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The sections or subdivisions, again, are made up of particular questions; but to shew the drift and scope of these we must take a regular survey of the entire lesson.
To begin, then, with the questions under the first topic, “ The Season of the Christian Year.” Now to understand the drift of each of these questions, and the reason for their introduction into this lesson, we must know what is meant by this phrase—the “Season of the Christian Year,” and whence the use of that phrase has arisen.
Everybody who is in the habit of attending the services of our Church must have noticed that those services, as arranged in the Book of Common Prayer, follow in a regular prescribed course, and are so ordered that they are gone through once every year. This annual round of services, it must also have been noticed, does not begin and end at the same time as our ordinary year (i. e. the natural year), which begins in January and ends in December; nor does it always begin on the same day of the month, being sometimes a few days earlier, and sometimes a few days later, than others: but it begins with the Sunday called Advent Sunday (which is always the nearest Sunday to the 29th day of November in each year), and usually ends with one of the Sundays after Trinity, from the 22d to the 25th, varying more or less according to the time of Easter. This annual round of services is called “the Christian Year," being a division of time distinct from all other divisions whatsoever, whether natural or civil, and peculiar to the Christian Church. This Christian year, as well as the natural year, may be said to have its seasons and its days, and that, too, because of their connexion with a sun. Not the natural sun in the natural heavens, around which our earth revolves in its orbit, and from which that earth derives its light, its heat, its life, but the Sun of Righteousness in the spiritual heavens, even Jesus Christ, around Whom the Church revolves in her circle or orbit of services, and from Whom she derives her light, her heat, her life. The seasons into which this Christian year is divided have each had their origin in some event in the life of the Saviour, or some passage in His history, which, because of its great importance and intimate connexion with the plan of salvation, has been deemed to merit an annual commemoration. The names by which these seasons are respectively known are generally derived from those events, or at least have a distinct reference thereto, and in the services of the Church during each season, the event to which that season relates is always brought under our notice. To appreciate these services, therefore, aright, and to enter upon them with a proper spirit, all these points require to be known and understood.
Then, beyond the bare fact of the commemoration of the event, there is another object designed by the Church, and that is, the practical application of the subject to our own souls, either by way of comfort on the one hand, or caution on the other. Hence the bearing of the particular event needs to be understood, that those subjects which are in accordance therewith and appropriate thereto, may be present in our minds at such times.
It is to these several points that the questions in Section I., under this first head, are directed; and it is thought, that after these explanatory remarks they cannot but be understood, and also that they will be found fully to answer the purpose for which they are designed. The questions in Section II. are for use in place of the above when the Collect is for a Saint's day, as has been already noted at the foot of the Section itself.
The second division, or topic, is “The General Subject of Prayer,” seeing, as we have already remarked, that this lesson is to supply a channel for the communication of a regular course of instruction upon that important subject. Here the questions can need no explanation. All that is necessary is, that the several points which they embrace be, in their turns, impressed upon the minds of all in the class, that that ignorance which has hitherto prevailed upon these subjects may in this way gradually be removed.
The third division, or topic, is “The Particular Collect or Prayer,” which is next to be examined and explained; and that both on its own account, and by way of illustrating the matters to which the preceding topic relates. The questions under this topic are first divided into three parts, answering to the three parts into which we have said (in our Preface) every Collect may be divided, and distinguished by the same names : first, “ The Invocation ;" second, “ The Petition ;" third, “ The Conclusion ;” and these parts, again, are subdivided into sections and questions as before. The general drift of the sections in each part is to be gathered from a consideration of the cause which has led to this division into those parts ; and that is, because, as the headings shew, those parts relate each to a distinct and separate object. The particular scope of each question is to be gathered from a consideration of the points those parts respectively embrace. To begin, then, with the first part, the Invocation or Address. Here we have two sections of questions because
two points to dwell upon. The first is the titles under which the Supreme Being is invoked ; and the second is the statements which are sometimes added respecting His nature, character, and actions, or our nature, position, and circumstances. To these two points the questions in the two sections of the part apply. Thus, as the various titles used in the Collect are all very expressive and rich in meaning, denoting in some cases relationship or connexion between God and ourselves ; in others, some one or more of the attributes or qualities which He possesses, the Questions 1 to 8 of Section I. will be appropriate to bring out these points and prove them. And then, as from the fact of the possession of such attributes, or the existence of such relationship, great encouragement may usually be derived, Question 9 may properly follow, and the subject to which it refers be explained to the class.
The questions in Section II. are adapted for examining the particular statements which are found in most of the Collects, in connexion with the Invocation or Address. In some cases these statements relate to acts done, or caused to be done, on man's behalf by God : for example, the gift of His Son; the sending of the Spirit; the writing of the Scriptures ; and many others which might readily be mentioned. In other cases they