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Charity is moreover characterised as “ the « bond of all virtues.” In this part of the description the collect seems to allude to Col. iii. 14, where this grace is called “the bond of perfect“ ness.”* It is so denominated because where love exists, all other graces exist also. “ He " that loveth, hath fulfilled the law. For this, - Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt « not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not « bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and - if there he any other commandment, it is - briefly comprehended in this saying, Thou « shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love • worketh no ill to his neighbour; therefore love " is the fulfilling of the law.” Rom. xiii. 8, 9. See also Gal. v. 14. and i Tim. i. 5. And as the duties of the second table are all comprehended in the word LOVE, so also are those of the first; for love to God includes the whole of our duty to Him. For thus said the Divine Law, giver, Matt. xxii. 37, &c. - Thou shalt love as the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with « all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is “ the first and great commandment. And the “ second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy
* Charitas est vinculum perfectionis inter ipsas virtutes, quia qui charitatem habet, reliquas omnes habet et exercet. Huc Spectant illa Scripturæ loca, Rom. xiii. 8. Qui diligit proximum, legem implevit ; et ad Galat. v. 14. Omnis lex in uno sermone impletur, diliges proximum tuum sicut teipsum. Hinc Cyprianus, In amore omnium Scripturarum volumina coarctantur ; in hoc invenit consummationem oinnis religio. Dicitur itaque vinculum perfectionis, quia conjungit et copulat inter se omnium virtutum officia, ita ut ubicunque vera charitas sit, ibi etiam reperiatur integrum corpus, et quasi concatenatio omnium virtutum, Davenant in Epist. ad Coloss.
56 neighbour as thyself. On these two com. “ mandments hang all the law and the prophets." As therefore, when the blood in a sick patient begins to circulate freely, and the pulse beats regularly, the body is ascertained to be in health; so when love circulates freely in all our spirit and conduct, the convalescence of the fallen soul may be ascertained also. But Oh! how feeble and irregular is the pulse of our souls ! How small the indications of returning health! “ Lord, send thy Holy Ghost, and pour into « our hearts that most excellent gift of charity, “ the very bond of peace and of all virtues !"
We need not wonder at the awful declaration which is added to the foregoing eulogy, that " whosoever liveth is counted dead before God” if destitute of charity. For faith, which is the instrument of the spiritual life of justification, is constantly productive of love and can have no existence without it. And love is itself the principle of the spiritual life of holiness, “ without which no man can see the Lord.” As the body without the spirit therefore is dead, so faith, the historical assent given to Scripture by the empty professor, is dead. also, because it is unaccompanied with those works which love to God and man dictates. How awful is the state of those who have a name to live " but are dead !"
Well therefore may we again enforce our request for this excellent gift of charity, by saying, “ Grant this for Jesus Christ's sake."? In such an employment as that to which our collect calls us, lukewarmness is folly, indifference insanity. O that the considerations which
have been stated may be a means of stirring up both the reader and the writer of these pages to an earnestness of importunity which, backed by the Divine Saviour's name and merits, may succeed in obtaining for both this inestimable benefit! Amen.
THE FIRST DAY OF LENT, COMMONLY CALLED
Almighty and everlasting God, who hatest nothing that thou hast made, and dost forgive the sins of all them that are penitent: create and make in us new and contrite heurts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins, and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of thee, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. .
Polycarns and cor
THE days of Lent, of which Ash-Wednesday
is the first, are designed to be preparatory to the observance of the approaching festival of Easter. The origin of this annual fast is of high antiquity; for “ Irenæus, who lived but ninety “ years from the death of St. John, and con“ versed familiarly with St. Polycarp, as Poly" carp had with St. John, has happened to let « us know, though incidentally, that as it was “ observed in his time, so it was in that of his “ predecessors."* The institution appears to have originated in the preparation which was made by the Jews for the great day of atonement, previous to which they are said to have observed a season of forty days humiliation.
The first day of Lent is called Ash-Wednesday in allusion to a custom which prevailed in the primitive church of sprinkling ashes on the heads of penitents before their re-admission to the
communion at Easter. To this custom the preface of the Commination-service refers, wherein we are reminded, that “In the primi“ tive church there was a godly discipline, that, " at the beginning of Lent, such persons as • stood convicted of notorious sin, were put to “ open penance, and punished in this world that “ their souls might be saved in the day of the “ Lord; and that others, admonished by their “ example, might be the more afraid to offend.”
The Collect for Ash-Wednesday was composed at the Reformation, and contains,-A preface declaratory of the Divine character- A request founded on it — And the end proposed by that request.
The preface consists of two parts which are closely connected with each other, and both relate to the character of Him with whom the penitent sinner has to do in the great concern of his salvation. The former part of the description is more general, the latter more confined and yet more consolatory to a contrite heart.
The members of our church are supposed to be, at this season, more deeply impressed and affected by a conviction of their sinfulness and demerit than is common even with awakened sinners. They are supposed to have engaged in the necessary work of self-examination, and to have foued the result of it very humiliating. It is taken for granted that, when they look forward to the great day of expiation shortly to be commemorated, their sins which occasioned so great a sacrifice appear with a deeply crimson hue. In such a state of mind there is no small danger of discouragement and despair. Indeed desperation is inevitable, unless the soul be relieved by those views of Divine mercy which the