ROBERT SETON, HEAD OF THE MOUND;
BROWN & CO. ABERDEEN: D. BRYCE, GLASGOW:
JAMES BURNS, LONDON: J. H. PARKER, OXFORD.
THE consecration of an edifice erected to the honour and glory of God, in communion with the holy Catholic Church, must ever be an event of deep and gratifying interest to all her faithful members. On the present occasion, however, the solemn service of dedication became invested with unusual interest, when it was known, that the Venerable Bishop of St Andrew's, Dunkeld, and Dunblane, who is now in the thirty-seventh year of his Episcopate, was to preside. Accordingly, from an early hour on Wednesday, the 28th May, the day of the consecration, the numerous arrivals of clergy and lay members of the Church, many of whom had come from a considerable distance, indicated the occurrence of some circumstance of more than ordinary importance in the quiet and romantic city of Dunblane.
The Bishop of the diocese, accompanied by the Bishops of Glasgow and Moray in their Episcopal robes, and followed by twenty-two priests in surplices, having marched in procession from the vestry, on the north side of the edifice, entered by the porch on the south side, amidst a slow and solemn peal from the organ, about half past eleven, A. M., and the consecration service was then celebrated,the petition for consecration being presented by Mr Stirling of Kippendavie, along with the title-deeds, which were placed upon the altar. The consecration having been celebrated according to the forms used in the Anglican Church, the Bishop subscribed the deed of consecration on the altar; and morning prayer was then offered up by the incumbent-elect, the Rev. H. Malcolm, the lessons [3/4] being read by the Rev. John Boyle and the Rev. C. J. Lyon, from the steps of the altar. At the end of the Litany, the deed of presentation in favour of Mr Malcolm, as incumbent of the Church, was delivered by Mr Stirling, younger of Keir, to the Bishop, who accepted the same, and thereupon delivered a most striking and impressive charge to the newly instituted pastor. The Eucharistic service followed next,--the Epistle being read by the Bishop of Glasgow, and the Gospel by the Bishop of Moray; and the Holy Sacrament of the altar was administered to about ninety persons,--the office used on the occasion being the national office of the Church in Scotland, the claims of which, to our deepest admiration and regard, are recognised by all who prize Catholic truth, as contrasted with Romish superstition, on the one hand, and Protestant scepticism, on the other. The offertory amounted to L.115, and was applied to an endowment fund for the incumbent of the Church,--which is at present in the course of being raised. The service within the Church being finished, the Bishops and Clergy proceeded to the consecration of the adjoining burial ground, which was performed in the usual manner.
The Church of St Mary, Dunblane, is beautifully situated in the midst of a plantation on the northern outskirts of the town, and is built in the early English style of architecture. It was designed and completed under the superintendence of John Henderson, Esq. Architect, Edinburgh,--which is a sufficient guarantee for the correctness of its architectural arrangements. The nave is fifty-seven by twenty-three feet; the chancel fifteen by sixteen feet, with a beautiful high-pitched roof. The length of the nave is divided into four compartments with massive buttresses, and single light widows with plain jambs and label mouldings. A very handsome open porch with enriched archway is introduced between the first and second window on the south, which is the only entrance. The vestry is attached on the north side close to the [4/5] chancel, and the pulpit is entered by a stair from it. All the gables are finished with stone crosses of various designs. The altar window is in the three-light lancet form, and is filled with stained glass of a very rich design by Wailes of Newcastle. The chancel opens to the nave with a well proportioned moulded arch, supported by plain columns of polished stone. There is no ceiling, but the timbers of the roof are all moulded and exposed to view; and they have all the effect of an oak roof. The altar is of stone, carved in the most elaborate manner with emblematical devices, and the floor of the chancel is of figured encaustic tiles. The font, which is on the left as you enter the Church, is of beautiful carved stone. The pulpit is also of carved stone, somewhat after the design of Beaulieu, Hants, but differing in its ornaments. The benches are entirely of oak with massive stall ends, and containing accommodation for about 200 persons. There is no gallery. The organ is placed at the west gable slightly raised above the level of the nave.
It only remains to be stated, that the cost of this beautiful little temple has been mainly defrayed by Mr Stirling of Keir and Mr Stirling of Kippendavie, for which these gentlemen are surely entitled to the prayers of the faithful. May God prosper all such works and those who engage in them.
EDINBURGH, 12th June 1845.
ROMANS, xii. 1, 2.
"I BESEECH YOU, THEREFORE, BRETHREN, BY THE MERCIES OF GOD, THAT YE PRESENT YOUR BODIES A LIVING SACRIFICE, HOLY, ACCEPTABLE UNTO GOD, WHICH IS YOUR REASONABLE SERVICE. AND BE NOT CONFORMED TO THIS WORLD: BUT BE YE TRANSFORMED BY THE RENEWING OF YOUR MIND, THAT YE MAY PROVE WHAT IS THAT GOOD AND ACCEPTABLE AND PERFECT WILL OF GOD."
ST PAUL having, in the first eleven chapters of his Epistle to the Romans, vindicated the gospel of Jesus Christ from the cavils of the unbelieving Jews, proceeds, in the next place, to exhort the Christians of the imperial city to discharge those duties which become persons "beloved of God, called to be saints." He had previously expatiated on the divine mercies, by which they (who were at one time strangers to the promises, and aliens from the commonwealth of Israel) had become children of God,--and if children, then heirs,--heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ. And now he beseeches them by those same divine mercies by which they had been brought out of darkness into a marvellous light, to perform the functions appertaining to their high vocation. He brings, so to speak, their heavenly benefactor before them as a suppliant, begging that they will not make void his gifts, and despise his grace. And how does he begin his exhortation? "I beseech you, therefore," says he, "that ye present your [7/8] bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service." What is this that he advises? That they are to present their bodies a sacrifice? Yes: but not as the sacrifices of the law were presented, after being slain. Wherefore, he says, present your bodies a living sacrifice; and yet this also implied a death, but it was a death unto sin, so that they might become alive unto God through Jesus Christ. And this sacrifice was to be considered holy and acceptable unto God: holy, in respect of the consecration of the body by the Holy Spirit--and acceptable unto God for the sake and through the merits of the Divine Redeemer. But what, after all, did the Apostle mean by beseeching them to present a sacrifice of this kind? Were they to place their bodies upon the material altar of the Church? By no means. They were rather to find the proper interpretation of St Paul's words in the language of the Psalmist, who says,--"The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise." The intention of the Apostle was, that they should dedicate every faculty which they possessed to the service of Jehovah. "How is the body," asks St Chysostom, "to become a sacrifice? Let the eye," says he, "look upon no evil thing, and it hath become a sacrifice. Let the tongue speak nothing coarse, and it hath become an offering. Let the hand do no lawless deed, and it hath become a whole burnt offering. Or rather this is not enough, but we must have good works also: let the hands do alms,--the mouth bless them that curse one,--and the hearing find leisure evermore for lections of Scripture. For sacrifice allows of no unclean thing. Sacrifice is a first fruit of the other actions. Let us, then, from our hands and feet and mouth, and all other members, yield a first fruit unto God." This is what St Paul rightly describes as a reasonable service. And what can be more reasonable, than that those [8/9] who have been rescued from the dominion of the devil, and admitted into the household of God, should serve Him by whom they have been thus graciously redeemed and glorified? [Glorified, by receiving the adoption of sons in baptism.] This is well enforced by St Paul in his 1st Epistle to the Corinthians, in which he says, "What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's." It is but a small matter, then, if those to whom such remarks apply, shall be found to present their bodies a living sacrifice unto Jehovah; for, in so doing, they are simply giving to Him what belongs to Himself, and co-operating with Him in His merciful endeavour to promote their eternal salvation. And nothing can illustrate more powerfully the sad consequences of the fall, than that members of the body of Christ should require any exhortation to this effect. Were a body of slaves to be rescued by some great potentate from the power of the oppressor, and to have their chains knocked off, and to be adopted into the family of their deliverer, and to be dressed in the royal apparel, and to be invested with the highest privileges capable of being enjoyed by those who immediately surround the throne,--is it to be supposed, that they would stand in need of any injunction to induce them to honour their benefactor by a consistent obedience? Can we imagine, that after possessing an opportunity of contrasting their present comfort with their past misery, they would remain in doubt whether they ought to render unto their deliverer that service which he prescribed for their own welfare, or again return to the grinding bondage under which they had previously endured so much suffering? I think not for the children of this world are wise in their generation. Tell them of any thing which is likely to remove existing grievances and place them in circumstances of a more [9/10] eligible character,--and you may spare any lengthened exhortation. They have begun to act, before you have time to conclude. But with the children of light, strange to say, it is very different in the great generality of cases. Although they have been illuminated,--although they can speak accurately of the scheme of salvation revealed in the gospel,--although they profess to be quite conscious of the dangers attending an unconscientious use of their privileges,--yet they require to be constantly exhorted to a performance of the duties connected with their position as baptised members of the body of Christ; and therefore it is, that St Paul beseeches the Roman