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to a feast will go knowing that amidst a variety of dishes he will be sure to find some to suit him. And this is one of the innumerable advantages of " a form of sound words," that the hungering and thirsting worshipper knows what the nature of the food, and the feast that shall be spread before him, is : he has tasted and found it wholesome nourishing bread before, and knows therefore if he carry an appetite with him he shall find it so again. He cannot come starving, or disgusted go away: which under the best of circumstances he can never know whose devotions are dependent upon what the shifting frames and feelings of any child of Adam, (be he Minister never so gifted, or man never so graced,) may influence him to utter at the moment; and that though he may at one season (when that Minister, that man, be endued with the Spirit from on high,) find that food which is strengthening and refreshing, and go on his way rejoicing; yet at another season, if so be (as it must be granted that all Ministers, all men, may be) that Minister, that man, be in frame indevout, in affection cold, in understanding clouded, he may come away empty, nauseated and starved, while his own appetite was craving food. But so it cannot be here. The Minister's frame may be indevout, his affections may be cold, his understanding may be clouded, but the feast is still the same, the food as nourishing as ever, and none that hath the appetite can go empty away.
The service opens with the sentences taken out of holy Scripture, intended (like the bells on Aaron's garments) to stir up devotion, and toll all into God's house. The whole consists of two notes especiallyMan's misery, and God's mercy; teaching us the
spirit in which the worshipper should approach God; with such a view of his own sinfulness as should fill him with the deepest humility and reverence; and at the same time such a view of God's infinite mercy in Christ as may prevent any thing like despair. Cyprian (A. D. 248) observed, that the early pastors of the Church prepared people's hearts to pray by a devout preface. And our Reformers seem to have felt with the Psalmist, that "God is greatly to be feared in the assemblies of his saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that are round about him," when they selected the sentences that follow; suited as they are to the various characters that form a part of every congregation, and the various states of mind in which such characters may be supposed to be.
Next follows the exhortation,' in which the Minister embodies these texts, and seeks to prepare the minds of the congregation for what is to follow.
'Dearly beloved brethren,'-an Apostolic expression, manifesting true love for the souls of his flock. Not only as brethren, but dearly beloved.
The Scripture moveth,' &c. In those passages read already observe, that the Church Service is founded on the Scriptures.
'To acknowledge and confess,' &c. disobeying his parent is unhappy till he has acknowledged his fault; so spiritually, it is of no use to praise and pray till by confession the forgiving love is sought for.
'Not dissemble,' &c. Attempt to hide from the knowledge of God that which his eye has already It is true we cannot hide any thing, but this
we attempt to do when we confess not. He having already condemned, we must seek pardon. It is absolutely necessary if we would find his loving
favour. And what need there is for a humble, lowly, penitent, and obedient heart,' that man knows whose desire is to obtain forgiveness by his infinite mercy. Such an one will feel abased and unworthy, truly sorry for the past, and desirous of doing his will for the future.
'Although we ought at all times,'-in private, and in family, yet ought we most chiefly so to do when we assemble and meet together:'-the unnumbered sins of men,--as a parish, a church, and a nation,— ought to impress us the more deeply, the glory of our God being the more dishonoured, each man's drop making up the great ocean.
Those great benefits,'-temporal and spiritual. 'Render thanks,' for blessings vouchsafed to us as individuals, as families, as a parish, as a nation.
But we not only meet together to confess and render thanks for benefits received, but (as it should ever be in all our approaches to a throne of grace,) to set forth the praise and glory of him whom we come to worship.
'To hear his most holy word:'-a part of duty so necessary to the believer in Jesus that the Church reminds us of the same continually, and no where better placed than at the opening of her service; that we may specially regard with reverence and holy delight that all-needful gift by which we hope to be made wise unto salvation.
Again, regarding our Almighty God and heavenly Father as our Preserver and Sanctifier, as well as Creator and Redeemer of his Church, we come to ask
for further supply of nourishment both for body and soul. The past received cannot suffice, and we should do well to remember this as oft as we draw near to God, but more especially when we meet together to pray for pardon for national sins, and to ask for national blessings.
'Wherefore I pray and beseech you,' &c. Church, in her great wisdom, considering the infirmities of her children, has appointed that the Minister should here exhort the congregation fervently and advisedly to join with him in a general Confession of sin; which she has just declared to be the door of entrance, by Jesus Christ, to forgiveness of the same which the true worshipper seeks to obtain.
Fervently, I pray and beseech you.'
Advisedly, With a pure heart and humble voice.' 'A pure heart,'-"I will wash mine hands in innocency, and so will I go to thine altar, O Lord."
And humble voice.'-Man is formed of body and soul. God created man, and therefore requires that which he created, even the whole man, should serve him. It is a reasonable service. We must pray with the spirit and with the understanding also.
And whither are we invited? Unto the throne of the heavenly grace,' to the mercy-seat of our holy Lord God, where as a Father he waits to be gracious.
Application.-May we all so hear his voice speaking by his Ministers in Christ's stead, and come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain grace to help," in that special time of need, when, our hearts believing unto righteousness, we
would with the mouth make confession unto salvation. And may God of his infinite mercy grant a blessing upon the consideration of this first short portion of our beautiful Liturgy, and that we may be taught to value the high privileges of the same, for the sake of Jesus Christ. Amen.
'A large portion of the energies of the inhabitants of our country is directed to the production of luxuries; let us enquire, for a moment, to what the energies of Christians ought to be directed. "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature,” is the Saviour's last command; and it has as yet been but very partially obeyed. Britain calls herself a Christian nation; and Jesus Christ says of men, "By their fruits ye shall know them." What then are our fruits? Take this as a specimen; we bestow about forty times as much labour on the production of ardent spirits, as we bestow on the conversion of the world. Alas, for our Christianity! Does not our conduct rather indicate a nation of infidels, "lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God?" Oh! if we could form an adequate conception of the value of one human soul, (and what must be the value of hundreds of millions?) and if but one human soul were in danger of eternal misery, we would not think it too much, could its salvation be secured, though all the energies of Christians were directed to that object. The means appointed by heaven for the conversion of the world are in our possession, and the commands to apply them stand forth prominent "that he may run who readeth;"