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obedience and faith, than the passage of the Red Sea could procure for all the Israelites an entrance into the land promised unto their fathers. We must ever bear in mind, that baptism unto Christ, like that unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea, only removes an otherwise insuperable obstacle out of the way of obtaining salvation, and takes off our natural incapacity to obtain it. A miracle of divine mercy and goodness and power was required to effect both; but neither the one nor the other could ever of itself create a title to the recompense of the reward.
But let us apply the subject more particularly to ourselves, and to the present occasion. This is a day 1 which must ever be memorable among us—the commemoration of the opening of the place where we are now assembled for public worship;
1 This discourse was delivered on the anniversary of the opening of the chapel. If, therefore, any of the succeeding observations should appear irrelevant to the subject of the discourse, the occasion must serve as an apology.
and I have usually endeavoured to direct your attention to that most useful and necessary of all Christian exercises-selfexamination; to induce you to look back upon the past, and inquire whether your spiritual advancement has kept pace with the steps of time. It has already appeared that, in many respects, our present state, both as individuals and as a Christian church, resembles that of the singular people whose history we are now considering. We have been rescued from that bondage under which the whole creation must have groaned, but for the deliverance wrought by Christ. The natural incapacity of man has been removed; the natural darkness in which the human mind was enveloped has been dispelled, and the clear light of heavenly truth has beamed upon the understanding, enduing it with spiritual perceptions, with sublime and lofty aspirations. The pure breath of Christian liberty has breathed upon the limbs of the captive, and bid him arise and go forth in freedom. The very sea has been divided before him, and a path
made in the great waters; for a rod more potent than that of Moses has smitten them asunder. From the region of danger, he may now behold, beyond those waters, a land of security; from the valley of the shadow of death, the place of perplexity, and trouble, and doubt, and sorrow, he may now contemplate the shore of immortality, the haven of everlasting happiness and peace. The ordinances of the Gospel have been vouchsafed, that spiritual food and nourishment, which, partaken of by faith, strengthens and refreshes the soul. Day by day that food is furnished, in still increasing supply: from that rock which was smitten for us, the waters of life still gush forth in a never-failing stream of mercy.
With all these blessings, so richly, so freely bestowed upon us, what have we done? The time is fast approaching when we shall be called to give an account. Each year of worship, as it adds to our means of grace, adds also to our obligations of duty. Each day spent in the courts of the Lord's house, as it increases H 6
the number of our privileges, increases also the necessity for our advancement. The seventh part of the whole of human life is by Jehovah claimed as his due, and by an express command dedicated to his service, and to our own spiritual improvement. Has, then, our progress been proportioned to these advantages? Has the due sacrifice been laid upon his altar? And has the sanctifying fire from heaven declared its fitness and acceptance? Weekly as the sabbath comes round, does it bring us to the house of prayer? And does it bring us with minds more spiritual, with affections more pure, with hearts more elevated by fervent faith, by holy hope, and more free from the world, its cares, its vanities, its follies, and its lusts? Oh! let us ask ourselves these questions; and let us remember, that better would it have been for us, had darkness for ever shrouded the intellect, and corruption fettered the soul, than that light and liberty should have been bestowed upon us in vain. Better would it have been for us, "not to
have known the way of righteousness, than, after we have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto us'."
Some, possibly, may think that an undue stress is laid upon the external ordinances of the Gospel. But let us appeal to Scripture, whether a single promise, either of spiritual assistance, or of future glory, is made to those who neglect them. Let us appeal to experience, whether the love of God was ever kept alive in the heart, without (I will not say an occasional compliance with, but) a diligent and constant seeking of the outward ordinance whether the grace of God was ever increased in the soul without being applied for in the proper channel: whether the Gospel ever flourished in a land where the public services were neglected, and the authority of the visible Church despised.
Our Church, however, does not attach too much importance to ritual observances, to times and seasons. She does
1 2 Peter ii. 21.