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True self-love is expressed in the maxim of our Saviour, “What shall a man give in exchange for his soul ?” True self-love is the anxiety and effort to secure our personal salvation. In this view, it becomes the first of our duties. Nor indeed is it unworthy of this eminence from its very difficulty; for in no other department is it less easy to give to love the features of true charity. Who would deny that men love themselves ? and yet, who can ascribe to the majority of them real charity to self? If we believe that the day of judgment will bring everlasting punishment on all who fail of life eternal, we cannot doubt that self-batred is the unnatural principle that rules in disguise in the hearts of men. And it must rank as the most signal delusion of the evil one, that he can inveigle men into a self-love which is void of self charity. The Christian who has the true light of love will let it shine in brightest charity upon his own soul.
On a subject, my brethren, so important and of such wide application, we might extend our remarks, but it is time to concentrate them upon the sacramental ordinance of which we are now to partake.
The holy supper is closely connected with the grace of charity, it is the festival of love. Are we at enmity with the Sovereign of heaven? have iniquities separated between us and our God? We come in humility and with confessions of guilt to the footstool of His throne, the altar; we ask forgiveness; and the Father of mercies here grants it: He not only pardons us, but restores us to His love. Are we ungrateful to the Redeemer who hath borne our sorrows and carried our griefs, who was wounded for our transgressions, and bare our sins in His own body on the tree? have we trampled His blood under foot, and crucified Him afresh by our misdeeds? We approach at the altar, the memorial of his sacrifice for sin ; we approach it as we would the cross itself; we weep for his agony and passion, and more deeply for the guilt staining our conscience, which made that agony and passion necessary; we renounce every wickedness, even to the right hand or the right eye, if they cause us to offend; and He who was touched with a feeling of our infirmities, and was tempted in all points as we are, will again welcome us to His love, and assure us, “Thy sins are forgiven thee, go in peace.” Are we rebelling against the Holy Spirit, doing despite to His good motions in our hearts, grieving Him by our uncured infirmities, or vexing Him by our unconquered sins? If we return to Him sincerely in this ordinance, He will not forsake us; gentle as the dove, He would win again our affections, restore us to His tenderness, and open a deep and cheering communion with our reviving spirits. Faith and hope are exalted graces; but the love mutually sealed between us and heaven in the eucharistic festival, far transcends them.
In, also, this feast of love, the Christian embraces every brother in the bosom of Christian friendship. His charity will in their behalf, “bear all things, believe all things, endure and hope all things." His charity will be benevolent to them in distress, courteous in intercourse with them, gentle yet firm in winning them to the truth, and studious in every way to promote their salvation. Has then any brother, through want of caution, or through infirmity, suffered the chain of this good-will to be broken? here is the place to repair it. Here, where CHRIST gives us the symbol of that blood which made peace for us with God, we surely cannot refuse to be at peace with any who equally share His redemption; we cannot surely, in this place, hate any whom the Saviour loves. Charity should reign in perfection among those who bend at the same altar. O then, my brethren, let us not esteem this a hard duty; let us regard it as infinitely repaid by the happiness that will attend it! What unspeakable happiness, to feel that not one beating of our hearts, and not one breathing of our bosoms, is other than in unison with the peace of those whom God hath made of one blood with us, and, by the one blood of CHRIST, hath with us purchased and redeemed.
In love to God, and in love to men, may we, my brethren, find at the altar both strength and comfort for our hearts; and may our lives attest that “charity is the bond of perfectness !"
A Sermon, Preached on Thursday, the 13th of December, 1832: being the day appointed by the Governor of the State of New York, to be observed therein as a day of public Thanksgiving to ALMIGHTY God for having removed the recent epidemic pestilence, and for the other blessings of his mercisul providence; in
St. Ann's Church, Brooklyn,
BY THE REV. THOMAS PYNE, A. M. OF ST. JOHN'S COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE, (ENG.) AND NOW RECTOR OF ST. JOHN'S
CHURCH, NORTHERN LIBERTIES, PHILADELPHIA.
