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HEBREWS ix. 26–28.
Now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to
put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment : so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him, shall he
appear the second time without sin unto salvation.
THESE words embrace the whole doctrine of our Church upon those solemn subjects, which at this season of the year naturally claim our serious attention. I mean the first and the second advent of our Lord Jesus Christ. Although so many ages have elapsed since the former took place, and many more may roll away before the latter shall be accomplished, they still affect us with unabated interest, and irresistibly demand our deepest consideration. Of all the generations of men that have hitherto existed, and passed away
from the earth, the eternal destiny of every individual hangs suspended upon the truth of this awful doctrine. To all who now exist, it offers the most powerful motives, to fix their religious faith, and to improve in holiness of life. When we are satisfied of the truth of the first advent of our Saviour, our belief in his second coming will be almost its inevitable result. And when we reflect upon the alternatives which that great event will present to us, it seems impossible that we should hesitate to make it the chief business of our lives, seriously to prepare for it.
The substance of the text then may be resolved into these two points: first, the fact of our Saviour's first coming and its object; and secondly, the promise of his future coming, with its consequences. In discussing these propositions, some topics will probably arise of considerable difficulty: in which we must content ourselves with approximating to the truth, rather than attaining it. But this should not be a matter of surprise to us, or any ground of doubt. On the contrary, it is in reality, when well considered, a firm foundation for confidence. The analogy between what we learn by our senses and reflection,