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strength will they acquire. Even the very infant in his mother's arms stretches out his little feet and dances with joy. Not only is it true that every limb requires to be exercised for its own sake, but it is also true that each limb requires to be exercised for the benefit of the rest. So, then, every member of Christ's Body or Church is bound to consult for the good of the whole ; for, being incorporated by Holy Baptism into Christ's Mystical Body, we are all connected one with another; and, whether one member suffer all the members suffer along with it : "there should be no schison in the body, but the members should have the same care one for another.”
When a stone falls upon the placid surface of a lake, one circle after another (with its widening circumference) is seen to move over its waters until they are lost in the distance; an emblem of the different sphères of duty which every professing Christian ought to cherish in the family-circle of the Church of Christ. A generous spirit is pre-eminently the spirit of the gospel. A weakhearted Christian is always a selfish one, consequently, a very unhealthy one. To secure the full development of the arm, it is not enough that the arm be moved when some purpose of its own is to be served ; but it must be ready to perform whatever services it can render to any part of the body. From all which you may gather how incumbent upon you individually it is in persovering efforts to aid, with your time and money, every opportunity which comes to you in relieving the feeble or sick portions in that holy family to which we belong.
A chief means for testing your sincerity and faith is ALMSGIVING, which should ever be offered not grudgingly, or reluctantly, like the pulling of a tooth--but willingly and cheerfully-not to avoid the bother of a necessitous emergency, but as done to the person of the Redeemer Himself, as if He came to us on earth, and asked “a cup of cold water." "YE HAVE DONE IT UNTO Me.” The poor and rich meet together in the House of God, without distinction of rank,—their privileges are common : they share equally in the blessings of the Gospel and Ordinances of the Church. Hence, all have the privilege of Honouring the Lord with their substance for the due support of His House and Worship. Christ now sits over against the Treasury, as Ile did of old, to observe what Offerings His professed followers make. My Brethren, Christ knows your respective circumstances, and will judge of your offerings accordingly. He needed no one to tell Him of the poverty of the Widow, or to say that “two mites" were all she had in the world. He knows them who are poor, and who, when they give what is in itself but little, give a large proportion of what they possess. Gifts that are merely large in themselves are nothing to One who could feed fire thousand with five barley loaves and a few small fishes, and leave twelve basketfuls of fragments over ; but Gifts that are relatively large (large as compared with the ability of those from whom they come) are precious in His sight, and shall in no wise lose their reward. Every case the Head of the Church knows, and he judges accordingly. Ho pronounced upon the offering of the Widow, by a reference to her mcaus; and He will pronounce
upon the Offerings of all in the same way. As it is the undoubted duty and privilege of all to give back again to God of IIis own, it is a question of great practical importance, What method shall be pursued in collecting the contributions of the Faithful? St. Paul lays down a plan : “ Upon the first day of the week, let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath pro red him." Here is a principle laid down that there must be fixed periods when all are to have their contributions ready. Jehovah Himself settled, by a Law of the Old Dispensation, that ONE-TEXTH of what we possess should be devoted to Holy Things. If, my Brethren, you think the privileges of the Christian Church less valuable than those of the Jewish, you will give less, of course ; if you think them more valuable, you will give in proportion. There is no fear of making yourselves Poor by Giving to God. Have Faith in God, and He will restore your Gift fourfold. To pass over any one because of the insignificance of his Offering would be to value the monied treasure alone, and overlook the infinitely higher value of that moral treasure which makes the offering of a single farthing more precious in God's sight than the most ostentatious benefaction. So much for ALMSGIVING as the TEST of Faith.
