« הקודםהמשך »
absence, before the Presbyter; who, laying his hand upon his head, solemnly blessed and absolved him; whereupon he was received with universal joy, and restored to the communion of the Church.
Q. What have you to observe in regard to the form of service for the day?
A. On this day, some solemn forms of supplication and humiliation are appointed to be used at morning prayer; and the penitential psalms of David are appointed to be used instead of the psalms for the day. The first lesson for the morning, taken from Isaiah, displays the guilt and depravity of man, and concludes by pointing out to him the way of salvation through a Redeemer. The second lesson, from St. Luke, is an excellent summary of our Saviour's sermon on the mount, and enforces those Christian graces and virtues, without which all expressions of penitence are empty and vain. The first lesson for the evening contains an animating encouragement to repentance, in God's declaration of mercy to the Ninevites; and the second lesson enforces the same duty, by displaying the second coming of Christ to judge the world. The epistle and the gospel cau. tion us against resting in external expressions of sorrow, while our hearts are devoid of the emotions of real contri. tion. Thus admirably calculated is the service of the day, to enforce the duties of humiliation and repentance.
Q. Explain the nature of true repentance,
A. Repentance consists in such a lively sorrow for our past sins, and in such sincere and effectual resolutions, through divine grace, to forsake them, as produce a complete change in our principles, desires, and conduct; a change so great and universal, that it is styled in Scripture,
Q. What are the considerations that should excite us to sorrow for our sins ?
A. Who can forbear grieving, when he reflects, that by his transgression he has forfeited the favour of God, the only source of bliss, and incurred shame, remorse, everlasting misery? Who can forbear grieving, when he reflects, that he has been inattentive to the salvation of his immortal soul; that he has been ungrateful to his gracious Benefactor, and best Friend; that he hath affronted Heaven with the very blessings he received from thence; that he hath fallen under the heavy displeasure of God, whose infinite patience he has abused; that he has “despised the riches of God's
a new nature.
goodness, and forbearance, and long-suffering, which should have led him to repentance ?"
Q. In what manner ought we to express our sorrow for our sins ?
A. We should express our sorrow for our sins, by sincere and humble confession of them ; by fasting, and other acts of humiliation and self-denial ;by humble and earnest supplication of the mercy and grace of God, in steadfast reliance on the merits of his Son Jesus Christ.
Q. How should our resolutions of amendment be formed in order to their being effectual ?
A. Our resolutions of amendment should be formed on a serious consideration of the difficulties and discouragements of a pious and virtuous course, and of its succours and rewards: they should extend to every sacrifice that we are required to make, to every duty that we are enjoined to perform; and they should lead us to avoid all the indulgences and situations that may betray us into sin. Above all, we should frequently and earnestly beseech God to strengthen our weakness, and confirm our holy resolutions; and we should often repeat and renew these resolutions, particularly when we approach the holy table of the Lord.
Q. Are not reparation and restitution necessary fruits of repentance?
A. It we have wronged or injured our neighbour, we must make him all the reparation in our power. We must earnestly and sedulously endeavour to reclaim all those whom we may have drawn into sin, either by our bad example, or by neglect of duty towards them. If we have injured the good name of our neighbour, we must acknowledge our fault, and vindicate his reputation : and if we wronged him in his estáte, either by fraud or force, we must make restitution, either to himself or his heirs; or when they cannot be discovered, we must appropriate whatever we have thus. unjustly acquired, to pious and benevolent purposes. These fruits of repentance will always accompany it when it is genuine; and without these fruits, all expressions of repentance are vain and presumptuous, and will only aggravate our condemnation.
Q. Whence arises the necessity of repentance ?
A. Repentance is one of the indispensable conditions of salvation. The meritorious cause of our salvation, is the
a Ezra x. 6, &c.; Psal. lxix. 10; Neh. ix. 1; Matt. xxvi. 75; Acts ix. S.
atonement made for sin by our blessed Saviour. But this salvation is not absolute, but conditional. Remission of sin, through the merits of Christ, is granted only to the penitent: for our Saviour hath joined these together, in his commission to the apostles: “ Repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name throughout all nations.” Until that change in our evil tempers and dispositions, which true repentance is designed to produce, takes place, we are not fit for enjoying the fruition of God's holy presence.
“ Without holiness no man shall see the Lord.”
Q. What do you mean by the forgiveness of sins?
A. By the forgiveness of sins, is meant a discharge and release from the punishment due to sin. By transgressing God's laws, we contract guilt, we become obnoxious to divine justice ; but, by the forgiveness of our sins, we are freed and delivered from that punishment which we have deserved. Our Saviour Christ having rendered a perfect obedience to the divine law, and sustained in our stead ihe awful penalty annexed to transgressing it, God can now be just, and yet justify the sinner who repents and believes.
