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the covenant, Jesus Christ), come dwell in the house of the Lord all and stand at the altar, having a the days of my life, to behold the golden censer ; and there was beauty of the Lord, and to inquire giyen unto him much incense, that in his temple t." And when b&he should offer it, with the prayers nished to the wilderness, at a disof the saints, upon the golden al- tance from the sanctuary, he extar, which was before the throne : presses himself thus: “ O God, and the smoke of the incense, thou art my God, early will I seek which came with the prayers of thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, the saints, ascended up before my flesh' longeth for thee in a dry God, out of the angel's hand *.” and thirsty land, where no water
From hence it appears, that is : to see thy power and thy glory, the outer division of the taber- so as I have seen thee in the sanc. nacle, with its furniture, was a tuary [.” What an ardent affectype of the church below, and its tion for the house God did this ordinances of divine service. What sweet Psalmist of Israel discover ! was done figuratively in the Mo. There he beheld the beauty of Jesaic tabernacle, is done in spirit hovah, even his power and glory, and in truth in the Christian shining forth in the person and church. And as Christ is the glory work of the promised Redeemer: of his people, and of all those or- and the pious penman of the 84th dinances whereby they are in Psalm expresses himself to the structed and built up in their most same effect: “ How amiable are holy faith; so the tabernacle, while thy tabernacles, O Lord of hosts! it typified these things, bore wit- my soul longeth, yea, even faintness to Jesus at the same time : it eth for the courts of the Lord ; my testified of him as the righteous-, heart and my flesh crieth out for ness of his people, which covers the living God." For a day in and adorns them ; it testifies of thy courts is better than a thouhim as the true light which en sand. I had rather be a door. lightens them; as the bread of keeper in the house of my God, life, which supports and nourishes than to dwell in the tents of wictheir souls; and as the only Ad. kedness 8." vocate by whose meritorious inter- If these were the feelings and cession their prayers gain accept- desires of God's children under ance.
the former dispensation, how much Now, though great numbers of more ought they to be ours under the Israelites were totally unać the present, the ordinances of quainted with the design of that which are so much more spiritual service which was constantly per- and edifying? Surely no man can formed in the tabernacle, we can really belong to the church of not doubt that those who were Christ who does not take delight taught of God, understood its spiin its ordinances; who does not, ritual meaning, and were edified in some measure at least, experiby it. If this was not the case, ence feelings and desires like those how shall we account for the de- expressed in the passages just relight which they took in these or- ferred to. Yet, alas! how many dinances, and the fervent desires neglect divine service altogether! which they expressed to wait upon Such can hardly be considered as God in his house? How pathetic members of the visible church at is the language of David ! “One all: for though they have been adthing have I desired of the Lord, mitted within its pale by baptism, that will I seek after, that I may yet they openly renounce their
Psalın xxvii. 4. Ps. bxciü. 1, R. * Rev. riil. 4,
& Ps. Lxxxiv. 1, 2, 10.
Christian profession by their neg- the people that forget God f.” O lect of Gospel ordinances. And that this alarming declaration how many who regularly attend might, by the almighty power of upon these ordinances, do so as a God the Holy Spirit, be deeply immere matter of form, feeling none pressed upon the hearts of óc them of the desires that have been hint- that are at ease in Zion;" upon ed at! They come to the house of the hearts of careless and secure God, but it is not to inquire his sinners! mind and will; not to be illumi- But, on the other hand, how nated by the knowledge of the blessed are all those who take des truth as it is in Jesus," they 'ex- light in drawing near 'unto God; pect no benefit from the “ word who know by Sweet experience preached,” and they derive none; the value of Gospel ordinances, as it does not profit them, not being having already derived saving' bemixed with faith *.” They come nefit from them. “ Unto you it is to the Lord's table, but without given to know the mysteries of the any desire to exercise faith in the kingdom of heaven." How great crucified Saviour, to enjoy com- is your felicity if the true light munion with him, and to have hath shined into your heart! their souls nourished with the Cease not to pray, that your unbread of heaven. They never derstanding may be opened more really join with their hearts, in and more from day to day, to unoffering the incense of prayer and derstand the Scriptures. “ Let praise, which ascends from the the word of Christ dwell in you church below; they offer strange richly in all wisdom ;" take heed incense before the Lord, that unto it, as unto a light that shineth which is abominable in his sight, in a dark place,” Bring all your because it resembles the proud doubts and difficulties to the word, boasting of the self-glorying Pha- that they may be removed by its risee. Surely these considerations unerring testimony. Let those ought to excite « great searchings who “ have tasted that the Lord is of heart among us.” Let us ask gracious, desire, as new-born babes, our own souls, Are we spiritual the sincere milk of the word, that worshippers in the courts of God they may grow thereby ll.". For below? Do we take delight in the word of Christ is not only a drawing near to him in the way of light to the understanding, but his own appointment? Do we also spiritual food, whereby babes seek his presence and blessing in in Christ are nourished, and grow his ordinances ?