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at his hands, grace and strength to walk with God.
If you have done this in any sincerity, then God has assuredly begun a good work in you. It is probably, in the case of most, only a beginning, but it is His work. He will continue it; but you have to work along with His working; you have to seek His grace, to hold it fast, to grow in it.
Your path is very slippery ; far more so than you
think. Your enemies are many times more powerful and more subtle than you are at all aware of. But with respect to these very dangers God invites you to invoke His sustaining hand and His protection. He has put words for this very purpose into your mouth. You will find them in the seventeenth Psalm : “ O hold Thou up my goings in Thy paths, that my footsteps slip not. I have called upon Thee, O God, and Thou shalt hear me; incline Thine ear unto me, and hearken unto my words. Show Thy marvellous loving-kindness, Thou that art the Saviour of them that put their trust in Thee. Keep me as the apple of an eye; hide me under the shadow of Thy wings.”
Your strength of soul is small, and so God has given you a Sacrament for its strengthening by cementing your union with Him Who is all strength.
Come to His communion. Come to it constantly: be not like the numbers who come once, or twice, and then fall away, but come as if you believed in your heart what Christ says, that he that eateth His Flesh, and drinketh His Blood, dwelleth in Christ, and Christ in him; that he that eateth Christ's Flesh, and drinketh His Blood, hath eternal life, and Christ will raise him up at the last day.
Acts ix, 32. “And it came to pass, as Peter passed throughout all quarters, he came down also to the saints which dwelt at Lydda."
This is All Saints' Day. As on other days we commemorate the life or actions, or martyrdom of particular Saints, such as St. Peter or St. Paul, St. Stephen or St. John the Baptist, so on this day we more particularly bless God for “all His servants departed this life in His faith and fear,” not naming one in particular, but thanking and praising God for His grace manifested in all of them.
On this evening let us consider what we mean by a Saint of God.”
Now it is a very remarkable thing that we (and when I say “we," I mean all Christians now, whether Romanists or Protestants, Churchmen or Dissenters) attach to the term "saint” a meaning different from that attached to it in Scripture. And what is still more remarkable, all Christians now apparently attach a higher meaning to the term than what is associated with it in Scripture. When we now speak of a Saint, we always mean a man of very great holiness and very deep religion. We by no means mean an ordinary Christian ; nor do we mean a converted man, even, or a true penitent; nor do we mean either a man of ordinary, though real religion. There are many men whom we should call religious whom we should never think of calling saints. For some reason or other, we have got to restrict the term to the highest aristocracy of the kingdom of God. We call, of course, all the Apostles “Saints." We call great defenders of the faith, such as St. Athanasius or St. Ambrose, “Saints." We call a man like Augustine, whose works were the spiritual food of the Church for centuries, a Saint. We call the other Augustine, the early missionary, the first Archbishop of Canterbury, who planted the standard of the cross among our Saxon forefathers, we call him a Saint.
Again, there are a large number of persons who are habitually called Saints in books, and sometimes sermons, who (though some of them persons of undoubted holiness) are only called Saints because the Bishop of Rome has canonized
them. Thus Theresa, and Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits, and Xavier, the great missionary to the East, are called Saints; though the claims of numbers thus canonized to the appellation (if it be meant, as it is, to distinguish them from ordinary religious persons) is very doubtful.
Only a few years ago the present Bishop of Rome, with great formality, admitted into the roll of Saints the names of what are called the Japanese martyrs. Undoubtedly they were true martyrs for the sake of Christ, but not greater Saints than many Protestant missionaries, who have lost their lives in His cause.
Again, we invest with a sort of halo of holiness almost all the early Christians who lived and suffered in the first ages; as if, because they lived then, they must have been saintly in their lives : thus, when we read, in the last chapter of St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans, of bis sending messages to the Christians of Greek extraction living in Rome, Amplias, Urbane, Stachys, Apelles approved in Christ, Herodion, and others, we think of all these persons as “ Saints” in a very high, if not in the highest sense.
Such, then, are the persons whom we call “Saints.” Now I said that it is very remarkable that we give a higher meaning to the term "saint” than what Scripture does, for whereas we only give this title to persons of very eminent holiness, and would never think of calling an ordinarily religious person a “Saint,” the Apostles give the name, apparently indiscriminately, to all the Christians in their day.
Bear with me whilst I give some instances of this.