Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

THE THIRD SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY.

O Lord, we beseech thee mercifully to hear usj and grant that we, to whom thou hast given an hearty desire to pray, may by thy mighty aid be defended and comforted in all dangers and neces,sides, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

PRAYER is the key which opens the repository of spiritual food, the wardrobe and the armoury of heaven. It is the bolt which excludes the thief and the robber, the stormy wind and tempest. It is " the outlet of trouble> "and the inlet of consolation."

The advantages, however, which result from prayer, vast and manifest as they are, lie concealed from the world. But they are known to a favoured few, the genuine members of Christ's holy catholic church, to whom the secret of 'wtrue happiness hath been disclosed. "The mysterious commerce of the human soul "with the Divine Spirit" is that " secret of the "Lord which is with them who fear Him."

In the work of prayer, as in every other act of the Divine life, "all is of God, who hath "reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ." It is His "Spirit that helpeth our infirmities; "for we know not what we should pray for as "we ought: but the Spirit Himself maketh "intercession for us with groanings which can*' not be uttered." In our natural state, while we continue " sensual, not having the Spirit," we feel no spiritual necessities, and are conscious

VOL. II. 2 -F

[ocr errors]

of no spiritual desires. A dead body has no wants, no sensations; and a soul that is " dead "in trespasses and sins" is equally void of spiritual sensibility. And even after that we have been " quickened to newness of life," so great is our ignorance, that although we are become conscious of many and pressing needs, know that there is a provision made for their supply, and have learned from whence and in what manner relief is to be derived; yet " we know not "what to pray for as we ought." Left to ourselves, we should make requests, a compliance with which would prove injurious to our own souls and dishonourable to God, as children often prefer petitions to their parents which cannot be granted. Our ignorance respects not only the blessings which we implore, but also the manner of seeking relief. Our infirmities are many and great. Sometimes guilt stops the mouth. Sometimes trouble overwhelms the spirit. Sometimes worldly cares distract the mind. And sometimes languor or obduracy disqualifies us for drawing near to God.

It is happy for the people of God-rhat "the "Spirit helpeth their infirmities and maketh "intercession for them;" and they know it. He discovers our spiritual wants, awakens our sensibilities, kindles our desires, exhibits to our view the throne of grace sprinkled with atoning blood, creates and increases faith, and enables us to cry, "Abbaj Father." The emotion of holy desire within us is His "intercession for f us." And those fervent desires which He kindles are sometimes productive of inexpressible groans; the desire is too big and strong for utterance by words. But the groan of unutterable desire ^s clearly intelligible to the Searcher of hearts, who " knoweth what is the mind of "the Spirit" whose language it is; and it cannot be unsuccessful.

[graphic]

Our collect for the third Sunday after Trinity opens with a petition for a favourable audience to our prayers. It is the language of a humble and fervent spirit which hath nothing but mercy to plead, and which is earnest in pleading mercy through Jesus Christ. We have had occasion to notice such general requests in former collects. We shall now therefore only observe that they correspond with the sensibilities of all awakened persons whose petitions are the language of their hearts, and the expressions of real wants which they feel. Nothing can satisfy them but the possession of the desired good, and till that is obtained they renew their supplications. Formalists may satisfy themselves by paying a tribute of outward homage to the Divine Majesty. Their prayers mean nothing more. They are conscious of no wants nor desires; and it is no wonder if such persons censure the tautology of our Common jPrayer-Book. But the Divinely instructed soul will understand why we recur, again and again to the same subject, and will approve such tautologous cries of the broken and contrite heart. Till we arrive at our journey's end, our progress must be maintained by an uninterrupted succession of steps. Till we reach the desired haven, we must repeat the stroke of the oar, without complaining of lassitude from the continuation of the action.

Our collect proceeds to make a specific request for " defence and comfort in all dangers and "necessities," describing the persons on whose behalf the request is made.

i

That the people of God are exposed to many and great dangers and necessities, needs no proof. And as in the review of former collects this subject has been brought before us, * we shall not again dwell on its illustration. But let not our Liturgy be censured for vain repetitions. "Who would blame a drowning man for reiterating his cry for help, or a starving beggar for frequent references to his inward pangs? The hearer, who in safety and satiety could condemn the one or the other, would justly be considered as a senseless wretch whose heart is made of brass or adamant. The experience of every awakened person will afford the necessary comment on this part of our collect; to others no comment could convey its meaning. For a man who is asleep may, like Jonah, be in the very jaws of the most imminent perils without any consciousness of his awful situation. But our collect is designed exclusively for the use of those who have heard the rousing call, "Awake "thou that sleepest and arise from the dead," by which they have been excited to spiritual perception. Those favoured persons " who "have their senses exercised to discern both *' good and evil," know that they are surrounded, both in body and soul, by many and great "dangers and adversities" in which God only can defend and comfort them.

That we have nt> means of defence to which we can resort, no source of comfort from which we can derive relief, independent of the throne of tjrace, is another truth which needs no formal confirmation by argument. The gracious soul

* See the Collects for the Third Sunday after the Eprubuuv, and for the Secend Sunday in Lent.

has learned it by experience, and rational inference is inadequate to the conviction of others. "Children of wrath," which, without redemption, must be for ever "wrath to come," we can make no atonement for our guilt. Justly shut out from heaven for our sins by the irreversible decree of the covenant of works that "the soul which sinneth shall die," we can make no compensation for the past, nor engage for a future fulfilment of the terms of that covenant which saith, "This do and thou shalt live." And when we are "justified freely by Divine t{ grace, through the redemption that is in Jesus "Christ;" still the renewal of our fallen souls in holiness, *' without which no man shall see "the Lord," is a work altogether as much out of our own power as the work of atonement. The temptations of Satan, the corruptions of their own hearts, and the allurements of the world, daily endanger the safety of those who are " called with a holy calling." Against these temptations, corruptions, and allurements, they have no defence but " the mighty aid" of Omnipotence. In the conflict with them they can find no comfort but what they derive from the promises of the gospel and the consolations of grace. But " the aid and defence" which they have reason to expect are all-sufiicient.

The phraseology of our collect deserves particularly to be noticed. We pray "that, by "God's mighty aid, we may be defended and "comforted IN all dangers and adversities." The children of God have no reason to expect an exemption from "dangers and adversities" while they continue in the present world. They will every day be reminded that they "are not

« AnteriorContinuar »