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the conviction of our consciences and with the habitual frame of our minds? O let us not deceive ourselves in the use of "a form of sound "words," for God searcheth the heart. How awful are the general insensibility and hypocrisy which prevail in our church! We repeat creeds, make confessions, and utter prayers, with as much carelessness as we read an anecdote in a newspaper, or recite some trifling occurrence in which we are utterly uninterested. Confession without contrition, and prayer without desire, are a mockery of God.

Our collect, in the second place, contains an earnest request founded on the foregoing confession. We pray "that by the comfort of Di"vine grace we may mercifully be relieved, "through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ."

Distress of conscience, arising from a sense of guilt and obnoxiousness to punishment, is evidently supposed in all those who offer up this prayer; for to this the relief which is implored relates. Are our consciences then wounded by a conviction of sin? And are we indeed solicitous for relief? It is a scriptural axiom, that "they who are whole need not a physician, but "they" only "who are sick." If the reader's confession has been sincere, the use of our collect will prove "an outlet of trouble, and an "inlet of consolation."

The relief which we implore is a deliverance from guilt and the fear of punishment, including a restoration to peace with God and an assurance of His favour. And Oh, how important a request! for in God's favour is life, and in nothing else. And this relief is asked of God with the highest propriety, since He only can afford it. Of the maxims of philosophy, the rules of ethics, and the directions of the Divinelaw, we may truly assert, that, with respect to the relief of a burthened conscience, they are medicines of no virtue, and that those who prescribe them are like Job's friends, "physicians "of no value" and "miserable comforters." There is, however, blessed be God, "Balm in "Gilead, and a Physician there." But even the Balm of Gilead cannot relieve the sin-sick soul unless it be applied; and no one can effectually apply it but the great Physician. The minister of the Gospel may promulgate the doctrines of grace, but he cannot give "the com"fort of God's grace." This must be sought from God, whose Spirit must communicate its influence to the afflicted heart.

The source from which this relief is implored is "the comfort of Divine grace." And to this we may indeed look with a confident persuasion that we shall not be disappointed. For it has made a full provision for our everlasting consolation. A revelation of this grace to the soul removes all its distresses by removing their cause, even sin. And we are assured that, "if we "confess our sins," as we do in the sincere use of our collect, "God is faithful and just to "forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all "unrighteousness." Let those then, who are truly conscious that they have "worthily »le"served to be punished," raise their eyes to the throne of grace. There, and there only, is comfort to be obtained. There God " waiteth "to be gracious." Let them remember that God can be "just and the justifier of him that "believeth in Jesus." And Oh, "what abundant cause of comfort may this be to all true believers, that God's justice as well as His

mercy shall acquit them: That that attribute of God, at the apprehension of which they were wont to tremble, should interpose on their behalf and plead for them! Yet through the all-sufficient expiation and atonement that Christ hath made for our sins, this mystery is effected, and justice itself brought over from being a formidable adversary to be of our party and to plead for us. Therefore the Apostle tells us, 1 John i. 9, that God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins."*

The channel through which the comfort of Divine grace must flow for our relief is "our "Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." The channel is wide and deep, so that we need not fear lest the supply should be a scanty one. He is the only medium through which any gracious' communication can be made to a sinner; and through Him penitent sinners may expect to receive more than they can ask or think—they may expect "abundance of grace and of the "gift of righteousness." "In Him God findeth us, if we be faithful, for by faith we are incorporated into Christ. Then, although in ourselves we be altogether sinful and unrighteous, yet even the man which is impious in himself, full of iniquity, full of sin—him being found in Christ through faith, and having his sin remitted through repentance—him God beholdeth with a gracious eye, putteth away his sin by not imputing it, taketh quite away the punishment due thereunto, by pardoning it, and accepteth him in Christ Jesus, as perfectly righteous, as if he had fulfilled all that was commanded him in the law: shall I say more perfectly righteous,

* Bishop Hopkins on the Lord's Prayer.

being sensible of his own helplessness, he begs assistance; and proving by daily experience that he is prone to evil, he asks from God that preservation which God only can afford. His plea for the attainment of these inestimable blessings is that mercy which God has promised to His people, and which He is accustomed to "shew unto those that love His name." In the promises of the Divine word, and in the examples of those to whom mercy has been vouchsafed in similar circumstances, the penitent finds encouragement to address the throne of .jrace.

Our collect contains—A general petition for Divine regard—and The specific end for which that regard is now implored.

In the general petition for Divine regard we may consider—The manner in which it is made —The matter of which it consists—And the objects for whom it is solicited.

The manner of supplication here adopted is very fervent and very humble. And indeed such is the nature of the blessings which we implore, so great is our unworthiness of them, and so glorious the majesty of Him from whom we ask them, that too great a degree of fervency and humility cannot be manifested either in our words or gestures, nor exerted within our bosoms. Let us then ask ourselves whether our feelings have corresponded, in the use of this collect, with its phraseology. Have we besought "Almighty God mercifully to look upon His "people," making His mercy our sole plea, and determining not to let Him go with whom we are wrestling for a blessing, until He bless us? As the mode of supplication here introduced has occurred in a former collect, we shall no further enlarge upon it. The reader's attention is, however, requested to the following excellent remarks on prayer by the judicious Hooker.

"Prayer proceedeth from want, which being seriously laid to heart maketh suppliants always importunate; which importunity our Saviour Christ did not only tolerate in the woman of Canaan, but also exhort and invite thereunto, as the parable of the wicked Judge sheweth. Our fervency sheweth us sincerely affected towards that we crave: but that which must make us capable thereof is an humble spirit; for God doth load with His grace the lowly, when the proud He sendeth empty away: And therefore, to the end that all generations of the world might know how much it standeth them upon to beware of all lofty and vain conceits when we offer up our supplications before Him, He hath in the gospel both delivered this caveat, and left it by a special chosen parable exemplified. The Pharisee and Publican having presented themselves in one and the same place, the temple of God, for performance of one and the same duty, the duty of prayer, did notwithstanding in that respect only so far differ the one from the other, that our Lord's own verdict of them remaineth {as you know) on record, they departed home, the sinful publican, through humility of prayer, just; the just pharisee, through pride, sinful, so much better doth He accept of a contrite peccavi, I have sinned, than of an arrogant Deo gratias, God I thank thee."*

We proceed now to consider the matter of our request. We solicit Divine regard with a view to a specific end which is afterwards

* Hooker's Works, vol. 3, p, 589, Oxford edition.

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