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take with us, when we leave it at each returning sabbath, new grace, new spiritual-mindedness, new strength of resolution to amend our lives. That we may go on increasing in grace as we increase in years. That the blessing of heaven may rest upon us always; and that, in all our thoughts, words, and actions, and in “whatsoever we do, we may do it all to the glory of God.”*

* 1 Corinthians x. 31.

SERMON XVI.

ON THE LITURGY.-THE ABSOLUTION.

2 Cor. v. 18, 19. All things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation : To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.

In these words there are two important doctrines insisted on by the apostle ; First, That God hath reconciled the world to himself by Jesus Christ; that is, for the satisfaction which his Son hath made, God is ready to forget our offences, and to pardon and absolve the penitent sinner; and, secondly, That His ministers are appointed to bear this message of reconciliation to mankind. “We are ambassadors,” says St. Paul, speaking of himself as one of those who were ordained to publish the good tidings of the gospel, “we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us;

we pray you, in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.” Commissions such as these,-and they are doctrines which form a most important feature in the New Testament dispensation,—are amongst the most cheering and delightful which Christ's ministering servants are privileged to bear. Nor can they be too frequently brought before the notice of all serious and earnest Christians. Those who are at least sincere in their devotions to heaven, we learn from this gracious encouragement, are not required to look upon God only as a God of vengeance; nor need they be always asking, in sorrow and despair, “ Hath God forgotten to be gracious ? Hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies ?"* Though there be darkness in our own bewildered ways-though, in the struggles of our rebellious nature, and the blindness of our unhumbled hearts, there be many circumstances, especially at the outset of our heaven-ward pilgrimage, which cast a temporary gloom over our spiritual prospects, yet the melancholy aspect which they seem to

* Psalm lxxvii. 9.

wear, forms no part of the real character of the gospel-itself essentially a system replete with cheerfulness and joy-but must be charged entirely on the dulness of our partial perceptions, and the dreadful extent of that natural corruption which requires us to pass through many a dark hour of humiliation and self-abasement ere we can duly feel our own helplessness, and rightly value the blessings of its remedy

And though, if we may use such a comparison, our natural vision is not strong enough to gaze at once on the full radiance of the gospel's unclouded light, yet the more, as we grow in grace, the spiritual eye becomes inured to the contemplation of the celestial objects it presents, the more clearly we shall perceive how eminently bright and beautiful they are, and wbat cheerful glimpses of hope and comfort, even in this life, by the aid of that gospel, are suffered to dawn on the soul of man. “Our iniquities,” it is true, as Isaiah says,

* “ have separated between us and our God, and our sins have hid his face from us, that he will not hear;" yet “the Lord's arm is not shortened that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy that it cannot hear.” And while, in penitence and contrition, we fully feel how greatly and justly we have provoked his wrath, still the

* Isaiah lix. 1.

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