Page images
PDF
EPUB

within the compass of its voice. Thus, among other methods, “ wisdom crieth without, she " uttereth her voice in the streets; she crieth in “ the chief places of concourse, in the openings “ of the gates; in the city she uttereth her “ words, saying, How long, ye simple ones, “ will ye love simplicity ? and the scorners

delight in their scorning, and fools hate know“ ledge? Turn you at my reproof; behold, I “ will pour out my Spirit unto you, I will make “ known my words unto you.' Every Christian is a preacher. The silent but expressive language of his conduct, like that of the heavens, (Ps. xix. 1) declares the glory of God to the utmost extent of his orbit. His conversation, so far as it is formed on the model of Scripture, and is given by inspiration of God, 's is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for cor

rection, and for instruction in righteousness.

If good works answer these important purposes, we need not wonder that every genuine believer is earnestly desirous of being devoted to the performance of them. His obligations are strong, and his motives are cogent.

We therefore pray that we may be “ conti

nually given to them”--that we may be incessantly and wholly addicted, dedicated, and consecrated to the practice of them.

We implore grace that it may be our “ meat and drink to “ do the will of our Father which is in heaven;" and that “whatever we do, we may do all to “ the glory of God.” Some persons seem to suppose, that it is enough if a good work be performed occasionally; and satisfy themselves with a few insulated acts, instead of an uninterrupted course of Godliness. But our church inculcates a different doctrine, when she instructs

us to pray “ that we may be continually givett “ to all good works." The practice of them must be both our business and our recreation, our daily, hourly, and momentary occupation. " Whether we eat, or drink, or whatever we “ do,” it must all be done “ to the glory of

God, and in the name of our Lord Jesus “ Christ, giving thanks unto God the Father

by Him." At least, this must be our desire and endeavour, or we cannot cordially join in this collect of our church. If we can content ourselves with the occasional performance of what we deem to be “good works,” it is evident that the motive, rule, and end of such occasional acts are wrong; for our heart, the spring of action, is not devoted to God, who says respecting His people (Is. xliii. 21) “ This peo

ple have I formed for myself: they shall shew « forth my praise.

Let us inquire whether we can conscientiously use this collect of our church. Do we indeed desire to be continually given to all good works? This is the cordial wish of the genuine church

Is it your's, reader? If it be not, Oh, what hypocrisy is there in your prayers!

The true member of our church is conscious that the general habit of holiness, and all its. specific acts, are the effects of Divine

grace. He feels a languor in his will, which he wants to have removed, and a debility in his powers, which he wants to have strengthened; and therefore he

prays

for grace, “ that he may be continually given to all good works.” Inquire, reader, if you feel thus. Is there any correspondence between your sensibilities and our collect?

man.

We ask all these blessings “ through Jesus “ Christ our Lord;" a name which is increasingly precious to His disciples in proportion as they find their need of spiritual blessings, and derive increasing evidence that His merit and intercession avail for their supply.

VOL. III.

THE EIGHTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY.

Lord, we beseech thee, grant thy people grace to withstand the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil; and with pure hearts and minds to follow thee, the only God, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

T

WHE Scripture hath given us a most alarming account of the

power, subtilty, and malice of our spiritual enemies; and this account is fully verified by the experience of all those who fight under the banners of the cross. While therefore they are resolved to maintain the awful struggle with persevering energy, and for this purpose to “ put on the whole armour “ of God” which is provided for them, they feel the necessity of imploring Divine aid, without which they cannot invest themselves with that armour, nor use it to any purpose when they are invested with it. They know that, while they call all their powers into action, they must pray always with all prayer and suppli“ cation in the Spirit, and watch thereunto with “ all perseverance.”

For the use of those persons who are engaged in the spiritual contest, the collect of our church used on the eighteenth Sunday after Trinity is designed.

And all of them will at once perceive the propriety of such a prayer, and cordially join in it. But there are others, mixed with our congregations, who, although by bapism they have been enlisted to " fight manfully

so under Christ's banner against sin, the world “ and the devil, and to continue Christ's faith“ ful soldiers and servants to their lives end,' yet are conscious of no warfare in which they are engaged. And the truth is, that they are engaged in none; for in spite of their baptismal profession, they are in league with “ sin, the is world, and the devil.” Now these persons cannot discern the propriety of such a prayer as that which our church has prescribed for their use; and though it may have passed over their lips as a matter of course, their hearts have never fervently joined in it. Earnestness of mind or the want of it, in the recital of our present collect, will serve for a criterion of character, and shew us whether we are hypocritical or sincere in our baptismal covenant.

Our present collect consists of two petitions. In the former we implore grace that we may be enabled to “ withstand the temptations of the “ world, the flesh, and the devil.” And in the latter we seek Divine aid that we may “ follow “ the only true God through Jesus Christ our « Lord.”

The world, the flesh, and the devil, constitute the threefold enemy of man, which we have solemnly engaged to renounce, and which we must resist and overcome, or perish eternally through their means. Under each of these general heads an innumerable host of opponents to our salvation is included. But though they may in some respects be distinguished from each other, they are all united by a common link, and aim at one and the same object, namely, our destruction. In the class of worldly temptations are comprehended “ the lusts of the “ flesh, the lusts of the eye, and the pride of

« PreviousContinue »