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ON THE COLLECTS FOR ADVENT.
I HAVE long been attached to the Church of England; and, if I am not greatly deceived, find that attachment increasing as I advance in life. In considering the service for Advent Sunday, I perceived an excellency, which had not occurred to me before, and which may, perhaps, have escaped the attention of some of your readers.
We are taught by our church, on the first Sunday in Advent, not only to consider our Lord's first coming, when he appeared with great humility to save the world; but, also, to contemplate and prepare for his second coming; when he shall appear, in glorious majesty, to judge both the quick and dead. But here, that important question forcibly occurs to the mind, Who may abide the day of his coming; and who shall stand when he appeareth? This inquiry is most satisfactorily answered in the services appointed for the next three Sundays; where we are taught the means, the only means, which God has appointed as preparatory to that solemn event.
The first is, the reading of the Scriptures, with prayer. We are thus taught to pray: "Blessed Lord, who has caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning, grant that we may in such wise hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that by patience and comfort of thy holy word, we may embrace, and ever hold fast, that blessed hope of everlasting life, which thou hast given us in our Saviour, Jesus Christ."
How impressive is the language we are here taught to use!-that we may not only read, but mark, learn, and inwardly digest, the Holy Scriptures. What a contrast is here implied to the practice of many professors of religion!
They read, now and then, a few verses, or, perhaps, a chapter or two; but without stopping for one moment to consider the meaning of what they read; without any careful observation of the nature and the import of the words and terms made use of; without learning any point of duty, any matter of doctrine, any direction of experience; and they go away, to their different pursuits, without in the least dwelling upon what they have read; without digesting and reconsidering it; and, in consequence, they derive neither patience in suffering, nor consolation under trials, or any well-founded hope of deliverance from the gracious directions, instructions, and promises so abundantly vouchsafed in the word of God. · O that there was amongst us more of that spirit which marked the Bereans, who received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily to see whether those things were so: then, assuredly, under the divine influences of the Holy Ghost, it would be found among us, as well as among them: that, therefore, many believed.
The second means of preparing for the Saviour's coming, is the diligent use and improvement of a Gospel ministry.
"O Lord Jesus Christ, who, at thy first coming, didst send thy messenger to prepare thy way before thee, grant, that the ministers and stewards of thy mysteries may, likewise, so prepare and make ready thy way, by turning the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; that, at thy second coming to judge the world, we may be found an acceptable people in thy sight.”
Why is it, that the inestimable privilege and blessing of a Gospel ministry is not more effectual, more successful? Why is the faithful
minister so often compelled to inquire, "Who hath believed our report, and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?" Is it not, that SO many are hearing without prayer? that they are expecting too much from men; looking rather to Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, than to that God who alone can give the increase? O let us guard against this spirit of dependence upon the creature. Let us diligently prepare for attending on the ministry of the word, by fervent earnest prayer; and' let us improve the opportunities with which we are favoured, by withdrawing from worldly company and conversation; and by entering into our closets, shutting-to our doors, and praying to our Father, who seeth in secret, for that abundant out-pouring of the Holy Spirit, which can alone render the seed sown effectual. Let us meditate upon what we have heard, compare spiritual things with spiritual; and thus seek to derive a lasting improvement from every sermon we hear.
The third mean is, an earnest seeking for, and a continual dependence upon, the influence and assistance of divine grace.
"O Lord! raise up, we pray thee, thy power, and come amongst us, and, with great might, succour us; that, whereas, through our sins and wickedness, we are sore let, and hindered, in running the race that is set before us, thy bountiful grace and mercy may speedily help and deliver us.