Psalm lxv. 1-"Praise waiteth for thee, O God, in Sion, and unto thee shall the vou
It has pleased God, in making known his will to us, not to propound it in the way of dry argumentation, but to take advantage of circumstances and occasions as they have arisen: thus instructing us in a method by far the most impressive and interesting to a creature formed as man is, and making the plans of his providence subservient to the purposes of his grace.
This is exemplified in the psalm before us. The Israelites were commanded, during the continuance of the Jewish polity, to appear before the LORD at Jerusalem thrice in every year. At these divinely-appointed festivals, therefore, they left their respective villages, and, giving up for a time their worldly employments, went in companies to the holy city. In order to relieve the tedium of the way, to prepare their minds for the solemn duties in which they were to be engaged, and to make the journey itself a blessing, it was highly important that suitable services should be prepared. The Holy Spirit condescended to their aid ; he lighted up the sweet Psalmist of Israel with the fire of divine poetry; and the sacred ode from which the text is taken, is one, among several, which was sung in
chorus, as the favored people proceeded toward Zion, - the perfection of beauty, - and thought of the Church of which she was a figure.
I can hardly conceive any thing more affecting than the use of such language as that of our psalm under such circumstances; the villages of Palestine left unprotected, (save by Jehovah's promised care,) while the people went to the metropolis to serve him; the waving harvests and the romantic scenery around them -- the holy city, with all its temporal magnificence and all its elevating associations, in the distance. Surely we may well exclaim, “ Happy were ye, O children of Israel, a people near unto JEHOVAH." “Blessed, O LORD, is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts; we shall be satisfied with the goodness of thy house, even of thy holy temple."
And may we not, brethren, trace some analogy between the circumstances under wbich the psalm was composed, and those for which we are now convened ? As our Easter and Pentecost seem respectively correspondent to the Passover and the Feast of Weeks, so may the present occasion be thought not unlike that of Tabernacles; a festival which occurred in autumn after the ingathering of the vintage, at which the Jews expressed their gratitude to God for the mercies of the year, and illuminated their houses as a type of spiritual light and joy. You are not, indeed, as they were, beneath the burden of ceremonies; you are not compelled to distant pilgrimages, or a prolonged abstraction of your time from the needful concerns of life. “The liberty wherewith Christ maketh his people free” is your privilege ; but are you not hence called, if possible, to a deeper expression of thankfulness for abounding blessings ? Should you not add your voice to the people of old, in saying, * Praise waiteth for thee, O God, in Zion; and unto thee shall the vow be performed !""
Two commanding points are suggested by the text.
When recalling our thoughts from the things of the world, which so constantly attract our attention and so greatly deceive our hearts, we endeavor to reflect on the mercies of God, we know not where to begin, nor where to end! If we turn our eyes to the countless worlds which the night reveals to us, or think of the myriads of creatures who every moment depend on the band of God, well may we exclaim with the astonished and enraptured Psalmist, even in reference to the whole human race, “What is man, that thou art mindful of him, or the son of man, that thou visitest him!” (Ps. viii. 4.) Yes, brethren, we shall not deem amiss, when, contemplating the majesty of Him in whom it is a condescension to “behold the things which are in heaven and in the earth,” we suppose that the constant worship before the throne bad not been interrupted, nor the glory of JEHOVAH's diadem been dimmed, had inan never been created, or, being created, had, like the ephemera, flitted through his short summer day of life, and lain down in oblivion ! If, then, millions upon millions of their successive generations have been so insignificant before the ALMIGHTY ;if even man the righteous, man the unfallen, be of so little importance amidst the excellencies of an adoring universe; what shall we say of God's compassion to man the sinner, man the perverse, the rebel, the ingrate? - what, turning away our thoughts from the mass to the individual; from mankind as stretched over their many countries, and divided by their many customs, to ourselves, as single pebbles, as it were, upon the vast line of shore? Do we wonder at a prophet's exclamation while dwelling upon this precise point, “Oh how precious are thy thoughts to me-ward, how great is the sum of them !” Must we not enter into the burst of rapture of an apostle, “Oh the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God !”
Brethren, behold the majesty and love of the ALMIGHTY. The glorious sun lights up the world; a thousand rivers feel his sway, a thousand valleys own his influence; birds of every wing, beasts of differing form and habit; insects, from the dull drone to the beautiful king-fly, rejoice in his beams. He shines