Christians--persons, be it remembered too, so far advanced in Christian attainments, that their faith was spoken of throughout the whole world--to present their bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, as being their reasonable service. He reminds them of this great obligation, lest any of them should fall from their steadfastness; and to this he adds the equally important advice--"And be not conformed to this world." Now, it may be here remarked, that holy scripture is full of warnings against such conformity, both as leading its followers away from God, and as being incapable of supplying immortal beings with any suitable objects of pursuit. "Love not the world," says St John, "neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world--the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away and the lust thereof; but he who doeth the will of God abideth for ever." To the same effect is the language of St James, who says, "Know ye not, that the friendship of the world is enmity with God. Whoever, therefore, will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God." To illustrate the character of this enmity, [10/11] Demas is said to have forsaken St Paul, having loved this present world; and that Apostle in the introduction of his Epistle to the Galatians, says, "Grace be to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins that He might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father." In perfect accordance then, with these and many other passages of holy scripture, St Paul, in my text, beseeches the Roman Christians not to be conformed to the world from which they had been delivered; by which exhortation, he means, that they ought not again to recognise the dominion of its corrupt principles and maxims, customs and manners,--seeing that these are ever found to militate so dangerously against the growth of true religion in the soul, and to enfeeble the vigour of faith, through the various solicitations which they present to outward sense. More particularly was it necessary that the Roman Christians should be admonished upon this head, in consequence of their being exposed to so many temptations. They dwelt in a city which was the seat of wealth, and power, and licentiousness of every kind. Heathenism, too, was there, decked out in its most gorgeous dress, and incorporated with all the political institutions of the land. And thus the Christians of the Imperial City being surrounded by snares, not only of the most varied, but also of the most dangerous, description, it was the more incumbent upon them to be continually on their guard against those influences which the world brings to bear against the stability of Christian faith, and the purity of Christian conduct. But while St Paul exhorted them to avoid conformity to such influences, he knew well how unfit they were to render a heartfelt obedience to his counsel without the divine assistance. He knew well that the baptised cannot remain in a state of emancipation from the seductions of the world by their [11/12] own natural and unaided strength. He knew well that the human heart is deceitful above all things, and is desperately wicked. He knew well that the operation of God's Holy Spirit on the mind is necessary to give it that holiness of purpose and of action by which the world is to be overcome, and the hope of glory held fast; therefore it is that he adds, "Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God." Here then he refers to the work of sanctification which was begun at the font, and to the continuance of which they were to look for an increase of that light and power by which they might realise the greatness of their privileges, and be enabled to renounce every temptation by which they were beset. To this he pointed as the great security against their falling victims to any of the numerous trials through which their faith was exposed to the danger of shipwreck.
Now, my brethren, it is scarcely necessary to observe that the words of St Paul which at present occupy our attention, are fully as much required to be addressed to the baptised in our day, as they were in the days of that great Apostle. In the first place, the duties of the Christian continue, in the main, the same at all times. He is ever bound to present his body a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is his reasonable service. He is ever bound to renounce conformity to this world, which wars against the soul. He is ever bound to seek after that renewal of mind, through which he may obtain strength to carry through his warfare with his spiritual adversaries, and to look with a single eye to the blessings which are reserved for him when the things of this world shall have passed away. But, besides, there never was, perhaps, a period at which it was more necessary for the followers of Christ to have such matters pressed upon their notice. We live in an age which may well be characterised as one of peculiar hardness of heart touching the things of God. There is a feverish excitement [12/13] abroad in reference to the acquisition of money, and the advancement of temporal interests, which seems too often allowed to monopolise the field of human exertion. All men, no doubt, present their bodies a living sacrifice, but how few do so unto God. One man makes gold his idol; another, station; a third, power; a fourth, secular knowledge; a fifth, sensual gratification; a sixth, popular applause. Somehow or other God is forgotten by many altogether; or, at all events, his altar is thrust into a dark corner of the pantheon which they have erected in their hearts: and along with this, as might be expected, the promises of God are thought lightly of, and his protection is but little esteemed, as compared with the favour of men and the support of the world. Now, were this state of matters merely existing beyond the pale, it would only be what Holy Scripture warrants us in expecting to find; and our own contest with such influences would just be that warfare for which the soldiers of the cross require ever to be armed and ready. This was the great contest which St Paul exhorted the Roman Christians to prosecute--a contest, the prosecution of which we know was carried on so successfully in the first ages, that a large portion of the earth was soon overcome and became obedient to the faith of the Gospel. In those days there was a wide line of demarcation between the Church and the world--those who were Christians in word were Christians also in deed. They served to animate each other with courage and resolution in bearing down every thing which exalted itself against the dominion and the institutions of Christ; and they triumphed in the strength of their Divine Lord over all the snares which their spiritual enemies were capable of devising. But in the evil times in which our lot is cast, we are surrounded with peculiar trials and temptations to which they were comparatively strangers. We have to encounter the world not only as an open antagonist, whose tents are pitched beyond the enclosures of the heavenly camp, but also as a secret enemy, who [13/14] (through want of vigilance on the part of those whose province it is to watch upon the towers of Zion,) has found a place within the sacred walls, and is now endeavouring to overthrow the steadfastness of the Church as the bride of the Lamb. The presence and influence of this malignant power, are, at this season, unhappily too conspicuous. The most cursory observation will shew that the great body of those who profess to belong to, the Church have their feelings utterly secularized by their contact with the world. So much so, indeed, is this the case, that were it not for some weekly forms of religion, the observance of which is required even by a sense of common decency, it would be, in many cases, difficult to discover that they are Christians at all. The world, and the things of they world, seem to occupy the whole of their consideration. They are ever ready to give their best attention to any thing which relates to their comfort and welfare in the present life. To promote their worldly interests they will rise up early and lie down late; they will make every sort of sacrifice which the circumstances of the case may require; and they thus shew that their treasure lies in that very world which they profess to have renounced. Is this language the language of undue severity? Just ask such individuals to visit the poor and the afflicted members of Christ's body--to visit them in their squalid abodes of wretchedness and misery, with the view of ministering either to their spiritual or their temporal wants, and mark the ingenuity with which your invitation will be declined to engage in the performance of what St James called an important part of pure and undefiled religion. Ask them again to attend daily service in the Church, according to the Church's provision, [See Note A.] at any time of the day which they themselves may fix upon as most convenient, and you will find that while they have hours for business, and hours for recreation, and hours for feasting, and [14/15] hours for riot, they do not choose to devote half an hour to the public worship of that great Being whom they speak of as their Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier. Ask them to present themselves habitually, according to apostolic example, on the first day of the week, [See Note B.] at the table of the Lord, to receive that bread which came down from heaven, and they will tell you, without any disguise, that their occupations and amusements through the week are very often such as to prevent them from preparing themselves to accept the invitation of the Redeemer to that blessed feast. Exhort them to practise fasting and mortification--keeping their bodies in subjection, that the flesh may be subdued and the spirit made devotional, and you speak to them in a language which they do not understand. [See Note C.] Perchance they turn and go away in a rage. Now all this is very sad. It is very sad for the individuals themselves, that they should thus attempt to mock God, who searches out the most hidden recesses of the heart. It is also very sad that the progress of the Church in the hearts and affections of men should be impeded, and that the faith of the Church should be blasphemed amongst those who are without, through the inconsistent conduct of her unworthy members. But this is not the whole extent of the mischief which they do; for not content with being allowed in the absence of all discipline, to please themselves in all things, they strive hard in endeavouring to get the affairs of religion degraded, and brought down to the low worldly standard with which they sympathise. They aim at prescribing to what extent their more earnest-minded brethren shall be supplied with the means of grace in the house of God. They do not even scruple