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On the Prayer for all Conditions of Men.
HE whole of our duty may be summed up
in two points, the love of God and the love of our neighbour. And these duties are so intimately blended, that a separation between them is absolutely impossible: for “ if a man
say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he " is a liar. For he that loveth not his brother, “ whom he hath seen, how can he love God, “ whom he hath not seen? And this com“ mandment have we from Him, that he who “ loveth God love his brother also."* What an affecting picture of the amiable nature of true Christianity does our Lord's most beautiful parable of the good Samaritan exhibit! Let me address the reader in the words with which it is concluded, Go thou, and do likewise." Are you ready to say, “ Alas, my means are “ too limited for diffusive liberality; and the “ situation of the far greater part of my breth
ren, under which term the whole human race “ is comprehended, is too remote to be benefited
by me?” Love is the fulfilment of the law; and if this Godlike temper prevail in your bosom, you will labour, to the utmost extent of your ability, to “ do good unto all men, and
especially to them that are of the household
1 John iv. 20, 21.
a of faith.” And though your power of actual beneficence be restricted by Providence within a compass as narrow as her's who cast her two mites into the treasury of the temple; yet the feelings of your heart are unconfined, and may range through the world, like the solar beams, visiting every nook of the terrestrial globe where a brother may be found. There is one office of Christian friendship which we may constantly perform on behalf of every participant of buman nature. And as God has required this at our hands, declaring it to be His holy will that “ prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks « be made for ALL men;
our church calls us to the performance of this duty at every recurring season when her united throng appears before the throne of grace, teaching us to pray for all conditions of men in the following appropriate form.
“ O God, the Creator and Preserver of all “ mankind, we humbly beseech Thee for all “ sorts and conditions of men, that Thou " wouldest be pleased to make Thy ways known ? unto them, Thy saving health unto all nations. “ More especially we pray for the good estate “ of the catholic church; that it may be so
guided and governed by Thy good Spirit, “ that all who profess and call themselves. “ Christians may be led into the way of truth, “ and hold the faith in unity of spirit, in the “ bond of peace, and in righteousness of life.
Finally, we commend to Thy Fatherly good“ness all those who are any ways afflicted or
“ distressed in mind, body, or estate; (espè
cially those for whom our prayers are desired *) " that it may please Thee to comfort and relieve «« them according to their several necessities, “ giving them patience under their sufferings, “ and a happy issue out of all their afflictions. “ And this we beg for Jesus Christ His sake. " Amen."
The spirit of universal charity which the gospel breathes, indicates its origin, and affords conclusive internal evidence of its Divinity. “ Who is he among the gods that may be com“ pared unto the Lord?” And where is that system to be found, among all the various schemes of religion which have been promulgated to mankind, that will bear a comparison with Christianity? When they are weighed in the balance, they are found wanting; as in a variety of other things, so especially in the effects which thạy produce on the human mind. He who inhabiteth eternity, though He was infinitely glorious and happy in His own perfections, chose to communicate His felicity, and with this view called the world of angels and the world of men into existence; and, when man had destroyed himself, “ God so loved the “ world, that He gave His only begotten Son" for its ransom," that whosoever believeth on “ Him should not perish, but have everlasting “ life.” Those whi are made “ partakers of * the Divine nature, resemble their heavenly Parent in the universal benevolence of their characters. Not satisfied with the solitary enjoyment of Christian privileges, not contented to feast alone on “ the fat things full of marrow, " and the wines on the lees well refined," to the participation of which they are called by the boundless goodness of God; they feel a solicitude that all their fellow-creatures who are through sin involved in the same guilt and misery with themselves, may be, through grace, brought into the fellowship of the same salvation. This is one characteristic of a real Christian, in whatever age or country he may live, and of every genuine member of the church of England. It is impossible for any one to receive Christ into his heart by faith, and remain destitate thereof. Every true disciple of Christ feels an holy anxiety in his bosom for the enlargement of his Redeemer's kingdom, and the conversion of his fellow-creatures. Are you sensible of any such solicitude? Surely, reader, you have abundant reason to suspect the reality of your profession, however splendid it may be, if it be unaccompanied with this Divine enlargement of heart, which causes you to labour and pray for the salvation of all around you. This is genuine charity, and it is as far superior to that which is fashionable in the present day, and which is confined to the relief of the corporeal wants of others, as the ineffable pleasures to which the Gospel calls us are superior to the gratifications of sensual appetite. The charity which man applauds, and which too often arises from the vanity of the fallen mind, is only occupied in the erection and endowment of infirmaries and hospitals, and such like means of provision for the wants of the perishing body. But the Christian grace
* This is to be said when any desire the prayers of the congregation.
* which God implants
* The real Christian, while he possesses an exclusive claim to a charitable disposition, lies under an imputation
and approves in the bosoms of all His people, while it neglects not these calls of humanity, has higher objects in view. Its first concern is to promote the eternal felicity of mankind, by communicating the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
In our intercessions for all conditions of men, we address God with the highest propriety as « the Creator and Preserver of all mankind." While we call on Him as the universal Parent of the human race, we bring to our remembrance our obligation to a performance of the duty in which we are engaging. For if “ God “ made all men of one blood, then we are all brethren, whether we inhabit the burning
of being totally destitute of this amiable virtue. And this has been the case through every age of the church. The ancient people of God were charged with bigotry and narrowness of mind, because none could be admitted to religious communion with them, unless they became proselytes to their creed, underwent circumcision, and submitted to worship the God of Israel only. The various Gentile nations acquiesced in the worship of each other's Deities, and the admission of each other's rites and ceremonies. This the law of Jehovah absolutely prohibited to His people, and hence arose the general outcry against them. The case was the same with the primitive Christians. The Roman empire tolerated a thousand differing religious sects. The Emperors offered to have an image of Jesus erected in the Capitol, that He might have an equal share of worship with the false gods with whose statues its walls were polluted. But Christians claimed for Him an exclusive right to adoration. And this was a principal cause of the hatred and persecution they experienced. The case remains the. same between Christians and the world in the present day. Christians believe that, “ if any man be in Christ, he is a
new creature;” and therefore, though they are not called to sit in the seat of judgment, they cannot flatter men to their eternal destruction. And on this account they are condemned and hated as being destitute of charity. But “ to their own Master they stand or fall."