« AnteriorContinuar »
43 & 25;) and again, though thy sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. (Isaiah, 1 & 18.) Now when Jesus, the son of God, God of God, forgave the sins of the sick of the palsy, saying, Son thy sins be forgiven thee; on account of these words, the Jews, who knew not that he was God, thought him a blasphemer, and said, This man blasphemeth, none can forgive sins, but God alone. The Lord breathing upon the Holy Apostles, says, Receive ye the Holy Ghost ; whosesoever sins ye remit they are remitted unto them. Now if none can remit sins but God alone, (and it is certain none can,) and if the Holy Ghost by the Apostles remits sins, then the Holy Ghost is God." The conclusion he draws from various arguments, which he urges at considerable length and with great force, is, that “The Son is God, and that the Holy Ghost is God; that the Holy Ghost is of the same substance, as well as the same power and authority with the Father and the Son."
Irenæeus, Hilary, Tertullian, Athanasius, Ambrose, Chrysostom, Jerom, and many others, all alike infer the Divinity of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, from their power to forgive sins; a prerogative wbich they uniformly maintain belongs to God.
OF THE LORD'S PRAYER.
This admirable and perfect form of Prayer which our Lord gave to his disciples, appears wisely introduced in this part of the service ; for until we have repented of, and confessed
our sins, and received pardon from God, we cannot in the spirit of adoption call him Abba Father ; a reconciled Father in Christ Jesus.
This is a Prayer " little in words but great in substance; so short that the Feakest memory may retain it, and yet so full that it comprehends all things that relate either to ourselves or others; to our bodies or souls, to time or eternity: equally preper for bigh or low, rich or poor; though sublime yet plain, though simple yet majestic.”
OF THE RESPONSES.
The first, O Lord, open thou our lips; and our mouth shall shew forth tày praise. This sentence is taken out of that ese cellent repository of devotion the book of Psalms, and is fits placed here with respect to those sins we so lately confessed: being part of David's Penitential Psalm, (51 & 15); who looked on his sia so long, till the grief, shame, and fear that followed there from had almost made him speechless; and if we are truly sensible of our sins, we shall earnestly seek such evidences of our pardon, as shall set our tongues at liberty heartily te praise God in the Psalms that follow.
OF THE PSALMS.
These Derout Hymns icdited by the Spirit of God, con. tain such admirable variety, that we may easily collect a form . thence either to petition for any thing we need, or to
he name of God for any mercy that we have received.
They have been called the instrument of Virtue, the marrow of Divinity, the storehouse of Devotion, the epitome of Holy Scripture.
The difference of opinion that prevails among Christians, all equally oppressed with the cares and calamities of life, may pain the reflecting mind, yet we can rejoice that all agree to unite in offering praise to the Deity, in the same words in the book of Psalms; and that whilst the Church militant are incessantly magnifying God in Psalms, and Hymns, and Spiritual Songs, we are uniting in Ilallelujahs with the church triumphant above.
“ The church triumphant, and the church below,
And if we have confessed humbly, begged forgiveness of our sins fervently, and believed in the promises of God faithfully, our hearts will be filled with thankfulness and our mouths with praise, and we may say the first verse of the 108th. Psalm, 0 God, my heart is fixed; I will sing and give praise, even with my glory.
At the close of the Psalms we repeat, Glory be to the Father, and to the Sou, and to the Holy Ghost. “In baptizing,''
says Hooker, “ we use the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; and in confessing the christian faith, we declare our belief in the Father, and in the Son, and in the Holy Ghost.”
In the circular epistle of the Church of Smyrna, concerning the martyrdom of Polycarp who was conversant with the Apostles, and to whom it is said St. John addressed the Revelation, in wbich Polycarp is entitled “ the angel of the church of Smyrna," we have the earliest instance of the use of a hymn closely resembling this.
When bound to the stake the victim of popular fury, with eyes uplifted to heaven, he made the following prayer to God :
“O Lord God Almighty, the Father of thy beloved and blessed Son, Jesus Christ, by whom we have received the knowledge of thee, the God of Angels and of powers, and of every creature, and especially of the whole generation of the righteous, who live in thy presence: I bless thee that thou hast vouchsafed to bring me to this day, and to this hour, that I may receive a portion among thy martyrs, by drinking of the cup of thy Christ, for the resurrection to eternal life, both of the soul and body, in the incorruption of the Holy Gbost: into the number of whom I beseech thee that I may be this day admitted in thy sight, a precious and acceptable sacrifices as thou hast prepared, foreshewn, and now finally accom
plished, who art the true and never failing God. For this, and for all other good things, I praise thee, I bless thee, I glo. rify thee, through the eternal and heavenly Jesus Christ, thy beloved Son, with whom, to thee and the Holy Ghost, be glory both now and for ever. Amen."
The era of the additional clause, “ As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end, Amen." cannot be ascertained; but it was evidently intended as an antidote against those poisonous doctrines then promulgated, “ That the Son was a being of an inferior nature to tbe Father, and that there was a time when he was not.”
OF THE LESSONS.
One principal end of our meeting together in the house of God, is,“ to hear his most holy word,” and our minds being elevated and our affections warmed by celebrating the praises of the God of Creation, Providence, and Grace, we are prepared to listen with attention and reverence to that incorruptible word, which breathes the majesty of him who inspired it. And therefore now followeth, with the intervention only of a hymn, two chapters of the Bible; one out of the Old Testament, the other out of the New, to shew the Divine harmony between the Law and the Gospel. “ What is the Law,” says Justin Martyr, “but the prediction of the Gospel ? and what is the Gospel, but the Law fulfilled ?" “ Things there prefigured,” says Austin, “are here performed.”