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of the Church ; and Mr. Conon was no solitary instance the words of the prelate from whom we have already of persecution for righteousness' sake in a Protestant quoted, that “when Christ is exalted, and the Gospel land. He bore his privations, lowever, as became a preached in its integrity and simplicity, in the spirit disciple of Jesus, praying for and seeking to benefit of a sound mind, Satan falls like lightning from heathose who had done him evil. Ile opened a seminary ven, and is dethroned effectually from his empire in at Padstow, where he took pupils; and at length en- man's heart."
T. tered into rest, as had been his constant prayer, while
(To be continued.) engaged in the more immediate service of God; for, as he was preparing his pupils for the solemn services of the Sabbath, he died on a Saturday evening, engaged
EXTRACTS FROM FOUR LECTURES ON in prayer.
ADVENT.* The change in the curate's views was attended with Lect. IV.- Necessity of present preparation for two almost invariable results of such a transition ---
Christ's coming opposition from the worldly-minded, and a decided
The day of grace cannot be much prolonged." Thus improvement in the religious state of the parish. “He saith the Lord God, An evil, an only evil, behold, is began,” says Mr. Sydney, " to preach as he felt; de
come : an end is come, the end is come: it watcheth clared the alteration in his views; and faithfully
for thee: behold, it is come: the morning is come pointed out the evils of the vortex of empty pleasures unto thee ... the time is come, the day of trouble is in which the inhabitants of his parish were involved, near, and not the sounding again of the mountains. and the danger of the mere formalities of Sabbath
Now will I shortly pour out my fury upon thee, and worship, on which they rested for salvation. Repent accomplish mine anger upon thee, and I will judge ance, faith, and the new birth, became the topics of
thee according to thy ways, and thine abominations his sermons; truths which, treated with all the powers that are in the midst of thee: and mine eye shall not of his highly cultivated mind, brought down on him
spare, neither will I have pity ... and ye shall know hatred as an enthusiast, derision as a madman, and vehement opposition as the destroyer of harmless joys. hold, it is come.” (Ezek. vii. 5-10.) Such is the
that I am the Lord that smiteth. Behold the day, beAn infidel even went so far as to insult him in the
terrific language in which God describes the approachpulpit, an affront which he bore with extraordinary
ing end of his forbearance. patience and dignity. Soon after, this misguided in
I have shewn you, in the former discourses, that dividual was, seemingly in judgment, summoned before often the thunderbolt was just suspended, as it were, the tribunal of his God, without having manifested the
while proclamation of escape was made. slightest symptom of repentance. Mr. Walker refused
clamation was disregarded, it assuredly lighted on to read over his grave those parts of our burial-service the head of the venturous sinner. “ To-day, if ye which are inapplicable to the character of such a man; wi}l hear his voice, harden not your heart." The and this omission raised against him the bitterest animosity and the most virulent invective. The squire, being too late in the application for mercy. The
Scriptures are full of warnings of the danger of once a friend and companion, now became his foe, and virgins, who had not oil in their vessels, are reprecomplained of his conduct to the bishop, in the hope
sented as coming when the door is shut, and imploring of effecting his removal. The bishop, however, first admittance in vain. The compassion of God is reprewrote for an explanation to Mr. Walker; and upon re- sented as extending for a certain time, and then he ceiving from him a faithful account of the man's cha
will be no more entreated. racter, public violation of the decorum of the sanctu
This may, at first sight, seem at variance with the ary, and the state in which he died, wrote to the squire
many assurances we have, that his ears are ever open in terms of approbation of his minister's conduct, and
to the cry of the miserable : but a little consideration added a wish that there were many such conscientious will reconcile the apparent discrepancy. For, not to men in the diocese."
