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and murderers, “ LORD, lay not this sin to “ their charge.” We cannot, indeed, hope to practise this virtue by any strength of our own ; for we are insufficient “ of our. so selves to help ourselves,” in this and every other respect; but in the grace of Jesus Christ, we shall find power even to return good for evil. God is ever ready to assist our weakness, and will not refuse us arms and courage for the battle, if we offer up our fervent.prayers to Him, in the humble language of the Collect for the day :
66 Almighty and everlasting God, mer« cifully look upon our infirmities, and in " all our dangers and necessities, stretch “ forth thy right hand to help and defend us,
through CHRIST our Lord." Amen.
[For the Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany.]
MATTHEW viii. 31.
So the Devils beşought him, saying, if thou cast
us out, suffer us to go aroay into the herd of swine.
NE, among the many blessings and
advantages that the church to which we belong bestows upon us, and on account of which it should be ever dear to us, is this, that it has provided us with a Book of Common Prayer; a volume, equally useful and delightful to those wlio have the happiness of enjoying it. It is useful, because it has been framed entirely from scripture; and consists, not of the “ vain words which “ man's wisdom teacheth, but of those which “ the Holy Ghost teacheth ;" of the sound doctrines contained in the Bible, and of
those holy precepts to practise what we believe, which the word of God so abundantly provides, for making men good, happy, and useful in this world, while they are looking forward to a better and an eternal one. It is delightful, because, while we are publicly worshipping God in the church, this book knits us together in prayer and thanksgiving; we are enabled, “ with one accord, to make
our common supplications to God;" and by knowing before hand “ how to pray," what we are to pray for, and in what words we are to lift up our voice of “ praise and " thanksgiving," the mind is properly pre. pared for the different acts of worship in which it is engaged; we may perform our devotions with our “ understanding,” as well as our “ lips." By the Epistles and Gospels which the Prayer-Book contains, and by directing that Lessons from the Old and New Testament should be read both in the morning and evening of every sabbath, the church provides that its members should have an opportunity of hearing the greatest part of the scriptures in the course of the year. And by appointing those regular.forms for the administration of the sacraments, and for the performance of its other services, which are found in our Prayer-Book, it also takes care that all those sacred things should
be done “ decently and in order." Some parts, indeed, of our Book of Common Prayer (but it is not a great portion) are of man's composition, more especially the Colo' lects, which were written, many ages ago, by good, and wise, and pious christians, who were careful, however, to use scriptural language in all of them, and to make them entirely consistent with the doctrines and commandments of the Bible. They are all very holy and beautiful compositions ; and, though short, are very comprehensive; containing humble petitions for the supply of all our wants; devout acknowledgements of all our sins; and earnest supplications for those assistances, which our own weakness and infirmities stand so much in need of. Besides all this, they have generally some connection either with the gospel or epistle of the day on which they are used; so that we have always a prayer applicable to the particular do&trine or history which those portions of scripture contain. Such is the case with respect to the collect of the day, in which we pray to God, (who knows our dangers and our frailties,) that He would give us“ such “strength and protection, as may support us in « all dangers, and carry us through all tempta“ tions." The gospel for the day points out what these dangers and temptations chiefly are;
the assaults of wicked spirits; and the peril in which we stand from the power and inclination of the devil to ruin us, unless we pray for, and use, those assistances, which God is ever ready to give us for our protection and support.
It gives an account, you will remember, of a man who was relieved from an evil spirit, by the miraculous power of our blessed LORD; furnishes us with much useful instruction; and convinces us of these three important truths. First, that the Devil is a spirit of great malice and great power. Secondly, that both his malice and power are under the government of God. But, thirdly, that God often permits him to do great mischief for the punishment of wicked men, and for the trial of the faith of good men. That the devil is a spirit of great power and malice, is evident from very many passages in scripture. St. Paul tells us, that we wrestle not against flesh " and blood;" that is, against men like ourselves; “but against the rulers of the dark. “ness of this world," against wicked spirits, who endeavour all that is possible, to make men as wicked as themselves. St. Peter Jikens him “ to a roaring lion, going about “ seeking whom he may devour;" that is, whom he may be permitted to destroy. St, John tells us,
« that he was a murderer