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He would change us in this great point, that God might be to us what our own pleasure is naturally, the one great object of our desire and love; that the world in which now we see Him not, nor hear Him, should be filled with His presence, as the temple of old was filled with His glory: that so feeling God in all things present to us, we should truly eat and drink to His glory, and use the world as His work and gift, and so make it not a world which shall be burnt up and perish, but a world which shall be the step and gate of heaven, a life which shall end in life eternal.
These are the two great things which we each need, to be delivered, and to be changed; not things either of them which will or can come naturally; not things which time or chance will bring us without any effort of ours. Each of us needs them, though it may be not equally; for they wlio have already in part received them, who are delivered and changed from what they once were, they most certainly will not be content to rest where they are at present; they know full well how they need to be delivered more entirely, to be changed yet more perfectly. Therefore we all need to pray, and to labour for these same gifts of God; and those of us most of all who can hardly conceive what they mean ; who are so bound to their pleasure, and to the world, that they cannot fancy what it is to be free; who are so wholly heedless of God in all their lives that they cannot image to themselves what it must be to be changed into His image, and to live in all things to Him and for Him.
St. Luke, iv. 4.
It is written, that man shall not live by bread alone, but by every
word of God.
EVERY Christian minister, after he has been engaged in his office for several years, and has seen the return of the various solemn seasons of the church's calendar many times over, had need to remember and to call on others to remember the words which St. Paul uses to the Philippians : “ To write the same things unto you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe.” For as the truths of our redemption are still the same, and as our nature is still the same, and the faults and dangers of one year do not differ much from those of another, so the Christian minister must unavoidably say the same, or very nearly the same things, in his preaching year after year. And when St. Paul says that to do this is to him not grievous, he means that there are causes which hinder him from feeling it to be grievous, although naturally it would be so. And naturally, no doubt, it is very irksome to be repeating only what we have said before, quite as irksome, I think, to the speaker as it can be to the hearer. But St. Paul says, “ to me indeed it is not grievous, but for you it is safe ;” and the reason, probably, why he did not feel it grievous was, because he knew that for his hearers it was safe ; and so we ought all to feel when we say or hear in this place what has been in substance often said and heard before. The repetition is safe for us; that is, if we were not so to repeat, it would be the worse for both the speaker and the hearer. I mean that if, from a dread of saying what we have said before, we try to go off to something less familiar, what follows, but that we must put the less important truth in the place of the more important, and curious questions of little real value in the place of the word of life? For what we first speak of are naturally the great truths of the Gospel; whether the season be Advent or Lent, whether the festival be Christmasday or Easter, there is a natural course of address which presents itself for each of these occasions ; there are certain duties and certain feelings which
properly belong to each, and for the furtherance of which, in fact, the seasons and festivals themselves are celebrated. If we are afraid of repeating ourselves, we must in fact say something more or less foreign to the occasion ; because that which the occasion most demands is the very thing which would earliest suggest itself.
And thus as we are now arrived again almost at the beginning of Lent, and the same portions of Scripture are read in the Church service which were read last year, and in the years before it, it would seem that there is no choice but to repeat from this place also the same kind of exhortation. I spoke last year of Lent as a season designed to be marked by humiliation and self-denial. sidered how far fasting was a duty of all times and all countries in its literal sense, and whether there was not at any rate a kind of fasting, or of denying ourselves in our eating and drinking, which it would be clearly good for us to practise. I said also that this denial of ourselves should be connected with relieving the wants of others; and I gave notice that during Lent a box would be set up in the chapel, and in the several boarding-houses, to receive any sums down to the very smallest which any of you might like to save from his own indulgences, and to devote to the relief of his poorer brethren.