to sit as judges of doctrine, and to pronounce upon the orthodoxy of those who are placed over them in the Lord, canvassing, with the most fearful ignorance and irreverence, the most sacred treasures of the sanctuary, as if they had never read the [15/16] warning of their divine Lord, that at the judgment day men must give an account of every idle word which they have spoken in the present life. [See Note D.] And what makes the matter even more deplorable is, that there is much ground for alarm, lest the counsels of the worldly-minded portion of the Church be often received, and acted upon for reasons of a wretched and calculating expediency. But whether this be so or not, we cannot but admit, with much sorrow of heart, that the standard of faith and obedience and reverence to which churchmen in general endeavour to attain is very low, when compared with what it ought to be; and this constitutes a very formidable difficulty in the way of such as seeing their own defects and shortcomings are anxious to be taken by the hand, and led forward to higher acts of Christian achievement. They must be ready to endure much ridicule and sarcasm, and scorn, even from those who ought to be their firmest supporters,--they must be prepared to listen to many an unseemly laugh at the expense of the glorious army of martyrs and confessors: and if they be bold enough to speak publicly of the necessity of restoring the primitive faith, and the ancient discipline, they need not be astonished, if they be classed for a time with disturbers of the peace, and denounced as troublers of Israel. [See Note E.] But however great the difficulties and discouragements may be, to our walking in the footsteps of the saints, nothing ought to deter us from pursuing a straightforward and consistent course. If the Church has to any extent, in the persons of her members, entered into a treaty of peace with the world, such a peace must be broken up at all hazards, if we are to rejoice in the power of that cross by which the world is crucified unto the disciples of the Saviour, and they unto the world. No fear of worldly consequences must be allowed to paralyse our honesty in such a case as this: for he is not worthy of Christ who is not willing to give [16/17] up every thing if necessary for Christ's sake. What then ought we to do in these perilous times? What can we do better than to give a full and conscientious fulfilment to the advice of St Paul, which is contained in my text: "I beseech you, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world; but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God."
No subject, my brethren, can be better suited for your consideration on the present occasion than the one presented to you in these words. We are assembled to-day for the very solemn and important purpose of having this very comely edifice consecrated to the service of the Blessed Trinity; and our attention cannot but be arrested by the character of the transaction involved, which is simply as follows. The Almighty having put it into your hearts to erect a temple for his worship in this ancient Episcopal city, after the light of the Church had been long quenched in this quarter through political disasters, you have brought your pious work, (for which may you be abundantly blessed from on high) to a most prosperous conclusion, and you have come here at this time to present it unto the Lord as an offering at your hands. This offering God has been pleased to accept in the person of His chief minister in this diocese, your venerable Bishop; and He has at the same time returned the gift to you blessed by Himself, that you and your posterity after you may use this place now consecrated for the purpose of meeting together to worship Him in spirit and in truth. I am sure then you will agree with me in thinking that if any among you after having given this proof of their piety towards God, and of their charity towards their fellow-men, should at any subsequent period forget themselves so far as to make themselves parties to the desecration of this holy temple, and should convert it into a place for the [17/18] transaction of any business which does not fall within the work of the Lord's House, it would be better for them that they had had no concern with its present dedication. For every reverent mind will acknowledge that henceforth it ought to be employed for sacred purposes, and them alone--and that those who come here ought to leave behind them at the threshold every worldly, every idle thought, and ought to elevate their hearts to Him who sitteth in the heavens, and who is ever present to bless and to sanctify, wherever the assemblies of the faithful are met together to adore and to praise His holy name. [See Note F.] Now, my brethren, it is surely fitting that I should make some such remarks as these upon an occasion like the present--remarks, which, however simple and unadorned by rhetoric, demand for themselves an admittance into every rightly constituted mind. But I have an argument to deduce from them, which is of incalculably higher importance as bearing upon your eternal welfare: and it is this; that if a sense of duty prompts us not to desecrate a building made with human hands, after it has been dedicated to God and accepted by Him, as a place set apart for the public exercise of the true religion, how much more powerfully does the same sense of duty call upon us not to desecrate our bodies, which were dedicated to His service in the sacrament of holy baptism, and which were at the same time consecrated by the Holy Ghost as temples separated unto the worship of the Most High. Our bodies are not like the perishable building in which we are now assembled--they are living temples--temples which will stand for ever. We would do well then to give heed to those words of St Paul which were addressed by him to the Corinthians, "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy: for the temple of God is holy: which temple are yet."
 (I.) Falling back then upon the words of my text, I have to beseech you earnestly, in the first place, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. Remember, I entreat you, that the God whom we are privileged to serve is even he by whom we were created--by whose eternal Son we were redeemed--and by whose life-giving spirit we have been sanctified. It is He from whom all blessings flow, whether temporal or spiritual--watching over us with his providential care in every circumstance of life, and placing freely within our reach the means of grace and the hope of glory. It is He who made all things, visible and invisible, by the word of His power, and who has appointed a day in which all the inhabitants of the world shall have to appear before Him, to receive an eternal sentence according to the deeds done in the body. Whom then ought we to serve but Him? To whom else ought we to present our bodies a living sacrifice? and, if so, how is this to be done? How, but by making a covenant with all our members, that they will contribute what they can to his service, and not exceed those liberties to which they are confined by the divine will? We must employ the eye as a window through which the mind may gaze with rapture and admiration on the glorious works of creation exhibited in the book of nature, and on the still more glorious work of redeeming love set forth in the pages of revelation. We must employ the ear in listening to the words of those who have been sent by Christ as the heralds of his mercy to a ruined world, and who have been invested with the high mission of reconciling men unto God. We must employ the tongue in celebrating the praises of the Most High, and in giving outward expression not only to the articles of that faith which was revealed to the saints, but also to the various supplications and prayers which our respective wants and necessities suggest. In like manner we must use all our other faculties, so as to shew, that while we avail ourselves [19/20] of them in reference to the affairs of the present life, we are willing that they should be peculiarly devoted to the service of Him from whom we have received them. In one word, we must endeavour to keep our bodies in subjection to the divine will in all things, rendering unto God that universal obedience which he requires at our hands, and renouncing the dominion of every adverse power.
(2.) And this leads me to exhort you, in the second place, not to be conformed to this world--au exhortation to which it is very necessary that you should listen, if you intend to present your bodies a living sacrifice unto God. The ways of the world, my brethren, are very different from those of God. It has a language of its own, which corresponds not with the voice of the sanctuary. It has a wisdom of its own, which God has declared to be foolishness. It has customs of its own, which respect not the glory of the Lord. It has rewards of its own; but these are evanescent, and shall pass away. It has a prince of its own; but he shall be visited with a terrible destruction. What inducement, then, has it to offer to us, to secure our conformity to its standard? It cannot help us when we most require help. It cannot assist us either at the hour of death or in the day of judgment. Nay, it cannot assure us of the continuance of its favours, such as they are, for a single half hour. It may provide us with friends, but it cannot give us any security against their becoming unstable and capricious. It may offer us the most sumptuous food, but it cannot give us health to enjoy it. It may load our coffers with gold, but it cannot impart length of life for the enjoyment of it. It may confer upon us station and power, but it cannot make us happy in the possession of them. How unreasonable then do we become, if we study conformity to it rather than to the will of God, whose promises are sure and true, and cannot fail to be realised by us, unless we despise them and set them at naught. Besides, at the very best, all that the world can give, in return for our service, can be enjoyed but for [20/21] a few short years: whereas the rewards which are laid up for the righteous are everlasting in duration. Oh then, let us set the world at defiance, with all its flimsy pretences of concern for our comfort. We owe it no allegiance; and our recognition of its sway can only end in our eternal perdition. We require not its advice,--seeing that we possess the oracles of God, and the living voice of the Church; and we ought not to value its treasures; for our inheritance is in the heavens above. Be not then conformed to the world; allow it not to tamper with your sense of Christian duty, even in the slightest particular; silence its solicitations to depart from the paths of peace. Stand fast by Christ and by the power of his cross, and he will stand fast by you. He will make you more than conquerors.
