« PreviousContinue »
of whose righteousness covers all the defects which the eye of infinite purity must discover in human obedience. It is our comfort to be assured that, “if any man sin, we have an advocate with of the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He ss is the propitiation for our sins.”
THE SECOND SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY.
O Lord, who never failest to help and govern them whom thou dost bring up in thy steadfast fear and love; keep us, we beseech thee, under the protection of thy good providence, and make us to have a perpetual fear and love of thy holy name, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
M ODLINESS is a supreme and habitual re
U gard to God in the heart and life. It consists of many branches; for “ our duty towards “ God is to believe in Him, to fear Him, and to “ love Him, with all our heart, mind, soul, and 66 strength, to worship Him, to give Him thanks, " to put our whole trust in Him, to call upon “ Him, to honour His holy name and His word, " and to serve Him truly all the days of our “ lives." Each of these characteristic qualities of the Godly soul implies the others, for neither of them can exist in solitude and without the rest. They are therefore used in Scripture singly and separately as descriptive of the people of God, soinetimes one and sometimes another being adopted.
In our collect two of these distinctive properties of the saints are introduced. They are described as fearing and loving God. If the reader be of the number, he may confidently say with the Psalmist, “ The Lord is my Shepherd, there“ fore shall I want nothing; for God never fails 6 to help and govern 'them whom He doth bring “ up in His steadfast fear and love."
Our present collect contains—A declaration of God's goodness towards His people, and—A prayer founded on that declaration. The preface of our collect acknowledges, in a grateful address to God, His great goodness towards His people, in which we shall consider--the character which is drawn of those who are the objects of Divine regard, and the nature and extent of God's fa. vour to them. : . The objects of Divine regard are those whom God “hath brought up in His steadfast fear and
love." These exclusively are partakers of His. special favour and complacential regard. Sinners, as such, He pities, and hath opened a way for, their return to His paternal embrace. But none can be assured of an interest in His affection, can cry “Abba, Father," or rely on His help and government, except those who are described in our collect as possessed of filial dispositions towards their heavenly Father. And it is carefully to be observed that these are not partakers of His special favour on account of any natural difference between them and others; for the distinction which is made is intirely of grace. The proud supposition that we have any thing which we have not received, is precluded by our collect; for those very qualities, by which the objects of Divine regard are distinguished from others, are expressly ascribed to the operation of Divine influence upon them.
The fear of God in which His people are brought up is that reverential regard to Him, that filial awe of His majesty, which peryades and is interwoven with all their sensibilities and all their conduct. To enter at large into the nature and effects of this holy fear, would open too wide a field for our present purpose. We must therefore VOL. II.
be content with observing that it implies' a supreme respect and reverence for God as our Father and Lawgiver, and for every thing which He has enjoined and commanded. His name, His word, His day, His ordinances, His commands, are to His people objects of habitual, devout, and affectionate regard. The promotion of His glory is their aim, and the attainment of His approbation their end.
Reader, hast thou been brought up in the fear of God? Is this Divine principle paramount in thy bosom? Dost thou fear to offend Hiin more than thou fearest the displeasure of the world, and so as to be ready to incur any temporal inconvenience, loss, or suffering, rather than His frown? Read the account which is given of the spirit by which Daniel, and Shadrach, Me-' sech and Abednego were actuated ; and then inquire whether the same Divine temper is to be found, in any degree, 'in thyself. They feared God, and therefore had nothing else to fear. And let it be remarked, that this holy disposition is not a slavish dread of punishment, restraining merely from outward acts of sin; for this may exist' where there is not a spark of filial fear. That is only occasional and partial in its inffuence; but this is constant and universal. The re“ straint” which arises from legal terror, “can give us no solid comfort, if it be but a bare restraint and no more: we should not rest nor think ourselves safe enough, till we have a well grounded assurance, that we are possessed of a better and a higher grace, even the grace of sanctification. For this will hold out against temptations where that may fail. We may deceive ourves then (and thousands in the world do so
ve themselves) if upon our abstaining from
Send a higher grace hold out againsteive orr
sins, from which God withholdeth us, we presently conclude ourselves to be in a state of grace, and to have the power of godliness and the spirit of sanctification. For, between this restraining grace whereof we have now spoken, and the renewing grace whereof we now speak, there are sundry wide differences. They differ, first, in their fountain Renewing grace springeth from the special love of God towards those that are His in Christ : restraining grace is a fruit of that general mercy of God, whereof it is said in the Psalm that “ His mercy is over all His works." They differ, secondly, in their extent: both of person, subject, object, and time. For the person: restraining grace is common to good and bad; renewing grace proper and peculiar to the elect. For the subject : restraining grace may bind one part or faculty of a man, as the hand or tongue, and leave another free as the heart or ear; renewing grace worketh upon all in some measure, sanctifieth the whole man, “body, soul, and "spirit,” with all the parts and faculties of each. For the object : restraining grace may withhold a man from one sin, and give him scope to anoa ther; renewing grace carrieth an equal and just respect to all God's commandments. For the time : restraining grace may tye us now, and by and by unloose us; renewing grace holdeth out unto the end, more or less, and never leaveth us wholly destitute. Thirdly, they differ in their ends. Restraining grace is so intended chiefly for the good of humane society (especially of the church of God, and of the members thereof) as that indifferently it may, or may not, do good to the receiver; but renewing grace is especially intended for the salvation of the receiver, though ex consequenti it do good also unto others. They