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man, whose ill-gotten wealth is weighing down his soul to the nethermost hell; the drunkard who is wasting his health, his substance, and his soul together; the fornicator, against whom the sure judgements of God are preparing; every one-who is in the daily practice of any sin whatever, let him learn, that faith availeth not without repentance; and that repentance is shewn by ceasing to do evil, and by learning to do well. These darling sins which he is so unwilling to give up are they really to be compared with the joys of Heaven; or really to be set in the balance against the fire which burneth for ever? And resign them he must of necessity;-willingly, or not, he must relinquish them all; and the time will come, (how soon is only known to God) when all these indulgences, which he could not bear to lose, will serve only to make his sufferings more grievous. A few days, a few hours, perhaps a few moments of pleasure,-this is the mighty price, for which we barter our souls; these are the treasures of this world, to preserve which we resist the mercies of the Lord, and conjure our Redeemer to depart from us!
May He dispose your hearts to better thoughts: and may we all so seek for our salvation by diligent prayer, and by steady resolutions of amendment, that He may return in mercy to our souls; and, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, make, as he hath promised, His abode there for ever!
FIFTH SUNDAY AFTER EPIPHANY.
ISAIAH lix. 20.
The Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob.
ISAIAH, the son of Amos, has been distinguished from all the other writers of the Old Testament by the name of the Evangelical Prophet: and it is certain, that, in no part of Scripture, not even in the Psalms of David themselves, is the coming of Christ so often and so clearly foretold; and His person and character, so plainly and fully represented. It has been, therefore, the opinion of very good and learned men, that no way can be thought of-so likely to convert the Heathen to Christianity, as to put into their hands some of the most remarkable passages of Isaiah, together with the Gospel of St. Matthew, in which the fulfilment of these striking prophecies is related; informing them, at the same time, that, between the death of Isaiah, and the birth of the Lord Jesus, was a distance of time amounting to,
at least, seven hundred years; and leaving them to judge, whether a religion, which was confirmed by such prophecies and wonders, could have proceeded from any but God.
And it is, I suppose, on account of this remarkable connexion between the principal chapters in Isaiah, and the leading facts of our Saviour's history, that our Church has appointed the proper lessons, for all Sundays from Advent to Septuagesima, to be taken from this book; in order that, at the time of year when we are more particularly called on to meditate, with solemn thankfulness, on Christ's coming into the world, we may be the better enabled to understand the occasion of that coming; and to value the benefits which we receive from it; by learning how great things had been spoken of it by holy men in ancient times; and of what nature and description those blessings were, which, so many hundred years before, had been promised to the world through the holy Child Jesus.
Accordingly, when we read, or hear read to us, in any of the lessons for these Sundays, such passages as those in the 1st, 2nd, 5th, and 24th chapters of this prophecy, in which the Jews are described-as fallen from grace, as given over, with few exceptions, to a mad and cursed idolatry, as oppressors, bloodthirsty, and deceitful,we should remember, that the picture here drawn of them is as faithful a picture of the
Gentiles, also; who, no less, or even more, than the Jews, are concluded by Scripture to be under sin, and as owing all the light and knowledge of their duty, which they have since received-all the increased power to perform that duty, which has been since bestowed on themall the gracious acceptance and favour, with which their imperfect services are received, and their repented sins, forgiven-to that glorious Saviour alone, whose coming into the world is, at this season, celebrated by the Church.
When, in the 25th, 26th, 30th, 37th, and 38th chapters, we read of the grievous judgements, which befell the mightiest nations of the world,—the kings of Egypt, and of Assyria,—we are naturally led to measure the vanity of mortal pride and power, when compared with that kingdom of the Son of God, which is to rule all people, and endure for all ages, — and to feel and know, that there is no salvation in the arm of flesh; nor strength in the councils of earthly wisdom.
Those chapters, which, like the 44th and 46th, set forth the vanity of idols, and the desperate folly of those, who, when they had hewn out the stock of a tree into form, fell down before the work of their hands and worshipped it, saying, "Be thou my God, and deliver me!"— these chapters, I say, should teach us the great
blessedness of that Gospel-light, by which our fathers, and we ourselves, have been led, from such vanities, to know God, as He is; and to worship Him with an acceptable sacrifice. And, lastly, the more clear and express prophecies of Christ's birth, doctrine, and kingdom, which we find in the 32d, 51st, 53d, 55th, and 56th chapters, should increase and confirm our faith, by proving to us, on whom we have believed; and should convince us, how hopeless our case must be, if we neglect so great salvation; which the greatest prophets of ancient times could only behold afar off; and which, though now laid open to the knowledge and thankfulness of babes,-the very angels of God are said to have desired to look into.
But, while the different chapters, and different passages, of Isaiah are thus rich in various instruction; and thus, in so many different ways, set forth the mercy, might, and majesty of our Redeemer; there is one particular doctrine, which may, in some degree, be learned from them all; but which is, with a more remarkable clearness, set forth in the chapter, which has been this morning read to you: the doctrine, I mean, that Christ was sent for the salvation of those, who are, by nature and by habit, undone and miserable sinners; but that these objects of His mercy are only admitted to it, on the con