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The conclusion deducible from the preparations of nature, may likewise be derived from the preparations of grace. Let us not lose sight of our leading object. How magnificent had the preparations of grace appeared in the eyes of Simeon! This we have already binted: the whole of the Levitical dispensation consisted of preparations for the appearance of the Messiah; if we form a judgment of the blessings which he was to bestow upon the human race, from the representations given us of him, it is impossible to refrain from drawing this conclusion, that the Messiah was to give unbounded scope to the desires of the heart of inan, was to communicate to him that unspeakable felicity, for the enjoyment of which nature had already prepared him, but which nature had not the power to bestow. There, I mean in the Levitical dispensation, you found the shadows which retraced the Messiah; there you found types which represented him; there oracles which predicted him; there an exhibition in which were displayed his riches, his pomp, bis magnificence; there you heard the prophets crying aloud: “Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness: let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation; and let righteousness spring up together," Isa. xlv. 8. “For 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 Cod, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace," Isa. ix. 6. “Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look upon the earth beneath: for the heavens shall
vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment, and they that dwell therein shall die in like manner ; but my salvation shall be for ever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished.” Isa. li. 6.
Now, what state of felicity could possibly correspond to conceptions raised so high, by preparations of such mighty import? What! amount to no more than that which the Messiah bestows in this world? What! no more than to frequent these temples ? What! no more than to raise these sacred songs of praise: to celebrate our solemn feasts: to eat a little bread, and to drink a little wine at the commun: ion table? And then to die? And then to exist no more? And can this be all that salvation which the earth was to bring forth! And can this be all that righteousness which the skies were to pour down? And can this be the dew which the heavens were to drop down from above ? And can this be the whole amount of the achievements of that Counsellor, of that Wonderful one, of that Prince of Peace, of that Father of Eternity ? “ Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation." Good Simeon, what meaning do you intend to convey by these words? Into what peace art thou wishing henceforth to depart, if these eyes, which behold the Messiah, are going to be doomed to the darkness of an eternal night? If these hands, which are privileged to hold, and to embrace him, are going to become a prey to worms? And if that life which thou wert enjoying before thy
Redeemer appeared, is going to be rent from thee, because he is already come?
Ah! my brethren, how widely different are the ideas which this holy man of God entertained ! Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace. Wherefore now ? Because now I know, from the accomplishment of thy promise, what was before a matter of presumption only, namely, that my soul is not a mere modification of matter, and a result of the arrangement, and of the harmony of my organs: because I am now convinced, that this soul of mine, on being separated from the body, shall not become a forlorn wanderer in a strange and solitary land : because now I no longer entertain any doubt respecting my own immortality, and because I hold in my arms him who has purchased it, and who bestows it upon me: because to see Jesus Christ, and to die, is the highest blessedness that can be conferred on a mortal creature.
Permit me, my beloved brethren, to repeat my words, and with them to finish this discourse : To see Jesus Christ, and to die, is the highest blessedness that can be conferred on a mortal creature. Enjoy, my friends, enjoy the felicity which the Saviour bestows upon you, during the course of a transitory life: gratify, as you this day turn a wondering eye to the manger in which this divine Saviour lies, and as you celebrate the memory of his incarnation, gratify the taste which you have for the great and the marvellous : and cry out with an enraptured apostle, Without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness : God was manifest in the flesh, i Tim. iii.
16. Gratify, as in the retirement of the closet you devote yourselves to the study of the doctrine of this Jesus, gratify the desire you feel to learn and to know : draw constant supplies of light and truth from those treasures of wisdom and knowledge, Col. ij. 3. which he opens to you in his gospel. Gratify, as you receive, next Lord's day, the effusions of his love, gratify the propensity which naturally disposes you to love him. Let every power of the soul expand on hearing the tender expressions which he addresses to you in the sacrament of the supper : Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest, Matt. xi. 28. “Behold I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me," Rev. üï. 20.
But after all, it is not during the course of a transitory life, at least it is not while you consider death as still remote, that you are capable of knowing the pleasure there is in being a Christian. No, it is neither in the retirement of the closet, nor seated at the table of the Lord : it is not in your solemn feasts, that you are capable of relishing the sweetness which is to be found in beholding Jesus Christ, in embracing him, in believing on him: it is in the last moments of life; it is when stretched on a deathbed. Till then, your passions will sometimes call it in question, whether the man of the world do not actually enjoy more happiness than the Christian ; whether the commerce of society, whether spectacles, play, the splendour of a court, do not confer
more real pleasure than that which flows from communion with Jesus Christ.
But when you shall find yourselves, like Simeon, in a state of universal dereliction ; but when you shall behold nothing around you save unavailing solicitudes, save ineffectual medicines, save fruitless tears, then you will know what the religion of Jesus Christ is; then, my brethren, you will taste the delight of being a Christian ; then you will feel all the powerful attraction of that peace which is mentioned in the text : “ Lord, now lettest thou thy servant de. part in peace, according to thy word, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation.”
May these ideas of the Christian religion attach us inviolably unto it. Let us, with Simeon, embrace the Saviour of the world ; let us, with the wise men of the East, present unto him our gold and frankincense, and myrrh : or rather, let us present unto him hearts penetrated with adıniration, with gratitude, with love. Yes, divine Infant, desire of all nations, glory of Israel, Saviour of mankind ! divine Infant, whom so many oracles have predicted, whom so many prophets have announced, whom so many types have represented, and whose radiant day so many kings and prophets were desirous to behold: my faith pierces through all those veils which overspread and conceal thee : I behold, in the person of a creature feeble and hunbled, my God, and my Redeemer : I contemplate thee not only as born a few days ago at Bethlehem of Judah, but subsisting“ before the mountains were brought forth, before the earth was formed, even from everlasting to everlasting,".