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without some suitable token of honour. The idea of Irenæus and some modern authors, that the articles which the Magii brought had an appropriate reference to a threefold character of Christ; that the gold was designed for Him as a king, the. frankincense as a God, and the myrrh as a man of sorrows, is perhaps rather ingenious than solid: at least much is not to be built on it. It may however lead us to observe that when we go to Christ for the purpose of worshipping Him, and of deriving salvation from Him, we must take with us the treasure of our hearts. The gold of our earthly possessions, the frankincense of prayer and praise, and the myrrh of godly sorrow must be presented to Him. All we have must be laid at His feet-not as the purchase price of His favour, but as a token of our gratitude to Him.
The prayer which is founded on this remarkable part of the sacred history, consists partly of a position and partly of a supplication. • Mer“ cifully grant, that we which know thee now " by faith, may after this life have the fruition “ of thy glorious God-head, through Jesus “ Christ our Lord.''
The position is, that “we now know God by “ faith.” But, reader! is the position indeed true? Is the charitable hope, which our church entertains of thee, as one of her sons, founded? “ It is eternal life to know the only « true God and Jesus Christ whom He hath “5 sent." To be ignorant of God is eternal death; for those on whom His vengeance will be taken, when He is “revealed in flaming
fire,” are all “ who know not God and obey
not the Gospel of His Son Jesus Christ." o let the inquiry be made with care! for ignorance
tion, or end, conveys ideas to his mind which ravish his soul, and which at times produce an ecstacy that ill brooks delay or a further commerce with this sublunary scene of things.
Reader, Is the fruition of God the ultimate scope and consummation of thy wishes ? To be with Him, to see Him, to be like Him, to enjoy close communion with Him,-is this the point to which thy affections tend, the object of thy habitual desire? If indeed it be, then a preparation of soul for it is the work of thy life. An increasing spirituality of mind, an abstraction from the world, and sublimation of affection, are daily cultivated. What says conscience respecting thy sincerity in the use of our excellent collect? Let her answer be the index of thy state.
As we are taught to ask for every blessing preparatory to the fruition of the glorious Godhead in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, so also for this crowning benefit. His merit and intercession are our ground of confidence. Presumption itself can hardly build on any other the hope of eternal glory. “He hath “ opened the kingdom of heaven to all be“ lievers" by His meritorious obedience unto death ; He is entered thither as the forerunner of His redeemed, and He ever liveth to make intercession for them.
The arrow of prayer, taken from the quiver of spiritual wants, shot from the bow of fervent desire by the strong hand of faith, pointed by sincerity, and winged by the name of Jesus, is sure to reach its destined mark. Past human guilt, however great, can neither impede its progress, nor divert its aim.
THE FIRST SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY.
O Lord, we beseech thee mercifully to receive the prayers of thy people which call upon thee, and grant that they may both perceive and know what things they ought to do, and also may have grace and power faithfully to fulfil the same, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
VHE collects for the five first Sundays after
the Epiphany are the same *which are found in the sacramentary of St. Gregory. But there is no reason to believe, that they originated with him; because he collected and embodied in that work the collects of the antient church.
The first of these collects, now to be reviewed, consists of three petitions. The first is introductory to the other two, and designed to conciliate a favourable audience to the important requests which follow ;---The second respects a knowledge of our duty. ;-And the third, the practice of it.
In the introductory petition several things are mentioned, which are calculated to secure regard to the suit of the penitent supplicant who
Its language bespeaks sincerity and importunity, and is unaccommodate to feigned lips. For while it coincides with the feelings of the awakened mind, it is suited to a detection of the hypocrisy which debases the worship of the formalist. The mode of expression which is here adopted, frequently .occurs in Scripture, and always conveys an idea of fervent desire. The following instances will be sufficient specimens. When the mariners of the ship in which Jonah endeavoured to escape “ from the pre“ sence of the Lord,” had done all that prudence and skill could devise for the preservation of their lives from destruction, in the storm by which they were overtaken, but without success,—they at length addressed themselves to the great Ruler of the winds and waves in words which discovered the state of their hearts ; • They cried unto the Lord and said, we bescech
thee, O Lord, we beseech thee, let us not pe“ rish for this man's life, &c.” Jonah i. 14. With similar energy did the father of a demoniac youth implore help from the compassionate Jesus. His words breathe distress and anxiety: “ Master, I beseech thee, look upon my son, for “ he is mine only child. And lo, a spirit taketh “ him, and he suddenly crieth out; and it tear“eth him, that he foameth again; and bruising “ him, hardly departeth from him. And I be
sought thy disciples to cast him out, and they " could not." Luke ix. 38–40. Who doth not perceive on the very face of this petition, that it was dictated by pungent affliction, lively solicitude, and despair of aid unless Christ afforded it? And such is the spirit in which every act of supplication should be performed; which our church breathes in all her services, and which must ever accompany the use of her forms in order that benefit may be derived from it. And may it not be inferred, that the want of this internal qualification occasions those complaints of ill success at the throne of grace which are so frequently made? Many persons indeed who join our assemblies form no expectations of deriving from God any spiritual benefit. These of course are satisfied, when they have performed the part of an automaton, and experience no disappointments of that kind which has been mentioned. The recital of forms is with them a thing of course; the routine of which being finished, they return home pleased with themselves, like the Romanist when his beads are told. But there are other persons who see through this veil of hypocrisy, who are in some measure conscious of defect, who cannot rest on the deceitful quicksand of mere formality, and yet do not enter into the spirit of our worship. Desire exists in their hearts; but it is languid. Uneasiness is felt; but it does not amount to spiritual hunger and thirst. They pray; but it is not under the force of conviction that they must prevail or perish. On this account the heavens over their heads appear to be a brazen wall, which their petitions do not penetrate. Their bow fails of conveying the arrow to its mark. They are unhappy, and perhaps charge God foolishly with unfaithfulness to His promise. They forget that it is “effectual fervent prayer, to which the promise is made; and that God, for the honour of His own name and the good of His people, withholds His consolations, till such a want of them be felt as secures to them a due reception when they are conferred. Our collect gives no countenance to the unfounded notion, that the form without the spirit of prayer will avail to salvation.