When we have, by the studying or the hearing of the word of God, discovered what is the path of duty, we have continual need of the divine grace and mercy to dispose and enable us so to walk, as to serve and please God. So long as we trust to ourselves, or depend upon our own strength, we shall meet with continual disappointments. We shall find, that the enemies of our souls are far DEC. 1823.
more powerful than we had previously imagined; that the weakness of our nature is such, as to incapacitate us, either for the performance of duty, or the resistance of temptation; and we shall thus practically learn the importance of that lesson which we are taught in our earlier years: "Know this, that thou art not able to do these things of thyself, nor to walk in the commandments of God, and to serve him, without his special grace; which thou must learn, at all times, to call for by diligent prayer." Instructions of this nature are regarded by many as very much matters of course. Men are apt to entertain far higher ideas of their own power and ability, than are consistent with these declarations. When, however, they actually come to the trial, they soon find that there is a law in their members, warring against the law of their mind, and bringing them into captivity to the law of sin, which is in their members. In proportion as they thus practically learn their own weakness, they will be induced earnestly to seek for the assistance of divine grace; and will, consequently, in due time, experience the truth of that declaration, "He giveth power to the faint; and to them, that have no might, he increaseth strength :" until at length the weak and tempted believer is enabled, in a measure, to adopt the Apostle's language, "I can do all things through Christ, that strengtheneth me."
Let us, then, diligently use these means of preparing for our Saviour's coming; let each returning season of Advent find us more devoted to the study of God's word, more fervent in prayer, more conscientious in the use of the means of grace, in hearing, meditating upon, and practising what we hear; more simple in reliance on the Saviour's mercy and dependence on his grace; and then, when at length he shall come in his own glory and
his Father's, and his holy angels with him, we shall be found an acceptable people in his sight, who liveth and reigneth with the
Father and the Holy Spirit, ever
PRAYER FOR THE PEOPLE OF IRELAND.
THE following Prayer for the People of Ireland, is used as a part of family prayer, on the evening of the second Tuesday of every month, by several persons who feel, that the present times call for importunate intercession at the throne of grace; for," who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?"-Jonah, iii. 9.
"O ETERNAL God, the Lord of glory! who art the author and giver of every good gift, and who hast promised so many and so great blessings to all those who call upon thee, grant us the spirit of grace and of supplications; teach us to cry mightily unto thee; and do thou hear and answer the prayers which thou thyself hast taught us.
"O Lord, the great and dreadful God! keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments; we have sinned and committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts, and from thy judgments; neither have we hearkened unto thy servants the prophets, which spake in thy name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land. O Lord, righteousness belongeth unto thee; but unto us confusion of faces, as at this day! O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for thine own sake, O our God!
"Bless the land in which we dwell, protect our rulers, guide our statesmen, enlighten the ministers of thy word, and bless all our people; may we be a nation fearing God, and working righteous
ness. Grant the king a long life, and make him glad with the light of thy countenance. Let him dwell before thee for ever. O prepare thy loving mercy and faithfulness, that they may preserve him. Revive, O Lord, thy work in all parts of thy church. O may her peace be as a river, and her righteousness as the waves of the sea. Grant that the bishops and pastors, and all other ministers of religion in our land, may be filled with the gifts and graces of thy Holy Spirit; may they be men of God, full of faith and of the Holy Ghost.
"Bless all Societies which have been formed, under thy providence, for extending thy kingdom in this land; bless them with a very abundant measure of the influences of thy Holy Spirit: give wisdom to their designs, and success to their endeavours; and dispose the breasts of thy people to contribute liberally to their support. In all their exertions, enable them to put all their dependence upon thee, and to remember that thou hast said, it is "not by might nor by power, but by my spirit."
"Give unto them and unto us all the blessing of personal religion, and may we enter into the experience of thy Gospel; pour out thy spirit upon our seed, and thy blessing upon our offspring. Especially bless, O Lord, all universities and schools of religious and useful learning. And, O gracious Lord, who hast said, "Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not," regard with thy favour every effort to bring up children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord; bless those who endeavour to instruct the young; do thou teach
them, that they may teach others; and grant that the children may receive, with a humble, teachable, and ready mind, all the instructions given unto them, according to thy word.