speak of the sudden approach of death-and O! how Addresses such as above referred to could not fail to
often is it sudden, precluding thereby to the sinner excite the feelings of those who heard them; and their
any hope of repentance-we are to remember that refirst ebullition was in anger against the man who now pentance is God's gift. It is he, by the power of his denounced the very path in which, the immoralities ex- Spirit, that works a better mind in the transgressor. cepted, he had cheerfully accompanied them, and pro
His Spirit strives with men, by the means of grace, by claimed that the profane, the lustful, and the formalist,
the providential dispensations of life, by the display were all marching with the multitude on the same of the terrors of the law, by the exaltation of the broad road to destruction. Still, the earnestness of the
mercies of the Gospel. If God bestow not repentance, preacher, and the striking alteration of his habits, as
will any man say that he can have it? If the Spirit well as the tone of his sermons, stirred up the curiosity ccase his strivings, will any man say that he shall beof the people, who, while they were enraged at the
come a new creature ? Yet here is practically seen fidelity, were enchained by the eloquence, and trem- one of the most fearful delusions of Satan. Persons bled at the sternness, of their reprover. Even out of imagine that they can at any time repent; and therethe pulpit they feared the presence of their minister :
fore there is now no need to take thought for judgthe Sabbath loiterers and profane would retire at his ment- a more “convenient season" will be found. approach, saying, “ Let us go; here comes Walker."
But just as, if the heaven withhold the fructifying His manner is said to have been commanding and rain, the earth remains unfruitful; so, if the benign solemn in the extreme ; and liis life was so truly in
and powerful influences of the Spirit on the human unison with his precepts, that at length he awed into
heart be not exerted, it continues hard and unimsilence those who were at first most clamorous against pressed. The man lives without God, he dies without him. Such crowds attended his ministry, that the preparation for eternity. It is not that he repents, thoroughfares of the town seemed to be deserted dur
and finds no place of pardon; it is not that he prays, ing the hours of service; so that it was remarked,
and receives no answer to his prayer ; but he never * You might fire a cannon down every street of Truro
feels genuine godly sorrow for sin, he never really in church-time, without a chance of killing a single
and properly desires those spiritual blessings, without human being." A striking change speedily manifested which no man can see the kingdom of God. He is itself. A young man of the most dissoluté habits, who
left alone ; and he consoles himself, it may be, in his had been a soldier, was converted through his instru- last hour, with some blind imagination, that as, upon mentality; and this person dying soon after, the cir- the whole, his life was moral, he shall find acceptance; eumstance appears to have made a deep and lasting
* By the Rev. John Ayre. Published by Seeley and Burn. impression on the minds of many. So true it is, to use
for the wicked, we are warned, have " no bands in and the more when you see others ready to break their death.” (Psalm lxxiii. 4.) To this state of down the wall betwixt the ungodly and the Church; confirmed indifference the careless sinner is, naturally, you must “ be separate, and touch not the unclean always tending. It is the constitution of the human thing,” if ye would be the sons and daughters of the mind to be less susceptible of impressions by the re- Lord Almighty."... petition of them. Things that once awakened power- It is a time for strenuous exertion in behalf of religion. ful passions soon cease to move us. When familiar Many talents have been entrusted to you, and the with danger, we disregard it; when accustomed to hour is at hand when you shall be called to render an pleasure, it palls upon the sense. And so the de- account of your stewardship. Owhat will be your nunciations of God's wrath against transgression, confusion, it then you be found to have brought forth which once, perhaps, alarmed men, lose by degrees fruit only to yourselves! Work, then, while it is their terrors; the display of his boundless love, which day," ere "the night cometh, when no man can work." once awakened some kind of emotion, is passed by Be forward in every plan of mercy, in every thing unregarded ; the awful realities of death, and judg- which has the good, more especially the spiritual good, ment, and eternity, take, by repetition, less hold on of your fellow-creatures for its object. By such means the imagination : sin is less hideous, its consequences you will best promote your own welfare; for the proless feared. Hence the heart is continually harden- sperity of a country depends upon the honour that it ing, the conscience continually searing, the means of pays to God. “Righteousness exalteth a nation, but grace becoming less likely to be effectual, the door of sin is a reproach to any people.” The best, the only mercy continually shutting, till—in how many cases — hope that we, in this land, can have of escaping the it closes, and the sinner, “sunk in irremovable torpor, severity of the judgments which are coming on the is never, never made to know the power and life of earth is, that we be " a holy nation.” Then, and then spiritual regeneration."
only, shall we be found " a peculiar people." And thus the day of salvation to you is fast waning to its close; the accepted time is rapidly gliding past you. All the indisposition you feel to spiritual reli- ON THE INSTITUTION OF THE FESTIVAL gion to-day, all and more you will feel to-morrow; OF THE NATIVITY OF OUR LORD AND the force of evil habit will be strengthened, and Satan, like a cruel jailer, more secure of his wretched prey,
SAVIOUR JESUS CHRIST :* will gloat over the thickening chains which weigh you
A Sermon, down. Now, then, is the time ; now make the effort for liberty, or, alas! it will be too late.
