Imágenes de páginas

introduced by our Lord from the LXX version, on which the second part of the preface of our collect seems to be founded; God's "praise" was indeed "perfected" by this display of His wisdom and power. "The weak things of God "were made to confound the strong," while these martyred children became, as it were, the first witnesses of Christ, and were enabled to


glorify Him by their deaths." The prophecy had, however, a further relation to the triumphs of the apostles and the other preachers and martyrs of Christianity over all the power of bell, and all the opposition of Jews and Gentiles, by the word of God; which, with the simplicity of children, and weak in themselves as infants, they published to the world.

The number of children massacred by Herod cannot now be ascertained. The Greeks in their menology, and the Ethiopians in their liturgy, affirm that they amounted to fourteen thousand.* Whether they were fewer or more, with what acclamations of praise were the souls of these first witnesses of Jesus, "the first fruits "unto God and to the Lamb," received by the choir round the throne! And with what transports of joy must they themselves,. on their introduction to the mansions of glory, have hailed Him who had put so great an honour on them; had rescued them, at so early an age, from a defiled and defiling world; had spared

king was dead. Antipater, hearing this, thought Herod was expired, and endeavoured to persuade his guards to liberate him; but the officer who had the charge of him, went and gave notice of it to Herod, who commanded him to be killed immediately. He survived his son but five days."-Calmet, Surely it is "a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God!"

Calmet's Dictionary.

them from the experience of those anxieties and troubles, of which flesh is heir; and had crowned them with victory and glory, before they had voluntarily girded on the armour of the Christian warfare !

But the words of the Psalmist, with their comment in our collect, may be taken in a more general sense. For God is glorified by the sufferings and death of all infants, as well as of those who fell in the immediate cause of Christ. His awful attributes of justice, holiness, and truth, are magnified in causing those to feel the fatal consequences of sin, “ who have not sinned " after the similitude of Adam's transgression," by the actual commission of it, but who are all ss born in sin and children of wrath, and are thereby exposed to the just punishment of sin. And His milder attribute of mercy is also glorified in pardoning and saving, through the blood of His dear Son, the souls of all those who, having been admitted by the outward sign of circumcision or baptism into His church on earth, have been graciously removed from it before they could dissolve its bond or forfeit its privileges. “ For it is certain by God's word, so that children which are baptised, dying before “ they commit actual sin, are undoubtedly “ saved.”* And it is also to be hoped, that all who die in infancy, even though unbaptized, are washed from original sin in the fountain opened for sin and for uncleanness, and admitted to the beatific vision; for our Lord says in general terms, that “ of such is the kingdom of heaven.”

Let not the bereaved mother then, who is sorrowing over the corpse of a beloved child, even though it be her first-born or her only son, * See the Rubric at the end of the Public Baptism of Infants.

sorrow as those that have no hope. Let not Rachel weep for her children and refuse to be comforted because they are not, even though they should all be taken from her. For she shall go to them, though they shall not return to her. Her sorrow, if immoderate, is selfish and criminal. The fruit of her womb is eternally provided for by: Him, who died to save sinners; and who has said, claiming His purchased property, "Father, "I will that they also whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am, that they may behold "my glory." What can we wish for on behalf of our children but this consummation of Christian hope? And shall we repine at the dispensations of a kind providence for lodging them, before they become capable of actual sin, or of feeling what we ourselves feel, in the bosom of eternal peace? Surely, it must have been à consideration of the character of his ungodly son, and a fear respecting his final doom, and not the mere loss of his society which he had sustained, that made David with such bitterness of soul exclaim, "O "my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom : "would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my "son, my son!" Had Absalom died in his infancy, what sharp pangs would David have escaped!


We now proceed to consider the prayer, which is founded on the introductory recital of that act of Omnipotence, whereby God "ordained strength ❝out the mouths of babes and sucklings, and "made infants to glorify him by their deaths." This prayer consists of two petitions: the first, for the gradual mortification and final extinction of sin in our own souls; and the second, for the promotion of the Divine glory by our lives and by our deaths.

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Sin receives a mortal stab, when regenerating grace is given to the soul, of which it never re

But the hydra-headed monster survives the stroke, and is, alas ! often lively and active after it. For “all we (although baptised and " born again in Christ) yet offend in many things; “and if we say that we have no sin, we deceive " ourselves and the truth is not in us."*::

Our depravities are innumerable; and every vice, even that to which we are least addicted, is too strong for the most advanced Christian to resist by his own might. · Timidity does not seem to have been Peter's besetting sin'; for courage appears to have been characteristic of his general conduct. Yet, when left to himself, even this unsuspected evil got the complete mastery over him. It is therefore necessary, that we should earnestly and continually implore the exertion of Omnipotence for the gradual destruction of the vital qualities and active powers of corruption, and for the final annihilation of " sin that dwelleth “ in us.” Unless almighty influence be incessantly vouchsafed, we find sin reviving in forms which we perhaps had thought to be extinct, and gaining an ascendancy which we had deemed impossible to be resumed.

The prayer which is here offered, can be sincerely used by none but renewed souls. For no other persons can really wish for the mortification and destruction of all vices. The unawakened breast is unconscious of those depravities, which swarm within it, and feels no desire for deliverance from them. On the contrary, like a diseased body, it feeds and nourishes those worms which are preying on its vitals and destroying its life. Let

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* Article 15.

the reader ask himself, whether it be the earnest desire of his heart, that God would "mortify and "kill all vices" in him? Is there no Agag which is screened, under some false pretence, from the sword of just vengeance? Are there no inordinate affections which are indulged, while hypocritical prayers for their crucifixion pass over the lips? Many observable circumstances betray the hypocrisy of some confident professors of Godliness. To them the question which Samuel proposed to Saul, when the latter boasted of his intire obedience to the Divine will, may be repeated with a little alteration. "If you are the true dis"ciples of Christ, and sincere in the use of our "collect; what mean these evil tempers, this co"vetousness, this censoriousness, this conformity "to the world, &c. which daily offend our eyes "and ears?" If our prayers be sincere, our conduct will join issue with them.

It is the earnest wish of every true convert to Christianity, that he may be endued with "in"nocency of life," to the end that God may be thereby glorified, and "the doctrine of God his "Saviour adorned in all things." But this he knows to be unattainable without the strengthening grace of God, which he therefore fervently implores.

Innocency, in the Scriptural sense of the word, frequently means no more than a freedom from allowed sin, an uprightness of heart producing an outward conduct universally conformed to the Divine law as to the extent of the obedience which is paid to it, though deficient in the degree of purity required by it. As instances of this use of the word, the following passages may be consulted: Gen. xx. 5. Ps. xxvi. 6. Dan. vi. 22. Hosea viii. 5. In this modified sense is the word

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