But, who is not rebuked as he reviews his course of life? Who can prevent the blush of shame, or heal the sting of conscience? How commonly are prayers and resolutions all in vain ? Common necessities are bountifully supplied, deep sorrows are alleviated, losses are retrieved, the form, which was consuming as the moth, at God's command again blossomed as the rose, the lowering cloud passes over ;-and again vain-glory and self-confidence return : again the man, who promised great things when environed with perplexity, becomes godless, indifferent, and prayerless, both in the House of God and out of it: the Holy Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ, (which was quite eagerly sought for when the grim king of terrors was seemingly nigh) is now, when the calamity has gone over, not needed for sustaining his body and soul unto everlasting life : this chief of all Means of Grace is not now regarded, (when all is well again,) as the deep well of salvation out of which if he drink not,-does he imagine he cau be brought to the Fountain Head :
Beware, Brethren,-IN THE NAME OF GOD I BESEECH you,-of trifling with that solemn proverb, which bangs boding over the school of life—“HE THAT BEING OFTEN REPROVED, HARDENETH HIS NECK, SHALL SUDDENLY BE DESTROYED, AND THAT WITHOUT REMEDY.” It is not strange, that so high a place should be given to Faith in the work of man's restoration to the presence and favour of God : for, without it, how could man on his part do anything religiously at all? God, the object of religion, dwells unseen in that high and holy place, where no human eye can penetrate. True, as we have been discoursing, He has been pleased to ordain that our education for ihe abodes of bliss may be matured as we grovel under things seen and temporal,-but yet, we only understand thereby, that One, invisible, is behind. Heaven, the promised reward of the poor in spirit, who hunger and thirst after righteousness-the aim of all their hopes—is unseen. No one has been admitted into the happy country, and returned to tell us, that he has beheld the mansion of eternal joy, and actually trod where the curse is not, where all tears are wiped away, where “the wicked cease from troubling aud the weary are at rest.” We are told also, that “the wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the people that forget God." We read of unquenchable flames,-of a never-dying worm,-of unending agonies,-of torments reserved for the impenitent who die in their iniquities, and who bid defiance to all admonition and warnings—such a doom as we cannot think of without shuddering. But, though we may well believe that such shall be the case ; though, were there no other grounds, the bitings of a guilty conscience, the miseries of transgression, and the woes which are its fruits—the consequences even often here of offending God's holy laws in sins of omission and commission—these alone might well make us believe all that has been revealed to us of a hell hereafter : yet, is the fire prepared unseen by us, and no man hath been to the gate of hell, and returned to tell us where or what it is.
It appears, then, that Religion deals with the Unseen : it teaches us to worship a God whom we see not: it animates us with hopes of an invisible place of future reward : its place of righteous retribution and punishment is unseen ; the enemies of our soul, and the angels which minister to the heirs of salvation, are alike unseen:-and, WHO HAS SEEN THE SOUL THAT IS TO BE LOST OR SAVED! Such being the case, we understand at once how, without Faith, religion could not possibly exist. Without Faith it would be im. possible to please God, or to pay Him any act of worship at all. For it is by Faith that the things which are not seen become as sure to us as those which we beheld with the eyes of our fesh. It is by Faith that the invisible world becomes present to our view, and we live with the unseen God for our Ruler and our Father ; with Heaven, the country we are seeking ; with Hell, a reality to be feared and avoided ; with the air thronged with view. less spirits, leading us for good, or seeking our destruction, swift to do the will of the master they serve. Faith is the realization of unseen things, thus causing them to actuate us, and to serve for motives, like the things which we see around us. “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Faith is to be influenced by what is unseen, as if seen : it is to embrace the promises, though seen but afar off, yet seen as though present; to be assured of them, and so assured, to live as strangers and pilgrims upon earth. At once we are able to comprehend how extensive is the province of Faith ; how it must come in, as it were, in every religious act, in every religious word, and in every serious imagination. « Faith," however, is “the gift of God :" it must be given to us to believe ; and a rightly-disposed heart is requisite for this, which God alone can give.
Strange as it may seem, yet the fact is, that the Word of God is not truly believed by the generality of hearers : even by very many who attend the
Ilouse of God pretty well upon the whole so far as the Sundays are concerned, without at all referring to the other Festivals and Holy Days enjoined for observance. Such may not, with the sceptic, profess their disbelief; but when the grand duties and commands of our Holy Faith are urged upon them, there is a secret disposition to doubt whether such reiterated injunctions are 60 indispensable to salvation as the duly authorized Minister of God represents them. Sermon after sermon is heard, but where the visible reform upon the many? Alas! the sweeping majority seem to think of nothing in the Sermon beyond the satisfaction or dissatisfaction it may occasion for the half hour it may be in delivering. Sermons are not got up for amusement, (the Pulpit is surely above this sort of thing,) although the spirit of the age looks at them too much in that light.