BY THE Rev. Thomas HARTWELL HORNE, B.D. I know that God, in sovereign mercy, saves, even Rector of the united parishes of St. Edmund the King and at the eleventh hour, some to be to the praise of the Martyr and St. Nicholas Acons, Lombard Street. glory of his eternal goodness : but you have no right
PIILIPP. iv. 4. to depend on any extraordinary manifestation of power and grace. If you live in light, and yet shut your Rejoice in the Lord alway; and again I say, Rejoice.” eyes against it; if you know that sin is evil, and yet will not forsake it; if you are told of the love of
The first great festival of the Church, to Christ, and yet refuse to apply to it,—God, who works
which the season of Advent is an introducby moral means, will naturally leave you alone; it is tion, is that of "the nativity of our Lord, or no more than justice that he should let you eat of the the birthday of Christ, commonly called fruit of your ways, and be filled with your own devices. ...
Christmas Day :" the word Christmas being Reflections.—It is a time for immediate repentance. compounded from the Anglo-Saxon word It is of little use to bewail the troubles, which, we mass, which signifies a festival, and which is may imagine, are coming on us, if we cherish those also retained in Michaelmas, Martinmas, and sins which have provoked them. in, if persisted in, is sure sooner or later to bring down punishment.
one or two other similar words. As this day, But God does not deligiit in punishing. For when
the fourth Sunday in Advent, is the Sunday we read in Scripture of a judgment's being denounced immediately preceding the nativity of our against any nation, as often as that nation humbled | Redeemer, the Church calls upon us to exitself before the Lord, he remitted, we are told, his anger. ... And therefore, I say,
pect him with joy, and to meet him with
repent; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
exultation. The collect for the day teaches It is a time for persevering prayer. — I believe it is us to pray to God to afford us the powerful through the prayers of Christian men, of those whom assistance of his grace, that we may not be the world despises and ridicules, that judgments are frequently averted; thus to the very persons they
retarded by the weight of our sins, but may mock, are the wicked, under God, indebted for his
run with patience the race which is set before long forbearance. What an argument for the Lord's The epistle recommends to us several people to be earnest in their prayers and supplica- Christian graces, very suitable to the near tions, to wrestle mightily with God, and not to let approach of so great a solemnity: viz. joy, him go except he bless them!...
It is a time for resolute decision.—Trouble is the moderation, trust, thanksgiving, and prayer ; time to prove the sincerity of faith. There are
to all which is added the gracious promise of many, in whose heart the seed of the word springs God's blessing upon those who cultivate them. up, and abideth for a time ; but no sooner is the sun arisen with a burning heat than it withereth,
The gospel gives us a further account of John because it hath no root. It will be so in the judg
the Baptist, in the discharge of his office as ments of the last days. Many, in that season of tri
our Lord's forerunner, and in the testimony bulation, will “ make shipwreck of faith, and a good which he bore to him as the Messiah. In conscience." Therefore, I say, brethren, it is not a time to temporise, not a time to waver betwixt God
accordance with the design for which these and mammon, not a time to meet the world half-way. • This discourse was delivered on the fourth Sunday in AdHalf measures will not avail; “ If the Lord be God,"
vent, 1834 (the Sunday before Christmas Day): it formed part of you must " serve him ;" you must " come out” boldly,
a course of expository and practical lectures on the principal parts of the morning and evening services of the Church.