Lord, we would sigh before thee for all the abominations of our country! O how does the swearer, the sabbath-breaker, the covetous, the licentious, and the blasphemer, abound on every side! Because of these things, the wrath of God cometh upon the children of disobedience. O Lord, look down with mercy upon this land, where ignorance, superstition, and vice have long obscured thy truth and thy saving health; look down upon this people, who perish for lack of knowledge; enable us now to send thy Gospel to them with success; open a great door, and effectual, that thy word may gain admission, and have free course among the families of this land; and glorify it, we pray thee, in making it the instrument of opening the eyes of many, and turning them from darkness unto light, and from the power of Satan unto Thee. And, as the harvest truly is great, and the labourers but few, O do
thou mercifully send forth abundant labourers into thy harvest; raise up meek, humble, believing, patient, diligent, and persevering men, counting their work their wages; men willing to spend themselves, and be spent for Christ. O Lord, hear our prayer; send thy blessing upon us: let thy work appear unto thy servants, and thy glory unto their children. Put on thy strength, O arm of the Lord! Confound the works of darkness: utterly abolish the idols; destroy the dominion of Satan throughout the world.
"Let the people praise thee, O God! yea, let all the people praise thee. Take away all hatred and prejudice, and whatever else may hinder us from godly union and concord; that, as there is but one body, and one spirit, and one hope of our calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all; so we may henceforth be all of one heart, and one soul; united in one holy bond of truth and peace, of faith and charity; and may with one mind, and one mouth, glorify thee, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.'
REFLECTIONS ON A BIRTH-DAY.
Alas! how soon those years have past,
To seek anew the Saviour's face.
May I esteem all earthly joys
May I be cleans'd in Jesu's blood,
So when I've passed this vale of tears,
C. P. N. W.
ESSAYS ON THE FIFTY-THIRD CHAPTER OF ISAIAH. ESSAY XI.-THE SATISFACTION OF THE REDEEMER IN SEEING OF THE TRAVAIL OF HIS SOUL.
Isaiah, liii. 11. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.
In these words the prophet fur.. ther describes the recompense which the Redeemer should have for all his bitter sufferings: "He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied." The travail of his soul signifies all those agonizing pains, both of body and mind, which Jesus endured upon the cross, and which have been fully described in this chapter. The language of the inspired Psalmist is peculiarly applicable to him, "The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell got hold upon me." Psalm cxvi. 3. But these deadly pangs and convulsive throes, which the Lord Jesus suffered when he undertook the cause of his people, have long since ended; and now a glorious reward follows, not only in the Saviour's exaltation to his mediatorial throne, but in the conversion and salvation of his redeemed people. It was the prospect of this, that induced him to submit to the cross, despising the shame: "for the joy that was set before him (the joy of saving souls, and of bringing them to everlasting glory) he endured the cross, despising the shame." Heb. xii. 2. Nor shall he be disappointed of his hope; "he shall see of the travail of his soul;" and the sight will afford him the highest satisfaction.
Every soul of man, that is truly converted to God, is saved in consequence of the sufferings of Christ for that soul; and this is a consideration which greatly endears the divine Saviour to his believing people. Is the reader brought by
the grace of God to believe in Jesus, and to follow him? It was because Jesus suffered and died for your salvation. If he had not, you would never have been brought nigh to him; but would have been, as you are by nature, a stranger and an enemy to God, by wicked works. But Christ laboured and groaned, and bled and died, for you, if you are indeed brought nigh to him; and every soul that is savingly converted to God, is a proof, that Jesus did not suffer and die in vain.
The satisfaction which the Redeemer has, in souls converted to God by his grace, is beautifully represented in the parable of the lost sheep. The owner, "when he hath found it, layeth it on his shoulders rejoicing." He calls together his neighbours and friends to rejoice with him, that the lost sheep is found; "saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost." says, moreover, that there is joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth." Luke, xv. 5, 7. Angels are called to rejoice at the conversion of a sinner; and Jesus, the Lord of angels, is satisfied, when he sees a sinner brought to believe in his name; he remembers no more the anguish of the cross; but looks back with satisfaction on what he then suffered for our salvation.
We may easily conceive this, because we see something like it, though vastly inferior, amongst
What labours, for instance, what pains and difficulties, will man undertake to obtain something which he supposes will be for his good? What dangers does the seaman undergo to obtain the end which he has in view? and, when he has obtained it, he