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the importance of these fearful questions, have we heretofore frequently, do we still habitually, or have we now for the first time, seriously put them to our own hearts? The answer, the plain and sufficient answer is before us all. The word of God has for ages taught our fallen race, that preparation for time, preparation for eternity, is a right faith applied in the only way by which any of us can make manifest an inward religious and moral principle, a life guided in its daily tenor by the word of God in reference to Him, as our Creator, Redeemer, Sanctifier. Let us, then, be reminded of this great and solemn truth; that, whatever be our age and condition in life, we can prepare to meet our God in no other way, than by a sound faith and a holy life: using, as we go on in our earthly existence, the appointed means for obtaining faith, and the needful strength, in our natural weakness, for its perfect fruits in the habits, temper, motives, and ends of all our actions.
Much indeed hath been said upon this great Christian principle of a living faith; and if we depart from the plain and simple statement of its character and fruits, as laid down in the precepts and the examples of Holy Scripture, we shall doubtless fall, as others before us have fallen, in the perversion, or the misunderstanding of revealed truth. But to the humbleminded inquirer after “ the truth as it is in Jesus," “ the author and finisher of our faith," there is no appalling, no insurmountable difficulty in learning God's will in reference to the foundation and the progressive advancement of the spiritual life. By a living faith, the mind of the well ordered Christian readily sees from the word of God, is meant real belief in what God has revealed; that it begins with a serious, and ends in time with an unshaken belief of the revelation of the first covenant of works, broken through wilful disobedience; of the second covenant of grace, sealed with the blood of man's Restorer to the lost favour and forgiveness of God, our Lord Jesus Christ. Without any reserve the Christian, so believing, becomes, through divine grace, more and more desirous of learning, more and more eager to practisę, whatever, in that holy word of God, he finds written as an article of faith, and commanded as a rule of moral conduct.
Still is there cause for great watchfulness, deep, humility, fervent prayer in the whole progress of this life of practical faith.
There is an enemy to the reception first, and then to the growth of faith in our own hearts, of which the evil tempter of our souls, the enemy to God and man, is ever ready to avail himself. It is found in our natural corrup, tion, in our past evil habits, in our present undue estimate of things which belong to this life only, when placed in the balance against the things of eternity. It is these inward, deeply rooted impediments to the reception and the growth of a right faith, which give the only weight to the infidel's creed, and too often do away the real convictions of the believing Christian. Our labour and our duty are to meet the evil at its root; and then, though formidable to the believer in the first beginnings of the really spiritual life, it will yield to the mighty aid under which the Christian's warfare is begun, carried on, and at last accomplished. The conscientious inquiry after the one thing needful, What shall I do to be saved ?” will be answered from the bright page of revealed truth, with a growing conviction, that the answer comes from God: “ Believe in the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt
be saved." The honest use of the appointed | means, the consistent endeavour to act upon
the enjoined precepts of a holy and virtuous life, will not be expended in vain : an upright and single eyed desire and endeavour to find out the will of God, will be blest to the trembling, as well as to the more advanced believer; and each, in his measured need, shall know the certainty of God's own promise, that « The secret of the Lord is with them
that fear Him, and He will shew them His covenant."*
We see, then, that the work of the Christian is before us all ; and though it abound with discouragement and difficulties at our first and conscientious undertaking thereof, yet they will in “ the times and the seasons which the Father hath put in His own power,” more and more cease to hinder the spiritual life of the true disciples of Jesus Christ. The divine word must be accomplished in every real and consistent believer; and if in
of us it seem to fail, we may be certain that there is some sad error of heart or of daily life, which yet keeps us from the full and personal conviction, that Christ's “ yoke is easy, and His burthen light.”
As a strong argument for a right self-examination herein, as an awful remembrancer of the unceasing necessity of this great Christian duty, let us remember this solemn thought, well suited to the spiritual services of this holy season; to awaken and keep alive in our souls that constant recollection of the great event which should urge our present, as well as prove our final preparation.
In the round of our public church services, we are this day again brought together to remember with common and united thanksgiving the first Advent of our Lord. From faithful testimony in the word of God, we thoroughly believe that his first Advent to save the world is past. We keep up the remembrance of this deed of divine mercy and love, in every returning season of Advent, and we bring it still more close to ourselves, whenever we receive the elements of the Christian sacrifice at the table of the Lord, by express commandment, “in remembrance of him." But of His second Advent we know no more, than what we know of all other hidden and eternal truth, that the word of God gives and upholds the unerring expectation that it will most surely come to pass.' When it shall take place, is involved in the dark and unknown issues of God's own moral government over us: we know indeed from His holy word, that it will be sudden and most unlooked for. Of that day and hour knoweth no man," said our Lord and future judge, “no not the angels of hea
* Psalm xxv. 14.
my Father only. But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days that were before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all