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rooted and grounded in Christ, and much occupied in those spiritual exercises which keep up the union of the soul with Christ. Private piety consists in our study of the Holy Scriptures, making them our meditation day and night'; in self-examination and prayer; in holy vows carried out into action; in public and private worship, and the use of all appointed means of grace. He who would bring forth much fruit to the glory of God, must dig the ground, and water the roots, and prune the branches of the tree.
2. Let us now therefore, in the next place, consider the prayer which we offer up in this Collect, with the desire of abounding in holiness.
We pray that the grace of God may “ continually prevent and follow us," and thus cause us to be “ continually given to all good works." The first movement of the heart must be from God : and that this movement may be practically effective, his almighty energy must be had : " for it is God that worketh in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure." We need his grace to go before us, in order to work in us a good will; and his grace to accompany us, working with us when we have this good will. We need his guidance, to lead us into the right path, and his supporting hand to keep us in it. We need much grace from him, that we may be " given,'' that is, devoted, body and soul, to the pursuit of holiness. We continually need new impulses from the Spirit of God, that we may continually advance in holiness : else we shall flag, and grow weary, and decline, and even go backward. We need constantly a sense of pardoning grace, that we may not fall into despondency, at the view of our many sins, negligences, and ignorances ; but that, having all our iniquities washed and taken away through the blood of Jesus, we may with fresh vigour and alacrity go on in the way of God's commandments. And finally, we need the grace of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, to follow us and press us on, with the hope of that glorious and undeserved reward, which he will give to all who unfeignedly love and serve him.-We may most suitably close this view of the grace of God, with the animating exhortation of the apostle, “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable, ALWAYS ABOUNDING in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” (1 Cor. xv. 58.)
EIGHTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY.
In the prayer of this Collect, we behold the character of the people of God fighting their way through enemies, whilst striving to follow Christ, the captain of their salvation, to glory. They feel that they could neither fight, nor follow on, except by the help of divine grace: this therefore they implore in the name of him, whose they are, and whom they serve.
1. Consider them first, as fighting that good fight, to which they have been called by their Lord and Master Christ Jesus.
Three enemies are named : and under these three may be comprised every kind of foe with which a Christian can possibly have to contend. All the three are tempters: they make war upon the people of God by temptations. Whatever tevds to put men out of the path of duty, whether by alluring, or by terrifying, or discouraging, is properly called a temptation. Let us observe then the ways by which each of these enemies, respectively, presents its temptations to the soul.
The world tempts by offering pleasures, riches, honours, and all its vanities. These are so many and so alluring, that their number and their influence cannot be adequately described. Let every person only survey for a short time the scene that passes nearest to himself, and which as it were, touches him; and he cannot fail to discover a vast variety of persons and objects, tempting him to think this world his home, his place of enjoyment, and the main business of his mind. St. John classes “ all that is in the world” under these three titles; “ the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eye, and the pride of life.” By these things all persons, old and young, are tempted. Even they who have renounced the world, do not on that account escape its temptations. The world tells them, with its fair, deceitful, smiling face, that they may at any time, if so minded, have the opportunity to return to this world's pleasures. And when the servants of Christ faithfully maintain their ground, then the world attempts to shake their constancy by ridicule, contempt, and unkindness. To enable us to withstand the flatteries and the injuries of an ungodly world, it needs all the vigour of a believing and obedient heart, devotedly given up to God. We should remember passages of Scripture such as the following, in order to strengthen our holy purposes : 6. Know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be the friend of the world, is the enemy of God.” “ Be not conformed to this world." " Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.” “ Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”
The flesh is a tempter of another kind. It signifies our own evil nature within : consequently, in a believer it signifies that remaining corruption, which still contends against the better principle implanted in him by the Spirit of God. " The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh.” This term “ the flesh,” comprises both the evil workings of the natural heart, and all the sinful passions of the body. It as much includes pride, anger, envy, malice, and revenge, as it does gluttony, drunkenness, uncleanness, sloth, and the like. It is the entire " old man." This we are to put off; and daily to put on the new man. This " old man ” is a traitor within us; sometimes stirring up unholy and violent tempers, at other times enticing us to give a loose to sensuality. So it was with the Israelites of old in the wilderness: they were continually lusting after evil things, and falling into sins of idolatry, blasphemy, murmuring, unbelief, licentiousness, and worldliness. They yielded to the power of the flesh.-Now this is to be mortified. Either the flesh, with its affections and lusts, must be crucified : or else the fleshly principle will tempt the soul away from God, to its final and utter ruin. " Dearly beloved,” says the venerable Peter, “I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul.” They war against us; we therefore must give no quarter to them. Painful as it may be to exercise a holy severity upon what
is part of ourselves, yet we must do it, as we hope for eternal life. “ If thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee.”
