Richard Lowndes.

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nothing that preserves that even balance of the mind ;
there is nothing that quiets down those hourly vexa-
tions of spirit, to which we are all more or less ex-
posed; there is nothing that makes us stronger and
more able to cope with the petty troubles or the
serious afflictions of this life, than shaking these off
entirely for a little moment, as we rest awhile with
God in prayer, or else (which is better still, perhaps)
bringing these before the Lord to seek His gui-
dance, and to obtain from Him a spirit of wisdom and
understanding. For some it may be possible to live
in the habit of still more frequent prayer, as the
Psalmist says, " Seven times a day do I praise Thee,
because of Thy righteous judgments:"^ but for most
of us it should be the rule to " kneel down upon our
knees," as did Daniel of old time, '''' three times a day
to pray and give thanks before our God :"* and for
none who would preserve their spiritual life within
them, or who would hope to grow in grace, or who
would wish to bring forth any good fruits to the
honor and glory of God and to the salvation of their
own souls, — for none should it be the habit to offer up
their devotions less frequently than every night and

Secondly : we should form a habit, — a habit the ex-
cellence and necessity of which cannot possibly be over-
estimated, — of lifting up our thoughts to God con-

> Ps. cxix. 164, 2 Daniel vi. 10.

112 OUR vows.

tlniially, of appealing to Hira, of seeking His aid and
counsel and guidance in every thing, and on all occa-
sions ; a habit of referring all that we do, all our affiiirs,
all our wants and difticulties and doubts, all our daily
and hourly joys and sorrows, — referring all these to
God ; communing with Ilim, as with our wisest and
closest friend, of all these things; doubting nothing
that He hears, and is patient to consider the voice of
our supplication : for though He is the Lord our God,
that hath His dwelling so high, yet He "humbleth
Himself to behold the things that are in heaven and in
the earth.'" This is to obey the Apostle's injunction,
to ^'•pray icithout ceasing.^^^ It is not meant that these
upliftings of the heart to God all through the day
should be long or formal or studied ; rather they are
to be quick and momentary, as occasion may require.
But the value of this habit, and the strength that this
will impart to the soul, in all its unceasing conflicts
Avith the world, the flesh, and the devil, is beyond all
power of expressing.

"We scarcely require telling that at all times of our
more regular devotions we should ever use that model
of all prayers, Avhich our Lord has left for the comfort
and edification of His Church.

On the subject of the Lord's Prayer, notice the one
great lesson which we are taught herein, viz., that in
all our prayers we are to seek Jirst GoiVs honor and
glory ; and are then, and secondly, to make known our
own Avants and necessities. Thus we pray, first, " Hal-
loioed he Thy name^'''' — we beseech God, that by His
grace (for of ourselves we cannot do this) we may ever
glorify in our lives and conversations that great Name

1 Ps. cxiif. 6. ' 1 Tliess. v. 17.


which is holy and reverend: again, '•'"Thy Icingdom
come^'' that is, reign now and ever in our hearts, and
may the time be hastened when "the kingdoms of
this world shall become the kingdoms of our Lord, and
of His Christ:'" again, ''''Thy will le done on earthy as
it is in heaven^'''' that is, may we render as perfect an
obedience to God in our lives here on earth, as do the
holy angels, who surround God's throne in heaven.
Then, secondly, we make known unto God our own
personal necessities : " Give us this day our daily
Iread;'''' give us, that is, and thy whole Ohm-ch, all
that we require for the support of our souls and bod-
ies. How do these words teach us the need we have
of frequent prayer ! Our petition is only for this day's
wants ; we ask not for to-morrow : He who bade us
"take no thought for the morrow," would have us
pray " day by day" for the supply of each day's re-
turning need. Again, ^''Forgive us our trespasses^ as
iDe forgive those that trespass against us.'''' With what
force and significance is the law of charity here de-
clared ! we may not even supplicate for God's forgive-
ness on ourselves, except on the condition that we for-
give all others fuUy and freely their trespasses against
us : then, " Lead us not into temptation^^'' that is, suffer
us not to be tempted above what we are able to bear ;
with our temptations make a way for our escape ; let
Thy grace be sufficient to us in our time of need: '
"'But deliver us from evil;'''' deliver us from all dan-
gers to our souls and bodies ; deliver us from the Evil
One, from the power of sin, from aU things that may
hurt and defile our souls, and from all adversities that
may happen to our bodies. Thus are we taught to

1 Rev. xi. 15.

114 OUR vows.

have a regard first to God's glorj (and tliis should be
the rule of all our lives, since for God's " pleasure all
things are and were created'"): and then, secondly, to
cast all our earthly cares upon Him, who careth for us.'
In this manner, therefore, let us ever pray. And while
we so live in continual fervent prayer to God, we shall
never lack that Divine grace, that heavenly strength,
which may support us in all our warfare against our
spiritual foes.

