« ПредишнаНапред »
“ he cometh to shake terribly the earth.” But “ the children of light shall shine forth as the “ sun in the kingdom of their Father.” In the mean while their beautiful armour “ shines be“ fore men who see their good works, and glo“ rify their Father who is in heaven.'
This armour is to be put on and used. For, without it, so far from overcoming the obstacles which oppose our salvation, we cannot fight the good fight of faith; and much less shall we be able at last to lay hold on eternal life. “With« out holiness no man shall see the Lord." Should we appear among those who are called to the heavenly feast without this attire, the awful question, “ Friend, how camest thou in “ hither not having on the wedding garment, will cover us with confusion, and fill us with dismay. It was customary in the primitive church for every newly baptised person to be clothed with a white robe, as an emblem of that purity of heart and conduct, which in consequence of that ordinance was professionally assumed. We also have assumed the white robe of a Christian profession. O that we may be solicitous, while we hear our Lord say, “ Be“ hold, I come as a thief,” to “watch and keep “our garments” in a state of purity, lest they be found defiled and it be too late to wash them! Holiness is the ornament of the soul; it is the image of God, in which man was created. No wit, learning, science, or even natural suavity of disposition, if holiness be absent, is considered in heaven as mental beauty. There, in the presence of God and of his angels,
Love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness,
goodness, faith, meekness, temperance, constitute the only qualifications that are estimable.
The use of this admirable collect supposes, that it is the earnest desire of our hearts to “ cast away the works of darkness and to put “ on us the armour of light.” Is this the frame of mind in which we have recited it? Prayer is the language of the heart, without which yerbal addresses to God are a solemn mockery of his majesty, and a provocation of his anger, Is it not to be feared, that many who orally ask for sanctifying grace, are, in the state of their souls, cleaving to the works of darkness, and spurning the armour of light? Let such examine themselves and reflect.
The collect proceeds to a limitation of the time in which Divine Grace may be implored with success. This it states to be confined to s this mortal life;" an expression which seems to allude to the preface with which the Apostle, Rom. xiii. 12, introduces his exhortation; "The
night is far spent, the day is at hand; let us so therefore cast off the works of darkness and “put on the armour of light.” The æra of the present world, and the period of human life, may on many accounts be compared to the season of night, when contrasted with an eternal day. This period elapses apace; and, as it recedes, calls on us vehemently, in the words of our blessed Saviour, “ Be ye ready;" “ Watch
In this awful consideration, which is wisely interposed by the compilers of our liturgy, several things require our attention.
Our present life is a “mortal” one. It is doomed sooner or later to expire; it is every moment liable to a termination. There is therefore no dependence to be placed on it; for it is a “ vapour that passeth away, and cometh “ not again.” The time of its close is to us
os and pray
utterly uncertain. One thing, however, we know, that it can be at no great distance. Let the reader reflect on the present arrival of another Advent season. Let him recollect how many of his neighbours, since last Advent, have finished their « mortal" career, and are gone down into the grave. And before another comes, how many more will follow! perhaps the reader, perhaps the writer of these pages ! If therefore any thing remains to be done, for the purpose of making “our calling and elec“tion sure;" no time is to be lost.
The time of this mortal life is the time exclusively allotted for obtaining “grace that we “ may cast, away the works of darkness and “put upon us the armour of light.” If it be not now sought, it cannot be obtained. For " as the tree falls, it must lie.” God forbid that, like the foolish virgins, we should so slumber away the precious moments of this “mor“ tal life,” that, when he Bridegroom cometh, our lamps be found destitute of oil! for, then, the door will be shut against us, and we shall be eternally excluded from the marriage-feast ! * Now is the accepted time: now is the day of " salvation.” How strongly, by this short hint, has our church enforced the necessity of fervency in the use of her collect! May the awful hint produce its due effect on our souls!
In the parenthesis which follows the church leads us to her grand object; to Him who is the Alpha and Omega of all her forms, the beginning and the ending of all her devotions, the sum and substance of all her services, to Jesus Christ. To her the language of St. Paul may be transferred, since she may be considered as addressing her members in every part of her
liturgy, in his words, “I am determined to “ know nothing among you, save Jesus Christ « and Him Crucified." For the purpose of introducing and connecting the twofold subject of Advent, Christ the Saviour and Christ the Judge; for the purpose of consoling our minds under the consideration of our mortality, of encouraging our faith in the act of prayer for renewing grace, and of confirming it in the prospect of our Lord's second appearance, we are reminded that, "in the time of this mortal “ life, Christ came to visit us in great humility,”.
As this subject will be discussed when we come to contemplate the collect for Christmasday, we shall now notice it no further than with a view to that for which it seems to be introduced. We ask for the renewing influence of the Holy Ghost; and the ground on which the request is made, is solid; for the readiness of God to bestow on us whatever is needful to our salvation, is demonstrated by the incarnation of His adorable Son. And in the prosecution of our great work we are encouraged by the assurance, which Christ's first appearance in great humility affords, of a resurrection to “ the life « immortal.” For He cometh again to be .
glorified in His saints, and to be admired in " all them that believe.”'
We now proceed to consider the final cause for which we implore “ grace,” viz. “ that in “ the last day, when he shall come again in his
glorious majesty to judge both the quick and dead, we may rise to the life immortal,
through Him who liveth and reigneth with “ the Father and the Holy Ghost, now and
ever.” The consideration which is here suggested may be compared to the pillar of a cloud,
which came between the camp of the Egyptians “ and the camp of Israel, and was a cloud and “ darkness to them, but gave light by night to o these.” Thus the awful prospect of a judgment-day is a source of sweet consolation to the Christian believer, but must fill with dismay the conscious mind which is a stranger to “redemp“ tion in His blood, even the remission of sins."
There is a day at hand which will prove“ the « last." Then time will cease to be divided as it is now, by days and weeks, and months and years. That day arrived, the revolutions of time will be lost in the vast vortex of eternity. It is our privilege and duty by faith to realise this “ last day," with all its tremendous solemnities. We are deeply interested in its approach. A proper view of it will add fervour to our supplications for grace to prepare us for its arrival. Then the season of hearing, praying, and working, will be past; the time of judgment will be come.
Then he that “ is unjust, will be unjust “ still; and he that is filthy, will be filthy still; " he that is righteous, will be righteous still; ^ and he that is holy, will be holy still.”. No change, either of state or character, will be possible; for the mediatorial hour will be elapsed.
In this “last day” that process will take place, the mention of which by the lips of the prisoner Paul made Felix to tremble, and which, duly weighed, is enough to make the countenance of every impenitent sinner to change, and his thoughts to trouble him, the joints of liis loins to be loosed, and his knees to smite one against another. For the Lord Jesus shall come again in His glorious majesty to "judge both the quick “and dead.” Unbelief may ask, “ Where is
, " is the promise of His coming ?" It may pre