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its real sense should finally be ascertained. Had it always been examined dispassionately, with the single view of discovering truth, unfettered by prejudice, unmixed with interest, undazzled by ambition—is it possible that the history of Christianity should be disfigured by so many frivolous, or interminable controversies as it is? Frivolous, where the matter disputed is of no real importance-interminable, when the subjects discussed lie far beyond our comprehension. If we may reasonably anticipate a period of brighter, more durable, and more beneficial triumphs for the Gospel, than any which it has yet known, it can only be founded upon the progressive improvement of the human mind in sound knowledge, with its natural attendant of purer morals. The darkest ages of the Church, those in which its corruptions originated and were matured, were also those of the deepest mental gloom and ignorance. With the revival of learning its reformation was achieved. And all its subsequent disorders, whether from bigotry or fanaticism, are clearly to be traced to intellectual imbecility, or to gross depravity. Whether, therefore, we look to the past, the present, or the future, we discover abundant cause to be
convinced that the announcement of the birth of our Saviour was indeed good tidings of great joy to all people. For it has settled points of the greatest importance, which philosophers would for ever have debated, without coming to any satisfactory conclusion. Points upon which depend our truest happiness in this world, founded upon our assured expectation of another. For that Christianity alone is capable of producing these effects, we have only to look at the past or present condition of the generality of mankind, in Pagan countries, to be fully convinced.
Although I am far from thinking that it has even yet accomplished all the good which it is manifestly designed to accomplish; it has done enough to satisfy us of what it is capable, when it is taught with simplicity, believed with sincerity, and practised conscientiously. May we all, then, in our respective stations, cordially co-operate to these great ends! May we hail the return of this joyful season of our Church, as if the glad tidings of the angel were still ringing in our ears! But let us remember, that they are only glad tidings to us, according to the use which we make of them. It is not the mere profession of Christianity
that will constitute us Christians. Our lives must attest the sincerity of our faith. If good actions alone will not save us, much less can we be saved without them. They are pleasing and acceptable to God (says our article) in Christ, and do spring out necessarily of a true and lively faith, insomuch that by them a lively faith may be as evidently known as a tree discerned by the fruit. The clearest doctrine of the Gospel is this, that we must practise its precepts. If ye love me, (says our Saviour) keep my commandments. May this injunction be always present in our minds, and binding upon our consciences and we shall infallibly feel that joy which true Christianity is designed to inspire! A joy not confined to our own bosoms, but of the most diffusive and comprehensive kind; anxious to impart itself not only to all Christians of every denomination, but extending its sympathy to the whole human race. A joy, not casual and transient, but constantly filling our hearts with the satisfaction of knowing, that we are endeavouring at least to perform our duty to God and our fellow-creatures. A joy, which will survive every other joy which this world can afford, by cheering that solemn hour when
we must all leave it, with the bright prospect of eternal happiness in the world to come.
Let us embrace then the present opportunity of affording a proof both of our faith and obedience. Let us approach the table of our Lord, and there at once renew our vows of fidelity to him, and of peace and charity with each other! Let no light, or trivial cause, or groundless apprehension, interfere with this sacred duty! If we are conscious that our faith is neither so firm, nor our conduct so pure, as they might be; let us pray at the altar of our God for grace to invigorate the one, and to amend the other! Above all, let us not select the day upon which we celebrate the nativity of our Lord, for disobeying this his almost last injunction-Do this in remembrance of me.
Art thou He that should come, or do we look for another?
WHAT was the object of the Baptist in pro posing this question to Jesus, is not quite cer tain. Whether it were to satisfy his own doubts, or those of his disciples, does not dis+ tinctly appear. But into these considerations; (though they are neither uninteresting nor unprofitable,) it is not my present purpose to enter. My intention is to regard the text in a different point of view, to bring it more immediately home to ourselves, to treat it as a topic of present enquiry; and to see what answer our reason and consciences, aided by the light of the Scriptures, and the experience. of eighteen centuries will enable us to return to it. If, as preliminary to the question, whether Jesus were the promised Messiah;