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The evening lesson shews the Israelites

Death and Life.

who had rebelled, returning to their allegiance SEVENTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY. and duty. David's forgiveness of Shimei, who had so grossly injured him, may illustrate God's goodness in pardoning us, who have affronted Him with far deeper injuries. The eventual fate of this rebel, 1 Kings ii. 46, teaches how cautious they should be who have received remission of great sins, lest offending again, they find judgment instead of mercy.

In the gospel we learn the spiritual nature of the service which God requires; to whom outward homage without the heart, the righteousness of the scribes and pharisees, is an abomination. It teaches also, that if we exercise not forbearance and charity towards others, God will not accept our prayers and offerings; and it shews the importance of making haste to obtain forgiveness and reconciliation when we have offended. The epistle explains the obligations of our baptism, which, as it figures a very death unto sin, and consequent freedom from its bondage, with a resurrection to newness of life, binds us to renounce all sin, and to walk consistently in holiness. And in the collect we pray for the principle of this new and spiritual life; that fervent love to God, which makes us to delight in his service, and to hate whatever may offend Him.

L.

Thou friend of sinners! who hast bought
Our freedom with thy precious blood;
Whose grace my wand'ring feet hath sought,
To bring me to the fold of God;
Forgive my sins; my fears remove;
And fill my grateful heart with love.

Thee let my ardent soul pursue;

To Thee with fervent love aspire; Oh may thy Spirit still renew

Within my heart that heavenly fire; And ever prompt my jealous care To guard the sacred treasure there.

In suffering, be thy love my peace;

In weakness, be thy love my power And when this mortal life shall cease,

Bless with thy love my latest hour: My strength in life, that Thou dost guide; My hope in death, that Thou hast died.

Morning Lesson Evening Lesson

Epistle Gospel

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2 Samuel xxi.

2 Samuel xxiv.

Romans vi. 19-23.

St. Mark viii. 1-9.

The repentance enjoined on the last Sunday is enforced to day, by the fatal consequences of remaining in sin, and the blessed fruit and reward of holiness.

The slave

"The wages of sin is death." of sin will assuredly receive this, his due payment, from his cruel and tyrannical master, unless he be timely delivered from his bondage. It may be long delayed, as the judgment recorded in the morning lesson, which cut off the house of Saul for his wickedness and cruelty, in slaying the priests of the Lord, and slaughtering all the inhabitants of Nob, their city, 1 Sam. xxii. 19, was not executed until forty years after or it may be inflicted promptly, as in the evening lesson, where God, being angry with Israel for their sins, suffered David, in the pride of his heart, to number the people; and so to bring upon them the plague, the punishment declared, Exodus xxx. 12-16, if the people should be numbered without making the offering required from each for the ransom of his soul. Soon, or late, death will surely be the wages of the sinner.

of

"The gift of God is eternal life." We have no deserts to plead here. As sinners, we may earn our wages; but our salvation is the free gift of God, by whose mercy we are called, and by whose help we are kept in the way righteousness. The compassion of God in sparing us is shewn in the latter portion of the evening lesson, where of his mercy He remits the punishment. His gift of eternal life is figured in the gospel, by the food miraculously provided for the multitude; a representation of that spiritual food, the body and blood of Christ, St. John vi., of which, if a man eat, he shall live for ever.

LI.

Jesus! hear the sinner's cry!
Leave, O leave us not to die :
Sunk in bondage, guilt, and shame,
All our hope is in thy name:
By the Cross for man endured;
By the hope to man restored;
Listen to the sinner's plea;
Set the lawful captive free.

Lord of life! thy blessing give;
Bid the dying sinner live.
By the ransom thou hast paid;
By the grave where thou wast laid;
By thy rising from the dead;
By thy foes in triumph led;

Let us thy salvation see;

Life eternal, Lord, with thee.

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But how may we know that we have escaped from death, and obtained a title to eternal life? This is the evidence: we receive the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry Abba, Father; the Spirit itself bearing witness to our spirits that we are sons of God: the blessed privileges of which relationship are described in the epistle.

practical. The epistle describes their character who are led by the Spirit of Godthrough the Spirit they mortify the deeds of the body, and the Gospel :-they do the will of their Father who is in heaven. The avoidance of sin, and the practice of holiness, mark them for the sons of God. "By their fruits ye shall know them." A profession in accordance with the word of God, and a practice according to the will of God, are the evidence that we are led by the Spirit.

The old prophet from Bethel invited the prophet of Judah to stay and eat bread, pretending that an angel had so commanded. But in opposition to this assertion of a man, and a stranger, the prophet of Judah had the sure word and commandment of God, which ought to have been a sufficient proof that the other "lied unto him." But, like the many who receive the commandments and teaching of men for doctrine, instead of the testimony of God in the Bible, he disobeyed the sure word, and listened to the deceiver; and his life was the penalty.

