Advent Hymn —Ps xxiv 4-10,



4 He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart;

Who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.

5 He shall receive the blessing from the Lord,
And righteousness from the God of his salvation.

6 This is the generation of them that seek Hiin,
That seek Thy face, O Jacob. Selah.

7 Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; And the King of glory shall come in.

8 Who is this King of glory?

The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle.

9 Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; And the King of glory shall come in.

1o Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, He is the King of glory. Selah.—Psalm Xx1v.

PERHAPS nothing else is so characteristic of our longing after fellowship with God here, and the enjoyment of His presence hereafter, as holy jealousy of ourselves. In measure as we appreciate these benefits, do we realize their spiritual bearing and our need of corresponding grace for their fruition. 'Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God;' and in the nature of things, only they can 'behold the King in His beauty.' The Lord gives us not only adoption, but 'the spirit of adoption,' the family likeness with the family privileges, and not only the name but the character of children. In this respect also, so far as our desires are concerned, we are created anew in the image of Him who created us. Not merely guilt and condemnation, but sin and alienation form the burden of our souls. Through grace, we would not, if we could, enter heaven in our state of nature. We have learned to dread, not the consequences of sin alone, but sin itself, and to long for being like unto Him in whose blessed presence we hope to stand. We want 'to be conformed to the image of His Son,' and ' transformed by the renewing' of our mind, that we may 'prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.'

Accordingly, ver. 4 really expresses our joyous confession and the desire of our hearts, not in the language of selfrighteousness, far less of presumption. To the query, ' Who shall ascend into the mountain of Jehovah? and who shall stand' (in the sense of 'abide') 'in His holy place?' the believer unhesitatingly replies : 'He that hath clean' (innocent, guiltless) 'hands, and a pure heart' (the innocent of hands, the pure of heart); 'who hath not lifted up his soul to vanity' (or, borne his soul unto vanity), 'nor sworn to deceit.' And ver. 5 is added, both by way of caution against all selfrighteousness, and to indicate how this evangelical righteous-' ness is accomplished in us. It is scarcely necessary to say, that the above description includes alike our justification and sanctification. 'I will wash my hands in innocency: so will I compass Thine altar, O Jehovah.' Guiltlessness, or the removal of our sin, is combined with inward purity, the one preceding the other. And the notice of the two forms of sin which 'more easily beset' us, is appropriately added. For to yield our souls to vanity, and to be actuated by motives of self-interest, are not only the characteristics of worldly men, but the temptations to which even believers are, in the present state of matters, constantly exposed. From these snares we are only delivered by cultivating that purity of heart which a constraining sense of Christ's love and continued fellowship with God preserve and increase. It cannot be too often repeated, that abstinence from the policy and the ways of the world is the result of that holy independence which flows from a sense of the sufficiency of Christ, and from joy in Him. Thus in life, heart, and purpose—but chiefly in heart—is there a wide difference between the world and the Church, and the effacing it either by want of assurance or of separation is the main cause of our weakness.

The promises of grace to those who walk in His ways are as numerous as they are necessary for our encouragement and comfort. Yet it should be noted that, from first to last, they are not as of right, but as of grace (ver. 5). These are the two main gifts which we covet,—His felt blessing and the gift of righteousness. Both are connected with the covenant of mercy in Christ Jesus, and come to us from the God of our 'salvation.' Washed in His precious blood, we walk in the sunlight of His countenance, and enjoy the bestowal of His righteousness. Purified within, we have calm and peace. Holy thoughts and feelings spring up within us, like flowers in spring-time. And with these our inward possessions, we are above reach of those privations which the world feels, and those temptations to which the world yields. Neither the priestly blessing in Old Testament times, nor Levitical purity, could take the place of these higher realities. 'Jacob'—' the Israel of God'—was ever the generation of them that sought Him and His face (ver. 6). Outward privileges, however precious, cannot constitute us true members of the Church of Christ. It were altogether a misunderstanding to conceive that anything less than the blessing of God in Christ, and the possession of righteousness in every sense—both justification and sanctification—constitute the distinctive benefits which the Church enjoy. That is not a Church, and those are not members of it, who have not share and lot in this matter. And for the attainment of these blessings, no outward profession, no rite, ceremony, nor aught man can give or do, is sufficient. Such spiritual effects are connected with spiritual causes. Pardon (cleanness of hands), heart-renewal, separation from the ways and the aims of the world, and constant seeking after Him, even after the felt light of His countenance, are the characteristics of 'Jacob.' 'This is the generation of them that seek Him, that seek Thy face—Jacob' (this is Jacob). 'They are not all Israel that are of Israel.' Therefore is the Church not any one visible community, but an invisible brotherhood, bound to Christ, and in Him to one another, by identity of faith, hope, and love. Very marked in this description of the Church are these three points. Believers are called a generation, properly an age or period (being derived from a verb signifying to circle), probably to mark their continuation from age to age. Again, the term 'Jacob' is paraphrased by ' they that seek Him,' to indicate their common and distinctive object. Lastly, it is shown how believers cannot rest satisfied with less than the light of His countenance, and how this is enjoyed in fellowship with Him. 0 to find ourselves included in this description; to feel that, however weakly and faintly, yet with all earnestness and sincerity of heart, we seek after Jehovah, the God of Israel!

Such is the people; but who is their King? We have seen Him as the wondrous architect of this world, who hath laid its beams upon the waters, and set a wall round about it against the overflowing flood. We have 'admired' Him in His saints, whom He hath called, purified, sanctified, and glorified. But Himself is higher far than all His works. Creation and redemption have been summoned to marshal their wonders. Creation and the Church are now summoned to welcome their Lord. The distinction between Jew and Gentile has been swallowed up in the higher unity which constitutes 'the Israel of God.' Wide fling open ye gates, ye everlasting doors own the presence of the King! He comes as King of glory; by your homage own the glory due unto His name. Angels' trumpets sound His march; angels' voices proclaim His praise. Earth, thy Builder, world, thy Preserver comes—praise Him! Church, thy Redeemer, thy Bridegroom, Lord, and Saviour comes— praise Him! Gates, which His hand has reared—gates of earth, gates of heaven, lift up your heads ; look up, see your God! Let the chorus rise and swell, animate and inanimate things, all that His hand hath framed, own His power and dominion. And ye doors which He has hung on His temple, ye everlasting doors, be ye lift up, that the music from within may mingle with the music from without, and earth and heaven, Creation and the Church, in accord burst forth into an advent hymn. Christ the Saviour has come; Christ the Saviour does come; Christ the Saviour shall come! Whatever has being, and in measure as it can, let it own the Lord. Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed be He who cometh in the name of the Lord. Behold Him, 'the King of glory,' and lowly worship. And how shall we know Him, who is the King of glory? We know Him by His strength and might, we know Him by His victories. We know Him because He has burst the prison-gates, and broken asunder the bars of iron ; we know Him because He has led captivity captive ; we know Him because He has vanquished all enemies. We know Him by His scars ; we know Him by His wounds ; we know Him by His crown of thorns ; we know Him by His resurrection glory ; we know Him by His many crowns of victory. We know Him as the Lamb slain ; we know Him as the lion of the tribe of Judah. We know Him by the breastplate upon His heart; we know Him by the key of David. We know Him by His love; we know Him by His grace. Wave your palms, ye martyrsaints; raise thy song, thou virgin Church. Own Him, earth; proclaim Him, heaven! Now 'King of glory,' He returneth, who lowly bending had drunk of the brook by the way. Lord of earth, and Lord of Heaven, King of saints, and King of the heavenly hosts—we own Thee, we worship Thee, we praise Thee; we fling wide open the gates of our hearts ; we welcome Thee, we entreat Thee—so come and reign. Yea, come quickly. Amen!

1. With warm and deep affection let us dwell upon that

blessed truth of His coming. It is not a barren speculation, but a glorious reality, which forms alike the hope of the Church and of earth itself. Till then we must expect disorder and confusion. Yet bringeth He order out of 1t all, and causeth all things to co-operate for His glory and our good. 'Overturn, overturn, overturn, until He come, whose it is.' And every proclamation of the gospel, every progress of His kingdom, is a call to the gates and everlasting doors to be lift up for the reception of the King of glory. What a title this: King of glory! And how wondrous that we should contribute to constitute that title! For the Church is designated 'the glory of Christ' Who would resist this proclamation, or not take up the gladsome message? This day, Lord, enable me first to obey, and then to re-echo the language of ver. 7.

2. Better than ever do we understand, in view of that day, that holiness becometh the people of the Lord. Surely Zion's King must have such subjects. The glory of Christ appears in His strength, in His might, and in His victories. These are manifested upon earth. They have been displayed in what He has done; they are displayed in what He still doeth in our hearts and in the world. The heavenly glory of Christ appears in His command of those unnumbered hosts; but His glory as Jesus consisteth in that 'He hath broken the gates of brass, and cut the bars of iron in sunder.' This refers notably to the fact, that in reference to His people, ' He sent His word and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.' It also refers to the fact of the disposition of His providence and the administration of His kingdom in accordance with the purposes of the covenant of grace. And thus holiness, safety, and glory are linked together.


3. O Lord, once more I pray: 'Create in me a clean heart, and renew a right spirit within me.' When I consider that great day of Thy coming, my heart would sink within me and despond, were it not for Thy grace. But we know Thee, as full of grace and of truth—for thou art the King of glory. Yet Lord, once more seal upon my heart a sweet sense of pardon, and grant me to feel Thy presence and Thy power. Lord, I would seek Thee; I would seek Thy face; 'hide not Thy face far from me; put not Thy servant away in anger. Thou hast been my help; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation.' In that day let me be found at Thy right hand; nay, this day also help me to give myself unto Thee, and to live for Thy glory, Thou King of glory. This is truly to live: to glorify God—and if so, then surely, however humble my sphere may be, I may glorify Him—remembering concerning this, as all other gifts laid upon His altar, 'For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not.'

And still, gracious Saviour, abundantly pardon and mercifully help Thy servants, who trust in Thee!

Then come, oh come, Thou perfect King,
Of boundless glory, boundless spring;
Arise, and fullest daylight bring,
Jesus expected long!

From God's right hand, Thy rightful throne,
Return, Beloved, to Thine own;
Thy victory has long been won,

Oh, claim Thy conquest now.

S. Bernard.

{The Voice of Christian Life in Song.)