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to sensuality, pride, and covetousness. But when the prince of this world came, he found nothing in Him; whereas, we, being " earthly, sensual, « and devilish," find it hard work to “renounce “ the devil, the world, and the flesh.”

Our great pattern, not only on the occasion which our collect records but also on many others, indeed as often as it was possible, sought retirement from the world, abridging the usual hours of repose, and frequently spending whole nights in sleepless solitude. But what need had He to seclude Himself from scenes which never endangered His moral safety, nor interrupted His calm pursuit of the great object of life? Herein “He “ hath set us an example that we should follow “ His steps.” Corporeal fasting will avail us little unless it be accompanied with mental. An abstinence from that food on which the carnal mind lives, is the great end to be promoted by the temporary deprivation or abridgment of bodily aliment. By a frequent seclusion of ourselves from the world, we shall cultivate communion with God, be armed against the power of temptation in our unavoidable intercourse with it, and shall learn, after the example of our Lord, to resist and conquer its seductive influence.

We now proceed to consider the prayer, which our church has founded on the recollection of our Lord's fast of forty days and forty nights. We implore " grace that we may use” due “ absti“ nence,” under the direction and encouragement which the example of Christ affords. " have not a high priest which cannot be touched “ with a feeling of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted, like as we are, yet without sin.

It may appear strange to persons who are unacquainted with the genuine nature of Godliness,

" For we

that our church should deem the grace of God to be necessary to the practice of abstinence. They may ask, in a tone of self-confidence,--Can I not, without supernatural assistance, abstain from my usual food, or diminish the quantity of it?-Such objectors will find, that temperance is reckoned by the Apostle among the fruits of the Spirit. (Gal. v. 22, 23, and 2 Pet. i. 5, 6, 7.) And if temperance be the result of Divine grace, abstinence is a higher degree of self-crucifixion. Carnal appetites are too strong to be overcome by the deductions of reason or the precepts of man. For though a natural power of fasting be allowed to every one, the moral power can only be derived from renewing grace.

The bias of the will is subject only to Omnipotence; and it is the motive, which sanctities the act.

That self-mortification is a Christian duty, no one would gather from the general spirit and habits of those who are called Christians in the present day. For self-indulgence seems to be the prevailing object of concern among all ranks and orders of mankind, both in the church and out of it. On making a comparison between modern profession and that of the primitive church, the mind is struck with the amazing difference that prevails between them. The whalesame discipline which was then enforced would now be thought an intolerable burthen; and were an attempt to restore it made, the ranks of thase who bear the name of Christ would be so thinned that few would be left to occupy our pews and join in our services. Their life resembled a warfare; ours a profound peace. They were soldiers in the field; we, troops reposing in their barracks. They cultivated hardness; we indulge softness and unmanly delicacy. That much real Godliness

exists in the English church, is not to be doubted; but that it is not of that lively, spiritual, and fervid cast, which the primitive church exhibited, is also evident to those who are acquainted with the memoirs of the first ages.* Perhaps to the want of self-discipline may be attributed many of those severe chastisements which we receive from the immediate hand of God. For if the heart be purified, and the soul finally saved, it must be by a mortification of sensuality in some way or other. And if we refuse to engage in the work of selfdenial, God must, in pity to our souls, perform it for us. The agency and the internal instrumentality employed in this gracious change are the same in all cases; but the external means used may vary. To this St. Paul seems to refer, when, after speaking of the disorders of the Corinthian church, he says, "For this cause many are weak "and sickly among you, and many sleep. For "if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are "chastened of the Lord, that we should not be "condemned with the world." 1 Cor. xi. 31, 32.†


To propose particular rules for the duty of abstinence is both unnecessary and impossible. It is unnecessary, because that grace for which we pray will, if earnestly implored, both teach us what is right and enable us to practise it. It is, moreover, impossible, because the circumstances of individuals greatly vary. The discipline of the

*See Bingham's Ecclesiastical Antiquities, and Milner's History of the Church of Christ.

Kpivena pro puniri, ut 1 Pet. iv. 6, 17. Si inde factorum pœnas de nobis ipsis exigeremus, animo contrito et humiliato, lachrymis, jejuniis, et aliis oxλnpaywɣiais, non opus haberet Deus pœnas nobis immittere, Pol. Syn. in locum.

primitive church was very rigid. To this in aster ages popery added a tedious round of silly and unmeaning superstitions. Our church, while she has carefully expunged from her ritual the puerile and pharisaic innovations of Popery, and is desirous of avoiding the laxity of antinomian anarchy, laments her inability to restore that external system of ecclesiastical government, which produced such happy effects in the early period of Christianity.*

That religious abstinence is required in a much higher degree than is now commonly practised, both with respect to general habits and particular seasons, needs very little proof. Our Lord has laid down rules for the mode of observing the latter in His sermon on the mount. And to this express approbation of particular seasons appropriated to special abstinence, the example of holy men of old, both under the Old Testament dispensation and the New, may be added.“ It was a duty all along observed by devout men, and acceptable to God under the Old and New Testament, both as it was helpful to their devotion, and as it became a part of it. Public enjoined fasts, upon extraordinary occasions, are so frequent in Scripture, that they need no particular notice. And as to private fasts, we read that David chastened his soul with fasting. And Daniel sought the Lord, not only “with

prayers and supplications,” but “with fasting.' Anna“ served and worshipped God in prayers “ and fasting night and day.” Cornelius fasting as well as praying, when the vision came, that brought salvation to his house. When Paul and Barnabas were to be set apart to an especial


* See the Commination Service.

ministration, there was fasting joined to prayer; and St. Paul approved himself “a minister of God in fastings” as well as in “ labours and

watchings: he kept his body under, and brought « it into subjection,* lest, while he preached to

others, he himself should be a cast away.”+ (1 Cor. ix. 27.)

In the chapter from which this declaration of St. Paul respecting his own daily practice is quoted, the Christian life is compared to the Isthmian games. And the latter affords a striking illustration of the former. In both a prize is proposed, and a course marked out;-in both a proclamation is made by authorized heralds inviting candidates to the contention by exhibiting

* The first of the two verbs, which St. Paul has used to describe his self-mortification, literally signifies to bruise and buffet; and it strongly expresses those acts of self-denial to which the Apostle habituated bimself. Respecting the second, a cțitick has observed that it is a word taken from the boxers, who dragged off their conquered antagonists like slaves. With what propriety these metaphors can be applied to the practice of inodern Christians, the reader must determine for himself.

+ Wheatly's Feasts and Fasts. From this declaration of St. Paul it has been inferred that he was doubtful about his own salvation. The inference is, however, illegitimate. For in other passages he speaks with assured confidence, declaring that he “ knew whom he had believed, and was

persuaded that He would keep that which he had com“ mitted to Him against that day.” And even here the necessity of means does not imply an uncertainty of event. As when the same Apostle, on his voyage to Rome, told the Centurion that unless the mariners abode in the ship the passengers could not be saved, he did not express any doubt of the Divine promise which was made to him, that both his own life and the lives of all that sailed with him should be saved. Comp. Acts xxvii. 31, with ver. 21-26. On this subject the reader will derive great pleasure and satisfaction from a perusal of the judicious Hooker's Discourse “ On " the certainty and perpetuity of faith in the elect." VOL. II,


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