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and with his holy arm, hath he gotten himself the victory.”
The Second Lessons at Evening Prayer are always taken out of the Epistles; and after them the Song of Simeon, called, for the reason already given, Nunc Dimittis, is appointed to be read. Simeon, by a special revelation, (as you may read in the Second of St. Luke,) was assured that “he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ," When Jesus, yet an infant, was brought to be presented in the temple, (a ceremony enjoined by the law on every first-born male child,) Simeon, by the direction of the Holy Ghost, came also into the temple; and when he saw Jesus, (it being signified to him by the Spirit, doubtless, that this was the Messiah,) he took him up in his arms, and uttered the Hymn-" Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, accord
ing to thy word; for mine eyes have seen thy salvation." Take me now, O my God, unto thyself;-the day which I have so long expected in faith, is come; I see, according to thy gracious promise, the anointed Saviour of the world.-Now, although we see not our Lord with eyes of flesh; yet, as he is daily presented in our temples by the writings of the Apostles; as he is daily exhibited to the eye of faith, the words of Simeon may be most fitly used by us; but they should admonish us to be as well prepared to meet the Lord as he was. It is a recorded fact, that this Song of Simeon was sung frequently by saints and martyrs in old time, a little before their departure from this world of trouble and trial, a little before their entering into the joy of their Lord.The use of it in the Liturgy is of high antiquity.
And here, too, variety is consulted; for the sixty-seventh Psalm is offered to our choice. This Psalm is a prayer of David, for the coming and the spreading of the gospel;-he asks of God, "that his way may be known upon earth, his saving health among all nations." Having therefore just heard the gospel preached in the Second Lesson, in the words of the Apostles themselves, this Psalm, happily enough, conveys our hearty desires to God for its propagation to the ends of the world, till heathenism, and superstition, and heresy, and schism shall be no more; till all people shall enter the fold of the Church, and with one heart shall believe unto righteousness, with one mouth shall confess unto salvation, and shall praise God the Father, through Jesus Christ our Lord:-"Let all the people praise thee, O God! yea, let all the people praise thee.
Then shall the earth bring forth her increase; and God, even our own God, shall give us his blessing."
I have thus observed, upon the Hymns and Psalms which follow the Lessons, both at Morning and Evening Prayer; and have endeavoured to shew you how to join in them unto edification. They conduce to relieve the service; they create an agreeble variation; they mark the transitions from one point to another; and they prevent that weariness from overtaking the mind, which is the constant effect of long and unremitting attention to one object.
It was not my intention to have gone into this subject so much at length; but where such a quantity of matter presses upon the mind, greater condensation than that which I have used, would produce obscurity merely ;--and in the usual acceptation of words, there is a great deal of
difference between observing a due length in discourses of this kind, and running into prolixity; between the proper noting of particulars, and the making a mere catalogue,-between dwelling upon material passages, and downright tautology.—I reserve what I have to say upon the Creed;— I mean the three Creeds, the Apostle's Creed, the Athanasian Creed, and the Nicene Creed, and the propriety of assigning places to them in our Book of Common Prayer;-I say, I reserve this till a future opportunity.