Imatges de pÓgina
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testimony, directly or indirectly, to the disor-
dered state of the world. Law, Physic, and
Divinity, the army and navy, and a thousand
branches of manufacture, trade and commerce,
will give evidence that the world is not what it
must have been when it came from the hands of
its benevolent Former. Whither can we direct
our eyes without meeting proofs that sin is
entered into the world ? Its present state is
frequently compared in Scripture to the wild
ocean when it is lashed into tumult and confu-
sion by a violent storm. The ancient church
thus expressed her feelings on the subject: “The
“ foods have lifted up, O Lord; the floods have
« lifted

up
their voice; the floods lift up

their (Ps. xciii. 3.). And she represents God (Ps. Ixv. 7) as “ stilling the noise of the

seas, the noise of their waves, and the mad“ ness of the people.”

The cause of this confusion must be co-extensive with the effect. And there is bát one which can be proposed with the appearance of probability-viz. the universal corruption of human pature derived with our being by descent from our fallen parents.

It is evident that nothing but the overruling providence of God could keep society in any kind of tranquillity, or preserve mankind from being the mutual executioners of each other, till the whole world became one vast Aceldama or field of blood, and its now populous plains were again abandoned to their original' tenants, the wild beasts of the field. It is humiliating to observe that man is compared in Scripture to almost every species of noxious and ferocious animals. The venomous serpent and viper, the ravenous

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wolf, the wild ass of the wilderness, the wild boar of the wood, the wild bull, the leopard, the lion, the asp and the cockatrice; these are the emblems of fallen man when destitute of converting or restraining grace, which the pen of inspiration has employed.* The character of mankind is also plainly delineated by St. Paul. (Rom. i. 29–31.) They are described, when given over by God to a reprobate mind, as

being filled with all unrighteousness, fornica“ tion, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; “ full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malig“nity; whisperers, backbiters, haters of God; “despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil “ things, disobedient to parents, without under“ standing, covenant-breakers, without natural

affection, implacable, unmerciful.” (See also 2 Tim. iii. 2, 3, 4.) Such was the state of the heathen world when the Gospel was first published in it. And such is its state now wherever the Gospel is not preached. Is a difference apparent in Christendom? That difference is clearly, the result, not of nature, but of grace of restraining, if not of converting grace. Let any one observe the proud, envious, wrathful, malicious, selfish, and covetous dispositions of the human breast, as they are made apparent by their effects even in civilized society, and among those who are called Christians; and he will soon be convinced that, if men were unrestrained by human laws, they would prey on each other with all the ferociousness of brute beasts. The African slave-trade, and the blood which European nations have shed both in the

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* Maii. iii. 7. X, 16. xxiii. 33. Jer. ii. 24. Ps, lxxx, 13. ls

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eastern and western hemispheres, afford a melancholy evidence of what man would do under the influence of his own infernal passions. “ The " wicked are like the troubled sea when it can“ not rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt.”

God permits the moral evil which exists and abounds in the world for wise and gracious purposes, which it is in vain for us to scrutinize. His “ judgments are unsearchable, and His

ways past finding out.” We know, however, that God will at length bring glory to His own great name out of all the evil that now prevails. « Clouds and darkness are now round about Him; but equity and judgment are the habi“tation of His throne.”

In the midst of the apparent confusion that prevails, God still rules the world which He hath made. - The Lord on high is mightier “ than the voice of many waters, yea than the

mighty waves of the sea.' “ He ruleth the “ raging of the sea; when the waves thereof “ arise, He stilleth them.' « He sitteth above “ the water-floods, and remaineth a king for

He is not an unconcerned spectator of the conduct of His creatures; but He is the “ King of all kings, and Governor of all " things.” He carries on His own gracious purposes, notwithstanding the opposition which is made to them by earth and hell. And when “ the manifold wisdom” * of God, employed in the curious involutions of His providence, is unfolded and exposed to the view of the blessed in the kingdom of God, everlasting wonder, love, and praise will occupy their transported bosoms and employ their raptured tongues.

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* Πολυποικιλος σοφια, Εph. iii. 10.

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From the observations which have been made on the course of this world” it

appears

that the petition of our collect is highly proper and necessary. Surely it is the duty and privilege of Christian believers, who have their eyes opened to discern what is concealed from others, to pray “ that the course of this world may be “ peaceably ordered by God's governance, that the lion's mouth may be shut and the leopard chained, and that in due time the moral change which the evangelical prophet has foretold may be fully and universally exemplified when the “ wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and “ the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and “ the calf, and the young lion, and the fatling

together, and a little child shall lead them: “ when the cow and the bear shall feed, their

young ones shall lie down together, and the " lion shall eat straw like the ox-when the

sucking child shall play on the hole of the

asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand “ on the cockatrice den-when they shall not “ hurt nor destroy in all God's holy mountain; “ for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of " the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.”

Many reasons concur to justify such a prayer as that of our present collect, and to shew its importance. For though we know that God can elicit good from evil, yet it is our duty to deprecate the evil that threatens us,

The general welfare of society, the special prosperity of the church, and above all the glory of God, are powerful motives to fervent supplication for public peace and tranquillity.

The specific end for which we now implore the interference of God in the government of

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- the world, is “ that His church may joyfully “ serve Him in all Godly quietness.

The church is the grand object of Divine care and attention. The world is only a scaffolding to thát spiritual edifice which God is erecting; and when the edifice is finished, the scaffolding will be taken down and burned. The church is the kernel, and the world the shell; and when the kernel is fully ripe, the shell will be thrown away as of no further use. “ The holy seed is " the substance,"—the only valuable part. Now the church is very dear to God as the purchase of His blood, the workmanship of His power and wisdom, the temple of His delights.

But of whom doth the church of God consist? What are the characteristics of its members, whereby they are distinguished from the world? • The church,” saith Bishop Pearson, * “ as it embraceth all the professors of the true faith of Christ, containeth in it not only such as do truly believe and are obedient to the word, but those also which are hypocrites and profane. Many profess the faith, which have no true belief. Many have some kind of faith, which live with no correspondence to the gospel preached. Within, therefore, the notion of the church are comprehended good and bad, being both externally called, and both professing the same faith. For “ the kingdom of heaven is like unto a field,” in which “ wheat and tares grow together unto “the barvest; like unto a net that was cast into “ the sea, and gathered of every kind;" like unto a “ floor," in which are laid up “ wheat " and chaff;” like unto a “ marriage feast," in which some have on the wedding garment,

* Exposition of the Creed. Article IX,

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