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It is supposed that those who use our collect are earnestly solicitous to “ please God both in “ will and deed by keeping His commandments." Doth the reader's conscience bear witness that such a desire is predominant within him? It is felt only by those who “ love much because
much hath been forgiven them.” The believing sinner only, who has “ tasted that the Lord is “ gracious,” is conscious of this holy solicitude. For others, if they will speak the truth, must own that a repugnance to the will of God reigns in their bosoms, and that their carnal minds are “ enmity against God.” They are indifferent to His approbation, except indeed so far as they are influenced by a fear of punishment. To Divine love they are utter strangers. A “testimony that
they please God” is by no means necessary to their happiness, for they are seeking it in selfgratification and the applause of the world; and therefore they go on from day to day without any inquiry whether they please God or not. But the genuine members of our church ardently long to please God both in will and deed by an unreserved, universal, and cordial obedience to His commandments. To. “ walk worthy of the Lord “ unto all pleasing” is the holy ambition of their souls.
That we cannot keep God's commandments, so as to please Him either in will or deed, without the help of His grace, is well known to all who are taught of God and are seeking to be conformed to His holy law. They know that they are crippled in all their faculties: that all their powers are palsied in consequence of the fall. God commands us to repent; and it is certain that we cannot please Him without an habitual spirit of penitence. But is the exercise of repentance in our own power? No; it is declared to be the gift of Christ, who is “ exalted to be a “ Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance and “ remission of sin." - Turn thou us unto thy
self, O Lord, and we shall be turned,” is therefore a suitable prayer for our use. We are also required to believe the gospel; for this “is God's " commandment,” emphatically so called, “ that “ we should believe in the name of His Son Jesus “ Christ :” and it is certain that “ without faith “it is impossible to please God.” But faith, both in its rise and progress, is “of the operation “ of God.” “It is given us to believe,” if we do indeed believe the gospel of Christ. Obedience to God's will, as it is revealed in His loly law, is also our duty, and is essential to a state of communion with Him, as the effect of faith and the evidence of acceptance. But "the way of man is « not in himself; it is not in man that walketh to “ direct his steps" aright. God must “work in “ us both to will and to do of His good pleasure.
It is to be observed that a genuine Christian is not contented with “the form" without “the power “ of Godliness,”—with exterior decency and morality without interior rectitude of heart ; for he implores the help of God's “grace that he may “ please Him both in will and deed.” And it is further observable that he puts the will before the deed, well knowing that no action can be approved by God which does not proceed from love to His name and zeal for His glory. Many actions may be formally good, which are essentially bad; as, for instance, a man may “give so all his goods to feed the poor and his body to « be burned,” and yet be destitute of charity or love to God. The law of God is spiritual, and extends to motives as well as acts. "Thou shalt “ love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and “ with all thy mind, and with all thy soul, and os with all thy strength.”
O what need has every reader to pray for the help of God's grace, when he considers, not only the defects of his practice, but also the remaining obliquity of his will! The conscious sinner will join heartily in the petition of our collect. But, alas, how many persons, who unite in our service and adopt our forms, have no desire to please God! If they pay any respect to God's commandments, it is only to such an extent as they suppose to be absolutely necessary for the purpose of avoiding punishment. The motive of their spiritless and unconnected duties is fear and not love. And hence their obedience (if the name may be prostituted by an application to such a tissue of folly) is partial and limited. O fatal mistake, to suppose that the reluctant duties which terror imposes can be acceptable to God ! Till the will be renewed, no attempts to obey the law of God can please Him. Conversion of heart is essential to salvation. For nothing else can qualify us for the service of God on earth, or for His presence in heaven.
It may be asked, Is it possible for a believer, in the present state of imperfection, to “ walk "worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing ?” A Christian will aim at it; and under the influence of desire to accomplish it, he will pray earnestly for “the help of God's grace.
And while he thus proves his sincerity, his earnest endeavour will please God “through Jesus Christ our Lord,” whose blood cleanseth from all sin, and the mantle
of whose righteousness covers all the defects which the eye of infinite purity must discover in human obedience. It is our comfort to be assured that, “if any man sin, we have an advocate with of the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He ** is the propitiation for our sins.”
THE SECOND SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY.
O Lord, who never failest to help and govern them whom thou dost bring up in thy steadfast fear and love; keep us, we beseech thee, under the protection of thy good providence, and make us to huve a perpetual fear and love of thy holy name, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
ODLINESS is a supreme and habitual re
gard to God in the heart and life. It consists of many branches; for “our duty towards “ God is to believe in Him, to fear Him, and to “ love Him, with all our heart, mind, soul, and “ strength, to worship Him, to give Him thanks, “ to put our whole trust in Him, to call upon “ Him, to honour His holy name and His word, “ and to serve Him truly all the days of our “ lives." Each of these characteristic qualities of the Godly soul implies the others, for neither of them can exist in solitude and without the rest. They are therefore used in Scripture singly and separately as descriptive of the people of God, soinetiines one' and sometimes another being adopted.
In our collect two of these distinctive properties of the saints are introduced. They are described as fearing and loving God. If the reader be of the number, he may confidently say with the Psalmist, “ The Lord is my Shepherd, there“ fore shall I want nothing; for God never fails “ to help and govern them whom He doth bring up
in His steadfast fear and love."