Be it remembered, too, that when young persons
come to take their Baptismal vow upon themselves,
solemnly to ratify and confirm it, they have the prom-
ise of a more abundant share of God's Holy Spirit
to direct, sanctify, and govern them in all their future
lives. The laying on their heads of the bishop's hands
at Confirmation is a special sign and assurance to them
that God wUl impart to their souls— if they are seek-
ing these in earnestness and sincerity— the abundant
graces of the Holy Ghost. This indwelling of the
Holy Spirit was it which God bestowed in the early
ages of the Church's existence. When the Apostles
laid their hands on the disciples' heads, there followed
immediately the gift of the Holy Ghost; a gift evi-
denced and made plain by the miraculous powers
■which they, who were confirmed, possessed.^

In these latter days, when the Church is established
in the world, when "the grain of mustard-seed"^ is at
length become a mighty "tree," such miraculous
powers are no longer needed. These extraordinary
gifts, therefore, of the Holy Ghost have ceased. But
still do we look for His ordinary gifts, His common

1 Eev. iv. 11. 2 1 Pet. v. 7.

3 Acts xix. G. * Malt. xiii. '61.


gifts, those gifts which are needed by all men and in
all times. Still do we pray that " the Holy Ghost the
Comforter may strengthen them that are confirmed,
and daily increase in them His manifold gifts of grace,
the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of
counsel and ghostly strength, the spirit of knowledge
and true godliness, and the spirit of His holy fear."
And still do we look for the evidences of the Holy
Spirit's presence in those "fruits of the Spirit" which
St. Paul enumerates, such as love, joy, peace, long-
suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, tem-
perance,^ — these evidences of the Holy Spirit's pres-
ence we look for ; we pray that these may follow in
the hearts and conversation of all those on whom the
bishop lays his hands at Confirmation.

And how is it possible for us to think enough of
this most blessed grace and presence of the Holy
Spirit? Do we remember that from the Holy Ghost
alone come all holy desires and all good counsels of
our hearts? Do we know that the very ability to lay
hold of God's proffered mercies cometh from Him
alone ? Do we know that He only can quicken our
faith, that He only can rouse our dull hearts and
kindle our cold affections, that He only can render us
loving, dutiful, obedient ; and that through His sanc-
tifying influence alone we can appreciate, or appre-
hend, or profit by Christ's great work for our souls ?
Are we sensible of this? Is the remembrance of it
written and engraven on our hearts and minds ? How
inestimable, then, how priceless in its value must be
that gift, that indwelling Presence, which does effect
so much in us ; which can enlighten our understand-

1 Gal. V. 22.

116 OUR vows.

ing, which can elevate and purify onr affections, which
can at first bring us unto Christ, and then cause us to
abide in Hira ! How good must be that gift which is
poured out on them, who seek it in sincerity, at the
moment of their Confirmation! And how careful
should we be that we grieve not this Holy Spirit of
God, that we do not despite unto His grace, that we
never wilfully resist Him, neither provoke Him
through our obstinacy to withdraw His presence from
the temple of our bodies !

Moreover, there is one other channel of Divine
grace opened to us at the time of our Confirmation.
All who have been confirmed are invited to partake
of that other Sacrament — the Sacrament of the Lord's
Supper, wherein their souls may be strengthened and
supported. As by the one Sacrament of Baptism we
were first joined to Christ, the fountain of all spiritual
life and strength, so in this other Sacrament we find
again and again an ever new and increasing bond of
union with our Lord. It was the work of the Holy
Spirit at first to graft us into Christ in Baptism ; so is
it also His holy work to impart to us and to fit us to
receive Christ in this feast of love, to make our souls
capable of partaking spiritually of Christ's Body and
Blood. As it is said, "By one Spirit are we all bap-
tized into one body," so also is it added, "and have
been all made to drink into one Spirit."^ Christ ap-
pointed this second Sacrament for this very end, that
we might continually be brought closer and closer to
Himself, that we might receive more of Him, more
grace, more strength, more spiritual life and health.
And to this Sacrament we are first admitted at that

» 1 Cor. xii. 13.


time of our lives when we stand in the greatest need
of Divine grace. We are invited to the Lord's table
upon our Confirmation, when we are taking upon our-
selves our baptismal promises, when we are standing
out before God and His Church solemnly to declare
ourselves to be Christ's soldiers and servants, solemnly
to confirm with our own lips and in our own persons
those vows once made by our god-parents in our be-
half. Then we are invited to the Sacrament of the
Lord's Supper, to partake spiritually of Christ's pre-
cious Body and Blood, to be drawn closer unto our
Lord ; yea, to dwell in Him and He in us, to be one
with Him and He with us.

Notice shortly four points in the Holy Communion.