(3.) But, in the third place, you must remember that you cannot practise the duties of which I have been speaking by your own strength; and that to enable you to present your bodies a living sacrifice unto God, and to carry forward your warfare with the world, ye must be transformed by the renewing of the mind, that ye may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God. To the eye of the natural man, the world has many fascinations to offer. It takes him as it finds him, a person of corrupted tastes and feelings, and who looks not beyond the present state of things for the means of enjoyment; and it professes to supply him with every thing which he stands in need of for his pleasure and gratification. Under these circumstances, it is morally impossible that he should comply with the exhortation contained under the first two heads of my text, until his mind is disciplined by the Holy Spirit, and is thus brought under the influence of holy motives and feelings. Apart from this work, he cannot effect his own transformation--he cannot love God--he cannot hate Mammon--he cannot desire heaven. Holiness is a thing which is alien to his affections; heaven is a state in which he could take no delight. But [21/22] when the work of transformation has taken place, through renewal of the mind, a complete change of circumstances is carried through in every chamber of the soul. The character of the whole man becomes different from what it was. He continues to enjoy whatever is desirable in the present life, now sanctified to his use by the power of God. Such happiness as may be possessed in connection with worldly affairs is now chastened and increased a hundred fold. For it is a due sense of religion springing out of a transformed mind, which can alone invest our existence in the world with a moral charm, and which can bind soul and soul together in a high and holy companionship. And then to this is to be added the knowledge which it implies of the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, enlightening the understanding and purifying the heart, and elevating the affections to those blessed regions which are above, whence all sorrow and anguish and pain are for ever banished, and where the righteous shall evermore rejoice in that light which proceedeth from the throne of the Eternal. How then are we to attain unto that blessed transformation which is productive of such glorious results? This is the important question which remains to be considered.
(4.) That we cannot transform ourselves by ways of our own devising is a matter which is abundantly evident. We must leave this great work, then, in the hands of God, by whose power it is wrought, and who has appointed certain channels through which we may receive from on high the purification and strength that we stand so much in need of. Seeing that the gift of the Holy Ghost forms part of the purchase which was made for us by the Saviour, through the shedding of his blood on Mount Calvary, we must look for its reception at all times only through the use of those means which have been divinely ordained for conferring it on the faithful in the Church of the living God. Now, in entering on this subject, it is to be remembered that in the sacrament of [22/23] holy baptism, we were, by the good providence of God, called out from the world, and received our election as members of Christ, children of God, and inheritors of the kingdom of heaven. We are then placed in a state of salvation by the free grace of God, through the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Ghost. We were washed--we were sanctified--we were justified by the Spirit of our God. A spiritual sword was then put into our bands, by which we might thereafter be empowered to obtain a certain and a splendid victory over all the powers of darkness; and a crown was placed upon our heads which we are exhorted to hold fast. In the apostolic rite of Confirmation, our spiritual vitality was subsequently strengthened from on high, receiving, as I trust we then did, by the ministration of the Spirit, manifold gifts of grace--the spirit of wisdom and understanding--the spirit of counsel and ghostly strength--the spirit of knowledge and true godliness, along with the spirit of holy fear. And we are not to have our faith in these things (standing as it does upon the Word of God and the voice of the Church) chilled down to a mere sceptical rationalism, because we see multitudes who have passed through the font, and who have received the laying on of an Apostle's hands, none the wiser or the better for the possession of such privileges. We are not to be told that there is no health or vigour in the vine, because people can point to its withered and withering branches, which are only fit, or well nigh fit, to be cut off and cast into the fire. We behold on the same stem other branches laden with the luxuriance of their burthen; and we conclude that the stem itself is sound, and sends forward its life blood in every direction where no obstacle is presented to its progress. In like manner we have abundant evidence presented to us in the testimony and character of the saints on earth, that their life, which is hid with Christ the true vine, is received by them from him through all the divinely instituted ordinances of the New [23/24] Dispensation--that the Holy Ghost descends through these channels into their hearts, to strengthen them in their controversy with sin and temptation, and to enable them to overthrow the strongholds of iniquity. At the same time we would do well not to overlook the lesson which is to be learned from the unhappy condition of those whose conduct belies their religious profession, which is simply this,--that however great the gifts may be which we receive from God, through baptism and confirmation, those gifts may all be forfeited by us, unless we take heed to preserve them through a daily renewal by the Holy Ghost. In such a case we shall be cut off from the vine as unfruitful branches. We shall be cast out of the net as the bad fishes were. We shall be tied up in bundles and burned like the tares. We cannot be too careful then in recollecting the great purposes for which the grace of baptism and confirmation was given. It was to rescue us from the dominion of the world, the flesh and the devil, and to bring us under the protection and guidance of our ascended Lord. It was to confer upon us the heavenly armour of the stronger than the strong, which is to be used in wresting the spoils from the hands of Satan. But then the success of our warfare depends entirely upon the circumstance of our availing ourselves of the divine assistance thus graciously vouchsafed. You may place a man in command of a piece of artillery, and put a lighted match in his hand, and yet he is as powerless as ever, if he neglect to fire upon his adversary. You may put a sword into a man's hand, and tell him to receive the body of his assailants on the point of it, and yet he is armed to no useful purpose if he drops his weapon to the ground, and voluntarily allows himself to be overpowered. And so it is in the case of the baptised and confirmed Christian. He has been naturalized into the kingdom of God--he has been enlisted as a soldier of Christ--he has been supplied with armour suited to that service--armour in which he may go forth to the battle with Christ as his [24/25] leader, and bear down every adversary of his soul: and, yet, if he chooses to desert from the ranks of his heavenly Lord, or lay aside his armour, he shall be overtaken by the foe and stript and slain. Under these circumstances, it becomes necessary for us to desire at all times of the Lord, in the language of the Collect for Christmas day, that we being regenerate and made his servants by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by the Holy Spirit. This daily renewal forms, indeed, our only protection against the constantly recurring attacks of the great adversary. As the natural life which we received from God, in connection with our birth in the flesh, requires to be constantly supported by food for the body; so, in like manner, the spiritual life which was conferred on our souls at the second birth, when we were born of water and of the Spirit, must be nourished and carried on by a regular supply of food suited for its preservation.
