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“ His” own “family ;” and urge “the agony “ and bloody sweat, the cross and passion," of His Son our Lord Jesus Christ? Can we use the language of our church, with such objects before our eyes, without earnest desire and lively faith in our hearts?
Our collect concludes with a doxology, stating the subsequent exaltation of the atoning Saviour to life everlasting and to a kingdom which hath no end. This consideration attests the efficacy of His vicarious sufferings, and the completion of His mediatorial work. He cried with His expiring breath, “IT IS FINISHED.” And the truth of His declaration is demonstrated by His resurrection, ascension, and glorification, as “ the head of His body the church.”
Before we conclude, let us inquire what emotions have been excited in our souls by a recital of our collect, and by the work of this day. For surely the scene we have surveyed is calculated to move even a heart of stone.
Methinks a rising sigh escapes from the bosom of some penitent sinner, while a falling tear of love and sorrow bedews His cheek. The promise of a Divine influence to attend the word, of truth is fulfilled in His experience; and He, is enabled to look to Him whom he hath
pierced, and to mourn for Him as one mourn“eth for an only son, and as one that is in “ bitterness for his first-born." The rebel is vanquished by redeeming love. The heart of stone is taken away and replaced by a heart of flesh. The sigh of regret and the tear of conscious guilt are happy omens. They prove that the or
Gospel is” still “the power of God unto “ salvation.” May these symptoms of “ Godly “ sorrow” ripen into a “ repentance unto life “ never to be repented of!!!
But perhaps these pages may fall in the way of some persons who are wholly unmoved by the dying love of Christ. Oh! let them consider the consequences of impenitence before it be too late. Christ has died, but they reject His atonement. Pardon is procured for the contrite sinner, but they are obdurate and spurn it. Let them contemplate in the mirror which the sufferings of Immanuel present, the evil of sin, and consider “ if these things were done in the
green tree, what shall be done in the dry?" If imputed guilt was as much as the God-man could bear, what will the weight of personal transgression be, when“ judgment is laid to the “ Jine, and righteousness to the plummet, and " the hail" of Divine wrath “shall sweep away “ the refuge of lies.” Let the practical unbe. liever remember that his case will be worse than if Christ had not been “ contented to be be“ trayed, and given up into the hands of wicked “men, and to suffer death upon the cross." For to all his other sins he adds that sin of sins, a rejection of the only and Divinely provided remedy. “ He that despised Moses' law, died “ without mercy under two or three witnesses. “ Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, “shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden " under foot the Son of God, hath counted the 6c blood of the covenant wherewith he was “ sanctified an unholy thing, and done despite “ unto the Spirit of Grace! For we know Him " that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto “ me, I will recompence, saith the Lord : and “again, The Lord shall judge His people. It “ is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the
Almighty and everlasting God, by whose Spirit the whole body of the church is governed and sanctified; receive our supplications and prayers which we offer before thee, for all estates of men in thy holy church, that every member of the same, in his vocation and ministry, may truly and Godly. serve thee, through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.
UR church has appointed three appropriate
collects to be used on Good-Friday. In the first of these every congregation implores mercy for itself. In the second, the whole visible church is recommended to the Divine favour. And in the third we solicit an extension of Divine compassion to all the rest of the world who are without the pale of Christianity,
In the second collect, which is a prayer for “ Christ's church militant here on earth,” we obey both the command of God and the dictate of natural affection. It is the command of God that His disciples “ love one another with a pure “ heart fervently;" and the certain effect of Christian charity is mutual supplication. For we cannot love another without being desirous, so far as it lies in our power, of promoting his happiness; and in many instances we have no means of contributing to the welfare of our brethren any otherwise than by praying for them. They are out of the reach of
other act of that ardent benevolence which our hearts feel towards them. But the members of the Christian chiurch have mutual duties to perform, which arise not only from the obedience which they owe to God, but also from the relation in
which they stand to each other. For the church is the body of Christ, and every believer is a member of that body. He is therefore closely. connected with all those who are partakers of like precious faith. And with the general good his own welfare is intimately and essentially connected.
As we obey an Apostolic edict (1 Tim. ii. 1.) while we are using this collect of our church, we may rest assured, that our prayer will be heard and answered; for “ if we ask, any thing accord
ing to the will of God, He heareth us. Had Esther any need to hesitate in preferring her request, or in expecting a favourable issue to her suit, after the royal command and promise which she had received ? (Esther v.3.) And have we not also commands and promises to sanction and encourage our faith while we pray “ for all estates - of men in God's holy church?” Such prayers as this have been constantly used in the church from its commencement, as appears by the writings of antiquity which are still extant.
In the preface of our collect we remind Him to whom it is addressed, and whose Omnipotenee and Eternity are the foundations on which His church is built, that He hath a church here on earth, and that it is wholly dependent on Him for its being and its welfare. For as the body without breath is a mere lump of lifeless and putrifying matter, so also would the church be without Divine inspiration. The church is the body of Christ, and the individuals of whom the church is composed are members of that body. And as all the members of the natural body are governed and influenced by one soul; so is " the whole
body of the church animated by God's good Spirit, which is, as it were, the soul of the
church, by which Jesus our head quickens the “ whole body and orders every part.
The members of the church, with respect to local situation, are widely scattered. Seas and mountains, and long successions of revolving years, divide them corporeally from each other. Diversified colours, customs and manners, form other external distinctions among them. But they are all “one in Christ Jesus” their head. “There “ is one body, and one Spirit, even as they are “ all called in one hope of their calling. One “ Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and “ Father of all, who is above all, and through all, “ and in them all.” Let a converted Englishman and a converted Gentoo be brought together, and be enabled by some common language to communicate their sentiments; and the Spirit by which “ the whole body of the church is governed « and sanctified” will shew itself in emotions and expressions of reciprocal attachment which none but Christians feel.
The dependance of the church on God, and its union with Him through the influence of His Spirit communicated to every genuine Christian, are introduced as arguments whereby our application to the throne of grace is enforced. By the Divine Spirit the church is “governed,” All its outward circumstances are regulated by His watchful providence. And all its real members are under the controul and direction of His word and grace, By Him also it is ' “ sanctified.” The efficacy of all ordinances is derived from Him, without whose almighty power sin cannot be subdued nor holiness be attained. In Him the church “ lives and mores and has its being."