--Important inqui- up “ in the knowledge of the Son ries indeed! For the day is coming of God,' ,66 unto perfect men, unto when “ the sinners in Zion shall be the measure of the stature of the afraid, fearfulness shall surprise fulness of Christ.” It is your high the hypocrites t." How mise- privilege, believers in Jesus! to rable must be the situation of all approach that spiritual table on those hereafter, who are not num- which an heavenly feast is prepared bered among the faithful servants for you, even the most comfortof Christ here! Such are utterly able sacrament of the body and disqualified for the employment of blood of Christ, who has given heaven, which consists in unceas- himself for you, that he might be ing adoration and praise; and your spiritual food and sustenance, therefore they must be for ever And all your prayers and praises, excluded from it: “ The wicked which are offered in the name of shall be turned into hell, with all Christ, and by faith in his merits,
are a sweet-smelling savour to your formers on the other hand, who, heavenly Father ; they “ come up too fond of the principle of curing for a memorial before him." As, contraries by contraries, ran into therefore, the incense was con- an extreme on the opposite side,
stantly offered every morning and and rejected, as of no efficacy, · evening, let nothing interrupt your what the Papacy had magnified morning and evening devotions; too much. begin and end the day with the . It has been usual, in considering Lord ; consecrate its earliest and the question respecting the nature latest moments to him; and, ere of absolution, to state it thus : long, by the sovereign mercy and --Does the priest perform a judi-, free grace of Jehovah, who is your cial 'act, or is it merely declarà. God, by a covenant never to be tory? But it will perhaps conduce broken, you shall be removed from to the better illustration of the the church militant below to the subject, to introduce another term. church triumphant above': there, Is it not, rather, of the nature of instead of beholding a feeble ma- an act of diplomacy-like those pifestation of the glory of Him acts which an ambassador performs whom your soul loveth, as you do in the name and on the behalf of now in these outward ordinances, his sovereign? you « shall see him as he is ;" 1st. To call the Absolution “ for now we see through a glass merely declaratory, is, in fact, as darkly, but then face to face: now a ministerial act, to reduce it to I know in part; but then I shall nothing. It puts it entirely upon know, even as also I am knownt.", a level with reading or teaching, GREGORY Peter, or the conversation of a private i
Christian declaring the doctrine of A COMPANION TO THE COMMON
the remission of sins. And I have PRAYER BOOK.
no doubt that there are circum-“
stances where such a declaration, PART I. CHAP. I. SECT. V.. made even by the lisping tongue
ON THE ABSOLUTION. ; of an infant, may be attended with .. [Continued from Page 161.] all the power and efficacy of par
HAVING exhibited our argu- doning grace. But it does not ments to prove that a power of re- follow but that Christ has appoint-' mitting sins still belongs to the of. ed a formal ministerial act, as the fice of a Christian Minister
ordinary and more solemn and re-* · 2dly. Let us next inquire, of gular mode for the conveyance of what nature this authority is ; for this benefit to his people, accord-' if it be an institution of God, we ing to the declaration which they should be careful not only not to read for themselves in his holy ascribe too much to it, but also word. not to ascribe too little to it. 2d. With respect to the term juMuch less are we authorized to dicial. If by judicial is meant to disuse the ordinance because our be designated the act of a judge forefathers had abused it. On the or magistrate deciding by his own question of the nature of minis. discrimination on a case, or reterial absolution, it will be found specting the applying of a law, that the Church of England holds and, according as he shall judge a mean between the notions of the proper, pronouncing sentence and
Papists on the one hand, whose' ordering execution ; in this sense, i abuse of this ordinance is well : “ judicial by no means applies to known; and of some of the re- ministerial absolution. In this sense.
God alone can remit and retain + i Cor. xiii.-12.
sins; for it is his prerogative alone CHRIST. GUARD. VOL. VI. Cu Vou VI. . Ff.
to discern the hearts of men. But the penitent believer, or, on the if the term judicial be used, in al- other hand, pronounce the awful lusion only to those acts of a judge, sentence of God against the impewhere the fact being supposed or nitent, we have every reason to otherwise determined, he authori. believe that God will confirm the tatively pronounces the sentence word of his servant, and perform of the law in that case provided : the counsel of his messengers. Since in this restricted sense we need he himself has said, Whosesqever not scruple the use of the term as sins ye remit, they are remitted unto applied to the absolutions pro- them ; and whosesoever sins ye rea nounced by Christian, Ministers. tain, they are retained unto them, For, the fact being supposed, that And, again: Whatsoever ye shall we do appear before the throne of bind on earth shall be bound in heagrace as sincere penitents and true ven; and whatsoever ye shall loose believers, the Minister does then on earth shall be loosed in heaven., formally and authoritatively pro- And, lo.! I am with you always i nounce to us the will of the al- even to the end of the world. mighty Lawgiver.
