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THE SECOND SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY.

Almighty and everlasting God, who dost govern all things in heaven and earth ; mercifully hear the supplications of thy people, and grant us thy peace all the days of our life, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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NHIS collect contains—a preface--and a pe

tition. The former is an act of adoration, which recites two of the Divine perfections, and ascribes to God universal dominion. It will be perceived, as we proceed in its elucidation, that it is admirably adapted to the petition, to which it is prefixed.

We ascribe Omnipotence to God in the preface of this collect, because He alone who stilleth the waves of the sea--who, in the person of the Divine Jesus, when a great tempest arose and excited the fears and endangered the lives of His disciples, rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, “Peace! “ be still !” and the wind ceased and there was a great calm-he only can tranquillize the troubled bosom of an awakened sinner. Ministers may indeed preach of peace with God through Jesus Christ our Lord; they may describe the ground on which it is built, as a sure foundation; they may explain the manner, in which the enjoyment of it is to be obtained; they may prescribe the terms of mutual pacification; and their testimony may be confirmed by Christian friends, who may form a great cloud of witnesses to the truth of the statement which is given. But it is God the Holy Ghost alone, who can “ grant us peace.” For the production of faith, whereby only peace can be derived to the heart, is expressly attributed by St. Paul to the “exceeding greatness of the

power of God, according to the working of His "mighty power which He wrought in Christ “ when He raised Him from the dead.” Faith, the mean of peace, is considered indeed by those who are unacquainted with its nature, to be an act of human reason, to which man is fully competent by the mere exertion of his innate abilities. But of such it may be truly said, that “they know not “ the Scriptures nor the power of God.” They forget who is declared to be “the Author and " Finisher of faith.” They mistake the mere assent of the understanding to the external evidences of Scripture for that fiducial tendency of the heart which is the principle of justification to the fallen soul of man, and the vital spark of holiness therein. They are unacquainted with the evil and demerit of sin, and are strangers to the torments of an enlivened conscience; and therefore easily persuade themselves that they are true believers while they remain totally ignorant of Christ and of salvation.

The conscious and penitent reader will perceive the wisdom of addressing our prayer to “ Almighty God,” when we implore peace.

For he will feel the propriety of Elihu's exclamations: “When he giveth quieiness, who then can make “ trouble? and when He hideth His face, who then “ can behold Him? whether it be done against a “ nation or against a man only.” He knows, in consequence of frequent abortive experiments which he has made, that « faith is not of ourselves, but the gift of God.”

Our collect, moreover, ascribes eternity to God, because, from the mention of this glorious attribute of Deity, confidence in the application to the throne of grace which follows may be derived. For when we speak of God as everlasting,

. we contemplate not only His existence but also His perfections and character. What He was in the beginning, that He is now, and ever will be world without end. The adorable name by which He is made known is “ I AM,” implying immutability of will as well as of being. “ He is “ in one mind, and who can turn Him? and what “ His soul desireth, even that He doth.” Now He has always been “the God of peace.” For no sooner was the friendship which subsisted between Him and His creature man interrupted by the first transgression, than it appeared that He had provided means of reconciliation; which means He immediately revealed for the preservation of our guilty parents from the torments of despair. The Revelation of His will, the substance of which is the gospel of peace, from the beginning to the end of it, accords with the first discovery of Divine goodness, and

may

be pared to the waters of Shiloah that go softly;" for its undiscoverable source is in the everlasting hills on which Mount Sion is built, from whence it flows with a gentle and even course, undiverted by human guilt

, unaltered by the lapse of years, , and undiminished by the supply which it has afforded to millions who have drank of it. In the fulness of time God sent His Son into the world to “ make peace by the blood of His cross ;” at

" whose birth angels sang “ Peace on earth;" and at whose death “all things were reconciled to

God, whether they be things on earth or things “in heaven.” Now if God be " everlasting,

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“ the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever;" if He be « without variableness or shadow of turn“ing;” with what confidence may we approach His throne and say, “Grant us Thy peace all the “ days of our life!" For who can question for a moment His readiness to hear and answer the request of our lips? By the mention of these attributes therefore our church may be considered as addressing each of her members for His encouTagement on approaching the mercy-seat, in the gracious words of the Prince of Peace, “O thou “ of little faith! wherefore dost thou doubt?”

We proceed to ascribe unto God universal dominion. And this consideration stands also in close connection with the act of supplication which constitutes the body of the prayer. For He who "

governs all things both in heaven and “ in earth,” must be allsufficient to “grant us “ His peace all the days of our life.” No creature can thwart His intention, or finally disappoint. His purpose of mercy.

The myriads of angels who surround His throtie, and are the first subjects of His kingdom, delight to do His will; and being His obedient servants, are employed on behalf of His church, for “ they “ are all ministring spirits, sent forth to minister “ to them who shall be heirs of salvation.” Nothing which the principalities and powers in heavenly places, nnder the direction of a special providence, can effect, can be wanting to the church of God, or to any member thereof.

The hosts of hell, though they are not particularly specified by a mention of their abode in our collect, are also subject to Divine control. They also are God's instruments for the good of His people; not willingly indeed but of necessity. Their opposition and temptations are included:

in the comprehensive catalogue of “ things which “ work together for good to them that love God, “ and are the called according to His purpose.” Their malignant efforts are the means of purifying what they labour to destroy: they eventually assist those in their way to heaven, whom they intend to thrust down to hell.

The things in earth, which are subject to the universal dominion of our God, are either rational or irrational. Among the rational subjects of God's kingdom here on earth, some are the voJuntary, and others the involuntary friends of His church. But all obey His will and do Him service by promoting His glory in the salvation of His redeemed. In the catalogue of the former may be reckoned the ministers of His word and sacraments, and the Christian governors of the world, who are the nursing fathers and mothers of the church, affording to it outward protection and support.

Among the latter, persecutors public and private, by word or deed, subserve the gracious intentions of the Divine will : for as of old “ the blood of the martyrs was the seed of “ the church; so now, the sneer of contempt, to which the disciple of the despised Nazarene is still exposed, proves the means of alienating His affections more and more from the world, of forcing him into a nearer connection with his heavenly Friend, and of fixing his affections more surely there where true joys are to be found.

The irrational subjects of His dominion are the powers of nature, employed in our corporeal support or dissolution.

Fire and hail, snow " and vapour, stormy wind, obey His word.” Riches and poverty, health and disease, life and death, are subject to His almighty will. “ saith to one, Go, and he goeth; to another,

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