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O what toil and labour, and how painful it is to live in the world, with a dissatisfied heart and a disturbed conscience, and when we find nothing right in the world! If the man begins one thing, he soon wishes to commence something else; and the first is left undone; he is continually flying from one thing to another, in order to find consolation, pleasure, and satisfaction. But when once an individual in his state of nature, returns to himself, and to his own heart—when his restless conscience only awakes a little-when he is once brought to a stand, so that he is led to reflect upon a long and endless eternity; that moment all his joy is, alas ! again at an end. Such, my dearest friends, is the toil and labour, according to the expression of the patriarch Lamech, which has resulted from the curse, the consequence of sin.
Now what is able to comfort us in this our toil and labour upon
earth. “ This one,” says Lamech,“ shall comfort us in all our toil and labour upon earth, which the Lord has cursed.” A man of the world, when experiencing uneasiness, weight, and oppression in his body, in all his toil and labour, as well as the thousandfold burdens, distresses, and vexations of this life, seeks to comfort himself in his own manner. The children of this world, in the first ages before the flood, at the time the patriarch Lamech lived, built themselves cities, learned a variety of arts, or as our dearest Saviour briefly describes it, in Luke xvii. 27. “ They ate, they drank, they were married and given in marriage;" this was their business, in this they souglit their consolation, by these things
they endeavoured to divert themselves, in order to avoid feeling the distress, anxiety, and restlessness of their tormenting consciences. Alas ! it is of no avail; for, as said before, the individual flies from one thing to another, and the heart continues dissatisfied. It is just as if a costly purple robe, embroidered with gold, were put upon a person labouring under a painful disease, in order to expel the pain ; ah, how useless would such a remedy be! Woe and anguish sit deeply in the heart and conscience of the dissatisfied individual, who is still unreconciled with God, and continues under his displeasure ; nothing external can comfort him, much less avail him.
What then is able to help? The children of God act like the patriarch Lamech: - This same shall comfort us, concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the Lord hath cursed." God's children acknowledge, and believe from the heart, that all the toil and labour they have in this life, in whatever way it may befall, has its foundation in sin, and in the curse arising from sin. Hence they willingly humble themselves' under the mighty hand of God; they look at the thing as a course of penitence, by which they are to be humbled, abased, and drawn away from what is evil. And not only so, but they seek also, as already observed, their consolation with Lamech, from the right source. “ This same shall comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands upon earth.”
It cannot, however, be doubted, that it happened to the patriarch Lamech as it did to our first mother
Eve, when she was driven out of paradise, and felt, for the first time, the uneasiness and toil which is consequent upon sin; no sooner had she brought forth Cain, her first-born son, than she said, “ Now I have gotten a man from the Lord;" this man will restore all again. This was certainly a great mistake with respect to Cain ; however her faith, the eye of her faith looked to the man, to the Messiah, whom she had in view. And when Lamech says concerning his son Noah, “ This same shall comfort us in our labour and toil upon earth, which the Lord hath cursed :" it may be, that he also thought respecting his son, that he was the Messiah. Be that as it may, his faith had regard to the Messiah ; to whom he looked, as to the only one who could comfort; as the only one who could again restore peace to the heart, and lead it to God; as the only one who could again pacify and satisfy the uneasy and troubled conscience.
This ought also to be our employment on this day of Christ. The true child, the true Noah, that will receive us into the ark, is now preached unto us; and he it is that was born at Bethlehem! This same shall comfort us in all the labour and toil, which we have upon
earth! Oye children of men! you may seek consolation from any other quarter you please, but you will not find it.
seek consolation in the honours and dignities of this world ? Ah! they are only splendid vanities and merely imaginary! Do you seek consolation in the good things of this world? Ah, they are only golden snares which entrap the soul. Do you seek consolation in the lusts, and
transitory enjoyments of earth? They are only an enchanting poison, by which the soul is slain, and the uneasiness of the heart and conscience increased. Who then shall comfort us? The answer is contained in the words of our text: “ Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace !”
It is now, beloved friends, Christmas. The world celebrates Christmas in its fashion; but Christians in a different manner. The world celebrates Christmas, for the most part only, for the sake of appearance. As long as a man is unconverted, he knows not much more about it than that he puts on his best clothes, and prides himself upon them; that he cherishes his flesh in particular in eating and drinking, and that, alas ! often to superfluity. One friend visits another ; they invite one another to be each other's guests, and treat each other in the best manner possible.
My dear friends, when I look at the words of our text, it seems to me that our dearest Saviour is likewise desirous of preparing for us a Christmas feast ; we are for once to enjoy ourselves ; we are also to be entertained by this Friend ; and in these words there is placed before us,
I. As the first course, the most gracious incarnation and birth of Christ.
II. As the second course, his glorious godhead. III. His royal government, as the crowning course. Come then, my beloved, eat, drink, and be abun
dantly satisfied with all the good things which we possess in our new-born king, Jesus Immanuel, born in Bethlehem,
O Jesus ! awaken our hearts, and collect the desires of our hearts, that we may receive into our hearts, not only sound and words, but power from thy truth. Amen.
1.- We behold, first of all, in the words of our text, which have been read in your hearing, the most gracious humanity of our beloved Saviour, born at Bethlehem, which is signified to us in these brief words, “ Unto us a child is born."
O what a sweet and nutritious aliment, for the refreshment and consolation of every hungry, every humbled, every poor and timid sinner ! A child incites us to love and confidence. Nothing is more needful to a man, in order to be saved, than that he assume a cheerful confidence towards his God and Saviour, to love him, and to be happy in his love. By nature we have all any thing else but this in our hearts. In every fallen and still unconverted child of Adam, fear and timidity reign. Ah how fearful, how full of uneasiness is the human heart, even when only thinking of God! There is no love, no confidence towards God, our gracious God, in the human heart! The very boldest of men, even those that are called choice spirits in the world, who are desirous of being thought heroes, when once they are brought to a stand, on the brink of eternity, and when they reflect that they must now die, and make the