Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub
[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]
[ocr errors]

of Ash Wednesday, or the first day of Lent. was sunk into despair, through the burthen of their sins, for which they could make no atonement, it pleased God, in the bowels of his mercy, to cause tidings of great joy to be proclaimed to the wretched sons of men, no less than a sure forgiveness of all their sins by repentance, and faith in Christ Jesus.And, as there is none other name under Heaven given among men, by which we must be saved, but only that of the Lord Jesus ; ye believe that forgiveness of sins is not to be obtained in any other way than that which the gospel prescribes; not froin any authority which men may falsely and presumptuously arrogate to themselves; not by performing such things as the gospel does not Jequire you to do; but by a stedfast faith in Christ Jesus, and a sincere obedienre to his will and commandments.

Ye do believe also that there will be a resurrection of the dead; that is, that the bodies of all men (although dissolved into dust, from whence they were at first taken) shall be raised from the grave, and their souls shall be again united to them; and that the bodies of the faithful shall be restored to them in such a glorified state as to be capable of enjoying everlasting happiness, and the bodies of the wicked in such a state as shall inake them sensible of everlasting misery and torment.

And, finally, ye do believe that there will be a life everlasting ; that is, that, after the resurrection from the dead, ye will be translated into a state where ye can nerer die any more, and in which the good will be happy, and the wicked miserable to all eternity.

This is the beliet otá Christian, according to that revelation which God has been pleased to make of Himself by his Son Christ Jesus : 'of the truth of which ye must be really and fully persuaded, if ye expect to receive any benefit from being baptized in His name. And, as these things are to be believød, so likewise there are many things to be done in order to accomplish the eternal salvation of your souls. For, lastly, ye do promise to keep God's holy will änd commandments, and walk in the same alt the days of your lives. By this ye en gage, that your outward actions shall be agreeable to the inward persuasion o! your minds; and that your faith shall not be dead and unprofitable, but lively, active and fruitful of good works. The will and commandments of God, ye have likewise revealed to you in the gospel of His blessed Son; the moral law, given of old to the Jews, being there explained, improred, and adapted to the state of mankind under the new 'covenant of grace, by Jesus Christ himself.

In the first place, ye are not only to have the Lord for your God, and none other beside Him; but from numerous passages of the New Testainérit, ye are taught and commanded to believe in Him, to fear Him, to love Him, with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your soul, and with all your strength; to worship Him, to give Him thanks ; to put your whole trust in Him; to call upon Him; to honour his holy name and his word; and to serve Hin truly all the days of your tires. The meaning of which is, that ye are 'neither to fear nor to love any thing so much as God; because, whatever ye fear most, or love most, 'THAT. ye make your

God.

[ocr errors]

called

OF ASH WEDNESDAY, OR THE FIRST DAY OF LENT. TUNDAY, being the day on which we commemorate the resurrection of

our Saviour, does not allow of fasting ; if, then, the six Sundays are deducted out of the six weeks of Lent, there remain only thirty-six days of fasting: to make up, therefore, the number of forty, they added four days from the week preceding, which made Wednesday the first day of Lent, and which was thence called Caput Jejunii ; it was, for another reason, Dies Cineruin, Ash Wednesday.

The latter name is said to have originated from the following custom. On the first day of Lent, the penitents were to present themselves before the bishop, 'clothed in sackcloth, with naked feet, and eyes turned to the ground. In this plight they were introduced into the Church, where the bishop, and the rest of the clergy, all-in tears, repeated the seven penitential psalıns; and, rising from prayers, they threw ashes upon them, and covered their heads with şachcloth; and then, with mournful sig!s, declared to them, that, as Adan

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

Of the elegance and dignity of the sacred scriptures. was cast out of Paradise, so they must be cast out of the Church. Then the bishop commanded the officers to turn them out of the Church doors ; and all the clergy followed after, repeating that curse upon Adam, In the sevent of thy brows shalt thou eat thy bread. The like penance was intlicted on them the next time the sacrament was performed, which was the Sunday following. All this was done, thạt the penitents, observing how great a disorder the Church was put into, by reason of their crimes, should not lightly esteem of penance.

Our Church has supplied the want of this severe discipline, by adding to her ordinary service a very proper and suitable office, called The Commination, which will be considered in its proper place.

In the morning and evening service, instead of the psalms for the day, there are appointed six of David's penitential psalms, (the seventh being reserved for the communion service) concerning which, we need only observe, that they are the very forms, in which the royal prophet expressed his penitence ; and they have been so esteemed in the Church, as to be constantly used for the same purpose, in times of humiliation and repentance.

