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necessary for his restoration to the Divine favour, image, and presence. By faith in Him his conscience is delivered from guilt, and his heart from the love and power of sin : the former enjoys peace which passeth all understanding, and the latter is filled with the love of God shed abroad therein by the Holy Ghost given unto him. Thenceforward a state of intercourse, and an interchange of such tokens of affection as each party is able to bestow, commence. An alternate succession of donation and reception, of kindness and gratitude, of liberality and obedient love, occupy the interval between conversion and glorification, when the friendship, thus begun, will be consummated for ever.
But it may be asked, If “ Christ has made
peace by the blood of His cross,” if the cause of hostility be thereby removed, where is the propriety of praying for peace? Is not this petition superfluous and absurd?-Let the conscious mind solve the question ; for it will have an auswer ready. It will reply that, although a basis be laid for peace with God in the atonement and righteousness of Immanuel, so that God can be just and yet the justifier of liim that believeth in Jesus, yet is the work of God the Holy Ghost necessary to the ratification of peace between God and the soul; that although, through the agency of the Divine Spirit, the conscience be awakened to a conviction of its want of peace with God, the value of the blessing and a desire after it, yet His further agency is necessary to the pacification of the troubled bosom; and that, although some glimpses of heavenly consolation may have cheared the heart, it can only be maintained hy continual irradiation from the Sun of
righteousness. A perfect and uninterrupted acquiescence in the work of Jesus is an attainment in the life of faith to which few persons have arrived, and which can only be preserved by the power of God.
It is not a transient taste only, but a ceaseless enjoyment of friendship with God, for which all the genuine members of our church pray. Nothing short thereof can satisfy an awakened soul. It pants for an ability to say,
Thy constant quiet fills my peaceful breast "With unmixt joy, uninterrupted rest."*
But is so great a blessing to be expected in this imperfect state? Is it not presumption to hope for it? St. Paul prayed on behalf of the Thessalonians, that the God of peace Himself "would give them peace always by all means." The Apostle has therefore sanctioned, by his own example, our petition for "peace all the. days of our life." And, if God grant our request, no afflictive circumstances which may arise through life, nor even the approach of death itself will be able to deprive us of the blessing He bestows.
It is carefully to be observed that, as all our supplications must be presented in the name of our great high Priest; so this blessing in particular can only flow to us "Through Jesus
Christ our Lord." It is the purchase of His blood, and derived to the penitent soul by way of union with Him. It is described as " peace "in believing;" because the exercise of faith is essential to the enjoyment of it, and it must ebb or flow as faith in the Son of God is more or less vigorous.
Let the church of England-worshipper inquire, if he hath been sincere in the use of this collect? whether his heart has concurred with his lips in praying for peace with God? The tenderness of his conscience will afford a test of his sincerity. For if the spirit which our collect breathes prevail within him, it shews itself by a cautions solicitude to avoid whatever might become offensive to God, and prove the
, means of interrupting that peace with God for which he prays.
A vigilant circumspection, with respect both to the heart and conduct, is maintained; and a delicacy of mind towards the whole will of God is cultivated, which may be illustrated by that with which a virtuoso handles the wing of a butterfly, whose downy plumage he is afraid of injuring by the least rudeness of touch. Is the reader conscious of a consistency between his prayers and the temper of his soul; or does this criterion detect the concealed hypocrisy of his soul? Let him examine himself, remembering that peace with God is as the one thing needfiil” to an immortal and responsible being in life, in death, and throughout eternity,
THE THIRD SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY.
Almighty and everlasting God, mercifully look upon our infirmities, and in all our dangers and nesessities stretch forth thy right-hand to help and defend us, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
HIS collect consists of two petitions, which we shall review in their natural order. The act of adoration with which it commences, is the same which occurs in the preceding collect. And as the observations which have been already made on the Divine attributes that are introduced in the one, are equally applicable to their station and connection in the other, it will be unnecessary to repeat them. It will be sufficient therefore to observe here, that we address God as being "Almighty and "Everlasting" for the purpose of shewing our devout reverence of His sacred majesty, and of deriving to ourselves encouragement in prayer from the mention of these awful and glorious attributes.
In the first petition we implore a merciful regard to our infirmities, the propriety of which prayer will be felt by every worshipper who is acquainted with himself. For our infirmities are very many, and very great; too many to be enumerated, too great to admit an adequate description. They are such as render us objects of pity in whatever view we are considered, whether as animals, as reasonable creatures, or
as Christian believers. No animal that creeps on the face of the earth, that flies in the air, or that swims in the water, is so infirm, and dependent on extrinsecal aid, as man. None is liable to so many diseases, accidents, wants, and miseries. Though
- the creature” in general has lost its original beauty and felicity, and “is made subject to vanity" and wretchedness in a variety of forms; yet man as the only transgressor is the principal •sufferer. Though “the bondage of corruption” is heavy on all the creatures; yet man feels the galling chain most severely.
“The whole creation groans;” but man, its earthly lord, groang most deeply. As reasonable creatures, we have indeed a prerogative above others; but it is one which exposes us, through its infirmities, to trials, wants, and miseries, of which they are unconscious. It is, however, as Christian believers that our infirmities are most numerous and painful.
Our infirmities, then, on which we implore pity, are twofold; those of our bodies, and those of our souls. And the aggregate forms a mass of weakness and misery which, were it duly felt, would be productive of constant selfloathing and self-abasement.
Of our corporeal infirmities we may say that their “ name is legion for they are many. Who is competent to an enumeration of all the diseases and maladies to which the human frame, from its complex texture, is liable? An age would be insufficient merely to name the various dismal accidents, to which it is exposed. And though no single individual is experimentally acquainted with more than a very few of either; yet the memoirs of man constitute, in