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comes to us at this season. The very frost and cold, rain and gloom, which now befall us, forebode the last dreary days of the world, and, in religious hearts, raise the thought of them. The year is worn out; spring, summer, autumn, each, in turn, have brought their gifts and done their utmost; but they are over, and the end is come. One year goes, and then another; but the same warnings recur. The frost or the rain comes again; the earth is stripped of its brightness; there is nothing to rejoice in: and then, amid this unprofitableness of earth and sky, the wellknown words return; the prophet Isaiah is read; the same epistle and gospel, bidding us "awake out of sleep," and welcome Him "that cometh in the name of the Lord;" the same collects, beseeching Him to prepare us for judgment. O blessed they who obey these warning voices, and look out for Him whom they have not seen, because they "love His appearing !"
Before us lies a time when we must have the sight of our Maker and Lord face to face. We are destined to come before Him - nay, and to come before Him in judgment; and that on our first meeting, and that suddenly. We have to stand before His righteous presence, and that one by one. One by one we shall have to endure His holy and searching eye. At present we are in a world of shadows. Suddenly it will be rent in twain and vanish away, and our Maker will appear. He will look on us, while we look on Him.
We are told in Scripture that good and bad shall see God.
On the one hand, holy Job says, "Though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God; whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another" (Job xix. 26, 27).
On the other hand, unrighteous Balaam says, "I shall see Him, but not now; I shall behold Him, but not nigh; there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel" (Numb. xxiv. 17).
Christ says to His disciples, "Look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh" (Luke xxi. 28); and to His enemies, "Hereafter ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven" (Matt. xxvi. 64).
And it is said generally of all men, on the one hand, "Behold, He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him" (Rev. i. 7).
And on the other: "When He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is" (1 John iii. 2).
Again: "Now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face" (1 Cor. xiii. 12).
And again: "They shall see His face; and His Name shall be in their foreheads" (Rev. xxii. 4).
And as they see Him, so will He see them; for His coming will be to judge them. "We must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ," says St. Paul (2 Cor. v. 10).
Again: "We shall all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ. For it is written, As I live,
saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So, then, every one of us shall give account of himself to God" (Rom. xiv. 10-12).
And again: "When the Son of man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory. And before Him shall be gathered all nations; and He shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats" (Matt. xxv. 31, 32).
Such is our first meeting with our God; and it will be as sudden as it is intimate.
"Yourselves know perfectly," says St. Paul, "that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them" (1 Thess. v. 2, 3).
This is said of the wicked; elsewhere He is said to surprise good as well as bad.
"While the Bridegroom tarried," the wise and foolish virgins "all slumbered and slept.
And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the Bridegroom cometh: go ye out to meet Him."
Surely it is our plain wisdom, our bounden duty, to prepare for this great change. "Prepare to meet thy God." "Go ye out to meet Him." It is most merciful in God to vouchsafe to us the means of preparation, and such means as He has appointed.
We should come to all His ordinances, considering them as forestallings and first-fruits of that sight of Him which one day must be.
When we kneel down in prayer in private, let
body; let us hasten to do by a voluntary act what will one day come on us of necessity. us wait for Him solemnly, fearfully, hopefully, patiently, obediently; let us be resigned to His will while active in good works. Let us pray Him ever to "remember us when He cometh in His kingdom;" to remember all our friends; to remember our enemies; and to visit us according to His mercy here, that He may reward us according to His righteousness hereafter.
"Thus bad and good their several warnings give
Counts them like minute-bells at night,
But what are Heaven's alarms to hearts that cower
That draw their curtains closer round,
The louder swells the anthem's sound?
Lord, ere our trembling lamps sink down and die, Touch us with chastening hand, and let us feel Thee nigh."
Services for the First Sunday in Advent.
Morning Lesson, Isaiah i.
Evening Lesson, Isaiah ii.
The Collect.-Almighty God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life, in which Thy Son Jesus
Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when He shall come again, in His glorious majesty, to judge both the quick and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal, through Him who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, now and ever. Amen.
The Sun of the Church is our Saviour Christ -her light and her life. His rising upon her with healing in His wings drives away the darkness of sin and sorrow, and brings in the cheering light of holy love and heavenly joy.
The Gospel for the last Sunday of the yearly course proclaimed Him: "This is of a truth that Prophet that should come into the world." And the Gospel for this day welcomes His Advent, with acclamations of joy, as the Prince of peace and salvation: "Behold, thy King cometh unto thee. Hosanna [Save now, we beseech Thee] to the Son of David. Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest."
The word Advent signifies coming-the coming of Christ. His expected coming, the Desire of all nations, to redeem our fallen race, was the hope which supported man from Adam's fall; it was foretold by all God's holy prophets since the world began, and assured by God's promises of mercy and truth.
The Church begins her day and year, her course of salvation, by this turning of darkness into light, and the shadow of death into the morning. She does not reckon according to the sun in the visible heavens, but according to the true Sun of Right