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ESSAY VII.

ON THE SECOND COLLECT IN THE MORNING

SERVICE, FOR PEACE.

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WHEN the great Apostle of the Gentiles is addressing himself to the saints at Rome, in the very beginning of his epistle he pronounces his blessing on them in these terms, grace and

peace be with you from God our Father and • the Lord Jesus Christ. In the sequel of the letter we find another solemn form of benediction and supplication ; .Now the God of hope fill you • with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may * abound in hope through the power of the Holy • Ghost.' And, towards the conclusion of it, he repeats the same pious wish, now the God of • peace be with you all. Amen.' of the Apostle's affectionate regard for the brethren at Rome, who were the called of Christ Jesus, and be • loved of God, no doubt can be entertained ; since the whole of his conduct manifested the warmest attachment to, and zeal for all those, who loved our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity.

That his fervent love for them would prompt his heart to wish them the best of blessings, is equally unquestionable. We must therefore conclude that peace from God is an inestimable good. When our blessed Lord was taking His leave of His dear disciples, to whom He was united in the bonds of everlasting love; when we find Him solemnly making, as it were, His last will and testament in their favor, what is the legacy Ho bequeaths to them? Not worldly grandeur, riches, or pleasures ; for He too well knew the emptiness and dangerous tendency of all these things, to wish His beloved followers a large participation of them ; on the contrary, He tells them plainly, that in the world they should have tribulation. Peace is the blessing He devises to thém ; peace I leave with you, my peace I give

unto you. Surely then we have reason to con clude, that peace is a benefit, which we cannot too earnestly desire, nor too highly prize. And indeed it is of so great importance, that none of the comforts of the present life can be enjoyed without it; nor, without it, can we entertain any pleasing hope of that happiness which is to come. For this comprehensive good, our church teaches us to pray, in the following excellent words.

60 God, who art: the Author of peace and • Lover of concord, in knowledge of whom stan- deth our eternal life, whose service is perfect 5 freedom , defend us Thy, humble servants in all • assaults of our enemies, that we, surely trusting • in Thy defence, may not fear the power of any · adversaries, through the might of Jesus Christ • our Lord. Amen.'

Ai we sensible of the importance of an acquaintance with this amiable inhabitant of the heavenly world? Are we earnestly desirous that the Dove should bring the olive branch, and plant it in our bosoms? To whom should we apply but to God? For He is • the Author of peace.' In whatever point of view we consider this com prehensive benefit, God is the source, whence it flows. Are we involved in the calamity of war? The real cause of national calamity is sin. God only can restore tranquillity to our borders. And surely the most effectual method of obtaining it would be, not to add the spirit of intestine discord to the tumult that reigns without, but to address ourselves by repentance and prayer to Him, who is the Author of peace.' He only can make our inveterate foes willing to return the murderous weapon to its sheath, and change the din of war into thanksgiving and praise. Do we enjoy the blessing of domestic peace ? Are we of one mind in an house? Let us be thankful to God for so signal a mercy; whether the comforts, flowing from it, arise from an union of spirit in the faith of the gospel ; or only from the restraint, which civilization imposes on the rage ing passions of the unsanctified bosom. For man, unconverted, and unrestrained by laws, or other effects of God's overruling providence, would prove a tyger to his domestics and neighbours. We have among us instances enough to shew what man is, when left to himself. In many houses the husband and wife, the parents and children, the master and servants, live together nearly on the same terms as do the wild beasts of the forest. God is the Author of peace ;' and it is owing either to the happy influence of His renewing grace, or the kind interference of His providence, that we enjoy any of the comforts of social life. Abandoned to the boisterous tempers of our own fallen nature, we should prove continual tormentors, both of ourselves and of all around us. But the most important consideration of that peace, of which God is the Author, yet remains to be mentioned ; peace with God. While man continued in a state of innocence, the most perfect friendship subsisted between God and His creatures. But the admission of sin set God and the sinner at variance. Had no method been discovered for the restoration of amity, and the reconciliation of the parties each to the other ; the breach must have terminated in the everlasting separation of the sinner from God and happiness : for • how can two walk together, ex* cept they be agreed ?»* And between a polluted sinner and an Holy God, with whom iniquity cannot dwell,* there must be, apparently to human reason, the most irreconcileable disagreement. But God, who is rich in mercy, for the

* Amos iii. S.

great love wherewith He loved us,' hath to our astonishment provided means, whereby on the one hand His own attributes might all be glorified in the restoration of sinners to His favor ; and whereby on the other the sinner's heart might be so changed, as to be rendered again capable of communion with God. All this is effected by that wonderful display of almighty love, which Christ Jesus made from the redeeming cross. Therefore, He is by the Apostle emphatically stiled our Peace;'t because His blood, by that perfect atonement for sin, which its effusion made, hath reconciled God to us; and, when applied to the conscience by faith, reconciles us to God. Moreover, the human mind,' in its natural state, • is enmity against God; for it is not subject • to the law of God, neither indeed can be. But when, being justified by faith, we have peace

with God through our Lord Jesus Christ ;' and are brought to a perception of the love, wherewith He hath loved us ; we lay down the arms of our rebellion, and submit ourselves to His mild sceptre; and thenceforward peace regains her

* Psa.. V. 4.

+ Eph. ii. 14,

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