Page images

that if Mary had not had Jesus in her heart, as well as on her knee, she would not have been blessed among women.

He came into the temple, by the direction of God, at that particular time: But observe, it was in the Temple that he was to receive this FRESH testimony of God's love. If you expect God's favour to be manifested to you, throw yourselves in his way, the way of duty, in

, conscientious attendance on ordinances. Those, who make light of them, show they are not seeking God in good earnest. I use the expression FRESH testimony of God's love, because I would put you in mind that good men always long for repeated proofs of the loving-kindness of their God; and because is is very plain that Simeon had tasted of this loving-kindness before this instance of it which we are now considering, otherwise he would not have been called in Scripture

just and devout, and one filled with the Holy Ghost;” a description which only belongs to believers in Jesus Christ.

When the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the law, HE took him up in his arms.

This was a glorious scene, when we consider that he knew the child which he held in his arms to be his Lord, his God, his sure Saviour. How must 'the old man's eyes have 'sparkled with joy, and his heart have been affected with the sense of God's Peace, in the completion of this promise! How did he see himself honoured by the Lord! And with what freedom and joy did he bless God ! “ Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word.” Gladly would he die, since God had fulfilled


the desire of his soul. Sweet peace and resignation ! I hope I need not now show you the sources of them; a full consciousness of God's friendship, a sober certainty of bliss. Without these he could not have talked of peace, nor have been so resigned. “For mine eyes have seen the salvation ;” sweet name! He calls Jesus God's Salvation, and Jesus itself signifies Saviour. It was a Salvation of God's contriving, accepting, and applying to the souls of men; and if Simeon had not believed this Salvation to be his own, he could not have spoken so joyfully of dying. Pray, Brethren, for his faith, and you may then bless God in the same manner, and enjoy

, the same resignation, peace, and joy.

"" Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people, a light to lighten the Gentiles, and to be the glory of thy people Israel.” It would be of great use, did we learn to apply Scripture-truths as if they were directed like a letter to us in particular; otherwise they are of little value. You, who compose this congregation, are Gentiles.

Are you in

Are darkness? Are you sensible that you stand in need of a divine illumination ? Behold! here is the “light to lighten” you; he that believeth on him, as he saith, shall not walk in darkness.

Now it is time to apply to ourselves good old Simeon's experience; and as his principles and the story, are sufficiently laid open, let me exhort you not to mistake, as most of his generation did, the nature of the Salvation of Christ. They regarded the Saviour with merely a general belief: Do you, with Simeon, seek to possess * him for

* him for your own 1 John, v. 12: He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son hath not life.


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


[blocks in formation]

happiness, both now and ever.' Recollect he came to be the Prince of Peace. Cease not your prayers, cease not your importunities *, till you know he is

, your peace,

till you can join with old Simeon every Sabbath-afternoon, with all your heart,

your heart, “ Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen thy Salvation ;” till

, under the reading of the New Testament, you can receive its promises, and thus express your sense of God's peace, your hope of deliverance from the fear of death, and your resignation to the divine will.

In repeating this Hymn of Simeon, as well as others appointed by the Church, it is to be feared there is much hypocrisy, much dead formality among us! Simeon declares that Christ is, “ a light to lighten the Gentiles.” Deceive not yourselves with a cold assent to general propositions, as hypocrites do; but put the questions home each man to himself. Has Christ been a light to me? Have I been conscious of my sitting in darkness without him: Has he guided my feet into the way


peace? What am I doing? Am I waiting on him, above all things, to the end that my heart may be purified, , as it can be only by faith in him? Or am I quite careless about the matter? Dead in sins, with no knowledge of divine reconciliation ?- If so,whatever light Christ may be to others, he is no more to you than if he had never come into the world, to visit the Gentiles by his grace.

To you in particular, who are in the decline of life, I would say ; If you have believed on Jesus to

, the knowledge of the remission of sins; if you are walking in this light; if you can depart in peace,

* See Luke xi.


having seen his Salvation, happy are ye. The Mission of Jesus has to you answered its end : Do you show forth the praises of the Lord, in a course of heavenly-mindedness; and be not slack to exhort others; and tell them, from your own experience, that there is a peace to be felt in religion. Be patient under God's hand, and wait his time, when he will remove you hence unto himself.

But if there be any here, yet burdened with guilt and unbelief, though there may be reason to hope that you are really seeking the face of God, examine yourselves, and see that you be not self-conceited with the opinion of your own wisdom, as old men are frequently too apt to be; and take care of worldly-mindedness, that absurd vice of Old Age. Look at Simeon for a pattern, and believe that the Spirit of God will do for you as he did for him. If you commit


souls to God with the earnest prayer of faith, the eyes of your mind shall see his Salvation, and you also will be enabled to sing, “ Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace.

But, I fear, there are old persons among us, who have always thought themselves safe, notwithstanding that they have never known their own lost state, nor the all-sufficient Salvation of Jesus. Pride, shame, prejudice, and an admiration of their own good qualities, during a long course of formal prayers, and attendance on the Sacrament,--all conspire to hinder them from receiving the Lord's Christ. Oh! it is sorely grievous to nature for them to own they have yet their religion to seek; to give up themselves as lost sinners, and to consider their performances, which they had supposed pious and

meritorious, as defective, and as having " the nature of sin *,” and to trust wholly in the righteousness of Jesus Christ: Painful Sacrifice! Thoughts of this kind cause their hearts to rise with indignation : Yet thus it must be: They must learn to see their lost state, and to put no confidence in their own works or deservings, no trust in their own prayers, endeavours, strength, or wisdom, to look on all these things, as no proper foundation, either in whole or in part, for acceptance with God, and to make this simple plea, '“ Lord, I am deserving of Hell, and can do nothing to ward off thy vengeance, have mercy on me, for Christ's sake; I cast my soul on him only ;' without him I am lost for ever.” Thus are they to flee from the wrath to come, or they cannot escape

it. Other old persons, I fear, there are, who are yet slaves to the cares or pleasures of the world. What shall I say? It is time for you to ask yourselves the question, What must I do to be saved? Consider; the young may not live long: You must die soon. What do

you learn from those trembling hands and tottering knees? Is it for you to be as anxious about worldly gain, as if the fashion of this world were to last for ever? Have you so much time on your hands, that you can afford to throw it away in gaming? Is it for you to dress, to mix in the gaieties of life, to affect a levity of conduct and conversation which you have neither health nór spirits to support? Will God's forbearance never have an end? Will you vindicate a frivolous and pleasurable course of life as necessary


your amusement?. Consider that See Article XIII. of Religion.

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »