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its rays are thrown to the days of Abel, the first saint who left earth for heaven, justified by his faith in a Saviour who would come: and forwards it casts its bright beams to illumine the path of the last saint that shall be gathered into the fold, justified by his faith in a Saviour who has come. An Event like that which this day recalls to our minds, can never be too deeply engraven upon our memories, nor dwelt upon too often or too long, and it should increase our sense of our dying Saviour's love every time it comes under our notice; for consider what a spectacle it was that the earth then saw. It saw the sinless Son of God, “ who being in the form of God thought it no robbery to be equal with God, yet making Himself of no reputation, and taking upon Him the form of a servant;” and in that form becoming “ obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." Well, when the hands of man had been imbued in the blood of this sinless One, well might the sun draw back his rays to protest against any participation in the act; well might the earth tremble and quake at the indignities heaped upon her Maker's head.
In commemorating this event, therefore, on the anniversary of its return, we are acting in a manner of which every true lover of the Saviour must approve; and affording an opportunity for a more special contemplation of these solemn and yet deeply interesting scenes, of which all such persons will ever be glad to avail themselves. The Services of the day explain themselves, and teach us, whilst meditating with holy emotion on our Saviour's death, to pour forth fervent and heartfelt petitions to Almighty God that He may be revealed as a Saviour to those others also to whom He is at present unknown; that the time may soon come when there shall be “ one fold under one Shepherd;” when from the rising of the sun to the going down of the same the name of Christ shall be honoured, and His sacrifice for sin, as on this day offered, be hailed as the fountain of life and the harbinger of peace and of joy.
By this Name we distinguish the day on which we commemorate the Resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ from the dead. The origin and meaning of this name “Easter” is not so certain and decided as is the origin and meaning of the names we have already examined. By some it is said to have been derived from “OSTER,” an old Saxon word signifying “ to rise ;” and by others it is said to be taken from the name of a Saxon goddess called “EASTOR," in whose honour, before the introduction of Christ
ianity among that people, a great festival was celebrated at this season of the year. Each of these opinions has its supporters, and to which the greater amount of probability belongs is perhaps hard to determine. It is, however, a matter of no very great moment; every one, therefore, may adopt that which appears to himself the more plausible.
The time of EASTER, on which all the other moveable feasts of the Church depend, is regulated by the moon, and is always (as is seen in the Book of Common Prayer) the first Sunday after the full moon which happens upon or next after the twenty-first day of March in each year. If the full moon happens to be on a Sunday, Easter day is the Sunday after. Such being the rule, it will be at once seen that it may vary considerably as to the time of its fall. It may fall as early as the twenty-second of March, or as late as the twenty-fifth of April, but is generally somewhere between those days; and all the other moveable festivals of the Church are regulated accordingly; so many weeks or days before or after it. The observance of this festival is to be traced backwards to apostolic times, although in the early days of the Church there was some difference as to the day on which it was held. The Eastern Churches, i.e. the churches of Christ in Asia and the East, kept the feast on the fourteenth day of the month, at the time of the full moon, that being the day on which the Jews kept their Passover feast, of which the Easter festival had taken the place in the Church of Christ, and this they did whatever day of the week it might happen to be, pleading apostolical authority for the practice. In the Churches of Rome and the West, it was kept on the Lord's day following that Passover day; partly in honour of the Lord's day itself, and partly to distinguish the Christian festival more from the Jewish; and for this they also pleaded apostolic sanction. These differences led to various disputes, which lasted, with occasional interruptions, until the year of our Lord 325, when a great council of bishops and other clergy, from all parts of the Christian world, was summoned to meet at a city called Nice, in Bithynia, a province of Asia Minor, at which council it was decided that the festival should be celebrated in all churches in all parts at the same time, viz. on the Lord's day after the full moon, according to the rule given above; and from that time downwards to the present day the rule then laid down has been universally followed.
The Event commemorated on this day is, as we have already observed, the Resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ from the dead, His triumph over Sin, and Death, and Hell, and restoration to liberty, as it were, after His brief incarceration in the bowels of the earth. By this act He proved the sufficiency of the sacri. fice He offered on Calvary, and manifested the perfection of the work of redemption. Having been “ delivered for our offences, He rose again for our justification ;” and in the vacant sepulchre and the empty tomb the humble believer now reads his own acquittal and deliverance from these same dreaded foes. We commemorate this event because of its paramount importance, seeing that it is the basis of the fabric of Christianity, the pillar of the whole system, and that without it “our faith is vain ” and we “are yet in our sins.”
The Subjects on which at this time our thoughts should be occupied are these : our own resurrection at the last day, when the archangel's trumpet shall sound, and all nations be summoned from their graves to stand before their King and their Judge; and, as a preparation for that, a resurrection now “ from the death of sin to the life of righteousness," by virtue of faith in Him, in whom he that believeth, “though he were dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth and believeth in Him shall never die.”