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that each of us should day after day be labouring to secure yet larger and larger measures of the heavenly gift, and should count even the severest trial cause of thankfulness which may promote his progress in the spiritual life,—it is a blessing which, after all, in this rudimental stage of our existence, is to be enjoyed but in a partial and imperfect degree. He that has been longest regenerate, and who is most completely sanctified, has still to exclaim with the apostle in the agony of the intestine war between the spirit and the flesh, “ O wretched man that I am ! who shall deliver me from the body of this death ?" and still even on the Church's consecrated frame and her baptized brows, there are shades of imperfection,—there are blots of sin which impair the symmetry and stain the brightness of her holy beauty. Yet think not, brethren, that Christ is he who will leave his own salvation half performed. The good work which he has begun he will perfect to the day of God. Each several soul that he has ransomed, in passing the dark river that is the bourne of time and of eternity, leaves the last taint of sin behind, and emerges on the celestial shore from the gloomy, but to him beneficent and consecrating waters, meet to mingle with the sinless angels, and with the perfected spirits of the just, in that bright world wherein dwelleth righteousness, "the inheritance of the saints in light,"—the immediate shrine and temple of the Holy One. And the
time approaches when God shall have at length accomplished the number of his elect,—when concerning them it shall be proclaimed in heaven, “ These are the ransomed from the earth, that follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth, and in their mouth there is no guile, for they are without fault before the throne of God,”—when the collective Church of Jesus shall be at last presented to her Immortal Spouse in the beauties of unsullied holiness,-how changed since first he chose her for his own ! -no longer as then in her degradation, her pollution, and her wreck, the object of loathing condemnation to each uncorrupted intelligence in the creation,-but now, by the miracles of his saving love, a form of perfect loveliness, on whom angels gaze admiring, and the eye of God reposes in delight,—"a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing."
Oh! would ye share, my brethren, the triumphs of that illustrious day? Are ye ambitious to enjoy the affection and alliance of Him in whose love there is honour unparalleled,—there is rapture unalloyed ? Remember, I beseech you, the indissoluble connexion between the one clause of the text and the other, and see that in the consciousness of your certainly begun, of your progressively advancing holiness, you may have the evidence within yourselves, that you shall bear your part rejoicing in the espousals of eternity, as the principle and rudiment of that holiness which is the primary blessing of re
demption, and a main preparation for heaven, see that, under the remembrance that Christ hath loved you, and given himself for you, you love him, and give yourselves to him.
“ I beseech you, brethren, by the mercies of God,”—all those unspeakable mercies of which we have thought this day in the midst of his temple, that ye present yourselves to God, your Saviour, “a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable, which is your reasonable service.” Oh ! let “ the love of Christ constrain" you.-“ Ye are not your own; ye are bought with a price,-therefore glorify God in your body and spirit, which are God's.” They only who come in this spirit, come accepted guests to the table of the Lord. The Lord's Supper is an anticipation of the marriagesupper of the Lamb; and those only who have reason to hope that they shall be partakers of the latter, have a right to engage in the celebration of the former. It is a holy banquet prepared for Christ's holy and espoused Church ; and whoever presumes to intrude on that solemnity, whose character does not approve him as a vital member of the spiritual society, profanes with his presumptuous presence
the scene and season of sacred confidential communion between Jesus and his own. What welcome may he pow expect from the Lord but this :-“ Friend" (in that sense he called Judas friend), “ how camest thou in hither not having on the wedding-garment?” -what doom hereafter, but that when the marriage of the Lamb is come, and the bride hath made herself ready,"_when the palace of the King who inhabiteth eternity is bright with festal splendours, and re-echoing with festal melodies,-he shall find himself thrust out into the darkness,--the tempestuous night of an undone eternity,-when the wrathful howlings of the storm shall be interrupted only by the shriek of agony and the groan of strong despair,--the eternal sounds of “weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth ?" May God persuade all those who are in danger of doing him so foul despite, to spare themselves the sin,-to spare themselves the peril ;-and to the rest may he vouchsafe,as he uses to do on such occasions to his own, that this solemnity may prove a sweet commemoration of the first bridal of their souls, in which, with the mystic princess on the day of her espousals, they may exclaim, in the full-hearted confidence of love, “I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste. He brought me to the banqueting-house, and his banner over me was love;" --a sweet anticipation of that illustrious day when the bright predictions of the text shall be finally fulfilled, when the voice of the Celestial Bridegroom shall breathe sweetly over the ancient tombs, “ Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. For the winter-the long winter of the grave is past; the sain is over and gone ; the flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land.-Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away," when, at the quickening summons, she shall spring from her couch of lowly dust, now clothed in sinless flesh, and glowing with the beauties of holiness and immortality,--when proclamation shall be made in heaven, as it were with the voice of a great multitude, and the voice of many waters, and the voice of mighty thunderings, Alleluia, for the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth. Let us be glad and rejoice and give honour unto him; for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and the bride hath made herself ready,”—when he shall encircle her fair brows with the sponsal diadem, and she shall stand at his right hand as queen in gold of Ophir,--and when, having received Perfection for her portion, she shall receive Eternity for her inheritance, so that, through all its mighty cycles, among all its vast vicissitudes,-her glory, her excellence, her joy, shall find no termination, and suffer no decay. Ages shall write no wrinkle on her queenly brow,--Sorrow shall deface her countenance with no brand of burning tears, Temptation cast no shade upon the brightness of her matron-robes ; but, made all-pure without, all-glorious within, she shall be " an eternal excellency, a joy of many generations.” “Her sun shall no more go down, neither shall her moon withdraw its shining,