portions of Scripture have been specially se- gratitude be kindled in our hearts, by the relected, your candid attention is solicited in collection of Him who purchased for a fallen the present lecture : while—not with a view and guilty world the blessings of eternal to censure or condemn other professing Chris- life!” tians, who reject all Christian festivals, but But there is another aspect of this subject simply to vindicate the practice of our own deserving of notice. Christianity is a religion Church, as well as of the majority of other designed for the whole mass of mankind. Christian Churches in all parts of the world— Now, matters of fact, the truth of which rests I endeavour to lay before you a statement of on the testimony of the senses, are most inthe evidence we have for the devout celebra- telligible to the great body of men ; and, for tion of the festival of the nativity of our obvious reasons, arising from the structure of Lord; after which I shall notice the manner the human mind, are best calculated to make in which, and the sentiments or dispositions an impression upon them. Hence the very of mind with which, we should commemorate pillars upon which Christianity was wisely that illustrious display of the love of God made to rest, are matters of fact, intelligible towards fallen man.
in every language, suited to the capacity of I. With regard to the evidence which we every nation, and equally applicable to all have for celebrating the festival of our Sa- future generations. Without admitting these viour's nativity, we may remark that the ob- facts, no man can be a Christian; and a sincere servance of this commemoration is justified and cordial belief of these matters of fact is by reason ; it is grounded on the Scriptures; closely connected with the character of a true it has actually been celebrated by Christians disciple of our Lord. Hence every rational in all countries from a very early age ; and method, actually tending to diffuse and to we are authorised by the practice of ecclesi- perpetuate the knowledge of these facts, must astical antiquity to conclude that the twenty- exert a salutary influence on Christianity itfifth of December is the day on which God self. The disorders and dissipation which in was manifested in the flesh by the birth of some places occur on these days are remnants our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
of papal corruption, and have no more con1. The observance of a day of solemn and nexion with the devout observance of Chrisdevout rejoicing for the nativity of our Sa- tian festivals than with a fast or thanksgiving viour is justified by reason. " It has been no day appointed by the highest authority in this small part of the wisdom of nations to per- country. petuate the memory of salutary events and of 2. The celebration of the feast of our Saillustrious personages by various methods. viour's nativity is grounded on the Scriptures. For this purpose, the pencil of the painter, I do not say that it is enjoined or authorised the chisel of the sculptor, the bold designs of in so many words, but, that it is grounded on the architect, and the loftiest strains of the the Scriptures. poet, have all been put into requisition: and (1.) Î'hat a day was promised when the for the same reason have the wisest nations Messiah should be born, we may infer from set apart particular days to commemorate the divine declaration made to our first paillustrious personages and events in their rents, when it was promised that “the seed history. Christianity addresses itself to man of the woman should bruise the serpent's as he is; and the means, by which the doc- head” (Gen. iii. 15). trines of the Gospel are perpetuated, are (2.) The patriarch Jacob in effect foretold adapted to the laws of the human mind. this day, when he prophesied that “ the Hence, on the same principle, but with infi- sceptre should not depart from Judah until nitely greater propriety, the universal Chris- Shiloh,” or the Messiah, should“ come.” tian Church, with a very few exceptions, has (Gen. xlix. 10.) set apart particular days, in order to keep (3.) The prophet Isaiah marks this as a alive in the forgetful memories of her children wonderful day. “ Behold a virgin shall conthe recollection of the principal events con- ceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name nected with the establishment of our holy and Immanuel" (i. e. God with us : vii. 14). Nay, divine religion. And if it be deemed just to “rapt into future times,” he was so impressed perpetuate the memory of the patriot who with the consideration of it, that he rejoices liberates his country from the yoke of foreign with the Church, as if the day of Christ's birth bondage, how much more proper is it to were then actually come. “ The people that cherish the memory of Him who delivered the walked in darkness have seen a great light : world from the servitude of Satan! If he they that dwell in the land of the shadow of who bestows temporal blessings on his coun- death, upon them hath the light shined. . . . try is justly recollected with gratitude, much For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son more should the noblest feelings of our souls is given.” (ix. 2, 6.) be called into action, and the most fervent (4.) In the prophecy of Zechariah (iii. 8):
“ Thus saith the Lord of Hosts : Behold I nople towards the close of the same century, will bring forth my servant the Branch :" expressly states, that this day was of great which appellation (we are informed) was ap- antiquity, and of long continuance, being plied to the Messiah by the ancient Chaldee famous and renowned in the Church from the Paraphrast. * " In that day," the same prophet beginning, far and wide, from Thrace as far foretells, “shall ye call every man his neigh- as Gades, or Cadiz, in Spain; in other words, bour under the vine, and under the fig-tree” | it was celebrated both in the eastern and (iii. 10): a beautiful and poetical prediction western Churches.* Would your time perof the general peace which was to prevail at mit, later testimonies might be adduced the time of Messiah's advent. Accordingly, were it necessary. Sufficient, however, has we are informed by profane historians, that, been offered to prove the very remote anat the birth of Jesus Christ, the world in tiquity of this festival, and its observance by general was in a state of peace under the the ancient universal Church; which obserssceptre of imperial Rome.
