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THE SEVENTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY.
Lord of all power and might, who art the author and giver of all good things; graft in our hearts the love of thy name, increase in us true religion, nourish us with all goodness, and of thy great mercy keep us in the same, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
VERY one who “knoweth the grace of God
“ in truth,” will be anxious to obtain a further acquaintance with it, conformably to St. Peter's exhortation to “grow in grace and in the “ knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus " Christ." He cannot be satisfied with the measure which he hath attained; but this “one thing" will be predominant in his mind, to "apprehend " that for which also he is apprehended of Christ “ Jesus.” For he will perceive that there are in Christ “upsearchable riches" which he can never exhaust, and a boundless fulness of grace which he can never explore; and that “the treasures " of wisdom and knowledge” which “are hid in “ Him” will be progressively opening to the view of the blessed through all eternity. Here he discovers a species of covetousness and ambition which is laudable and of good report, which cannot be indulged with too much freedom, and which will never disappoint its most eager votaries.
That a growing acquaintance with the power of Godliness is the one great object of desire to an awakened mind, appears from the devqut
breathings of holy men, whose memoirs are recorded in the word of God, and who have therein expressed the genuine feelings of the converted heart. If either the Old Testament or the New be examined with a view to ascertain the tendency of the affections in every believing soul, it will appear, from the devotional language of the * Psalms, and the fervent prayers which are interspersed through the epistolary writings of the Apostles both for themselves and their converts, that the heart of a true Christian is habitually on the stretch for further discoveries of redeeming love, closer intercourse with God, and a fuller conformity to His glorious image. The Christian's mind may indeed be engaged about a thousand less important things, which require some attention from day to day during his abode in the present world; but the predominant solicitude of his breast is, that he “ may be filled with all the “ fulness of God." The awakened soul, like the caterpillar at the crisis of its transformation, is úneasy and struggles for “ the glorious liberty of " the sons of God.” He is a candidate for perfection; and till it be obtained, the pursuit of it is his
great concern. The Scripture addresses man as a rational creature. It appeals to his hopes and fears, his
present happiness and his future expectations, for the purpose of exciting him to energy and action in his heavenly course.
But its exhortations do not suppose him to be self-sufficient, or able of himself and by his own strength to comply with its requisitions. Yet there is no absurdity in its exhortations, inasmuch as there is a throne of grace to which he may apply, and where he may obtain help in the prosecution of his great work. Thither the conscious mind will repair, convinced
of it own imbecility, and meet with no disappoin ment of its expectations; while the impenitent, careless, and self-sufficient soul will be justly punished for neglecting the great salvation.
Our present collect consists of an introduction, which acknowledges God to be the author and giver of all good things — and of a prayer for grace, branched off into four petitions.
In the introduction of our collect we address the adorable object of our worship as the “ Lord “ of all power and might.”. This address corresponds with the prayer that follows it, wherein we implore blessings which Omnipotence only can bestow. In asking favours which are out of the reach of finite ability, the mind cannot exercise faith in God without reflecting on His almighty power. That nothing is impossible with God is the comfort of a sinner who feels corruption to be interwoven with every fibre of his frame, and who has proved the inefficiency of his own strength for his salvation. And therefore, while this awful attribute of Deity, Omnipotence, is a subject full of terror to the impenitent sinner who can claim no interest in the Divine favour; it is, in conjunction with the other perfections of the Godhead, the only and allsufficient source of consolation to a believer, who, being reconciled to God through Jesus Christ, can avouch Jehovah to be his God. Let the Christian reader meditate much and often on the Omnipotence of God, who is “able to do exceeding abundantly above all " that we ask or think." Let him remember that how many soever be the impediments that obstruct his salvation, despair is altogether unreasonable, since God is engaged for him.
It is the privilege of the Christian believer to contemplate the revelation which Jehovah hath
made of Himself-to say with the Psalmist, “God
mercy belong to God,” both being of infinite extent, and acting in perfect unison for the benefit of all who fly to God as their refuge. In the belief of this truth the guilty conscience, the burthened heart, and the tempted soul, may find relief. Does the reader find himself like a shipwrecked mariner, who has been tossed so long on the waves, and is so bruised by their violence, that he is unable to reach the rock which mercy has provided for his rescue? Does he find that, when he approaches it and endeavours to lay hold of it and to climb its steep ascent, his weakness is so great that he is washed off again by the next returning wave of temptation ? Let him remember that God is "Lord of all power and might,” and that His hand reached out can effect what human weakness can never accomplish. Does another of Zion's mourners complain of “ sin " that dwelieth in him” as being yet vigorous and unsubdued ? Is he ready to fear that its destruction is impossible ? Let him remember that
power belongeth unto God.” Does the hideous roar terrify him? Let him mark the strength of that chain and the power of that arm by which the monster is confined. Doth he feel that he is ready to faint by the way, and fear lest he should never reach to his journey's end? Let him look to “ the Lord of all power and might,” who will
< endue him with strength in his soul” sufficient for his necessities according to the faithful promises of Scripture.
We proceed to ascribe to God the production and donation “of all good things." As creatures and as “new creatures in Christ Jesus," we owe whatever good we now possess, and shall owe whatever good we receive hereafter, to His almighty and all gracious hand.
" He made us, " and not we ourselves;" He gave us the powers and faculties which we possess, and He continues to bestow on us all the comforts of life which we enjoy. But our collect speaks more particularly of the blessings of redemption, as appears by the petitions which the preface introduces. And here “ all things are” indeed “ of God, who hath " reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ.” God is “ the author of all good things,” for His own arm wrought salvation for us. We had neither the will nor power to accomplish the vast undertaking nor any part of it, and no creature could afford us any help in the work. Atonement for sin, and obedience to the law, were things equally out of our power to perform. Abandoned to ourselves we must have Jain down in despair, and have made our bed in hell. « But God who “ is rich in mercy, for the great love where " with He loved us," became the author of all
good things” for the benefit of a lost world. Whatever is good, calculated to promote His own glory or our happiness, He hath provided in the gospel of which He drew the stupendous plan, and executed the dread conditions by His own power and might, independent of aid from any creature.
As God is “the Author," so also He is the “ Giver of all good things." In conversion and