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than to the establishing a reputation for learning and knowledge. Without throwing scorn and contempt upon those that oppose us; because, if they are under the power of error, they are objects of Christian compassion, and are made unfit to receive the impression of good arguments, by being prejudiced and provoked by ill treatment. Without railing and injurious reflections, which no way concern the cause, and which are by good manners banished conversation, and therefore are indecent to be used in writing. Without detracting from the real worth of our adversaries, and charging them with believing consequences which we know they abhor. Without ever suffering our passions to vent themselves under a pretence of zeal for God's glory, but to give an account of our faith, with that meekness that
governs the unreasonable sallies of anger, and with that fear which makes us cautious not to transgress those rules of charity which we are obliged to observe towards our neighbour.
FOR THE MANIFOLD GIFTS OF GOD.
O LORD God Almighty, who didst endue thy holy Apostle Barnabas, with singular gifts of the Holy Ghost; leave me not, I beseech thee, destitute of thy manifold gifts, nor yet of grace to use them always to thy honour and glory, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
FOR THE LOVE OF GOD AND HIS LAWS.
O ALMIGHTY God, who alone canst order the unruly wills and affections of sinful men ; grant unto thy servant that I may love the thing which thou com
mandest, and desire that which thou dost promise; that so among the sundry and manifold changes of the world, my heart may surely there be fixed, where true joys are to be found, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
FOR CHRISTIAN CHARITY. ALMIGHTY God, who hast compassion upon all men, and hatest nothing that thou hast made; teach me, from the example of thy goodness, and the sense of my own unworthiness, to have a tender regard to the weakness and frailties of my brethren ; to make the best construction of all their actions; to interpret all doubtful things to their advantage and charitably to bear with their apparent infirmities. Make me ready upon all occasions to contribute to the relief of their bodily necessities, that they may share with me in the good things thou hast bestowed upon me. And let me so improve all those talents, of any kind, thou hast entrusted me with, for their advantage, that I may be able to give a good account of my stewardship when the great
the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
FOR A CHRISTIAN SPIRIT WHEN OBLIGED TO GO TO
LAW, OR PROSECUTE. GIVE
me, O Lord, that wisdom from above that is peaceable, and gentle, and easy to be intreated; that I may never prosecute my neighbour to gratify the unreasonable passions of my own corrupt nature; nor take delight in his sufferings when I can have no other recompence from his punishment. Make me willing rather to suffer some injuries, than expose myself to those evils and temptations that I am liable to in procuring legal satisfaction; and whenever I am engaged in such dis
putes, grant me, O Lord, the help of thy grace, that I may ever contend for right more than victory; that no profit or advantage may prevail upon me to transgress the laws of justice and charity, nor provoke me to any unchristian behaviour against my adversary; but that in all prosecutions I may preserve a charitable and equitable disposition. And thou, O God, who art never wanting to those that seek thee with an upright mind, arm me with meekness and fear in all those debates that relate to thy holy truth; that I may sincerely desire that may always prevail, and that I may never sacrifice brotherly love and Christian charity in the defence of it, knowing that the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God; grant this O Lord, for Jesus Christ his sake. Amen.
CHAP. XXVI. THE NATIVITY OF ST. JOHN BAPTIST. JUNE 24. Q. What Festival does the church celebrate this day? A. The nativity of St. John Baptist. Q. Why does the church celebrate his nativity?
A. Because his birth was wonderful in itself, as being foretold by an angel sent on purpose to deliver this joyful message, when his mother Elizabeth was barren, and both his parents well stricken in years; and in that his father Zacharias had the assurance of it confirmed to him by a miraculous dumbness till it was made good. Besides, it brought great joy to all those that expected the Messias, it being predicted by the angel, that many should rejoice thereat.*
Q. What was foretold of him by the angels?
and should neither drink wine nor strong drink; that he should be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb;' that he should convert many of the Jews, and prepare the way of the Lord, and consequently be the forerunner of our Saviour, and the greatest of all the prophets.
Q. What mean you by St. John's being the forerunner of our Saviour?
A. That his whole ministry tended to prepare the way for the reception of our Saviour and his doctrine: for which he was qualified by adding to the grace of his birth an extraordinary innocence of life, which he preserved by withdrawing from all the occasions and temptations to evil, and by strict and severe mortification, whereby he kept his body in subjection to his mind.
Q. How did he prepare the way for our Saviour's reception?
A. By proclaiming to the Jews the approach of the Messias ; that he whom they had so long expected was nigh at hand, and that his kingdom was ready to appear ;' and that therefore they should do well to break off their sins by repentance, and by reformation of life fit themselves to receive the glad tidings of the gospel.
Q. Was this forerunner of our Saviour foretold by the prophets?
A. Yes: Isaiah calls him The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God :( and Malachi styles him, The messenger that was to prepare the way of the Lord :and further describes him under the character of Elijah the prophet, that was
Luke. i. 15.
c.Mat, iii. 2.
d Isa. xl. 3.
• Mal. iii. 1.
to turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers.
Q. But how is St. John the Baptist's being the Elias that was to come reconcileable with his own denial of it?s
A. It being the general persuasion of that age, as it had been all along the prevailing notion among the Jews, that Elias should, in his own person, come to prepare the way for the Messias ; St. John the Baptist might very well, as he did, deny himself to be that very Elias who had lived in the time of king Ahab, of whose second coming into the world the Sanhedrim then enquired, according to their mistaken construction of the prophecy of Malachi." Now this no ways contradicts our Saviour's affirming him to be the person foretold under the name and character of Elias, in the true signification of that prophecy; which all Christian interpreters think very applicable to St. John the Baptist, so like Elias in temper, office, and other circumstances, that the resemblance might be a sufficient ground for the calling him by that name.
The business of both was to promote a general reformation of manners among those who should receive their doctrine. They were both eminent prophets, superior to those of the same character in their own age. Both of singular abstinence and austerity, retired from the world, and distinguished from the fashions of it by a particular habit. They were both courageous and zealous in opposing the prevailing corruptions of their own times, though the great and powerful were the supporters of them. All this plainly proves, that the Baptist came in the spirit and power of Elias.
of Elias. Which sense is abundantly confirmed by all those applications that are made of Malachi's prophecy in the New
Mal. iv. 5, 6.
h iv. 5, 6.
* Mat. xi. 14. John i. 21.