תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

sin, and which attend them in this earthly pilgrimage. And not only sin and sorrow shall be banished from heaven, but the righteous shall there enter on the highest pleasures that they are capable of enjoying. Their understandings shall be enlightened with the knowledge of God, the most perfect and excellent Being, the source and fountain of all truth; their wills shall be vigorously employed in choosing and embracing God, the supreme good, and their affections shall be exercised upon him, the fountain of perfection and bliss. From the vision of the glory of God, from the admiration of his excellences, from the love of his perfections, we shall be transformed into his likeness, both in the purity and spirituality of our souls; and shall thus become partakers of the everlasting and ineffable bliss of God himself. To see our glorified Redeemer, him who has done and suffered so much for us to see him face to face, exalted at the right hand of God; to share in the society of all the great and good men whom we have admired and loved, and of all those Christian friends with whom we have been connected in the strong ties of affection, will raise in us the highest transports of joy and pleasure. And the bliss of the righteous shall never have an end; through the ceaseless ages of eternity it will continue and increase; the praise and adoration of the ever blessed Jehovah, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, will be the everlasting employment of the blest in the kingdom above.

Q. How is the example of the saints suited to our imitation ?

A. The saints were mere men, clothed with the same imperfect nature, and subject to the same unruly passions with ourselves, and were exposed to the same difficulties which now assail us. Since they obtained the victory over sin and temptation, the same victory is certainly attainable by us; for we have the same almighty grace, the same divine promises, the same hallowed sacraments, to strengthen and console us, by which they were enabled to attain the exalted heights of holiness and virtue. The example of the saints, therefore, by affording a lively exhibition of the excellence and beauty of virtue, and of its encouragements and rewards, tends powerfully to animate and assist us in our Christian course.

Q. Since example has so great influence, is it not of the first importance that we be careful in the choice of company?

A. Solomon has long since observed, that " he that walketh with wise men shall be wise, but the companion of fools

[ocr errors]

shall be destroyed." If we wish to make any progress in piety, we must frequent the society of those who are eminent examples of it; and avoid as much as possible the company of those who make a mock at sin. In the intercourse of the world, we must indeed too often associate with those whose conduct is not regulated by the principles of piety and virtue; but our intimate companions and friends should be those only who “ adorn the doctrine of God in all things;" those who are sincere and upright Christians.

Q. Is it not the duty of the young especially, to pay particular regard to the choice of their company ?

A. It is of importance that all good Christians should be particular in the choice of company. The contagion of vice is so powerful, that our greatest security consists in keeping at a distance from it; and the frailty of virtue is so great, that it is hazardous to expose it to the shock of temptation. But young persons ought to pay the most scrupulous attention to the choice of company. Their happiness, both temporal and eternal, depends in a great measure upon the company with whom they associate. The habits of virtue can only be acquired and strengthened by the imitation of good examples, by which also we shall be excited and strengthened to resist the allurements of vice. Vicious society and example will tend to weaken the sentiments of virtue, to lessen our abhorrence of vice, and to lead us on from one step to another, till, at last, we fearlessly pursue the career of vice and folly.

Q. What instruction may we derive from the observation of this festival ?

A. We should be excited to bless God for the powerful aids and encouragements which he affords us in the practice of virtue, by the good examples of his saints, whose memories we should honour, and whose piety and virtue we should thankfully commemorate. If we follow steadfastly the good example of those “ who, through faith and patience, inherit the promises," we shall be finally translated into their blest society, and be made partakers of their glorious rewards. « For if we have our fruit unto holiness, the end will be everlasting life.”

g Prov. xiil. 20.

Z

CHAPTER XLVII.

EMBER DAYS.

FASTS.

Q. What are the Ember Days ?

A. The Ember Days are certain days set apart for consecrating to God the four seasons of the year; and for imploring his blessing, by fasting and prayer, upon the ordinations performed in the Church at those times.

It was the prac. tice of the apostles, when they set apart persons for the work of the ministry, to pray and fast before they laid on their hands. It will become us, therefore, to address Heaven at this time after the same manner; that God would be pleased so to govern the minds of the Bishops, that they may admit none into holy orders but those who are duly qualified for the discharge of that sacred function; and that those who shall be ordained to serve at the altar, may, by their exemplary lives and zealous labours, turn many to righte

Qusness.

