« PreviousContinue »
and hearts in this part of the office, is every where to be met with throughout the New Testament; and is ever most strikingly exemplified, in the most highly honoured servants of God. This spirit it was, that dwelt in the heart, and breathed from the lips, of her who was highly favoured among women, the Virgin Mother of our Lord. When the Roman centurion, with like self-abasement, exclaimed, “ Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof,” then it was, the blessed Jesus answered, “ Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no not in Israel.” And when Saint Paul himself was “ caught up into the third heaven," and saw and heard unutterable things; the sense of humiliation was divinely awakened in the breast of the holy apostle, “ lest,” as he tells us, “ he should be exalted above measure.” With what mingled emotions, therefore, of faith and fear, of prostrate, at once, and of uplifted adoration, should we approach the house, the services, the altar, of our God? With what holy, humble zeal, should we not learn from our Church services, “ to serve the Lord with fear; and rejoice before Him with reverence ???
But, like the blessed Gospel, on which her whole services are formed, the lessons of our Church are not meant only for the matured, adVOL. I.
vanced, confirmed worshipper : her attention is equally directed to the infirm, the weak, the young in faith. To lead on to spiritual progress, is her great aim : but, with this object in view, “she despises not the day of small things;” she accounts no thought, no wish, no effort, towards recovery or improvement, valueless ; even these infant beginnings of the Christian life are precious in her sight. With this view, she is full of tenderness for weak Christians. It is her delight, to lead such gently by the hand : for she well remembers, that Christ gave commission, not only to feed his sheep, but also to feed his lambs. Even in her holiest mystery, hers is no exclusive spirit : she does not require long-confirmed habits of holiness, in order to admission to the Table of the Lord: in all communicants, she desires, indeed, to see the best fruits of Christianity, but not as indispensable pre-requisites to Communion. To qualify for this high privilege, she looks, only, for sincerity, for faith, for a mind in love and perfect charity with all men, for a heart truly desirous to serve and please God for the future, in newness of life: wherever such dispositions exist, there, according to her teaching, exists, also, a fitness for worthily receiving that holy Sacrament ; and wherever such dispositions continue to exist,
there must be advancement, sometimes more gradual, sometimes more rapid, but always in conformity with our blessed Lord's example, and in participation of his Spirit. While, if we habitually come to the sacred Table, in spirit, and in truth, each attendance will be blessed to us, by fresh communications of heavenly virtue, and by increase of the grace and power formerly received; until the efficacy of this blessed Sacrament shall become eventually such, that “ we all beholding, as in a glass, the glory of the Lord, shall be changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
This, brethren, is that “perfection,” to which the text' exhorts us to aspire, and which our Church, in all her services, would affectionately lead us to attain. It has been already defined, in this concluding discourse on our Liturgy, as a state of calm and continual progress in the love of God and man. With the love of God and man, accordingly, the Church opens that magnificent doxology, in which she would prepare and qualify all those who have duly received these holy mysteries, with the spiritual food of the most precious body and blood of our Saviour Christ,' to receive her blessing, and depart in peace; inviting us, with one voice,
and with one heart, to proclaim anew the glad tidings of great joy, with which the song of angels ushered in the Saviour of the world, — “ Glory be to God on high, and in earth peace, good-will towards men !"
Thus closes the holiest, and most solemn, service of our venerable Liturgy. And, with its parting words, I would bring these faithful, though imperfect, attempts to illustrate that Liturgy, to their close : praying that · The peace of God, which passeth all understanding, may keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God, and of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord; and that the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, may be amongst you, and remain with you always ! Amen.
SAINT MATTHEW, xxviii. 18, 19, 20.
AND JESUS CAME, AND SPAKE UNTO 'THEM, SAYING,—ALL
POWER IS GIVEN UNTO ME IN HEAVEN AND IN EARTH, GO YE, THEREFORE, AND TEACH ALL NATIONS ; BAPTIZING THEM, IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER, AND OF THE SON, AND OF THE HOLY GHOST; TEACHING THEM TO OBSERVE ALL THINGS WHATSOEVER I HAVE COMMANDED YOU; AND LO, I AM WITH YOU ALWAY, EVEN UNTO THE END OF THE WORLD.
It was the last act of our Lord's earthly ministry, to deliver his instructions, and delegate his authority, to the holy Apostles; and, through the Apostles, to their legitimate successors, in all ages of the Church. This solemn commission is
1 Written in the year 1810, and preached at an Ordination in the Cathedral Church of Cashel. Afterwards, preached in the chapel of Trinity College, Dublin, as an act Sermon, before the University, for the degree of D.D. in 1821..