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of fire. But unto the Son he faith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever, a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning haft laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands. They shall perish, but thou remaineft; and they all fhall wax old as doth a garment; and as a vefture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed; but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.
The Gospel. S. John 1. 1.
IN N the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The fame was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him, and without him was not any thing made, that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not. There was a man fent from God, whofe name was John. The fame came for a witness, to bear witness of the light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that light, but was fent to bear witness of that light. That was the true light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the Sons of God, even to them that believe on his Name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will
In the beginning was the Word, &c. The three firit Verfes of this Gospel are fuch an evident proof of our Saviour's Divinity, that the moft fubtle argumentation can hardly evade it. But what is too hard for prejudice and prepoffeffion!
And the light fineth in Darkness, &c. Christ was a Light to ghen Mankind, who were in the Darknefs of Sin and Ignorance, with the Knowledge
of the Gospel. But that very Ignorance and Wickednefs which rendered fuch a Revelation neceffary, is the .unhappy caufe why to many have rejected it. Let us take heed therefore that we be not like thofe of whom St. Paul faith, the God of this World hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, left the glor ous Gopel of Chrift, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. 2 Cor. 4. 4.
of man, but of God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father) full of grace and truth. + Saint Stephen's Day. The Collect.
Rant, O Lord, that in all our fufferings here upon earth, for the teftimony of thy truth, we may ftedfaftly look up to heaven, and by faith behold the glory that shall be revealed; and being filled with the holy Ghoft, may learn to love and blefs our perfecutors by the example of thy firft Martyr Saint Stephen, who prayed for his murderers to thee, O blessed Jesus, who ftandeft at the right hand of God, to fuccour all those that suffer for thee, our only Mediator and Advocate. Amen. Then shall follow the Collect for the Nativity, which shall be said continually unto New-years Eve.
For the Epiftle. A&s 7. 55. Tephen being full of the holy Ghost, looked up ftedfaftly into heaven, and faw the glory of God, and Jefus ftanding on the right hand of God, and said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. Then they cried out with a loud voice, and ftopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, and caft him out of the city, and ftoned him; and the witneffes laid down their clothes at a
Paraphrafe on the Collect for St. Stephen's Day.
Give us Grace, O Lord, under all our Perfecutions for the Gofpel, to look up with Faith to that eternal Glory which thou haft promised to every Chriftian fufferer; and enable us alfo by thy Spirit, after the ex
+ The Festival of St. Stephen ftands firit after that of our Saviour's Nativity, because he was the firft after his divine Mafter that fuffered Martyrdom for the profeffion of Christianity and from his example we are taught that Faith in the Glory which shall be revealed is the beft fupport under all our afflictions, and that to love and bless our Perfecutors is a fure proof of a truly Chriftian difpofition.
ample of St. Stephen, to pray for our greatest Enemies to thee, O Chrift, who art a continual Interceffor for thy People at the right hand of God.
for, and the evidence of Things not Jeen. Hebr. xi. 1. fince it is indeed the Eye of the Mind, which gives us a clear view of Things distant and invifible. And the glorious profpect which St. Stephen thus enjoyed under his Martyrdom, will be the principal comfort and fupport of every fincere Chriftian, amidst all the Afflictions of this World, as well as in his departure out of it. Thanks be to God for this unfpeakable gift.
And Jaw the glory of God, &c. Well might St. paul define Faith to be the fubftance of Things bop ed
young mans feet, whofe name was || Saul. And they toned Stephen, calling upon God, and faying, Lord Jefus, receive my fpirit. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this fin to their charge. And when he had faid this he fell asleep.
The Gofpel. St. Matth. 23. 34.
Ehold, I send unto you prophets, and wife men, and scribes; and fome of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them fhall ye fcourge in your fynagogues, and perfecute them from city to city; that upon you may come all the righteous blood fhed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel, unto the blood of Zacharias, fon of Barachias, whom ye flew between the temple and the altar. Verily I fay unto you, † All these things shall come upon this generation. § O Jerufalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the Prophets, and ftoneft them which are fent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you defolate. For I fay unto you, Ye fhall not fee me henceforth, till ye fhall fay, Bleffed is he that cometh in the Name of the Lord.