ance is not only evidence of its primitive (5.) Once more, the day when Messiah ap- institution, but also a sufficient warrant for peared, the apostle Paul terms “ the fulness our retaining it. It remains only, in this of time" (Gal. iv. 4); and when the day ac- part of the present lecture, tually arrived, angels and men were filled 4, That a few authorities be stated for with unspeakable joy and admiration. “Be- commemorating the nativity of Christ on the hold,” said the angel of the Lord to the shep- 25th of December. herds of Bethlehem, “ I bring you good tidings The precise day on which this festival was of great joy, which shall be to all people. observed at first was not uniformly the For unto you is born this day, in the city of same. For the first three or four centuries, David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. we are informed that the greater part of the ... And suddenly there was with the angel Christian Churches in the east kept the feast a multitude of the heavenly host praising of Christ's nativity on the same day which is God, and saying, Glory to God in the now called “ Epiphany, or the manifestation highest, and on earth peace, good will to of Christ to the Gentiles ;" but before the men. And the shepherds returned, glorify- middle of the fifth century, having received ing and praising God for all the things that better information from the western Churches, they had heard and seen.”
they continued to celebrate the nativity and It is therefore agreeable to the word of the epiphany on two distinct days. AuGod, and manifestly grounded thereon, that gustine bishop of Hippo in Africa, Ambrose the nativity of our Lord should be celebrated bishop of Milan in Italy, and Chrysostom with every expression of devout joy and bishop of Constantinople, all of whom were thanksgiving to God. Accordingly, we find, contemporaries, and lived within four hundred
3. That this festival has actually been years of our Saviour's time), have left their celebrated by Christians in all countries from express and recorded testimony in favour of a very early age.
the 25th of December ;I which testimony is By some learned men it has been referred the more material, as it is, in fact, that of all to so early a period as the apostolic age. the Christian Churches in Africa, in the west But, however this may be, we have melan- of Europe, and in the east. choly evidence of its celebration early in the The eminently learned antiquary, John fourth century (A.D. 302), before the time of Selden, of whom Lord Clarendon has reConstantine ; for, during the persecution of corded, that he “ was a person whom no the Christians by Dioclesian, who resided at character can flatter, or transmit in any exNicomedia, that emperor, among other aets pressions equal to his merit and virtue," has of cruelty, finding a great multitude of Chris- collected the opinions of these aneient writers, tians assembled together in a church to come and published them in a treatise, which was memorate the nativity of Christ, commanded written for the sole purpose of “proving the the doors to be shut, and the church to be nativity of our Saviour to be on the 25th day set on fire, and so consumed the worshippers of December.” Selden, who was a Presbyand the edifice to ashes.t Basil, bishop of terian, having been one of the lay members Cæsarea, and Gregory Nazianzen, who lived of the Westminster Assembly of Divines in in the middle of the fourth century, attest 1643, during the great rebellion, cannot be the religious observance of this festival in supposed to have had any partiality towards their time ; for they have both left sermons the Episcopal Church of England which might which were delivered on this occasion ; and bias his judgment: his testimony therefore Chrysostom, who was bishop of Constanti- is unexceptionable. Selden, then, observes,
• Chrysostom, Hom. xxxi. de Bapt. Christi, tom. v. p. 467, Vatablus on Zech. iii. 8.
cited in Bingham's Antiquities, book xx. ch. iv. sect. 4. + Nicephonis, Hist. Ecel. book vii. ch. 6. He states, that + Bingham's Antiquities, book xx. ch. iv. sect. 2. 20,000 Christians thus perished !
| That is, according to the old style.