How then are we to obtain this daily renewal? how, but by keeping under our bodies by fasting, and by availing ourselves fully of the other means of grace, and more particularly of prayer and the Holy Eucharist. We ought to pray regularly, both in public and in private--in the closet--in the family--in the Church. Prayer is a divinely appointed mode of communion to Christians with their God--prayer in the name and through the merits of the Divine Redeemer: and therefore through it, as combined with the pure oblation in the Eucharist, which is the appointed medium for pleading the sacrifice of the cross, we may solicit the divine assistance to carry forward the triumph of grace in our hearts, to renew our wills and affections, and to perfect that good work which God has already begun in us, that so we may live according to the Spirit, and in the end attain unto everlasting life. And we cannot doubt that if we fulfil the apostolic injunction, "to pray without ceasing," God will mercifully hear our petitions for the sake of his blessed Son, and no good thing will he withhold from us. His anointing Spirit will rest upon our [25/26] souls, throwing light into the midst of darkness, and perfecting divine strength in the midst of human infirmity; and so we shall go on from day to day filled with all peace in believing, and looking forward with joy to the recompence of reward. But while we make prayer the principal business of our daily life, we ought to lose no opportunity of presenting ourselves at the table of the Lord; for the holy Eucharist is the highest means of grace which belongs to the baptised in this world. In receiving that blessed sacrament with a true penitent heart and lively faith, we are privileged, as the Church tells us, "spiritually to eat the flesh of Christ and to drink his blood--to dwell in Christ and Christ in us--to be one with Christ and Christ with us." We are made partakers of that bread which came down from heaven, and by which we are to be fed unto everlasting life. To use the language of St Paul, "the cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? the bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ!" Surely then we ought ever to receive with chastened hearts the invitation of our Lord to the divine feast which he has prepared for us: for, as a celebrated divine of former days in the sister Church of England remarks, "The very letter of the words of Christ giveth plain security that these mysteries do as nails fasten us to his very cross--that by them we draw out, as touching efficacy, force and virtue, even the blood of his gored side--in the wounds of our Redeemer we there dip our tongues--we are dyed red both within and without--our hunger is satisfied and our thirst for ever quenched; they are things wonderful which he feeleth, great which he seeth, and unheard of which he uttereth, whose soul is possessed of this paschal lamb, and made joyful in the strength of this new wine,--this bread bath in it more than the substance which our eyes behold, this cup hallowed with solemn benediction availeth to the [26/27] endless life and welfare both of soul and body, in that it serveth as well as a medicine to heal our infirmities, and purge our sins, as for a sacrifice of thanksgiving,--with touching it sanctifieth,--in enlighteneth with belief,--it truly conformeth us unto the image of Jesus Christ; what these elements are in themselves it skilleth not,--it is enough that to me, which take them, they are the body and blood of Christ--his promise in witness hereof sufficeth,--his word he knoweth which way to accomplish: why should any cogitation possess the mind of a faithful communicant but this, 'O my God, thou art true, O my soul, thou art happy.'" [Hooker's Eccl. Pol. Book v. ch. 67, sec. 12.]
Now, my brethren, if it be the case, (and who will be bold enough to deny it,) that we constantly require to be renewed by the Holy Spirit ministering to us our spiritual food in due season, it surely follows that the more constantly we resort both to prayer and to the holy communion, so much the better. It was in reference to the practice of habitual communion that St Ambrose said, "I ought always to receive that which is shed for the remission of sins, that my sins may always be forgiven me: I that am always sinning, ought always to have my medicine at hand, as he that has a wound seeks without delay for a cure." [Ambros. de Sacram. lib. iv. ch. vi.] Now then that you have erected a temple to the Lord, strive to make it effectually subservient to the work of your transformation. You may remember what Isaiah says prophetically of the Church, "Thy gates shall be open continually; they shall not be shut day nor night; that men may bring unto thee the forces of the Gentiles, and that their kings may be brought. "Let not therefore this consecrated house of prayer have its gates always locked except on the first day of the week: yea, rather, let them always be open, that the faithful may meet here every day, according to the clearly expressed intention of the Church, to confess their sins before God, to receive the benefit of [27/28] absolution, to engage in prayer and praise and thanksgiving, and to hear the sacred scriptures read by one of God's ambassadors. And now that you have dedicated an altar to the Lord, may he put it into your hearts, while you hunger and thirst after righteousness, to offer continually unto him thereon the pure offering spoken of by Malachi, and to long after the habitual reception of that heavenly nourishment by which your spiritual life is to be supported and strengthened. Oh how much is it to be wished that we would all still use the language of St Ambrose--that we would all arrange our worldly business in such a manner as to enable us to consecrate a portion of each succeeding day to the worship of God in his own house--and that the apostolical practice of weekly communion were universally restored throughout our Church. Then might we expect to see the work of transformation carried forward in our hearts with energy and power. Then might we hope to find the blessing of the Lord descend more plentifully upon our Zion--making us to be the light of the land in which we dwell, and fitting us for the enjoyment of our inheritance which is above. For the ordinances of the sanctuary are all wells of salvation to us; they speak to our souls of the Spirit's power and of the Spirit's holiness. Those who resort to them habitually as the channels of divine grace with humble and contrite hearts are well aware of the great truth which I am now advancing. They know well how, amidst human frailty and worldly temptation, their spiritual energies are there recruited--and how they are enabled, in the strength of their Divine Master, to renounce the world and to present their bodies a living sacrifice unto God. The Spirit's renewing influence descends upon them; and while he enlightens the mind, he also purifies the heart. They taste and see that the Lord is good in the victory which he strengthens them to obtain over the allurements of sin--in the possession of that peace which passeth all understanding--in the meekness and submission with which they are empowered to endure bereavement and [28/29] affliction--in the hope of glory which they are encouraged to hold fast. They feel that he that is in them is mightier than he that is in the world--that he can guide them through all their difficulties and rescue them out of all their dangers--that he is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart, and saveth such as be of a contrite spiritthat his eye is upon them that fear Him, upon them that hope in his mercy, to deliver their souls from death, and to keep them alive in famine. Many may be their temporal afflictions, but the Lord delivereth them out of them all. The world may inflict its frown: adversity may exhaust its bitterness: family bereavement may throw a passing cloud upon the Spirit; but let come what may, blessed are those who choose the Lord for their God. When all others have forsaken them, He takes them up and clothes them with the garments of joy. He points to the glories of the Eternal City, where the wicked are not allowed to enter and molest. He bears them as it were on eagles' wings over the strife and turmoil of the world; and at last he removes them to those BLESSED habitations where the weary are at rest, and hear no more the voice of the oppressor. God grant, my brethren, that we may all belong to this happy company.
And now to the Father, &c. &c.
That the Church has made express provision for the daily celebration of divine service in the sanctuary, is a point which does not admit of dispute, however much the duty involved may in general be disregarded.
(1.) In the first place, we find the following directions in the introduction to the Prayer Book, under the title of "The Order how the Psalter is appointed to be read:--"The Psalter shall be read through once every month, as it is there appointed, both for morning and evening prayer. But in February it shall be read only to the 28th or 29th day of the month." This direction surely implies daily service. (2.) In the second place, we find the following directions in the same introduction, under the title of "The Order how the rest of Holy Scripture is appointed to be read:"--"The Old Testament is appointed for the first lessons at morning and evening prayer; so as the most part thereof will be read every year once, as in the calendar is appointed. The New Testament is appointed for the second lessons at morning and evening prayer, and shall be read over orderly every year thrice, besides the Epistles and Gospels, except the Apocalypse, out of which there are only certain proper lessons appointed upon divers feasts." These directions surely imply daily service. (3.) In the third place, we find morning prayer preceded by the following title; "The Order for Morning Prayer Daily throughout the year:" and, in like [31/32] manner, we find evening prayer preceded by a similar title, "The Order for Evening Prayer Daily throughout the year." It may farther be remarked, that every rubrical direction in the Prayer Book, which can in any way bear upon the present subject, goes to support the practice of daily service in the Church. Let the reader consult, for instance, the rubrics which respectively follow the Collects for the 1st Sunday in Advent, the Festival of St Stephen, and Ash-Wednesday. (4.) In the fourth place, we find the following directions in the introduction to the Prayer Book under the head of "Concerning the Service of the Church:"--"All Priests and Deacons are to say daily the morning and evening prayer, either privately or openly not being let by sickness, or some other urgent cause. And the curate (i. e. the incumbent) that ministereth in every parish church or chapel, being at home, and not being otherwise reasonably hindered, shall say the same in the parish church or chapel where he ministereth, and shall cause a bell to be tolled thereunto a convenient time before he begin, that the people may come to hear God's word and to pray with him." Daily service in the Church is here explicitly enjoined except in the two cases specified, viz. 1st, where the incumbent is not at home; and, 2d, where, although he be at home, there is some reasonable ground of hindrance. Now, it is not my intention to enter upon the inquiry as to what would constitute a reasonable ground of hindrance, either to the incumbent or the people complying with this charitable provision of their spiritual mother, for their instruction and edification in the ways of holiness and peace. At the same time, r I cannot avoid remarking, how very painful it is to listen to the excuses which are often given for the greater number of our places of worship being closed against the faithful from Sunday to Sunday; and I cannot shut my eyes to the fact, that the general neglect of this and such like matters, is, at the present moment, going far to shake the confidence of the more earnest-minded among the laity, [32/33] in the ministers of their own Church, whose conduct they perceive to be so much at variance with the pious rules of the Prayer Book.
