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saying, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” So it was indeed when at the first He came to His temple veiled in our flesh, forty days only after His birth; for the holy Simeon, the devout Anna, the blessed Virgin, the righteous Joseph, saw the Lord; but from other eyes He was hidden : to the thoughtless and the worldly, to the self-willed and to the proud, the Child that day presented in the temple seemed merely the ordinary offspring of mean parents; only these faithful servants of God saw HIM that should redeem Israel, and be a light to lighten the Gentiles.
It is true that as He grew older, and His hour drew on, the signs of His wisdom, and power, and GODHEAD, broke forth more clearly; and thus at the age of twelve years it is said, that “all that heard Him were amazed at His understanding and answers." And so afterwards far more when the fulness of His power was manifested, were all men amazed at His teaching, and at His mighty works.
And yet how few even then saw in Him so much as the “ Teacher come from God!” still fewer were there to whom His FATHER in heaven revealed the secret, that He was, as St. Peter and the Apostles confessed, “ the CHRIST, the Son of the living God.”
Now therefore, much more, when He thus, in His childhood, began beforehand, as it were, to unfold in His Father's house the Divine wisdom that was in Him; though all that heard Him were astonished, yet have we surely good reason to believe, that there were few, very few, who had hearts deeply to consider and remember the gracious words that flowed from His Divine lips.
And why do I say this? Because now also Christ is continually manifesting HIMSELF in this His sacred house. from time to time most of us perhaps struck with wonder and awe at what is read, or what is done here. Who is there that has not been at times awed, or moved by the wisdom and mercy
of God's Word ? or who is there that approaches that Holy Table, and has not at times, at least felt trembling and amazement in his heart at the mercy vouchsafed to him, when he is feeding on the very Flesh and Blood given for the salvation of the world, when he is made to dwell in Christ, and has Christ given to dwell in him ? But yet, after all, it does not follow, that the eyes soul are really opened to see Christ here, or our ears unclosed to hear His Word, or our hearts so softened to be deeply sensible
of our 2 Matt. xviii. 20.
of His love. Wonder, strong and even agitating feelings for a time, (though it were well if we saw more even of these,) yet these, I say, are no sure proofs that Christ has not been manifested to us in vain.
What are the proofs then ? An habitual delight in God's house; an habitual reverence and awe here; and a continual remembrance, when we return to the world, of the things we have heard, and seen, and professed, and of which we have been partakers here ;—these are the only sure signs that we do not come here in vain—that we here learn of Christ, and have a real communion with Him.
For if this be in deed and not in name only the LORD's house ; if He really does dwell here, and shew HIMSELF here ; if this be the place where of all others we are most sure to find Him; consider well, I beseech you, my dearest brethren, ought we not all of us to be more anxious to come here than we are, the very • best of us ? You see that the Church here teaches us out of the very words of the Gospel, that it is in God's temple we shall be most sure of finding Christ.
Why then are not all anxious to come here as often as possible? If you do believe that Christ is here in the midst, as often as two or three are gathered together here to worship, why do ye not oftener come to meet Him? Is it that ye do not believe He is here? Where then is your faith in His Word ? for HE HIMSELF plainly says, " Where two or three are gathered together in My Name, there am I in the midst of them ?.” For it is vain to object that there is no mention here of the Church in particular ; but it is only said, “where they are gathered together.” For although this promise might to a certain degree belong to a Christian family met together for prayer, yet surely it must be plain that in no way can we make so sure of its fulfilment to us, as by coming to this house, which is as much, yea, and far more to us than the temple ever was to the Jews. If CHRIST then was to be sought for and found in the temple, much more shall we find Him here in His own Church, where He dwells, not as of old time, in Jewish types, but in the fulness of blessings imparting His very Self to us through the mysteries of a more perfect dis
pensation. Consider then, I beseech you, whether the wilful neglect of repeated calls to attend God's service here, may not provoke Christ to hide His Face from you, to withdraw HIMSELF from you, and to cause that you should seek for Him in vain.
But some may object, that they do not see that those who go often to Church are better than those who go seldom ; or they may say that when they went oftener themselves, they did not find themselves the better for it, but that rather the prayers grew wearisome.