Q. Wherein consists the guilt of delaying repentance ?
A. To delay our repentance, by which alone we can be restored to the favour of God, to some future period, which is always uncertain, is not only the greatest folly, but it is a criminal abuse of his long-suffering patience, an impious preference of the slavery of sin to the joys of his service, a presumptuous contempt of his laws, and of the denunciations of his justice. Offended at our impiety and presumption, he may swear in his wrath, that we shall not enter into his rest.
Q. Is not a death-bed repentance very uncertain ?
A. Though a death-bed repentance is not absolutely impossible, since it may please God, who sees the heart, to accept the sincerity of our sorrow and the ardour of our desires; yet a sincere repentance, amidst the distresses, the agitations, and pangs of a sick.bed, appears very improbable. At such a period, repentance will most probably be founded more on an apprehension of divine wrath, than on a just sense of the evil of sin, and of its ingratitude and baseness ; and will not be, therefore, that sincere, sober, and genuine repentance, which God will vouchsafe to accept, or which would produce sincere and thorough reformation of heart and life.
Q. WHAT is meant by an aprostle ?
Ă. An apostle signifies in general a messenger. This name was applied by our Saviour to those select persons whom he chose to be the witnesses of his life, his miracles, his sufferings, and resurrection; and, under the direction of the Holy Ghost, to proclaim the Gospel to the world, and to found the Church, and provide for its government.
Q. Why did Christ choose the precise number of twelve apostles ?
A. Our Saviour chose twelve apostles, probably in allusion to the twelve patriarchs, as the founders of their several tribes, or to the twelve chief heads or rulers of the tribes of Israel.P
Q. How were the apostles, who were obscure and illiterate persons, enabled to proclaim and to establish the Gospel throughout the world?
A. The apostles were competent judges of the facts they attested, having been eye-witnesses of them; and in regard to doctrine, it was impossible they could err, being immediately directed by the divine and unerring Spirit of Truth. By the miraculous powers with which they were invested, they were enabled to establish the Gospel, in opposition to the prejudices, passions, and power that assailed it.
Was St. Matthias one of the twelve apostles originally chosen by our Saviour ?
A. St. Matthias was not among the twelve apostles first chosen; but when Judas, one of the twelve, penetrated with remorse for having basely betrayed his Master, killed himself, Matthias was chosen in his room.
Q. What is the design of the epistle and gospel?
1. The epistle records the fall of Judas, and the election of Matthias; and the gospel, by representing the blessings of salvation as hid from the great men of the world, and revealed to the humble and contemned apostles, excites us to
p Matt. xix. 2.
come unto Christ with those meek and lowly dispositious which are always a sure passport to his favour.
Q. Had Judas the authority and gifts of an apostle ?
A. Though Judas was a person of base and corrupt designs, yet having been numbered by Christ among the apostles, he obtained part of their ministry, and was equally empowered with the rest to preach and work miracles.
Q. What may we learn from this fact?
A. Hence we may learn, that the wickedness of a minister does not invalidate his commission, or render useless or ineffectual his office; and that the efficacy of a sacred ordinance does not depend upon the personal virtues of him who administers it, but upon the divine institution and blessing.
Q. How was St. Matthias chosen to be an apostle ?
A. St. Peter having recommended the filling up of the vacancy occasioned by the apostacy of Judas, the Christians assembled at Jerusalem, and appointed two, Joseph, called Barnabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias; and having solemnly prayed to God, who knew the hearts of all men, that he would be pleased to show which of these two he would choose, they gave forth lots, and the lot fell upon Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles. I This mode of determining doubtful and difficult cases, and of electing judges and magistrates by lot, was in use both among Jews and Gentiles.
Q. How was St. Matthias qualified for the apostleship?
A. Having been a constant attendant upon our Saviour all the time of his ministry, probably as one of the seventy disciples; having been a witness of our Saviour's resurrection, and of the principal events of his life, he was fully quaJified to proclaim abroad those facts concerning the Saviour, of which he had equal knowledge with the rest of the apostles.
Q. Where did St. Matthias preach the Gospel ?
Å. After the Holy Ghost was conferred upon him with the rest of the apostles, he devoted his ministerial labours, in the first instance, to Judea; and afterwards, according to St. Jerome, travelled to the countries eastward, where, after many labours and sufferings, he obtained the crown of martyrdom.
Q. What instruction does this festival convey?
qacts i. 24, &c.