« PrécédentContinuer »
attributed to the agency of “ Almighty God." Therein “ All things" are said to be “ of Him, « who hæth reconciled us to Himself 'by Jesus. “Christ." “ "For we are His workmanship, creat“ed in Christ Jesus unto good works, which “God had before ordained that we should walk * in them." Should it be said that St. Andrew had been previously prepared by the doctrine and discipline of the Baptist's dispensation for obedience to the calling of our Lord Jesus Christ; the truth of tbe assertion is admitted. But it is to be remembered, that it was Divine Grace which induced his submission to that discipline, and enabled him to give credence to that doctrine. For “ the preparations of the heart in man," whereby it is made ready for an open profession of Christ, as well as the “ answer of the tongue” in such a profession, “ are from the Lord." It would be a perverse use of the Baptist's ministry, were it made the instrument of depreciating the glory of Christ whose herald and harbinger he was.
As the frost and snow of winter are preparatory to the genial warmth of summer, and concur therewith in forwarding the autumnal harvest; so in the process of spiritual husbandry, many circumstances, both in the course of God's providential dealings and in the sensibilities of the soul, often co-operate to fit the mind for a reception of an increased measure of Divine light and influence which God had before intended to bestow. Thus Cornelius's proselyteship to the worship of the Jews prepared him to welcome St. Peter's message; and thus many devout persons whom St. Paul instructed more perfectly in the way of the Lord, had been disposed by previous tuition to embrace Christianity so soon as its doctrines were announced to them. But the devout emotions of heart in Cornelius and others were no less produced by the operation of Divine power than their subsequent submission to the Gospel of Christ. Without adventitious in. fluence we are dead in trespasses and sins.
The petition which forms the body of the collect is very comprehensive and important, as will be seen from a view of it. As, however, it is founded on the preface which we have already considered at large, fewer words will be necessary to its explication and application. We in. treat“ Almighty God to grant unto us all, that “we being called by His holy word, may forth“ with give up ourselves obediently to fulfil His “ holy commandments, through Jesus Christ "o our Lord.” The church, like the industrious bee, sucks honey from every flower. She takes occasion and encouragement from that mercy which was shewn to St. Andrew, to instruct her children to pray for a participation of the same in the name of the same Divine Mediator, through whom St. Andrew received grace for the salvation of his own soul, and for the communication of the Gospel to the world in the exercise of his Apostolic function.
It is the high privilege of all the members of the church that they are “ called by God's holy “ word,” while many nations of the earth are left in ignorance of the great salvation. And may
it not be added that the members of the Church of England have a superior advantage above other assemblies of professing Christians in the frequent and copious use which is made of the Scriptures among them? The pure word of God is recited largely in our synagogues, not only every sabbath-day, but much oftener. If no exposition of the Scriptures were ever deliver
ed from the pulpit, or if an heterodox exposition were to be made there, though the neglect or abuse of the duty of preaching would involve her ministers in guilt of the deepest dye; yet the church herself would be blameless, having done all that could be done to secure instruction to her children, who would be left without excuse in consequence of the provision she has made for them, should they fail of salvation.
The nature of the call which is addressed to each of us all in the word of God has been already explained; it being similar to that which St. Andrew received from the lips of our Saviour, so far as that related to his becoming a disciple of Christ, and was distinct from the Apostolic vocation. This coincidence is the foundation of the collect before us. The terms therefore from which and to which we are called, need not to be again defined. It may however be remarked that the church in her collect supposes, what awful matter of fact confirms, that all who have been called have not obeyed the call. In this supposition she is sanctioned by her epistle for the day; wherein it is asserted, that « all have “ not obeyed the Gospel” who have heard it, and that the complaint of Esaias, “ Lord, who “ hath believed our report,” is unhappily but too well suited to the heralds of Christ in
every age. An inquiry therefore, Whether we have obeyed the Divine call, should be instituted in all our bosoms. We have heard it; but have we complied with it? O that on this momentous subject there may be “ great searchings of heart among us!"
It is moreover clear that as this prayer is designed for the use of all who compose our worshipping assemblies, the church does not consider any of her members as having already attained to a maturity in grace, or as being already perfect. For, if there were any such among us, this prayer, as well as the Lord's prayer itself, would be unsuitable to our use. But who is there that has “ given up himself obediently to “ fulfil God's holy commandments," so as to need no further supply of grace ? “ In many things we «. offend all.” That we come short of the glory of God, is a melancholy subject of reflection to every humble follower of Jesus. All therefore may with propriety, and every contrite soul will, heartily concur in the language here prepared
What is it that we here pray for? What is it that the awakened bosom desires ? These two questions will be solved by the same reply, shewing the adaptation of our liturgy to Scripture and experience. It is the obedience of faith, consisting in universal holiness, an unlimited conformity to all the will of God. This is considered by every true member of the church both as his duty and privilege: this is the aim and scope of his heart. And therefore, while with deep self-abasement he confesses his remaining imperfections, he follows on that he may apprehend that for which he is apprehended of Christ Jesus. “ Forthwith” and “ fully" are additions which he makes with all the energies of his soul to every petition for sanctifying grace. Reader, can you join cordially and without hypocrisy in this prayer? If so, you may consider yourself to be a true son of the church of England, a genuine “ member of Christ, a child of God, and “ an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven.
The ground on which we are taught to urge our request is that which the church invariably
introduces, and besides which the enlightened mind knows no other. The name of Jesus is the exclusive and all-sufficient plea. His blood and righteousness and intercession afford the only arguments that we have to produce for promoting the success of our prayers. Through Him as its channel all grace must flow to sinners. Through Him as its only recommendation must our obedience be accepted. And through Him as the object of grateful love and the only motive to exertion, must every act of obedience be performed. May His name be as's ointment poured out" to the heart of
every reader! Amen!