Lastly. The commission and But, as I intimated above, to power of God's Minister to abconsider the pronouncing of abso- solve sinners being acknowledged, lution by Christian Ministers as an no one will be at a loss to perceive act performed by an ambassador the propriety and utility of his exeor diplomatic agent, affords the cuting and employing the same at truest illustration of its nature and this time in the congregation: efficacy, especially when we sup- since we are assembled to join in a pose this agent to be sent from a service which particularly requires sovereign to propose terms of a persuasion of God's mercy and peace and amnesty to rebellious favour to enable us to discharge it subjects, and to authenticate cer- with a becoming frame of mind. tain acts appointed by the terms It is surely expedient for those prescribed for their submission and who are to join in psalms and songs reconciliation. This allusion all of praise, and to appear before will recognise as being scriptural. God as intercessors on behalf of Now, then, we are ambassadors for their fellow-creatures, to be themChrist ; as though God did beseech selves satisfied that no unpardoned you by us, we pray you in Christ's sin separates between them and stead be ye reconciled to God. their heavenly Father. And how
An ambassador, we may remark, happy will the Christian worshipis not sent to declare merely his per feel, when, conscious of his sin- . sovereign's will, or simply to make cerity in the acknowledgment of known his intention, but with his sins, he can, further, by the powers and instructions to nego- exercise of a lively faith, see the tiate on his behalf, to ratify and divine appointment in the absoluexecute covenants and engage- tion of the priest, and can look on ments; and while he acts within him as standing at that time in, the limits of his instructions, and Christ's stead, and as being sent agreeably to the powers delegated and commissioned to assure him, to him, his actions are, by the law in his name, that God doth put of nations, considered not so pro- away his sin!. perly his own as the actions of his But, alas ! how often is it true, master; and, if all has been rightly of this ordinance, as of the preachand duly transacted, as binding ing of the word in general, it does upon him that sent him. . not profit, not being mixed with "And thus, when the Ministers of faith in then that hear it. No Jesus Christ, agreeably tvith the means of grace, we ought all to word of God, proclaim peace to be aware, can profit without a bae.
lieving heart; even the sacramental ed for, because on the action of signs are of no salutary effect to this secret power depends alike the receiver except they are ac- the preparation of the believer's companied with faith in the pro- heart and the effectual operation of mises of God. If you discern not the Minister's blessing. If this the Lord's body in the eucharist, healthful dew fall upon us while and feed not upon hiin in your we pray and while we hear, then hearts by faith, it is certainly to will our penitence be true and you no communion of the body and deep; then will the exercise of blood of Christ. So, if you hear our faith be strong and lively; and not the voice of Christ in his am- then will the word of God, spoken bassador, and do not receive it as in the Absolution, come with power the word of God, and not as the and with'much assurance, and, we word of man, the ministerial ab- doubt not, with its “ mystical” efsolution will most assuredly profit feets, you nothing.
We supplicate for the Spirit, Our form of absolution, there. « that those things may please Him fore, very properly concludes with which we do at this present ;" not an exhortation to secret and ear- only that these acts of penitence 'nest prayer for that which can and absolution may be accepted alone render this absolution effec- and allowed of God, but also that tual: “ wherefore let us beseech all the religious duties in which we Him to grant us true repentance are about to engage may meet and his Holy Spirit.” The vali. with his gracious approbation, dity of this remission of sins is, as God is a spirit, and they that worwe have seen, by the very terms · ship him must worship him in spirit of the grant, confined to the true and in truth. He seeketh such to believer and sincere penitent. The worship him. In vain, therefore, Minister has no discretionary pow. would be the formal repeating of er to go beyond the word of the prayers, unless the quickening Lord to do less or more, of his Spirit of God dispose the heart to own accord, either to save his supplication: cold and inconown soul or the souls of the people, gruous would be the song of praise or to turn back the merited chas- and the voice of thanksgiving, untisements of God, which the pro- less, being filled with the Holy voking of his sons and of his daugh. "Ghost, our souls be animated with ters shall have called forth. All a sense of mercy, of love, and of depends upon the state of the spiritual joy. heart in the sight of God. We Again; we are directed to suptherefore address ourselves to Himplicate for the Spirit, “ that the in whose hand are the preparations rest of our life hereafter may be of the heart; to Him who is ex- pure and holy, so that at the last alted to be a Prince and a Saviour, we may come to his eternal joy, to give repentance unio Israel, and through Jesus Christ our Lord.” remission of sins,
The spiritual exercises of public He has appointed, it is true, his worship have indeed a great effect Ministers to declare and pronounce and operation in promoting the in his name the grant of pardon salvation of the soul, but they are and remission which he gives"; but not aļl that are requisite. In order he must bestow at the same time, to assure our hearts of a share in the grace of repentance upon the the Redeemer's passion, and to heart, or the grant of absolution come to the possession of that hea. cannot of course attach. The di. venly inheritance which he has vine influence of the Spirit of grace purchased for us, we should be is accordingly directed to be prayable, supposing time allowed, and