Page images

therein and overcome. Let us daily seek more grace, that we may steadfastly set our affections on things above. Let us run with patience the race that is set before us; looking unto Jesus, the Author and finisher of our faith. And while we renounce the sinful pleasures of this present world, let us pray that we may never be overwhelmed by its trials and a fictions. We are called to walk by faith, not by sight. "Let us then, not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen : for the things which are seen are temporal ; but the things which are not seen, are eternal."


The prayer in this Collect, is two-fold, relating both to the world and to the Church. The petition concerning the world, is introductory to that which we offer up for the Church. The whole may be well illustrated by that noble passage of St. Paul in 1 Tim. ii. 1, 2. “ I exhort therefore that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men : for kings and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, in all godliness and honesty.”

I. First consider our petition on behalf of the world at large.

The world is made up of many nations ; and nations consist of many people of various ranks and degrees; high and low, rich and poor. These all are subjects of human passions : especially all are naturally endued with that evil disposition, which sets man against man, the passion of selfishness. It is wonderful, considering the evil of man's nature, that there is any measure of happiness in the world. In proportion as sin is subdued, there is an increase of happiness, and a more abundant opening in the world at large, for Gospel light and privileges. With this view therefore, we pray that the Lord would peaceably order the course of this world by his governance. :

We pray for peaceable order. Without order there can be no peace. All ought to study what is their proper place; and to keep it. The man of high degree should conscientiously perform the duties of his exalted station : and the man of low degree should contentedly perform the duties of his. Agreeably to that simple and beautiful description given in the Catechism concerning our duty towards our neighbour, each one of us ought to follow this rule ;-" to learn and labour truly to get mine own living, and to do my duty in that state of life, unto which it shall please God to call me.” · The most unquiet and disturbing people in the world, are those who meddle with other men's matters, and neglect their own business. And therefore St. Paul, when he would promote peace, lays down the law in these words : that men should " study to be quiet, and to mind their own business.”

But to bring men to this due order, requires that they should submit to religious principles : they must come under the governance of God. Therefore in this Collect we pray to God, as the King of all the earth : “ the kingdom is the Lord's, and he the governor among the nations." We pray in the name of Jesus who declares, “ All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” And were our

prayers for order and peace more fervent and believing, these blessings would be more abundantly poured out upon our own country, and upon all the nations of the earth. For consider with what perfect ease God can sway the minds of men, of every rank and degree. Solomon says, “The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of waters : he turneth it whithersoever he will.” And the Psalmist beautifully represents God as the confidence of all, the ends of the earth, and then adds, “ Which stilleth the noise of the seas, the noise of their waves, and the tumult of the people.” (Psalm Ixv. 5–7.) So that whether we regard kings or people, rulers or subjects, our duty is constantly to look up to the Lord Jehovah; seeing that He, and he alone, is able to govern all hearts, moulding them to his holy will.

2. And this petition for the world we present to God, following it up with an earnest plea for his whole Church militant here on earth. The three things which we here implore for the Church, shall be separately considered.

First, we ask for the spirit of obedience. To " serve Thee,” O Lord ; that is our desire. And in thus praying, we pray for all men : we offer up, in reality, the petition which our Saviour himself hath taught us : “ Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, in earth as it is in heaven.

We pray also for the spirit of joy : that we may “ joyfully serve” thee. And this in fact is the same as the temper of heaven. For angels and the spirits of just men made perfect, delight in obeying the great King of heaven and earth. The angels excel in strength, they do the commandments of the Lord, bearkening unto the voice of his word. Like them we should aim at serving the Lord with gladness ; yea, with joy unspeakable and full of glory.

Further, we implore for the Church of Christ, the blessing of godly quietness. There is such a thing as an ungodly quietness; that is, when peace, plenty, and security are enjoyed by the professors of the Gospel, and these blessings are abused to sloth, secularity, and sin. Slumbering and sleeping never ought to be the character of the Church of Christ. Yet we may desire, and ought to promote a spirit of universal peace : a peace undisturbed by the din of war, or by the bad passions of religious controversy. For peace, used in a Christian manner, is eminently conducive to the growth of knowledge, piety, and happiness ; conducive therefore, to the growth of the Church. So the Apostle James says, “ The fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.” And St. Paul, in one of his most emphatic precepts, says, “ Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.” (Heb. xii. 14,) The bistory likewise of one memorable period of the Church exemplifies the same truth : when a season of severe persecution had ceased, it is related, “ Then had the Churches rest throughout all Judæa and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied." (Acts ix. 31.) ,

Such are our petitions.- I have lived,'said the dying Hooker, 'to see that the world is made up of perturbations.' What we ask, is, that this troublesome world may be peaceably ordered and governed by God :

[ocr errors]

and this, for the glory of his own great name. We pray for his Church, which is exposed to so many perils, both from without and from within ; that all the members thereof, may faithfully, joyfully, and quietly serve their heavenly Master. These great mercies we ask, through the mediation of Him who is “ King of kings, and Lord of lords ; ” whose name is called “ Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the PRINCE OF PEACE." Amen.


ETERNAL God accept our praise,
Inspire our hearts with heavenly lays;
Whilst waiting in thy house of prayer,
May we thy choicest blessings share.
Rise, Sun of Righteousness and shine,
May every sinner's heart be thine ;
Send down from heaven thy richest grace,
And let thy glory fill this place.
Now may thy word of truth and love,
Receive a blessing from above ;
Assist thy servant to proclaim,
Salvation through the Saviour's name.
Thy word proclaims the great command,
“ Go, preach the truth in every land,"
Dispose thy people to fulfil,
Thy wise designs, thy gracious will.
O let salvation's welcome sound,
Fly to the earth's remotest bound;
Loud may the gospel trumpet ring,
And every heart thy mercy sing.
May heathens listen to the call,
And Satan's empire quickly fall;
Let men of distant islands bring,
Their hearts a tribute to our king.
Soon may the glorious promised day
Arrive, when all shall homage pay
To Christ, whose universal reign,
Shall spread his peace o’er earth again.

