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LITURGY OF THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND.
THE SIXTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY.
O God, who hast prepared for them that love thee such good things as pass man's understanding; pour into our hearts such love towards thee, that we, loving thee above all things, may obtain thy promises, which exceed all that we can desire, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
THIS collect is founded on the declaration
of St. Paul, (1 Cor. ii. 9.) “Eye hath “not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered " into the heart of man, the things which God “ hath prepared for them that love Him ;' which apostolic declaration refers to a prophetic one, (Isai. Ixiv. 4.) “Since the beginning of “ the world men have not heard, nor perceived
by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, “what He hath prepared for him that waiteth “ for Him." The Apostle quotes the words of the Prophet, according to a frequent mode of quotation adopted in the New Testament, not with verbal exactness, but a paraphrastical VOL. III.
explanation.* In the context of the Prophet the antient church is praying for redemption, and encourages herself in the hope of it by a recol. lection of the wonders which God performed, when He brought His people out of Egypt, and manifested Himself on mount Sinai. She then contemplates what He had promised to do, when He became “God manifest in the flesh." In the days of the Messiah greater things might be expected than in the days of Moses, seeing that the Messiah, the Lord of the new dispensation, would be a personage far more illustrious than Moses, and that the thing typified might be expected to exceed the type in glory.
As we shall be led to illustrate more fully the prophetic and apostolic declaration while we are discussing the collect which is founded thereon, we proceed to observe that the collect consists of-An introduction descriptive of the Divine goodness to those who love God and of A prayer founded on that description.
Several particulars in the introduction of our collect demand our attention.
It may be asked, What are those good
things which God hath prepared for them “ that love Him?”. And, in order to give a full solution of this important question, it is necessary to observe that the “good things which “ are prepared for them that love God," relate partly to the present life, and partly to the future.
In the present life "good things” of inestimable value are “prepared for them who lore
* Paulus jam hoc dictum prophetæ recitans, non transcripsit illud grammatice, sed II pappaatixws, sive allegando interpretatus est; sensum ejus sectatus, minus presse hærens verbis ; ut sæpe alias. Ab eodem Spiritu actus,
ș non verbis intentus --Vitringa in locum.
« God.” Such surely are the pardon of sin; justification unto life eternal; adoption into the family of Gods joy and peace in believing; conversion and progressive sanctification; deliverance from the love and fear of the world, from the fear of death and of a judgment to come; the communion of saints; fellowship with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ; the earnest of the Spirit, and foretastes of glory. These are good things in the most emphatic sense ; and all these are prepared for them that love God, and are actually conferred upon them.
But these blessings, vast and inestimable as they justly appear to be, are only first fruits of a future harvest. These indeed are the grapes of Eshcol, and of the same nature and flavour with the clusters of Canaan; but they are at tainable only in a comparatively scanty degree by pilgrims in the wilderness. The tree of life grows in the midst of the paradise of God, from which His people will eternally gather in rich abundance the delicious fruit which it bears. The water of the distant stream is indeed of the same quality with that from which it originates; but when we arrive at the fountain-head, we shall not only taste but drink to satiety.
We cannot undertake to describe that which eten in its incipient state“
passes man's understanding.". For it is to be observed that the descriptions of heavenly blessings which are given us in the Scriptures are chiefly, if not altogether, of a negative kind. As when they speak of God, they tell us generally what He is not, and not what He is, because we could not comprehend it. He is immortal, invisible, inscrutable, without body, parts, or passions—in
all His perfections infinite. So also the inheritance of the saints is described as “incorrup“ tible, undefiled, and unfading.” We are informed from what evils we shall be delivered, and from what imperfections we shall be freed; but it is impossible for words to convey to our minds any adequate conceptions of the positive happiness which is prepared for us in heaven. We shall be completely delivered from sin and the long train of evils which it has introduced : yea more, we shall be placed out of the reach of all temptations and occasions of sin, wherein our glorified state will far exceed that of pristine innocence. In consequence of this there will be no danger of any new separation from God or exclusion from His kingdom. Both our souls and bodies will be freed from all their present infirmities, and be improved in their properties and capacities to an inconceivable degree of perfection. But “it doth not yet appear what “ we shall be ; this however we know, that, “ when Christ shall appear, we shall be like “ Him, for we shall see Him as He is."
This leads us to consider the quality of those
good things which God hath prepared for " them that love Him." They are such as
pass man's understanding.” In the Apostle's words, of which our collect gives the general sense, there is a beautiful gradation. The things which God hath prepared for them that love Him, greatly surpass any which the eye of men hath gazed on, whether the works of man, or the more stupendous works of God, glorious as the latter confessedly are. Nay, they surpass all that report hath brought to our ears; insomuch that the believing sinner, while he tastes the first fruits, and the glorified saint, while he