Now, in the first place, with respect to any such judgment of other people, there is after all no great dependence to be placed on that; we know so little of what is going on in one another's hearts, that it is very possible a person may be very much the better for his constant use of some of the means of grace, though we may not see that he is so. But, again, it is by no means said or meant that the mere act of coming here will insure your being any the better.
If you bring your bodies here, and leave your hearts engaged in your worldly business or worldly pleasure, this is not to come to CHRIST, Who is here; for that which He first and above all asks of you, is the heart.
Neither, again, have we any promise of receiving any blessing, or of really approaching Christ here, unless we bring a will submitted to His will, a desire to learn what He would have us to do, and a full determination to strive our best that we may duly fulfil it. Thence will ever spring, not only a meek and attentive hearing of God's Word, but an earnest and continued endeavour to join in understanding, heart and spirit, in those holy prayers which are here offered up.
In short, we must come here, presenting our souls and bodies a living sacrifice unto God; so only can we expect to discern CHRIST here, or to be made partakers of Him.
You must guard against wandering and worldly thoughts; for it is only in proportion as we drive them out, that we can so seek for Christ as to find Him even here. And be persevering and earnest in this endeavour; and though you should find that again and again these wandering imaginations overload your mind, and make a separation between you and your God, do you still again and again cast them off, praying earnestly and continually for His help in so doing. Try and think of the time when it will be
too late to pray, and consider that now God's ears are open, and His hand outstretched to give you pardon, and grace, and life, in Him, if
you will but ask it with earnestness and unceasing cries ; cries not loud but deep,-out of the depths of the heart; such as those which the Psalmist signified, when he said, “ Out of the deep have I cried unto Thee, O LORD 3."
But above all remember this. The great means for learning to pray attentively here, to listen with profit here, to be partakers of Christ here (by a faithful receiving of the Lord's Supper), is this : to keep constantly in mind, at home, and in your employment every day, what you hear, what you do, what you see, what you receive, when you are in Church.
For what often ruins all the profit we receive here is this : that most of us, as soon as we go out of Church, shake off what restraint and awe that may be on us when here, and become engaged again as deeply as ever in worldly employments, or trifling carnal pleasures, and forget that we have been with Christ,-forget what we have been taught, that “Christ is in us, if we be not reprobates."
Then, in consequence, when you come again to Church, your minds and hearts are hardened, and it is more difficult to make anew any impression; or, if any be made, it is much sooner wiped away.
So great is the danger of forming a habit, as many do, of losing at home what we gain at Church.
Therefore, I would advise you on this sacred day of the week especially, when you can surely secure yourself a little leisure to consider what you have been hearing, what you have been saying; what prayers you have offered, whether any or what good thoughts and intentions have been awakened in your minds; and if you have received the LORD's Supper, think Whom ye
have received to dwell in you.
And then think how you can spend next week, and all your life to come, more according to God's will; consider wherein you may return to God, and live more as becomes one whose chief desire and care is to abide in CARIST, and to have CHRIST abiding in him, and who for that end is looking unto JESUS;
Psalm cxxx. 1.
studying how he may please Hım best, how he may do His will, and follow the pattern He has set us in His most holy life. Be it your great study, that you may be fully partakers of His grace in the Holy Sacraments, that you may ever be drawn into closer union with Him more and more on earth, till at last we may hope to find Him (so as never in any degree to lose sight of Him any more) in Heaven.
Consider, when you return home, by what kind of life you will best fit yourself to receive more heavenly light from His Word, to enter into closer converse and communion with Him in prayer, and so to eat His Flesh and drink His Blood here at His Table, that your body and soul may be knit unto Him. That thus continually cleaving to Him here, you may be made like Him, and see Him face to face in joy unspeakable in that true and heavenly Temple, of which these His Churches on earth are the appointed types or images.
Here, as sinners, with souls and bodies defiled, being yet begotten again unto a lively hope, we behold our LORD veiled in His Word and Sacraments; there, if God have mercy on us, and count us worthy, we shall find Him for ever, and see His face without
earth-born cloud to hide Him from us.