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THE FIRST SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY.
O God, the strength of all them that put their trust in thee, mercifully accept our prayers; and because, through the weakness of our mortal nature, we can do no good thing without thee, grant us the help of thy grace, that in keeping thy commandments we may please thee both in will and deed, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
N the 15th chapter of St. John's gospel our
Lord illustrates by a beautiful parable the nature, necessity, and effects of that mystical union which subsists between Himself and all those who believe on His name. The drift of His parable is plainly expounded, and the scope of His discourse brought to a point, in the 5th verse, where He says, “Without me ye
can do nothing."
On this declaration of our blessed Lord, our collect for the first Sunday after Trinity seems to be founded. It contains-An act of adoration, appropriate to the subject of the prayer which follows it---An act of supplication for a favourable audience of our prayers A confession of personal helplessness And a petition for grace, specifying the end for which it is im, plored.
The design of that act of adoration with which our collect opens is twofold, the promo
of God's glory, and the encouragement of
our own souls in the arduous work of prayer to which we are about to address ourselves by the consideration which is suggested. Blessed be God, that these two objects may be combined ! For His glory might have been secured, while our souls were left a prey to despair. But the scheme of redemption has rendered the glory of God compatible with our comfort; nay, it has so united the salvation of His people with His own honour that they cannot be put asunder. In Christ Jesus "mercy and truth are met to
gether, righteousness and peace have kissed « each other."
The glorification of His own great name, or the display of His own adorable perfections, is, and must ever be the grand aim and supreme end of all the works of God. And as redemption is the chief of all His works, the stupendous object which from eternity occupied the Divine mind, as it is the main building to which creation and providence are to be considered only as a scaffolding, God expects to derive from this principal work of His hands a larger income of glory than from all His other operations. The just claim which God makes of all the honour resulting from the scheme of salvation should be continually in our remembrance. And as His gracious design with respect to ourselves is only so far promoted as we are induced and constrained to ascribe our whole salvation to Him, we should be very watchful against the pride of our own fallen hearts, against the self-righteousness and the self-sufficiency which are natural to us, and from which, in a greater or less degree, the most humble are not exempt. To employ our lips as monitors and remembrancers of our forgetful hearts is the part of wisdom. And this we do in the preface of our present collect. And this solemn act of adoration in which we now engage will be prolonged by the church of the redeemed to all eternity ; when “the voice of many angels round about the “ throne, and the beasts, and the elders, (the “ number of whom will be ten thousand times “ ten thousand, and thousands of thousands) “shall be heard, saying with a loud voice, (And Oh, that our voices may be mingled with theirs !)
Worthy is the Lamb that was slain “ to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, “ and strength, and honour, and glory, and “ blessing
If God has bestowed His grace on us, we shall ascribe glory to Him; and as we ascribe to Him the glory of His own grace, He will confer more upon us.
Our own encouragement in the arduous work of
prayer is another object proposed in the preface of our collect. The work of prayer may truly be called an arduous work, when it is considered as an exercise of faith in God's promises, and an emanation of desire after spiritual blessings. For to believe the promises of God so as to expect their accomplishment, under conviction of sin and a consciousness of guilt, is difficult indeed. And so great is the natural torpor and carnality of our affections, that the exertion of spiritual desire is not more easy. If prayer consisted in the recital of words, there would be no need of seeking encouragement in its performance. But if it chiefly consist in spiritual hunger and thirst, and if motives thereto can only be derived from the gratuitous mercy of God, the necessity of having recourse to every mean of encouragement which is afforded us must be evident to the true supplicant,
We approach the throne of grace for the purpose of inploring “strength.” And we ensiven our hopes of success by considering that “God” is the strength of all them that put “ their trust in Him." He hath engaged in the faithful promises of His word to “give strength, “ to His people,” to be “a strength to the poor,
a strength to the needy in his distress." He hath proved Himself faithful to these promises in the experience of all who have ever trusted in Him, and He is “the same yesterday, and “to-day, and for ever." • In the Lord Jeho“ vah is everlasting strength;" and the common boast of His people hath been, under every circumstance of trial and of personal weakness and unworthiness, “In the Lord have I righteous“ ness and strength."
It may be asked, What do we ascribe to God when we address Him as “the strength of all “ them who' put their trust in Him?" This question may be answered by the proposal of another; For what purposes do those that trust “ in Him” want “ strength?". Are they surrounded by temptations which of themselves they are unable to resist? Are they the subjects of corruption which they are unable to mortify? Are they exposed to trials which they are unable to bear? Are they engaged in multifarious
uties which they are unable to perform ? Have they a long and difficult course to run in which they cannot persevere by any exertion of personal ability ? For all these and a thousand other subordinate purposes which might be mentioned, the Christian believer needs extrinsecal strength. And what he needs, in all its extent, is to be found in God and to be derived from Him. They “who wait upon the Lord shall
“ renew their strength; they shall mount up “ with wings as eagles, they shall run and not “ be weary, and they shall walk and not faint."
But who are those persons that may expect to derive strength from God, its only and inexhaustible source? The character of those favoured persons is drawn in our collect. «All « who put their trust in Him” are intitled by His gracious promises to expect from Him allsufficient help. Faith, consisting in self-renun, ciation and a reliance on His grace, is that Divine principle which gives to fallen man an interest in the promises, enables him to plead them, and qualifies him for receiving promised blessings. It qualifies him for receiving them, pot by implanting in his soul inherent worthiness, nor by furnishing him with any plea of personal merit; but by emptying him of his own wisdom, righteousness, and strength, it prepares him for giving a welcome to needful benefits as freely bestowed “ without money and without
price. Our natural faculties are all like to the withered arm of the man who applied to our Lord for help. They are rendered by our fall utterly useless in any spiritual act that is required of us. But faith draws virtue from Omnipotence. It credits the promise of God; and, as it opens a communication between Omnipotence and the soul, the soul is endued with new vigour, and enabled for the performance of those spiritual acts which are the proofs of justification and a preparation for glory.
In the recital of the collect before us those who adopt it profess to “put their trust in God." But do we indeed rely exclusively on Him? Let 1 scrutinize the sensibilities of our hosoins,
us examine the habitual frame of our hearts.