« הקודםהמשך »
bers of God's kingdom ?' for Jesus himself hath assured us, except one be born of water and of the spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." And therefore it was the constant custom of the primitive church to administer baptism to infants for the remission of sins. And this praetice was esteemed, by the best tradition, to be derived from the Apostles themselves.
Q. Why was Jesus Christ circumcised, who was holy and without sin?
A. That he might thereby be esteemed the son of Abraham, and be the better qualified to do good among his countrymen the Jews, by bearing this mark of distinction which they so much valued, as to despise those that wanted it; and that he might fulfil the whole law, and shew that he came to bear the punishment due to our sins, and to expiate them with his blood.
Q. What name was given unto the son of God when he was circumcised?
A. The imposing a name being one of the circumstances that attended circumcision, even from the first institution of it, as many think, our Lord was then called Jesus, according to the direction of the angel before he was conceived in the womb :' and the reason of it is given by the angel, because he should save his people from their sins."
Q. What is implied in his saving us from our sins ?
A. That by his death he should deliver us from the punishment due to sin, and reconcile us to God, and that by his grace he should deliver us from the power and dominion of sin, by enabling us to repent of it, and to mortify it.
Q. Is the name of Jesus worthy of all honour ?
Deut. xxix. 11. John iii. 5. Luke i. 31. * Mat. i. 21.
A. At the very name of Jesus every knee shall bow. The bowing of the knee was counted a testimony of reverence;" and it was very honourable to exhibit such marks of respect, not only to such as were present, but to such as were absent, upon the mentioning of their names. And it was the custom of the world, in several religions, to express some kind of reverence when that which they acknowledged for their God was named.
Q. What has the church enjoined when we hear that holy name n'entioned in time of divine service ?
A. That due and lowly reverence shall be done by all persons present, as has been accustomed ; testifying by these outward ceremonies and gestures, their inward humility, Christian resolution, and due acknowledgment, that the Lord Jesus Christ, the true and eternal Son of God, is the only Saviour of the world.
Q. What may we learn from the observation of this Festival?
A. The necessity of spiritual circumcision, or the change of the heart and life, which our Lord hath made the condition of salvation ; in order to which, the mortifying our corrupt affections and sinful lusts is necessary. It teaches us also great humility of soul, whereby we should be ready to sacrifice our reputation rather than neglect our duty; after our Saviour's example, who, in order to fulfil the will of God, took upon him not only the form of a servant, but the appearance of a sinner.
Q. What is farther implied in spiritual circumcision?
A. The retrenching our temporal enjoyments, the weaning our affections from the world, and placing them upon heaven, and all those things whereby we may obtain the favour of God. It denotes a strict government of
Gen. xli. 43.
our sensual appetites, a total abstinence from all forbidden pleasures, and an utter detestation of such sinful satisfactions; and even when they are lawful, that they be not pursued with eagerness and excess : and it farther imports a readiness of mind to know our duty, and what it is God requires from us, and a sincere disposition to comply with and obey it.
What should the beginning of the new year suggest to us?
A. The great value of time, which God hath given us for working out our salvation ; upon the spending whereof depends our happiness or misery to all eternity; the consideration whereof should put us upon all those methods whereby we may employ it to the best advantage.
Q. What makes time so very valuable, and why ought we to have so great a regard to the managing of it?
A. Because there is so little of it at our disposal : what is past is slipt from us; the future is uncertain ; the present is all we can call our own, which is yet continually fleeting. And though the season of working is so very short and uncertain, yet we bave an affair of the greatest consequence to secure, 'vhich requires the whole force and vigour of our minds, the labour and industry of all our days, not to be dispatched with any tolerable comfort upon a sick bed; nor in the evening of our lives, when our strength and our reason are departing from us. Besides, if we persist in an obstinate neglect of all the repeated tenders of God's
the things that belong to our peace may be hid from our eyes.
Q. How ought we to employ our time, that it may be improved to the best advantage ?
A. We ought to redeem that which we have mispent, by lamenting the follies which have consumed so precious
a treasure, and by admiring that great patience and goodness of God, which spared us when we deserved punishment. What we can reserve from the necessities of nature and our worldly affairs which those necessities engage us in, ought to be applied to the noblest purposes; the glory of God, the good and salvation of men. Nay, even the affairs of this life may be sanctified by considering ourselves as the instruments of providence, and by faithfully discharging the duties of our station with a regard to another world more than this. And the best method, in order to this end, is to live by rule; to assign to all our actions their proper season, and such a portion of it only as may be necessary for them; whereby time will never lie upon our hands, nor sting us with regret when it is past. Men of estates may lay hold on futurity, by founding hospitals and schools for the relief and instruction of the
dedicate their whole lives to God's service in the days of their youth ; and may make such public declarations in behalf of religion, that they may put themselves under a necessity of living virtuously, by cutting off any retreat to vanity and folly.
FOR TRUE MORTIFICATION.
ALMIGHTY God, who madest thy blessed Son to be circumcised, and obedient to the law for man; grant me the true circumcision of the spirit, that my heart, and all my members, being mortified from all worldly and carnal lusts, I may in all things obey thy blessed will, through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Give me a
POR DELIVERANCE FEOM THE PUWER OF SIN. O BLESSED Jesus, who by the purity of thy life, and the meritorious sufferings of thy death, hath purchased for us an eternal inheritance ; deliver me by the power of thy grace from the greatest evil, my sins ; and reform and reduce my heart to the obedience of thy laws. Make me carefully to avoid all those occasions that have formerly betrayed me to folly, all those practices that heighten my corrupt inclinations and passions, and alienate my mind from the love of God. constant supply of courage and resolution to resist the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the Devil; that being rescued from the dominion of my corrupt affections, by being turned from darkness to light, I may be assured thou wilt deliver me from eternal death and hell-torments, which are the punishments due unto my transgressions. Grant this through the virtue of that sacred name thou didst this day receive; to whom with the Father and the Holy Ghost be all honour and glory, world without end. Amen.
FOR A RIGHT USE OF TIME.
ALMIGHTY God I adore thy infinite patience, which hath not cut me off in the midst of my follies; I magnify thy wonderful goodness which hath spared me thus long, and indulged me a larger time of repentance. Let me no longer abuse that precious treasure, which thou hast allotted me as a proper season to work out my own salvation, and to secure that happiness which is great in itself, and infinite in its duration. Let me bid adieu to all those vain amusements, those trifling entertainments, and cruel diversions, which have robbed me of