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He was anointed to "set at liberty them that are bruised." Bruised as ye are in your spiritual conflicts, by the rod of your great adversary, by the temptations with which he assails you, resolutely fight the good fight of faith under the banner of this great King and Captain of your salvation, and you shall finally beat down Satan under your feet. Death being swallowed up in victory, with your divine Leader, you shall overcome the world; for he is anointed to proclaim "the acceptable year of the Lord," that year of spiritual jubilee in which remission of sins, release from condemnation, and restoration to the privileges of adoption and grace, are offered to all who truly repent and believe. For grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.
This subject admits of an interesting application to the present occasion, of admitting to the office of the Christian ministry.
It is the distinguishing dignity of this office, and it will constitute also its tremendous responsibility, that it resembles, in its origin, and in many of its important functions, the priesthood of Jesus Christ. As the Father sent him, in his human nature, to be the Prophet, the Priest, and the Ruler of his people; so he sent his ministers, to the end of the world, to be the instructors, the priests, and the governors of his church. He glorified not himself to be a High Priest, but he that said unto him, "Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee;" so they, the ministers of his church, take not this honour to themselves, but are called of God, as was Aaron, by an external commission. He received the anointing of the Spirit; and they receive, by the laying
on of the hands of that apostolic succession in which the power of ordination is vested, the gift of the Holy Ghost, that gift of office by which they become vested with power to minister in holy things. And their sacred functions cannot be more forcibly and accurately delineated than in the words of the commission given to their divine Lord, "to preach good tidings to the meek, to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; and to comfort them that mourn; to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called Trees of righteousness, The planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified."
Interesting and affecting display of the functions of that ministry, to the lowest order of which, that of deacon, which was instituted by the apostles, under the authority of the Holy Ghost, and handed down to this time, the person present is now to be admitted.
In the discharge of the responsible and interesting functions of your holy office-duly called thereto, as you will now be, by a commission from the divine Head of the church-bring to your aid, as far as may be in your power, all those talents and attainments which are now to supply the absence of those miraculous gifts of the Spirit which astonished and converted an unbelieving world. But remember, more powerful even than all mysteries and all knowledge, in subduing the nations to the
faith, was the display, in the primitive heralds of salvation, of that charity that edifieth, that holy spirit of love which excited in their souls every pure and humble grace, and adorned their lives with every virtue.
This anointing of the Spirit you must receive. You must continually exhibit, with increasing lustre, the virtues that adorned your divine Master, if you would successfully discharge the duties of your ministry.
The order of deacon, to which you will now be admitted, though a most honourable, responsible, and important, is still but the lowest order of the Christian ministry, to which appertains only some of the powers of the priesthood. You will bear this in mind, that you may be excited to qualify yourself, by the continuance of those studies which you have hitherto diligently and, we hope, profitably pursued, for the superior office of the priesthood; and especially it will be incumbent on you, in this inferior office, to cultivate that modesty and humility which peculiarly belong to your station, and which will eminently adorn it.
In the inimitable language of the form prescribed by the church, and by which you will now be set apart to the holy office of deacons, let me exhort you to be modest, humble, and constant in your ministrations; to have a ready mind and will to observe all spiritual discipline; and preserving the testimony of a good conscience, to continue stable and strong in your Lord and Master Jesus Christ. Pray to this divine Lord for all these things; and in his strength, imitating his zeal, his fidelity, his incessant labour, his unvarying tenderness and humility, execute your holy office. And may you
be the instrument of turning many to righteousness-of building up that church which your Lord purchased with his blood; and finally, may you receive from that divine Master whom you have humbly served, the approving sentence which awards you a crown of glory.
Christians, be it your object to apply these sacred functions, exercised among you, to the salvation of your souls. By this ministry ye become Christians; ye are "The planting of the Lord;" you are translated by baptism into that holy church, where you are abundantly watered, in the word and ordinances, by the dews of heavenly grace. See that ye flourish as "Trees of righteousness," bringing forth all the fruits of holiness, of meekness, of temperance, of patience, of godliness; that thus ye may glorify the Lord, by displaying the efficacy of that grace which he dispenses to you.
Thus the day of vengeance will be to you the day of mercy..
When the day cometh that shall burn as an oven, and when the proud, the obdurate, the impenitent, the ungodly, all that do wickedness, shall be as stubble, and the day that cometh shall burn them up, you shall experience the glories of the day of mercy. Translated to the Zion of the Lord, you shall receive the treasures of a kingdom which endures for ever. There the Saviour, become the King of glory, shall fully complete his gracious commission in all his redeemed. There the broken-hearted shall be healed; for everlasting peace shall refresh them. There the captive shall rejoice in his complete redemption; for he shall enjoy the glorious liberty of the sons of God. There the
blind shall rejoice in the glories of perfect vision; for the Lord will be unto him an everlasting light, and God himself an eternal glory. There the bruised shall no longer tremble under the rod of his spiritual oppressors; for sin, death, and Satan are bound in everlasting chains at the feet of the great Conqueror. There commences the eternal jubilee of rest, and freedom, and peace, and felicity to the ransomed of the Lord; and there their songs of praise will be for ever offered, to their Saviour, their Deliverer, the mighty One of Israel, the King of kings and Lord of lords; to whom, in the church on earth, be ascribed all honour, power, majesty, and dominion, world without end.