that Ambrose, Augustine, Chrysostom, and is calculated to produce in her members ; others,“ have many sermons appropriated to and that purpose may be as well answered, the celebration of this day; and they fre- whether or not the event actually took place quently tell the people confidently that the on the day of its commemoration.” The birth of our Saviour was on the 25th of De- identity of the day does not affect the influcember, or on the eighth of the kalends of ence of the solemnity, or the manner in January, which is the same thing. Chry- which, and the dispositions of mind with sostom," in particular, says it was then which, we should commemorate the nativity (i. e. in the fourth century) of ancient time, of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. and delivered to the Church many years be- II. That manner, and those dispositions, we fore, even of equal age with the more ancient are now, in the second place, and in conclufeast-days, which they had received ;” and in sion, briefly to consider. his homily on the nativity," he confidently," 1. The manner in which this festival was as elsewhere,“ teaches that this day of De- celebrated in the ancient Christian Church cember is the just day of that birth.” Augus- testified the greatest veneration. It is always tine, also, expressly says, that “ the birth of mentioned by Christian writers in the highest Christ was upon this day, according to the terms, as the principal festival, and the occatradition of the Church, which denotes great sion of all the others. Chrysostom, in parantiquity even in his time."* The conclusion ticular, styles it “ the most venerable and to which this profound antiquary and scholar awful, and the metropolis or mother of all arrives, after adducing numerous other testi- festivals;" adding, that from this both the monies, is this : “ That the yearly celebra- theophany (so he terms the epiphany), and tion or memory, continued from the eldest the holy paschal feast, and the assumption Christian time, hath taught us the exact day or ascension, and pentecost, derived their of the month; therefore, we have reason origin.* The day was observed with the enough still to resolve on it."
same solemnity as the Lord's day; and in Sufficient evidence, I trust, has been offered order that its religious character might be to satisfy every candid mind, that the observe more universally marked, servants were alance of a day for commemorating the nativity lowed to rest from their ordinary labours ; of our Redeemer is reasonable in itself, as and all public games and shows were strictly well as grounded upon Scripture, corro-prohibited, as they were on the Lord's day. borated by the evidence of ecclesiastical an- Sermons were constantly preached, numerous tiquity; and that the 25th of December was examples of which are extant in the works of the day on which “ was born, in the city of many ancient writers: nor was the day ever David, a Saviour, Christ the Lord.” So far suffered to pass without a solemn communion. is this event from being a matter of great un- The coincidence in this respect between the certainty, that “ few historical facts of equal rule and practice of our own Church and antiquity are better authenticated: and so those of the universal early Christian Church, far is the Christian world from being gene- is too obvious to render it necessary for me rally divided on this subject, that there are to dwell upon it. I will only add, that the few, if any, points on which they are better special office for “ the nativity of our Lord" agreed. Those, indeed, who think proper to is admirably adapted to excite and to assist keep no day may question the certainty of our devotions. In the first lessons we read this day ; but their number is comparatively the clearest prophecies of Christ's coming in very small.” Both the Greek and Roman the flesh; and in the second lessons, epistle, Churches are united with the great body of and gospel, we behold the completion of those Protestants, in all parts of the world, in its prophecies in the history of that great event. devout and grateful observance.
În the collect we pray that we may be parCould it, however, be shewn that we are takers of the benefits of his birth; and in mistaken in this particular day, yet, as the the proper Psalms we praise and glorify God matter of the mistake would be of no greater for this great mystery of godliness.” moment than the erroneous calculation of a 2. That we may be prepared to celebrate day, it certainly would be very pardonable with suitable dispositions of mind the first in those who think that they are not mis- coming of our Saviour “ in great humility;"— taken, as, in fact, it is of no real moment. (1.) For the confirmation of our faith, let “The purpose of the Church is, to celebrate us, in the first place, meditate on the attestathe event on account of the honour which tion given to the truth of the Gospel by the she thereby testifies for the Almighty, and fulfilment of prophecy. of the benefit which the contemplation of it On the very day that man fell, God promul
gated the promise that “the seed of the wo"Oix textos, or God made Man: a tract proving the Nativity of our Saviour to be on the 25th of December. By John * Homily xxxi. de Philogonio, cited in Bingham's AntiquiSelden." Pp. 7, 10. (London, 1661. 8vo.)
ties, book iv. chap. iv. sect. 3.