[ocr errors]
[merged small][ocr errors]



IN was at the close of a Sabbath day, after many hours spent in alternate exciting duties, that I retired to my quiet chamber, and there sought refreshment for my worn-out spirits. The employments of prayer and praise in the great congregation, and the high privilege of drawing near to the table of the Lord, and receiving once again the pledges of a Saviour's love; had failed in communicating any portion of blessing. The depressing air of worldliness still encircled me, and the paralyzing torpor of indolence weighed down my drooping frame. Besides, more than one unwonted circumstance extraneous to the solemnity of sacred thought had combined to annoy and ruffle me. Passing words had thrown a blight over my soul, and impelled me to cast aside with vexation and disgust, associations whereon I usually love to dwell. Wearied and sorrowful, therefore, I sunk to rest.

With scarce one cheerful gleam of hope

Or spark of glimmering day.' But as I slept I dreamed a dream. Methought I was wandering in a small and narrow garden, where every surrounding object tended to strengthen existing morbidity of feeling. Thick grey clouds cast a gloom over all things, and shut out most effectually the sun's enlivening rays. An unusual stillness prevailed ; not the placid stillness of the summer eve, .in close night's shade around, nor the portentous stillness which heralds in the heavy bursting storm : in either case, the effect would have been different : it would have produced the conscious enjoyment of nature's beauty, or the awe-struck anticipation of nature's majesty. But this was a dull unmeaning stillness, beneath whose influence the very birds forgot to sing, and the leafless twigs hung motionless in air. I looked downward, but beheld few symptoms of returning vegetation : the primrose roots bore leaves only; the evergreen boughs of the laurustinus were dim and faded, and the shrivelled clusters which they bore of pale sickly flowers, served but to increase the aspect of entire desolation.

• How can this garden be otherwise!' I exclaimed, when the sun withholds its kindly rays, and the very breath of the air of heaven is chill and blighting. Some would perchance say, that the soil is barren, or the culture superficial, and that diligence and care might soon effect a change,-but even were it so, small indeed is the chance of reward to him, who should seek after an amendment. He would nourish delicate plants only to pine away beneath the ungenial sky, and bring forth tender blossoms only to perish beneath the biting north-east wind. Can the Creator of this earth expect it to yield its fruits in due season, while He withholds from it the early and the latter rain ?' .

These closing words I spoke aloud in the bitterness of my heart, but scarcely had they passed my lips, ere I was sensible of the presence of another person ; and turning round beheld a stranger, whose calm dignity and gentle bearing, at once inspired confidence, and attracted respect. He laid his hand upon me, saying with a look of pity yet of tenderness, • Follow me, thou erring one, and mark well what I shall show thee.'

I obeyed in silence, for his manner awed and subdued me. He paused not until he reached the boundary of the small garden we were treading; then turning towards me inquired, “What seest thou ?'

• A wall-flower blossoming all alone,' I answered.

• Thinkest thou that it beareth any resemblance to the other flowers in this garden ?' he gently said. • Then my spirit was melted within me, and I made no reply, for that little plant bore to me a message of love: its silent teaching's were already sinking deep into my heart. I stood before my unknown companion ashamed and confounded, not daring to lift up my voice any more because of all my past ungrateful repinings. · Then said he, I will speak for thee, and shew thee that which thou canst not thyself say. 'Mark thou its joyous aspect, as it shoots upward its rich golden flowers, seeming to rejoice, even though all outward sources of gladness are withdrawn. Thankful for the measure of light and nourishment bestowed upon it, it blooms in enduring vividness of colouring, though no glowing sunbeams light up its petals; and puts forth bright glossy leaves, albeit no kindly dew bathes them with exhaling freshness. It takes no lesson from the stunted plants around, but rather seems to grow in fuller luxuriance, as if in contrast to their general sterility.'

The stranger ceased, but still I spoke not. Emotions too deep for utterance were thrilling within my bosom. He waited awhile, as if in expectation of a reply ; then, in accents still gentler than before, thus resumed :- Thy Father in heaven has watched the workings of thine unquiet spirit, and He willeth that the delicate blossoms of this little wall-flower should for thee, be turned into monitors of peace and holy wisdom. Let thy faint-heartedness, thy thanklessness, be reproved. As thou wast slowly pacing to and fro along this garden walk, thou wast yielding to the suggestions of indolence, and the complaints of discontent. Thou knewest that the choice mercies of heaven had been this day vainly poured down upon thee, but thou didst take small share of blame to thyself in this behalf. Thou saidst in thy heart that the appointments of thy Father's providence frustrated the arrangements of his grace; that the friends and associates among whom thy lot is cast, were unfit companions in thy journey towards Mount Zion; that their converse sullied the brightness of thy celestial aspirations, and that their earthly-mindedness bound down thy already grovelling spirit among the thickest and darkest of the flesh-pots of Egypt. Does thy heart bear witness that I have now been speaking to thee words of truth ?'

My tears flowed forth abundantly as I replied, True, most true, my Lord, but the half is not yet told.'

Moreover,' he continued, thou saidst, that because the heavens above are now dark with 'gloomy clouds, and the earth beneath parched for lack of moisture, that because there is now a famine, not of bread, and a thirst, not of water, but of hearing the words of the Lord ; that therefore thou couldst not and wouldst not bring forth

« PreviousContinue »