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to you to determine resolutely, whenever you enter the house of God, to command your attention as much as in you lies. And may God bless your endeavours, and enable you to hear and to understand, that you may learn how to become his good and faithful servants unto your life's end; and that when you die, you may, through the merits of our Redeemer, Jesus Christ, be found worthy of being received amongst the blessed in heaven!
"Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life." -John xiv. 6.
You probably all of you know, and certainly all of you who have this day been at church ought to know, that this is the first Sunday in Advent. But some of you may be ignorant why it is so called. The Latin word adventus signifies an arrival, and sometimes an approach: and hence our word advent is applied to the four Sundays immediately preceding Christmas, the day, as you know, of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, or of his coming into the world.
One of the first indications which we have of any particular observance being made of this season is of the date of about four hundred and sixty years after Christ, when a bishop of Tours ordained that a fast of three days in each week should be kept throughout
his diocese, between the 11th of November, St. Martin's-day, and the 25th of December, Christmas-day. This practice afterwards became general, though not in all places during so long a period, and the period of four Sundays was fixed, and the name of Advent first introduced in the beginning of the ninth century. From its first institution, however, this season has been considered, and in a manner kept, as a sort of Lent before Christmas, in which it is our particular duty to prepare ourselves for a due celebration of the approaching festival of our Saviour's birth, in the same manner in which the season of Lent which comes before Easter is meant to dispose us to a due and serious celebration of the ensuing festival of his death and resurrection. The fast of Advent is no longer kept in its original strictness, even by the Roman Catholics, and is entirely discontinued amongst ourselves. But still this is a time at which it is peculiarly fitting for us to turn our minds to consider why Christ thus came into the world; to consider that he came to be our Redemption from sin, and its fatal
consequences, and to lead us to a future life
The doctrine of Scripture on this head is, that the world, disregarding God's displeasure at sin, as shown in the flood, and in the many other proofs which he had given of it, God took a new, and most loving, and fatherly method of reclaiming us from it. This method is our Christian Religion, by which the Almighty at once rescues his poor creatures from the sins into which they had fallen, and shows them in the perfect example of our Saviour the best way to his favour. Το this kind end God himself vouchsafed to put on the form of man, in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is also called in Scripture the Son of God, and to come upon. the earth. This our blessed Lord and Saviour, to touch man's stony heart the more, and to bind him to his service the more strongly, submitted also to die on the cross for human sins; thus in all things, both in living and dying, making himself like unto us. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his onlybegotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him
should not perish, but have everlasting life*." And again, "For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved†."
When we, through our own weakness and wilfulness, have offended a just and holy God, what a privilege it is to us to be able to address ourselves to him with that trust in his kindness, which he allows us to feel through this mediation of Christ! What shall we render to God for all that he hath done for us; who not only hath provided for the happiness of his creatures in this life, but who has also given even his own Son to die for us, and to be our guide in the way of salvation? How can we render less than a grateful worship and a humble obedience with the very best of all the powers which he has bestowed on us?
You are yet too young, my dear children, to understand the whole of what we are taught concerning God's dealings towards us. And, indeed, there is none amongst us who is