CHARACTER OF SIMEO . REV. RICHARD CECIL, A.

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And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon ; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel— Luke ii. 25. [ 1 806.] When Christ came, but few were found waiting for him ; " He came to his own, and his own received him not." So it will be also at his second coming : for " when the Son of Man cometh, shall he find faith on earth ?" But if there are now only few comparatively waiting for the coming of Christ, then let it be the concern of each of us to be found numbered among those few. From the example of Simeon I shall take occasion to describe,

CHARACTER OF SIMEO . 131 I. The character of a true Israelite. JI. The blessedness of such a character. I. The character of a true Christian is, that he is both just and devout : he is an honest, upright man ; a righteous and just man, as to his doings — but not so that he should glory before God ; for this did not Abraham. A true Israelite is not only just and upright, he is more ; he is. devout ; he is a spiritual worshipper. There never was an instance of a good man thinking lightly of the house of God, or the worship of God. Simeon was a true believer, a patient waiter for the promised Messiah. It is one part of the character of the true Israelite, that when he perceives the value of Christ,. he stands waiting for him patiently, and expectantly. There must be a certain disposition in our minds before we can receive Christ ; but let a man know his character as a sinner, and he will receive him as the Author, the Procurer, the Dispenser of all consolation.

'' The consolation of Israel" was a name very common among the Jews, as applied to their expected Messiah. But when he came, they would not receive him ; nor could they perceive consolation in any thing he preached : they said in their hearts, — Give us a kingdom : give us honor : and we will acknowledge thee as a consolation. It was to the mourners in Zion that Christ was appointed to be a consolation. Isa. Ixi. 2, 3. But Simeon not only believed the promise of Christ, and waited patiently for him, but he waited for him as ** the consolation of Israel ;" hereby confessing that he could find consolation nowhere else. It was as though this holy man had said, What have I to do with the noise and bustle, the commerce and the politics of Jerusalem ? I am waiting for the consolation of Israel !

132 ORIGI AL THOUGHTS. which included all that he thought worth possessing. In *'the consolation of Israel" all benefits for time and eternity are concentrated ; life, health, light, security, support, peace, happiness, " wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption !" In all these respects, Simeon felt that Christ was his consolation. He was a man of prayer, who walked with God, and whose grand transactions lay with him. He was waiting at wisdom's gates ; attending God's house and ordinances ; and every one who has spiritual union to Christ, is willing thus to wait for him. Whenever the Spirit of the Lord leads a man to his Holy Temple, the grand discovery that he will make to him there is, Christ as his salvation. The glory of the Lamb of God is only seen by an eye of faith. God never raises expectations to m.ock us. If, therefore, we want the consolations of God, we must be found in the way of them. He that seeks shall find. The merchant is in earnest about getting money ; and therefore he is in earnest about the way and means to get it. Consider, II. The blessedness of a true Israelite.

He is one who has found " the chief good," the ''one thing needful." And, having found this, he can find nothing else in the world, comparatively, worth living for. He is one, who rejoices in the hope of the glory of God. Such a man God will own : such a man shall have the witness in himself. Others may say, " Who will show me any good ?" but he will say, I have found it ! It is the privilege of a Christian, and of him only, to rest satisfied with what he has found. It is the Christian only that really despises the world : others may pretend to do it : but he has the secret ; for the taper is only put out by the rising of the sun. When

CHARACTER OF SIMEO . 133 Simeon beheld the Lord's Christ, took him up in his arms and embraced him, he could say, " Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word ; for mine eyes have seen thy salvation." Whenever we have obtained what Simeon waited for, and rejoiced in, we can welcome death ; and not till then. Then, we are prepared for every event, in time and in eternity. Simeon could, without hesitation, call himself the servant of God ; and he knew that, whenever he might depart, he should be with his Master. We must distinguish between hearing and knowing, the truth, as a theory or speculation, and seeing it as the salvation of God — "the eyes of our understanding being enlightened." I may deliver the truth from the pulpit, and you may clearly understand it, and carry away the theory of it in your heads ; and your hearts still remain unaffected by it. If you ask me, in regard to any individual case, Why is this? I reply, I cannot tell : I cannot account for it ; yet such is the fact. I have frequently felt astonishment in observing men who seemed to possess the clearest knowledge of the Christian religion, as a system, and who were capable of speaking upon its doctrines in the fullest and most accurate manner, who yet, after all, were living "in the gall of bitterness, and the bond of iniquity." Thus Balaam displayed singular gifts,

knowledge and sagacity ; and yet, where shall we find so distinguished a reprobate ? We must, therefore, set it down as a momentous truth, that light in the understanding, and life in the heart, are two very different things. Let each one before me inquire whether, like Simeon, he has taken Christ into his arms by faith and love, and embraced him as '* the consolation of Israel ?"

134 ORIGI AL THOUGHTS. Let us remember, that God's consolation must be sought in God's way ; and, in his way, it shall be obtained. A speculatist, or a hypocrite, may come to the house of God for consolation, but will always return disappointed. But let not the humble seeker be discouraged on that account. Upon our first setting out in religion, we are apt to think we shall receive our comforts in our own way ; forgetting that God appoints times and seasons ; and that our business is to wait for him. What a life of expectation was Abraham's ! How did he hope against hope ! and through what deep waters did he pass ! Yet " he staggered not at the promise through unbelief." Who among us would raise an expectation that we did not mean to fulfil ? and God forbid that we should put less confidence in him that we should place in one another ! and yet so far as unbelief prevails, we do this. Heb. vi. 16 — 19 ; and Rom. viii. 32. I feel much for young people. They are constantly looking for happiness : their hearts continually cry, "Give, give." They must have an object; and they will be continually changing one object for another, till " the consolation of Israel" becomes their consolation. May none of the children here present, nor any other person who have not this consolation, rest till they have obtained possession of it ! It is the duty of a Christian to stand to his post, and not to wish to depart before he is called. His work being done, he will say with Simeon, " Lord, now let thy servant depart in peace :" the toil is over, and I

have been satisfied with the toil, so long as I have been able to do any thing for God. Let me depart in peace : I have nothing now to settle with God, or with conscience, or with men : let me now walk away, as a servant that has done his work. Simeon knew, that while he received in Christ the best gift of God, he received every thing in that gift. " He that spared not his own Son, but deHvered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?"

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