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world would fain silence our glorying, and would have Christ rebuke His disciples, but let not be ashamed of the good confession; for with such powers and graces, given to us by Christ Himself, as Ambassadors for Him, and Workers together with God, if we should hold our peace, the very stones would immediately cry out.
These Tracts are continued in Numbers, and sold at the price of 2d. for each sheet, or 7s. for 50 copies.
LONDON: PRINTED FOR J. G. & F. RIVINGTON,
GILBERT & RIVINGTON, Printers, St. John's Square, London.
The following Works, all in single volumes, or pamphlets, and recently published, will be found more or less lo uphold or elucidate the general doctrines inculcated in these Tracts :
Bp. Taylor on Repentance, by Hale.—Rivingtons.
Vincentii Lirinensis Commonitorium, with translation.Parker, Oxford.
Pusey on Cathedrals and Clerical Education.—Roake Varty.
Bp. Beveridge's Sermons on the Ministry and Ordinancse.Parker, Oxford.
Bp. Jolly on the Eucharist.
Larger Works which may be profitably studied.
ON THE BENEFITS OF THE SYSTEM OF FASTING,
ENJOINED BY OUR CHURCH.
To a person but little accustomed to observe any stated Fasts, the directions given by our Church on this subject, would probably occasion two very opposite feelings. On the one hand, he would be struck by the practical character and thoughtfulness evinced by some of the regulations; on the other, he would probably feel repelled by the number of days, and the variety of occasions, which the Church has appointed to be hallowed. Most Christians, who really loved their Saviour, (unless prevented by the habits of early education,) would probably see something appropriate and affectionate in the selection of the Friday, for a weekly commemoration of their Saviour's sufferings, and of humiliation for their own sins which caused them; or, at all events, they would feel that there was some thoughtfulness in the direction annexed, that this weekly Fast should not interfere with the Christian joyousness brought back by the Festival of their Lord's Nativity when these should in the cycle of years coincide. Again, if they should fail to appreciate the wisdom of appointing certain days to be kept sacred in memory of the holy men who left all to follow Christ, and consequently should be rather deterred than attracted, by observing that many of these days were ushered in by a preceding Fast; still they would hardly fail to be struck by the provision, that this previous fast should not interfere with the Christian's weekly Festival of his Lord's Resurrection, but that “if any of these Feast-days should fall upon a Monday, then the Fast-day should be kept on the Saturday, not upon the Sunday next before it ?." Again, he must observe, that during certain periods of the Church's year, which are times of especial joy to the faithful Christian, those, namely, which follow the Nativity and the Resurrection, these preparatory Fasts are altogether omitted. Some or other of these regulations
1 See Tables prefixed to the Common Prayer Book.
would probably strike most thoughtful minds, as instances of consideration and reflection in those who framed them. more especially, would appreciate, abstractedly at least, the imitation of the Apostolic practice of Fasting, when any are to be ordained to any holy function in the Church ; and some probably will feel mournfully, that if the Church were now more uniformly to observe those acts of Fasting and Prayer, which were thought needful, before even Paul and Barnabas ’ were separated for God's work, we should have more reasonable grounds to hope, that many of our Clergy would be filled with the spirit of Barnabas and Paul.
On the other hand, it is naturally to be expected, that one not accustomed to any outward restraint in this matter, would feel indisposed to ordinances so detailed ; that although he could reconcile to himself the one or the other of these observances, which most recommended themselves to his Christian feelings, he would think the whole a burdensome and minute ceremonial, perhaps unbefitting a spiritual worship, and interfering with the liberty wherewith Christ has made him free. This is very natural; for we are by nature averse to restraint, and the abuse of some maxims of Protestantism, such as the "right of private judgment," has made us yet more so : we are reluctant to yield to an unreasoning authority, and to submit our wills, where our reason has not first been convinced ; and the prevailing maxims of the day have strengthened this reluctance; we have been accustomed to do, “ every one that which was right in his own eyes," and are jealous of any authority, except that of the direct injunctions of the Bible: in extolling also the spirituality of our religion, we have, I fear, intended covertly to panegyrise our own, and so, almost wilfully withdraw our sight from those more humbling provisions, which are adapted to us, as being yet in the flesh : in our zeal for the blessed truths of the cross of Christ, and of our sanctification by the Holy Spirit, we have begun insensibly to disparage other truths, which bring us less immediately into intercourse with God, to neglect the means and ordinances, which touch not upon the very centre of our faith.
The practical system of the Church is altogether at variance with that which even pious Christians in these days have permitted
I Acts xiii. 2-4. iv. 23,
themselves to adopt; much which she has recommended or enjoined would now be looked upon as formalism, or outward service: in our just fear of a lifeless formalism, we have forgotten that wherever there is regularity, there must be forms ; that
every Christian feeling must have its appropriate vehicle of expression ; that the most exalted act of Christian devotion, that our closest union with our Saviour, is dependent upon certain forms; that the existence of forms does not constitute formalism ; that where the Spirit of Christ is, there the existence of forms serves only to give regularity to the expression, to chasten what there might yet remain of too individual feeling, to consolidate the yet divided members " in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ."
Yet, as in every case in which the current of prevailing opinions, either in faith or practice, has for some time set in one direction, there have not been wanting indications, that Christians have felt their system incomplete ; that there was something in the tranquil piety of former days, which they would gladly incorporate into the zealous excitement of the present; that although religion is in one sense strictly individual, yet in the means by which it is kept alive it is essentially expansive and social; that the only error here to be avoided, is a reliance upon forms; that the forms themselves,
soon as they are employed to realize things eternal, and to cherish man's communion with his Saviour, become again spiritual and edifying.
It is accordingly remarkable, in how many cases individuals have of late been led back by their own Christian experience to observances, in some respect similar to those which the Church had before suggested and provided for them. In the more advanced stages of their Christian course, or when, by a period of sickness or distress, God has granted them a respite from the unceasing circle of active duty, they have seen the value of those rites, the scrupulous adherence to which they once regarded as signs of lifelessness. In either case they would willingly own, that the union provided by the Church is not only more ordered, and less liable to exception, than one which individuals could frame ; but also, that, as being more comprehensive, it would more effectually realize their objects.