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blessings. Abide in Christ; keep close to the means of grace; watch against temptation; “ be not high“ minded, but fear,” for your enemies are many, and your hearts deceitful; yet “ be sober, and hope unto “ the end:” “ For greater is he that is in you, than “ he that is in the world.” Wait on the Lord conti. nually, that he may renew your strength : and take heed, lest an increase of knowledge and maturity of judgment should be attended by an abatement in the fervour of your affections. Be not contented with the low attainments of this lukewarm age; but follow those, who have most closely followed Christ. And now approach with us to his table, to avow your acceptance of his salvation, and surrender of yourselves to his service ; that, as “ bought with a price, you “ may glorify God with your bodies and spirits which " are his.”
Some perhaps to this very day, may stand in doubt to what class or company they belong. ' May the Lord enable such persons, to begin this new year, with “ giving all diligence to make their calling and “ election sure!” Enquire, my friends, with im. partial strictness, into the reasons of your uncertainty and darkness : cast away every idol, break off eve. ry entangling pursuit or engagement, return from your backslidings, and seek the Lord with all your hearts : that should this year terminate your lives; your setting sun may break forth with cheering beams, and gild the dark valley through which you must pass: or should you be spared ; that your walk may be henceforth more close with God, more honourable
and comfortable, and more edifying and encouraging to those around you.
My Christian brethren! let us enter on this new year, by seriously reviewing the one that we have finished : that we may be humbled for the sins, into which we have been betrayed, and rendered more simply dependant and watchful : and that we may be more thankful for the special mercies, personal, social, and publick, with which we have been favoured. Let us earnestly beg a blessing from God on every attempt we have made to sow the seed of truth, to speak a word in season, and to recommend the gospel : beseeching him also to prevent the bad effect of our mistakes and inconsistencies. We should likewise remember that time is short : that we may learn patience in tribulation, joyfulness in hope, indifference about things present, and diligence in our proper work. “ Whatever thy hand findeth to do, do it with “ thy might: for there is no work, nor device, nor “ knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave whither thou “goest. *" “ Let your loins then be girded, and “your lamps burning;” and be habitually expecting the coming of the Lord. Endeavour to recollect what designs of usefulness you had formed, and intended to have executed during the last year, or in any for. mer period; and set about them without delay : persevere in every good work, and Christian course, on which you have entered ; and aim to press forward, to grow in grace, and abound more and more in all the fruits of righteousness. Then should this be
* Eccles. ix. 10.
your last year, as it possibly may, and as some have probable reason to expect; death will be your gain : and while the survivors among us may meet together at the return of this season to set up another Ebenezer to our merciful God; others will have joined the company before the throne, and be triumphantly rejoicing and blessing the Lord, that he hath helped them quite through, made them more than conquer. ars, and placed them for ever out of the reach of dangers and enemies.—May we all, as in succession called out of this world, thus join the heavenly worshippers; till at length,
• When all the chosen race
Shall meet before the throne,
• And make his wonders known;" we may be found of that happy number, and meet once more to set up an Eben-ezer in the world above, and to join in eternal adorations of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, the one God of our salvation, to whom be praise and glory for evermore. Amen.
John, i. 29.
Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin
of the world.
JOHN BAPTIST, the predicted forerunner of the Messiah, was doubtless well informed of his person, offices, and kingdom. He prepared the way of the Lord, by preaching repentance, as indispensably necessary to a participation of the blessings about to be communicated : and while he baptized the people with water, as an outward emblem of their souls being washed from sin ; he declared that the Redeemer would baptize them with the Holy Ghost and with fire. He bare witness to the Saviour as the Son of God, the Bridegroom of the Church, and " the Lamb " of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” He cried, saying, “ This was he of whom I spake, “ He that cometh after me is preferred before me; " for he was before me: and of his fulness have we " all received.” He added on another occasion, " The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all " things into his hand. He that believeth on the Son “ hath everlasting life; and he that believeth not the “ Son shall not see life: but the wrath of God abideth “ on him. *»
* Preached Good-friday, 1796.
It is evident, that this most eminent servant of God laboured to communicate to his disciples exalted apprehensions of the Lord Jesus, and to excite in them large expectations from him. In honouring the Son of God he was willing to abase himself, “as un“ worthy to loose his shoe-latchet.” He was astonished to think that the Saviour should come to be baptized of him, when he was conscious that as a sinner he stood in need of his spiritual baptism : and when we consider the excellency of John's character, with the extraordinary things spoken of him in scripture; we shall know what conclusions to draw from his testimony. Certainly he would not have concurred with those, who employ all their abilities in trying to persuade mankind not to think too highly of Christ, not to honour him too much, and not to depend on him too entirely in the great concerns of eternal salvation.
-But the words of the text must be exclusively our present subject; and from them we may enquire,
I. On what account Christ is called “ The " Lamb of God.”
II. The import of the words, “ Who taketh “away the sin of the world.”
* John, iii. 35, 36.