Imatges de pÓgina

rules of ethics, and the directions of the Divine law, we may truly assert, that, with respect to the relief of a burthened conscience, they are medicines of no virtue, and that those who prescribe them are like Job's friends, “ physicians “ of no value” and “miserable comforters.” There is, however, blessed be God, “ Balm in “ Gilead, and a Physician there.” But even the Balm of Gilead cannot relieve the sin-sick soul unless it be applied; and no one can effectually apply it but the great Physician. The minister of the Gospel may promulgate the doctrines of grace, but he cannot give “the com“ fort of God's grace.” This must be sought from God, whose Spirit must communicate its influence to the afflicted heart.

The source from which this relief is implored is “ the comfort of Divine grace.” And to this we may indeed look with a confident persuasion that we shall not be disappointed. For it has 'made a full provision for our everlasting consolation. A revelation of this grace to the soul removes all its distresses by removing their cause, even sin. And we are assured that, “ if we " confess our sins,” as we do in the sincere use of our collect, " God is faithful and just to “ forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all 66 unrighteousness.” Let those then, who are truly conscious that they have “ worthily deos served to be punished," raise their eyes to the throne of grace. There, and there only, is comfort to be obtained. There God “ waiteth “ to be gracious.". Let them remember that God can be « just and the justifier of him that “ believeth in Jesus.” And Oh, what abundant cause of comfort may this be to all true believers, that God's justice as well as His

mercy shall acquit them: That that attribute of God, at the apprehension of which they were wont to tremble, should interpose on their behalf and plead for them! Yet through the all-sufficient expiation and atonement that Christ hath made for our sins, this mystery is effected, and justice itself brought over from being a formidable adversary to be of our party and to plead for us. Therefore the Apostle tells us, 1 John i. 9, that God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins."'*

The channel through which the comfort of Divine grace must flow for our relief is our “ Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” The channel is wide and deep, so that we need not fear lest the supply should be a scanty one. He is the only medium through which any gracious. communication can be made to a sinner; and through Him penitent sinners may expect to receive more than they can ask or think-they may expect “ abundance of grace and of the “ gift of righteousness.” “ In Him God findeth us, if we be faithful, for by faith we are incorporated into Christ. Then, although in ourselves we be altogether sinful and unrighteous, yet even the man which is impious in himself, full of iniquity, full of sin-him being found in Christ through faith, and having his sin remitted through repentance-him God beholdeth with a gracious eye, putteth away his sin by not imputing it, taketh quite away the punishment due thereunto, by pardoning it, and accepteth him in Christ Jesus, as perfectly righteous, as if he had fulfilled all that was commanded him in the law: shall I say more perfectly righteous,

* Bishop Hopkins on the Lord's Prayer.

rules of ethics, and the directions of law, we may truly assert, that, with the relief of a burthened conscien medicines of no virtue, and that the scribe them are like Job's friends, “ of no value” and “misérable There is, however, blessed be Gel “ Gilead, and a Physician there the Balm of Gilead cannot relie soul unless it be applied ; and tually apply it but the great minister of the Gospel may pro trines of grace, but he cannot “ fort of God's grace.” This from God, whose Spirit mus influence to the afflicted heal

The source from which thi is “ the comfort of Divine gi we may indeed look with a that we shall not be disap made a full provision for o lation. A revelation of t1 removes all its distresses by even sin. And we are a “ confess our sins,” as we of our collect, “God is “ forgive us our sins, and « unrighteousness.” Let truly conscious that they « served to be punished, throne of grace. Ther comfort to be obtained. 66 to be gracious." Let God can be just and 66 believeth in Jesus." dant cause of comfort believers, that



We beeseech thee, Almighty God, mercifully to look upon thy people ; that by thy great goodness they may be governed and preserved evermore, both in body and soul, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

W E have already observed, in the course of

V these lectures, the harmony which prevails in the prayers of the church in different ages of the world, and in different outward circumstances. And though there is nothing wonderful in this coincidence, because the wants of God's children are always the same essentially, and the same Spirit maketh intercession for them; yet as the remark may tend to encourage, strengthen, and confirm our souls in the faith, and in our approaches to the throne of grace, it may not be unprofitable to point out the resemblance between the language of our collect for the fifth Sunday in Lent, and that of the Psalmist, Ps. cxix. 132, 133; “ Look thou upon “ me, and be merciful unto me, as thou usest " to do unto those that love thy name. Order • my steps in thy word, and let not any iniquity “ have dominion over me.”

The prayer both of our collect and the Psalmist is the cry of distress, as indeed, in a greater or less degree, all prayer must necessarily be. In both the awakened sinner, feeling himself to be a guilty creature, implores mercy ; being conscious of his ignorance, he solicits direction; being sensible of his own helplessness, he begs assistance; and proving by daily experience that he is prone to evil, he asks from God that preservation which God only can afford. His plea for the attainment of these inestimable blessings is that mercy which God has promised to His people, and which He is accustomed to “ shew unto those that love His name.” In the promises of the Divine word, and in the examples of those to whom mercy has been vouchsafed in similar circumstances, the penitent finds encouragement to address the throne of grace.

Our collect contains-A general petition for · Divine regard—and The specific end for which that regard is now implored.

In the general petition for Divine regard we may consider—The manner in which it is made -The matter of which it consists-And the objects for whom it is solicited.

The manner of supplication here adopted is very fervent and very humble. And indeed such is the nature of the blessings which we implore, so great is our unworthiness of them, and so glorious the majesty of Him from whom we ask them, that too great a degree of fervency and humility cannot be manifested either in our words or gestures, nor exerted within our bosoms. Let us then ask ourselves whether our feelings have corresponded, in the use of this collect, with its phraseology. Have we besought “ Almighty God mercifully to look upon His “ people,” making His mercy our sole plea, and determining not to let Him go with whom we are wrestling for a blessing, until He bless us? As the mode of supplication here introduced has occurred in a former collect, we shall no further enlarge upon it. The reader's

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