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[For the Fourth Sunday in Advent.]
PHILIPPIANS iv. 4, 5, 6, 7. Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say,
rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which pusseth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus,
fortable language and wise advice to every sincere christian. It bids him be cheerful under all worldly circumstances, from the hopes and privileges which the gospel opens to him.' It enjoins him to behave in a patient and quiet manner; and to be satisfied and contented in the situation in which it has pleased God to place him. It reminds him that the Judge of the World will soon appear, to reward his humble endeavours to fulfil his duty to God and man. It forbids him to be over anxious about the, affairs of this world, but to obtain the protection of God upon himself and his concerns, by prayer and supplication; and to shew his gratitude for mercies already received by thanksgiving and praise: and it assures him, that if he acts thus, he will obtain the greatest possible blessing that a man can possess in this world, -a peaceful conscience, a tranquil spirit, and a happy contented mind, founded in a knowledge of what Jesus Christ has done and suffered for the sake of us sinners, and promised to those who love and obey him. In the following serinon Iinean to make a fewobservations on each of the above particulars.
Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again “I say, rejoice.” At first sight it would seem, that the early christians, to whom these words were written, had but little cause for rejoicing. They, like many of you, my friends, were but badly off in this life, being poor, destitute, and friendless; and (what was still worse) exposed to an evil, from which you happily are free-the most dreadful persecution on account, of their religion. “They had trial of 6 cruel mockings and scourgings; yea, more“ over, of bonds and imprisonments : they “ were stoned ; they were sawn asunder; “were tempted; were slain with the sword; « they wandered about in sheep-skins and “ goat-skins, in deserts and in mountains, " in dens and caves of the earth.” And yet, onder all these circumstances, so likely to produce grief, sorrow, and despair, the Apostle thus . writes to the believers in CHRIST:.“ Rejoice in the Loru alway: and “ again I say, rejoice." But, my brethren, St. Paul did not refer to the situation of good christians in this world, when he thus addressed them. He knew that a great many of them must suffer tribulation in passing through this vale of tears, and, consequently, that they could not rejoice in their temporal circumstances; but he directed them to rejoice in what lay beyond the grave; to rejoice in the prospect of that everlasting rest, which awaits those who pass their lives in piety and virtue, and fall asleep in the LORD; to rejoice in the assurance that their sins were forgiven, for the sake of Jesus CHRIST; and that they were reconciled to God by his blood; and to rejoice in the hope, that when the changes and chances of this mortal life were finished, when their labours were over, and their wearisome pilgrimage concluded, they should enjoy the eternal reward of their faith and righteousness : “ when they " shall hunger no more, neither thirst any “ more, neither shall the sun 'light on them, “ nor any hear; for the Lainb which is in " the midst of the throne shall lead them into living fountains of waters, and God shall
wipe away all tears from their eyes." It was this view of the blessedness that would be the portion of good christians hereafter, which led the Apostle to direct them to rejoice in the LORD alway," as well as to 6 let their moderation be known 6'unto all men."
One of the great duties of a christian life, iny friends, is to behave in the station in which it lias pleased God to place us, in a quiet, peaceable, and inoffensive manner. He is the author of peace, the lover of concord, and the God of order; and all violence of temper, harshness of language, and unruliness of, behaviour, must, consequently be highly displeasing in his sight. He has ordained, that there should be various ranks and degrees among mankind; the high and low, the rich and poor ; some to govern, and others to obey; some to teach, and others to learn ; and it is his express command, that all should behave seemly, soberly, and orderly in their respective situations; fulfilling the duties of them " as to “the LORD, and not to man;" that is, conscientiously and religiously, and rendering to those among whom we live, reverence, and respect, and kindness, according to the station which they hold in the world. “ Render, therefore," says the Apostle, “ to « all their dues ; tribute to whom tribute is “ due; custom to whom custom; fear to “ whom fear; honour to whom honour.” With respect to the governing powers, these are the rules by which your moderation is to be made known to all men. “Honour the king;" “Be subject unto the higher powers,” not "only for wrath, but for conscience sake:” "Submit yourselves to every ordinance of “ man for the Lord's sake, whether it be to “the king as supreme, or unto governors
as unto those that are sent by him for " the punishment of evil doers, and for the
praise of them that do well." With regard to the behaviour which is due to the Ministers who instruct you in the path of righteousness, the lively oracles of Scripture thus speak.
so Know them who labour among you, and are over you in the “ Lord, and admonish you; and esteem " them very highly in love for their work's