The Collect was made new at the compiling of the Liturgy; the Epistle and Gospel were taken out of the old offices.

There are no proper lessons appointed for this day.

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

OF THE SUNDAYS ÎN LENT.
THE

"HE Sundays in Lent are, in our Church, as well as in the Greek Church,

named from their number : the fourth, however, is generally called 'Midlent Sunday, though some others term it dominica refertionis, the Sunday of refreshment; the reason of which, probably, is, ihe gospel for the day, whicis contains the miracle of our Saviour feeding five Thousand; or, perhaps, the first lesson in the morning service, which contains the history of Joseph entertaining his brethren. The fifth Sunday is, by the Latins especially, utien called passion Sunday: this might be a more appropriate name to the following Sunday, which is the Sunday next bojure Easter, and has obtained the appellation of palm Sunday, in commemoration of our Saviour's triumphal entry into Jerusalem, when the multitude that attended himn strewed palni branches in his way: in memory of which remarkable transaction, palmis used to be borne, in England, till the second year of Edward VI.

The Collects, as well as the Epistles and Gospels, of all these Sundays, are the same that we meet with in the old offices, excepting that the first was made new at the reformation, and the last 'is, in the Litany of St. Ambrose, appointed for Good Friday. These collects, epistles and gospels, designed for our meditation on Sundays, being the intervals of the fast-days during the week, are calculated to remind us of the duties we have undertaken in this time of general humiliation. In the epistles, we are taught the obligation of returning to our acts of self-denial and humiliation ; and, in the gospels, we have set before us, the example of Christ, who not only fasted, but went about doing good ; in all which, we are, more especially at this time, bound to imitate hin.

[To be continued.]

SUS

One are ail

ail all

te

CONTINUED.

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

OF THE ELEGANCE AND DIGNITY OF THE SACRED

SCRIPTURES. vation ?-Let him ask reason to point out a means of reconciliation, and a

o refuge from the wrath to come. Reason hesitates, as she replies, the DeiTy may, perhaps, accept our supplications, and grant pardon and peace."; But the word of God leaves us not to the sad uncertainty of conjecture; its language is clear.--God has set forth a propitiation, he does pardon our transgressionshe will remember our sins no more--and with the finger of truth as radiant as a sun-beam, points to the Lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world. Glorious intelligence, that God so loved the world as to send his Son' not to condemn mankind, but to ransom them from death by the blood of his cross. “If any man sin (and there is no man who sinneth not) we have an

advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, and he is the pro:: pitiation for our sins."

[ocr errors]

ing

4

*70 of the elegance and dignity of the sacred scriptures.

Are we assaulted by temptation, or averse from duty ?-Philosophy may attempt tó parry the thrust, or to stir up the reluctant mind, by disclosing the deformity of vice, and urging the fitness of things. The scriptores recommend no such incompetent succours. -"My grace," saystheir Almighty author, “ is sufficient for thee; I will perfect strength in thy weakness; sin shall not have dominion over you.”. The great JEHOVAH, in whom is everlasting strength, worketh in us fioth to will and to do his good pleasure.

Should we be visited with sickness, or overtaken by any calamity; the conisolation which Plato offers, is, 'that such dispensations coincide with the universal plan of divine government: Virgil will tell us for relief, that afflictive visitations are, more or less, the unavoidable lot of all men. Another moralist whispers in the dejected sufferer's ear, “ impatience adds to the load; wherèav, a calm submisson renders it more supportable.". But, does the word of rerelation dispense such spiritless and fagitive cordials : No, those sacred pages inform us, that tribulations are fatherly chastisements, tokens of a Creator's love, the effects of his care, for whomsdever he loveth he chasteneth; and as lie loveth all-men and hateth nothing that'he hath made, so he chasteneth all inen, to bring them to the knowledge and obédience of the truth. All afflictions are intende.I to work in us the peaceable fruits of righteousness, and to work out for us an eternul róeight of glory.

