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As with the Father He is equal in power, so with the Holy Ghost He is equal in holiness; the author of holiness; the sanctifier who halloweth the faithful; most high in the glory of God the Father ; and with the Father and the Holy Ghost, God blessed for ever!
The service is now drawing to a close. It remains that the Church should pronounce her benediction upon the congregated communicants. But she lingers yet. You yourself, a mother perhaps, can well understand her trembling anxiety at the moment she is about to send back her children to their usual cares and duties, their trials and temptations. She views them, as you might view a loved child about to sail from you to some land of peril; again embarking
upon the waves of this troublesome world.” You cannot wonder that she still once more urges them to animate themselves afresh by prayer; again briefly but energetically address themselves to the Giver of all grace that they may be furnished with strength for their day. And who shall tell what to those loved ones a day may bring forth? In anxious love, therefore, she hath provided a few short collects, one or either of which may be used before she gives her final blessing; that so the soul may gather up, as it were, every scattered good thought, confirm every high resolve, refresh its courage, and reanimate its hope, by fixing itself wholly upon its God.
“ Assist us mercifully, O Lord ! . . through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
As the communicant begins, so he ends his worship; in a spirit of the deepest humility : looking to please God by his services, only so far as by grace he be enabled thereto. Even “ in these his supplications and prayers,” holy and reverent though they have been, he implores “the Lord to assist him,” and that " mercifully ;" his very prayers accepted, not in justice for their worth's sake, but in compassion, because of all their infirmities. Nor is it only in the hour of worship that you pray his aid. He it is who, in love indeed like your own,-if you are a mother reading these pages,—but with a sure safety, which neither your anxious care nor any human wisdom could supply, can so dispose and guard the way of your children amid the varied difficulties of life, that they be led at last to the attainment of everlasting salvation. must ever be a mother's first and anxious care. who shall tell what may be the “changes and chances of this mortal life,” which await your children'? A
| It is well, perhaps, to explain to the younger reader the meaning of the terms used in this prayer, and the distinction of circumstances which they are intended to designate. In the Church's anxious anticipation of the “changes and chances of this mortal life” to which her followers will be exposed, when they leave the immediate service of their God in the congregation and the salutary influence of their act of worship, she speaks not of any vague indeterminate events which may happen irrespectively of the divine ordering or permission. She intends no adoption of the cold and senseless doctrine held by those who, in a perversion of intellect not less wretched than their blindness of heart, would try and persuade themselves and others that chance, in the usual acceptation of the term, governs all things. No such doctrine does the Church adopt. Her’s is the humble faith which receives unreservedly and believes joyfully that “ not a sparrow falleth to the ground, but our heavenly Father knoweth it ;" nay, that “the very hairs of our head are numbered ;" that “ He killeth and He maketh alive ;" “ He worketh all things after the counsel of his will;" “in His hand is our breath, and His are all our ways.” Not a holy thought, therefore, has been cherished throughout this service, not a holy resolve determined upon, not a holy fear or holy hope excited and retained, but that we believe, to our joy, that it is altogether “known to Him with whom we have to
thousand changes may happen; some must happen. Youth must change to age, health to sickness, life to death. You look around, and behold the whole world, a changeful world ; and you feel that your dear ones must be exposed to its changes. “O God!" whispers your prayerful heart, “O mighty God! be Thou to my loved children a refuge and defence in their going out and their coming in ; the sanctifier of their thoughts, the guide of their lips, the disposer of their ways; and going hence in the strength of thy grace, may they at all times and in all places, in poverty and riches, in sorrow and joy, in youth and age, in life and in death,-may they “EVER be defended by thy most gracious and ready help, through Jesus Christ our Lord !”
The distinction, then, between the expressions in question is this :—by the changes of this mortal life, we are to understand its ordinary fuctuations—youth to age, health to sickness, riches to poverty, and such like alternations. In the term “ chances," the Christian comprehends events which are of less ordinary occurrence, and spring up when least expected. How full of such unlooked for trials life is, few cannot by their own sad experience bear testimony! What a blessed hope, then, has the faithful communicant, that even against these he is guarded ; that his heart is prepared to stand firmly and finally subdue even these trials by the preventing grace of God. With faith thus fixed unshrinkingly upon the “ gracious and ready help" of his all present and ALL-RULING God, he believes the animating assurance of the Psalmistą“ The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil, yea it is even He that shall keep thy soul.” Ps. cxxi. 7.
“O Almighty Lord
through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”
Still looking anxiously to the dangers which beset and oppose the exercise of practical piety, we beseech the Lord God Almighty and everlasting, that in his omnipotence and omnipresence, He would be ever at hand; especially when temptations to evil arise. On Him we rely, to fill our souls with the influence of his Holy Spirit, and guide our ways by the wisdom of the same : the thoughts of our hearts thereby sanctified, our purposes thereby directed, our whole conduct thereby governed ; diligent in doing the works of his commandments. And for such an obedience you well know what aid is wanting. Earnestly, therefore, do you implore it for your children, as for yourself. If God throw over you and them the shield of his most mighty protection-your Champion to fight for you against your spiritual enemies—all will be well at last : however numerous may have been the enemies; however hard the struggle against them. So sanctified, so directed, so governed, it were a coward-heart not to trust that He, your guide, your sanctifier, your governor, will preserve you and those dear to you, both in body and soul; through our mighty Lord and all-prevailing Saviour, Jesus Christ.
Grant, we beseech Thee, . through Jesus Christ our Lord.” The sentiment which this collect would impress upon our minds is the necessity of a right spirit both in hearing and in receiving the word of God; a necessity enforced in the marked admonition of our blessed Lord, which He delivered as a natural conclusion of the instruction He had been conveying to his disciples after the parable of the sower'. “Take heed, therefore, how
ye hear?:” as though He had said ; “ Listen, that you may not doubt, or cavil, or disobey. Listen, as those who would learn wisdom, reap instruction, and gain comfort. So hear, with a humble, willing, and
1 Luke viii. 5. Our divine Teacher had been warning careless hearers, that the word could no more profit them, than the seed which fell by the way side could be expected to give increase. Again, the hard heart, which, as it received the seed, permitted it not to enter in, neither caring for nor cherishing it, like the barren rock in the midst of fertile fields, remained but a beacon to others, that they, whilst time and opportunity were theirs, softened their minds, and broke up the stubbornness of pride and self-will, lest they, too, be left in the coldness of their pride and the fruitlessness of their arrogancy, to pine disregarded and valueless. To the rich in their splendour, and to the poor in their discontent, is added an illustrative caution that they allow not the weeds of worldliness—the pleasures of the one condition, nor the cares of the other—to master by their growth the springing up of the seeds of grace and virtue sown by the word ; lest, so impeded in their growth, they bring no fruit to perfection. At the same time, the strongest possible motive is given to every faithful servant of Christ to be earnest in hearing and obeying the word, and bringing forth fruit with patience, in the declaration of our blessed Lord, that such are of an honest and good heart--good ground bringing forth fruit unto holiness, the end whereof is life eternal.
2 Luke viii. 18,