NOTE B, PAGE 15.
Every vestige of testimony which has come down to us from primitive times establishes, what I believe is scarcely disputed by any one, that the holy Eucharist regularly formed the principal part of divine service on the first day of the week, throughout the whole of the Catholic Church from the very days of the Apostles; and more than this, it is certain that at first it was both the rule and the practice for all, whether clergy or laity, to receive the communion every Lord's day, except such as were unqualified for it, either as catechumens or penitents, who, for want of a due preparation, were obliged to abstain. Thus two of the apostolical canons are as follows:--"1st, If any Bishop, Presbyter, or Deacon, or any other of the clergy, does not communicate when the oblation is offered, let him shew cause why he does not; that, if it be a reasonable cause, he may be excused: but if he shew no cause, let him be excommunicated; as giving scandal to the people, and raising suspicion against him that offers. 2d, If any of the faithful come to church to hear the Scriptures read, and stay not to join in the prayers, and receive the communion, let them be excommunicated, as the authors of disorder in the Church." Other early canons might be produced to the same effect; nay it would be easy to shew that as soon as circumstances permitted, the holy Eucharist was celebrated daily in some of the more important churches. But there is reason to believe that in the 4th and 5th centuries a great declension had taken place from the piety and discipline of apostolical times. "I often observe," says St Chrysostom, the patriarch of Constantinople, who flourished during the latter part of the 4th century, "I often observe a great multitude flock [33/34] together to hear the sermon; but when the time of the holy mysteries comes, I can see few or none of them; which makes me sigh from the bottom of my heart, that when I, your fellow servant, am discoursing to you, you are ready to tread upon one another for earnestness to hear, and continue very attentive to the end; but when Christ, our common Lord and Master, is ready to appear in the holy mysteries, the church is, in a manner, empty and deserted. What pardon or excuse can be allowed for this? By this neglect you lose all the praise that is due to your diligence in hearing. If you had laid up in your hearts what I preach to you, it would retain you in the church, and prompt you to receive the holy mysteries with piety and veneration; but now, as if you were hearing one play upon an instrument, the preacher has no sooner done but ye are all gone out of the church."--Chrysos. in Hom. III. de Incompreh. Dei. Nat. When matters had arrived at this sad condition, some Councils, which considered the subject, instead of reviving the ancient discipline, merely required the laity to communicate three times a-year, viz.: at Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost, under the penalty of not being reputed Catholic Christians, if they neglected to observe this rule. Thus it was determined in the Council of Agde, about A.D. 506. In like manner, some centuries afterwards, the Council of Tours, A.D. 813, decreed, << that all laymen, who were not under the impediment of greater sins, should receive three times a-year, at least, if not more frequently." But although this regulation was made in consequence of the depravity of the times, the clergy continued to communicate, along with the devout portion of the laity, every Lord's day. As time advanced, however, matters became worse; and the corruption which the Church had received from the world was farther strengthened and confirmed by the Romish Council of Lateran, under Innocent III., which reduced the obligation of the laity to communicate to one communion in the year, viz., at the festival of Easter. [34/35] "And here we may date," says Bingham, "the utter ruin of the ancient and apostolical practice of frequent and general communions. For from this time people began to think themselves discharged of the duty of frequent communicating, and contented themselves with receiving, once a-year, at Easter, leaving their priests to communicate alone; which quickly was attended with another corruption of private and solitary masses, which usurped the room of the ancient general communions of the whole Church, one with another, and made the ancient prayers a perfect heap and mass of absurdities, whilst they prayed and gave thanks to God for the whole congregation as communicants, when there was not so much as one communicant, properly speaking, among them, but all mere spectators of the priest, pretending to act in the name of the whole Church, and communicate in pageantry, without any real communion. This was the general state of the Romish service at the time of the Reformation, except in some few collegiate churches, where (if Bona, Rer. Liturg. lib. II. c. xvii, say true,) the clergy continued to communicate with the officiating priest, according to ancient custom; without which, he confesses, it is hard to make intelligible sense of many of their prayers that are daily used in their service."--Bing. Antiq. B. xv. ch. ix. sect. 6. In this state of matters, nothing would be more difficult to restore, at the period of the Reformation, than the primitive and apostolic practice of weekly communion; and such was found to be the case.
We shall now enquire what provision is made on the subject of the present note by the Church in Scotland at the present day. In the first place, then, it is to be remarked that she contemplates a weekly celebration of the holy Eucharist,--nay, even a daily celebration,--when the piety of her members shall lead them to ask for this. For she has provided an altar service for every Sunday in the year; stating also, "that the Collect, Epistle and Gospel appointed for the Sunday shall serve all the week [35/36] after, where it is not in this book otherwise ordered." Now the Collect, Epistle, and Gospel being part of the communion office, this provision for using them through the week is tantamount to a provision for the daily use of the communion office; and if this be so, then it surely follows that the holy communion maybe celebrated every day. The title of the communion office is "The order of the Administration of the Lord's Supper, or Holy Communion,"--a title which, doubtless, implies that so often as the priest goes to the altar, the object of the Church in sending him there, is that he may celebrate the blessed Eucharist. The cases referred to as being otherwise ordered in respect of Collects, Epistles and, Gospels, are the various festivals which occur throughout the year on week days, and each one of which has a special Collect, Epistle, and Gospel of its own. Again, daily communion appears to be fully contemplated by what is stated in some of the directions contained in the communion office. For instance, the proper preface for Christmas Day is preceded by this direction for its use: "Upon CHRISTMAS DAY, and seven days after." The preface for Easter Day is to be used on that day, and seven days after; the preface for Ascension Day is to be used on that day, and seven days after; the preface for Whitsunday is to be used on that day, and six days after; while the preface for Trinity Sunday is to be used "upon the feast of Trinity only." With such provisions then for weekly,--nay, even daily communion,--is there any thing which stands in the way of the administration of the Lord's Supper regularly on the first day of the week, and on the other festivals? There is no ground of hindrance that seems approved by the Church, but the want of communicants. "There shall be no celebration of the Lord's Supper, except there be a convenient number to communicate with the priest, according to his discretion. And if there be not above twenty persons in the parish of discretion to receive the communion, yet, there shall be no communion, except [36/37] four, (or three at the least,) communicate with the priest." In certain cases where the ground of hindrance here referred to is not supposed to be capable of existing, weekly communion is peremptorily ordered:--"In cathedral and collegiate churches and colleges, where there are many Priests and Deacons, they shall all receive the Communion with the Priest, every Sunday at the least, except they have a reasonable cause to the contrary." See rubrics at the end of the communion office. Not only has the Church made provision, as above set forth, for the habitual celebration of the holy Eucharist; but she has also put it in the power of the laity to apply for their spiritual food to the priest at all times. "So many," says the first rubric at the commencement of the communion office, "as intend to be partakers of the holy communion, shall signify their names to the curate at least some time the day before." The day before what? Surely the day before any Sunday for instance, as the communion may be celebrated every Sunday. I am quite aware that there are other rubrics which specially apply to cases where there is no weekly communion: cases for which it was necessary that the Church should provide, seeing that there might be congregations, in which not even three or four persons would be found at times desirous of coming to that heavenly feast which the Divine Redeemer has prepared for his people, and where, therefore, there could be no communion, as the priest is not allowed to communicate alone. Happy, thrice happy would it be for the Church, were such congregations the exceptions to the general rule; and who can tell that they are not the exceptions, until weekly communion, after being solemnly and earnestly brought under the notice of the baptised, as their greatest privilege on this side of the grave, shall be distinctly set at naught?
 NOTE C, PAGE 15.