When we call upon you to feed your souls through Sealing Ordinances ; promulgate the promises, the denunciations, the blessings, the woes, of the glorious Gospel ; when we enforce this or that particular duty, or denounce this or that particular vice-we are to be regarded not merely as going through the routine of our profession, but as God's Heralds deputed by the Apostolic Laying on of Hands, to utter, in the name of God, what it is His pleasure should be declared to that Flock we are set over. Our exhortations, advices, and remonstrances, are not ours, but God's, who condescends to make use of men like yourselves as His Instruments. Raise, then, Brethren, your minds above the weak and feeble instrument who is addressing you, and listen to him merely as the echo of the voice of God. Have first the disposition of a willing scholar, otherwise, no teacher can make anything of you : have profound reverence for the Word as the Word of God, and not of man ; so can we say of you, with St. Paul to the Thessalonians—"For this cause, thank we God without ceasing, because when ye received the Word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the Word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe."
The devils believe and tremble: such a belief is of no use. The test of our Faith is our Obedience; not merely a passable, inoffensive morality ; but the submission of the mind, soul, and spirit, to the will of God. Faith waits upon God. Devotion consists in a habitual converse with God, rather than in occasional outbursts or transports of vehement prayers. It is the privilege of Faith to gaze steadily on the Unseen, glorifying God in the most unsearchable of His dealings, owning His wisdom when we cannot see it, bowing to His justice, when the equity of its decisions is obscured in darkness, and magnifying His goodness when chastised by the sorest afflictions. It is by the soul's submission in these things, that the genuineness and strength of true Faith are best ascertained. Little, indeed, do we know, comparatively speaking, of the Unseen Kingdom. We now see but through the glass of Faith darkly. Our best thoughts are inadequate to grasp its glory and bliss : our noblest conceptions of the sunlight of Heaven are but as faint streaks of indistinct twilight. Yet, little though we know, we glean enough from the Apocalypse to arouse our dormant powers that we may ascend on the ladder of Faith and Prayer to Him who sits on the Throne, surrounded by a rainbow,-to deepen our contrition,-to cheer and quicken our drooping hearts till they burn with seraphic love, lit up with live coals from off the Altar of God. We learn from St. John the Divine that, in the Unseen, the LAMB slain from the foundation of the world is the Object of adoration and worship. The God-Man, being Himself both Priest and Sacrifice, the hierarchies in Heaven fall prostrate before in lowly reverence and loving awe. He is the Alpha and Omega of their devotions; and, in hymning forth His praises, they are represented as bringing the powers of Instrumental Music to their aid, and letting their Harps be, as it were, a joyous undertone to the magnificent sound of voices, which are as the rush of many waters. The song in Heaven is never hushed; the harp is never unstrung; from side to side, clothed in white, as choristers, the Heavenly Band antiphonally sing and answer one another. And if the things done in Heaven are the patterns of those to be done on earth, what is the conclusion at which we arrive? Surely when we imitate this pattern here below, we are assimilating our services to those who never fell from their first estate. The Church on earth is the Representative of the Church in Heaven. The Church on earth is the Christian's home here, and should ever speak of Heaven, his home hereafter. The Church on earth is the place where God's Honour dwelleth. Here Christ is set before us : all here tells of Christ, and shadows forth His Presence. We gaze on the distant ALTAR with its ornamental Cross,-and are hereby reminded of the wonders of redeeming love, and the sacrifice made by Christ for the sins of all born of woman. And when we adorn it, it is for Christ. It is to the Lamb slain we dedicate our gifts : and when we, in our humble way, strive to make the place of His Feet glorious, and make beautiful His Tabernacle, it is all for Christ. To Him we offer our choicest gifts; to Him we dedicate all that skill can design, and art accomplish. All our accessories of holy worship are devoted to Him: for, pure love dictates that nothing too costly of ours can be given back to Him, who out of love gave Himself for us. As, in the Book of the Revelation, the Altar in Heaven is repeatedly alluded to, so, in the words of St. Paul, “WE HAVE AN ALTAR" on earth whereon to offer the Memorial of the One Sacrifice which was, once for all, offered and slain on the Cross. The Great High Priest of our profession bears now in His glorified Humanity in Heaven the marks of His suffering here upon earth,—the five blessed Wounds imprinted upon His Sacred Body, Ile ever presents to His Father, as our Mediator, the merits of this most precious Oblation, as well as the prayers of the saints as holy incense. So, “ Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." After the awFUL Fixal SCENE, Faith will be no more, nor no more needed. If found Faithful, our Faith shall merge into Beatific Vision ; we shall gaze upon the Sun of Righteousness who is the Light of the New Jerusalem, and who filleth all things with the brightness of Ilis shining.