Imatges de pÓgina

has learned it by experience, and rational inference is inadequate to the conviction of others. “ Children of wrath,” which, without redemption, must be for ever “ wrath to come,” we can make no atonement for our guilt. Justly shut out from heaven for our sins by the irreversible decree of the covenant of works that “ the soul which sinneth shall die,” we can make no compensation for the past, nor engage for a future fulfilment of the terms of that covenant which saith, « This do and thou shalt live." And when we are “ justified

justified freely by Divine “ grace, through the redemption that is in Jesus « Christ;" still the renewal of our fallen souls in holiness, “ without which no man shall see “ the Lord,” is a work altogether as much out of our own power as the work of atonement. The temptations of Satan, the corruptions of their own hearts, and the allurements of the world, daily endanger the safety of those who are " called with a holy calling." Against these temptations, corruptions, and allurements, they have no defence but “the mighty aid” of Omnipotence. In the conflict with them they can find no comfort but what they derive from the promises of the gospel and the consolations of grace. But “ the aid and defence” which they have reason to expect are all-sufficient.

The phraseology of our collect deserves particularly to be noticed. We “ God's mighty aid, we may be defended and " comforted in all dangers and adversities.” The children of God have no reason to expect an exemption from “ dangers and adversities” while they continue in the present world. They will every day be reminded that they “ are not

We pray

" that, by “as yet come unto the rest and to the inheri“ tance which the Lord their God giveth them.” Their present state is a state of trial and warfare, of which they have no encouragement to pray for a termination, till the good fight is fought, the course finished, and victory obtained. But they may implore “ defence and comfort in all

their dangers and adversities" with full confidence of success.

Of what nature is the defence which we implore? To what objects doth it relate? On this question our church shall be her own expositor, and declare her own meaning. The deprecations in the litany will afford us a paraphrase on the petition of the collect now under consideration. They will remind us of our dangers, of which there is a great variety but no cessation. Of these the principal is the danger of sinning, and this is the parent of all the rest. From this therefore, first and chiefly, we desire to be defended; from the guilt of sin which renders us liable to eternal misery, and from its power which disqualifies us for eternal happiness. We pray for pardon and sanctification, for defence against the punishment and the pollution of sin, and then descend to a specification of its acts, causes, and effects. We pray for deliverance from inward corruption in the heart, and outward enormity in the life. We implore defence from temporal evil, whether coming more immediately from the hand of God or from man, and from spiritual evil as still more to be dreaded. The arguments and pleas by which we enforce our petitions are the meritorious acts of the Son of God; and we conclude this deprecatory part of the litany by specifying those seasons in which we more particularly need Divine help. • Remember not, O Lord,

our offences, nor the offences of our forefa

thers, neither take thou vengeance of our “sins; spare us, good Lord, spare thy people, o whom thou hast redeemed with thy precious « blood, and be not angry with us for ever."

Spare us, good Lord._" From all evil and is mischief, from sin, from the crafts and assaults “ of the devil, from thy wrath, and from ever“ lasting damnation,"_" Good Lord, deliver us." From all blindness of heart; from

pride, vain glory, and hypocrisy; from envy, " hatred and malice, and all uncharitableness,'

-" Good Lord, deliver us." From forni“ cation and all other deadly sins; and from all " the deceits of the world, the flesh and the “ devil,”_"Good Lord, deliver us." From “ lightning and tempest; from plague, pesti“ lence and famine; from battle and murder, " and from sudden death,”-"Good Lord, deli66 ver us.

“ From all sedition, privy conspiracy

and rebellion; from all false doctrine, heresy and schism; from hardness of heart, “ and contempt of thy word and command“ment," _Good Lord, deliver us.' Ву “ the mystery of thy holy incarnation; by thy

holy nativity and circumcision; by thy bap* tism, fasting and temptation,

"Good Lord, deliver us." -"By thine agony and bloody “ sweat; by thy cross and passion; by thy pre“ cious death and burial; by thy glorious resur" rection and ascension; and by the coming of “ the Holy Ghost,"_"Good Lord, deliver us."

"In all time of our tribulation; in all time " of our wealth; in the hour of death, and in

" the day of judgment,”– .Good Lord, deliver

[ocr errors]

The comfort which we implore is the relief of our “necessities,” whether temporal or spiritual. Particularly we pray for the Divine presence to support our minds and sanctify our afflictions. If God be with us as He is revealed in His word, through the grace of His Spirit, we cannot despond nor be destitute of consolation. For whatever may be the necessities which we experience, we shall be enabled to believe that, in His good time, they will all be relieved and supplied.

A grand question still remains to be answered. Who are the persons that may expect God's interference on their behalf? of what description are the persons in whose favour the petition of our collect is offered? Are Divine defence and comfort promised to all men? Or (to bring the inquiry within narrower limits) are all those who adopt the form of prayer, and join in the external performance of Divine worship, authorised to expect defence and comfort from God? Surely not.

God's faithful people, exclusively, can look up with confidence and implore these blessings. For them, and none but them, is our collect intended. Are we of the blessed number? May we reasonably expect, in all our dangers and necessities, to receive Divine protection and consolation? Perhaps it may be asked, How shall I determine the momentous question, whether I am_numbered among the Lord's people or not? To this the reply is easy. The people of God are distinguished by many legible marks; one of which is specified in our ollect. God has “ given” to them “an hearty:

“ desire to pray.” God hath poured out upon them “ the spirit of grace and supplication." A spirit of supplication is inseparable from a spirit of grace. It is an invariable effect of Divine influence on the heart. We shall endeavour to shew wherein the spirit of prayer consists, and from whence it is derived.

It consists in a perception of our spiritual wants and necessities, without which the posture of the body and the motion of the lips can be of no avail. Prayer is desire; and desire supposes want. Now all men are spiritually poor, but all are not as

poor in spirit;" and to these the benediction of our Saviour is confined. (Math. v. 3.) We all need pardoning, converting, and sanctifying grace; but all men are not conscious of their needy state.

It remains for our consciences to determine, whether we are so convinced of our wants that we feel in ourselves a fervent desire of those blessings which our lips implore.

The spirit of prayer further includes or supposes an acquaintance with God's promises to supply our wants, and with the method in which that supply is to be granted. A knowledge of our urgent wants (the want of things which are essential to our comfort and salvation) would produce despondency and inactivity of soul without a knowledge of God in Christ. A perishing wretch, though tormented with the pangs of hunger and apprised of approaching death, would lie down in despair and resign himself


to his fate, if he were situated in the midst of a barren wilderness far from the habi. tations of man or any hope of relief. Bụt let him know that his case is not desperate, and he will exert himself to the utmost for the

« AnteriorContinua »