1. In our coming to the Lord's table there is obe-
dience to Christ's command, to His almost dying wish.
How inexpressibly sacred should this be in all Chris-
tians' eyes ! Our Lord has said, " Do this."^ And no
command of Christ may be neglected on peril of our
soul's salvation.''

2. It is in this Sacrament that we plead with God
the Father, in the most solemn way, the precious death
and sacrifice of Christ. It is through Christ's death
upon the cross alone that we may obtain remission of
our sins, or that we may be made partakers of the
kingdom of heaven. Here, in this Sacrament of the
Lord's Supper ; with these symbols of Christ's death ;
partaking of this Bread which Christ has afiirmed to
be His "Body,"^ once torn and broken; pai'taking of

1 Luke xxii. 19 ; Matt, xxvi. 26 ; 1 Cor. xi, 24

2 John vi, 53.

3 Matt. xxvi. 26. " To such as rightly, worthily, and with faith, re-
ceive the same, the Bread which we hreak is a partaking of the Body
of Christ; and likewise the Cup of Blessing is a partaking of the

118 OUR vows.

this wine which Christ has affirmed to be His Blood/
once shed upon the accursed " tree," we come before
the Holy Father and humbly plead the death and
merits of His only Son, beseeching Him to accept
that death in the stead of our death (who for our sins
deserve to die), and to grant us, for those merits' sake,
that everlasting life which we could never win our-

3. There is the special and peculiar blessing to be
obtained, which is Pinion with Christy and through
this union, grace and strength. Our Lord's own words
are, "He that eateth My Flesh, and driuketh My blood,
dwelleth in Me, and I in him."^ And thus our prayer
in the Communion Service is, " Grant us, therefore,
gracious Lord, so to eat the Flesh of Thy deai* Son
Jesus Christ, and to drink His Blood, that our sinful
bodies may be made clean by His Body, and our souls
washed through His most precious Blood, and that we
may evermore dicell in Him and He in its^ In this
Sacrament, Christ does impart Himself to us. Myste-
riously present. He verily and indeed communicates
Himself to our souls. So St. Paul's words are, " The
cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the com-
munion of the Blood of Christ ? The bread which
we break, is it not the communion of the Body of
Christ?"* And the Church teaches us that "our
heavenly Father hath given His Son, our Saviour
Jesus Christ, not only to die for us, but also to be our
spiritual food and sustenance in that Holy Sacrament."

Blood of Christ. . . . The body of Christ is given, taken, and
eaten, in the Supper, only after an heavenly and spiritual manner.
And the mean whereby the Body of Christ is received and eaten iu tho
Supper is Faith."— ^K XX nil.

1 Matt xxvi. 28. 2 John vi. P6. 3 1 Cor. x. 16.


See Matt. xxvi. 26-28; Mark xiv. 22-24; Luke xxii.
19, 20 ; 1 Cor. xi. 23-27.

4. We partake of this lioly Sacrament in remem-
brance of Christ; for remembering His inestimable
love, His Cross and Passion; for "showing the
Lord's death till He come." Hereby we continually
revive in our own hearts, we strengthen and renew
that gratitude and thankfalness to our Eedeemer,
which should ever be our first and latest thought,
which should be indeed the ruling principle of all our
lives. (Rere parts of the Communion Service should
be read over and explained.)

And what is there necessary in those who would
come to this Holy Sacrament? What must they do
who would prepare themselves for the worthy celebra-
tion of it ? They must first examine their past lives,
that they may learn wherein they have offended against
the laws of God or man ; and then must they earnestly
repent them of their sins and honestly parpose to
amend their lives in every respect. If they have
offended any one, if they have done any wrong or
injury to their neighbor, " they must make restitution
and satisfaction according to the uttermost of their
powers, being likewise ready to forgive others that
have oftended them." This must they do with an
humble reliance on God's mercy in Jesus Christ, with
a lively faith in that holy Saviour, and with hearty
thanks to God the Father, the Son, and the Holy
Ghost, for the redemption of the world by Jesus Christ.
If they will come so prepared and in such a spirit of
repentance, faith, and love, they need not fear lest
they should not find acceptance with God. Our Lord's

120 OUR vows.

own gracious promise is, " Iliin that cometh to Me, I
will in no wise cast out."'

