Page images

2. Am I, secondly, such as I ought to be, with regard to my Affections? I am taken from among and ordained for men, in things pertaining to God. i stand between God and man, by the authority of the great Mediator, in the nearest and most endearing relation both to my Creator and my fellow-creatures. Have I accordingly given my heart to God, and to my brethren for his sake ? Do I “ love God with all my soul and strength ?" And my neighbour, every man, as myself? Does this love swallow me up ? Possess me whole ? Constitute my supreme happiness? Does it animate all my passions and tempers, and regulate all my powers and faculties? Is it the spring which gives rise to all my thoughts, and governs all my words and actions ? If it does, not unto me, but unto God be the praise. If it does not, “ God be merciful to me a sinner !"

At least, do I feel such a concern for the glory of God, and such a thirst after the salvation of men, that I am ready to do any thing, however contrary to my natural inclination, to part with any thing, however agreeable to me, to suffer any thing, however grievous to flesh and blood, so I may save one soul from hell? Is this my ruling temper at all times and in all places ? Does it make all my labour light ? If not, what a weariness is it! What a drudgery! Had I not far better hold the plough?

But is it possible this should be my ruling temper, if I still love the world ? No, certainly. If I “love the world, the love of the Father is not in me.” The love of God is not in me, if I love pleasure, so called, or diversion. Neither is it in me, if I am a lover of honour or praise, of dress, or of good eating and drinking. Nay, even indolence, or the love of ease, is inconsistent with the love of God.

What a creature then is a covetous, an ambitious, a luxurious, an indolent, a diversion-loving clergyman! Is it any wonder that infidelity should increase, where any of these are to be found ? That many, comparing their spirit with their profession, should blaspheme that worthy name whereby they are called? But “wo be unto him by whom the offence cometh! It were good for that man if he had never been born.” It were good for him now, rather than he should continue to turn the lame out of the


66 that a mill-stone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the depth of the sea !"

3. May not you, who are of a better spirit, consider, 3dly, am I such as I ought to be, with regard to my practice? Am I in my private life, wholly devoted to God? Am I intent upon this one thing, to do in every point “ not my own will, but the will of him that sent me?" Do I carefully and resolutely abstain from every evil word and work? “ From all appearance of evil?" From all indifferent things, which might lay a stumbling-block in the way of the weak? Am ! zealous of good works? As I have time, do I do good to all men ? And that in every kind, and in as high a degree as I am capable ?

How do I behave in the public work whereunto I am called ? Inmy pastoral character ? Am I a pattern to my flock, “ in word, in behaviour, in love, in spirit, in faith, and purity ?” Is my word, my daily conversation, “always in grace, always meet to minister grace

H %

to the hearers ?” Is my behaviour suitable to the dignity of my calling? Do I walk as Christ also walked ? Does the love of God and man not only fill my heart, but shine through my whole conversation ? Is the spirit, the temper which appears in all my words and actions, such as allows me to say with humble boldness, herein “ be


followers of me, as I am of Christ ?” Do all who have spiritual discerninent take knowledge, (judging of the tree by its fruits,) that “ the life which I now live, I live by faith in the Son of God;" and that “ in all simplicity and godly sincerity I have my conversation in the world ?? Am I exemplarily pure from all worldly desire ? From all vile and vain affections? Is my life one continued labour of love? One tract of praising God and helping man? Do I in every thing “ see him who is invisible ?” And,“ beholding with open face the glory of the Lord, am I changed into the same image, from glory to glory, by the Spirit of the Lord ?"

Brethren, is not this our calling, even as we are Christians ? But more eminently as we are ministers of Christ? And why, (I will not say, we do fall short, but why) are we satisfied with falling so short of it? Is there any necessity laid upon us, of sinking so infinitely below our calling? Who hath required this at our hands! Certainly not He by whose authority we minister. Is not His will the same with regard to us, as with regard to his first ambassadors ? Is not His love, and is not his power still the same, as they were in the ancient days? Know ye not, that “ Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever ?". Why then may you not be as s burning and as shining lights," as those that shone seventeen hundred years ago? Do you desire to partake of the same burning love, of the same shining holiness ? Surely you do. You cannot but be sensible, it is the greatest blessing which can be bestowed on any chilotof man.

Do you design it? Aim at it? « Press on to this mark of the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus? Do you, constantly and earnestly pray for it; then as the Lord liveth, ye shall attain. Only let us pray on, and "tarry at Jerusalem, till we be endued with power from on high.” Let us continue in all the ordinances of God, particularly in meditating on his Word, in “denying ourselves, and taking up our cross daily," and, “as we have time, doing good to all men:" and then assuredly the great Shepherd of us and our flocks, will make us "perfect in every good work, to do Liis will, and work in us all that is well pleasing in his sight!" This is the desire and prayer of

Your Brother and Servant
In our common Lord,

London, Feb. 6, 1756.




THE intention of the collector of these Prayers was, first, to have Worms of Prayer for every day in the week, each of which contained something of deprecation, petition, thanksgiving, and inter-cession : Secondly, To have such forms for those days which the Christian Church has ever judged peculiarly proper for religious rejoicing, as contained little of deprecation, but were explicit and large in acts of love and thanksgiving. Thirdly, To have such for those days, which, from the age of the Apostles, have been set apart for religious mourning, as contained little of thanksgiving, but were full and express in acts of contrition and humiliation. Fourthly, To have intercessions every day, for all those whom our own Church directs us to remember in our prayers. And, Fifthly, To comprise in the course of petitions for the week, the whole scheme of our Christian duty.

