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your enjoyments. If you think their condition so de. sirable, you are permitted to aspire after it, provided you do it by proper means; which are no other than the practice of sobriety, frugality, honesty, and industry. The chances, however, in favor of any particular person's becoming rich are so few, that you will probably not attain the point at which you aim : but if you miss of wealth, my brother, you will at least by these virtues secure the comforts of life: you will always have it in your power to clothe yourself and family in decent garments, to place a substantial dish on your table, and to kindle a cheerful fire on your hearth. I exhort you to be temperate. A great portion of the miseries of the poor proceeds from their use of ardent spirits. I want words to describe the folly of the man, who addicts himself to this vice. The selfishness, the cruelty, of his conduct exceeds its folly. He pretends to love his family; and yet, because he will not deny himself a pernicious gratification, he is continually depriving them of the necessaries of life. This is the cause why they shiver with cold, why they go in rags, and have no bread to eat. Suppose his wife should follow his example, and she has as much right as he to indulge her appetites,
what then would become of the children who are so dear to him? They must either be thrown on the charity of the public, or they must be left to perish. Is it a small thing to destroy a beloved child ? I know, my brother, that you have the heart of a man and of a father, and that you cannot hear without shuddering of the commission of so shocking a crime. I exhort you, not only to be temperate, but to be moderate in the pursuit of every enjoyment, the abuse of which may plunge you into embarrassments or ruin. Avoid those amusements,
which encroach on the time that should be devoted to labor, which are too expensive, or which lead you too far, or too often, from home. Let your pleasure be found in doing your duty, and in making them, who depend on you, happy. Then will the divine blessing rest on your lowly dwelling; and whilst the incense of grateful praise ascends each morning and evening to the throne of God, you will have reason humbly to hope, that the high and lofty One, who inhabits eternity, will hear your prayers, that he will give you peace on earth, and blessedness in a future world.
5th S. after Epiph.
SIMEON BLESSED THEM, AND SAID UNTO MARY HIS MOTH
ER, — YEA, A SWORD SHALL PIERCE THROUGH THY OWN
When we read the history of Jesus, we are reminded of his mother, and of the important part, which she was called to perform in the system of divine Providence. The frailty of a woman introduces death into the world; but a woman also introduces the restorer of life : a woman yields to the temptation of the serpent; but the seed of a woman bruises the serpent's head: if Eve therefore dishonors her sex, the disgrace is forgotten in the glory of Mary. The mother of Jesus was of so excellent a character, that her memory is entitled to affection and respect. Whilst we sympathize with her in her joys and sorrows; her purity, her humility, her maternal love,
and her submission to the will of God, are interesting objects ofcontemplation.
The theme, which the text leads me to consider, is the joys and sorrows of Mary, occasioned by Jesus Christ
Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul
also. The word bless has various meanings in the sacred Scriptures ; but in this passage it intends - to wish happiness, or to pray that the favor of God would bestow on the object of the prayer peace and felicity. The petition of Simeon was answered in part: Mary was made joyful by her son. The other part of Simeon's words was not less fulfilled : A sword pierced through her soul. There are then two ideas in the text: First, Mary was blessed in her son : Secondly, her heart was pierced with sorrow by him.
1. First, Mary was blessed in her son. The honor conferred on Mary, in choosing her for the mother of Jesus, is so great, that it almost absorbs the idea of hor sufferings. The heavenly messenger, who announces the glorious event, styles her the most happy of her sex : Hail, thou that art highly favored, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. Mary herself receives with pious gratitude the donation of heaven, and breaks forth into joyful strains, in the consciousness of the great felicity which is bestowed on her: My soul doth
magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my saviour: for behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
The joy inspired by the annunciation of Gabriel was confirmed in the bosom of Mary by the song of the angels, who, on the night of the nativity, appeared to the shepherds. They proclaimed from heaven good tidings of great joy to all the people; and sang this triumphant song, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will towards men. The circumstances of the vision it appears the shepherds communicated to the mother on their visit to the divine infant; and whilst others
were filled with wonder at their report, Mary kept all these things, and with silent rapture pondered them in her heart.
When the days of her purification were accomplished, Mary, in obedience to the injunctions of the Mosaic law, brought her child to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord. On this occasion her soul was filled with astonishment and delight by the gratulations and prophecies of Simeon and Anna, who came into the temple and gave thanks to God, that their eyes had seen his salvation, and that the sun of righteousness, promised to their fathers, was now arisen on the world, to enlighten the nations.
On her return from Jerusalem to Bethlehem, her felicity was further increased by the visit of the Magi. She beheld at the feet of her babe venerable old men, who, guided by a miraculous star, came from the east, to pay homage to him as to a sovereign prince.
These are the principal circumstances of a joyful nature, related by the Evangelists of the infancy of Jesus. They must have supported and comforted the heart of Mary under the severe trials to which she was subjected. The honor of being the parent of the glorious Messiah, who was proclaimed by angels, extolled by prophets, and acknowledged as a king by the sages of the east, must have appeared to her pious and humble mind an ample compensation for her poverty and affliction, and for all the persecutions which she endured.
There were besides many endearing circumstances, which, though they are not mentioned by the Evangelists, undoubtedly existed. She was a mother; and her heart was filled with those pleasurable sensations which mothers only can describe, but which others know are