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PSALM CXIX. Deficit anima mea. My soul hath longed for Thy salvation : and I have a good hope because of Thy word.
Mine eyes long sore for Thy word : saying, O when wilt Thou comfort me ?
For I am become like a bottle in the smoke : yet do I not forget Thy statutes.
How many are the days of Thy servant : when wilt Thou be avenged of them that persecute me?
The proud have digged pits for me : which are not after Thy law.
All Thy commandments are true : they persecute me falsely; O be Thou my help.
They had almost made an end of me upon earth : but I forsook not Thy commandments.
O quicken me after Thy loving-kindness : and so shall I keep the testimonies of Thy mouth.
Glory be to the FATHER, &c.
FOURTH SUNDAY IN ADVENT.
“At midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the Bridegroom cometh, go ye forth to meet Him!"
In the Church there are both careless and holy members, and both agree to expect the Coming of Christ our LORD to judge them, and to celebrate the marriage of His Spouse, the Church triumphant. All agree as to the necessity of making ready to meet Him, but in how different a manner! The careless have indeed lamps, but no vessels of oil wherewith to fill them; that is, they have a form of belief which they call faith, but no charity to feed and kindle it. They have a cold, dull, exterior light, but none of the inward anointing of the SPIRIT, bringing forth fervent affections. They profess an outward attention to religion, but the good they do is weighed and measured by what is absolutely necessary, not by how much they can offer of time, means, talents, and affections to God. Their chief hopes and thoughts are for this life; and so when death comes, they are but ill prepared to go forth and meet the Bridegroom. Is it not folly indeed to expect with so little prepa
ration the Coming of a Judge so rigorous, and a Bridegroom so jealous ? O Sovereign Judge, and Most Gracious Bridegroom of my soul, deliver me, I beseech Thee, from this foolishness, and suffer me not to content myself with a careless, unloving preparation, but strengthen me with grace ever to watch and pray, and so make ready to go forth and meet Thee with joy.
Those who live in constant expectation of the Bridegroom's Coming, and who desire to be found ready, keep their lamps always trimmed with living faith and active charity; daily seeking to kindle and illumine their souls at the Fountain of All Light; and so to watch, that the call to meet the Bridegroom may not take them unawares. All “slumber and sleep,”-some by sickness and age, and all by the sleep of death. But the watchful look upon their natural rest night by night as a memorial of death ; and so even therein they keep up a manner of watching for their LÖRD.
O Sovereign Judge, deliver me of Thy great mercy from the sleep of sin ; suffer not my soul to slumber, lest I fall into a deadly sleep. Grant me not to despise or neglect slight sins, lest I fall unawares into those that are great. Awake, O my soul, from thy sleep, and cry to Jesus Christ, that He may raise thee up, and quicken
thee with His never-failing grace, whereby thou mayest live everlastingly. Amen.
Remember the midnight call, O my soul, and let that awful Voice ever sound in thine ears, reminding thee that thou must seek to be ready, since thou knowest neither the day nor the hour when the summons will come. When sickness touches thee, imagine it to be the sound of His Voice, in order that thou mayest prepare thyself, for how canst thou tell how thy sickness will end? When thou goest to the holy Altar, to feed upon the Bread of Life, hear then that Voice, saying, "Behold, He cometh, go forth to meet Him," with becoming reverence and preparation.
O what contentments will they find who have prepared themselves in time? O what joyfulness to see themselves with Him whom they have so greatly loved! O what sweetness and what comfort will they receive who see their heavenly Bridegroom face to face, and receiving His kiss of acceptance, sit down to eat with Him at His Table, and to drink of the river of His delights! How resplendent will the lamp of their souls be with the Light of His Glory ! how ardent with the fire of His Love! how rich and joyful with the oil of divine consolation | how secure for ever in the mansions of God! O happy labours, which
lead to so precious a repose! O joyful and blessed entrance, when " the door is shut," and we can never go back to earth's sins, and sorrows, and trials; never more tremble lest we stand without, not being admitted ! Grant. me, O my God, grace to find that entrance, to go out no more, but dwell for ever before Thy Face, praising and blessing Thee with all Thy glorified Saints. Open wide the gates of my heart, that I may receive Thee, and do Thou open to me the gates of Heaven, that I may enter in, and there abide, and rejoice with the Heavenly Bridegroom for ever and ever. Amen.
O LORD our God, Who year by year dost set before us the Coming of Thy only Son JESUS CHRIST; Grant us to make ready for His Last Coming to judge the world, that we may go forth with joy in that awful day, and meet Him, trusting not in our own merits, but in Thy mercy; and being delivered from death and sin, and all the miseries of this world, may dwell with Him, together with Thee and the Holy Ghost, Who liveth and reigneth, ever One God, world without end. Amen.
LORD, have mercy.