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THE SUNDAY NEXT BEFORE EASTER.
Almighty and everlasting God, who of thy tender love towards mankind, hast sent thy Son our Saviour Jesus Christ, to take upon Him our flesh, and to suffer death upon the cross, that all mankind should follow the example of His greut humility; mercifully grant, that we may both follow the example of His patience, and also be made partakers of His resurrection, through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
UR collect exhibits to our view the Saviour U of our sinful souls in that vicarious character which He assumed for us men and for our salvation. And at the same time it places before our eyes a model for our imitation, which by its beauty and perfection is calculated to fix our attention and captivate our hearts. 6 Christ so suffered for us, leaving us an example that ye “ should follow His steps: who did no sin, nei“ther was guile found in His mouth. Who « when He was reviled, reviled not again; when 6. He suffered, He threatened not; but com« mitted Himself to Him, that judgeth righte“ously.” i Peter ii. 21–23.
Our collect containsA preface, celebrating the “tender love" of God as it has been discovered in the mission of His only begotten Son to become incarnate and to die for us, and reciting one important end of that mission, viz. That Christ might be an influential pattern of humility to all mankind and A prayer for as well as in body, from sin in all its forms as. well as from suffering, be the sincere prayer of our hearts. If it be, while we ask it through « Jesus Christ our Lord,” we shall obtain it to His glory who ever liveth to sanction our petir tions by His effectual “ Amen,"
affection ; because the wish of David would in the latter case be carried into effect, so far at least as it could be with the least hope of escaping from personal destruction. But neither of these instances will bear any comparison with that act of Divine love which our collect celebrates. For David's wish was not, and could not be, carried into effect. And if an opportunity of fulfilling it had offered, we know not whether cool reflection might not have repressed the ardour of his affection. And the act of the inother, just described, is not performed under a certainty of personal destruction, but with a hope of escape. And moreover, the object of her tender anxiety is worthy the risk she runs. But God incarnate not only risked, but actually laid down His life. He engaged in the work of redemption on the absolute condition of making Himself a sacrifice for sin-a sacrifice for the sins of those who were utterly unworthy of His notice, and from whom He could expeci no shadow of return. No addition could be made to the Divine felicity by the salvation of man, nor could any diminution of it have resulted from his eternal ruin.
The proof of love to man which our collect describes is the highest that God could give. If He could, consistently with His justice, have pardoned sin without receiving for it any satisfaction, the exertion of His prerogative for this purpose would have afforded a much lower demonstration of the love wherewith He loveth us than redemption has given. That would have cost Him nothing; but this demanded the whole treasury of infinite compassion.
We have already discoursed on the incarnation and nativity of our Lord when we reviewed the collect for Christmas-day; and therefore we shall
of the love.
not now enlarge on His assumption of our flesh which is mentioned in our present collect. We are now brought by the revolving year near to that time when we commemorate the concluding act of our Saviour's humiliation, and the great end of his incarnation. We are to follow Him by faith, in the course of the ensuing week, to the garden of Gethsemane, where His dying agonies commenced; we are to ascend with Him in spirit the mount of Calvary, mingling our tears with those of the daughters of Jerusalem; and, shortly after, we are to receive “ the oil of joy “ for mourning, and garments of praise for the * spirit of heaviness,” while we witness the commencement of His triumphs in the garden of Joseph of Arimathea. By a guilty transaction in the garden of Eden paradise was lost: by the glorious work which was begun in the garden at the foot of the mount of Olives, and finished in the garden of Joseph, paradise is restored.
By the collect for to-day our church prepares us to weep with a weeping Saviour and to triumph with our triumphant Lord. The twofold event of Good-Friday and Easter-day is incorporated in our collect. .
The dignity of the person who was sent on that work of love which our collect describes; His near relation to God who sent Him; the errand on which He came; the character of those whose salvation He undertook; these and a thousand other considerations concur to enhance the tenderness of that love which we celebrate, that love which passeth knowledge. But as we shall soon have an opportunity of entering inore fully into this subject, we shall not now enlarge on it.
We therefore proceed to a consideration of that important end of Christ's mission which is specified