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TIIE THIRD SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANT.

Almighty and everlasting God, mercifully look upon our infirmities, and in all our dangers and nesessities stretch forth thy right-hand to help, and defend us, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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THIS collect consists of two petitions, which

we shall review in their natural order. The act of adoration with which it commences, is the same which occurs in the preceding collect. And as the observations which have been already made on the Divine attributes that are introduced in the one, are equally applicable to their station and connection in the other, it will be unnecessary to repeat them. It will be sufficient therefore to observe here, that we address God as being Almighty and “ Everlasting” for the purpose of shewing our devout reverence of His sacred majesty, and of deriving to ourselves encouragement in prayer from the mention of these awful and glorious attributes,

In the first petition we implore a merciful regard to our infirmities, the propriety of which prayer will be felt by every worshipper who is acquainted with himiself. For our infirmities are very many, and very great; too many to be enumerated, too great to admit an adequate description. They are such as render us objects of pity in whatever view we are considered, whether as animals, as reasonable creatures, or

as Christian believers. No animal that creeps on the face of the earth, that flies in the air, or that swims in the water, is so infirm, and dependent on extrinsecal aid, as man. None is liable to so many diseases, accidents, wants, and miseries. Though

« the creature" in general has lost its original beauty and felicity, and “is made subject to vanity” and wretchedness in a variety of forms; yet man as the only transgressor is the principal •sufferer. Though “the bondage of corruption” is heavy on all the creatures; yet man feels the galling chain most severely.

« The whole creation groans;” but man, its earthly lord, groans most deeply. As reasonable creatures, we have indeed a prerogative above others; but it is one which exposes us, through its infirmities, to trials, wants, and miseries, of which they are unconscious. It is, however, as Christian believers that our infirmities are most numerous and painful.

Our infirmities, then, on which we implore pity, are twofold; those of our bodies, and those of our souls. And the aggregate forms a mass of weakness and misery which, were it duly felt, would be productive of constant selfloathing and self-abasement.

Of our corporeal infirmities we may say that their “ name is legion for they are many." Who is competent to an enumeration of all the diseases and maladies to which the human frame, from its complex texture, is liable? An age would be insufficient merely to name the various dismal accidents, to which it is exposed. And though no single individual is experimentally acquainted with more than a very few of either; yet the memoirs of man constitute, in

every instance, a tale of woe. “Few and evil,”
may every historian of bis own experience say
with the patriarch Jacob, “ have the days of
“ the years of my life been,” Require the aged
totterer on the brink of the grave to recollect
and narrate the occurrences that are past, and
he must reply,
Infandum- --juhes renovare dolorem,

Quæque ipse miserrima vidi,
Et

quorum pars magna fui. Quis talia fando,
Temperet-a lachrymis ?
Ah, who can paint, without a bleeding heart,
Those scenes in which I bore the chiefest part ;
Scenes big with horror, and replete with woe,
My nature's fall, and triumph of her foe?

What a poor infirm creature is man! From the cradle to the grave how wretched an object of compassion! How preposterous is pride in the human bosom! How absurd is the employment of time and attention in the decoration of our languishing dying bodies, which carry about within them, under the extrinsic load of borrowed ornaments, the seeds of putrefaction and dissolution; and which often require art for the concealment of those deformities that would disgust every spectator! How foolish is an eager pursuit of those worldly distinctions which can only elevate their possessor to a preeminence of misery, and which must shortly terminate in a shroud and a coffin !

The infirmities of our souls are still more extensive and complicated. But they are generally less felt, because the soul is unhappily, to the majority of mankind, an inferior object of attention, though its value is immensely greater.

As a dead carcase is sensible of no

pain or weakness; neither is the soul that is “ dead in trespasses and sins.” A bed-rid person, whether the confinement be occasioned by age or sickness, is in a considerable degree unconscious of his own weakness. Let him attempt to perform the functions of health, and his debility becomes apparent to himself and others. So it is with the human soul. While it lies in a dormant state, with respect to the acts of spiritual life, it may fancy itself to be vigorous and equal to any exertions; it may imagine the injury which it has received from the fail to be very slight. Such is the estimate which the pharisaic professor of religion, whose views of Christianity are confined to its externals, forms of his own strength, He, however, who is through grace made “ alive - from the dead,” and is endeavouring to employ “his members as instruments of righteous“ ness unto God”—who is instructed that it is his duty and privilege to “ believe in, to fear, " and to love God with all his heart, mind, soul, “ and strength”—who wishes to “worship Him “ in spirit and in truth”-forms a very different estimate of himself. He is aware how feeble are the powers of his understanding : that he knows little, very little of Divine things; that he is prone to mistake error for truth, to put darkness for light, and to be misled by every specious argument, which either man or devil may suggest. He is conscious of the many infirmities of his heart. He finds daily reason to lament, that his desires after God and holiness are languid, and often apparently extinguished. His hope of glory is faint and inefficient, and often ready to expire. His spiritual joys are feeble in their degree, uncertain

in their VOL, I.

2 I

continuance, and wholly inadequate to the object which occasions them; nay, often they are turned into 'sorrow, and, by their desertion of his bosom, leave it a prey to melancholy and dull inaction. His love to God, though its motives are infinite, is so cold, that it may justly be compared to smoking flax; it is alive and nothing more; nay, he often doubts whether any such principle exists within his soul or not, so poor are his returns for infinite obligations. The hand of faith, by which alone supplies for his varied wants are to be obtained, is so palsied, that when he endeavours to stretch it out, it is incapable of performing its office in a prompt and energetic manner. It is scarcely able to receive or retain the gráce which it wants; and often is deprived of motion and sensation, so as to fail of deriving any benefit to the soul. This account of our spiritual infirmities might be greatly enlarged, and is rather calculated for a volume of large dimensions than for the page of an essey. For what is the volume of ecclesiastical history, or of Christian experience, but an account of human infirmity and Divine grace? The visible church of Christ is an infirmary, the larger wards of which are filled with the dead corpses of nominal professors; while a few patients, under the care of the great Physician, are slowly recovering health and soundness. Most of these, however, are but just alive, and none of them convalescent. They creep about the charitable mansion, waiting for the welcome visits of their Physician, attending to His prescriptions, watching the symptoms of their malady, now cheared by hope and then depressed by fear, and longing for the time when the cure shall be perfected, and they shall quit their

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