Should we, under the suminons of death, hare recourse to the most celebrated conforters in the heathen world ; they would increase our apprehensions rather than mitigate our dread. Death is represented, by the greatest master of their schools, as the most formidable of all evits. They were not able to determine whether the soul survived the body; and never so much as suggested thic probability of its resurrection. Whereas, divine revelation strips the monster of his horrors, turns him into a messenger of peace ;-it gives him an augel's face, and a deliverer's hand : Ašcertaining to the souls of the righteous an iminediate translation into the regions of bliss, and ensuring to their bodies a happy and glorious resurrection, at the restoration of all things. This ineştimable book heals the inaladies of life, subdues the fear of death, strikes a lighitsome vista through the gloom of the grave, and opens a charming, a glorious prospect of immortality into the world to come. By the gospel of God our Saviour, life and immortality are brought to light:-rejoice then, ye hearens, sing aloud ye lower parts of the earth; break forth into shouting and general triump! ye isles of the Gentiles, and every people under heaven, for those who are reputed dead -are not really so--they are but asleep, and if they sleep in Jesus they shall do well.- In the last day they shall hear the voice, which called Lazarus from his grave, and come forth.--Let every Christian coirfort and strengthen his brother with these words:-“ Death, where is thy sting? Grave; where is thy victory ? Thanks be to God who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."

These with inany other excellencies peculiar to the scriptures, one would imagine, are more than sufficient, to engage every sensible heart in their favour, and introduce them with the highest esteem, into every improved conversation.

Another very distinguishing peculiarity of the sacred writings deserves our attention, viz. the method of communicating admonition, or administring reproot, bu-parables.--A method which adapts itself to the meanest apprehensions; and gives no offence to the unust supercilious temper ; yet is as much superior to plain unornainented precepts, as the enlivened scenes of a well-wrought tragedy, are more impressive and affecting, than a simple narration of the plot.

It has been very justly remarked, that this “ eloquence of similitudes” is equally affecting to the learned and the unlearned, to men of inferior as well as superior talents. It shews rather than relates the point to be illustrated. It has been admired by the best judges in all ages, and applied to the illustrating of innumerable beautiful subjects; but was never carried to perfection, till our Jord spoke the parable of the Prodigal, which has a beauty, that no paraplirase can heighten ; a perspicuity, that renders all interpretation needless; and a force, which every reader, zot totally insensible, must feel.

The condescension and goodness of God are, every where, conspicuous in the productions of nature; he conveys to us the most valuable fruits, by the intervention of the loveliest blossoms: though the present is itself extreinely acceptable, yet he has given it an additional endearment, by the beauties which

Ôn faith and works. array it, and the perfumes which surround it. În the pages of Revelation likewise, he has communicated to us the most glorious truths, adomed with all the graces of composition ; such as may polish the man of genius, and improve the man of worth; such as highly delight our imagination, whilst they cultiVåte and refine our moráls.

Who then would not gládly receive thať gracious exhortation, let the word of Christ dwell in you richly? Who would not willingly obey that benign command, thou shalt talk of it when thou sittest in thine house, when thou watkest by the way, when thoų liest down, and when thou risest up?

When I consider the language of the scriptures, and experience their energy on my soul, I am inclined to say “other writings, though polished with thie nicest touches of art, only tinkle on the ear, or affect it like the shepherd's reed; but these, even amidst all their noble negligence, strikemalarm--transport me, somewhat like the voice of thunder, or the archangel's trumpet.”

When I consider the contents of the scriptures, and believe myseli interested in the promises they make, and the privileges they confer, I am induced to

“ what are all the other books in the world, çoinpared with these inestimable volumes ?-No more than an entertaining novel, or a few prudential rules for domestic iconońy, compared with a parent's will, a royal charter, or an imperial grant of titles and manors.”

All these circumstances remind me of an encomium most deservedly given to the BIBLE, which, though quite artless, is I think, abundantly more expressive, than the most laboured efforts of rhetoric. It came from the lips of a martyr, who, being condemned to die for his inviolable adherence to the pure doctrines of scripture, when he arrived at the stake, and had composed himself for execution, took his final leave in these affecting words : “ Farewel sun and moon !Farewel all ye beauties of creation !

-Yecomforts of life adieu !-Aud farewel thou precious, precious, precious BOOK of God!"

cry out,

SACRED CRITICISM. SAIAH, chap. 1x. ver. 17.-** I will also make thine officers peace-anat Saintes tops righteousness.”_

Eng. trans. “ I will appoint thy rulers in peace—and thine overseers (bishops) in rightcousness.

Sept. trans. Clement in his 1st epis. to the Corinthịans.cites this text thus :-"I will appoint their (EPISCOPUS) BISPOPs in righteousness, and their Ministers or Deacons in faith ;" and produces it as a prophecy of the Apostles' appointing the two officers of BISHOPS (or PRESBYTERS) and DEACONS in the Church.-Seen in this point of view, this prophecy is predictive of the three orders, Apostle, Presbyter and Deacon in the Christian Church. And it is highly probable that the overseers of Christ's Church are in the New-Testament called EPISCOPOI, from this very passage of Isaiah.

