Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

SERMON I.

THE EXHORTATION TO PRAYER.

Phil. iv. 13.

“ I can do all things through CHRisT which strengtheneth me."

AFTER the Creed and the Ten Commandments, the Catechism wisely and beautifully introduces the subject of Prayer. For as a tree, though it be planted ever so carefully, will assuredly die unless it be watered by the rains and dews from Heaven, and sustained by the sun; so, although we be born again in Baptism, yet that new life can only be supported by the constant help of God, which is to be obtained by Prayer. It is so with our natural life: a child must die if it has not the aid of others; and the child of God in like manner will perish, if God does not sustain its heavenly and spiritual life. It is a sense of this our utter helplessness without God, which the Catechism would first of all have impressed upon us : " Know this”-or be fully persuaded of this great truth—" that thou art not able to do these things of thyself, nor to walk in the commandments of God, and to serve Him, without His special grace.” It is as our LORD HIMSELF declares, “ Without Me, ye can do nothing ?.” And it seems almost as if it were in allusion to these our LORD's words, that St. Paul afterwards testifies of his own experience ; “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” And these two truths here declared by the Catechism,-our inability to do any good of ourselves, and our sure confidence in

1 John xv. 5.

B

God's
power to enable us

to do all things,"—may be found to run through all the Collects of our Church, expressed in various ways, more or less fully: as in that for the Ninth Sunday after Trinity, “ Grant to us, LORD, we beseech Thee, the spirit to think and do always such things as be rightful; that we, who cannot do any thing that is good without Thee, may by Thee be enabled to live according to Thy will.” And in that for the First Sunday after Trinity, “Because through the weakness of our mortal nature we can do no good thing without Thee, grant us the help of Thy grace, that in keeping of Thy commandments we may please Thee both in will and deed.”

But there is no use in our knowing these things, except it be, as the Catechism here warns us, that we should “at all times call for” that grace “ by diligent Prayer." “ At all times”must at all times serve God, as our very thoughts depend upon Him, so we must at all times pray. Prayer is as constantly needful for the life of the soul, as bread is for that of the body: by Prayer it breathes forth its desires, and receives in return the gracious inspiration of God. This expression of the Catechism is like that of St. Paul's, “ Pray without ceasing ?.” And as in another place he says, “In every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God 3." Indeed, the Christian state is spoken of as a state of continual Prayer. The Prophet in describing it beforehand, says, " It shall come to pass in that day, I will pour upon the house of David the spirit of grace and supplications 4.” And our LORD HIMSELF speaks of it as the true fulfilment of Jacob's vision, when the “Heavens shall be opened, and the angels shall be seen ascending and descending on the Son of Manó;" that is to say, that there will be such an intercourse opened between earth and Heaven, that it will all be like the continual going up of Prayers, and the coming down of marvellous blessings. And doubtless all that is described by such and the like expressions, is found to be fulfilled in the experience of a heavenly-minded and self-denying Christian. He finds that beyond all that words can convey, or heart can understand, is the love and the good

as we

2 1 Thess. v. 17.
4 Zech. xii. 9, 10.

3 Phil. iv. 6.
5 John i. 51.

« VorigeDoorgaan »