« AnteriorContinuar »
understanding of his hearers, and recommends to their rational approbation, the services which the church provides for the celebration of public worship. It is undeniably important that the congregation should understand the meaning, and feel the force of what they so frequently hear and repeat-what is designed to be an exercise of rational piety, and a means of growth in grace, and in the knowledge of Jesus Christ. It will not be apprehended by any one who is at all acquainted with our liturgy, that while a minister is commenting on its contents he will be led to neglect or forego any of the general purposes of preaching. The doctrines of Christianity are so universally diffused through the whole of the services of our church, and so inextricably interwoven with the whole of their texture, that a competent description of only those portions which are in daily use, would comprise all the truths which are important to be believed, and a delineation of almost every duty which belongs to the system of Christian morality; and would exemplify. the nature and requisites of devotion in all its branches of petition, confession, deprecation, praise, and thanksgiving. In short, it would afford an opportunity of saying almost every thing which a minister of the gospel ought to teach, and which a hearer of the gospel ought to learn. But for the sake of requisite brevity, we must forbear the further prosecution of this subject. It is, we confess, a favourite one with us, and we feel inclined to prolong the discussion; but we are aware that the persons, for whose consideration the foregoing remarks are particularly intended, are abundantly able to pursue the subject which we
have just briefly suggested; and that if it be considered with the attention it demands, they will need no aid to enable them to discern the expedience of the measure we have recommended, and no persuasion to dispose them to adopt it."
LITURGY OF THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND
THE FIRST SUNDAY IN ADVENT.
Almighty God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life (in which thy Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility) that, in the last day, when He shall come again in His glorious majesty to judge both the quick and dead, we may rise to the life immortal, through Him who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, now and ever. Amen.
HE church commences her year, and re
news her service, at this season. She follows not the motion of the natural sun, but the course of the sun of righteousness; and begins her calendar with the dawn of that day which shall never close. *
The days of Advent are preparatory to the Nativity of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. They have both a retrospective and a prospective scope. They carry us back in meditation
to that important æra, when God incarnate
came to visit us in great humility,” and they conduct us forward to “the last day, when He " shall come again in his glorious majesty to
judge both the quick and dead.” The col. lects, epistles, and gospels, appointed for this season, refer to this twofold advent of Christ, and are designed to prepare our hearts, by previous meditation thereon, for a devout and rational commemoration of the approaching festival of Christmas. Happy are those persons who, under the admirable discipline of our church, are thus training up for the life im66 mortal.”
The precise time, when the days of Advent were first observed, is not known. We are however sure that they are of very great antiquity, and that the church has kept them for nearly fourteen hundred years,
The collect, appointed for the first Sunday in Advent, is one of those few forms which the compilers of our liturgy added to what they copied from the primitive liturgies. It was first inserted in the former book of King Edward the VI. in the year 1549. If the reader wishes for a more detailed account of this and other liturgical matters, he will derive much satisfaction from a perusal of Wheatly on the Book of Common Prayer, to which he is referred, as it is the design of these essays to be rather practical than curious.
This beautiful collect, which has excited devout affections in the bosoms of thousands, and cannot be read attentively without benefit to a pious mind, is an act of supplication for the aid of Divine “grace,” and specifies a double object for which we implore it, the one mediate