Q. When are these Ember Days observed in the Church?

A. The Ember Days are observed at the four seasons of the year, being the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday after the first Sunday in Lent, after Whit-Sunday, after the four.' teenth of September, and after the thirteenth of December. The Sundays immediately following these days being the stated times of ordination appointed by the Church.

Q. Why are these fasts called Ember Days ?

A. There have been many conjectures about the origin of this name. Emb, or Embe, in Saxon, signifies a course or circuit; Embehtan, to administer, and Embehtman, a minister. Ember Weeks may, therefore, signify the periodical times for appointing ministers.

Q. Why was the ordination of ministers fixed at these seasons ?

A. The ordination of ministers was perhaps fixed at these seasons, first, that as all the people are concerned in the or. daining of a fit clergy, so all may have an opportunity of joining in fasting and prayer for the direction and blessing of God; secondly, that both Bishops and Clergy, knowing the time, may prepare themselves for this great work; and, lastly, that the people, knowing the times, may, if they

please, be present, either to approve the choice made by the Bishop, or to object against those whom they know to be un. worthy."

CHAPTER XLVIII.

All FRIDAYS in the YEAR.

FASTS,

Q.

What weekly fast is enjoined by the Church ?

A. The Church enjoins as fasts all Fridays in the year, except Christmas-Day; which, though it fall upon a Friday, is celebrated as a day of rejoicing.

Q. Why was Friday celebrated as a day of fasting?

A. The primitive Church observed Friday as a fast in commemoration of our Saviour's sufferings, who was crucified on this day of the week. On no day can we with more propriety humble ourselves on account of our sins, than on that when the blessed Jesus humbled himself even to the death upon the cross for us, miserable sinners.

Q. In what manner should we observe this day?

A. We should on this day (as the Church directs us) use < such a measure of abstinence as is inore especially suited to extraordinary acts and exercises of devotion." "Besides attending the public prayers of the Church, we should enlarge our private devotions, and employ some part of the day in the serious examination of our hearts and lives, comparing them impartially with the laws of God, searching out and acknowledging our sins both of omission and commission.

Q. What are the considerations which should excite us to a thorough and impartial examination of ourselves ?

A. When we are inquiring into the state of our minds, we should recollect that we are in the presence of God, to whom our most secret thoughts are open and naked; and therefore we should impartially compare our most secret actions by the standard of his laws; for though we may impose upon ourselves and others, we cannot deceive an omniscient God. We should consider also, that we must soon appear

* The substance of the chapters in the original work of Nelson, on the Ember Days, will be found in the present work, in the preliminary instructions on the Church.

before the dreadful tribunal of God, to render an account of all our thoughts, words, and actions. And we should endeavour to escape the terrors of that awful trial, by frequently reviewing our hearts and lives, and confessing our sins to God, that we may obtain, by repentance, his mercy and favour, through the prevailing intercession of his Son Jesus Christ.

Q. In what manner should this examination be performed ?

4. We should supplicate the grace of God to enlighten us in the knowledge of ourselves, to expose to us our own unworthiness and guilt. We should try ourselves by some of the leading principles and duties of religion-Whether we have frequent and serious thoughts of God whether we view with lively gratitude and faith, the exalted plan of salvation through his Son Jesus Christ-whether we cherish firm and lively resolutions of obeying him whether we constantly perform the duties of public and private worship, and serve God with diligence and devotion-whether we discharge faithfully the duties of that station in which we are placed, both in reference to the public and our own private families-- whether we are active and zealous in doing all the good in our power to the bodies and souls of men-in short, whether the service of God be our supreme aim and highest enjoyment. We should also consider the several aggravations of our transgressions--whether they were committed against the light of our minds, with the free consent of our wills, and in despite of the checks of our own conscience-whether they have been often repeated, and are transient acts or settled habits. And we should carefully note the previous steps by which we have been led into sin, and the peculiar infirmity of our own character, that we may, for the future, be on our guard against temptation.

Q. Should we not engage in self-examination every evening?

A. We should every evening direct to our own consciences such inquiries as the following: How have we spent the day? What sins have we committed ? What duties have we omitted? Have we regularly performed the duties of public and private devotion ? Have we embraced every opportunity which offered of doing good? Has our intercourse with others been marked with candour and affability ? Have we avoided the vices of evil-speaking and slander, the bane of society? Havo we conducted our business with honesty

« הקודםהמשך »