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I do not say it slightly; I declare it; I pledge the credit both of my power and faithfulness to make it good.

The circumstance of time, too, makes a remarkable addition. I declare it ever to-day; in this dark and cloudy day, when your misgiving minds are meditating nothing but terror. Even on this day, when the event is most unlikely, I give you the promise of complete deliverance; to-day, when your hearts are emptied of selfconfidence, when every other refuge fails, I give you my word, my oath, to lay hold upon; and I do it to-day, whilst your feelings are most painful, that the depth of your distress may help you to form some conception of the high joy that awaits you at that happy time when I shall Tender double unto thee.

But I apprehend there is still an emphasis on these words to-day, beyond any thing I have yet mentioned. Here God, as it were, prefixes a date to his promise, which, in human obligations, has always been judged an essential formality: as if he had said, let it be recorded, that on this day I have passed my word for your salvation; for though I need no tokens to remind me of my everlasting purposes of grace, yet, as you need them to strengthen your faith and hope, therefore, in pity of your weakness, I give you every kind of security you can ask from one another. Let it then be remembered, that to-day, I declare I will render double unto thee.

Upon the whole, then, let me once more repeat the call in my text, Turn ye to the strong hold, ye prisoners of hope. Bring all your cares, your doubts, your temptations, to that mighty Saviour on whom your help is laid. He hath declared to you in his word, that he will render unto you double ; “ for what things soever were written aforetime, were written for our learning, that we, through patience and comfort of the Scripture,

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might have hope.” The promise, though addressed to believers many ages ago, extends even to us; because he who made the promise is always in one mind; "the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever.” Nay, so great is his condescension, that he is just now willing to have it dated afresh under one of the authentic seals of his covenant.

Let us then, my brethren, humbly adore the goodness of God which hath provided so liberally for the relief and comfort of the prisoners of hope ; and in the entrance to the solemn service of this day, let us look up to him who is “the God of hope;" praying, in the words which his own Spirit hath indited, that he would “fill us with all joy and peace in believing, that we may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost." Amen.


1 PETER i. 25.

For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

HUMILITY is both the strength and beauty of the soul; it is its best defence, as well as its fairest ornaments. “ Happy is the man that feareth always; but he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief;" for God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble." No sooner had David said, “ I shall never be moved," than he suddenly experieneed a sad reverse of fortune,

and found cause to utler that mournful complaint, “Thou didst hide thy face, and I was troubled.”

Various means have been employed in every age of the church, to banish pride from the hearts of men, and to beget and cherish that lowliness of mind which be. comes dependant, guilty creatures. This was the obvious tendency of the most solemn rites under the old dispensation. The annual sacrifice of the paschal lamb, besides its typical use, or reference to the great atone. ment, had likewise an important moral signification; and the lessons it taught were humility and gratitude. It shall come to pass,” said Moses, by the command of God, “that when your children shall say unto you, What mean you by this service?


It is the sacrifice of the Lord's passover, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when he smote the Egyptians, and delivered our houses." In

" like manner, when they brought the first fruits as an of. fering to the Lord, which was another solemnity that returned every year, the form of dedication was prescribed in these words: (Deut. xxvi. 5, 6, &c.) “A Syrian ready to perish was my father, and he went down into Egypt, and sojourned there with a few, and became there a nation, great, mighty, and populous. And the Egyptians evil intreated us, and afflicted us, and laid upon us hard bondage. And when we cried unto the Lord God of our fathers, the Lord heard our voice, and looked on our affliction, and our labour, and our oppression. And the Lord brought us forth out of Egypt, with a mighty hand, and with an outstretched arm, and with great terribleness, and with sigos, and with wonders. And he hath brought us into this place, and hath given us this land, even a land that floweth with milk and honey. And now, behold, I have brought the first fruits of the land, which, thou, O Lord, hast given me.”

Thus did God train up bis ancient people " to serve bim with reverence, and to rejoice before him with trembling." Their thank-offerings, as well as their oblations for sin, obliged them to recognize the meanness of their original, and the ignominious servitude from which God had redeemed them; and every act of worship taught them to say, “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that thou hast brought me hitherto?"

The ordinances of grace in the New Testament church breathe the same spirit, and dictate the same language; nay, they do it with greater force and energy.

The gospel-passover, which we are this day to celebrate, commemorates a deliverance from spiritual thraldom; of which the release of the Jews from the Egyptian yoke affords but a faint and imperfect emblem.

In those complicated sufferings which were the price of our redemption, we not only discover the unsearchable riches of divine love, but we likewise behold the full demerit of sin, and all the horrors of that misery into which we had plunged ourselves by our fatal apostacy; so that our triumph in the great salvation, by recalling to our minds the low and helpless state in which mercy found us, gives check to every self-exalting thought, and constrains us to ascribe to the free and unmerited favour of God, the sole, the undivided praise of all that we have, or hope to enjoy.

To those views, and to this becoming exercise, we are naturally led by the words of my text; which have frequently occurred to me as a most proper form of address for introducing communicants to the table of their Lord. Ye were as sheep going astray, but are now returned to the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.



These two widely different states,—what you once were by nature, and what you now are by grace, I pro. pose to illustrate in the sequel of this discourse; from both which we may, with ease and certainty, discover what frame and temper of heart best suit our attendance upon this great Christian solemnity. Let me then call upon believers in Christ; for to them, and to them only, such language can be addressed ; let me call upon them,

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First place, Seriously to review their former condi. tion, when they, as well as others, were as sheep going astray.

The fitness of this similitude, to exhibit the natural state of mankind, may justly be inferred from the frequent use that is made of it in the sacred writings. I shall not attempt to trace out the resemblance in all its extent; but some parts of it are so striking and expressive, that to overlook them altogether, or even slightly to regard them, would either betray very gross insensi. bility, or a perverse contempt of the divine condescension.

Thus, a sheep that hath forsaken the good pasture, and strayed into the parched and barren wilderness, presents to us, in the strongest and most affecting light, an emblem of indigence, perplexity, and disappointment. Now, such is the state of every natural man; “ vanity and vexation of spirit” are his portion; he resembles one who dreameth, and behold he eateth, but he awak. eth, and his soul is empty.” Disappointed in every pursuit, he goes from place to place, ever repeating the anxious question, Who will shew me any good? There is a void within him that the world cannot fill; the flesh, after all the provision he can make for it, still cries with “the horse-leech, Give, give;" and like " the fire or the

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