Page images
PDF
EPUB

without which our Lord has declared that no one can enter into His kingdom; let him inquire whether “the love of Christ” have “con“ strained” him to an unreserved devotion of bimself to God. The inquiry is not whether the fervid zeal displayed by the great Apostle fire his bosom ; whether the pulse of his soul beat throb for throb with that of this wonderful man; but whether the same effect, though in an inferior degree, be produced within him. If there be life, a pulsation will be perceptible. If conversion have taken place, an habitual desire prevails to glorify God in the body and in the spirit, which are God's.

The preface of our collect having mentioned the diffusion of evangelical light through the world by the preaching of St. Paul, who by the wonderful circumstances of his conversion was Divinely prepared to be the instrument of spreading it, we proceed to pray that we may be made thankful in the recollection of his conversion, as the means of salvation to ourselves and to thousands of our fellow-sinners. And is there not a cause for thankfulness in the recital which we make? Can any thanksgivings of ours compensate for the benefit bestowed ? The

personal ministry of the Apostle, extended as it probably was to our own distant shores,* where we may believe that he planted the tree of life among druidical groves besmeared with the blood of human victims which our forefathers had shed for the purpose of expiating their sins: this demands incessant praise on our own account, as well as on that of millions now in glory, gathered by his labours from the east,

* See Bishop Stillingfleet's Origines Britannicæ, p. 37, 38, 39.

and the west, the north and the south. But the blessing derivable from his invaluable writings claims perhaps equal if not louder strains of gratitude from us. For who is there among the faithful, that has not been enlightened, quickened, and edified by the Epistles of St. Paul ?an invaluable treasure, which St. Ambrose and St. Jerom compare to the land of Canaan flowing with milk and honey.

" Which epistle,” saith the former of these fathers, is it not whiter “ than milk, sweeter than honey? St. Paul's “ epistles, as the breasts of the church, afford « nourishment unto salvation."

We proceed to pray that we may manifest our thankfulness by following the holy doctrine which St. Paul taught. Would our prescribed limits permit us to pursue it, a large field of inquiry is here opened before us; since the doctrine of St. Paul is co-extensive with the system of revealed truth. But we must content ourselves with observing, that the two points of Divinity on which our Apostle has particularly enlarged, are the fall and the redemption; the lost state of man by nature, and his recovery by Jesus Christ. In his discussion of these cardinal doctrines, to which he was led by their intrinsic importance and the opposition which was made to them by heretical opinions, he has particularly enlarged on the doctrine of justification by faith only; which appears, both from the consequence which the Apostle has given to it in his writings, and from the experience of every awakened conscience, to be the foundation-stone of the fabric of vital Christianity. An error here distracts the whole building from its perpendicularity, and endangers its fall.

It may be remarked that our church, by this petition of her collect, maintains the high inportance of doctrinal accuracy, in opposition to those who assert that orthodoxy of opinion is a matter of small moment so that the conduct be correct. Our church gives no sanction to the false candour of such persons as whitewash an utter indifference to Scripture-truth by giving to it the prostituted name of charity. An enlightened understanding and a rectified judginent respecting the essentials of Christian doctrine are prerequisites to a sound experience and a holy practice. In the construction of the sacred tabernacle and temple, the utmost care was peremptorily required in order that every thing might be made exactly conformable to the model which was exhibited to Moses in the mount. For, as those edifices and their furniture were typical, and illustrative of gospel truth, a mistake in their formation might have misled men to the ruin of their souls. And surely no less caution is necessary in the accommodation of our doctrinal views to the Scripture model, since our salvation is suspended on a cordial belief of those articles which constitute the gospel of Christ. (Mark xvi. 16.)

The doctrine of St. Paul is called " holy

doctrine,” because holiness is the genuine effect which results from the doctrines of grace. The doctrine of justification by faith only, as maintained by St. Paul in his epistles to the Romans and Galatians, as copied in the articles of our church, and as transfused throughout her liturgy, is “ the doctrine according to God- liness.

It is emphatically " holy," for there is no true holiness except what is produced by it; the semblance of piety which is consistent

with self-righteousness being essentially defective.

To follow this “ holy doctrine" is to seek an accurate acquaintance with it, cordially to embrace it, and practically to adorn it.

This is the daily business of a Christian. Thus and thus only can we maintain peace in our consciences, honour God in our lives, enjoy His consolations in our deaths, and be prepared for admission to His presence after death. May this be the daily employment both of the writer and reader of these pages! May both be enabled to “hold the mystery of the faith in a pure “ conscience,”, “ through Jesus Christ our 56 Lord. Amen."

[ocr errors]

THE PRESENTATION OF CHRIST IN THE TEMPLE,
COMMONLY CALLED, THE PURIFICATION

OF ST. MARY THE VIRGIN.

Almighty and everliving God, we humbly beseech thy Majesty, that as thy only begotten Son was this da y presented in the temple in substance of our flesh; so we may be presented unto thee with pure and clean hearts, by the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

M

R. Wheatly has remarked, that " whereas

some churches keep four holy-days in memory of the blessed Virgin, viz. the Nativity, the Annunciation, the Purification, and the Assumption ; our church keeps only two, viz. the Annunciation and Purification, which, though they may have some relation to the blessed Virgin, do yet more peculiarly belong to our Saviour."-or The Purification is principally observed in memory of our Lord's being made manifest in the flesh, when He was presented in the temple.”

The collect for this occasion consists of two parts-An introduction reciting a remarkable circumstance in the life of our Lord-And a prayer founded on that recital.

By an ordinance of the Jewish law, every woman, after her delivery of a child, was esteemed unclean for a certain number of days, at the termination of which she was required to offer a lamb for a burnt-offering, and a young pigeon or dove for a sin-offering. If through poverty she was unable to afford a lamb, in that

« PreviousContinue »