صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

Arian, Socinian, or Pelagian clergyman; con-: tinuing such, he would be restrained by his own: subscriptions and confessions from ever venting his heretical opinions, and thereby poisoning the minds of others; or he would be obliged, whenever he appeared in the congregation of the faithful, to proclaim his own dishonesty. Let: the enlarged minds of unbelievers condemn, as much as they will, the narrowness of our creed; those, who are concerned for the honour of God and the welfare of mankind, will rejoice that we have such a barrier erected against the admission of those into the fold of Christ, whose business it is" to steal, to kill, and to destroy.". Blessed be God for the Liturgy of the church of England!

The variety of forms, which occur in our Liturgy, and their judicious accommodation to all our spiritual necessities, constitute another characteristic of its excellence. The compila-tion proves that the authors of it were well read in the present state of human nature. They were well acquainted with the fallen, guilty, corrupt, and helpless state of man, and with the glorious provision which the gospel makes for our present and eternal comfort. Is the Christian worshipper oppressed in spirit from a recollection of his sins? Here are confessions. of sin, and deprecations of the anger of God, that will adequately express his feelings; here are promises of pardon, that will approve themselves to his heart by their exact correspondence with his wishes. Is he joyful in spirit? Here he is furnished with hymns of praise, that will describe in lively terms the grateful emotions of his breast. We shall find it difficult to point out any situation, of a public or private nature,

"about Him." When we reflect on the wretched state to which the fall has reduced us, the vanity of our minds, and the sad indisposition of our souls to every thing that is Divine and spiritual, we shall see the necessity of exerting all our powers preparatory to the solemn worship of God; and, after all our efforts, confess our inability to "quicken our own souls," and that" the preparation of the heart in man "is from the Lord," from whose almighty grace alone we can derive the power to offer Him acceptable service.

The compilers of our liturgy were sensible of these things; and therefore they have wisely appointed, that, at the opening of public worship, the minister should read, according to his discretion, some one or more of the sentences, which they have chosen and prefixed to the morning and evening prayer. These preparatory sentences they have copied from the book of God, in order that their authority may be incontestable, and their influence on the minds of those who hear them more powerful, than any thing of merely human invention or authority could be expected to be.

"When the wicked man turneth away from "his wickedness that he hath committed, and "doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall "save his soul alive." Ezek. xviii. 27.

"I acknowledge my transgressions, and my "sin is ever before me.' Psal. li. 3.

"Hide Thy face from my sins, and blot out, "all mine iniquities." Psal. li. 9.

"The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: "a broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou "wilt not despise." Psal. li. 17.

"Rend your heart, and not your garments, " and turn unto the Lord your God: for He is "gracious and merciful, slow to anger and of σε great kindness, and repenteth Him of the "evil." Joel ii. 13.

[ocr errors]

"To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against “Him: neither have we obeyed the voice of the "Lord our God to walk in His laws, which He "set before us." Dan. ix. 9, 10.

"O Lord, correct me, but with judgment; "not in Thine anger, lest Thou bring me to "nothing." Jer. x. 24. Psal. vi. 1.

"Repent ye, for the kingdom of Heaven is " at hand." Matt. iii. 2.

"I will arise and go to my Father, and will say unto Him,-Father, I have sinned against "heaven, and before Thee,' and am no more "worthy to be called Thy son.' Luke xv. 18,


[ocr errors]

"Enter not into judgment with Thy servant, "O Lord; for in Thy sight shall no man living "be justified." Psal. cxliii. 2.

"If we say that we have no sin, we deceive "ourselves, and the truth is not in us. But, if "we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 1 John i. 8, 9.

[ocr errors]


It would take up too much time to analyse these several well-chosen passages: we must, therefore, content ourselves with taking a general survey of the end for which they are here introduced. They are evidently selected with a view to the different classes of those, who may be supposed to appear in the house of God; and are designed to excite in them emotions suitable

to the refined nature of His worship. We should extend our charity beyond all the bounds of probability, were we to suppose that all our worshippers are such as worship God in spirit and in truth.

A considerable portion of our congregations may be supposed to consist of persons who are unacquainted with "the first principles of the "oracles of God." Many, we have reason to fear, who have a competent knowledge of other things, know but little of their Bible, and of the information therein contained respecting the way of salvation by Jesus Christ. Notwithstanding all the means of grace, with which in this highly-favoured land we are indulged, there are many, alas! who continue strangers to them selves, and to Jesus Christ "whom to know is "life eternal." It would not be difficult to find in every parish some unhappy persons who are, even in theory, ignorant of the doctrines of the fall and its consequences, and of the necessity of salvation by the cross of Christ; and many more, who, while the theory of these doctrines floats lightly on their understandings, have no real experience of the truth of them in their hearts, and exhibit none of their practical effects in their lives. Such persons then are here instructed in the necessity of self-knowledge, by being led to consider that, "if we say that "we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the "truth is not in us.' And oh! what an awful deception for a dying man to fancy himself in perfect health, and on this groundless presumption to reject the only remedy that can save life; not the life of the body, for that would be of little consequence, but the everlasting life of the precious soul. By the example of David in


the 51st Psalm, such persons are reminded of the necessity which exists for contrition and humble confession before God. His language will suit us all—“ I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Hide Thy face " from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities." Every hope of acceptance by the works of the law must be relinquished, for "in God's sight "can no man living be justified." What an awful proof is it of the blindness of our understandings and the perversity of our wills, that any persons should come and join in our confeffions and professions, who continue strangers to themselves and Christ!

But a considerable number of those, who join in our assemblies, may be supposed to be persons of a formal and pharisaic stamp; for Pharisees did not cease to exist at the extinction of the Jewish state. No, they are to be found in every age and in every place. We are all naturally such. We pride ourselves in some comparative excellence which we suppose ourselves to possess; and we place all religion in externals, forgetting that God claims the heart. It is not the confession of sin made with the lips, but an inward conviction of sin, accompanied with a real sorrow for and hatred of it, that constitutes a true penitent: for, "the sacrifices “of God are a broken spirit: It is the broken " and contrite heart that God will not despise.' How strange, that we should mistake the shadow for the substance that creates it! Let it be remembered, that it is not rending the garment, but the heart, that is acceptable to God. Perhaps some one or more persons, who may condescend to cast a hasty glance over these pages, may be ready to say in the true spirit of the

« السابقةمتابعة »