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mandeth and raiseth the stormy wind which lifteth up the waves thereof. I mount up to the heaven, and go down again to the depths, so that my soul is often melted because of trouble. I reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and am at my wit's end. All my wisdom is swallowed up* in perplexity. Then I cry unto the Lord in my trouble; and He shall bring me out of my distresses. He shall make the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof shall be still. Then shall I be glad, when I am quiet, and when He hath brought me unto the desired haven. Then shall I praise the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men. I shall exalt Him in the congregation of the people, and praise Him in the assembly of the elders who are before the throne for evermore.”
Reader, is the appeal which you make in our collect to Divine Omniscience, the result of a personal consciousness that the description of your case is true? And, while your soul is alive to its dangers, is this appeal productive of comfort ? Doth it encourage your faith in addressing to the throne of grace the prayer that follows?
The promises of “strength and protection,” which God hath made to His people in the “ many and great dangers” by which they are surrounded, do not supercede the necessity of prayer and watchfulness. For He will be inquired of by us in order that He may save us. The kingdom of God “suffereth violence" from all its besiegers, “ and the violent take it by force.” God has promised that “ sin shall not
* Marg. reading.
“ have the dominion over us," and that He “ will « bruise Satan under our feet shortly;" but these promises can afford comfort to those only who are taught by “the grace of God which bring“ eth salvation to deny ungodliness and worldly « lusts,” who are “ fighting the good fight of “ faith, and who, " as prisoners of hope, turn os to the strong hold.” Let us labour then to be fervent and constant in prayer, that God would “ grant to us such strength and protection as “ may support us in all dangers, and carry us “ through all temptations, through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
That nothing short of Divine “ strength and protection” can support us in our dangers " and “ carry us through our temptations," is a truth which needs not to be demonstrated to the genuine Christian : for he knows that his uprightness is daily endangered by the world, which continually endeayours to ensnare him both by its frowns and smiles; by the flesh, which constant ly solicits a gratification of its lusts ; and by the devil, of whose devices he is not ignorant. He finds by mournful experience that the seed of every sin is latent in his heart, and needs only to be watered by temptation in order to bring forth its baneful frnit. He perceives temptations which are suited to his age, constitution, and circumstances in life, from the danger of which he is never free.
But the believer has an Almighty Friend, to whom he repairs with confidence in every time of need. Divine “ strength" is engaged on his behalf, and shall be “made perfect in his weak“ ness.” “God will not suffer” those who trust in Hims to be tempted above that they “ are able; but will with the temptation also
- make a way to escape, that they may be able “ to bear it.” The Christian therefore encourages himself in the Lord his God, and confidently implores “ such strength and protection “ as may support him in all dangers and carry “ him through all temptations.”
We do not pray for an immediate rescue from all dangers, and an exemption from all temptations; for this would be inconsistent with the design of God, our own benefit, and His glory. Our prayer coincides with the intercession of our Lord, “I pray not that thou shouldest take “ them out of the world, but that thou shouldest
keep them from the evil.” In an imitation of the Lord's prayer we cannot pray amiss.-
Till the coil of life be all unfolded, we must maintain the conflict, and live in a spirit of watchfulness and prayer. But, blessed be God! the coil is short, the last involution will soon be explicated, and then prayer will be changed for praise.
In the mean while, let the humble supplicant, from whose heart the petition of our collect flows to his lips, be comforted and dry up his tears. Faithful is He that hath promised, who also will do it. Let the praying believer know that, “ as his day is, so shall his strength be; ” that his almighty Friend knows how to deliver the godly out of temptation, as well as that they “ are set in the midst of so many and great “ dangers that they cannot always stand up“ right.” He is " able to keep them from “ falling, and to present them faultless before “ the presence of His glory with exceeding joy.”! He hath said, “ I will never leave thee nor for~ sake thee; so that we may boldly say, the
« Lord is my helper, I will not fear” what earth or hell can do against me.
But are there not some among those who orally use our collect, who are unconscious of danger, who trifle with the lion's teeth, and sport themselves in those perils from which they pretend to pray for deliverance ? Are there not those who formally worship God in the language of our church, but are unacquainted with alarm from spiritual perils, lean to their own understandings and strength, or even mock at the exercises, the fears and distresses, the groans and tears, of the contrite soul ? Let not such persons expect to derive any thing but increased condemnation from the verbal adoption of our spiritual addresses to the heartsearching God. Let the impenitent and unbelieving consider that the power and faithfulness of God, which are engaged on the behalf of all those 6s who call upon him, even of all who “ call upon him in truth,” are engaged against “ the hypocrites in Zion,” and will be glorified in their everlasting destruction. " () God, who knowest the hypocrisy of the human heart; grant to all such as are under its influence, and who deceive themselves with the form of Godli. ness, while they are destitute of the power thereof,0 grant to them repentance of their past folly, and pardon of their agravated sin ; that they may be numbered among the true worshippers, and become genuine members of thy holy church, for Jesus Christ's sake. Amen.”
ching Go spiritualon fron
THE FIFTH SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY.
O Lord, we beseech thee to keep thy church and household continually in thy true religion ; that they, who do lean only upon the hope of thy heavenly grace, may evermore be defended by thy mighty power, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
THE visible church of Christ resembles a
field in which wheat and tares grow together. This resemblance forms the substance of a beautiful and instructive parable which our Lord delivered, and which is the gospel appointed for the fifth Sunday after the Epiphany.
The genuine members of the Christian church are the good seed which God our Saviour hath sown. But therewith “ the enemy" of God and man hath blended tares, weeds that are of no value. * This he hath done with a malicious view of spoiling the crop. These, however, must grow together until the harvest, when the reapers will finally separate between hypocrites and the faithful-gathering the latter into the granary of heaven, and casting the former into the fire, that they may be burned.
* The tare, or rather Zizane, which the author has seen in a hot-house of this country, is a plant that nearly resembles wheat in the appearance of its stemn, its leaf, and its head. But when it ripens, the head is found to be totally void of grain, and to consist of nothing but chaff, the seed pod being distinct from it.