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Tracts for the Times
ADVENT.
[Number 16]
ADVENT iv 

And now, having reviewed the privileges with which we are favoured in CHRISTíS Holy Church until His coming again, we are solemnly warned in the Epistle of the fourth Sunday, as before first of His near approach: "The LORD is at hand." And if we indeed lived answerably to our privileges as members of CHRISTíS Church and household, we should be able to await the fulfilment of the promise in the spirit of calm confidence and joy, which St. Paul describes in the verses that follow; "the peace of GOD which passeth all understanding," keeping our hearts and minds by CHRIST JESUS. The passage which is chosen for the Gospel, places us at the point of time when CHRIST was on the eve of appearing as "the Lamb of GOD which taketh away the sin of the world." He had been baptized, and was now turning from the wilderness; for it was "the next day," we read, that the Baptist pointed Him out to the notice of His disciples. He was already standing among them, though they knew Him not, ready to baptize them with the HOLY GHOST and with fire. And so now, in these latter days, the Heralds of CHRISTíS second coming are warning the people that He is at hand, and like the Baptist, referring to the Scripture for a proof that they are duly commissioned to prepare His way before Him. Like him, they tell the Church of a "salvation ready to be revealed," of "times of refreshing" to come "from the presence of the LORD," of "times of the restitution of all things," and of the more glorious establishment of CHRISTíS kingdom; and, in earnest looking for the promise, they offer up the prayer of the Church that GOD would be pleased to raise up His power and come among us, and with great might succour us. But, while we hope for the promise, we must not forget the threatening. The Baptist spoke of CHRISTíS coming with His fan in His hand, and of the separation which He would make between the chaff and the wheat; (comp. Mal. iv.) but what were the days of vengeance upon the Jewish Church, compared with those which we must expect, when the time is at length come that judgment must begin at the house of GOD, and the heavenly Reaper thrusts in His sharp sickle and reaps the earth? "The LORD, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to His temple; behold He shall come, saith the LORD of HOSTS; but who may abide the day of His coming, and who shall stand when He appeareth?" We find that when JESUS was coming nigh to Jerusalem, on the day of His triumphant entry, because they thought that the kingdom of GOD should immediately appear, He added and spake a parable; it was the parable of talents. (Luke xix.) And so, when we are disposed to indulge in bright anticipations of coming glory to the Church, let us rather turn our thoughts inward to our own individual privileges and individual responsibility, remembering that the kingdom of GOD is within us, and that to whomsoever much is given, of him will much be required. And especially let us remember, that among the gifts given to us, for which we must give account, are, the New Commandment of love, the Inspired Words of GOD written for our learning, and His duly appointed Ministers sent before Him to prepare us for his coming.