Nothing is more perplexing in the present day, than the manner in which many persons, professing to belong to the Church, estimate the duty of fasting. They speak of it as if it were necessarily connected with the doctrine of human merit, and are ready to treat those who seek its aid, as the enemies of David treated him, "when I wept and chastened my soul with fasting," says he, "that was to my reproach. I made sackcloth also my garment; and I became a proverb to them. They that sit in the gate speak against me," Psalms, xix. 10-12. Surely no duty is more prominently brought forward in the New Testament than fasting. See among other places, Matt. vi. 16, I 8; ix. 15; xvii. 20, 21. Acts, x. 30; xiii. 2, 3; xiv. 23. 1 Cor. vii. 5; ix. 27. 2 Cor. vi. 5. Let us now enquire then, what the Church in Scotland prescribes on this subject.
1st, As to the abstract duty of fasting, we may refer generally to the 4th Homily of the Second Book of Homilies, which is said, in the 35th article, to "contain a godly and wholesome doctrine." Its title is, "A Homily of Good Works, and first, of Fasting," Towards the beginning of it we read these words: "This good work, which now shall be entreated of, is fasting, which is found in the scriptures to be of two sorts; the one outward, pertaining to the body; the other inward, in the heart and mind. This outward fasting is an abstinence from meat, drink, and all natural food, yea from all delicious pleasures and delectations worldly." The Homily goes on to point out how fasting was observed by the Jews, both according to the express command of God, and by the appointment of their governors, and then proceeds:--"But if any man will say, it is true, so they fasted indeed: but we are not now under that yoke of the law; we are set at liberty by the freedom of the gospel; [38/39] therefore those rites and customs of the old law bind not us, except it can be shewed by the scriptures of the New Testament, or by examples out of the same, that fasting now under the gospel is a restraint of meat, drink, and all bodily food and pleasures from the body, as before. First, that we ought to fast is a truth more manifest than that it should here need to be proved; the scriptures, which teach the same, are evident. The doubt therefore that is, is, whether, when we fast, we ought to withhold from our bodies all meat and drink during the time of our fast or no? That we ought so to do, may be well gathered upon a question moved by the Pharisees to Christ, and by his answer again to the same," Luke, v. 33-35.--Again, after commenting on the question and answer here referred to, the Homily thus proceeds: `° Fasting, then, even by Christ's assent, is a withholding of meat, drink and all natural food from the body for the determined time of fasting. And that it was used in the primitive Church appeareth most evidently by the Chalcedon Council, one of the four first general Councils. The Fathers assembled there to the number of 630, considering with themselves, how acceptable a thing fasting is unto God, when it is used according to his word; again, having before their eyes also, the great abuses of the same crept into the Church at those days, through the negligence of them which should have taught the people the right use thereof, and by vain glosses devised of men; to reform the said abuses, and to restore this, so good and godly a work to the true use thereof, decreed in that council, that every person, as well in his private as public fast, should continue all the day without meat and drink, till after the evening prayer. ****** Fasting, then, by the decree of those 630 Fathers, grounding their determination in this matter upon the sacred scriptures, and long-continued usage or practice, both of the prophets and other godly persons before the coming of Christ, and also of the Apostles and other devout men in the New [39/40] Testament, is a withholding of meat, drink, and all natural food from the body for the determined time of fasting. Thus much is spoken hitherto to make plain unto you what fasting is."
(2.) We have in the next place to consider, whether the Church in this country requires her members to fast at any stated times appointed by her: and surely there can be no room for any doubt upon this subject; for in the beginning of the Book of Common Prayer, we find a particular table, called C6 A Table of the Vigils, Fasts and Days of Abstinence, to be observed in the year," the various days of which the clergy are commanded to announce to the people on the Lord's Day, at the end of the Nicene Creed, as they respectively recur: "Then the curate shall declare unto the people what holy days, or fasting days, are in the week following to be observed." Besides the ordinary public fasts of the Church mentioned in the table just referred to, private individuals may use their discretion as they please in fasting at other times, as, for instance, when they are about to receive the holy Eucharist; and the propriety of this may be strongly inferred from the circumstance, that fasting is recommended to adults who are about to receive the initiatory sacrament of the gospel.--See first rubric at the beginning of the Baptismal Office for adults.
(3.) In the third place, it is to be remarked, that those who neglect the duty of fasting, act in a way strangely contrary to the way in which they profess with their own mouths to act. On Ash-Wednesday, the first day of the great annual or Lent fast, for instance, they thus address God: "Turn thou us, O good Lord, and so shall we be turned. Be favourable, O Lord, be favourable to thy people, who turn to thee in weeping, FASTING and praying, &e.:" And in the Collect for the Sunday immediately thereafter, they say, "O Lord, who for our sake didst fast forty days and forty nights, give us grace to use such abstinence, that our flesh being subdued to the [40/41] spirit, we may ever obey thy godly motions in righteous.. ness and true holiness." If we use this language then, without having any intention to practise fasting, how can we free ourselves from the charge of hypocrisy?
To the large class of individuals who, in this luxurious and self-seeking age, may be disposed to ask what are the practical advantages of fasting, let the first part of the Homily, previously quoted, supply the answer: "There be three ends whereunto, if our fast be directed, it is then a work profitable to us, and accepted of God. The first is to chastise the flesh, that it be not too wanton, but tamed and brought in subjection to the Spirit," 1 Cor. ix. 27. "The second, that the spirit may be more earnest and fervent to prayer," Acts, xiii. 2, 3, and xiv. 23. "The third, that our fast be a testimony and witness with us, before God, of our humble submission to his High Majesty, when we confess and acknowledge our sins unto Him, and are inwardly touched with sorrowfulness of heart, bewailing the same in the affliction of our bodies."
NOTE D, PAGE 16.
It might have been added that many, besides considering themselves qualified to sit as judges of doctrine, speak and act as if they had a right to controul the clergy as to the manner of conducting divine service in the house of God; and such being the case, the most charitable conclusion which can be formed respecting their conduct in this respect is, that they are not acquainted with the very peremptory language of our 28th canon, the first part of which is as follows: "As in all the ordinary parts of divine service it is necessary to fix by authority the precise form, from which no Bishop, Presbyter or Deacon, shall be at liberty to depart, by his own alterations or insertions, lest such liberty should produce consequences destructive of decency and order, it is hereby enacted, that [41/42] in the performance of morning and evening service, the words and rubrical directions of the English Liturgy shall be strictly adhered to: "The canon of which this is a part, is a revised canon of the last General Synod of the Scottish Church--the Synod of Edinburgh A. D. 1838; and the words printed in italics were then incorporated with it.
NOTE E, PAGE 16.
By restoring the primitive faith, I mean boldly proclaiming that system of doctrine which was maintained by the Catholic Fathers and ancient Bishops, in all its fullness, and as it has been received by our own branch of the Church. And those who profess to do this must expect at the present time to have their motives and principles suspected in no ordinary degree. They will be freely told that they are setting aside the word of God to make way for the devices of men--that they are shewing the utmost contempt for the Reformation--and that, sooner or later, they are sure to become Romanists, if they be not so already. "What care we for the Fathers? What are the Fathers to us?" is the language of the persons who bring these charges. Now we cannot doubt that in the great generality of cases, it is the total want of any thing like serious consideration which makes people speak after this fashion. They have been taught very likely from their earliest infancy, to grow up in the foolish prejudice that the Fathers were Romanists, and that therefore it is necessary to sneer at them and decry their authority; and in addition to this they have most probably been encouraged in fostering a spirit of self-conceit as to their own powers of discerning the truth. Now comes the important question, what do the Scottish and English branches of the Church say upon this subject? The Scottish Church has pronounced her verdict in her 13th canon, in which the clergy are earnestly recommended to apply themselves diligently to the study not only of the [42/43] Holy Scriptures, but also "of the writings of the Fathers of the apostolic and two next succeeding ages"--"that they may be able in their sermons, and otherwise, to instruct the people under their charge in the truly Catholic principles of that pure and primitive Church." And the language of the Church of England is to the same effect; for one of the canons of the English Convocation of 1571--(the Convocation at which the thirty-nine articles were finally confirmed)--enacts, that preachers "shall in the first place be careful never to teach any thing from the pulpit, to be religiously held and believed by the people, but what is agreeable to the doctrine of the Old and New Testament, and collected out of that very doctrine by the Catholic Fathers and ancient Bishops." Now it is to be remarked that there is no intention by either of these canons to place the authority of the ancient Fathers in competition with that of the word of God, but only to suppress the private and unlicensed interpretations of modern Divines. "The contrast in point of authority," as has been well remarked, "is not between Holy Scripture and the Fathers, but between the Fathers and us; not between the book interpreted and the interpreters, but between one class of interpreters and another; BETWEEN ANCIENT CATHOLIC TRUTH AND MODERN PRIVATE OPINIONS; not between the word of God and the word of man, but between varying modes of understanding the word of God." The canons just quoted simply recognise the truth of what was stated by the great Apostle of the Gentiles, when he described the Church of the living God as the pillar and ground of the truth;--a pillar on which that faith which was once revealed to the saints was written in large and capital letters, and where it is still to be clearly discerned and separated from the error and superstition which the great adversary of man endeavoured, in subsequent ages, to incorporate with it as part of the original proclamation. Let us only attend to the truly Catholic teaching of primitive times; and the longer we live, the more we shall see how much reason [43/44] we have to thank God for vouchsafing to us to be born and nurtured in a Church so nearly conformable to the apostolic standard, as contrasted with the Churches of the Roman obedience. We may, no doubt, discover that our system is defective in a few matters of ancient ceremonial, which it might perhaps have been well had we retained; but in no respect do we fall short of the ancient faith, or of any thing which is really important to our spiritual well-being, as members of the body of Christ. Let us only carry out the Church system as laid down in our authoritative formularies and rules,--looking faithfully to the Lord and not to man, for the increase of the fold,--and then we shall receive abundant blessing at the hands of our God.
