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"the cross, in token that thereafter we should "not he ashamed to confess the faith of Christ "crucified, and manfully to fight under His "banner against the devil, the world and the "flesh, and to continue His faithful soldiers arid "servants unto our lives' end."
We profess then that we are "very members "incorporate in the mystical body of the Son of "God, which is the blessed company of all "faithful people; and are also heirs through "hope of His everlasting kingdom, by the me"rits of His most precious death and passion." And as such we "humbly beseech our heavenly "Father so to assist us with His grace, that we "may continue in that holy fellowship, and do "all such good works as He hath prepared for "us to walk in, through Jesus Christ our Lord."
Respecting every act which we are about to perform, it becomes us to ask, Is this consistent with my holy profession? Will it afford evidence of my gratitude and love to Him, who hath shewed me "the light of His truth," and restored me to "the way of righteousness?" Will it correspond with the character I sustain and the name I bear? Will it afford me pleasure in the retrospect of a death-bed and the judgmentday? How many things should we eschew which we now commit, and how many things should we follow from which we now abstain, were these questions always uppermost in our minds!
The propriety of praying for grace that we may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things, will not be disputed by any of those who are truly admitted into the fellowship of Christ's religion. For they all feel and acknowledge that there is much remaining inconsistency between their sensibilities and their privileges, between their profession and their conduct. To walk "worthy of God" is, however, their ardent desire and constant aim. To "shew forth "the praises of Him who hath called them out "of darkness into His marvellous light," is their highest ambition. They will therefore join earnestly in this collect of our church and continue to use it till the soiled robe of their profession on earth be changed for that white robe which is prepared for them, and which will be "with"out spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing."
O Almighty God, who alone canst order the unruly wills and affections of sinful men; Grant ujito thy people that they may love the thi?7g ichich thou commandest, and desire that ichich thou dost promise; that so among the sundry and manifold changes of the ioorld, our hearts may surely there be, fixed, where true joys arc to be found t through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
"t i^HE world passeth away, and the lust j[ thereof: but he that doeth the will of "God abideth for ever." Such was the language which the beloved disciple held, when he addressed the members of the Christian church in his day, for the purpose of arming them against all inordinate affection to the world and the things thereof. And surely, if such consi*derations were necessary to be suggested then, when Christianity was in its full vigour under the fostering hands of the Apostles, and during the first abundant effusion of the Spirit—when persecution raged—and when the disciple of Jesus was daily exposed to martyrdom, they cannot be unnecessary to be repeated now in these dregs of time, when the church of Christ has lost its primitive purity and energy—when outward peace, security and prosperity have, as it were, clipped the wings of devotion—and when the love of many waxeth cold.: It is certain that every professor, who is unconscious of the ensnaring power of the world, and of a VOL. II. X
criminal attachment to it in his own bosom,; is destitute of self-knowledge, and is not of those who are fighting manfully against the world, the flesh, 'and the devil. For the cure of this moral distemper, the worldliness of the human heart, serious reflection on the empty and transitory nature of the world itself, and of our inclinations after it, is prescribed by the Apostle whose words we have quoted. The world itself, this beautiful frame of nature, and all possibility of deriving gratification from it, will soon cease for ever; and then all those who have set their hearts upon it, and made it their portion, will perish with it. Then the sensualist, the voluptuary, the glutton, the drunkard, and the covetous, feeling wants which will never be relieved, desires which will never be accomplished, and pains which will never be allayed, will experience in the agonies of regret, disappointment, and despair, the torture which is occasioned by "the worm that never dieth." But the believer in Jesus who "doeth the will of "God," who is habitually "crucified to the U world, and to whom the world is crucified," who lives in a course of humble obedience to the will of God through faith which worketh by love, "shall live for ever." lie shall abide in a state of grace throughout this mortal life, and after it shall be advanced to a state of eternal glory.
But the way of man is not in himself: "it is "not in man that walketh to direct his steps." To regulate the state of our own hearts, and the course of our own lives, is out of our power. The world is our natural element, so that a change of nature is necessary to qualify us for •*;ng it and living in another. Like the eel, we grovel in the mud, unable to rise to the surface and soar above it, till we are made "new creatures in Christ Jesus." "By prayer "therefore and supplication" our requests, on this subject as well as on every other, must "be "made known to God." And this we do in a concise and appropriate form of sound words prepared for our use on this day.
Our collect for the fourth Sunday after Easter contains—an introduction — a petition—and the end for which that petition is offered.
The introduction ascribes glory to Divine Omnipotence, by a declaration of our belief that God can perform that which is beyond the reach of all finite powers~that which is more difficult than the government of the stormy wind and tempest, or of the raging ocean — more difficult than the reduction of the chaotic mass in which the atoms of the heavens and the earth first appeared to that order and beauty in which they now subsist. "God," and God "alone," by His "Almighty" power, can "order the "unruly wills and affections of sinful men."
It is to be observed that in this prayer we are speaking of ourselves; for ourselves supplication is here made as appears by the pronoun "our"" in the concluding part of the collect, though we are taught to speak in the third person for the charitable purpose of including in our request' all the members of the Christian church. "We then are the "sinful men" and women, whose "unruly wills and affections" require Omnipotence to controul and govern them. Each of us may say, "I am a sinful man, O Lord." But are we conscious that we are "full of sin," and that "in us, that is in our flesh," in our whole constitution, independently of renewing