Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

Finally, Let those yet strangers to the Saviour now cast themselves on his compassion and power. You require the exertion of his power, for you are in a state of subjection to sin and Satan, from which Christ alone can rescue you.

The devil may now employ his influence over you in a manner soft and pleasing ; he may present to you nothing but his flatteries and enticements; but ere long he will assail you by suggestions and charges, and terrors the most agonizing, and by them he will endeavour to seal your perdition. You ask if Jesus will pity you, and employ his power in your

behalf. Yes ; his pity for wretched sinners may be read in his entreaties and seen in his blood. Would he weep for the sinner's danger if he was indifferent about his fate? Would he

urge

his acceptance of his grace if he had no desire for his salvation ? Would he have died for the ungodly if he felt no solicitude to deliver them from the wrath to come ? The most loathsome wretchedness cannot exclude you from his pity, nor can the most atrocious guilt exceed his power to save. Though a legion of devils, though an host of corruptions were in your heart, he hath power to cast them out; and though the sorrows of death compassed you about, and the pains of hell had taken hold on you, his mercy can pluck you as a brand from the burning. O cast yourselves, then, on his power and compassion, as the weeping infant does on its mother's bosom, or as the repentant prodi. gal throws himself at his father's feet ! May this be the testimony with which you leave his house this day,~"I came to it careless, but his grace impressed

I came to it the slave of the devil, but the law

me ;

of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus made me free from the law of sin and death; I came with

my

heart set on the world, but I leave it devoted to things eternal.” And may all of us be monuments of that grace which reigns through righteousness unto eternal life, by Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

DISCOURSE XII.

THE CHARACTER AND EXERCISE OF AGED SIMEON.

Loke ii. 25—30. And, behold, there was a man in Je

rusalem, whose name was Simeon ; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel : and the Holy Ghost was upon him. And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ. And he came by the Spirit into the temple : and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, then took he him

up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: for mine eyes have seen thy salvation.

It is seldom that any incident excites much interest in the aged. Detached from the bustle of the world, they know its transactions merely by report, and often disgust those who relate them by the indifference with which they hear of that which is the admiration of the public. Those feelings are blunted which once made them enter so keenly into the occurrences of the surrounding scene, and “ the former days were better than these,” is the cold and sullen reply which they often make to the account of events which have raised the hearts of the young to ecstacy. What they saw in early life appears to them clothed with all the

attractions which it derived from youthful gaiety and ardour, and is contrasted with what is beheld in all the circumstances of diminution and disgust which can be attached to it by a languid and sickly heart.

But in this passage we behold a scene which, though little adapted to interest a carnal mind, is in the highest degree important and delightful, and which kindled in the heart of aged Simeon the liveliest transport. The character of this man is rich in the qualities of true excellence; and, beholding the infant Saviour clasped in his arms, the Spirit of wisdom and glory resting on his hoary head, his faded cheek glowing with ardent feeling, and his failing heart throbbing with vivid expectation and rapturous delight, we cannot but exclaim, “ Hail thou art highly favoured! the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among men.”

Never was false taste and credulity more strongly manifested than in the attention which has been given to the fables invented by curiosity or superstition to embellish this narrative, and to heighten our interest in the character and fate of this venerable man. To detail them would be to trifle with your judgment and feelings ; let them sleep in the legends of monkery, and let us be assured, that if any man finds not enough in this narrative to fix and to charm his attention, he hath no relish for the simplicity of the Gospel, and no knowledge of the truth as it is in Jesus.

In this passage we behold a most interesting association of infancy and age,-the Saviour entering on the world, and an aged saint quitting it. Here we

see infancy in the fairest form in which it ever was or can be exhibited, and age adorned with its best graces, and enjoying its strongest consolations. In such a scene we behold all that can be desired to make childhood holy, the church delightful, age venerable, and death blessed. Let us then contemplate it with an earnest desire to receive its lessons and to imbibe its spirit.

In this discourse I shall call your attention to the character, the privilege, and the request of this venerable man.

I. Let us mark the character of Simeon. The excellence of this man is presented to us in no elaborate panegyric, but in some of its striking features, and in terms simple and concise. In the lengthened eulogy the attention is often turned from the character to the ardour of the writer, and to the qualities of the composition; but in the descriptions of the Bible it is fixed on the worth exhibited, and the obligation which it imposes is felt and acknowledged.

Let us consider the qualities which are specified in the conduct of this man. He was just. He had been in the former periods of his life distinguished by his fidelity to his engagements, his veracity in his statements, his honesty in his dealings, and his care to give to all their due; and though amidst the seclusion of old age he had not the same opportunities as formerly of testifying his regard to justice, he, in every way in which it could be done, showed his uprightness. The noble resolution of Job was his :" Till I die I will

« VorigeDoorgaan »