The ihird enemy here named, is an invisible one ; but not therefore the less a real one. Indeed he is so much the more dangerous, because unseen. The Devil was a liar and a murderer from the beginning. By tempting Eve, he brought sin into the world : and consequently the world is now said to be bis kingdom. By the lusts of the flesh, and by the pride of life, and also by evil suggestions to our minds, the manner of which we do not comprehend, though we feel the effects of them, Satan is constantly at work, endeavouring to turn away men from God. His first aim is to keep inen quiet in their sins, while living without God in the world. When they begin to stir and seek after salvation, then his work is to hinder and confuse them. When, in spite of all his arts, sinners are determined to fiee to Christ for salvation, casting off the yoke of Satan, and putting on Christ's yoke, then the Devil exerts all his cunning and all his wrath to make them weary of piety, and so to win them back to sin and the world. Nor is this the whole of what he attempts, and is even permitted to do; for he even enters within the fold of Christ's church, to deceive and mislead the unwary. Hence we find him described under three emblems: first, as a serpent, " that old serpent, the Devil,” the same who appeared and spake in a most insinuating manner to Eve. Secondly, as a lion, full of rage and cruelty, as St. Peter describes him ; “ Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the Devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may deyour.” And again, he is described as putting on the semblance of an angel of light: so St. Paul declares, when exposing the false apostles and deceitful workers, who corrupted the Corinthians :-concerning whose success, he says, “ And no marvel, for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.” (2 Cor. xi. 13-15.) The same it was who appeared to our Lord Jesus Christ in the wilderness; even quoting Scripture, in order to draw Jesus to worship him. To whom our Lord answered, “ Get thee behind me, Satan : for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve."
Now, if we intend to serve Christ, and to gain heaven, we must expect to be attacked by every one of these three enemies. Sometimes they may seem to come separately; but in truth they are all leagued together. We must endeavour sometimes to avoid, sometimes to fee from them : but we must prepare most generally to withstand and resist them. And we must make up our minds to this, either to conquer, or to be conquered. Tbere is no making a truce with them : if we parley, they will overcome. Indeed, whenever we begin to yield to any one of them, they have more than half gained the victory. Therefore, above all things, we must pray for grace to withstand them; for of ourselves, we have no might against their innumerable devices and stratagems.
The simplicity of the language of this Collect is its great beauty : it leads the heart to prayer. « Lord, we beseech thee, grant thy people grace to WITHSTAND the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the Devil.” In this spirit of mind we shall most thankfully obey the command to " put on the whole armour of God, that we may be SEPTEMBER, 1842,
able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” We shall be comforted moreover by the promise, that he who calls us to this war, will not forsake us when we are in the midst of it. “ There hath no temptation taken you, but such as is common to - man : but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted
above that ye are able ; but will, with the temptation, also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”
2. In the latter part of the Collect, we still pray for grace, that we may be enabled, as it is expressed, “ with pure hearts and minds, to follow thee, the only God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
When we are taught to speak of the Lord, as being “ the only God,” the expression naturally reminds us of that confession, made by the Church, as she mourns her sinfulness, (Isa. xxvi. 13.) “ () Lord our God, other lords beside thee have bad dominion over us : but by thee only will we make mention of thy name.” The world then is now no more our idol : the flesh, that is, sin, shall not have dominion over us : Satan, the god of this world, we utterly renounce. We desire “ with pure hearts and minds," to follow the only true God.
