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For all who have been "made alive "unto God by Jesus Christ our Lord," have felt and loudly bewailed their total imbecility. They have found themselves to be defective in power, even after their will has been converted to holiness. "When I would do good," saith. St. Paul," evil is present with me. I love the "law of God after the inner man; but I find "another law in my members warring against "the law of my mind, and bringing me into "captivity to the law of sin that is in my mem"bers. Wretched man that I am! who shall "deliver me from the body of this death?"
Thus did an inspired Apostle express his feelings, which harmonize exactly with those that are supposed by our present collect to exist in all the members of our church. And therewith also corresponds the language of Old Testament saints. For one of them thus expresses himself: "I will run the way of thy commandments, "when thou shalt enlarge my heart."* Various are the degrees of enlargement which the human mind attains. The desires of some men are bounded within' very narrow limits indeed. eat, to drink,, and to sleep, seem to comprehend all their wishes. These differ but little from the beasts that perish. The minds of other men move in a much wider circuit. Alexander is said to have wept, because, when he had conquered one world, he had not another to subdue. Men of science are never satisfied with present
*There is strict philosophical propriety in the expression which the Psalmist has used. For the heart is dilated, and the pulse by consequence becomes full and strong, by emotions of hope and delight. And on the contrary the heart is contracted, and the pulse rendered languid, by distress, fear, disappointment, and despair.
attainments. Lovers of the world, after an accumulation of immense wealth, still reach out for more. But narrow are the minds of the children of this world, however extended be their views, compared with those of the Christian. Time with all its stores cannot satisfy him. The creature is too poor to suit his expanded soul. To" obtain God's promises, and "to be made a partaker of His heavenly trea"sure through Jesus Christ his Lord," is the worthy aim of his ambition. And, in order to this, he knows that he must learn to "run the "way of God's commandments.
There is an inseparable connection between holiness and happiness. The former is an essential prerequisite to the latter. Holiness, however, is not the meritorious cause of happiness, but the means of attaining it, and the qualification for enjoying it. The means and the end are both of grace.
In "running the way of God's command"ments" we shall assuredly "obtain His gra"cious promises." Those " exceeding great "and precious promises," with which the horizon of Scripture is more numerously and richly studded than the sky with stars, may well be denominated" gracious," because they origi nate wholly in the grace of God, independently of human desert which is no where to be found. These promises insure to the Christian traveller support and encouragement throughout his course of obedience. Some of them were fulfilled in his experience, before he began his heavenly race; for it was by the agency of promised grace that he has been brought into the road which leads to Zion. Others are fulfilling in every step that he takes; for it is by means
of promised grace that he continues in the way, and is enabled to make any progress therein. And the remainder of the promises cannot fail of being accomplished in the everlasting salvation of his soul. He will derive from the fulness of Christ help and refreshment in the residue of his pilgrimage; he will be upheld and strengthened to the end of life; he will be enabled to conquer every difficulty, and to surmount every obstacle, and at length be "made a partaker of God's heavenly treasure."
A treasure is riches accumulated and laid up store. Heavenly happiness is often spoken of in Scripture under the notion of a treasure. (See Matth. vi. 19-21. xiii. 44. xix. 21. Luke xii. 33.) This is treasure indeed, with which the wealth of Croesus will bear no comparison. It is placed out of the reach of accident. For God's heavenly storehouse is secure from the corroding moth of time, and from the ravages of the infernal robber. The keeper of this heavenly treasury is our almighty Redeemer, who will, doubtless, preserve the treasure which He bought with His own blood for the enjoyment of His redeemed people. Of what the treasure consists we cannot now particularly specify. A general inventory is, however, put into our hands, from which we may know enough to fire our souls with eager haste in pursuing the way that leads to its possession. And when the accumulated store is disclosed to our view, it will exceed all the most elevated conceptions which we had previously formed concerning it. It is inexhaustible, and will fully satisfy the desires of all who are made partakers
If the reader should unhappily feel no concern to obtain grace whereby he may be enabled to
"run the way of God's commandments," let him know that altogether vain is his expectation of heavenly treasure, if he have formed any. O let him contemplate his gross hypocrisy in adopting the collect of our church which we have now reviewed, and in making use of its language as expressive of his own desires when no such desires prevail within his bosom. His hope in Divine "mercy and pity" is a fatal delusion and must perish.
But there are many persons who are anxiously desirous to run the way of God's commandments so as to obtain His promises and be partakers of His heavenly treasure, who are discouraged by the continual short comings of which they are conscious. Let them remember that our collect supposes this consciousness to exist in all the true members of our communion; and that, if it were not felt, an essential mark of membership with the catholic church would be wanting. Let the humble penitent therefore join in our petition, assured that they who ask for grace shall receive it, because they ask "through Jesus Christ our
THE TWELFTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY.
Almighty and everlasting God, who art always more ready to hear than we to pray, and art wont to give more than either we desire or deserve ; pour down upon us the abundance of thy mercy, forgiving us those things whereof our conscience is afraid, and giving us those good things which we are not worthy to ask, but through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord.
"OW amiable docs our heavenly Father appear, while we hear Him addressing His church in those gracious words, (Is. lxv. 24) "It shall come to pass that, before they call, I "will answer; and whilst they are yet speaking, "I will hear. It is not enough for the purpose of shewing the extent of His mercy and loving kindness, that He should promise to hear the prayers of His people who call upon Him; but He engages to anticipate their desires, and to prevent their wants. The spirit of prayer is His gift, and the earnest of the blessings which are implored. He knows our wants before we ourselves know them, and our perception of them is the effect of His grace prepared to supply them.
This gracious promise confirms the representation which is made in our collect for this day, which consists of an introduction and a prayer.The introduction exhibits the grace of God in that He is "more ready to hear than we to pray.