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and by rendering them divine, when we render humane.
Thus it is that “the second is like unto the first.” We love God, because He is good—we are ourselves good when we love man. In the union of both commandments, their inseparable union, consists the perfection of the Christian character. On them hang all the Law and the Prophets—all that has ever been devised for the regulation of human conduct—all that has ever been foretold of human progress and perfection. They are ever before us.
God is ever before us in the glory and perfection of his works; man is ever before us in his affections and his wants. The obstacle to both commandments alike is in ourselves—in our own narrow conceptions, and perverted sentiments—in that blindness which closes our eyes to the traces of infinite wisdom and goodness which ever surround us; and in that sensuality, vanity, or ambition, which draw aside our thoughts and affections from the myriads of sentient and intelligent beings, among whom we move, and whom we may benefit, and rather fix them within the dark and delusive circle of our own individual gratification or importance.
It was to awaken and to rekindle all those higher contemplations and more generous sentiments, that the Saviour of the world came to dwell among men—that He showed them the Father that He bound anew in His own blood, the bonds which unite human hearts-that He called from His Cross to the wandering and perishing race of men, and bid them lift their eyes to the solemn spectacle of His momentous sufferings, and suspend their giddy and headlong steps-and that, when the awful scene of death was past, He again appeared before them in a renewed life, and threw open to them the gates of Immortality !—These are the representations which are still made to us at the Altar, and it is under its sacred retreat that those conceptions of God and of man are best fostered, which are lost amid the delusions of the world ; that all the better purposes of our souls are renewed, and that, refreshed by the bread of life, we are prepared to follow the gracious Author of our Salvation, through the course of piety and beneficence which He has traced for us on earth, and which, under his guidance, terminates in the glories of Heaven! I trust, my brethren, that around that Altar, we did not assemble in vain,—that the might of Him who created, and Him who redeemed us, was there imparted to our feeble spirits,—and that the Divine Comforter descended upon us, and will now and ever enable us to “possess our souls in patience," whatever may be the sorrows which await us on our return into the world, or whatever may be the temptations by which we must be tried !-May we then seek to secure Great Master's friendship, by doing diligently whatsoever He commands us! May we go forth in the assurance of faith, yet with fear, and trembling,-fearful of the world through which we move,-fearful of ourselves and throwing all our wants and weakness on Him who, having once loved us, hath loved us unto the end !
ON THE ASCENSION OF CHRIST.*
LUKE, xxiv. 51. And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried
This, my brethren, is the account of the last appearance of our Saviour upon earth, and it is in exact conformity to all the previous part of His history. His life had been spent in “ going about and doing good;" even amidst the agonies of the Cross, he prayed for forgiveness to his persecutors ; when he again appeared to his followers, he spoke peace to their troubled souls; and now, before He was carried up into Heaven, he
* Preached on the Sunday after Ascension-Day.
“ led them out, (as we are told in the words preceding the text,) and lifted up his hands and blessed them.” Then follows the narrative of his ascension. “ And it came to pass while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into Heaven.”
At this season, we are called upon by the church to commemorate this glorious event, and there is no subject of meditation which can be more productive of useful and consoling reflection. It is not long since we contemplated the sufferings of the Son of God for a fallen and sinful race, and bowed ourselves at the foot of his Cross, in penitence for those sins which he there expiated by his Blood. We then beheld him rising from the tomb, and calling upon us, and upon all, to throw off the burden of sin, and to rise with Him into a renewed life, and into the glories which await his followers. The meditation of this season carries us still farther. We see him returning to that great Father froin whom he came, and while he ascends, he blesses his disciples, and assures them, that, in the regions of purity into which he returns, there many mansions" which He “ prepare" for them.