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God—let me die to be with Christ. As for me, I shall behold thy face in righteousness, I shall be satisfied when I awake up after thy likeness." Come from that scene, and read the text, "The Lord shall be with the good."
I am very much afraid after all, that some of you will either mistake or neglect the only way of becoming numbered among the good. I am afraid that you will neglect Jesus Christ—that you will not go to him, simply by faith, to trust in him just as you are for salvation and eternal life. Let me invite you to make that application to him. I invite you to pray to God in the name of Christ. I invite you to pray to Christ himself—pray to him by his name Jesus— ask him to be your Saviour, to undertake your cause. I love to invite my fellow sinners to the cross of Jesus. Oh that I could win you to come to him—that I could draw you to that
blessed Saviour, that you might be reconciled by him to God. These poor endeavours to lead you to my blessed Saviour shall not be forgotten in my prayers, that he himself may take you by the hand and bring you to his cross. Oh, you, especially among the young, who listen to this voice to night, let it call upon you once more, and it may be the last call that I shall ever give, or that you shall ever hear; let this voice call you 'once more to the Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world. I ask of you all who pray, in return, but one single thing—an interest in your supplications to the Majesty on high. I ask the insertion of a single clause in your prayers to-night, respecting the individual who now addresses you, and that clause, if I may suggest, should be this, "Lord, guide his ways."
DELIVERED BY THE REV. J. PARSONS,
AT THE TABERNACLE, CITT ROAD, FEBRUARY 1, 1829.
Luhe, ii. 25—32.—" And behold there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Isruel; and the Holy Ghost was upon him. And it was revealed to him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ. And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, then tooh he him up in his arms and blessid God, and said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: for mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hatt prepared before the face of allpeople; a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel."
There is much, my brethren, as you well know, in the character of our own age, which has been found in the character of every age of the world. It is impossible to look on those persons, on whose heads the winter of time has cast its snows, and who are in the fulness of years, without letting such persons' experience take possession of our feelings and understandings; and while such persons are passing onwards and gradually approaching the close of their lives, if they are Christians indeed, and the practisers of that religion which in the last days of their mortal nature gives a bright prospect of a glorious resurrection, we have much reason to
rejoice and say truly, "The hoary head is a crown of glory, when it is found in the ways of righteousness."
Such views furnish us with matter for consideration and retrospection; and subsequently furnish instruction for the generations which are to come. Thus, who does not feel interested when the Patriarch Jacob directs his sons to gather themselves together, and while they are standing around him, gathers up his feet into the bed, pronouncing the blessings and delivering the promises upon and unto each member of his family? You see David, when drawing near to the gate of death, instructing his son Solomon, and charging him to walk in the ways of the Lord. And in the words read as the ground of our observations this morning, you have a scene replete with interest, replete with instruction, and one that I most fervently pray may be made instrumental, under the mighty agency of the Holy Spirit, in promoting your spiritual welfare.
In entering upon our subject this morning, we shall notice in the First place, The Character of Simeon. SeCondly, His Proclamation. Thirdly, His Desire.
First, The Chahacter Of Simeon. This is set forth in the first verse of our text, "And behold there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Ghost was upon him." Here, there is reference to his Justice—reference to his Failh—and reference also to his Gifts. "The Holy Ghost was upon him."
First, as to his Justice. The former of these expressions, "and the same man was just," has reference to his conduct towards men; the latter stating that he was "a devout man," has direct reference to the feelings of his mind towards his God. Whether this division of these terms is correct or not is of small importance, because we find he was one whose mind was imbued with a spirit of religion, and inspired by the will of God. Like Zacharias, who was "righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless," he had his mind formed under the pure regenerating influences of the Holy Spirit; because this practice is not imparted by nature, since there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good and sinneth not. But here is an instance of the mighty power and gracious influence of God upon the soul of man—here is an exemplification of the work of grace upon the heart. The influence of the Holy Spirit is always necessary to correct our character; and if we be now in a certain sense, just and good and holy, let us remember, that without the divine manifestations of the adorable Spirit, we should be sinful, helpless, and undone. If we mingle with the saints of God, and are made savingly acquainted with vital godliness, we view the practice of the world as vain
and empty; but in the practice of the Christian we find there are substantial realities, which shall continue in time and endure for ever when time shall be exchanged for eternity.
