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such a spirit of devotion as is here intended, is something equally attainable by Christians of every degree. It may as well be cherished and maintained at heart by the labourer at his work, as by the scholar at his book; by him that is engaged amidst the business of an honest calling, as surely as by him who has no worldly work to do, even in his freest hour of leisure. The fear of the Lord is its beginning; the consciousness of want and weakness its continual spur. One man may look into his own heart as honestly and wisely as another; one man may wish to serve and please God in his vocation as well as another. And the true preparation for the sort of prayer now meant is nothing but a Christian life; the need of it is simply this-that if to do God's will and earn his favour be a blessing, it is a blessing worth the asking for; and the security of it is our Redeemer's own promise, consistently and fairly understood-" If ye ask any thing in "my name, I will do it "."
n John xiv. 14.
IN WHAT SENSE, AND IN WHAT CASES, A CURSE MAY STILL EXTEND TO CHRISTIANS.
PROVERBS iii. 33.
The curse of the Lord is in the house of the wicked
I TAKE these words as a foundation to certain thoughts suggested by that solemn Office in our Book of Common Prayer, appointed to be used particularly on the first day of Lent; that is to say, the "Commination;" or (as the word is there explained) the "denouncing of God's anger "and judgment against sinners." Where that impenitent sinners alone are meant, is very evident; since it is the very purpose of the Office in question to awaken sinners from the death of sin, through terror of these judgments of the Lord, that so-before the door is shut upon them-they may, through the divine blessing, repent, and be saved.
The subject thus proposed may seem at first of a confined nature. Give it, however, your
attention, and you will find it opening into very important views of general and fundamental Christian doctrine. If any do not like the service by which the thoughts have been suggested, let such not pass them by on that account; but let them mark and inwardly digest, in calmness and in reason, how surely profitable that same Office may be found" for doctrine, for correction, and "for instruction in righteousness.'
The text declares to us, in general terms, that "the curse of the Lord is in the house of the "wicked;" and in the Commination we find the same pronounced on certain special kinds and forms of wickedness, in words of holy Scripture. With declarations such as these continually set before us in the book of life, it surely much concerns us all to understand distinctly, what may be our own interest in them; in other words in what cases, and in what sense, a 'curse may still extend to Christians.' Not that the offences to be noticed are the only ones, or all that may remain exposed to the divine curse; but they will be enough to serve for illustration and for warning, to let us see the sorts of evildoing which the Lord hates, of which the doers. shall not enter into his kingdom. Listen to the catalogue selected in the Office spoken of.
"Cursed is the man that maketh any carved or molten image to worship it.
"Cursed is he that curseth his father or mother. "Cursed is he that removeth his neighbour's "landmark.-Cursed is he that maketh the "blind to go out of his way.-Cursed is he that perverteth the judgment of the stranger, the fatherless, and widow.-Cursed is he that "smiteth his neighbour secretly.-Cursed is he "that lieth with his neighbour's wife.-Cursed is " he that taketh reward to slay the innocent."Cursed is he that putteth his trust in man, and "taketh man for his defence, and in his heart
goeth from the Lord.-Cursed are the un"merciful, fornicators, and adulterers, covetous
persons, idolaters, slanderers, drunkards, and "extortioners." These are the vices, for which we, in that solemn Office, "affirm with our own "mouths the curse of God to be due.”
Let us, with humble prayer for the divine blessing, endeavour so to understand these fearful words in truth and soberness, as that we may be able to receive them in a right spirit; without a slavish fear, unsuited to the Gospel terms of love, upon the one hand, and equally without a self-deceiving and presumptuous confidence, upon the other, as