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As the pagan world received such blessings from the advent of Messiah, so also did this event confer lustre on the Jewish nation. This Jesus, who is “ a light to lighten the gentiles," is also, proceeds the inspired Simeon, the glory of his people Israel." It was glorious to the Jews that the Saviour of mankind was born in their nation. This circumstance is mentioned to their honour by St. Paul: “Whose are the fathers, and of whom, as concerning the flesh, Christ came.” (Rom. ix. 5.) In Judea rose that king, who is infinitely more illustrious than the most powerful earthly monarch who ever lived; whose dominions extend far beyond the conquests of the greatest heroes of the world; whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom; whose name is pronounced with rapture; whose authority is cheerfully acknowledged by every one of his unnumbered subjects. Was it not an honour to the Jews to have such a king born in the midst of them, and going forth from them, to subdue the world? In Judea rose that Jesus who has conferred blessings upon mankind, infinitely greater than the combined benefits of all the benevolent mortals who have ever lived; who has redeemcd our race from misery unutterable; to whom “ the blessings of thousands that were ready to perish,” rise every day, and every hour, from the remotest corners of the earth, and on whom myriads of the redeemed perpetually gaze, with ever-increasing devotion and love. Was it not a glory to the Jews to have such a benefactor of mankind born among them?

Simeon having thus declared the happy effects of the Saviour's mediation, blessed Joseph and Mary. Being a prophet, and full of the Holy Ghost, he discharged that sacerdotal and prophetic office, 'to

pray for them, and give them his benediction. In this respect he acted as their superior, since, according to the maxim of St. Paul, The lesser is blessed by the greater. According to this same maxim, when he took up the child Jesus in his arms, he did not bless him by whom he himself was to be blessed, and whom he knew to be his Lord and Sa. viour, though concealed under the weakness of infancy; but addressing himself to Mary, he, in the prophetic language, predicts what should befall both the child and herself. “ He said unto Mary, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which shall be spoken against, that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed. Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also.

How perfectly was this prediction of Simeon accomplished. Though Jesus came into the world, that the world by him might be saved; though his life was pure, and innocent, and spotless, yet does not his whole history prove, that he was a sign spoken against? Was he not perpetually exposed to contradiction and reproach, to censure and calumny, to malice and cruelty ? Was he not the innocent occasion of the falling of multitudes, who were scandalized at his person and doctrine, who preferred darkness to light, and sin to righteousness, unbelief to faith, and obstinacy to repentance? Was he not opposed by all classes.of persons, on all occasions, in the most virulent manner? Does not the whole evangelical history prove to us, that to persons who were worldly-minded, and had no relish for spiritual things, which was the case with the generality of the Jews, he was a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence; because their prejudices obstructed the reception of his pure and holy doctrine, and of his spi

ritual kingdom, so different from that which they had expected ?

But if he was thus set for the fall of many who took offence at him, and perished under a more aggravated condemnation for their rejection of him, he was also the means of causing many to rise from guilt, from misery, and despair. During his abode on earth, numbers crowded to him, and hailed him as their Saviour. Whilst his blood still smoked upon Calvary, myriads, under the preaching of the apostles, rose from a death of sin to a life of righteousness. This effect is still carrying on in the world; and every day, through the influence of his cross, numbers are rising up from the thraldom of Satan, to the liberty of the sons of God, or ascending from earth to the regions of felicity. In consequence of this different effect produced

persons, “ the thoughts of many hearts would be revealed ;" i. e. it would manifestly appear who had honest and religious dispositions, and would receive the gospel with sincerity and gratitude; and who, through the hardness of their hearts and their corrupt affections, would reject the offers of salvation.

Simeon, in conclusion, declares to the virgin mother, that she shall participate in the afflictions of Jesus : “ Yea, a sword shall pierce thine own soul also.This prediction was in a degree accomplished, whenever she witnessed the sufferings of the Redeemer. It was emphatically fulfilled when she stood by his

Who can describe the agonies which she then endured? They are indescribable. Tender and affectionate mothers, you alone can form any conception of them! Is there in this assembly a widowed mother, whose love is concentrated on an

upon different

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cross.

only son ; a son who is worthy of all her affection, who is her. only support and resource, and for whom she flatters herself a high distinction in life is reserved? Is there such a mother present? To her I speak. Think what would be your anguish if this son were to be torn from you by a premature death, and all your joys and hopes interred in his tomb! Go further. Suppose this your son should expire in ignominy, loaded with the public execration, and that you were obliged to behold this beloved object, livid, motionless, bloody, accursed! Could you support such a spectacle? Nevertheless, this would be ecstacy, compared to the griefs which wrung the heart of Mary. She beholds him to whom nature and grace

had united to attach her; her son, and yet her Lord, the consolation of Israel, and her chief joy; him whose birth was announced by an angel, whose incarnation was hailed with rapture by the heavenly host; whose divine wisdom, whose sublime consolations, whose kind cares, had cheered her in every situation in life,—now struggling with the pangs of death, and about to leave her desolate and forsaken! Her grief would be mitigated, could she be permitted to approach him, to pluck the thorns from his temple, to staunch the precious blood which flows from his wounds, to support his sinking head, and receive his last breath! But even this sad consolation is denied her. She can only behold his agonies, without being able to alleviate them; listen to his groans, without being able to suspend them; hear the execrations and scoffs of his murderers, without being able to silence them! Holy Simeon, thy prophecy is now fulfilled, and a sword pierces through her soul !

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VOL. II.

From the many inferences naturally resulting from this discourse, we can select only a few.

1. Let us all be led to imitate the example of Simeon, and acquire a perfect willingness to meet death whenever God shall appoint; so that when we are called to leave this world, we may not be constrained to cry out, like the majority of mankind, “ O spare me, that I may recover strength before I go hence, and be no more !” but may exclaim, with all the calmness and peace of Simeon, “ Now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace.”

If we acquire not this temper, we cannot be happy. If our felicity consists in an abode in the body, (an abode which we know can continue but a little time, and cannot be perpetuated a moment by our most ardent wishes,) must we not be agitated by painful fears and apprehensions? If our happiness is bound up in what we cannot retain; if we are in continual dread of what we cannot avoid ; if we are engaged in a contest with necessity, in which we must be vanquished ; if, when we know that our souls must be required of us, we will not prepare freely to relinquish them, rather than have them reluctantly dragged from us, are we not unwise? Do we not shudder at our situation, if it be true with regard to any of us, (and it is true with regard to most of us,) that the presence of the Lord, the highest hope and joy of all the pious, is for us the supreme object of dread; and yet that we have no better fortress to hide ourselves from this presence than this body of clay, which he can so easily beat down, and leave us naked and defenceless ? Let us flee instantly from this perilous and unhappy state. Let us become reconciled to the grave, and obtain a victory over the dread of death. Then, not fearing death, we

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