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'' if we have indeed tasted that the Lord is gra"cious; by the fearful end of that servant, who "buried his Lord's talent; by the curses and ,' execrations which rest upon the Christian name; "by the rivers of Heathen blood which Christians "have shed, and which call for expiation at our "hands; if there be any consolation in Christ, "if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the "Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, I entreat "you, have mercy on the Heathens, and so "fulfil the joy of your Lord."*
* Home's Letters on Missions, p. 142. This work is earnestly recommended to the reader's attention, together with the sermons and reports of the Society for Missions to Africa and the East.
THE COLLECT FOR EASTER-EVEN*
Grant, 0 Lord, that as we are baptized into the death of thy blessed Son our Saviour Jesus Christ s so, by continually mortifying our corrupt affections, zee may be buried with him, and that through the grave and gale of death, we may pass to our joyful resurrection, for His merits, who died, and was buried, and rose again for us, thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. .
THIS evangelical, spiritual, and comprehensive form of prayer is founded on those facts which, at the present season of the year, particularly claim our attention, the death, the burial, and the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ; and it teaches us to implore for ourselves those blessed effects which are derivable from a dead, a buried, and a risen Saviour.
Our collect consists of—A preface which recites a fact that is supposed—and of A petition founded on that fact.
The fact which is here supposed is a very important one, that "we are baptized into the death "of the Son of God our Saviour Jesus Christ." St. Paul reminds the Romans oT the same, chap, vi. 3, 4, 5. "Know ye not that so many of us "asarrf baptized into Jesus Christ, are baptized
* For a particular account of the great sabbath (as the
day bet»veeu Good-Friday and Easter-day was commonly
called by the antients) see Bingham's Antiquites of the
Christian Church, book xxi. chap. 1. sect. 32. After
f Marg. reading, describingthe strict fustwhich was thereon observed, and the manner in which the time was spent, he adds, "Of the "vigil between the great Sabbath and Easter-da}' frequent "mention is made in the antient writers, Chrysostom, Epi*' phanius, Palladius, Gregory Nyssen, and many others, "Particularly Lactantius and St. Jerom tell us, they ob*' served it on a double account, This is the night, says ': Lactantius, which we observe with a pernoctation or "watching all night for the advent of our King and God: "of which night there is a twofold reason to be given, be-: "cause on this night our Losd was raised to life again after "his passion; and in the same He is expected to return to "recei»e the kingdom of this world, that is, to come to "judgment. St. Jerom says, it was a tradition among the "Jews, that Christ would come at midnight, as He did "upon the Egyptians at the time of the Passover, and "thence he thinks the Apostolical custom came, not to dis"miss the people on the paschal vigil before midnight, "expecting the coming of Christ."
"into His death? Therefore we are buried with "Him by baptism into death, that like as Christ "was raised up from the dead by the glory of the "Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in "the likeness of His resurrection." Our baptismal professions and obligations bind us to a mortification of the body of sin, and to newness of life.
Bv baptism we are entitled to a participation of all the privileges purchased by the death of Christ; and if we have received not only the outward and visible sign, but also the inward and spiritual grace, we are actual partakers of them. For then "we are one with Christ." His acts are bv imputation ours; and the effects of-those acts are, of consequence, ours also by right of union with Him. In Him we died, whereby the curse of the law is cancelled, the righteousness of the law fulfilled, and grace secured.—-Reader, we have been baptised into a profession of Christianity; but have we been also, by union with Christ through faith in His name, brought into a participation of His saving benefits? Do we understand the meaning and obligation of this solemn ordinance? Do we thankfully "remember "that Baptism doth represent unto Us our pro".fession, which is to follow the example of our "Saviour Christ, and to be made like unto Him— "that as He died and rose again for us, so should "we who are baptized die from sin, and rise "again unto righteousness, continually mortify-, "ing all our evil and corrupt affections, and "daily proceeding in all.virtue and godliness of "living ?"*
By baptism, then, we were brought under an obligation to comply with the design of Christ's death, which was f'to redeem us from all iniquity, *' and to purify unto Himself a peculiar people, "zealous of good works." Christ died unto sin, that we, mortifying the flesh with its affections and lusts, might live unto God. Are we then crucified with Christ? Professionally as baptised persons we are: but are we so in fact? Of what advantage will the commemoration of our Lord's death be to us, unless we become acquainted with the efficacious and actual influence thereof, and are really conformed to Him therein? If we continue in sin, suffering it to reign in our mortal bodies, and obey it in, the lusts thereof, we contradict our Christian profession, violate our Christian obligations, and renounce all the benefits of a sacramental conformity to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
* Exhortation to Godfathers and Godmothers in the Baptismal service.
The prayer which we found on a consideration of our sacramental death with Christ in baptism, consists of two petitions. We implore a conformity to Christ—in His burial,—and in His resurrection.
The burial of our Lord Jesus Christ was necessary for the purpose of demonstrating the reality of His death. With a view to this the malice of the Jews was providentially overruled. Their anxiety to detect a supposed imposture, by rolling a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, by adding to its security the seal of office and a guard of soldiers, effectually proved that the victim of their fury wa^s indeed dead. In like manner the truth of our conformity to Christ in a death unto sin must be demonstrated by the burial of all our lusts,
That which is buried is put away in disgust. A dead body has lost all its charms, and if retained would corrupt and be offensive. By the awful change which death produces we are constrained to remove from our embrace and sight the dearest objects of our love. (Gen, xxviii. 4.) Thus must sin be dealt with. And however dear it may have been to us in the days of our guilty association with it, so soon as our old man is crucified with Christ, we become anxious to be separated for ever from it, Such was the solicitude of St. Paul, winch is elegantly expressed by an allusion to the circumstance we have described. (Rom. vii. 24.) "O wretched man "that I am! who shall deliver me from the "body of this death?" He felt like a criminal chained to a dead and putrid carcase, and longed for deliverance from it. His sinful nature was loathsome to him, and he anxiously wished for a separation from so hateful a