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were air excluded from its lungs and heat from its blood-vessels. All life would be extinguished, and its tendency to destruction would be rapid. No act of Divine life can be performed without that “strength” which is “made perfect in " weakness.
Moreover, “ without God nothing is holy.” It is through sanctification of His Spirit that there is any holiness in our persons or acts. His Spirit is therefore called “the Spirit of holiness." His “ love shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy “ Ghost given unto us” is the cause and essence of all sanctity both of heart and life. The will and the power to conform ourselves to His law which is the rule of holiness, are both from God.
On the preface of our collect which we have reviewed is founded a most important petition. For we implore grace “ that, God being our “ ruler and guide, we may so pass through things
temporal that finally we lose not the things “ eternal.” From the connection between the preface and prayer of our collect we may observe, that the promises of God, though their fulfilment is sure, do not supercede the necessity of supplication. For prayer is the appointed medium of communication between God and us. It is, in common with other instituted means, one of those "joints and bands by which nourishment is " ministered” to the members of Christ's mystical body; which, by their instrumentality, maintains its communion with its head. God is bound, by His covenant-relation to His people, to supply all their needs; but He has declared that for this He will be intreated.
Our petition implores an increase of Divine mercy on our souls, that is, a further experience of its riches. There can be no increase of this
attribute in God; but there may be a further communication of its fulness made to us, and this we implore. Those who have been taught to “trust “ in God,” and who are under His protection,” are already partakers of covenant-mercy; for faith and all its effects proceed from it. We have nothing that we have not received from Him. But all the partakers of His mercy want larger and richer supplies. They are daily and hourly pensioners thereon, and they know their dependent state. To be a receiver of mercy is their highest honour and privilege. They never expect to get beyond the need of it; nay, they desire it not. The object of their highest ambition, either in time or in eternity, is a participation of the grace of God.
Our collect being intended for their use only “ who trust in God,” it is assumed that He is “ the ruler and guide” of all those who join in its recital. For all believers are under His governance and direction. They have been taught that it is both their duty and privilege to submit to the laws of His kingdom, and to give themselves up implicitly to the guidance of His word and Spirit. They have learned that they can only be safe and happy so long as God manages all their concerns, and sways His sceptre over their hearts and lives, defends them from their enemies, and disciplines both their spirit and conduct. The dangers and intricacies of the Christian life are so many and so great that they dread to be abandoned to their own wisdom and strength, and therefore habitually surrender themselves into the hands of Him who is “ the protector of all who trust in Him, “ without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy.” Let me inquire whether God be my s ruler and guide"-whether I have really yielded myself up to the governance and guidance of His word and Spirit. On this inquiry depends my hope of being enabled “so to pass through things “ temporal as not finally to lose the things " eternal.”
This is the object of our petition. And, Oh, how important an object it is! Surely the man who is not solicitous about it, is brutish and devoid of rationality. We are only passengers through the present world towards eternity, to which we are drawing nearer every hour: and shall we be unconcerned whether we lose or gain the blessing of eternal life? Indifference on this subject is madness; Anxiety is wisdom.
During our passage through things temporal we are exposed to a thousand dangers every step we take.
We are not for a moment secure from destruction, but whilst God is “our ruler and
guide.” The conduct of Israel through the howling wilderness was miraculous. They were fed, clothed, guided, protected, and saved, by a succession of miracles which God wrought on their behalf. The Christian pilgrimage is also conducted by a continued series of Divine interpositions, less apparent indeed to the eye of sense, but equally manifest to the eye of faith. In God, by a derivation of help from Him, the Christian believer lives, moves, and hath his being
Without the constant rule and guidance of Omnipotence, a safe transition through the present evil world would be impossible. As well might a man expect to pass through deep and rapid rivers without being drowned, or through a raging conflagration without being burned. The
world is a lion's den-a burning fiery furnace-a boisterous ocean, more wide and tumultuous than the red sea through which the Israelites passed. God must shut the lion's mouths, or we shall inevitably be devoured. He must suspend the violence of the fire, or we shall assuredly be consumed. He must open a way through the boisterous waves for His ransomed people to pass over, or we shall, without doubt, perish in them.
But if God be our ruler and guide, our security is absolute. For who can defeat His purpose , or disappoint His gracious aim in the salvation of His people? If God be for us, it matters not who or what is against us. In vain do earth and hell combine for the destruction of those - who « are kept by the power of God through faith o unto salvation."
The Christian is distinguished from others by his aim and end. His eye is taken off from
things temporal," and fixed on “things eter“ nal." He is “ a pilgrim and “a stranger upon “ earth;" and he regards the things of time in the same manner in which a traveller regards the accommodations of an inn on his journey, or the conveniences and inconveniences of roads and weather. He presses forward without feeling deeply interested in the circumstances of his route, home being the object of his affections. He is thankful indeed for any comforts in his way; but these are not his supreme object. His desires are alive to "things eternal,” and to obtain them his exertions are roused. The danger of losing them excites his fears; and the hope of possessing them is the spring of his joys.
Reader, are you a pilgrim and a stranger here in the spirit and temper of your mind? Infatuated are they who choose the dreary desert for their place of rest; while the conduct of a Christian who is pressing forward towards Canaan is full of wisdom. Let him not be discouraged, God will be his ruler and guide; and under His direction and defence he shall find that the waters of Marah are as conducive to his eternal welfare as the grapes of Eshcol. If the latter attract him to press forward by their sweetness, the former drive him forward by their bitterness. The pillar of fire shall enlighten his darkness, and the pillar of a cloud shelter him from the noon-day heat. Manna shall be rained upon him, and the water from the rock follow him, till he arrive at the promised land.
The subject of our prayer is so important that, at the close of our collect, we repeat the request. " Grant this, o heavenly Father, for Jesus " Christ's sake.” To "6
To "pass through things temporal so as not to lose the things eternal” is “ the one thing needful”, to a rational and immortal being. It is esteemed to be so by every conscious mind. “ Grant this, O heavenly Fa“ ther,” and we ask no more.
& Guide us by “thy counsel, and then receive us to glory," according to thy promise. We have no merit indeed to plead for the purpose of obtaining this great and comprehensive blessing. We have no argument to adduce, derived from any personal qualification, wherewith to enforce our request. But we ask it “ for Jesus Christ's sake.” “If ç thou sparedst not thy own Son, but deliveredst “ Him up for us all; we infer that thou wilt ♡ with Him also freely give us all things.” “If