« EelmineJätka »
sence of Christ's natural flesh and blood : for they are in Heaven and not here *. We kneel therefore only to adore the invisible God : and to be in a fit posture for those prayers and praises which can never be more properly offered up to him. And why any persons should prefer a different posture we cannot see.
Having communicated, weagain repeat, after a long interval, the Lord's Prayer. For since, to as many, as truly receive him, he gives power to become the sons of God t; we may hope we have now strengthened our title to apply, under that name, to Our Father, which is in Heaven, &c.
Then we intirely, that is, with our whole hearts, desire him, to accept this our sacrifice, or service, of praise and thanksgiving, which we have offered up to him : begging leave at the sar time to offer up ourselves, body and soul, as dedicated to his will : which is the great end of all our devotions; yet never mentioned in the Romish mass-book. We pray also once more for the whole Church : and lastly for our fellowcommunicants, as well as ourselves, that we may be fulfilled, that is, filled full, and as the Psalmist expresses it, abundantly satisfied 1, with God's grace and benediction.
After this, as our blessed Lord sung an hymn 5 with his disciples after the Passover (in imitation of whom the whole Christian Church hath used one in commemorating Our Passover, sacrificed for us l) we use one likewise, as ancient, in substance, as the fourth century at least. It were better indeed, that we sung it : if there did not, alas, often want numbers, and generally skill. The beginning of it is the song of the holy Angels in St. Luke : on which foundation * Rubric after Communion.
+ John i. 12. Psalm xxxvi. 8. Matt. xxvi. 30. || 1 Cor. v. 7,
we proceed to glorify God, and give thanks to him for his great glory ; meaning, that of his goodness, wisdom and power, displayed in the work of our redemption : fervently beseeching the Son and Lamb of God, that his sufferings to take away the sins of the world, and his sitting at the right hand of the Majesty on high *, may bring down mercy upon us ; and acknowledging, that we are all impure, he only is holy; men and angels are servants, he only is the Lord; he only with the Holy Ghost, united to the Father in glory unspeakable, is most high above all.
To this act of worship we subjoin, (drawing now to a conclusion,) one or more of those brief, but comprehensive collects, which are provided for that purpose.
In the first of them, some have objected against the phrase, chances of this mortal life, as implying somewhat irreligious. But our Saviour hath not scrupled to say, and by chance there came down a certain priest t. Again in the fourth, which is also frequently used before sermon, some have stumbled at the expression, prevent us, O Lord, in all our doings : because preventing most commonly signifies hindering. But the original meaning, and the true one here is, go before us : which may indeed be either to further us by opening the way, or to obstruct us by stopping it. But surely it can no more be doubted, which we intend, than what David intended, when he said, thou shalt prevent him with the blessings of goodness I, and again, the God of my mercy shall prevent me Ş, the others, I think, have no difficulties.
What remains is the solemn and affectionate form of dismission: most of which is taken from the words of holy writ. The minister of Christ in pronouncing it, prays, that the peace of God, which passeth all un
Heb. j. 3. + Luke x. 31. # Psalm xxi. 3. § Psalm lix. 10.
derstanding, that inward sense of our Maker's goodness to us, which even now is delightful, beyond the conception of those, who have not experienced it; and shall hereafter be so heightened, as vastly to exceed the present conceptions of the best of us; may keep our hearts and minds *, our judgments and affections, in the knowledge and love of God and his Christ: and that every blessing of the holy Trinity may be distributed amongst us, and remain with us always. Grant this, o heavenly Father, for the sake, &c.
1 PET. V. 12.
-Exhorting and testifying that this is the true grace
of God wherein ye stand. The happiness of all creatures depends intirely on their obedience to his will whose sovereign power created and rules the world. Now the will of God is made known to us in part by natural reason: and they who have no other law shall be judged by that alone. But as reason was unable to teach mankind a great number of things very important to be known, and in fact, did teach most of them but a small part of what it might have done; God was mercifully pleased to superadd the light of Revelation to it, and place us under the conduct of both jointly. Such an additional provision, it might have been hoped, had cleared up all doubts; but partly the weakness, partly the wickedness of men, hath turned even this light into darkness, and made it multiply disputes instead of ending them. Still we have no reason to be discouraged; for every upright and considerate person may after all, with due care, very easily see his way before him, clearly enough to walk in it. But we have great reason to use this care, and make such enquiry amidst the different paths, which different persons point out to us, as will give us cause to be satisfied we chuse the right. Now of all the different opinions which have risen concerning the Christian religion, there have been few so remarkable as that which divides this part of the world into Popish and
Protestant. Those of the former communion, it seems, think us of the latter quite out of the way to salvation, and accordingly are unwearied in persuading, as they have opportunity, the members of our Church, especially the lower and more ignorant part of them, to quit it for theirs. The necessity of doing this, they insist upon sometimes with so much plausibility, and always with so much confidence, that I hope you will not think a few discourses ill employed on a subject of such very great importance both to our private satisfaction and public security, in refuting the arguments they usually bring against us, and testifying that this is the true grace of God, wherein ye stand. To proceed regularly in this matter, I shall
I. Enquire what is the rule of Christian faith and life: and
II. Examine by this rule the peculiar doctrines and practices of the Romish Church.
I. I shall enquire what is the rule of Christian faith and life: from whence we are to learn what things our religion requires as necessary, and what it forbids as unlawful : for, if we do the one and avoid the other, we are undoubtedly safe. Now as Jesus Christ is the sole author of our faith *, those things, and those alone, which he taught himself, and commissioned his Disciples to teach, are parts of our faith. What his doctrine was we find in no less than four accounts of his life and preaching given in the Gospels. To what belief his disciples converted men, we find in the Acts. What they taught men after their conversion, we read in the Epistles. These several Books, which make up the New Testament, all Christians allow to contain an original and
* Heb. xii. 2.