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Christian, leaning upon this gracious assurance, will take courage, and use his best endeavours to reconcile these fearful declarations with the present scene of imperfection and moral confusion, and with his own weakness and sinful
When tempted to exclaim, “Who is sufficient for these things ?” he will apply to himself the consolatory answer of the holy Apostle, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me!” He will remember the encouraging assurance of our blessed Lord to the same great Apostle : “My grace is sufficient for thee;" and again, "My strength is made perfect in weakness.” He will reflect upon the unspeakable importance of the issue at stake; he will gain further strength for the great conflict which he is waging with the world, the flesh, and the devil, by the recollection of the victories achieved with the sword of the Spirit upon the same spiritual battle-field by "the glorious company of the Apostles, the goodly fellowship of the Prophets, the noble army of Martyrs,” and by the long array of the faithful members of “the Holy Church throughout the world,” who have since been gathered to their rest, and in whose society he may hope, through the merits and death of our blessed Redeemer, to enjoy eternal happiness in the glorious pre
Upon further consideration of the practical duties of Christianity it will be found, that, while the clearest distinction is drawn between holiness and wickedness, and the slightest deviation from the eternal rules of truth and justice is
sence of God.
condemned, even in the most trifling transactions, and while the utmost liberality, kindness, and consideration are required from us in all our dealings with our fellow-men, nothing which would promote our real happiness, even in this world, is ordinarily withheld from us. In the eloquent words of Bishop Porteus, Christianity “forbids no necessary occupations, no reasonable indulgences, no innocent relaxations. It allows us the use of the world, provided we abuse it not. It requires that our liberty degenerate not into licentiousness, our amusements into dissipation, our industry into incessant toil, our carefulness into extreme anxiety and endless solicitude."
The sincere Christian who is endowed with wealth, whilst enjoying with thankfulness and moderation the blessings of Providence which surround him, is warned by the fearful parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus against that excessive and selfish indulgence which might lead him to neglect the alleviation of that poverty and misery which the sinful condition of the world constantly produces, and against that forgetfulness of his eternal inheritance which is one of the leading temptations of a state of worldly prosperity.
The faithful Christian of middle or lower rank will follow his appointed occupation with diligence, sobriety, and prudence, but without anxiety or covetousness, in the full trust in the promise of our blessed Saviour, that if he “seeks first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,”. “ all other things,” as far as they may
conduce to his eternal and temporal welfare, “ shall be added unto him."
All true Christians, like "good soldiers of Jesus Christ,” will be ready, when called upon, to take any post of duty to which extraordinary circumstances, either in their private or public life, may summon them in connexion with their Christian profession; knowing “that He is faithful that promised," and that, if they bear manfully the cross, thus providentially laid upon them, they will gain the martyr's crown. In the present state of society in our highlyfavoured land, where the blessings of the Gospel of Christ are so abundantly shed abroad, and its heavenly doctrines are so generally taught, and, through Divine grace, not seldom exhibited in Christian conduct in the purest state compatible with the imperfection of our fallen nature, happily no opportunity is likely to arise for the exercise of Christian heroism in its more striking forms, as displayed in the sufferings and death of the early witnesses to the Christian faith. A careful examination of human life will, however, convince us that the warning of our blessed Lord to His disciples is in some measure applicable to His faithful followers, even in the most advanced religious condition hitherto reached by any extensive community: “In the world ye shall have tribulation.”
For, besides “the numerous ills that flesh is heir to in this imperfect scene, the casualties of life, and the sufferings arising from the misconduct of others, the sincere Christian, as he advances in tenderness of conscience, and in the scrupulous
performance of every social duty, must be prepared to suffer frequent vexation and mortification from the opposition, the ridicule, and the uncharitable censures of those too numerous members of every circle, whose indifference to vital religion is tacitly rebuked by his own stricter rule of life. He will on these occasions thankfully accept the gracious assurance with which our Saviour accompanies the warning: “Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”
Variety in individual character and in the circumstances of daily life nearly precludes the recommendation of rules for general adoption respecting the details of private devotional practice. As, however, some persons may possibly derive benefit from suggestions which have been found useful, a few are subjoined to these general remarks :
1. When in the hours of solitude our spirit is bowed down from the loss of relations or friends, or when we are assailed by evil thoughts, it may be found salutary to read or repeat from memory some of the Collects of our Church, which are inserted in the following pages, and adapted for private use, or to use any other more congenial form of devotion. This practice will divert the mind from the evils and temptations which oppress it, raising the soul in silent prayer to God, who “seeth in secret,” and who is about our path, and about our bed, and spieth out all our ways.” It will tend, by the Divine blessing, to calm and purify the soul.
“ Blessed are they that mourn; for they shall be com
forted!” “ Blessed are the pure in heart; for they shall see God!”
2. When we privately set apart some suitable period for religious abstinence or self-denial, such as the weekly commemoration of our Lord's death, a form of self-examination upon some particular Christian grace, practised from memory, during our intervals of leisure, may be found useful in improving our character, and assisting us in our progress towards Christian perfection. The following example, founded upon the clauses of St. Paul's description of charity (in the xiiith chapter of the First Epistle to the Corinthians), may assist to increase in us that spirit of universal love and goodwill to men which is beautifully described as very
bond of peace and of all virtues.”
After reading or repeating from memory this chapter, we may take the clauses separately, thus:
Charity suffereth long." Do I suffer long when my relations (recalling them to the mind in detail), my dependants, my servants, or others vex, offend, irritate, or
“ And is kind.” Am I kind to my relations (recalling them to mind severally), my dependants, my servants, my friends, and my neighbours ?
“Charity envieth not."
Do I strive to banish all envious feelings which I may be tempted to indulge in towards others who are better, or richer, or superior, or more fortunate in any respect than myself?