A pure heart and mind, (that is, a heart free from corrupt motives, and wholly devoted to Christ's service,) is absolutely essential in those who follow the standard of Christ, and would successfully fight the battles of the Lord of hosts. If a man should take into his hand a sword made partly of steel and partly of bad metal, his weapon would probably snap asunder at the first encounter. So is the man of a divided heart, and of a corrupt mind : he may pretend to go into the battle, but he will not fight; or if he attempts to do so, he will very soon be worsted. Nor will he ever have the heart to follow on. None persevere, but those who are faithful. None follow the Lord fully, but those who, like Caleb and Joshua, are men of a right spirit. These are they that overcome. They follow the commands of God: they follow the example of Christ : they follow the leading of his Spirit. They go from strength to strength, from one victory to another victory; from a long warfare to an immortal crown, from grace to glory. Let us sum up the whole subject with St. Paul's exhortation to Timothy (1 Tim. vi. 11, 12), adding also the example which he gives of his own triumph on departing from life : (2 Tim. iv. 6-8.) The precept is" Thou, O man of God, follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life.” And then the example-" I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of life, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.”
ON EXTEMPORE PRAYER IN THE PULPIT.
The following paper has been sent by a correspondent, who states,
that he is a curate of nearly thirty years standing, that it is contrary to his feelings and to the wishes of his people among whom he ministers, that he should be compelled to use Collects in the pulpit, and that many curates also with himself, regard it as an unscriptural bondage from which they wish to be freed, by the permission and example of their incumbents.' Some of the remarks appear rather uncharitable, but our readers will join with us in making every allowance for a writer who has so long endured a yoke which he considers has been imposed by custom and not by law.
The writer bereof has long since been, and is still, exceedingly surprised that any real minister of Christ should be found, who is in the constant habit of using Collects in the pulpit, instead of offering up to God, within the courts of his house, and in the hallowed season, of addressing his people, the breathing of his heart, in an extemporary form, for a spiritual blessing to accompany the ministry of the word of life, to the souls of those who hear it. All who use Collects, manifest an appearance of having no praying Spirit, and no heart zealously devoted to the service of their God. There are some few excellent clergymen, who draw near to their God, in the pulpit, with their whole hearts and affections set upon him in the more suitable and praiseworthy mode of extemporary praying. Such ministers of truth are admired by their respective congregations, to whom they publish the glad tidings of salvation, and by all praying souls in the land where they dwell. Why should not all ministers of the Gospel approach the throne of mercy in the temple of their God in the more excellent way? There is no law to prevent their doing so. For the adoption or use of a Collect in the pulpit before or after the sermon, has no warrant from the rubric of the Liturgy. In his answer to Sweetyman, in defence of the Liturgy, Bishop Hall thus writes :-- It is a false ground, that the imposing the book of Common Prayer, ties godly men from exercising their gift in prayer. An enjoined liturgy,' continues he, 'may well stand with the freedom of a prayer conceived ; the desk is no hindrance to the pulpit; he is wanting in bis duty that slackeneth either service. Here is not only a defence of the practice, but a censure on the man who exercises not his gift in prayer, in the services of the pulpit. In an appendix to the Rev. George Herbert's
Country Parson,' there are two prayers thus entitled, “The Author's Prayer before Sermon, and his prayer after Sermon,' which indubi. tably shows, that, at least, at some period of his ministry, the worthy orator of the University of Cambridge, deemed it his province to use before and after sermon his own conceived form. While vast numbers of clergymen, or ministers of the New Testament, not of the letter, but of the Spirit,' habituate themselves to the Collect-mode of addressing their Creator, multitudes fail to believe in the absolute necessity of prayer, and, by deadness of faith, have no inclination to experience the inward delight of its exercise. A sermon on Prayer, can have