Imágenes de páginas
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

must infallibly follow his research tune his heart and his lips to. extol redeeming grace. What compensation have we ever made? or what shall we ever be able to make? A monosyllable will answer the questions in a manner that tends to exalt the riches of Divine goodness, and to lay the reader in the dust at its footstool.

On the statement of our privileges as “ rege“ nerate and the children of God by adoption " and grace,” we found an earnest request that

we may daily be renewed by God's Holy

Spirit.” What He hath already done for us encourages our faith in an application for further favours, without which past mercy can be of no avail. Herein we imitate the conduct of the Psalmist, who expresses himself (Psalm cxxxviii. 8.) after this manner: “ The Lord will perfect " that which concerneth me: Thy mercy, O “ Lord, endureth for ever: forsake not the “ works of thine own hands."

Regeneration, as the source of new sensibilities in the fallen soul, produces new wants and new desires which were before unknown. A consciousness of inward defect, and an earnest longing for spiritual growth, are its invariable result. As the infant body instinctively aims at its own maturity, and uses the proper means for attaining it, in dependance on the care of its nurse, so doth the new-born soul. It hungers and thirsts after “the sincere milk of the word, and reposes its confidence in extrinsical help for its hourly nourishment and support.

In the new birth, as in the natural, man is passive; but, being born again, he becomes active in the work of his daily renewal by a perception and expression of his wants and necessities

[ocr errors]

He knows that the growth as well as the life of the "new creature," proceeds from the continual agency of Divine grace. The state of a Christian in the present world may therefore be more properly characterised by the word desire than by any other. Complete holiness, and its consequent felicity, are reserved for the maturity of grace in the world to come.

The progress of sanctification is gradual. For as "the only begotten Son of God" "in"creased in wisdom and stature, and in favour "both with God and man," in like manner doth the new creature " grow up to the measure "of the stature of the fulness of Christ." Faith, and hope, and love, are at first feeble and defective in resolution and constancy; but in the use of appointed means, and through the communications of Divine grace, they acquire strength; till at length the grain of mustardseed, though almost imperceptible when planted, becomes a tree of large dimensions, firmly rooted, and "fruitful in every good word and work.'

For the support and increase of life, whether vegetable or animal, a daily supply of aliment from the powers of nature is required. If the vegetable be separated from its natural soil, if it be denied the moisture it wants, or be excluded from the enjoyment of the solar rays, it of necessity languishes and dies. If an animal be deprived of vital air or suitable food, it becomes faint and life is extinguished. The regenerate soul requires a similar renewal, and can no more be supported by its own resources, than a plant could flourish in the burning desert, or an animal subsist under the exhausted receiver of an air-pump.

[ocr errors]

With what earnestness of desire then should we ask that “ we may daily be renewed by “ God's Holy Spirit,” since thereon depends our spiritual existence as regenerate persons, our comforts here, and our hope of felicity in another world! - In Him we live, and move, 66 and have our being."

Powerful is the plea by which we urge our requests; for we present our petition “ through “ the same Jesus Christ our Lord” whom God “ hath given us to take our nature upon Him “ and to be born of a pure virgin.” This unspeakable gift demonstrates the good-will of our heavenly Father towards us; and as its object was our regeneration and salvation, we know that what we ask is according to His will, while we implore “ that we may daily be renewed “ by His Holy Spirit.”

We conclude our collect with a doxology, which covers the shame of the manger and the cross with a veil of everlasting glory--a doxology which we shall not fully comprehend till we worship at the footstool of His throne, “ who liveth and reigneth with the Father and the

Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without o end." Amen.



Grant, O Lord, that in all our sufferings here upon earth for the testimony of thy truth, we may steadfastly look up to heaven, and by faith behold the glory that shall be revealed; and being filled with the Holy Ghost, may learn to love and bless our persecutors by the example of thy first martyr St. Stephen; who prayed for his murderers to thee, O Blessed Jesus, who standest at the right-hand of God, to succour all those that suffer for thee, our only Mediator and Advocate. Amen.


HOUGH the collects for the days consecrated to the memory of St. Stephen and the Holy Innocents are comparatively of a modern date, having been newly made at the Reformation, yet the observation of those days is of very early antiquity, as appears from the testimony of several very antient writers.*

It has been observed, that the ancient church denominated the day of a martyr's death his birth-day. "So Tertullian and others use the "words Natalitia and Natales," when speaking of the martyrs; "meaning not their natural "birth, but their nativity to a glorious crown

in the kingdom of heaven. The Natales or "birth-days of the Emperors often signify not "their natural but political birth-day, or the day of their inauguration to the imperial

*See Wheatly, p. 194. Oxford edit.
+ Bingham's Antiquities. B, xx, ch, vii, sect, 2.


crown. And so it was with the church: "whenever she spake of the nativities of her "martyrs, she meant not the day of their na“tural birth, but the day wherein by suffering "death they were born again to a new life, "and solemnly inaugurated to a celestial king"dom and a crown of endless glory." An ancient author says, "When they celebrated "the memorial of those holy men, they kept "not their first nativity, as being the inlet to "sorrow and temptation, but the day of their "death, as the period of their miseries, and "that which sets them beyond the reach of "temptation. We celebrate the day of their "death, because they die not even when they "seem to die."

St. Stephen has the first place assigned to him in the calendar of our church, because he was the protomartyr in the cause of Christianity.* He had the honour of being the foremost in the van of the "holy army of martyrs," and is therefore justly intitled to a precedence in our grateful commemoration of Divine mercy shewn to the church through those persons who have fought her battles and suffered for her benefit. In reviewing the collect appointed for our use on this day, we shall, first, state the circumstances on which it is founded, and to which it refers; and then, secondly, consider the petitions which we are instructed to offer for ourselves.

Christianity, on its first appearance in the world, openly avowed its hostility to the dominion of him who is styled in Scripture "the prince of this world." Its real and apparent object was the destruction of that system of


* See Wheatly, p. 194.

« AnteriorContinuar »