« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
when it sees the same principle acted upon in the case of others; sustaining, either youth, or manhood, or old age, in the several trials appointed them; enabling each, according to their need, to prepare meetly for his end. "If therefore,”-so may the sick and suffering Christian say, in the spirit of the Psalmist's faith— "if life be restored, and recovery of health be vouchsafed, with fresh boldness will I go forth to a fulfilment of its duties, for I shall go forth in the strength of the Lord, and make mention of his righteousness only;" I will rejoice to give Him all the praise and all the glory."—Our reflections meanwhile must ever close, as David's did, with the language of wonder, love, and praise; "Thy righteousness, O God, is very high, and great things are they that thou hast done. O God, who is like unto Thee!!"
PRAYERS FOR BLESSING.
FROM the language of praise and holy confidence expressed in the Psalm, we pass to earnest supplication for blessing. The three prayers in which supplication is made, are a beautiful amplification of the apostolic benediction with which our Church closes her daily morning and evening service, and which implores upon her children, as they leave the house of God and mingle in the world again, that they may still be under the protection and safe guidance of that hallowed Name-Father, Son, and Holy Ghost-in which they have professed their service. "May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of the Father, and the fellowship of the Sanctifier, remain with them for ever!"
All our meditations hitherto having been made in the Saviour's name, we first address ourselves to Him in a full assurance of faith. We appeal to all He suffered and all He achieved for us, that He would hear us in
mercy and answer us in peace. Did He suffer for us on the cross? we implore Him by those sufferings to save us now! Did He by his precious blood redeem us? we beseech Him, by that redeeming blood, to deliver us now! and since we know none else to help us, we humbly beseech Him, our Lord, who is the Saviour of the world, to save us.
The second Prayer of blessing is addressed to God the Father. We approach Him as the "Almighty Lord; a most strong tower of defence to all them that put their trust in Him." To induce a practical application of this truth, we are reminded, that "to Him, all things in heaven and earth and under the earth do bow and obey." The events of this world acknowledge his providence; evil angels dread his power, and own his control; whilst good angels, as they alway rejoice to "do Him service in heaven', so by his appointment they succour and defend us on earth." What a supporting thought for us in our sickness! how soothing to us in our grief! how animating to our courage, which else might yield under pain, to remember, that under the protection of this great Being, supreme in power, we are under the protection of a heavenly Father, supreme in love! Nor is it only for the present hour that the Church implores for us this gracious and ready aid. Her's is the mother's care, which provides for future wants. She prays, that this "Almighty
1 Collect for St. Michael and all Angels.
Lord" may be our defence in time to come, even for evermore. For, however firm in faith we may think to stand in the holy hour of seclusion from the world during sickness; dangers, many and various, may be arrayed against us, when we either return in health to the trials of the world we had left, or be called to man's last trial-death. In either case our heavenly Father is at hand! Fear we not! Are we launched afresh upon the waves of this troublesome world? then his all-seeing providence and grace will guide us; and his love be our consolation. Should the waters of death rage, and "the mountains shake at the tempest of the same;" then his voice, which "all things obey," shall be heard above that storm; the waters and the winds shall again be still; or even if they be permitted to rise, they shall not overflow us, but prove the pathway to a holy bright calm of rest, undisturbed and happy for evermore. That this prayer may not be vain; that neither fear may deter us from seeking the blessings it sets forth, nor presumption lead us to claim them, we are further reminded of Him, through whose name alone we "receive health and salvation,” -soul and body; through whom alone all our services are accepted; that name which is above every name; that name at which every knee should bow; even the name of "our Lord Jesus Christ;" who liveth ever and reigneth ever with the Father and the Holy Ghost-one God, world without end!
The third prayer of blessing, and that with which the service in ordinary cases concludes, is addressed to the glorious Trinity in Unity. Thus the Church wisely keeps alive in our minds this important truth, that in the hallowed Name, by which at our Baptism we
entered into covenant with the Father through Christ, in that name alone can we hope to continue therein. Therefore, when in the impressive and affecting language of this prayer she commits us "to the gracious mercy and protection" of God, she addresses each of the three persons of the undivided Trinity; imploring that "the Lord," our heavenly Father, "would bless us " with his love, and "keep" us in his way-that "the Lord" Jesus, our Redeemer; the true light which lighteth every man which cometh into the world; "would make his face to shine upon us, and vouchsafe his grace unto us "-and that "the Lord" and giver of life, and peace, and joy; the Holy Ghost the Comforter; would "lift up" the light of "his countenance upon us;" not forbearing his fellowship, but by his holy influence, "giving us peace both now and evermore."
Thus beautifully is amplified the apostolic blessing, that "the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the "love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost "be with us all, evermore."
"O Almighty God and merciful Father . . world without end." THE service, for general use, is now closed; but four admirable prayers are added, to be used as circumstances may arise to make them applicable.
The first of these occasional prayers is to be used "for a sick child." And if there be any for whom the Church, collectively and individually, may more hopefully offer her prayers, it must be for those little ones, whom the Saviour regarded with special love, upon whom He invoked special blessing, and whom, having
taken them up in his arms, He held out, in their comparative innocence, as examples to his followers, however rich, or great, or wise'. None indeed, least of all a mother, can wonder at this expression of tenderness. But if in their health and enjoyments we contemplate children with deep interest, how much deeper is that interest when we hang over them in their sickness and pain. In this trying hour the Church stands forth, the wise friend and monitor, counselling holy and sustaining thoughts, which then best become a creature dependent upon its Creator. She well admonishes us that our first duty is submission to God. 1 Who ever was found insensible to the interest excited by the presence of little children. Their joyous smile when happy-where is the heart it warms not even their passing sorrows, transient as a summer cloud, and like that cloud relieving itself ofttimes by sunlit tears-even with these we sympathise. Nor can we watch their opening minds, mark their lack of envy and suspicion, and, above all, their trustful reception of truth on the authority of their parents, without an expansion of heart and a sense of deep interest for them, which it were as unwise to check, as it were impossible not to feel. These feelings may ofttimes be accompanied with perhaps painful, though salutary, recollections, presenting to us what, in the long forgotten past, we ourselves have been ; our earliest thoughts, words, and actions; and haply even our young sorrows, as our age advanced to know them. We, perhaps, see ourselves again in that living mirror. Thus David, in his old age, remembered his early days, and that from his youth up he had with troubled mind suffered under an awful fear of an offended God *. Children in the little world around them have their own sorrows, which aid in disciplining their minds to a more patient bearing of the heavier sorrows which surely await them in a lengthened earthly pilgrimage. Unmoved therefore to view them, now all joyousness; heedless because inexperienced; unsuspecting, for as yet they are uninjured; fearing no change, for as yet they know no real ill; undoubting, for never yet has confidence been betrayed:-unmoved to contemplate them, thus just entering on trial, were impossible.
* Psalm lxxxviii. 15. "Even from my youth up, thy terrors have I suffered with a troubled mind."