Page images

the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, that at his second coming to judge the world, we may be found an acceptable people in his sight, who liveth and reigneth with the Father and the Holy Spirit, ever one God world without end."




PHILIPPIANS iv. 3.-"The Lord is at hand."

THE Collect for the First Sunday in Advent, is, as you may have observed, appointed to be repeated with the other Collects every day till Christmas Eve. And for this reason, because it is framed with a view of turning our thoughts to such subjects as may most profitably occupy our minds at this season of the year; even to the first coming of our blessed Lord in the flesh, and to His second coming to judge the world at the last.

Nor is it through this Collect alone, that our church directs us to the contemplation of these most important truths; but in all the Collects, and generally in all parts of the service selected for the four

weeks in Advent; those of you, my brethren, who have attended at all seriously to the portions of Holy Scripture which have been read at church during the last three weeks, must, I am sure, have been struck with the manner in which these two great facts, the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ, and His return to judgment, (truths between which all the other doctrines of our holy religion find their place,) are held up to our minds; held up in connexion one with the other; held up for this purpose, that we might never separate the two ideas; but that when, as at this time, we are looking forward to the day of our Saviour's birth, as a day of joy and gladness, we should extend our view to that which is closely connected with it, namely, the second appearance of our Lord from heaven.

Indeed, inasmuch as this is in some sort, the more important truth of the two,-for the first coming of our Lord, that by which we obtain pardon of our sins, and reconciliation with our Almighty Father, has already taken place, and the effect of it has long been working in the world, while the second coming is yet for to be ;-on this account the greater stress appears to be placed upon it by our church at this season. To it, rather than to the first coming, is our attention called. Witness those magnificent descriptions of the Lord's power and majesty to be displayed in the day of judgment,


which are contained in the chapters of the prophet Isaiah, appointed for these Sundays. Thus, in the sccond chapter, (that selected for the afternoon lesson on the First Sunday in Advent,) where it is. declared that " in the last days, the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills, and all nations shall flow into it." Enter into the rock and hide thee in the dust, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of his majesty." "The loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of man shall be made low, and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day." And farther on the prophet speaks of men "throwing away their idols of silver, and their idols of gold," the pleasures and riches in which they trusted, as of no use to save them in that day of their extreme need throwing them away "to the moles, and to the bats;" and going "into the clefts of the rocks, and into the top of the ragged rocks; for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of his Majesty, when He ariseth to shake terribly the earth."


The afternoon lesson for the Second Sunday in Advent, also contains a description of the day of judgment, with a more particular enumeration of its effect upon the world and its wicked inhabitants. "Fear, and the pit, and the snare, are upon thee, O inhabitant of the earth." "The earth

is utterly broken down, the earth is clean dissolved, the earth is moved exceedingly. The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a cottage, and the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it; and it shall fall, and not rise again." "Then the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed, when the Lord of Hosts shall reign in Mount Zion, in Jerusalem, and before his ancients, gloriously."

Nor is this all. Besides such forcible pictures of the things that are to be hereafter given us in the prophecies of Isaiah; the epistles and gospels for these Sundays in Advent, all unite for the same purpose; all conspire to awake" in our hearts a sense of the reality and certainty of Christ's second coming, and of the nearness of its approach. What else do such exhortations as these signify, which we read in the epistle for the First Sunday in Advent ? "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?" What else is the spiritual meaning of that account of our Lord's triumphant entry into Jerusalem, in the gospel of the same Sunday, when He, the humble one of Nazareth, was saluted as coming "in the name of the Lord ?" What else is the meaning of the collect for

« PreviousContinue »