our lamps burning," ready, and active, and vigilant.

Reflections such as these are very naturally suggested by the first part of our text. In the

remaining words, however, there are various other considerations which will require to be examined in more minute detail, and which we will now proceed to investigate in the natural order in which they occur.

“The night is far spent,” says the apostle, “the day is at hand ; let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.”

I. Now what is here meant by the words The night is far spent? The night is a term which is very often applied, in a metaphorical sense, to the state of those who have not enjoyed the “light,” as it is figuratively called in the scriptures, of the revelation of the gospel. 1. The condition of the heathen world, especially, before the coming of Christ, was described by this forcible comparison. Those who were under the guidance of mere unassisted reason, could not possibly discern with clearness the way of salvation, which, indeed, ever lay beyond the reach of human ability either to devise or discover; and they therefore were, with great propriety, compared to men benighted, and uncertain how to direct the course of their footsteps aright. So that the office of the promised Saviour, as far as they were concerned, was prophesied to be, that he should “open the blind

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