Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

and to continue the good work of religion in my immortal soul! To Thee I look: to Thee I present my petitions: O Father of mercies, reject not my humble prayer."

THE COLLECT.

O God, the protector of all who put their trust in Thee, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy; Increase and multiply upon us Thy mercy; that, Thou being our Ruler and Guide, we may so pass through things temporal, that we finally lose not the things eternal: Grant this, o heavenly Father, for Jesus Christ's sake our Lord.” Amen.

THE PRAYER.

O Thou Glorious and Blessed God, in these moments of calm reflection I set all things before my view:—the present world and the future, the objects of sight and those of faith, the things that relate to the body and those that relate to the soul: -I bring them home to my mind and heart; and while I am compelled to see and to feel the vain nature of the one, and the substantial nature of the other, how can I hesitate what to choose, or how to act ? An immortal soul, here for a little time, and then to enter upon an unchangeable eternity of glory or of woe-surely this demands my first attention. The world, with all which it has to give, vanishes from my sight at the thought of this. Thy holy word, my reason, my conscience, assure me that I ought to love and fear Thee, and to live according to Thy will. O Lord, be merciful unto me; enlighten my dark mind; enliven my dull and cold heart, and enable me to act henceforth according to my better convictions. Let me listen no longer to a mistaken world, or to my vain and worldly heart; but let Thy holy word be my teacher and counsellor. What Thou teachest is true: what Thou requirest is just and good. Suffer me not to trifle any longer with the solemn and glorious and all-important matters of the soul and of eternity. Being now persuaded that real piety is the good part, essential and blessed, and that every thing else, when compared with it, is but as the dust upon the balance, let me, through Thy grace, make it

my

first and most serious concern. Pity me in this state of darkness, weakness, and perplexity, and deal graciously with me. Break not the bruised reed: quench not the smoking flax. I bless Thee for every right thought and feeling: but, of Thy tender love, lead me on into the light of truth; confer upon me all needful grace ; strengthen in me what is right, correct what is wrong, and supply what is wanting; and make me to be one of those who enjoy Thy favour here, and who shall be inheritors of eternal blessedness. Graciously hear, accept, and answer my imperfect petitions, for the sake of Jesus Christ Thy Son our Lord. Amen.

REPENTANCE.

66

“What better can we do, than to the place
Repairing where He judged us, prostrate fall
Before Him reverent; and there confess
Humbly our faults, and pardon beg ; with tears
Watering the ground, and with our sighs the air
Frequenting, sent from hearts contrite, in sign
Of sorrow unfeigned, and humiliation meek ?”

Milton.

“ Conversion (if we may give any credit to the Scripture) is a great and universal change of the man, turning him from sin to God. A man may be restrained from sin, before he is converted; but when he is converted, he is not only restrained from sin, his very heart and nature is turned from it unto holiness : so that henceforward he becomes a holy person, and an enemy to sin.”—Jonathan Edwards.

I look upon you now, my young readers, as persons who have some right apprehensions of God and divine things, and who are prepared to consider the subject of Repentance. This is the only porch that leads to the temple of Wisdom. To drop all figure, it is a topic on which it is very easy to say much, but on which it is very difficult to say a little well. In the first place, Repentance is so much blended, in common statements, with its concomitants and results, that we can with difficulty discover what the writer means by repentance. In the second place, most writers seem to describe repentance as a process that is stamped with much uniformity, so that, according to them, a penitent must be brought to, or pass through, one certain series of spiritual exercise. In the former case, repentance is made vague and undefinable; in the latter, it is made to have only one character.

Several terms are commonly used to describe the entrance on a religious life; repentance, conversion, regeneration, or a being born again: of which terms it is desirable that we should have something like correct ideas : but I am not aware that great nicety and refinement are necessary. I would say that a person is regenerate,' or born again, when the principles of the divine life are planted in the soul, whenever that may be. I would say that a person is a penitent when, like the prodigal, in the parable," he comes to himself"

-comes to a right mind—reflects on the evil that he has, and on the good that he has not, and, with appropriate thoughts and feelings, resolves to seek his Father's house—and is urged to act as he resolves. I would say that a person is a convert when he acts in agreement with the workings of a penitent mind, and turns from sin and vanity, and turns to God and goodness, with decision, and on fixed principle. Regeneration, repentance, and

conversion are, therefore, in my view, successive links in the moral chain. The first is an implanted seed from above; the second is the agency of that seed in bringing the transgressor to a right frame of mind; and the third is the same seed in a more mature stage of its agency, leading the person to choose and act in agreement with the convictions of an awakened heart and of a rightly thinking mind.

Regeneration can be but once ; it is a simple thing: but repentance and conversion are complex things: each of them is twofold. Repentance is primary, and is—restoration to a right mind : or it is secondary and habitual, and it is-afterthought, with appropriate feeling; and with this every true Christian, as a daily offender, is daily acquainted. In like manner, conversion is primary, and it is—our first acting in agreement with the penitential frame of mind, turning from ourselves and sin to God and Christ and holiness : or it is secondary, and as such it contains—that daily improvement in piety which is a turning away from each particular sin to each particular virtue, (St. Matt. xviii. 3.) as we discover our defects, and see the nature and requirements of the gospel.—These things having been premised, I am now to speak of repentance.

It is evident, then, that the primary repentance may be viewed in a very simple manner : it is a restoration to a right mind. This implies, that an

M

« AnteriorContinuar »