On the other hand, the prophet of Judah, and Elijah, in the morning and evening lessons, proved that their message to the idolatrous kings of Israel was truly from God, because it agreed with his Law, and was confirmed with works of power. Deuteronomy xviii. 21, 22.

This then is the witness of the Spirit: not fancied supernatural impulses; but to hold But there is a false profession, against the truth, and to walk in accordance therewith. which it is necessary to guard. It is written, Feelings may deceive, and impulses mislead "Prove all things."- -"Believe not every spi- us; but where the fruits of the Spirit appear, rit, but try the spirits whether they are from "love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, God."-" Beware of false prophets, which goodness, faith, meekness, temperance," we come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly have an evidence not to be mistaken. They they are ravening wolves.' -"Not every one who are the sons of God, are renewed after that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter his image. "We know," says the Apostle, into the kingdom of heaven." We know that" that we have passed from death unto life,”many deceive themselves greatly, by mistaking why! because we have the assurance in our their own vain assurance, and exalted imagi- | heart, and feel our spirits elevated to rapture? nation, for the witness of the Spirit; and that No! but,-" because we love the brethren." many deceivers cloak themselves with the pretence of superior piety. What is the sure test whereby we may know the truth, unmask the impostor, expose the self-deceiver, and confirm the faithful, but fearing christian?

The evidence which determines the sonship of God's children is clear, for it is strictly

LII.

Abba, Father, while we sing,
Hear the thankful praise we bring;
Taught to cast our care on Thee,
Daily mercies, Lord, we see :
Yet enrich us with thy grace;
Give us with thy sons a place.

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In the collect, we confess that we cannot do anything that is good without God's help, and pray therefore for his Spirit, that we may think and do always such things as be rightful. This truth, the all-sufficiency of God's help, and our own utter weakness, is shewn very strikingly in the lessons.

When we see Elijah going fearlessly to meet Ahab, though that wicked king had long sought his life; standing, as the only remaining prophet of the Lord, before the assembled priests of Baal, and the idolatrous multitudes of Israel; asserting the truth which they had forsaken, and manifesting God's power, to the confusion of the one, and the conviction of the other; we scarcely recognize him as belonging to our own nature. He stands as one raised above the infirmities of humanity, and invested with the power of a superior being.

In a few short hours, this great prophet is fleeing for his life to the wilderness, trembling at the threats of Jezebel, and beseeching God in his despondency to release him from the miseries of life. We now find that, as St. James remarks, "Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are;" helpless like us, when left to himself; and strong only in the power of God. We find that the most perfect and triumphant saint, in the moment, and at the height of his exaltation, depends as entirely upon God's continual help, as the feeblest penitent; a consideration, to chasten our

confidence with holy fear, and to encourage our despondency with joyful hope.

The epistle teaches the same truth. The conduct and punishment of the Israelites, who, though delivered from bondage, brought into covenant with God, and led by his hand, yet sinned, and perished in the wilderness, are given for our example and admonition; warning him who thinketh that he standeth to take heed lest he fall; and encouraging the feeble with the assurance that God will not suffer them to be tempted above that they are able, but will with the temptation also make a way to escape.

This is a promise, not of deliverance without exertions, but of help to make our exertions effectual. How we should exert our

selves, we learn in the gospel. The unjust steward, finding that he was to be put out of his stewardship, improved the present time to prepare against future calamities; and took without delay that course which promised to secure the end he had in view. He is commended, not for his injustice; he is condemned and punished for that, but for his prudence, foresight, and activity. In these points his conduct is offered as a reproof to the negligence of Christians. "The children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light." Who, alas, but must confess himself an unfaithful steward, who hath wasted his Lord's goods; and death will soon put us out of our stewardship. Let us therefore make to ourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; being so faithful in the improvement of all the talents entrusted to us, and in the use of all the temporal goods committed to our charge, that when they fail, we may be received into everlasting habitations.

LIII.

O help us Lord! in all our need

Thy heavenly succour give:
Help us in thought, in word, in deed,
Through ev'ry hour we live.

Thy strength and comfort, Lord, impart,
When gloomy doubt prevails;
When fear and sorrow wound the heart,

And trembling nature fails.
Help us with humble faith to pray;

With holy joy to praise;
And walking in thy perfect way,

To serve Thee all our days.

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On the first Sunday after Easter, and on Ascension day, we learned how the Lord commissioned his apostles to preach the truth in his name, and with his authority and at Whitsuntide, how they were invested by the Holy Ghost with all the spiritual gifts they required to fulfil their mission. The services of to-day shew the application of the subject.

The epistle, which was read in the second morning lesson for Monday in Whitsun week, enumerates the various gifts imparted by the Spirit for the edification of the Church; which all are given that they may be properly improved. The disposition in which they are to be used is shewn in the gospel, and lessons; which offer to ministers an example of pity, hope, courage, and faithfulness, in the exercise of their office.