* Saint John the Evangelift's Day.
Erciful Lord, we beseech thee to caft thy bright beams of light upon thy Church, that it being enlightened by the doctrine of thy bleffed Apoftle and Evangelift Saint John, may
#Saul. This was he who was afterwards called Paul, who by the Grace of God afterwards diftinguished himself far more in the fupport and propagation of Christianity, than he did now in his oppofition to it; and became at laft a glorious Martyr to that caufe, which he now perfecuted.
† Alltheje Thin s fhall come upon this Generation. This Prophecy was fulfilled about thirty-eight Years after, in the deftruction of Jerufalem.
SO Jerufalem, Jerufalem, &c. Who can read this paffage and not be deeply affected with these tender expreffions of Chrift's Love towards this ungrateful, impenitent People! Let us then take heed that we abufe not thofe Mercies which God is continually extending towards us, left we too should one Day fuffer a worfe fate than the Jews.
The Feftival of St. John the Evangelift has the fecond place next to our Lord's Nativity, because he was
fo walk in the light of thy truth, that it may at length attain to the light of everlasting life, through Jefus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Epiftle. 1 S. John 1. 1.
HAT which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our Eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled of the word of life; (for the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and fhew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifefted unto us.) That which we have seen and heard, declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowfhip with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jefus Chrift. And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full. be full. This then is the meffage which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, thatGod is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we fay that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: but ‡ if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all fin. If we fay that we have no fin, we deceive ourfelves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our fins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our fins, and to cleanse us from
Paraphrafe on the Collea for Gracious God, fo illuminate thy Church by the Doctrine of thy Apoftle St. John, that through the
the Difciple whom Jefus particularly loved. As he was the youngest of our Lord's Difciples, fo perhaps it was his early Piety that gained him this preference: which fhould strongly excite us to remember our Creator and Redeemer in the Days of our Youth, and fo diligently to walk in the light of that Truth, which this Evangelift has given us, that we may at length attain to the light of everlasting Life through Jefus Chrift.
That which was from the beginning, &c. Obferve here how well qualified this Apostle was to bear Teftimony concerning his divine Mafter, fince he had not
all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not finned, we make him a liar, and his Word is not in us.
The Gospel. S. John 21. 19.
ESUS faid unto Peter, Follow me, Then Peter turning about, feeth the disciple whom Jefus loved, following, which also leaned on his breast at supper, and faid, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee? Peter seeing him, faith to Jefus, Lord, and what shall this man do? Jefus faith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? Follow thou me. § Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die; yet Jefus faid not funto him, He fhall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that tothee? This is the disciple which teftifieth of these things, and wrote these things, and we know that his teftimony is true. + And there are alfo many other things which Jefus did, the which if they should be written every one, I fuppofe, that even the World itself could not contain the books that fhould be written.
The Innocents Day.
Almighty God, who out of the mouths of babes and fucklings haft ordained ftrength, and madeft infants to glorify thee by their deaths; Mortify and kill all vices in us, and fo
§ Then went this laying abroad, &c. Notwithtanding the care which the Apoftle took to prevent any mistakes in this refpect, yet fome have invented a fabulous Story that he did not die, but was tranflated like Enoch, or Elias. But what our Saviour faid concerning his tarrying till he came, was fufficiently fulfil led, in that he permitted him to live till he came to take vengeance upon the Jews by the destruction of Jerufalem. St. John living till he was above eighty years of Age, which was probably more than ten Years
after that event.
And there are also many other Things, &c. The expreffion in the latter part of this fentence. I fuppofe, that even the World itself could not contain the Becks that hould be written feems according to our prefent tranf
lation to be hyperbolical and might more properly have been I fuppofe, the World would not receive (or believe) the Books that should be writ-ten. For if Mankind are not fufficiently induced to believe in Jefus Chrift through the Writings already publifhed concerning him: neither would they believe tho' they had a minute account of every Miracle which he wrought.
The flaughter of the Innocents is commemorated in the third place after our Lord's Birth-Day, because it was confequent upon it. And let us remember that Chrift has affured us that unless, we be converted, and become as little Children, we shall not enter into the Kingdum of Heaven. Let their unambitious Simplicity, Humility, and Innocence be always the object of our imitation.