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than if himself had fulfilled the whole law? I must take heed what I say: but the Apostle saith, God made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. Such we are in the sight of God the Father, as is the very Son of God Himself. Let it be counted folly, or frenzy, or fury, whatsoever; it is our comfort, and our wisdom; we care for no knowledge in the world but this, that man hath sinned, and God hath suffered; that God hath made Himself the son of man, and that men are made the righteousness of God."*
* Hooker's Works, vol. 3. p. 437. Oxford edition.
THE FIFTH SUNDAY IN LENT,
We beeseech thee, Almighty God, mercifully to look upon thy people; that by thy great goodness they may be governed and preserved evermore, both in body and soul, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
E have already observed, in the course of these lectures, the harmony which prevails in the prayers of the church in different ages of the world, and in different outward circumstances. And though there is nothing wonderful in this coincidence, because the wants of God's children are always the same essentially, and the same Spirit maketh intercession for them; yet as the remark may tend to encourage, strengthen, and confirm our souls in the faith, and in our approaches to the throne of grace, it may not be unprofitable to point out the resemblance between the language of our collect for the fifth Sunday in Lent, and that of the Psalmist, Ps. cxix. 132, 133; "Look thou upon "me, and be merciful unto me, as thou usest "to do unto those that love thy name. Order my steps in thy word, and let not any iniquity "have dominion over me."
The prayer both of our collect and the Psalmist is the cry of distress, as indeed, in a greater or less degree, all prayer must necessarily be. In both the awakened sinner, feeling himself to be a guilty creature, implores mercy; being conscious of his ignorance, he solicits direction;
being sensible of his own helplessness, he begs assistance; and proving by daily experience that he is prone to evil, he asks from God that preservation which God only can afford. His plea for the attainment of these inestimable blessings is that mercy which God has promised to His people, and which He is accustomed to "shew unto those that love His name." In the promises of the Divine word, and in the examples of those to whom mercy has been vouchsafed in similar circumstances, the penitent finds encouragement to address the throne of grace.
Our collect contains-A general petition for Divine regard-and The specific end for which that regard is now implored.
In the general petition for Divine regard we may consider-The manner in which it is made -The matter of which it consists-And the objects for whom it is solicited.
The manner of supplication here adopted is very fervent and very humble. And indeed such is the nature of the blessings which we implore, so great is our unworthiness of them, and so glorious the majesty of Him from whom we ask them, that too great a degree of fervency and humility cannot be manifested either in our words or gestures, nor exerted within our bosoms. Let us then ask ourselves whether our feelings have corresponded, in the use of this collect, with its phraseology. Have we besought Almighty God mercifully to look upon His "people," making His mercy our sole plea, and determining not to let Him go with whom we are wrestling for a blessing, until He bless us? As the mode of supplication here introduced has occurred in a former collect, we shall no further enlarge upon it. The reader's
attention is, however, requested to the following excellent remarks on prayer by the judicious Hooker.
Prayer proceedeth from want, which being seriously laid to heart maketh suppliants always importunate; which importunity our Saviour Christ did not only tolerate in the woman of Canaan, but also exhort and invite thereunto, as the parable of the wicked Judge sheweth. Our fervency sheweth us sincerely affected towards that we crave: but that which must make us capable thereof is an humble spirit; for God doth load with His grace the lowly, when the proud He sendeth empty away: And therefore, to the end that all generations of the world might know how much it standeth them upon to beware of all lofty and vain conceits when we offer up our supplications before Him, He hath in the gospel both delivered this caveat, and left it by a special chosen parable exemplified. The Pharisee and Publican having presented themselves in one and the same place, the temple of God, for performance of one and the same duty, the duty of prayer, did notwithstanding in that respect only so far differ the one from the other, that our Lord's own verdict of them remaineth (as you know) on record, they departed home, the sinful publican, through humility of prayer, just; the just pharisee, through pride, sinful, so much better doth He accept of a contrite peccavi, I have sinned, than of an arrogant Deo gratias, God I thank thee."*
We proceed now to consider the matter of our request. We solicit Divine regard with a view to a specific end which is afterwards
* Hooker's Works, vol. 3, p, 589, Oxford edition.
mentioned. But, it may be said, Doth not God "look upon" all His creatures? Is He not Omniscient and Omnipresent? Are not His "eyes in every place, beholding the evil and "the good?" "Can any hide himself in secret places, that the Lord shall not see him? "Doth not He fill heaven and earth ?” "Is "not hell naked before Him, and destruction "without covering?" Yes: "His eyes are "upon the ways of man, and He seeth all his "goings." "There is no darkness nor shadow "of death, where the workers of iniquity may "hide themselves." "The Lord looketh from "heaven: He beholdeth all the sons of men. "From the place of His habitation He looketh upon all the inhabitants of the earth. He "fashioneth their hearts alike; He considereth "all their works." "Great in counsel and "mighty in work, His eyes are open upon all "the ways of the sons of men, to give every "one according to his ways, and according to "the fruit of his doings." What need then, it may be asked, is there of soliciting Divine notice, since God cannot but know and regard us? Is not the request superfluous and impertinent? By no means. For it is not a naked regard, but a favourable and fruitful attention which we implore-not the notice of an indifferent spectator, but that of an interested friend. It is a gracious interference in our behalf which we beseech God to shew.
There is a consciousness in the bosoms of all God's people, that, were He to "look upon" them in a way of strict justice, His observance of their state and conduct would be followed by their destruction. For they know that they have to do with a just and holy God, who is