« PreviousContinue »
living in holiness and piety towards God, and in love and charity with all its members and exercising good will and affection to all mankind.e
COLLECTS and PRAYERS for the CHURCH.
The Collects for Good Friday. Collect for the fifth Sunday after Trinity Collect for the fifteenth Sunday after Trinity. Collect for the twenty-second Sunday after Trinity. Collect for St. John the Evangelist's day. "Collect for St. Matthias's day. Collect for St. Peter's day. Collect for St. Bartholomew the Apostle. Collect for St..Simon and St. Jude, Apostles.
FESTIVALS AND FASTS.
HAT do you mean by Festivals ? A. Festivals are days set apart by the Church, either for the remembrance of some special mercies of God, such as the birth and resurrection of Christ, the descent of the Holy Ghost, &c.; or in memory of the blessed Apostles, and other saints, who were the happy instruments of conveying to us the knowledge of Christ Jesus.
Q. Of what authority is the observation of these Festivals ?
A. They are of ecclesiastical institution; agreeable to Scripture in their general design, which is the promoting of piety; and consonant to the practice of the primitive Church.
Q. What kind of days are they whose observation is condeinned in Scripture ?
A. Such days only are forbidden to be observed in Scripture as were dedicated by the heathens to their false gods, or as were observed by them as lucky or unlucky days; these being the abominations of the heathens condemned in Deuteronomy: or the holy days of the Jews, which, though abrogateit, the Judaizing Christians attempted to impose upon the Galatians, as necessary to salvation; contrary to the Apostle's endeavours of setting them at liberty in the freedom of the Gospel, and to the doctrine of salvation by Christ alone.
Q. Is the observation of such days as are in use among Christians forbidden in Scripture ?
A. The observation of such days as are in use among Christians is not forbidden in Scripture. God, who had in abomination the observer of times, does himself ordain several feasts to be observed in memory of past benefits; as the
feast of the passover, of weeks, and of tabernacles. Be-sides, our Saviour kept a feast of the Church's institution, viz. the Feast of Dedication. And the common practice of: all Christian churches and states, in appointing and keeping, days of public thanksgiving and humiliation, prove, that, in the common sense of Christians, the observance of such days is not forbidden in Scripture.
Q. What may be pleaded for such days, from the design of their institution ?
1. Since it is a great duty to be grateful, and to give thanks to God for the blessings we receive from him, it must be not only lawful, but commendable, to appoint and observe days for the particular remembrance of such blessings, and to give thanks for them. The sanctifying of such days is a token of that thankfulness, and part of that public honour which we owe to God for his inestimable benefits.
Q. But do not these festivals restrain the praises of God, which ought to be extended to all times, to particular times alone ?
A. No duty can be performed without the circumstance of time; and the appointment of a certain time for the duty of praise, tends only to the securing of some time for the exert cise of the duty, against the frailtics of men and the disturbances of the world.
Q. Is not our Church symbolizing with the Church of Rome, in the hallowing of days, an ohjection against the observation of them ?
A. Conformity to any Church, in such institutions as tend: to promote piety, and are agreeable to Scripture and primitive antiquity, no way deserves censure. Neither is the Church of Rome blameable for the hallowing of days, but for grafting upon them such erroneous and superstitious practices as are unknown to Scripture, and to the purest ages of the Church.. For which reason, and many morevery substantial. ones, we were forced to separate from her: communion.
Q. But doth not the abuse of festivals to intemperance and luxury make it necessary to have them abolished ?
A. The objection that festivals are abused, can, with no more propriety, be urged against festivals, than the scandalous lives of Christians against the efficacy of the Christian religion : but as the scandalous lives of Christians is an obe jection not so strong against Christianity as it is shameful to Christians; so this perverting of Holy Seasons shows only.
the dapravity of mankind, in turning to their injury what was designed for their benefit; and no way impeaches the prudence or piety of the institution of festivals. They who are intemperately disposed do, indeed, upon these occasions, turn feasting, designed for hospitality and charity, into luxury and excess : so the same men treat the Lord's day with as little respect, and make the advantage of rest and leisure from their worldly affairs only an instrument to promote their pleasure and diversions. It should be the earnest endeavour of Christians to retrieve the honour of these Holy Seasons, by the exercises of piety and charity.
Q. Did not the primitive Church observe festivals in commemoration of the Apostles and other eminent saints ?
1. The primitive Christians were wont once a year to meet at the graves of the martyrs, there solemnly to recite their sufferings and triumphs, to praise their virtues, and to bless God for their pious examples, for their holy lives and their happy deaths. They also celebrated these days with great expressions of love and charity to the poor, and of temperate and sober rejoicing.
Q. In what manner ought we to observe the festivals of the Church?
A. We should constantly attend the public worship, and partake of the blessed sacrament, if it be administered. In private we should enlarge our devotions, and suffer the affairs of the world to interrupt us as little as possible. We should particularly express our rejoicing by love and charity to our poor neighbours. If we commemorate any mystery of our redemption, or article of our faith, we ought to confirm our belief of it, by considering all those reasons upon which it is built; that we may be able to give a good account of the hope that is in us; and we should, from our hearts, offer to God the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and resolve to perform all those duties which result from the belief of the particular mystery or doctrine which the festival of the day presents to our faith and gratitude. If we commemorate any saint, we should consider the virtues for which he was most eminent, and by what steps he arrived at so great perfection : and then we should examine ourselves how far we are defective in our duty, earnestly supplicating God's pardon for our past failings, and his grace to enable us to conform our lives to those admirable examples that are set before us.
Q. What are the advantages of a serious observation of festivals ?
A. A serious. observation of the festivals of the Church testifies our great regard to the institutions of the Church, and our obedience to our spiritual superiors, to whom we ought to submit, as to those that watch for our souls. It fixes in our thoughts the great mysteries of our redemption; it fills our hearts with a thankful sense of God's great goodness; it raises our minds above the world, and inures us to a sober frame and temper of soul; it kindles a prudent zeal and fervour in performing the offices of religion; and tends to produce a readiness to do or suffer any thing for the name of Jesus.
Q: What do you mean by Fasts?
A. Fasts are days set apart by the Church, or by civil authority, or by our own appointment, in which, by abstinence, humiliation, and repentance, we are to testify our grief for our past sins, and strengthen our resolutions of holy obedience.
Q. Whence arises the obligation of a Christian to fast?
A. Nature seems to suggest fasting as a proper expression of sorrow and grief, and as a fit method to dispose our minds towards the consideration of serious things. It appears from the Scriptures, that devout persons have always practised fasting, both as a part of their devotion, and as a powerful aid to it; and all nations from ancient times have used fasting as a part of repentance, and as a mean to turn away God's anger.
Q. Was fasting practised in the primitive Church?
A. The ancient Christians were very exact both in their weekly and annual fasts. Their weekly fasts were kept on Wednesdays and Fridays; because on the one our Lord was betrayed, and on the other crucified. These fasts were called their stations, from the military word of keeping their guard, as Tertullian observes ;d though others think more immediately from the Jewish phrase, and the custom of those devout men, who, either out of their own devotion, or
h Heb. xiii. 17.
i Psalm lxix. 10; Dan. ix. 3; Luke ii. 37; Acts 8.30; Acos xiii. 2; 2 Cor. vi. 5; xi. 27 1 Cor. ix. 27. i Tertul. de Jejun. c. 2.