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petition to the Almighty, that His blessing may render those outward means effectual! Suffer, then, the little children to come to Christ and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of Heaven!
In this short view of a very interesting and important question, I have not had the opportunity, and circumstanced as I am, at this moment, with regard to books of reference, I have hardly had the means of bringing forward, in the manner which it deserves, the vast body of authority and precedent which the Talmudists and the ancient Fathers supply, both as to the circumstances under which baptism was administered by the ancient Jews, for the Jews had also their baptism, and of the admission of infants in the earliest times of the Church, to the privileges and pledges of Christians. Enough, however, has, I trust, been said to show, that in thus admitting them, we neither act irrationally nor unscripturally; that we neither mock the Lord our God with an empty and unauthorised form, nor mock our helpless offspring with an unavailing remedy for their natural corruption and misery. I will only add that the wisdom of our Church, and the merciful appointment of our Maker have added, in the ceremony of a confirmation subsequent to baptism, the force of a personal engagement to the blessing of an early dedication, and that the regenerate by water may be renewed by the Holy Ghost, if they seek Him in earnest prayer, and at the hands of His appointed ministers.
One observation yet remains as to the occasion which calls us together. It has been the devout and commendable custom of our Indian Church to assemble on the annual return of this day, for the hearing of God's word and of prayer, less, perhaps, with reference to the particular event in our Saviour's history which the service of this day commemorates, than for the sake of offering our thanksgiving to Him who has protected us through another revolution of the sun, and of beginning the new year with an act of solemn prayer, and an offering of ourselves to His service. Such a custom it would most painfully grieve me to see neglected, or passing into oblivion; but that such a custom may be something more than an empty form, let me entreat you, my brethren, to make some part of this day a season of self-examination; of enquiry into the present state of your feelings towards God, and the tenour of your past conduct before Him; of making a solemn resolution for the amendment of your future life, and of earnest private prayer to Him, without whose help and guidance, even our best future resolutions will be as vain as those which have preceded them. The return of days like these are as milestones in our passage through the world, but they differ from such waymarks, inasmuch as they respect the past alone. They tell us how far we have advanced, but they leave uncertain how short a course we may yet have to travel. Yet one thing they teach us, that our journey cannot be long, that we have most of us already passed too many stages to have many yet behind, while a retrospect of those which we have gone through, may assure us of the exceeding shortness even of those months and years, and tens of years, which, as we advance towards them, appear so interminable.
Under the mildest suns and the most temperate climates of earth, our course must be short, and its termination
at any time, be immediate. But here, where the lamp of life, even under the most favourable circumstances, must burn so rapidly, surrounded at every step with deaths and diseases, and placed under the constant influence of the most aweful and destructive phenomena of nature, can we yet hope to prolong our days for ever? can we yet forget that God who only can defend us against the sun by day, the moon by night, the arrows of the sky, and the hand of the armed enemy? Here, if any
where, in the midst of life we are in death! And of whom may we seek for succour, save of Thee, Oh Lord, who, for our sins, art justly displeased! Yet, Oh Lord most Holy, Oh Lord most Mighty, Oh Holy and Merciful Saviour, deliver us not into the bitter pains of eternal death! So teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom! And, Oh Lord most Holy, Oh God most Mighty, Thou most worthy Judge eternal, suffer us not at our last hour for any pains of death to fall from Thee!
[Preached at Tanjore, March 26, 1826.]
Rev. i. 17, 18. He laid His right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I
am the first and the last; I am He that liveth and was dead; and behold, I am alive for evermore, amen; and have the keys of Hell and of Death.
These were the gracious expressions of our glorified Lord to His faithful and most favoured disciple, when, in the prison of Patmos and amid the solitary devotions of a Christian Sabbath, the apostle St. John was visited by “ One like unto the Son of Man.” The features yet remained distinguishable to the eye of ancient friendship, of Him whom he had known on earth as the lowly and the poor, whose afflictions he had shared, whose journeyings he had followed, and who with His dying lips had commended to his filial care the desolate old age of His mother! But He was now arrayed in long and kingly robes, His girdle was of gold, His eyes gleamed as the fire, His limbs were bright as burning brass, His voice as deep and tuneable as the sound of many waters. Seven stars were in His
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grasp; before His face a flaming sword went forth; and His countenance was as the sun when its light is strongest. “ Fear not,” He said, as His ancient follower sank down in terrour at His feet, the first and the last, I am He that liveth and was dead, and behold I am alive for evermore, and have the keys of hell and of death.”
In these few words are expressed or implied all the several and peculiar doctrines on which the Christian builds his hope of a life to come; and I have selected the passage for our devout consideration this day, because I know few other passages
in Scripture which so concisely, so forcibly, and so majestically express the belief by which we are distinguished from the Jews, the Mussulmans, and the Heathen. The eternity of Christ, with which His Divinity is closely connected, is expressly stated in the opening member of the sentence. His death and resurrection are no less explicitly laid down in the assertion that He “ liveth and was dead;" and the concluding proposition, that “He hath the keys of hell and of death,” would be unintelligible on any other principle than that it is by His power, and through His merits only, that we are ourselves, in like manner, to burst the prison-house of the grave; that it is by His power, and through His merits only, that the resurrection thus obtained for us can be a subject of hope and thankfulness.
Each of these distinct topics would afford abundant and useful matter for a sermon; but it shall be my endeavour at present to point out, so far as