NOTE F, PAGE 18.
It is extremely painful sometimes to observe the irreverence with which the house of God is treated, by persons professing to come there to worship the Most High. Entering its holy gates with a thoughtless and unbecoming demeanour, they may be found in their pews laughing and talking with each other about the most frivolous matters up to the very moment that divine service is commenced; and the blessing is no sooner pronounced, than they renew the same unhallowed occupations. During the celebration of the service, even, they may be seen lounging in their pews, as if they were quite indifferent about the work of the Sanctuary, and had come there merely to satisfy the expectations of their friends and acquaintances. Now, such persons would do well to remember that it would be far better for them not to come at all to meet the Lord in his own temple, than to come with hearts unprepared, and minds unsolemnised for the service of Jehovah; for they can not only derive no advantage to themselves, but they are doing what must serve to increase their condemnation; and, it may be, that their [44/45] external irreverence is highly calculated to discompose the feelings of those who have come to worship their incarnate God in spirit and in truth. Such conduct can only be accounted for by the utter want of deep religious feeling; for surely, did people come to present themselves as suppliants before the throne of grace, for those blessings which Christ has purchased for all men with his own blood--did they believe, both with the heart and with the understanding, that Christ is present in his own house, by his Holy Spirit, to bless and to sanctify the faithful gathered together in his name--were they duly impressed with the awfully solemn character of those things which are transacted at the font and at the altar; they would come to the holy mount clothed in the garments of penitential reverence and godly fear--they would enter the sacred courts with an appropriate lowliness of spirit--they would kneel down as before Him who is the judge of quick and dead--they would banish entirely for a season the world and all its engrossing concerns, and their prayer would be, "Come, Lord Jesu; come, thou helper of the helpless, our only refuge in the time of trouble. Come, that we may touch but the hem of thy garment, and we shall be made whole."
It is perhaps scarcely necessary to state, that in primitive times, the house of God was ever treated with that respect which belongs to it as such. According to a very general custom, the ancient Christians used to wash their hands and their face before entering, in token of that innocency and purity which become the servants of the Redeemer--fountains and cisterns of water being commonly set in the court before the Church for this very purpose; and in some places, they also put off their shoes from off their feet, according to that intimation of reverence which was given to Moses, "Put off thy shoes from off thy feet; for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground." It appears also, that from a very early period, they made a lowly obeisance at entering, in the direction [45/46] of the altar--the most sacred part, so to speak, of the temple--as in acknowledgment of their being now in the house of the Lord. "As to their public behaviour in the Church," says Bingham, "it was generally such as expressed great reverence for it as the sanctuary of God and the place of his immediate presence. They entered it as the palace of the great King, where the angels attended, and heaven opened itself, and Christ sat upon His throne, and all was filled with incorporeal powers, as Chrysostom words it, in some of his elegant descriptions. It is particularly remarked by Gregory Nazianzen of his own mother, Nonna; that the zeal of her devotion was always so flaming and fervent, that she never spake a word in the Church, but what was necessary to be done in joining in the sacred service; she never turned her back upon the altar, nor ever allowed herself to spit upon the pavement of the Church." Bingh. Chr. Antiq. b. viii. ch. x. sect. 11.
As the members of the Church in Scotland ought to be acquainted with what she requires in reference to the subject of this note, I shall now quote her 29th canon, which is as follows: "It is hereby decreed that all proper care be taken of the places of public worship in this Church, and every endeavour used to have them decent and commodious, kept thoroughly clean and in good repair, and that they be used only for sacred and religious purposes. In the time of divine service the most devout attention shall be given by the people to what is read, preached, or ministered. Arid, that they may glorify God in body as well as in spirit, agreeably to what an Apostle enjoins, they shall humbly kneel when the General Confession, the Litany, and other prayers are read, making the appointed responses with an audible voice, in a grave and serious manner; and shall reverently stand up at the repetition of the Creed, and at the reading or singing of the psalms, hymns, or anthems; bowing devoutly at the name of Jesus in the Creed: and when the minister mentions the Gospel for the day, [46/47] the people, rising up, shall devoutly say or sing, (where the custom hath so been,) 'GLORY BE TO THEE, O GOD.' And, in like manner, when the minister declares the Holy Gospel to be ended, they shall answer, ' THANKS BE TO THEE, O LORD, FOR THIS THY GLORIOUS GOSPEL.' During the time of divine service, no person shall depart out of the place of worship without some urgent and reasonable cause." This canon, it will be remarked, only professes to regulate the conduct of the people during the time of divine service, as its very title also shews, viz., "Canon xxix., enjoining all due reverence and attention in time of divine service." Such being the case, they are left to express their reverence, to the best of their ability, at entering the house of God, and retiring from it; and how can they do this so well, as through the solemn obeisance which was practised in the ancient Church towards the altar. If it be considered appropriate in people who enter the House of Peers, to make an obeisance towards the throne, as the seat of the sovereign, it is surely much more appropriate on entering the palace of the King of Kings to recognise his glorious Majesty by a similar act. In pursuing this course they have not only the example of the ancient Christians, but also a canon of the Church in England to guide them. The canon here referred to is the 7th canon of 1640, which contains these words; "Whereas the Church is the house of God, dedicated to his holy worship, and, therefore, ought to mind us both of the greatness and goodness of his divine Majesty; certain it is that the acknowledgment thereof, not only inwardly in our hearts, but also outwardly with our bodies, must needs be pious in itself; profitable unto us, and edifying unto others: We therefore think it very meet and behoveful, and heartily commend it to all good and well affected people, members of this Church, that they be ready to tender unto the Lord the said acknowledgment, by doing reverence and obeisance, both at their coming in and going out of the said churches, [47/48] chancels or chapels, according to the most ancient custom of the primitive Church in the purest times, and of this Church also for many years of the reign of Queen Elizabeth. The reviving, therefore, of this ancient and laudable custom we heartily commend to the serious consideration of all good people, not with any intention to exhibit any religious worship to the communion table, the east, or church, or any thing therein contained, in so doing, or to perform the said gesture in the celebration of the holy Eucharist, upon any opinion of a corporal presence of the body of Jesus Christ on the holy table, or in mystical elements, but only for the advancement of God's Majesty, and to give Him alone that honour and glory that is due unto Him, and no otherwise; and, in the practice or mumission of this rite, we desire that the rule of charity prescribed by the Apostle may be observed, which is, that they which use this rite despise not them who use it not: and that they who use it not, condemn not those who use it."