Whoever follows the direction of our excellent Church, in the interpretation of the Holy Scriptures, by keeping close to that sense of them which the Catholic Fathers and ancient Bishops have delivered to succeeding generations, will easily see that the whole system of Christian duty is reducible to these five heads.

First: The renouncing ourselves : “ If any man will come after me, let him renounce* himself, and follow me.” This implies, first, A thorough conviction that we are not our own; that we are not the proprietors of ourselves, or any thing we enjoy ; that we have no right to dispose of our goods, bodies, souls, or any of the actions or passions of them. Secondly, A solemn resolution to act suitably to this conviction; not to live to ourselves, not to pursue our own desires, not to please ourselves, nor to suffer our own will to be any principle of action to us.

Secondly, Such a renunciation of ourselves naturally leads to the devoting of ourselves to God: as this implies, First, A thorough conviction that we are God's : That he is the proprietor of all we are, and all we have; and that not only by right of creation, but of purchase ; for he “died for all :" and, therefore, died for all, that “they which live, should not henceforth live unto themselves, but anto bim that died for them." Secondly, A solemn resolution to act

* Απαρνησάσθω εαυτον. Μatt. Xri. 24.

suitably to this conviction: to live unto God, to render unto God, the things which are God's, even all we are, and all we have; to glorify him in our bodies, and in our spirits, with all the powers and all the strength of each, and to make his will our sole principle of action.

Thirdly, Self-denial is the immediate consequence of this. For whosoever has determined, to “live no longer to the desires of men, but to the Will of God,” will soon find that he cannot be true to his purpose without “ denying himself, and taking up his cross daily.". He will daily feel some desire which this one principle of action, the Will of God, does not require him to indulge. In this therefore he must either deny himself, or so far deny the faith. He will daily meet with some means of drawing nearer to God, which are unpleasing to flesh and blood. In this, therefore, he must either take up his cross, or so far renounce his Master.

Fourthly, By a constant exercise of self-denial, the true follower of Christ continually advances in mortification. He is more and more dead to the world, and the things of the world, till at length he can say, with that perfect disciple* of his Lord, “I desire nothing but God;" or with St. Paul, “I am crucified unto the world; I am Jead with Christ: I live not, but Christ liveth in me.”

Fifthly, Christ liveth in me: This is the fulfilling of the law, the last stage of Christian holiness : This maketh the man of God perlect: He that being dead to the world, is alive to God, the desire of whose soul is unto his name, who has given him his whole heart, who delights in him, and in nothing else but what tends to him ; who for his sake burns with love to all mankind; who neither thinks, speaks, nor acts, but to fulfil bis will, is on the last round of the ladder to heaven; grace hath had its full work upon his soul; the next step he takes is into glory.

May the God of glory give unto us who have not already attained this, neither are already perfect, to do this one thing, “ forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, to press toward the mark for the prize of our highcalling in Christ Jesus.”

May he so enlighten our eyes, that we may “reckon all things but loss, for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord;" and so stablish our hearts that we may rejoice to suffer the loss of all things, and count them but dung, that we may win Christ."

[ocr errors]

* Marquis de Renty.



ALMIGHTY GOD, Father of all mercies, I thy unworthy servant, desire to present myself with all humility, before thee, to offer my morning sacrifice of love and thanksgiving ! Glory be to thee, O most adorable Father, who after thou hadst finished the work of creation, enteredst into thy eternal rest. Glory be to thee, O holy Jesus, who having through the eternal Spirit offered thyself a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice for the sins of the whole world, didst rise again the third day from the dead, and hadst all power given thee, both in heaven and on earth. Glory be to thee, O blessed Spirit, who proceeding from the Father and the Son, didst come down iv fiery tongues on the Apostles, on the first day of the week, and didst enable them to preach the glad tidings of salvation to a sinful world, and has ever since been moving on the faces of men's souls, as thou didst once on the face of the great deep, bringing them out of that dark chaos in which they were involved. Glory be to thee, O holy undivided Trinity, for jointly concurring in the great work of our redemption, and restoring us again to the glorious liberty of the sons of God. Glory be to thee, who in compassion to human weakness. hast appointed a solemn day for the remembrance of thy inestimable benefits. O let me ever esteem it my privilege and happiness, to have a day set apart for the concerns of my soul, a day free from distractions, disengaged from the world, wherein I have nothing to do but to praise and love thee. O let it ever be to me a day sacred to divine love, a day of heavenly rest and refreshment.

Let thy Holy Spirit, who on the first day of the week descended in miraculous gifts on thy Apostles, descend on me thy unworthy servant, that I may be always “in the spirit on the Lord's day.” Let his blessed inspiration prevent and assist me in all the duties of this thy sacred day, that my wandering thoughts may all be fixed on thee, my tumultuous affections composed, and my flat and cold desires quickened into fervent longings and thirstings after thee. join in the prayers and praises of thy church with ardent and heavenly affection, hear thy word with earnest attention and a fixed resolution to obey it. And when I approach the altar, pour into my heart, humility, faith, hope, love, and all those holy dispositions, which become the solemn remembrance of a crucified Saviour. Let me employ this whole day to the ends for which it was ordained, in works of necessity and mercy, in prayer, praise, and meditation ; and “ let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart be always acceptable in thy sight.”

O let me

« PreviousContinue »