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form of words, however admirable they may be, to communicate the life and feeling of devotion; even the life-giving Spirit of Jehovah. We may repeat the words with our lips, without any desire or feeling of the heart. God may have to say of us, as he did of Israel, They have well said all that they have spoken. O that there were such an heart in them!
The whole of this service may be considered as a public record of the most solemn and important transactions that can take place on earth, between the fallen spirit of man accepting salvation by Jesus Christ, and the God of the spirits of all flesh, giving the pledge of that salvation by his ministers.
The service begins with the Lord's prayer; well may we commence this solemn transaction with addressing God as a Father, and with petitions for the advancement of his glory, the gift of our daily bread, and the forgiveness of our own sins, with a profession to forgive all others sinning against us. These petitions will all bear an edifying reference to the important duty in which we are about to engage.
The affecting prayer that God would “cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of his Holy Spirit,” is adapted to our fallen and impure state, unable of ourselves to think any thing aright, and yet hoping for the promised aid of the Holy Spirit. To pray that we may perfectly love God, is a suitable introduction to the ten commandinents, which are next brought before us, Love being the fulfilling of the law.
The compilers of our Liturgy knowing that by the law is the knowledge of sin, and that a penitent heart is most needful for a due reception of the Lord's
Supper, have well placed at the commencement of this service, THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, containing a comprehensive summary of the holy law of God. We must not suppose that these precepts relate only to the outward act of sin; our Lord has shewn us that they forbid that principle, or love of sin, which leads to outward iniquity. When, for instance, it is said, Thou shalt have none other Gods but me, it forbids our forgetfulness of God, and our love of the world; if any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. When it is said, Thou shalt do no murder; angry thoughts, and malice, and revenge are forbidden, as well as murder. When we are told, Thou shalt not commit adultery; impure thoughts are equally forbidden. This manifestly is the obedience which the Lord of all requires. Matt. v, 21, 22, 27, 28, observe, that after every command the congregation are directed to say, “Lord have mercy on us,” hereby, as it is said in the rubric, asking God mercy for their transgressions thereof for the time past." You should enquire, therefore, whether, when you have repeated these words after each command, you really felt that you had in the sight of God broken that command, and necded his pardoning mercy. We are farther taught to add," and incline our hearts to keep this law.” This plainly expresses, if we repeat it in sincerity, that we are convinced that we have neither natural inclination, nor power of ourselves, to obey God's holy commands; but look up to him, and depend wholly on him, to dispose and enable us to do his will; and really purpose and desire to obey his holy law.
Our Church then leads us to pray for the King;
in all its services being mindful of the Apostolical precept, 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.
The COLLECTS for each Sunday are generally adapted to prepare our minds for the portion of Scripture selected from the Epistles and Gospels. Our church, after the declaration of the law in the ten commandments, brings before us some suitable and affecting portion of the Gospel of that Saviour, by whom we are redeemed from the curse of the law.
The NICENE CREED follows, It is so called because it was for the most part framed at the great council held at Nice, in 325. It is right and suitable after reading the word of God, and before we communicate together, that we should mutually acknowledge the same faith.
The part of this service that we have hitherto considered, is directed to be read every Sunday, as it were to invite Christians to more frequent communion. And observe how far we have now been led. The holy law of God having been set before us, we have been taught to acknowledge ourselves guilty and helpless. The Gospel of Christ being then read, we have been called on to express our faith in God as our Father, Jesus as our Saviour, and the Holy Ghost as our Sanctifier. Retrace then your thoughts. Have you been sincere when you have repeated this service ? Have you felt, as well as acknowledged, your sinfulness and your weakness? Has the Gospel really been good tidings to you? Was the profession of faith repeated in the creed more than a mere expression of the lips?
Was it the unfeigned confidence and conviction of an upright and true heart ? If you have proceeded thus far in sincerity, you are a penitent believer; you are in a fit state of mind to receive the Lord's Supper.
We now come to that part of the Liturgy which is more directly connected with the administration of this Institution.
The Sunday before that on which it is designed to celebrate this ordinance, a suitable EXHORTATION is appointed to be read. Two are given in the Prayer Book. One contains directions to prevent our receiving it in a careless and presumptuous spirit; and the other urges those to come who are in the habit of neglecting. You would find it useful to read these to assist you in your preparation.
When assembled together at the Lord's table, you are called on, by a selection of appropriate passages, to contribute according to your means to the relief of your poorer brethren. Thus an opportunity is given you of shewing your faith by your works. Our Saviour seems to suppose we should never come bere before the Lord without a gift. Matt. v, 23. These passages are as follow.
LET your light so shine where thieves do not break before men, that they may see through and steal. Matt. vi, 19. your good works, and glorify Whatsoever ye would that your Father which is in heaven. men should do unto you, even Matt. v, 16.
so do unto them; for this is the Lay not up for yonrselves law and the prophets. Matt. treasure upon the earth; where vii, 12. the rust and moth doth cor- Not every one that saith rupt, and where thieves brea unto me, Lord, Lord, shall through and steal: but lay up enter into the kingdom of for yourselves treasures in heaven; but he that doeth the heaven; where neither rust will of my Father which is ią nor moth doth corrupt, and I heaven. Matt. vii, 21.
Geapel. I Can ix, 13, 14. opastion from tim, bow
He that someth the tall it be lore a God in maar bete; zod be that steth, biss : 1 Jous in, 17. pirmore shall rezo picole Give alms of its goods, and crichy. Let every nos tera tunefics in 2ர winding as he is disased is par 220; ad tres tie face kit beurt, sot grudgings, of the Lord stall not be tersed wanity; for God Loreth 2 away from thee. Tobit iv, 7. cucerful girer. 2 Cor. ix, 6.
Be merciful after the power. Let him that is taught in the If tbon bast beeb, gire pleaWerd ministar unto him that teously: if thou hast little, do washeth, in all good thing we di gence glasily to give of Be must dereived, God is not tät batile: for 4 gatherest
ker; for whatsoever a man tou thyself a good reward in sowel that shall be reap. Gal. the day of Decessity. Tobit is, v, 7.
While we have time let os He that hath pity upon the do good unto all men; and poor, lendeth onto the Lord : specially onto them that are of and look, what be lageth out, the buusehold of faith, Gal, vi, it shall be paid him again. 10.
Prov. xix, 17. Godliness is great riches, if Blessed be the man that proa man be content with that he videth for the sick and needs; hath: for we brought nothing the Lord shall deliver bim in into the world, neither may we the time of tronble. Ps. xii, 1.