« AnteriorContinuar »
and to withstand the slightest temptation. They acknowledge that by grace they are saved, not only from the fear of hell, but also from the power of sin. They look to Him who alone is “ able to keep them from falling and to present “ them faultless before His glory with exceeding « joy."
We address the throne of grace - through « Jesus Christ our Lord.” In Him all our trust is reposed, for.“ we put none in any thing that “ we do.” To Him we look for the acceptance of our prayers, for the justification of our souls, for defence against all adversity, and at length for an abundant entrance into His everlasting kingdom. We know that our « tears need to “ be washed in His blood, and that our repent“ ances need to be repented of."'*
* Beveridge's Private Thoughts.
THE SUNDAY CALLED QUINQUAGESIMA, OR THE
NEXT SUNDAY BEFORE LENT.
O Lord, who hast taught us, that all our doings without charity are nothing worth; send thy Holy Ghost, and pour into our hearts that most excellent gift of charity, the very bond of peace, and of all virtues, without which whosoever liveth is counted dead before thee. Grant this for thine only Son Jesus Christ's sake. Amen.
THE practice of converting precept into
I prayer, which is so frequently exemplified in our collects, manifests a spirit both of humility and faith. It bespeaks a consciousness of inability to fulfil the statutes of God without His grace, and at the same time answers the objections which unbelief is prone to raise against religion from the difficulty of its duties. For it teaches us that, although we are insufficient of ourselves to comply with the holy and blessed will of God; yet this affords no excuse for disobedience or sloth, since in Christ allfulness dwells, and humble supplicants are sure to derive from His fulness grace to help in every time of need. In our collect for Quinquagesima Sunday, which was drawn up for the use of the church in the year 1549, we are taught to pray for the communication of a particular grace to our hearts, which we are enjoined in Scripture to cultivate. - Above all these things,” says St. Paul, after having enumerated several other graces, “put on charity, which is the bond of “ perfectness.” Col. iii. 14.
This excellent “ form of sound words” contains,—A preface reciting an important article of scriptural instruction -- A prayer founded on that recital-A commendation of the blessing for which we pray ;and An earnest enforcement of the request made.
The important article of scriptural instruction, which the preface recites, is taken from St. Paul's first Epistle to the Corinthians, Chap. xiji. 1, &c.—a passage which is chosen for the epistle appointed to be used with our collect. Though the penman of this epistle was a man like unto ourselves, yet our collect recognises God as the author of it. It is His instruction which is recited, and is therefore to be depended on as “a faithful saying and worthy of all ac" ceptation.” Its truth and importance are equally indisputable. And it may therefore be introduced to the notice of the congregation in the awful style of the prophet, “O earth, earth, “ earth, hear the word of the Lord.” “Hear all " ye people; hearken, O earth, and let the Lord “ God speak, the Lord from His holy temple.”
The solemn consideration on which we found our present act of supplication, is this, “ That “ all our doings without charity are nothing “ worth.” For the purpose of explaining this weighty subject, it will be requisite to shew,What charity is—That a man may possess very brilliant gifts and endowments, may make a splendid show of benevolence towards men, nay, exhibit in his conduct a striking semblance of piety towards God, and yet be destitute of charity and that gifts, outward acts of benevolence to man, or of piety to God, are of no value whatever without chạrity,
A solution of the question, What is charity, is a matter of high importance, for the term is frequently misunderstood; and thousands, through misconceptions of the subject, have been deceived to their eternal ruin. The word charity is synonymous with love. The Greek term used in the New Testament is sometimes rendered charity and sometimes love. It is to be lamented, that the same word has not been always employed by our Translators, as thereby mistakes might have been prevented; and that love, as the more intelligible term to common readers, had not been chosen.
The nature of this grace* will appear from another branch of the standard writings belonging to the church of England, namely, her homilies, one of which is intituled, “ A sermon « of Christian love and charity.” Now, as the same persons wrote both the homily and the collect, the former being dated but thirteen years after the latter, the meaning of our church in the word cannot be mistaken if we adopt the definition of the homily.
“Of all things that be good to be taught unto Christian people, there is nothing more necessary to be spoken of and daily called upon than charity, as well for that all manner of works of righteousness be contained in it, as also that the decay thereof is the ruin or fall of the world, the banishment of virtue and the cause of vice.
* Naan ESI DICTED'is Vuxns ayal, est animi bonus affectus, quo efficitur ut nihil Deo præferat. Maxim. 1. Centur. Sentent. tom. 7. Et Prosper : Charitas est recta voluntas ab omnibus terrenis aversa, et Deo inseparabiliter unita, ab igne quodam Spiritus Sancti incensa._Quoted by Bp. Davenant in bis Exposition of the Epistle to the Colossians; who in another place says, Est virtus divinitus infusa, quâ sincere diligitur propter se Deus, et propter Deum proximus.
And forasmuch as almost every man maketh and frameth to himself charity after his own appetite, and how detestable soever his life be both unto God, and man, yet he persuadeth himself still that he hath charity; therefore you shall hear now a true and plain description or setting forth of charity, not of man's imagination, but of the very words and example of our Saviour Jesus Christ. In which description or setting forth, every man, as it were in a glass, may consider himself and see plainly without error, whether he be in the true charity or not.
- Charity is love to God with all our heart, all our souls, and all our power and strength. With all our heart: that is to say, that our heart, mind and study be set to believe His word, to trust in Him, and to love Him above all other things that we love best in heaven or in earth. With all our life: that is to say, that our chief joy or delight be set upon Him and His honour, and our whole life given to the service of Him above all things, with Him to live and die, and to forsake all other things rather than Him; for he that loveth his father or mother, son or daughter, house or land, more than me, saith Christ, (Matt. x,) is not worthy to have me. With all our power: that is to say, that with our hands and feet, with our eyes and ears, our mouths and tongues, and with all our parts and powers both of body and soul, we should be given to the keeping and fulfilling of His commandments. This is the first and principal part of charity ; but it is not the whole. For charity is also to love every man good and evil, friend and foe; and whatsoever cause be given to the contrary, yet nevertheless to bear good will and heart unto every man, to use