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wrath. Oh, how awful a state! May they come and implore pardon of their offended Sovereign, and swear allegiance to Him.
Let the nature of genuine Godliness be gathered from our collect. It is a supreme regard to God. All who are without it are ungodly. They are of the world, and will perish with the world.
THE THIRD SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY.
O Lord, we beseech thee mercifully to hear usy and grant that we, to whom thou hast given an hearty desire to pray, may by thy mighty aid be defended and comforted in all dangers and necessities, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
RAYER is the key which opens the repo
the armoury of heaven. It is the bolt which excludes the thief and the robber, the stormy wind and tempest. It is “ the outlet of trouble,
and the inlet of consolation."
The advantages, however, which result from prayer, vast and manifest as they are, lie concealed from the world. But they are known to a favoured few, the genuine members of Christ's holy catholic church, to whom the secret of true happiness hath been disclosed. “ The mysterious commerce of the human soul “ with the Divine Spirit” is that “ secret of the “ Lord which is with them who fear Him."
In the work of prayer, as in every other act of the Divine life, « all is of God, who hath “reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ.” It is His “ Spirit that helpeth our infirmities; “ for we know not what we should pray for as “ we ought: but the Spirit Himself maketh “ intercession for us with groanings which can“ not be uttered." In our natural state, while we continue « sensual, not having the Spirit," we feel no spiritual necessities, and are conscious VOL. II,
of no spiritual desires. A dead body has no wants, no sensations; and a soul that is “ dead “ in trespasses and sins" is equally void of spiritual sensibility. And even after that we have been “ quickened to newness of life," so great is our ignorance, that although we are become conscious of many and pressing needs, know that there is a provision made for their supply, and have learned from whence and in what manner relief is to be derived; yet “ we know not “ what to pray for as we ought.” Left to ourselves, we should make requests, a compliance with which would prove injurious to our own souls and dishonourable to God, as children often prefer petitions to their parents which cannot be granted. Our ignorance respects not only the blessings which we implore, but also the manner of seeking relief. Our infirmities are many and great. Sometimes guilt stops the mouth. Sometimes trouble overwhelms the spirit. Sometimes worldly cares distract the mind. And sometimes languor or obduracy disqualifies us for drawing near to God.
It is happy for the people of God hat “the
Spirit helpeth their infirmities and maketh “ intercession for them;" and they know it. He discovers our spiritual wants, awakens our sensibilities, kindles our desires, exhibits to our view the throne of grace sprinkled with atoning blood, creates and increases faith, and enables us to cry, “ Abba, Father."
" Abba, Father.” The emotion of holy desire within us is His “ intercession for
And those fervent desires which He kindles are sometimes productive of inexpressible groans; the desire is too big and strong for utterance by words. But the groan of unutterable desire is clearly intelligible to the Searcher
of hearts, who “ knoweth what is the mind of “ the Spirit” whose language it is; and it cannot be unsuccessful.
Our collect for the third Sunday after Trinity opens with a petition for a favourable audience to our prayers. It is the language of a humble and fervent spirit which hath nothing but mercy to plead, and which is earnest in pleading mercy through Jesus Christ. We have had occasion to notice such general requests in former collects. We shall now therefore only observe that they correspond with the sensibilities of all awakened persons whose petitions are the language of their hearts, and the expressions of real wants which they feel. Nothing can satisfy them but the possession of the desired good, and till that is obtained they renew their supplications. Formalists may satisfy themselves by paying a tribute of outward homage to the Divine Majesty. Their prayers mean nothing more. They are conscious of no wants nor desires; and it is no wonder if such persons censure the tautology of our Common Prayer-Book. But the Divinely instructed soul will understand why we recur. again and again to the same subject, and will approve such tautologous cries of the broken and contrite heart. Till we arrive at our journey's end, our progress must be maintained by an uninterrupted succession of steps. Till we reach the desired haven, we must repeat the stroke of the oar, without complaining of lassitude from the continuation of the action.
Qur collect proceeds to make a specific request for « defence and comfort in all dangers and “ necessities,” describing the persons on whose behalf the request is made.
That the people of God are exposed to many and great dangers and necessities, needs no proof. And as in the review of former collects this subject has been brought before us, shall not again dwell on its illustration. But let not our Liturgy be censured for vain repetitions. Who would blame a drowning man for reiterating his cry for help, or a starving beggar for frequent references to his inward pangs? The hearer, who in safety and satiety could condemn the one or the other, would justly be considered as a senseless wretch whose heart is made of brass or adamant. The experience of every awakened person will afford the necessary comment on this part of our collect; to others no comment could convey its meaning. For a man who is asleep may, like Jonah, be in the very jaws of the most imminent perils without any consciousness of his awful situation. But our collect is designed exclusively for the use of those who have heard the rousing call, 66 Awake “ thou that sleepest and arise from the dead," by which they have been excited to spiritual perception. Those favoured persons who s have their senses exercised to discern both “ good and evil,” know that they are surrounded, both in body and soul, by many and great
dangers and adversities” in which God only can defend and comfort them.
That we have no means of defence to which we can resort, no source of comfort from which we can derive relief, independent of the throne of grace, is another truth which needs no formal confirmation by argument. The gracious soul
* See the Collects for the Third Sunday after the Epiphany, and for the Second Sunday in Lent.