« PreviousContinue »
But is the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, our Lord,” afford a solid basis to our hope of obtaining every blessing from His hands who is “more ready to “ hear than we to pray, and who is wont to
give more than either we desire or deserye." Though we have no personal merit to plead, yet there is in Him “ enough and to spare. And His superabundant merit is made ours by Divine imputation so soon as we believe in His
It is ours for all the important purposes of salvation for which we need it. The adorable dignity of His person, the all-cleansing virtue of His atonement, the all-sufficient efficacy of His righteousness, and the never-failing prevalency of His intercession, form our only and successful plea for obtaining a plenary pardon of “ all those things of which our conscience is “ afraid," and the gratuitous donation of “ all “ those good things which we are” utterly “unworthy to ask” on our own account. May His “merits and mediation" be our source of comfort in life and death ; and in eternity the subject of our everlasting praise !*
* The collect which we have now reviewed was objected to by some of the early enemies of the liturgy, as savouring “ of the popish servile fear”-a most groundless charge, which Mr. Hooker has refuted most fully, Eccles. Polity, vol. 2. p. 177, &c. Oxford edition. At the close of his vindication the judicious author says, “The knowledge of our unworthiness is not without belief in the merits of Christ. With that true fear which the one causeth, there is coupled true boldness and encouragement drawn from the other. The very silence which our unworthiness pulleth us unto, doth itself make request for us, and that in the confidence of His grace. Looking inward we are stricken dumb; looking outward we speak and prevail. O happy mixture, wherein things contrary do so qualify and correct the one the danger of the other's excess, that neither boldness can
make us presume, as long as we are kept under with the sense of our own wretchędness; nor, while we trust in the mercy of God through Jesus Christ, fear be able to tyrannize over us! As therefore our fear excludeth not that boldness which becometh saints, so, if our familiarity with God do not savour of this, fear, it draweth too near that irreverent confidence, wherewith true humility can never stand."
THE THIRTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY.
Almighty and merciful God, of whose only gift it cometh, that thy faithful people do unto thee true and laudable service ; grant, we beseech thee, that we may so faithfully serve thee in this life, that we fail not finally to attain thy heavenly promises, through the merits of Jesus Christ our Lord; dmen.
It has been said that the Romish missionaries
in China, being ashamed to own a crucified Redeemer, kept the sufferings of Christ out of sight; and that, instead of preaching Christ cru, cified, they preached Christ glorified. This mode of conduct might subserve the ends of worldly policy; but it could not be pleasing to God, nor promote His cause and the salvation of men's souls, Our blessed Lord in His conduct towards His disciples has acted a very different part. For He has faithfully forewarned them that difficulty, reproach, persecution, and tribulation, must be their portion in the present world. " He that “ loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth “ his life in this world, sball keep it unto life “ eternal.” He teaches them that His servants must follow their Divine Master in His own track, and “know the fellowship of His sufferings.” If any man sérve me, let him “ follow me. But withal He has afforded sufficient encouragement to their faith to counterbalance all the hardships of their service; for He adds, “Where I am, there « shall also my servants be: if any man serve me, " him will my Father honour.”
Assured that there is a close connection be. tween the service of God and the rewards which He will bestow, and convinced of the difficulty which attends the service of God in consequence of human corruption, we are this day taught to inplore Divine grace, “ that we may so faithfully
serve God in this life, that we fail not finally to “ attain His heavenly promises, through the merits cs of Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Our collect consists of a preface and a prayer. In the former we ascribe to God the glory of all the service which His people are enabled to perform—and in the latter we implore His aid, that we may continue “faithful unto death and receive “ the crown of glory.”
We address the object of our worship as “Al
mighty and merciful,” because Omnipotence combined with mercy is necessary to afford us a ground for hope in the petition which we offer. For.
Almighty" power alone can enable us to " do unto God true and laudable service;' and mercy must engage that power in our favour, accept our imperfect service when performed, and recompence it with a reward of
grace, not “ of debt.” That man who is conscious of his own demerit and imbecility will feel the propriety with which these attributes of the Divine character are introduced into our collect.
God has a people in the world who are distinguished from all other people. They are called by St. Peter His" peculiar people,” because, though they are now mingled among “ the men s of the world who have their portion in this life, “as tares among wheat,” yet they belong to Him as His property, and are known of Him.
The Lord knoweth them that are His.” And as they are now distinguishable from others by the
peculiar sensibilities of their hearts, and the peculiar conduct of their lives, so will they be hereafter distinguished from the world by the favour and approbation of their Master and King, when He shall place them on His right hand, and address them, saying, “Well done, good and “ faithful servants.” Then will the great assembly be able to “ discern between the righteous and “ the wicked, between him that serveth God and “ him that serveth Him not,” without any possibility of a mistake respecting either the persons, character, or advantages, of God's “ faithful
« “ people."
The grand characteristic of the Lord's people is used in our collect for the purpose of distinguishing them from all other persons, whether within the pale of the visible church or without it. They are a “faithful people.” Faithfulness, or fidelity, is a complex character of which faith is the root. And therefore it is frequently used as the characteristic of God's people. (See Eph. i. 1. Col. i. 2. &c. &c.) The nature of faith as the principle of our allegiance to the King of kings must be a subject of high importance. It is not a mere human assent to Divine truth as proposed to the understanding, but it is a cordial consent to that way of salvation which is proposed in the gospel of Christ. It is the arm by which the lost soul of a sinner embraces the Divine Saviour as his “wisdom, righteousness, sanctifica" tion, and redemption." It is the tendril* by
70x Num. xi. 5. signifies “fruits or plants of the pepo or melon kind, which by their tendrils cling to whatever they can lay hold on, and so support theinselves." Parkhurst. It is derived from a root which is commonly used in the Old Testament for the purpose of expressing the act or habit of faith,