From our Lord's weeping over Jerusalem, his ministers should learn to cherish pity for the worst sinners. Her day of grace was gone. She had refused instruction, and killed the prophets whom God had sent unto her. The Saviour knew that within that very week she would fill the measure of her guilt by dragging him to a shameful death; yet the only feeling of his heart is the deepest

commiseration for her now inevitable fate.

They learn also from his example to labor with unwearied zeal under the most discouraging circumstances. He purified the Temple, by casting out them who profaned it, and taught daily therein.

unhappily it was not lasting; and the mitigation of his sentence which he thereby obtained, give encouraging assurance that the case of the worst, and, apparently, the most hardened sinner, is not to be deemed hopeless.

In Micaiah we see a faithful preacher, who, neither moved by the solicitations of the messenger that he should prophesy smooth things, nor affrighted at the King's anger, declares the whole truth of God, and foretells the fatal end of the course which the King was pursuing. The whole picture is too often verified by experience. The sinner resented the faithfulness that warned him of his fate, and cherished the flatterers who encouraged him to his destruction.

LIV.

And have we heard the joyful sound!
Have we the only Saviour found!
And shall we not to all proclaim
Life and salvation through his Name!
Hath God to us his glory shewn,—
Oh, not for merits of our own!
And shall not love constrain our heart
His truth to sinners to impart !

O Saviour, who for all hast died!
Be thou our teacher, help, and guide:
Inflame our hearts with christian love;
And bless our labours from above.
Send forth thy light; display thy power;
Let all confess; let all adore;
In ev'ry land thy word be sown;
By ev'ry soul thy truth be known!

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The morning lesson describes the cure of Naaman's leprosy; the evening lesson, the rebellion of Jehu, and the miserable end of Jezebel: the parable of the pharisee and the publican forms the gospel; and the epistle, Elijah's address to Ahab, after his impious with a summary of christian faith, contains murder of Naboth, is a fine example of bold-St. Paul's lowly estimate of himself. ness in reproving a powerful and flagrant

The penitence of Ahab, though

The summary of the Gospel which St. Paul preached to the Corinthians, as he declares in

the epistle, is," that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day." To the right receiving of this faith, pride is the chief obstacle; humility the most favourable temper; as it is written, "God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble." To-day we have examples of both these characters under their various forms.

The pride of human reason is seen in Naaman, when he scorned the simple means of cure directed by the prophet. He expected a striking manifestation of God's power in the means, as well as in the result; and revolted at a sacramental mode, where the means was nothing in itself, but derived all its efficacy from the grace imparted by Him who appointed it.

The pride of guilt and infidelity is awfully manifested in Jezebel; whose name is a word of abomination to all ages. Proof upon proof of God's power, truth, mercy, and justice, was afforded to her in the miracles and conduct of Elijah; and warning upon warning, in the judgments which her own guilt brought upon her family, and upon Israel: yet the only effect was to harden her in wickedness, and to fill her with murderous rage against the prophets of the Lord. Her punishment is related in the evening lesson; from which we find that she preserved her character of proud defiance to the last.

The pride of self-righteousness is shewn in the pharisee; who, swollen with fancied. goodness, insulted heaven with his boasting, and never suspected that he had need of penitence and pardon.

It is more pleasing, though not more instructive, to observe the opposite picture.

We learn that the meanest and weakest have their duties, and means of usefulness, which they ought to improve. The little captive maid, whose age, sex, and condition seemed to condemn her to insignificance, was made the instrument to relieve the general of the Syrian armies from his miserable condition, and to bring him to the knowledge of the true God.

We see the humility of saving faith in Naaman, when, having come to a better mind, he goes down to Jordan to wash and be clean; surrendering his former imaginations, and meekly submitting to the appointed means which in his arrogance he had despised.

The humility, and blessing of penitence are shewn in the publican. Him, who dared not approach, nor lift up his eyes to heaven, but smote upon his breast, crying, "God be merciful to me a sinner," God regarded with favor, and he went down to his house justified.

Finally, the humility of holiness is seen in St. Paul; being shewn in a deep sense of his former sin; a lowly acknowledgment of the grace that saved him; a thankful remembrance of the manner in which he had improved this grace; but with an earnest disclaimer of any merit therefrom; ascribing all that he was, and all that he had been enabled to do, only to God.

A good man must be humble. He cannot repent, without shame and sorrow for his sins. He cannot believe aright, without a full conviction of his utter helplessness. He cannot know his own heart, without seeing everything that should keep him low. He cannot aspire after holiness, without lamenting continually how far he falls short of it.

LV.

Lord, that I may learn of Thee,
Give me true simplicity;
Seeking more of Thee to know;
Wean'd, and kept from things below.

Let me freely cast aside

All that feeds my boasting pride
Always willingly submit,
Meekly learning at thy feet.

Father, I would rest on thee,
Lowly as a child should be;
Seeing only in thy light;
Walking only in thy might.

Let my treasure be thy love; Let the Cross my glory prove; In thy presence while I stay, None can take my hope away.

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