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here be with the two chief supplicants; softening their hearts to a ready forgiveness, should future occasions call that noble grace into exercise; they offer with feelings of anxious yet humble trust, the prayer, “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us." From this view of the former petitions, the last is offered with more than wonted earnestness. "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” Spare us those trials or temptations, which, weak of faith as the best of us are, may prove our over'throw! Spare us, if it seem good to Thee, O our 'heavenly Father! spare us those trials more espe
cially incident to our new state of life; trials of 'temper and disposition, of patience and resignation; lead us not into these temptations, "but deliver us from evil;" and if Thou callest us to like trials 'with Job, grant to us like patience. Save us from 'the guilt, and deliver us from the pain of them.' When in heart-breathings like these, husband and wife expand this closing petition of the Lord's Prayer, we can well understand how love for the other gives ardour to the prayer of each, and wings it onward to the mercy-seat. If, earnest for peace and spiritual safety individually, how much more earnest must they be for the same blessings on behalf of the other! Now too, nor good nor evil falls on one alone; henceforth all trials are mutual; all sorrows shared. How gracious then the command of mercy, that, according to this holy form of words, we pray then most hopefully for ourselves, when we include others in our prayer. Grant, therefore, holy Father, thus methinks the hearts now united in the holy marriage-bond pour forth their supplications,—
'Grant unto us, about to be companions through 'life's anxious pilgrimage, that whatever trials thou 'mayest see fit we pass through, as beings destined 'for immortality, we be thereby purified, and through grace be made meet to share together at last a 'heavenly inheritance in thine everlasting kingdom.'
THE SUPPLICATIONS AND RESPONSES 1.
THE supplications which follow the Lord's Prayer, are accompanied by responses; in order that, as the minister prays on behalf both of "the servant and of the handmaid" of the Lord, now in his presence man and wife, they may look for a gracious answer to the prayer; inasmuch as, with all the added solemnity which the time and place and circumstances give to their words, they declare for themselves, while the assembled congregation, holding them sincere in their avowal, adopt the declaration, that "they do put their trust in the Lord," to whom the prayer is offered 2.
1 These are taken from Holy Scripture; and are selected chiefly from Psalms lxxxvi. 2; xx. 1 and 2 ; xlvi. 3; cii. 2.
2 It was said by an eminent and admirable writer *, than whom there has been no more acute observer of human nature and of the springs of action by which it is moved, that "to abstract the mind from all local emotion, would be impossible, if it were endeavoured; and would be foolish if it were possible." This moral feeling, interwoven as it is with our nature, is intended for our good; and if duly cultivated, it may become a powerful adjunct to our piety. Why else did our heavenly Father, who is equally present in all places, and whom the heaven of heavens cannot contain-why did he deign to call it into exercise, by appointing divine worship to be held in the place by himself appointed, and so sanctify the application of it to our highest and holiest services? Why else during the wanderings of Israel in the wilderness was there an appointed place, even though
* Dr. Johnson.
Moreover, they proceed to avow that this trust is an abiding trust; companying with them far beyond the holy scene of peace now surrounding them, even to the end of their appointed time; the result of no mere burst of temporary feeling, but an enduring conviction that God alone is a sure refuge, whether in life or in death. Accordingly, when the minister supplicates of the "Lord, to send them help from his holy place," they express their trust in this help to be required not only in this sacred house, and this hour of joy; but through all the changes and chances of their mortal life, till time itself shall be no longer; even for evermore." Does the minister, adopting the figurative language of holy writ, pray that the "Lord would be unto them a tower of strength?" Their heart readily owns their need of such a tress," "from the face of their enemy." They wisely consider that, from whatever worldly trials and dangers they may be free, the spiritual enemy is foe
the tabernacle, like the condition of the people at the time, were temporary and moveable. Or was it without a gracious purpose of aiding devotion, as well as of gaining visible token of honour from Israel, that when they became, though few as a people, great as a nation; the gorgeous temple of Jerusalem rose at his bidding, and "the house so raised," he sanctified for his name ;" and that his name "being there," ," "the glory of the Lord filled the house *.— Doubtless the heart of the creature responds to the feeling of reverence for the place more immediately dedicated to the Creator's service, and the children of God rejoice in a holier and happier communing with Him and with their own hearts, as they feel themselves in the home of their Father, who is in heaven. Thus the circumstance of place adds its weight to other considerations, on the happy occasion, which unites loving hearts in holy matrimony.
* 1 Kings viii. 16. 2 Chron. vii. 1. 2 Chron. vii. 20. Refer to the note in page 315.
alike to all; the wicked he would plunge deeper in sin, the good he would withdraw from holiness and peace. Against this evil One, God is alone a sure refuge. And, lastly, when, in this acknowledged faith and trust, a supplication is added, "Lord! hear our prayer;" they adopt this supplication also, but in language of still greater earnestness and humility-" and let our cry come unto thee."
THE PRAYER FOR SPIRITUAL BLESSINGS.
"O God of Abraham
Jesus Christ our Lord."
HAVING thus, minister and congregation, supplicated a merciful hearing at the throne of grace, the minister further offers up three prayers. This, the first, is for spiritual blessings; addressed to the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. These were holy men of old, to whom, ordering their families according to God's word, He graciously vouchsafed his blessing; and their example is held out to these, “the servant and handmaid of the Lord," now present; that they may be thereby encouraged to receive into their hearts the word of God, regulate their affections by its precepts, order all their ways according to its laws, and "whatever in that holy Word they shall profitably learn, may indeed fulfil the same." The invocation for blessing is strong and affecting. The appeal by which it is enforced is to the Truth of the Father of mercies, who hitherto has ever fulfilled his promises to those who obey Him,
for a thousand generations; and a blessing is implored upon his servants now, as it was bestowed upon his servants Abraham and Sarah of old time, in the humble hope that so blest, and "alway being in safety under his protection," they may love Him for his mercy and goodness, under all the changes of this life; and abide in that love, unforgetful in prosperity and in adversity unrepining, even to the end.
THE PRAYER FOR THE BLESSING OF CHILDREN. "O merciful God through Jesus Christ our Lord."
Ir must ever humble the pride of human wisdom to consider how wonderful are all the ways of God, and how far beyond the grasp of the mind of men to comprehend! Thus, when the Almighty chose to create new worlds, and willed that a new race of beings should inhabit them, what hindered that he should have created the worlds and peopled them instantly, by the word of his will? The same voice which bade the "light be, and light was," could have also called into existence, at once, all those generations of men which have been, and shall be, to complete his new creation. He willed it otherwise; "his ways, not our ways; his thoughts, not our thoughts." With what wise and pious care, therefore, does our Church here cherish in us a holy dependence upon the great Creator of all, and a holy reverence towards the ordinance, by which He has willed to supply to himself servants here on earth, to be hereafter his angels in heaven! She leads us to a due acknowledgment of our dependence upon him, if children bless the marriage state; and, further, leads us to rely upon his mercy, with a humble trust, that when children are given,