Let it be observed here, that it is not well to be too
curious or anxious as to how and in what manner
Christ communicates Himself to us in this holy Sacra-
ment. Suffice it to us to remember that our Lord has
been pleased to declare, that the faithful reception of
these outward and visible signs — these creatures of
bread and wine — shall certainly impart to our souls
some inward and spiritual grace ; yea, even Christ
Himself. But since this inward grace is spiritual —
Christ, through the working of the Holy Spirit, and
according to the mysterious and to us unfathomable
laws which govern spiritual things, communicating
Himself to our S2nrits^ entering into us and dwelling
with us, and uniting us unto Himself in some way ab-
solutely inappreciable to our senses — it must be evi-
dent, that though we may fully believe in this spiritual
communion with our most holy Saviour (since His
Word assures us of it), and though we may indeed
realize its eJSects upon the hidden life of our spirits,
yet the precise manner in which it is effected in us
must ever remain to our weak human understanding a
mystery which is past our comprehension. Let us be
content with this. We question not, neither do we
doubt about the existence of our souls and spirits.
Let us accept with a like unhesitating belief the bless-
ing which is imparted to those unseen spirits.

But we hear persons talk sometimes of candidates
for Confirmation being too young to present themselves
as guests at the Supper of the Lord. Alas, what an
unhappy thought ! Are you too young to be exposed to

' John vi. 87.


the crafts and assaults of the devil ? too young to be
surrounded by every kind of temptation ? Are you
too young, then, to need God's grace ? Are you too
young to come to serve the Lord ? Has not the wise
man said, " Eemember now thy Creator in the days of
thy youth ?"^ Are you too young " to choose between
God and mammon?" Are you too young to "refuse
the evil, and choose the good ?" Are you too young
to dedicate yourselves to God's service, to enlist your-
selves beneath Christ's banner ? If so, why have you
presented yourselves for Confirmation ? Ah, let none
be deceived or led astray by such false, ungodly, mis-
erable arguments. Kather remember that God loves
young hearts. God wills to be served by them who
are still fresh, and pure, and unspotted by the grosser
sins of this wicked world. God calls these especially
to Himself ; and these, if they will hear His voice, shall
certainly be filled with all grace and spiritual bene-

If it be meant, indeed, by any young person, that he
is not in earnest in his intention to serve the Lord, that
he has no desire to cleave unto the Lord with his
whole heart, and that, therefore, he fears to profane
the holy Sacrament with his presence ; to such a one
it certainly must be answered : In God's Name, ap-
proach not to the table of thy Lord ; for, coming with
neither love, nor faith, nor penitence, nor sincerity,
thou wilt surely eat and drink to thine own condemna-
tion ! But then, to such a one, it must be likewise
added, Come not either to the holy rite of Confirma-
tion ; for if thou come there with a lie in thy right
hand, to vow falsely and hypocritically unto the Lord

1 Eccles. xii. 1.

122 OUR vows.

thy God, purposing not to perform thy vows, — if thon
come thus to take God's holy Name in vain, thou wilt
surely find a curse and not a blessing.

But there are some, who think humbly and sorrow-
fully that they are not worthy to receive the Sacra-
ment of the Lord's Supper, that they are not good
enough. Let these be comforted and assured. In one
sense, indeed, none can be thought worthy to partake
of so great blessing; and so, in the service for the
Holy Communion, our confession is, " We do not pre-
sume to come to this Thy table, merciful Lord, trust-
ing in our own righteousness, but in Thy manifold and
great mercies. AVe are not worthy so much as to
gather up the crumbs under Thy table." Let us re-
member, however, that we are not admitted to our
Lord's table as a reicardfor our goodness, but we come
there to le made good. We come there seeking Christ
therein. How can we become good without that grace
which we receive from Christ ? Have we such spirit-
ual strength in ourselves? Is not Christ the only
fountain of all life ? When we come to the Holy Com-
munion, we come seeking from Christ that grace and
spiritual strength which He only can impart to us, and
which our souls so sorely need. That Sacrament is the
special means of grace, the very means above all others
whereby Christ would impart some strength and re-
freshing to our weary souls. It is not (be it again and
again repeated) a sense oipast sins — of past sins which
we humbly sorrow over — which will make us unwor-
thy to approach Christ's table. A present love of sin^
a wish and intention to continue in our sins, a wilful
determination to persist in ungodly ways, this only
(and this most surely) makes us unworthy and unfitted


to present ourselves as guests at the Supper of our
Lord, — this, and a careless ungodly disbelief in the
blessedness of that holy Sacrament.

But if any wiU come with penitent, faithful, and
loving hearts, they need fear nothing. God will mer-
cifully accept them ; Christ will draw them nearer and
still nearer to Himself; the Holy Spirit will direct,
govern, and sanctify their hearts ; and in the Divine
strength which they obtain in that and in all other ap-
pointed means of grace, they shall be enabled to stand
fast in the evil day ; they shall " lay aside the sin
which doth so easily beset them,"^ and they shall go
out and show themselves Christ's faithful soldiers and
servants unto their lives' end.

1 Heb. xii. 1.

1 2 3 4 5 6 8

Online LibraryRichard LowndesOur vows : a work to be read in preparation for baptism, confirmation and the Eucharist → online text (page 8 of 8)