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awful presence, indulge in sleep, or irreverent postures of the body, or idle talk, or wandering and wicked thoughts ; (all thoughts must be wicked which have no relation to the solemn business of the hour ;- how much more those which are in themselves offensive to God !) who come hither with their heads and fancies full of secular cares, or the cares of the week, or the lusts of the eye; and fear not, or care not, that the angel of death may seize on them as he did on Eutychus' in the time of their slumbering, or that Christ himself may, perhaps, return in an hour, of which they are not aware, to cast out of His temple such as do offend, and all who work iniquity, to that outer darkness where shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth? Surely, surely, he who reflects, that, in this house of solemn assembly, he was received in his tender years
into the number of Christians, made here, if he have not forfeited the privilege, a child of God; that here he is called on to receive the symbols of salvation and grace in the body and blood of our Redeemer; that on the words which he here repeats or attends to, his eternal happiness or misery must, according to the use which he makes of them, depend ; that the God of heaven and earth is here to shower down on his head either a blessing or a curse, in proportion as his prayers are sincere, or are unholy; surely he, who con
I Acts, xx. 9.
siders these things, will be far from allowing his thoughts to wander in the house of
but will rather exclaim, with the patriarch Jacob, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I knew it not! How dreadful is this place! This is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” 1
There is, however, one caution of still more consequence than that which I have just stated. If such honour be due, such purity and decency to be observed, in regard of those houses of brick and stone which are called after the name of the Most High, what shall be the lot of those who defile with lust and sin the living temple of the Holy Ghost, - those bodies in which the Grace of the Most High delighteth to dwell; which are sanctified by baptism; purchased by the Blood of Christ; and exalted, above the angelical nature, in Him who sometime came in the flesh with great lowliness and infirmity, but hath now ascended into Heaven, far above all principality and dominion, and power, and hath
and hath put all things under his feet! May He give us grace, that these earthly tabernacles, which he hath purified, may be cleansed, indeed, from all sinful stain
l; and that we may rejoice with Him, in body and soul, and with our elder brethren the angels, in the day, when this corruptible must put on incorruption ; and this mortal, immortality.
Genesis, xxviii. 17.
SECOND SUNDAY IN ADVENT.
ROMANS, xv. 7. Receive ye one another, as Christ also received us, to the
glory of God.
The meaning, which is borne by the word “receive” in the present passage,– in what manner, and in what respects we are commanded to “receive one another,”—will be made more plain by looking back to the first verse of the fourteenth chapter, and to the general chain of reasoning, in which, through all the following verses, the Apostle is engaged. He there instructs us “to receive him that is weak in the faith, but not to doubtful disputations :” and he then goes on to reckon up the various unimportant points of doctrine and practice, on which ignorant or superstitious Christians were, even in those early times, divided. Those differences, almost all, arose from questions about the law of Moses, which one very numerous party believed to be still in force; and which the other side, as well as the Apostles themselves, were taught by the Holy Ghost to believe, had been done away by the sacrifice and death of the Messiah.
Thus, the former, or Jewish party, accounted it sinful to eat pork, or rabbits, or water-fowl, or anything dressed with blood, or anything which had not been killed by a Jew, or in any other manner than that which the Jewish customs appointed: and as in a heathen country it was difficult to find any flesh-meat free from some one or other of these objections; these men chose rather to live on herbs and roots only, than to transgress the ordinances of Moses and the ancient rabbins. The latter, on the other hand, knew that God, as he had declared by vision to St. Peter, had made all things clean by the blood of his Son; and that whatever food was wholesome, was also lawful to be eaten in moderation and thankfulness. Again, the former were accustomed to keep holy, not only the first day of the week, or our Sunday, which from the beginning of the Church had been always observed as a day of public prayer and solemn assemblage; but they, moreover, observed the feasts of the new moon, and of the tabernacles, and the passover, as appointed by Moses or the Jewish elders; and, above all, they were resolute to abstain from all work on the Jewish Sabbath, that is, from Friday evening to Saturday evening.
The opposite party, far better instructed in the nature of Christ's religion, well knew that these observances were no longer binding on the conscience: that the law of ceremonies of times and days had been cancelled by Christ, and nailed, as useless, to his cross: that one day was not by nature more holy than another; and that the church of Christ might fix on any day, which they thought fitting, for the necessary work of worship and instruction.
To make peace between these parties is St. Paul's endeavour, in his thirteenth and the beginning of his fourteenth chapter ; and this purpose he pursues by urging on them both the consideration of the common object, which both professed to have in view,—the glory, that is, of God, and the advance of Christ's religion. The Jewish Christian, who abstained from flesh-meat, and from work on the Saturday, did both, as he believed, in compliance with God's will; and with the hope that by thus favouring the prejudices of his countrymen, he should remove, in part, their objections to the Gospel. The Gentile Christian, for his part, was moved by a more enlightened notion of God's glory and of the power of the Gospel : he would not do away with the liberty wherewith Christ had made him free, by a return to the elementary forms of the elder covenant; and he feared, with reason, that the heathen would never be converted to the faith of Christ, if that faith were clogged with a burthen