Again, there is reference to his Faith. "He was waiting for the consolation of Israel." This was a name given to the Messiah by those Jews who expected and most anxiously looked for his approach. They were consoled by the promise of the approaching Messiah, who was to give unto his people happiness and joy; because there was a consoling message directed to their hearts, " Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably unto Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned." There were some holy men among them, who were watching for the fulfilment of the promise of his coming; and, you will observe, this was the case with Simeon, he was waiting for the consolation of Israel. So we find Joseph of Arimathea also waited for the kingdom of God. The anticipation of Simeon and all the others, was founded in and came from their belief in those divine oracles to which they had given research, and wherein the true character of the Messiah had been shown. Thev had looked over the history of the fathers of the Church; and in the prophetic writings had read of Him, who was to be born of the Virgin, who was to be called Wonderful—Counsellor—the Mighty God—the Everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace. They had read of Him who was to be born of the Virgin, in human form enshrining Divinity; who was to be anointed with the Holy Ghost and with power, that he might bind up the. broken hearted, that he might preach deliverance to the captives, and the opening of the prison doors to those who were bound. They read of Him who bore the sins of man in his own body on the accursed tree. They read of the seventy weeks of years, at the conclusion of which He should come to finish transgression, and to bring in everlasting righteousness; and knowing they were now on the threshold of another dispensation, they were waiting with equal confidence for the appearance of Him who was to be the consummation of all. In these cases, there was an instance of that "faith which is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen." From the commencement of the world, the Lord Jesus Christ was presented as the one great object on whom the faith of man should be placed; and while some have been called to believe on him as the great Mediator who was in the fulness of time to come, others have been pointed to him as the one that has been, and has made atonement for the sins of his people; because Patriarchs and Prophets, Martyrs and Christians, are all one body, of which the Lord Jesus Christ is the great Head; and they are by and by to come from all kindreds and tribes and nations, and around the throne of God are to enjoy the beatific vision for ever and ever. Thus we are in the exercise of lively faith to await the appearance of the King of Glory, the babe of Bethlehem, who will by and by come forth in glorious triumph as the King and Judge of all. Let this character be ours; and let us remember we must be " followers with them who through faith and patience inherit the promises."
Again, there is a reference to his Gifts—"The Holy Ghost was upon him." This is not intended merely to imply, that he was a partaker of the influences of the Holy Spirit, which perform morally a renovation of the mind; but that he was also the subject of that sacred revelation which we find spoken of in the twenty-sixth verse—" And it was revealed unto him by the Holy-Ghost, that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ." This holy man of God was the partaker of the same mighty agency which characterised the ancient Patriarchs, Prophets, and Seers: he partook of that mighty agency which inspired the harp of David and the pens of Isaiah and Ezekiel: he imbibed those influences which were felt and acknowledged by all, and which enabled them to look forward and identify Him, who should come and be the joy of all believers, and the consummation of all things. This holy man of God was moved by the Holy Ghost: the inspiration he
received was intended to give him happiness of the highest order: it was meant to enable him to bear public testimony to the Messiah: it was meant to verify his mission, and confirm the faith of men in every genera' tion of time. Whatever God gives to man for the exaltation of individual character, is intended for the accomplishment of his grand designs, to mark the fulfilment of his Almighty purposes; and those gifts are intended to urge on those things which he, in infinite wisdom, has seen fit to have accomplished.
But we pass on to notice in the Second place, Bis Proclamation. Simeon was under the influences of the Holy Spirit, as mentioned in the twenty-sixth verse; and we find it was at the very moment, when the infant Saviour was brought into the temple to receive according to the custom of the law, that he came also by the Spirit into the temple. His inspiration now assumed a character of sublimity not to be surpassed; and he makes dignified proclamation of the incarnation of man's only salvation; he calls him " a light to lighten the Gentiles, andthe glory of thy people Israel."
We shall consider under this part of our subject, first—The nature of the work which the Lord Jesus Christ teas ordained to accomplish. This salvation which in his wisdom God has prepared, has received a distinct exhibition. Christ is now shown unto us as the grand object of the predictions of the Prophets, as the Almighty Saviour who left his radiant seat of glory in his divine compassion for man. He is exhibited as the Word, by whose appearance all types were to receive their substance. He was the Word, by faith in whose atonement the joys and hopes of men were to be placed and arise. He was the great Antitype, by whose work all the counsels of Jehovah were to be fulfilled. He is mentioned as "the end of the law for righteousness." He was proclaimed as the great High Priest who was to perform all those stupendous works which were to deliver us from sin and its dreadful consequences. You may recollect, that in the books Simeon had access to, the Holy Spirit has set the Saviour forth as the mighty to save; and in these words you see the outlines of those characters which were by and by to be filled up. And when we come lower down in time, what do we see? The angel came down from heaven and appeared unto Joseph, saying, "Thou shalt call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins." And when the Gospel dispensation is about to be ushered in, and the angel appears to the shepherds, what does he say?" Behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord." And then was heard in heavenly concord, the harmony of the spheres, and the pure melody of seraphic tongues, praising the Lord, and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and good will toward men." And when the illustrious being himself was showing why he came down from the mansions of eternal light to this benighted earth, he said, "The Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost." And the Apostle Paul speaking on the same subject, declares, "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners." Brethren, this testimony is of the very first importance, and it runs through the whole page of inspiration With a clearness which it were madness to resist; and therefore, we have the most direct and substantial evidence of the truth we are bound to receive, that Jesus Christ is the only salvation prepared and provided by the Eternal Father.
