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we can live to his glory, or be conformed to his image : for an apostle says especially, with respect to our natural attachment to the things of this world, “ This is the victory which overcometh the world, even our faith.” Where love is strong, obedience is easy; and where there is a lively apprehension of a better world, the present scene is viewed as a fashion that passeth away, as a deceitful meteor, which will speedily vanish, and leave its followers without a hope or a joy, in the total darkness of despair.
I would earnestly pray God for myself, and for you my brethren, that such a measure of grace may be given to us that we may love Christ supremely, devote ourselves to him unreservedly, and by our daily conduct make it manifest to all men that we are his disciples!
John xiii. 35. “ By this shall all men know that ye are my disci
ples, if ye love one another.”
One of the most remarkable features of the times in which we live, is the extraordinary multiplication of associations of Christians having benevolent objects in view. Doubtless, many of our fathers were charitable, humane,' and philanthropic, and each in his own peculiar sphere administered to the necessities of those around him. But the charity, like the labour of individuals, cannot be so effectual nor so extensive as that of a society, and when societies embrace too many objects, their efficiency is proportionably diminished. This principle seems well understood in the present day, and every department of charitable exertion, whether extended towards the souls or the bodies of men, has its particular and proper association. Hence we have distinct societies for the relief of orphans, for the education of children, for the cure of the sick; we have lunatic asylums, penitentiaries, hospitals, and infirmaries. The spiritual necessities of the population are equally the care of particular institutions : we have societies for Promoting Christian Knowledge, we have Bible, Prayer-Book and Homily, and Tract societies, Sunday school, and various Missionary societies: and even that oppressed people, which has so long been the object of scorn and persecution to Christians, has now its peculiar society, that for Promoting Christianity among the Jews.
It will be my object to prove this morning, that these various associations of Christians, who are united in diffusing peace on earth and goodwill towards men, are strictly in unison with the spirit of the Bible and of the church of England, and I shall draw this conclu
sion from the fact, that the word of God teaches us to pray for all sorts and conditions of men, and that the church, as scriptural on this as she is on all other subjects, puts petitions into our mouths for every class of men, whether sufferers or otherwise. Hence it will follow, that continually to pray for the relief of the temporal and spiritual necessities of men, without making the slightest effort to assist them, must be inconsistent or hypocritical; and when the spirit of love, kindness, and goodwill, is diffused through the whole Bible and the services of the church, we can lay no claim to the title of Christian or churchman, unless a like spirit dwell in our hearts, and be manifest in our lives. May the love of Christ constrain us! and may the grace of God assist us in our meditations !
1. LET US CONSIDER, HOW STRIKINGLY SCRIPTURE EN FORCES THE DUTY OF INTERCESSORY PRAYER, BOTH BY ITS EX
AMPLES AND ITS EXHORTATIONS. Many and beautiful instances of this nature are recorded for our instruction : we can notice only a few. Samuel on the occasion when Israel rebelled against the Lord in choosing them a king, used these remarkable words: “ But God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you!” We find our blessed Lord perpetually pleading for his disciples. His prayer immediately previous to his betrayal, recorded in John xvii. is a perfect specimen of intercession. And how encouraging must his declaration have been to Peter when he said to him, “ I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not.” After the crucifixion and ascension of the Saviour, when Peter was cast into prison, we are told that “ prayer was made without ceasing, of the church, unto God for him;" and we know that it was heard, and that an angel was sent to deliver him out of prison. In many passages of his Epistles, St. Paul de