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what St. Paul saith : “ This is a true saying, and worthy of all men to be received, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners." “ If any man sin,” saith St. John, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, and he is the propitiation for our sins." Well is the Church justified by these scriptures in encouraging the congregation present that they "lift up their hearts;” and fearlessly may the people respond, in the firm language of faith, “ We lift them up unto the Lord.” Things of this world for a season laid aside, the soul rises in its views from earth to heaven; from the fear of man, to the love of God. How naturally does our service here turn to thanksgiving ! How readily does the full heart acknowledge the just claim which God has to our gratitude! “ Let us give thanks unto our Lord God,” is the call of a grateful Church to her assembled people" It is meet and right so to do,” is their concurrent response.
Your minister takes up the appropriate words of acknowledgment and amplifies them; showing the extent of the acknowledgment they convey, and the grounds of it. He declares that this thanksgiving to
Lord, holy Father, Almighty, everlasting God," is a duty for “all times and all places." It is a duty for all times : for youth, for age; for health, for sickness; for riches, for poverty; for tribulation and for joy. Who has led us through the helpless years of infancy to the strength and joyousness of youth? Who has brought us through youth and manhood to age
e? Who preserves us in health, or restores us from sickness? Who sanctifieth riches? Who giveth contentment in poverty ? In adversity whọ comfort
eth? And to whom owe we the bright hours of joy which sometimes shine upon our pilgrim path; but to the fountain of all comfort, the refuge from all sorrow, even our God? And as at all times it is meet and right to give thanks unto Thee, O Lord, so is this thanksgiving due in all places : at home and abroad; in the hour of quiet, and the season of business ; in the recesses of our heart, and specially in thine own holy house, O God, where Thou choosest to dwell. Now, therefore, in this, the assembly of thy saints on earth, we join with the holy worshippers above-even “ with angels and archangels, and all the company of heaven”-in giving thanks to Thee: “ we laud and magnify thy glorious name. We praise thee evermore, as the everlasting Trinity in Unity. Ours, too, be the angels' song: “Holy, holy, holy,” Father, Son, and Spirit, One “ Lord God of hosts ;" as “heaven is full of thy glory,” so let the earth share that fulness. “Glory be to thee, O Lord, most high!"
What a sustaining and happy thought, that we mortals are permitted thus to join upon earth the services of angels in heaven! Yet when is it that we have not this high privilege ? At all times, and in all places, it is ours; not, indeed, by unceasing hallelujahs—mortal infirmities forbid immortal strains but we humbly, and let us trust acceptably through Christ, share the work of angels, when we do our Father's will on earth, even as they do it in heaven'.
1 Matt. v. 16. Archbishop Leighton, when speaking of a truly christian, or“ angelical” life, as he terms it-calls it“ a life spent between ascending in prayer to fetch blessings from above, and descending to scatter them among men :” teaching us that the spirit of heavenly. mindedness may pervade our active duties, as fully as they stamp our seasons of devotion.
PROPER PREFACE FOR CHRISTMAS DAY.
“ Because Thou didst give Jesus Christ,” &c. Every thinking mind must acknowledge the additional force which our duties and enjoyments, and all events of pleasure or of pain, derive from the association of time, place, and circumstance'. Hence, for those seasons which are marked as more important eras in the Christian year, appropriate prefaces are prepared ; stamping the return of each with its own proper and peculiar force. Our attention is naturally first directed to that which, of course, stands forth conspicuously to a Christian's view,—the season of our blessed Lord's nativity; when He came in the likeness of man, and dwelt among us, God manifest in the flesh ', that He might be our sacrifice for sin, and heal all our infirmities. - But the Being, who is to cleanse from sin the polluted soul of fallen man, must be Himself sinless. Such was the Saviour Christ. Though the seed of the woman, He was without spot of sin, and of heavenly purity; because the Son of Man, born of the Virgin Mary, was also the Son of God, conceived by the Holy Ghost. This mystery we celebrate with marked joy, when the blessed day returns on which we commemorate his birth. The mystery was foretold of an angel; and as it was foretold, so was it accomplished. Pure and spotless from sin was the Saviour born -pure and spotless did He die. Well may we rejoice in the strength of our salvation ! Hence, each returning season of our Lord's nativity is joyfully hailed through this Christian land; in every neighbourhood, in every family, in every heart, it is a high and glorious festival; calling forth and cherishing all the sweet charities of life ; exciting us to gladden all within our influence, and so welcome the day which brings to light life and immortality. Yet this joy there shines brightest, even in the soul of the individual who, bending lowly at the table of his Lord, listens with glad ear to the full consolation conveyed in the truth proclaimed near to Bethlehem, “ Lo, this day is born, in the city of David, a Saviour, Christ the Lord.” By the power of his blood-shedding He is able and willing, O penitent soul, to wash thee, and every mourning sinner, clean from all sin; enabling thee to join hopefully with the ardent acclaim of angels and archangels in their song, “ Glory to God in the highest, peace on earth, good-will toward men.”
1 This power of association is at some time or other acknowledged and acted upon by us all. Do we not in our social and family circles observe the marked events of life, either in joy or sorrow, with special notice! The annual recurrence of a birth-day to parent or child or friend, how does it gladden all within its influence! The morning is hailed with brighter welcome, and added gratitude is felt to the great Disposer of all, who has spared for added life the loved onerelative or friend; and our hearts overflow with tender wishes for many a return of the festal day! And, alas ! where are they whose hearts soften not, as some day of mourning returns in its yearly course; the return of which is saddened by the loss of the loved and honoured? The image of the dead springs up to memory as in days gone by, and the voice of love or duty, counsel or comfort, again seems to be heard, as when those now dead were present in all the flush of life. True it is, that as the stream of time flows on, and bears survivors nearer and more near to a reunion with the saints above, where no death shall again sever them, the Christian finds not only a holy calm in submitting to the Divine will, but a strengthening, and a soothing, and even a joy in these sacred memories, these holy communings with the dead. As the past is made present, and the object of our contemplations on the several occasions of joy or sorrow, is to prepare us for the future; this world is no longer our main object. It is not indeed held as nought ; for that would be wrong. It is held at its proper value; neither worthless—for upon a right use of its opportunities depends our welfare in eternity: nor of such worth, as to be put in competition with our hereafter-for the one is passing, the other enduring. But who of us has not often felt, when, during the season of mourning, the soul has been carried with tender recollections toward those gone before us to the world of spirits, the mind fixed in contemplation of what may haply now be their holy happy occupation; what, their calm victorious rest; what, their bright undying joys; who has not then felt a triumph over the world, unknown before ! We have been enabled to conquer its fears, to rise above its hopes; and by recalling past hours of unworldliness, when we watched their dying moments, and felt for ourselves strength and refuge and comfort in our God, we have had our conversation in heaven.
Hence, too, the Church notices by special services, not only the more solemn seasons in our blessed Saviour's life, but likewise those days upon which we commemorate the more eminent of his faithful followers, cherish their memory, and strive to imitate the virtues we admire. Nor can it be otherwise than conducive, we trust, to God's glory, that when“ the holy Church universal throughout all the world" doth in her daily Service acknowledge her faith and hope in Him, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost—our faith is quickened, and our hope brightened by the animating examples of a successful warfare in those righteous dead, with whose memory is associated whatever is great and lovely, tender and brave, unshrinking and enduring; and whilst we contemplate the glorious company of the Apostles, the goodly fellowship of the Prophets, and the noble army of Martyrs, so follow their steps, that if haply we be called to partake their trial, we may, through Christ, imitate their courage, share their fortitude, and finally be partakers also of their crown.
i See page 137.