Exodus, chap. xxiii. ver. 19.-Thou shalt not boila kid in his another's milk. « This law,” some say, was

to teach the Israelites to abhor cruelty,” but there is reason to think that it was given in opposition to an idolatrous custom prevalent among their heathen neighbours, then they had gathered in all their fruits, to take a kid, and boil it in the dani's milk, and then, in a magical way to go about and besprinkle with it all their trees and fields, gardens and orchards, thinking, by this means to render them more fruitful the following year. And to confirm this explanation of the law against boiling a kid in his mother's milk, it is observable, that it is both here and in chap. xxxiv. ver. 26, joined with the command of bringing the first fruits into the house of JEHUVAH, their God;-and in Deut. xiv. ver. 21, with that of paying tithe.

TH

ON FAITH AND WORKS. "HERE is no question so often put to me, as, whether are we to depend, for

our salvation, on faith or works? When ignorant men, take upon them to instruct others in the principles of religion, it is no wonder, that questions of this kind should be started, or that differences of opinion, in points like this,

Trial of the Spirits. should surd abettors. Whatever claims the teachers mentioned may lay to inspiration, it is undoubtedly the enemy of religion, that hath stirred up this particular inquiry. If with fanatics, faith alone is made the organ of salvation, it follows, that morality, and good works need not be much attended to, and, if with the Areans, and Socineans, faith is treated with contempt, and morality alone depended on, that very morality, for want of faith, is deprived of its necessary principle and motive. The truth is, the question supposes a distinction where there is no difference, but between cause, and its effect, so necessariJy connected, that to suppose them separated even in thought, is to strike at the very foundation of our religion. In the Christian sense, faith and virtue cannot be separated without the total ruin of both. By true Christian faith we are saved : but that faith, which is without works can save nobody. Our blessed Saviour himself, being asked by the Jews, what they should do, to work the works of God, is so far from distinguishing faith from works, even as cause, and ettect, that he makes them the same thing, for he answers, “ this is the work of God, that ye believe on hiin, whom he hath sent,”-laying it down for a rule, that to believe in Christ is the very soul of Christian obedi. ence, insomuchi, that he who thus believes, must, as the Holy Spirit saith by St. Paul, “ be careful to maintain good works."

Z. (Orthodor Churchman's Magazine.)

FOR THE CHURCHMAN'S MAGAZINE,

[ocr errors]

TRIAL OF THE SPIRITS. N

into the world. Schism, like the man in the gospel, is possessed with a legion. In the time of the great rebellion in England, Presbytery alone, produced more than three score new sects of pretended Christians ;'all of whom professed to be led by the Spirit of God; each sect thought itself the only favourite of heaven, and condemned all others as heretics. Enthusiasm, the never-failing concomitant of schisin, could, however, work as strangely and produce as great wonders in one sect as in another. And however different, and contradictory in doctrine and faith, each sect had, in its own opinion, the inward testimony of God that it was right, and all others wrong. But the English Church, from whom they at first separated, could see no great difference between those sectaries ; and so condemned them all as schismatics, and the greater part as heretics, “ who were carried about with divers and strange doctrines.” This they could prove against them from the scriptures of truth, and from the primitive fathers. But such testimony could never convince such zealots of their error, because they had a greater witness within them: and also because it came from a Church, which as they taught, could not discern spiritual things.

Be it so. But why should they appeal from the Scriptures, and judgment of the Church, to their own infallible spirit? it will not acquit them. For

Each sect will own that God is a God of truth; that whatsoever is dictated by the inspiration of the Spirit of God, is true; and that it is impossible that this spirit should dictate two things which are in their own nature contradictory. This being granted ; we will take fifty-nine sects of those infallibles out of the sixty, all of whom have, in their own opinion, the divine gift of discerning spirits, and have the knowledge of the true religion immediately from heaven. Ask them, whether the religion of their mother, Miss Puritan, be the true religion; they will, one and all, answer, no. Now admit her into the jury, and take out Miss Tremble, and put the question, is Quakerism the true religion? The verdict will be, no; for, say they, the quakers are so far remored froin Christianity, that they hardly deserve the name. And so of all the rest, taking them one by one, they all will be condemned by the other fifty-nine inspired sects. And we may suppose that the concurrent testimony of so many | inspired sects in a case where they are not interested might weigh down any single sect giving evidence in its own case ; or judging its own cause : as we have the same reason, and as much evidence to believe any one sect of these wonder-working fanatics as the other to be lead or guided by that spirit, of which they all equally boast.

A LAYMAN.

« PoprzedniaDalej »