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glory consists in loving God with a supreme affection; and being made like him in all his communicable perfections.
How great, then, is the happiness of loving and serving God, whilst journeying through this vale of tears!
This is the sweet peculiarity of the religion of Jesus. It diffuses joy and gladness, wherever it is received in the simplicity of faith. 66 God is loveand every one that loveth, is born of God and knoweth God.” To love God, and to be the object of his love, constitutes the bliss of angels. The opposite of this, is hell. What poor,
miserable creatures we are, whilst in a state of nature, and under the power of sin and Satan! We smile, when we should sigh. We laugh, when we should mourn.
We appear gay and sprightly, when we should be of a sorrowful spirit. But 0! the blessed change which takes place when the gospel comes to the heart, not in word only, but in power. Then we receive beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. Then we are privileged to rejoice alway, and to delight ourselves in the abundance of peace. O! happy, blissful state, thus to be the genuine disciples of the blessed Jesus; who hath assured his faithful people, that he will manifest himself to them, as he does not unto the world ; yea, even come unto them, and make his abode with them. Who can contemplate these wonders of grace, and not feel the holy influence of this precious revelation—“God is love ?” Surely none but they who know not God: for thus saith the apostle: “ He that loveth not, knoweth not God; for God is love."
Thou trembling saint, cast off thy fear,
O ! listen to the voice of love,
Blest Jesus! cheer each drooping heart ;
Then shall thy church more beauteous grow,
Ye trembling saints no longer fear,
XIV. ON THE GIFT OF A SAVIOUR.
Before the earth was formed, or man created upon it, the Almighty foreknew that his moral creatures would apostatize from him. The angels had already sinned, and were cast into the place prepared for them. They were doomed in righteous judgment to be the eternal monuments of divine indignation.
A just, yet infinitely gracious sovereign did not determine to leave man under the same hopeless condemnation,
The revelation is truly wonderful. Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, “ God over all, blessed for evermore,” was fore-ordained in the counsels of heaven to be a sacrifice—a propitiation--an atonement for the sins of apostate man.
As “ all things were made by him," so all things were made “ for him.” Earth was to be the theatre, on which should be displayed the mercy and justice of Jehovah.
The glorious plan was gradually unfolded through succeeding ages. The bleeding lamb was instituted as the appointed emblem of the Saviour of the world. When offered up in faith, in humble reliance on the divine mercy, and with a contrite heart, the believing suppliant, thus approaching the mercy-seat through the bleeding victim, found pardon and peace.
In this way, the ancient believers obtained rest unto their souls. They trusted in God and were not confounded.
The prophets depicted in glowing colours the glories of Emanuel, whilst they blended the deepened shades of his amazing humliation, with the resplendent lustre of his divine nature. When the “fulness of time” was come, how grand to the eye of saints and angels, was the entrance of the Messiah into our world.
The angel Gabriel was commissioned to convey the glad tidings to Zacharias, that he should be the father of him, whom Isaiah and Malachi had predicted, as “the voice"_“the messenger," who should prepare the way of the Lord.
He was then sent with joyful news to the humble virgin at Nazareth ; announcing to her, that she should be the highly favoured mother of the Messiah, of whose kingdom there should be no end. The tender fears of Joseph were next dispelled by a dream, in which he was assured that he, who
should be born of Mary, his espoused wife, was no less than the Son of God, who should save his
people from their sins.
The emperor Augustus was made the instrument, though unconsciously, of bringing the virgin mother to Bethlehem ; thus fulfilling the prophetic declaration of Micah, and establishing the truth of the descent of Jesus in the line of David, by a public enrolment.
When born in the city of David, the infant Saviour was announced by the angel of the Lord to the humble shepherds of Judea, who were keeping watch over their flocks by night; whilst the angelic host sang in exulting strains : “glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good-will towards men.”
In the temple, during the ceremony of Mary's purification and the dedication of her son to the Lord; Simeon took the blessed child in his arms, and declared him to be “a light to lighten the gentiles, and the glory of his people Israel ;” while Anna, the prophetess, spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.
When returned to Bethlehem, the divinely directed Magi of the east, came to pay their homage to the infant King, presenting to him gifts-gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
Herod and all Jerusalem were troubled, whilst saints and angels were rejoicing, at the birth of the long-expected deliverer.
When John entered upon his prophetic office, he bore witness to the dignity of the Messiah ; and pointed to Jesus, as the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world.
The Father himself testified of his Son; for Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water : and lo! the heavens were opened unto him, and the Spirit of God, descending like a dove, lighted upon him; and lo! a voice from heaven said: this is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
The blessed Jesus, when he made himself public to the world, astonished the thronging crowds by his stupendous, yet beneficent miracles; by his heavenly wisdom ; by his holy example; by his unwearied labours to do good.
The wordly, the proud, and the self-righteous, could not endure the light of his doctrine, and the keenness of his reproof.
Hence they conspired against him, however discordant were their peculiar views and practices.
Herod and the high-priest - Pilate and the scribes -sadducees and pharisees-heathens and the
professed worshippers of Jehovah,-all suffered their national antipathies and religious differences to merge into one common cause against the Lord and against his anointed.
Herod from jealousy; the chief priests and scribes from envy; Pilate from slavish fear; and the common people from popular feeling excited by their rulers, conspired the death of Jesus; whose meekness and innocence, contrasted with the rage of his bloody enemies, shone like the arch of heaven on the angry cloud.
He died praying for his murderers. He died a saerifice for their sins. He died a sacrifice for the sins of a lost world. Amazing love! O! my soul, look to this precious, bleeding Saviour; trust in him for thy whole salvation ; rejoice in his grace, and adore that wisdom that could over-rule so much wickedness, to produce so much good.
How awful the period.
The sun was darkened ; the rocks rent; the veil of the temple was rent in twain ; the graves were