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lapses have occasioned, the bias of his fallen soul to that which is evil, and its utter inability to resist temptation. He is therefore aware that bis “help standeth in name of the Lord who “ made heaven and earth ;” and he looks exclusively to God for support. Unlike the dry stalk of mere morality, which is stiffened for a while by its own want of vital moisture, and for a while stands a monument of its own worthlessness, he, like a living branch, furnished with leaves and fruit, is bent by the rushing breeze, and feels his need of an extraneous prop.
While however the humble Christian looks only to God for conservation, it is not in contempt or neglect of the appointed means that he doth so. He considers not bis supplications for the aid of Omnipotence as superceding the necessity of personal effort. By no means, for he is instructed that if he is kept, it must be by the instrumentality and in the use of the means of grace. He knows that God doth not work on His people as on inanimate or irrational subjects, but that He so illuminates their minds, and influences their hearts, as to make them co-operate in their own preservation; while the whole glory is due to Him from whom both the will and power to “ work out their own salva“ tion with fear and trembling" proceed. This they have learned from His gracious promises.
They shall be my people, and I will be their or God.
And I will give them one heart and * one way, that they may fear me for ever, for “ the good of them and of their children 'after “ them. And I will make an ererlasting cove- . “ nant with them, that I will not turn away s from them to do them good; but I will put * my fear into their hearts, that they shall not
« depart from me.” (Jer. xxxii. 38, 39, 40.) Thus instructed, the people of God watch as well as pray that they may be preserved from temptation, or supported under it.
Let us now contemplate the extent of the blessings for which we ask. « We beseech God “ to keep us from all things hurtful, and to lead
us to all things profitable for our salvation." We are ourselves too ignorant to know what things will hurt us and what will profit us. And if we knew, we should be unable to keep ourselves from the former and to secure the lato ter. We are both blind and maimed, and there. fore are continually liable to plunge ourselves into situations of danger from which God only can extricate us. We are constantly in want of blessings which God only can supply. shall drink poison instead of wholesome nutriment, or starve for want of spiritual food, unless God vouchsafes to keep us and to provide for us. Let us suppose a blind man, who is also a cripple, to be engaged in a long journey through an unknown country, abounding with precipices, in which the roads are intricate, rough and slippery, infested with robbers, murderers, and beasts of prey. Doth he not want a guide and a protector? Without a friend to lead and help him, how is he to take a single step, to find food, to distinguish the nutritious from the deleterious fruits with which the country is turnished, and to know where he may lie down in safety when he is weary,-how is he to take the right road, to avoid the precipice, or to defend - himself against the lion and the bear? Ilis destruction would be certain. This is a faint picture of the Christian pilgrim's state, independent of Divine interference in his favour.
The source from which the blessing of conservation is expected to be derived, is the “per“ petual mercy of God through Jesus Christ or our Lord.” “ God worketh” in His people both * to will and to do of His good pleasure.” Indeed the perseverance of the penitent soul in faith and holiness is as much an act of grace as his vocation or justification. “Perpetual mercy" must attend us all the days of our lives, or we shall assuredly fall short of eternal bliss—mercy to pardon the constant aberrations of our hearts, their perverse declensions from the path of duty -and mercy to renew our souls in holiness, to keep us from final ruin, and to fit us for the eternal inheritance. A believer is, daily, hourly, momentarily, a pensioner on the “ perpetual “ mercy" of God. He is a wonder to himself, not only while he reflects on that compassion which was shewn him in his conversion, but also when he contemplates the inexhaustible patience which hath been exercised towards him. The recollection of unwearied attention and kindness shewn by a fond mother to her child during the years of infancy, is pleasing to the mind of every one who, grown to maturity, has a spark of gratitude in his nature. But how faint an image doth this afford of that unremitted compassion which conducts a sinner to glory!
We shall conclude by observing, that a cordial use of our present collect is a characteristic of a real Christian. None but a genuine believer can use it in sincerity, and every such person will heartily join in it. It is, in substance, the daily prayer of the whole church. The unawakened mind is neither conscious of its danger nor of its own weakness. If duty be proposed, it deems itself to be equal to the task. It
discerns nothing of the difficulties which attend the life of faith. Nominal Christians can therefore live from day to day without any aspirations after retrospective pardon, or prospective strength. But the real Christian feels the burthen of guilt which he daily contracts, perceives his danger, knows his own debility, and therefore cries, “ Lord, help me. ” When he rises in the morning, engages in his worldly business, or enters on religious duty, in short, “ ' at all “ times and in all places,” he perceives the propriety of using our admirable collect.
Let the reader make this collect, then, a test of his sincerity. You profess to be a member of our church; but do your sensibilities accord with those of her children? Are you a child of grace, a dependant on“ perpetual mercy?”
Let it be observed, finally, for the comfort of the Godly, that they here implore what God has promised to bestow. “The Lord upholdeth the righteous.” “ Though he fall, he shall not “ be utterly cast down; for the Lord upholdeth “ him with His hand.” (Ps. xxxvii. 17, 24.) “ I the Lord do keep my vineyard: I will water “ it every moment: I will keep it night and day.” (Is. xxvii. 3.) “ Fear thou not, for I
with thee: be not dismayed, for I am thy • God: I will strengthen thee: yea, I will help “ thee: yea, I will uphold thee with the right “ hand of my righteousness.” (Is. xli. 10.) “ The Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, “ and keep you from evil.” (2 Th. iii. 3.) He “ is able to keep you from falling, and to pre“ sent you faultless before the presence of “ His glory with exceeding joy.” (Jude 24.) “ Wherefore let them that suffer, according to
“ the will of God, commit the keeping of their “ souls to Him in well doing, as unto a faithful “ Creator.” (1 Pet. iv. 19.) Happy is the man who can say with St. Paul, “ I know whom I “have believed; and am persuaded, that He is “ able to keep that which I have committed "unto Him against that day.” (2 Tim. i. 12.)