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The Sabbath! how rich in mercy is the very name of this heaven-born day! What unequalled blessings follow in in its train! How noiseless its tread upon the retiring footsteps of the busy week! How welcome the indications of its return, hushing the din of this world's strife and toil; and as the setting sun goes down, whispers in the ear of unthinking man that the appointed day of rest approaches! How seasonable its intimations that it is befitting him to dismiss his cares, and prepare himself for an interview with his Maker! And when the sound of the midnight bell falls on a slumbering world, and the watchman's cry tells the departed hour, it seems as it were the response of Heaven's glad tidings, the song of the heavenly Watchers' repeated, "Glory to God in the highest; on earth peace, and good will to men.” And as the Sabbath's dawn advances, how many delightful, thrilling reminiscences crowd upon the soul! A voice from Sinai seems to say to us, This is the day of God; remember it, and keep it holy. Bethlehem's shepherds tell of a Saviour born; Calvary announces a Saviour crucified; the empty sepulchre of Joseph proclaims a Saviour risen from the dead. "The Lord is risen indeed," and comes to-day to dwell with men on the earth. And then, how many doff the armor of the world, and put on the panoply of heaven. If you listen, you seem to hear the supplications of ten thousand closets. And if you cast your eyes over the habitations of men, you will see that on every dwelling-place of Mount Zion "the Lord creates a fire and smoke." And if you take a wider survey still, what do you behold but temples scattered over hill-top and vale, and the incense of prayer and praise, ascending as a sweet-smelling savor

from earth to heaven? O when shall the ocean prize this best of all the days of time! and when, from its wild waters, shall the sons of the ocean waft their praise on the breeze that fans the remotest shore ! Why shall not seamen enjoy the blessing in common with those who dwell on the land? Why shall not every sailor's heart be an altar; every cabin, every steerage, and every forecastle a closet; every ship a floating chapel; and the Bethel Flag become the universal signal that the God of heaven has a dwelling among those who go down to the sea in ships, to do business in the great waters!




MATTHEW ix. 19. A friend to sinners.

THE sinner needs a friend, an all-gracious, all-sufficient friend. He needs such a friend, if it were only to comfort him under the trials of life, and carry him safe through them. He needs such a friend to counsel and guide him, because he is prone to evil, and is easily led astray. He needs some one to assist him, and help him on in the journey which has proved so fatal to thousands of his fellow-travellers. He needs help to enable him to overcome his habits of wickedness, to subdue his spiritual enemies, and disappoint all those who are doing what they can to lead him to destruction. He needs a friend at home and abroad, in sickness and in health; and more than all, when he comes to pass through the dark valley of death, when he goes up to the judgment, to enter upon his unalterable eternity, O then he needs a friend who will stand by him to cheer him, and make his cause his own.

But is there on earth or in heaven any such friend as this? Yes, there is One-one such friend, and only one in the universe. I hear some of you say, Who is he? where is he to be found? I wish I had such a friend as this!

Well, I am to speak to you about him; to tell you


who he is, and where and how he may be sought and found. And you may be assured that, however evil, sinful, guilty and wretched you may be, that if you come to him, he will in no wise cast you out. He never did refuse, and he never will refuse, any who come to him. You have often read in the Bible about Jesus Christ, the Son of God, that great and gracious Being who came to seek and save that which was lost." He is "God manifest in the flesh;" the only Mediator between God and man, the great Immanuel, God with us. He it is who is "the friend of sinners," creatures of yesterday and worms of the dust as they are. He stoops to their low condition; and such is his mercy toward them, that "angels desire to look into it," and the more they think of it, the more they wonder. He has revealed himself as the friend of sinners in his word, and his uniform conduct shows that these professions and declarations of friendship may be confided in.

There are several different views which may be taken of this interesting thought.

I. In the first place, Jesus Christ is a friend whose personal character and excellence render his friendship of unspeakable value and importance.

We have friends among our fellow-men; and if they are great and good men, we highly value their friendship. If by any indiscretion, or neglect, or folly of our own, we have lost their friendship, we feel the loss. Yet, for the most part, earthly friends are not greatly to be relied on. There is too much sin and imperfection in men; too much error and weakness, too much pride and impatience, too much that is untender and

unforgiving, too much of self, to justify us in counting largely on their friendship.

The angels in heaven, too, are the friends of fallen, sinning man. They are beings of great benevolence, great kindness, and loveliness of character. They have done much to save men: they are doing much more, and often "encamp around them" to defend them from harm; and they are ready to do all in their power. They are all "ministering spirits, sent forth to minister to them that shall be heirs of salvation." But they are finite beings, dependent on Almighty God, and in the scale and gradation of their existence, but a little above men. Neither the best, nor the wisest, nor the most powerful men on earth, nor the greatest and best of all the angels in heaven, are, or can be such friends to us, as the friend I am speaking of.

There is no imperfection or blemish in the character of Christ, that should ever make his friendship suspected. There is no excellence anywhere to be compared with his. There is no such greatness and goodness to be anywhere found as dwell in him; no such intellectual and moral worth, so unstained, so unobscured, even by a passing cloud. He is all light, and in him there is no darkness at all.

He is not more

exalted, than he is condescending. Though "the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity," he "dwells with the humble and contrite." Though all nations are as a drop of a bucket before him, and no created mind can search out his unfathomable glory, yet does he stoop to dwell with men of the meanest rank, to 66 choose the base things of the world," to "suffer little children to come to him," and himself to wash the feet of his followers. He is not more just than gracious, nor is he

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