« PoprzedniaDalej »
The following Works, all in single volumes, or pamphlets, and recently published, will be found more or less to uphold or elucidate the general doctrines inculcated in these Tracts :
Bp. Taylor on Repentance, by Hale.-Rivingtons.
Bp. Taylor's Golden Grove.-Parker, Oxford.
Vincentii Lirinensis Commonitorium, with translation.-Parker, Oxford.
Pusey on Cathedrals and Clerical Education.-Roake and Varty. Hook's University Sermons -Talboys, Oxford.
Pusey on Baptism (published separately).-Rivingtons.
Newman's Sermons, 4 vols.-Rivingtons.
Herbert's Poems and Country Pastor.
Le Bas' Life of Archbishop Laud.-Rivingtons.
Jones (of Nayland) on the Church.
Bp. Bethell on Baptismal Regeneration.-Rivingtons.
Bp. Beveridge's Sermons on the Ministry and Ordinances.-Parker, Oxford.
Bp. Jolly on the Eucharist.
Fulford's Sermons on the Ministry, &c.-Rivingtons.
Larger Works which may be profitably studied.
Bishop Bull's Sermons.-Parker, Oxford.
Wall on Infant Baptism.-Do.
Leslie's Works.- Do.
THE EMBER DAYS.
In reading the Epistles of St. Paul we cannot but observe how earnestly he presses upon those to whom he was writing, the duty of praying for a blessing on himself and his ministry. We not only find his request contained in general terms (1 Thess. v. 25.), "Brethren, pray for us;" but when he feels he stands in need of any particular support, he mentions it as an especial subject of prayer for the Churches. For instance, in writing to the Romans, at a time when he was looking forward to trouble from Jewish unbelievers, he says to them, (c. xv. 30.) "Strive together with me in your prayers to God for me, that I may be delivered from them that do not believe in Judæa ;" and in Phil. i. 19. he expresses a confidence that the very opposition he was meeting with would, through the intercession of the Saints, be turned into a good to himself. "I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer." It is the same when he has any object at heart, which he desires to see accomplished. He longs much for the spread of the Gospel, and therefore, in 2 Thess. iii. 1. he says, Finally, Brethren, pray for us, that the word of God may have free course and be glorified." And feeling his own weakness to discharge the sacred trust committed to him, he asks the Ephesians (c. vi. 15. 19.) to make supplication in his behalf, "that utterance might be given unto him, that he might open his mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the Gospel." I shall mention but one passage more, that in 2 Cor. i. 11.; for here not only the duty of praying for their Apostle is pressed upon the people, but they are bidden to do so for the express purpose that they might also join in expressing thanks that their prayer had been graciously heard. "Ye also helping together by prayer for us,
that, for the gift bestowed on us by the means of many persons, thanks may be given by many on our behalf." (Compare Col. ii. 4. Heb. xiii. 19. Philem. 22.)
These texts show clearly, that it is the Christian's duty to pray at all times for the Ministers of the Gospel. There are other texts which teach that supplication ought particularly to be made for them at the time of their Ordination. We find, that, when our LORD was about to send forth His twelve Apostles to preach His kingdom, "He went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to GOD." (Luke vi. 12.) And when one of those Apostles had by transgression fallen from his Ministry, the whole Church united in supplication to God, that He would shew whom He had chosen to succeed him. (Acts i. 24, 25.) The same is observable in the Ordination of the first Deacons, where it is said, (Acts vi. 6.) the multitude set them before the Apostles, and "when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them." Again, when Paul and Barnabas are sent forth on their special mission, "the Church fasted and prayed" for them. (Acts xiii. 3.) And St. Paul in turn observed the same practice, when he ordained Elders in the Churches where he had preached. "They prayed with fasting, and commended them to the LORD, on whom they believed." Acts xiv. 23.
In conformity to this Apostolical custom, the Church of England views with peculiar solemnity the times at which her Ministers are ordained; and invites all her members to join, at these sacred seasons, in prayer and fasting in their behalf. It is the object of these pages to bring this subject especially before the reader's notice ; for the observance of this ordinance of the Church has fallen so generally into disuse, that few comparatively feel the value of it; and some perhaps are not even aware of its existence. To those who may be in this case, I would say briefly that the Ordination Sundays occur four times a year, and that the days of fasting, or Ember Days, (as they are called,) are in the week immediately before those respective Sundays. These days are as
follows; the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday after the first Sunday in Lent; after the Feast of Pentecost; after Sept. 14; after Dec. 13; as may be seen by referring to the Prayer-Book. And particular prayers are ordered during the whole of the weeks, in which these days occur; that the Bishops may make a wise and faithful choice, and that those who are to be called to the Ministry, may especially be blessed with God's grace and heavenly benediction.
That such a practice is good and right in itself, and could not fail to produce a large benefit, cannot be doubted by those, who believe that prayer is the appointed channel whereby GoD is pleased to send mercies on mankind. He that feels the truth of "Ask, and it shall be given you," cannot deny, that he is losing a great privilege, whenever he neglects this duty. And if there is any Order of men who more especially need the help of others' supplications, it is that of those, who are called to the high office of ministering the Word of Life to their fellow-creatures, and of being labourers together with their Divine Master in bringing men to salvation. I would go further than this, and say, that if there is any time when the Ministers of the Gospel more particularly call for the prayers of the Church, it is at these seasons of Ordination. Whether we consider the solemn office which the Bishops are performing, or the solemn vows which the Priests and Deacons are taking on themselves, we must allow that it is an occasion of the greatest importance. Here are a number of men going forth for the great work of winning back to CHRIST souls which have gone astray from the right path, and of fighting in the first ranks against the world, the flesh, and the devil; and in most cases going forth young and inexperienced in their work, not knowing (for who can know till he has tried?) the dangers and difficulties which beset them. Surely it is the duty of every Christian to give them what help he can, and send them forth strengthened for the labours of their journey.
I doubt not that there are many in this kingdom, who are in
the habit of making supplication to God for their Ministers; many who join heartily in the several prayers of the Church services, where mention is made of them, as well as remember them in their private devotions. And some of these may ask, of what advantage it is to appoint particular days for such intercession. They may say, "we pray daily for the Clergy, and not unfrequently for those who are just entering their Ministerial life, Why should one day be fixed upon as better than another for "this purpose? Let each do as he finds opportunity." I would answer, first, that as it was the custom of the Apostles to set apart the times of Ordination for especial prayer, as well as the regulation of our own Church, it is no longer a matter of indifference to us whether we adopt this method or not. The example of the one, and the injunction of the other, mark plainly for us what we ought to do. But, secondly, there will be advantages to ourselves in taking the course so recommended; I would mention one or two which appear to be of importance.
1. When men have been at all careless and indifferent about any duty, (and how few are there who can say that they have not been careless in this matter?) it is very useful to have some settled way for beginning it aright. What has long been put off from time to time is seldom properly attended to, if we leave the performance of it to any chance opportunity that may be offered. The convenient season will seldom come, or at least will not come to us in so profitable a way. For setting apart a particular occasion for solemn prayer, brings with it more seriousness and attention, and makes us think far more of the value of the blessing for which we ask.
2. And, secondly, I would remind all those who value the promises of the Bible, that there is an especial blessing promised to united prayer. Our LORD says, (Matt. xviii. 19.) " If two of you shall agree on earth, as touching any thing they shall ask, it shall be done for them of My FATHER which is in Heaven." And when a good is sought for all, all ought to be seeking for it, and "striv