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" mercies.” He hath “ raised the poor out of " the dust, and listed the needy from the dung“ hill, that He might set us with princes, even “ with the princes of His people.” “ Happy “ art thou, () Israel! who is like unto thee, o “ people ?-saved by the LORD, the shield of thy “ help, and who is the sword of thine excel“ lency: and thine enemies shall be found liars “ unto thee, and thou shalt tread upon their “ high places.”
“ Mercifully look upon thy people." There is a treasure of instruction and comfort wrapt up in that word, not only more than the profane world can imagine, (for they indeed know nothing at all of it); but more than they that are of that number are able to conceive--a Deep unfathomable. Thy people. They are His portion, and He is theirs. He accounts nothing of all the world beside them, and they of nothing at all beside Him; for them He continues the world. Many and great are the privileges of His people, contained in that great charter, the Holy Scriptures; and rich is that land, where their inheritance lies; but all flows from this reciprocal relation, that He is their God. All His power and wisdom are engaged for their good; how great and many soever are their enemies, they may well oppose this to all, He is their God. They are sure to be protected and prospered, and in the end to have full victory. Happy then is that people, whose God is the Lord. Ps. xxii. 12."*
What strong ground does a legitimate assumption of this title, of this relation to God, afford for confidence in stating the end for which we
* Archbishop Leighton on 1st Ep. of Peter.
implore His favourable regard ? For if we are His people, may we not indulge a confident persuasion, that He will “ by His great good“ ness govern and preserve us evermore, both in “ body and soul, through Jesus Christ our “ Lord ?"
Our prayer comprehends, as hath been observed already, the collective body of God's people. For they are all one body under one head, subjects of the same kingdom, and members of the same society. However they may be distinguished as “Greeks or Jews, Barba“ rians, Scythians, bond or free, they are all « one in Christ Jesus.” And it is therefore the duty and privilege of every Christian to pray for the whole Catholic church, “ that it may be “ governed and preserved evermore by God's “ great goodness;" that by a pure and powerful dispensation of His word and ordinances its spirituality may be maintained and increasedits beauty and splendour heightened; that He would raise up and continue a succession of pastors after His own heart, who shall employ the delegated authority which they receive to His glory and the benefit of His church.
But we shall consider the petition more particularly as it respects ourselves in our individual capacity, in which we pray for the everlasting governance and preservation of God's great goodness.
God is the Governor and Preserver of all creatures which He hath made. For “ the • kingdom is the Lord's, and He is the gover“nor among the nations.” “ He preserveth 66 man and beast." But it is a governance and preservation of a special kind which we implore
for ourselves. For there is in His government a circle within a circle to which His peculiar regard is confined, He “is the Saviour of all s men, but specially of them that believe.”
We beseech Almighty God that we may be “ governed by His great goodness.” For we know, if we are indeed His subjects, that the laws of His kingdom are all - holy, just, and “ good;” and that the administration of them by His hand is uniformly righteous and gracious, and we therefore wish to be wholly under it, This petition relates both to the management of all our outward affairs in the course of His providence, and to the regulation and control of our hearts, thoughts, desires, and affections, by the influence of His Spirit. It is analogous to that request in the Lord's Prayer, " Thy will “ be done in earth as it is in heaven," And Oh! how clearly is it thy interest, reader, fervently to pray that thou mayest þe governed evermore by God's great goodness, both in body and soul! For “think, O soul, if it be possi“ ble to think, how transcendantly blessed thy " estate shall be, when alļ thy thoughts and « affections shall be centered in God for ever, “ and not the least motion of thy soul shall so “ much as twinkle or waver from the eternal “ contemplation and fruition of the infinite Desity. And therefore this our eternal happiness s being wrapped up in doing the will of God, it “highly concerns us to pray, and to endea“ vour to do it on earth, so that at length we “ may attain to the perfection of doing it in so heaven.”
But do we desire, in sincerity and truth, to be wholly under God's governance ? Have we considered the mode of His procedure with His people in the course of His providence? Do we acquiesce in all His dealings with us? And do we desire to submit to His will, and to be as clay in the hands of the potter? Have we moreover considered the requisitions of His law? And do we love it, surveying its height and depth and length and breadth? Is there no exception that we should wish to make to the administration of His kingdom or its holy code? Is it the earnest desire and endeavour of our souls, that “every thought should be brought into $s subjection to the obedience of Christ,” and that “the government” should be intirely “on “ His shoulders?"
We pray, moreover, that by the same al. mighty goodness we may be « preserved ever“ more, both in body and soul." Both stand in need of Divine preservation, because both body and soul are exposed to innunerable dangers. Self-defence is impossible to either; but as both have been redeemed by the precious blood of Christ, we have encouragement in looking to God for the preservation of both unto His everlasting kingdom.
It is not necessary that we should enlarge on this part of our subject, as it has fallen under our notice in a preceding collect ; though it is necessary that our prayer for preservation by almighty power and goodness should be frequently repeated, yea retained in constant use. We shall therefore only pause for the purpose of proposing a question on the subject to our own consciences, by asking whether we do indeed desire Divine preservation in the full latitude of she expression-whether to be preserved in soul as well as in body, from sin in all its forms as. well as from suffering, be the sincere prayer of 'our hearts. If it be, while we ask it through “ Jesus Christ our Lord,” we shall obtain it to His glory who ever liveth to sanction our petis tions by His effectual “ Amen,"