Again, we notice, that the salvation of man, as a salvation from the guilt and punishment of sin, is a position to be maintained—that this salvation has been accomplished by the atonement of the cross, is a principle firmly to be upheld,
—and that the denial of this is unbelief, shutting out all heavenly mercy, and exposing the soul, without any refuge, to a fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation. The salvation of the soul from the guilt and punishment of sin, we believe to be established by the word of Simeon, even were there no other evidence in the book of God to substantiate the same. The salvation of the soul by the atonement, we believe most firmly, as the entire body of divine revelation gives this doctrine for our perusal and reception. The death of Christ upon the cross was intended, and virtually is, the only propitiation for the sins of men. Faith is the medium by which we see the imputation of his righteousness, and feel the application of his atoning blood. It is this whereby we are justified before the throne of God, and are renewed and prepared in the spirit of our minds for the enjoyment of eternal happiness in heaven. "We are justified freely through his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus." "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved." What tidings of joy are here! Salvation—what a word is that! A word, that shall cause the sounds of joy and rapture to vibrate throughout a fallen world. Salvation—it is a word that opens the dungeons of despair and heals the broken heart. Salvation—it is a word that soothes and animates, revives and strengthens the trembling believer, and that acts as a cordial and healing balm amidst all his wounds, his agony, and grief. Salvation—it is a word that will never be forgotten; it will resound through all the celestial city, and will be mingled with the songs of heaven for ever and ever. Christ is the salvation, the only salvation prepared and set forth by God the Father.
C To be continued.J
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We notice again, not only the nature of the work that the Lord Jesus Christ came to accomplish, but also the extent to which it u to be carried. "Which thou hast prepared before all people." Here is a wonderful instance of the clearness and the perspicuity of conception, which, under the influences of the Holy Spirit, Simeon had received. His mind had overcome all the prejudice of national feeling: and while he believed the Messiah was to be communicated to his own people, and while it was known that Jesus Christ was to be the glory of Israel; while it was known that in some future time they should be gathered into the field of Christ; it was also known that to the Gentiles there would be made displays of grace and mercy—that in the desert wilds, where darkness and sin only were to be seen, there was to be a display of heavenly light; and that the sending forth of his splendour was to be the symbol of his coming forward to redeem his people in time, and of their beatification in eternity.
There is a parallel passage in the seventy-ninth verse of the former chapter. "To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace." Referring also to another prophecy we shall see how many great things have been said with regard to this salvation by Messiah. "And a man shall be as an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest ; as rivers of water in a dry place, and as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land." "And he said, it is a light thing that thou shouldst be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel;
I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayst be my salvation unto the end of the earth." When the Gospel dispensation was introduced there was a fulfilment of all that had been foretold, and then the Messiah said, " Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature." The first Apostles received their commission directly from their divine master, and were sent to " turn the nations from darkness unto light, from the power of Satan unto God." And through every scene of their ministry, the whole weight of Scripture was applied. Here they proclaimed to Jew and Gentile that a Sun, a glorious light, was to shine in the midst of them. They came to the haunts of learning, and to the abodes of ignorance; they directed men, the votaries of the former, or the blinded by the latter, to the Lord Jesus Christ— they planted the banner of Calvary on the citadel of the enemy—they exhibited the Saviour, Jesus Christ, as the great Antitype of heaven, saying, "Unto you Gentiles is the word of this salvation sent." Here is the minister of the cross proclaiming from house to house the splendour of Christ's throne, and saying with the Apostle Paul, "We beseech you, be ye reconciled to God."
But there are events not yet come to pass; we must look to the accomplishment of those things which in this song of Simeon have not been fulfilled. That many dark places of the earth are still to be found, you are aware; that Infidelity is gorging itself with the blood of many in different states of the earth, you are aware; that the Lord is not yet known unto all, you are aware: but shall not the