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men's souls, by setting up of Images, will be many, yea infinite, if they be suffered ; and the warnings of the same stumbling-blocks, and remedies of the said poisons by preaching be few ; for the stumbling-blocks are easily laid, and the poisons soon provided ; but the remedies scarce, and men more ready to be offended than be warned ; so that it is better the arts of painting, carving, graving, and founding, had never been used, than that one of those, whose souls are precious in the sight of God, should by occasion of image or picture worship be lost at last.”
God's ministers need our prayers; for if they are faithful, they pray earnestly for us. “Finally, brethren, pray for us.” And how frequently do we meet with exhortations in the Epistles, to be much in prayer for God's ministers! They are men who are exposed to peculiar temptations, whom Satan, if he could, would weary and distress. Do we, before going to Church, pray earnestly for our minister ? Would those who so often criticise and express discontent at what they hear, but pray for understanding hearts themselves as well as for their minister ; how much more reasonably might they expect a blessing. The devil's bow is always bent ; his arrows are poisonous ; to be resisted only in thc whole armour of God. We should pray before going to church, pray going, pray in church, shooting up holy desires to God, simply resting on his Holy Spirit. We need watch our heart; it is in league with enemies without, ever on the alert to open the fortress gates and let in the enemy; and, after church, our closets again become us.-All is well.
ON THE SERVICES OF THE CHURCH.
We considered in our last number, the adoring song of praise, rising from the assembled universe to the “Father Everlasting, to His honorable, true and only Son, and to the Holy Ghost the Comforter.” The six verses now before us, dwell especially on the second Person of this blessed Trinity, and form an introduction to the prayer for mercy offered by the Church on earth. They first set before us His glory before the world was.
“ Thou art the King of Glory, 0 Christ. Thou art the everlasting Son of the Father.” The King of glory ; let us dwell for a few moments on this glory. Let us recal all that we have ever heard or seen of the glory of earthly courts, the glittering gold and silver, the purple and scarlet, the jewels of the mine, the charms of beauty, the dignity of rank, the splendour of royalty. It is all in vain, eye hath not seen it, we cannot picture the court of the King of glory. But let us turn to the visions of poetry, or the dim prophecies of glorious things to come, which the musician tells us that he catches in the inexpressible strains of his melody, still it is equally in vain-ear hath not heard it. Let us recal every lofty emotion, every thrill of joy which holy love has awakened, every instance of heroic virtue history can record. We do well thus to trace its shadows, but still we have failed to realise it, the heart of
man cannot conceive it. And “ Thou art the King of glory, 0 Christ.” It is for the sake of the king that so much splendour is lavished in an earthly court, and he is greater than all the honor and dignity that surrounds him. Much more is Thy glory exalted far above that of those heavens, which are not clean in Thy sight, while the highest archangel veils his face before Thee.
But time was, when these mighty spirits, the morning stars who sang for joy at the creation of our world, were not, for they too are the creatures of Thy hand. By Thee were all things created that are in heaven and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones or dominions, or principalities or powers. All things were created by Thee and for Thee, and Thou art before all things, and by Thee all things consist. Then, through the countless ages of a past eternity, Thou didst dwell in the all-sufficient fulness of Godhead, as the everlasting Son of the Father ; then wast Thou with him as one brought up with him, thou wast daily his delight, rejoicing always before Him.
We can rise no higher, our feeble thoughts strive in vain to fathom the mysteries of that past eternity of love and joy, but do Thou, Lord, teach us to enter into the wonderful words which follow,—“ When Thou tookest upon Thee to deliver man, Thou didst not abhor the Virgin's womb." He whom the Heaven of heavens could not contain, did not abhor the Virgin's womb, the Ancient of Days becomes the babe of Bethlehem, he who covered himself with light as with a garment, made the clouds his chariot, and walked upon the wings of the wind, is now clothed with mortal flesh, wrapped in swaddling bands, and laid in a manger. Though himself holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners, he will assume the likeness of sinful flesh,
he will take upon himself the inheritance of the curse, and become heir to all its weakness and infirmity. And even this will not suffice, one step more remains, ere the bitterness of the curse can be exhausted, and the kingdom of heaven opened to all believers, nor does eternal love shrink even from overcoming the sharpness of death. Death, even to the Christian, is an awful mystery, we rest in confidence on the sure promises of our Lord, and our faith is strengthened as we see one and another sinking gently into his arms, and falling asleep in Jesus; but to each of us it is a thing unknown, a struggle from which nature shrinks, how little then can we tell what was the sharpness of that death which exhausted the curse of God, or what was the fearful strength of that conflict, in which the Son of Man wrestled alone with the last great enemy.
We read of his loud cry when he gave up the ghost, we read of the sun veiling his face, the rocks rending, and the tombs being opened, and we can only veil our faces too, in contrite shame and adoring love.
“ Thou sittest at the right hand of God, in the glory of the Father.”
“ We believe that thou shalt come to be our Judge.”
The cloud has passed which shrouded the glory of the Sun of Righteousness. “ Christ having risen from the dead, dieth no more, death hath no more dominion over him.” He is seated once more in glory, at the right hand of the Father, he has won the travail of his soul, and will rejoice for ever in the joy and beauty of the church whom he has redeemed. “ All power is committed unto Him in heaven and earth ; the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son.” The Father hath said unto him, “ Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever, a sceptre of righteousness is
the sceptre of Thy kingdom,” and hereafter he shall appear having on his head many crowns, and on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, King of kings, and Lord of lords.
“We therefore pray thee, help thy servants whom thou hast redeemed with thy most precious blood.” What à weight of blessed argument is contained in that one word therefore.
Because Thou hast resigned for us so great a glory ; because Thou didst stoop even to the Virgin's womb, because Thou hast overcome the sharpness of death ; we cannot doubt thy love, and we therefore pray Thee help Thy servants. Because thou hast overcome, and hast opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers, all the barriers of sin which once kept us from thy presence are thrown down, we therefore pray Thee, help Thy servants. Because thou sittest at the right hand of God, we know thou ever livest to make intercession for us ; because thou shalt come to be our Judge, to Thee, and to Thee alone, can we look for help and deliverance. Help thy servants ; no special petition is here offered, it is the simple cry of weakness clinging to Almighty strength. “I have laid help upon One that is mighty, I have exalted One chosen among the people.” He to whom they cry, knows well the weakness of each worshipper, often, as in the case of Peter of old, far better than they know it themselves. Hereafter we may trace many an answer to this prayer which has now escaped our notice, many a temptation, we could not have borne, turned away from us, many a secret suggestion strengthening us in the hour of need. “ Help thy servants whom Thou hast redeemed with thy most precious blood.” We do not, as we might, strengthen our faith, by dwelling on the value Christ sets upon his Church. The Lord's portion is his people,