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and deadly. This roof, under which we are now assembled, will hold, it is probable, our children and our children's children: may they be enabled to think, when they shall kneel, perhaps, over the bones of some of us now here assembled, that they are praying where their fathers prayed; and let them not, if they mock in their day the means of grace here offered, encourage themselves with the thought that the place had long ago been profaned with equal guilt, that they are but infected with the spirit of our ungodliness!

SERMON XVII.

CHRISTIAN PROFESSIONS-OFFERING CHRIST

OUR BEST.

MATTHEW II. 11.

And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.

THE story from which these words are taken, considered historically, is capable of supplying very little information. Who these wise men were, from what country they came, to what degree their notions regarding Christ were correct, or fully made out to their own minds, and whether any results followed from their journey when they were arrived in their own country again, are questions which it would be vain to try to answer. Because so much has been left untold, much has been added in after times to complete the story; and from the importance which it then assumed, it was

fixed upon to stand as the symbol in the church's celebration, of the great mystery of the gospel, the admission of the Gentiles into the church of God. In this respect, historically speaking, the conversion of Cornelius had no doubt been far more properly chosen ; because it cannot be said that the wise men, so far as we know, were acquainted with the peculiar truths of the gospel at all; but taken symbolically, in the mere general notion of the wise men of the Gentile world bowing down before the Christ of God, and it may well pass as a representation of that great event, the bringing in of the Gentiles, in which all the churches of the Gentiles have so deep an interest.

In proportion, however, to the obscurity which hangs about it as a fact, is its clearness and usefulness when considered as a symbol. And that, not only as a symbol of the coming in of the Gentiles, the light in which the church regards it, but in another way resembling the instruction conveyed in parables; that is, as giving in the form of a story a general and perpetual lesson. Then, in so applying it, we lose sight at once of all circumstances of time, and place, and individual persons; it is no longer the wise men or

magicians from the east, guided by a star to Bethlehem in the land of Judah, and offering gold, and frankincense, and myrrh, to the infant Jesus, in his mother's arms; but it is the wise in worldly wisdom, from the east, and from the west, from the north, and from the south, led, not by the star in the heavens, but by the light of God's Spirit in their own hearts; not to Bethlehem, nor to the land of Judah, but to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem; not to the infant Jesus, the Son of David, borne in his mother's arms, but to Jesus the Son of Man, who is sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high, and who having been declared to be the Son of God with power, by the resurrection from the dead, is known no more after the flesh, as the prophet or king of the earthly Israel; neither does he know any more any such distinctions as Jew or Gentile, but hath given, and gives, access to all alike, by one Spirit unto the Father. And to him, and before his throne in heaven, vain it were to offer the gifts of the eastern magi, gold, frankincense, and myrrh; but as they brought of the best and richest things which God had made to grow or to exist in their by nature unyielding and barren earth, so we also should bring, and should offer, the best

and noblest powers which God has implanted in our otherwise dull minds and helpless bodies. So that whatever we have of precious gifts, whether of body or mind,-for the question is here rather of natural gifts than of spiritual graces, these all should be offered to the service of Christ, as the only sacrifice of gratitude which it is in our power to render.

There is nothing new in this, most certainly; nothing new in it any where; nothing new in it to you. It is a point on which I have often spoken; indeed, it is one most obvious, and can hardly be omitted in any course of Christian exhortation. Yet we need it again and again; we need it, not only put in a general form, that we ought to honour God with all our best, but we should try to consider how to do this in that which is our best; and we should try, too, to get the thought so much a part of our nature, that it will present itself to us whenever the occasion for it occurs; that is, whenever the best of our faculties are in most vigorous exercise; for then it is that it is most apt to be forgotten. We can resolve beforehand, to do all to the glory of God; but when the actual work comes, and interests us deeply for itself, and for its immediate earthly objects, then it is hard; nay, without much

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