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" Awake, thou that seepest, and arise “ from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light*.”
Praise is ever valuable in proportion to the judgment and integrity of him who bestoweth it; and the pa-, negyric is truly honourable, when the panegyrist is one who will not flatter, and who cannot be deceived. How then shall we raise our thoughts to conceive adequately of a person, whose encomium was spoken by the Son of God; and concerning whom that Son of God declared, “ Among " them that are born of women there " hath not arisen a greater than John "the Baptistt.” After this declaration made by the master, the disciples cannot well be hyperbolical in Ephes. v. 14. + Matt. xi. 11. B 2
their their praises of St. John, as the great pattern of repentance; the relation of Chrift; the friend of the bridegroom; the herald of the king immortal; the glory of faints, and the joy of the world.
It is observable, that the Baptist's nativity is the only one (that of Christ excepted) which the church has thought proper to celebrate. The days appointed for the commemoration of other faints are generally those on which they respectively ceafed from their labours, and entered into their everlasting rest; the day of a good man's death being indeed the day of his birth, and this world no more than the womb in which he is formed and matured for his admission into a better, where there is neither crying nor pain. But the nativity of St. John being designed, by the remarkable incidents that accompanied it, to turn the eyes of men towards one who was far greater ; one, the latchet of whose shoes he confessed himself not worthy to unloose; the church keeps a day facred to it, and directs us to begin our meditations by considering, as all Judea did, when it happened, “what manner of “ child*" that should be, which was so wonderfully born.
He whofe works are all wrought in number, weight, and measure, bringeth every event to pass in its proper season. The time approached which had been decreed in the counsels of the Most High, foretold by the Pro
* Luke i. 66.
phets, and ardently desired by boly men of old, when the Son of God fhould be manifested, to redeem his people from death, and to lead them in the path of life. As this redemption was not to be effected by fleshly might and power, the spiritual king of Israel chose to make his appearance, when the house of David was like a root buried in the earth; and therefore his forerunner was born in “ the days of Herod the king* ; days, when his countrymen were under a foreign jurifdi&tion, and the prospect on all sides was gloomy. True indeed it is, that the sacred kamp went not out in the temple, where the good old Simeon and the devout Anna served God instantly * Luke j. 5.
with fastings and prayers, and wait.. ed, as many otiers did, with earnest expectation, for the confolation of Ifrael. They were not discouraged by the gross darkness which then covered the earth, but rather concluded from thence, that the dawn of day could not be far off; as the mercies of heaven generally come when man most wants, 'aud, humanly speaking, has least ground to hope for them ; to the end that he may with thankfulness receive the benefit, and with humility give God the glory. And this may be an useful leffon to those who shall live in the latter days of the Gentile church, which are to precede the second advent of Christ; when they will behold the religion of Christians degenerated