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relate to some feature in our respective natures, characters, and circumstances : for example, God's great power; His knowledge of our wants ; will. ingness to relieve them ; control over us as the creatures of His providence, or subjects of His kingdom, or children of His family ; or, on the other hand, our own infirmities, helplessness, difficulties, dangers, temptations, and so on. These statements are generally introduced with the pronouns, “who,” or “whose," and deserve great attention, as shewing what use may be made of such facts and doctrines of Holy Scripture in our addresses to God. Such statements, therefore, wherever they occur, should be carefully examined : their correctness shewn by reference to such passages of Holy Scripture as assert or explain them, and the encouragement to prayer, which they again supply, should be pointed out. To accomplish these ends is the design of the questions in Section II., and it is hoped that they will not be altogether inappropriate. In cases where no such statements are found, this section will, of course, be passed over, and the next part of the Collect proceeded with.
The second part of the Collect is the Petition. Here we have, again, two sections of questions, because there are two points here also to bring out; first, the matters included in the petition ; second, the truths taught in the language in which those petitions are expressed. The matters embraced in the petition will first require to be distinctly brought out, and the meaning of any particular word or phrases to be explained. It must also be shewn that they are proper subjects of prayer, as necessary and expedient for us, and according to the will of God; and, whether or no we have any special promises in the Scriptures, that they will be given to those who desire them. To these points, therefore, the questions of the first section under this division are applied. In this part of the lesson, however, much must of necessity be left to the teachers individually; and it may be enlarged on to any extent they please. Here, indeed, the idea of one single set of questions for examining all the Collects was found impracticable, and therefore, in the following analysis of the Collects, such supplementary questions are subjoined at foot of each Collect, to be introduced at this point of the lesson, as the cases seemed to require. The second section of questions under this division relates to the second point: namely, the truths directly taught, or indirectly implied, in the language in which the several petitions are expressed, or from the fact of those petitions being offered. This is a somewhat more abstruse point than the rest, and many probably would not at first be able to follow it out; but a little attention would soon master it, and the mental exercise required would be of great benefit to any who would take it in hand.
The third part of the Collect is the Conclusion. Here we have three sections, because three points to examine; but the drift of the questions in each of the three sections requires no explanation, as they must be clear to all. Section I. leads to a consideration of the mediatorial office of Christ, and the necessity of knowing God the Son before we can come to God the Father. Section II. treats on what is, at times, stated as to His Kingly office, His living and reigning with the Father and Spirit; and to these three as one God. Section III. inquires into the meaning and use of the word' “ AMEN,” with which all our prayers are ended. To these points the several questions in each section will be found adapted. When these are ended the lesson should be closed with a word or two of practical application of the important truths that have therein been inculcated.
When such a course of lessons, as is here delineated, has been regularly followed out, though it may have been in a very imperfect manner, still a vast amount of instruction of a most valuable character, upon a most important subject, cannot fail to have been communicated. Not only will the Seasons of our Ecclesiastical Year have been explained, and their Objects shewn, and our congregations thereby prepared to enjoy with more relish the services for those Seasons ; not only will a Prayer have been committed to memory, which may perhaps return with saving power to the heart on a dying bed; not only will the Subject of Prayer, as a whole, have been explained and pressed upon the conscience and heart; but further, the true character of the Doctrines of the Church of England will have been clearly ascertained ; and in no part of her formularies does her truly Scriptural character— her exact agreement with the Divine Word—shine so prominently forth as in these “Gems of the Church,” as the Collects have been not inappropriately termed. Her Creeds are rejected by one party, her Articles explained away by another, her Rubrics are questioned by a third ; but judged here by her prayers, Who shall dare to condemn? Here at least her trumpet gives no uncertain sound. Here at least her testimony to all the grand doctrines of the Gospel is decided and clear. The lost state of man, because by nature sinful, and by practice a: sinner; his utter inability, of himself, to recover himself from that state ; his redemption by Christ, and sole dependence on His atoning blood : the
Holy Spirit as the sole agent in the work of regeneration and renewal of heart; a perfect justification and progressive sanctification, leading to a final glorification ; and all taken hold of by the hand of Faith: to these, and to every other doctrine for which it is necessary to contend, her Seal has been here affixed by the hands of Her Martyred Sons. In no unknown language either are her petitions breathed, but in that pure Saxon which her children love. To no virgin, angels, or saints, are those petitions addressed, but to the one only God, through the one only Mediator Christ. Not a whisper of purgatory here. No prayers for the dead here. No allusion, however distant, to any other sacrifice but THE ONE ONLY SACRIFICE OF CHRIST, in Whom, and by Whom, and through Whom alone their acceptance is sought; and to Whom, with the Father and the Spirit, She desires all glory should ever be ascribed.