« PreviousContinue »
and salvation of the whole world. All mankind were originally made of one blood; all are by nature equally destitute of merit or meetness with respect to the blessings of redemption; all are equally capable of salvation, if God vouchsafe to send it to them; and all are equally dependent on the mercy of God, both for the outward means and the inward enjoyment of it.
Having reminded Him to whom we address our intercession, of His merciful intentions and declarations, not with a view to His information but to the confirmation of our own faith and the animation of our own desires, we proceed to divide the unchristian world into four parts comprehensive of the whole. We begin, as we are in duty bound, with the descendants of. God's antient church, the Jews. These are still a great multitude, whose numbers from their wide dispersion it is impossible to calculate. Scarcely is there a civilized nation with which they are not mingled. Though by the just judgment of God for their offences, and especially the act of Deicide by which they filled up the measure of their iniquities, they have been scattered over the face of the globe; yet have they been miraculously kept distinct from the various nations among whom they have long resided. By a long abode in various countries their skin has assumed the hue peculiar to the inhabitants of those climates in which they sojourn ;* yet they remain a distinct people, and are easily recognized as descendants of the
*" The English Jew is white, the Portuguese swarthy, " the American olive, and the Arabian copper; in short, “ there
appear to be as many species of Jews, as there are “ countries in which they reside.” Clarkson on the Slavery and Commerce of the Human Species. p. 143.
once renowned favourites of Heaven. This stupendous miracle is a standing attestation to the truth of Scripture which infidelity can never invalidate. And while they cry aloud to Christians, warning them of the danger of apostacy, (Rom. xi. 21.) their continuance as a distinct people confirms the promises of God respecting their own restoration to His favour by their , future conversion to the faith of Christ.
For the conversion of the Jews we shall assuredly feel ourselves bound to pray with the greatest fervency, if we consider that they have been the channel through which all our blessings have flowed. They were the appointed ark in which the true religion was preserved when all the world besides were drowned in the grossest idolatry. From them, at length, “as concerning " the flesh Christ came, who is over all God “ blessed for ever"-the Divine Redeemer of a lost world. Those who preached the blessed gospel throughout the world, at the risk of their lives and with the forfeiture of all their earthly comforts, were Jews-and among the rest that laborious man who first planted the tree of life on our own shores, St. Paul, was a descendant of Abraham. To these considerations we may add the personal interest which we Gentiles have in their restoration; “ for if the rejection of or them were the reconciliation of” so great a part of “the world” by the diffusion of the gospel which it occasioned, “what will the
reception of them be but life from the dead," since it will naturally conduce to the conversion of all nations among whom they have been dispersed ? Surely on these and other accounts which might be mentioned, we are bound, both by gratitude and self-interest, to pray for the
gathering of Israel into the Christian fold. And, blessed be God! our hopes concerning it and our prayers for its accomplishment derive the fullest sanction and encouragement from Scripture.*
Having thus presented to the compassionate notice of our Lord our elder brethren the Jews, we proceed to implore His mercy on the “ Turks." Under this term we comprehend all the deluded followers of Mohammed, because the Turkish Empire is the principal seat and fountain of their abominable superstition. This imposture arose in the beginning of the seventh century, and was permitted by Divine Providence to take place as a punishment on the eastern church for its apostacy from the faith of Christ, especially in the Doctrine of our Lord's Divinity. It has spread itself over a part of Europe, a great part of Asia, and a part of Africa.In praying for the conversion of the Turks the symptoms of the times afford us great encouragement. For the unweildy pile of the Turkish Empire, feebly connected in its several component parts, and daily weakened by its own weight, totters to destruction.t
By Infidels” who form the third object of our pious concern we mean heathens of all descriptions. Of these the number is vast indeed. For nineteen out of thirty parts of the world are still involved in the grossest darkness. Dark however and widely extended as is the night of ignorance that still overshadows the world, the promises of Scripture encourage us to pray; for
* See particularly Isaiah xxvii. 12, 13. Ezek. xi. 17-21 chap. xx. 34–44. Chap. xxxiv. 13, 14. chap. xxxvi. 24–28. chap. xxxvii. 21–28. Amos ix. 14, 15. Obad. 17. Mic. vii. 14, 15. Zach. xiv. 10, 11. Hos. i. 10, 11. Rom. xi.
+ See Eaton's Sketches of the Turkish Empire.
the kingdoms of the world are to become the “ kingdoms of the Lord and of His Christ.”
Under the name of “Heretics" we include all those who, while they call themselves Christians, deny the fundamental doctrines of Christianity. Of these objects of our pity great multitudes are to be found in every Christian country; and it is to be feared that their number is rapidly increasing. These are, in some respects, exposed to greater danger than either Jews, Turks, or Infidels. For their condemnation will be heavier, since light has shone around them, and they have preferred darkness before it because their deeds are evil.
But what do we implore on behalf of these several classes of our perishing fellow-sinners ? One thing is needful for them and ourselves, viz. the saving knowledge of a crucified Redeemer, communicated through the gospel by the influence of the Holy Ghost to the heart.
We pray therefore that God would “take “ from them all ignorance, hardness of heart, " and contempt of His word.” Many of those unhappy persons for whom we pray have never heard the gospel-have never had an opportunity of hearing it. For them we pray that God would remove their ignorance by sending His word among theni, and by accompanying the mission with the effectual working of His power. Others among the objects of our commiseration have heard the truth and hardened their hearts against it, yea, have treated it with contempt. Yet even these are not out of the reach of Divine mercy; and we therefore pray for them that God would take from them all hardness “ of heart and contempt of His word.” VOL. II.
We proceed to intreat that those who are now aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, may, by the influence of Divine grace, be fetched home to the flock of Christ. The character of the good Shepherd affords ground for hope. He laid down His life for the sheep. O then let us pray fervently, that “all Jews, Turks, In“ fidels and Heretics may be saved among the " number of the true Israelites, and be made “one fold under one Shepherd, Jesus Christ
our Lord !” We know that none but " true “ Israelites" can be saved. Without conversion there is no salvation. Out of the catholic church, the general congregation of the faithful, there is no hope. It is only in the one fold, under the one Shepherd, that there is any security from the devouring lion. It is a spurious charity which hopes that “ every man shall be “ saved by the law or sect which he professeth,
so that he be diligent to frame his life accord“ing to that law, and the light of nature. For
Holy Scripture doth set out unto us only the “ name of Jesus Christ whereby men must “ be saved."* Instead therefore of indulging groundless and lazy hopes, let us earnestly address the mercy-seat with our fervent intercessions, and with bowels of compassion yearning over a lost world. Christ “ liveth” to plead the merits of His sacrifice, and ‘reigneth” to subdue all His enemies.
Though this collect of our church is appointed for public use only on one day in the year, it is suited to our daily private use.
It may be considered as a paraphrase on that petition in the Lord's prayer, “.
prayer, “ Thy kingdom come.”
* Article 18.