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The Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany.
O GOD, who knowest us to be set in the midst of so many and great dangers, that by reason of the frailty of our nature we cannot always stand upright; Grant to us such strength and protection, as may support us in all dangers, and carry us through all temptations; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
“ The powers that be are ordained of God.”—Rom. xii. 1.
FROM this, learn to trace the hand of God in giving
and your responsibility in the use of every—the minutest-instance of power which you have received. Certainly, the Roman emperors did not-if any others did not possess an immediate title from the Word or interference of God; yet because this power, in the order of Providence and by the right of possession, fell to their share, they are said to be “ordained of God.”
So, whatever power I may possess—whatever power
have given me over the happiness or interests of my fellow-creatures, let me see the hand of God in this—let me know that I am ordained to it, however minute. As the minister of God, let me not betray my trust; that, being found faithful in little, I may be intrusted with much. The same consideration should, conversely, lead myself to submit with deference to the influence and power which circumstances have given others over me, as the same consideration proves that they are the ministers of God to me for good.
“ Lord, save us : we perish.... Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?”—Matt. viii. 25, 26.
HAT the disciples had some faith in their Master is
evident from their having applied to Him at all. How little it was, is equally evident from the nervous timidity which they discovered. That in some measure they doubted His will, appears from the words of another evangelist : “Lord, carest Thou not that we perish ?” and in some measure His power, appears from the astonishment they afterwards exhibited. True faith would have been satisfied that neither the sleep of Jesus was a proof of His indifference, nor that the imminence of the danger was above the extent of His power. Under such an impression, they would have requested Him as a duty, but with a calm persuasion that all should be overruled for the best. How much easier it is to say what is right for others to do, than to do what is right ourselves! Let us, however, take the lesson that, in the stormy and critical occasions of life, it is a breach of faith to approach the throne of Grace with fear in our hearts concerning the event. This would imply that God is not mighty to prevent such evils ; or that, if He be so, He does not care whether we perish in them.
Why, when storms around you gather,
Should your trembling spirits sink ?
And of His sweet promise think.
Cease that dark anticipation,
Still let love and faith abound;
Strength sufficient will be found.
God is love, and will not leave you,
When you most His kindness need;
Though your faith be weak indeed.
The Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany.
O LORD, we beseech Thee to keep Thy Church and household continually in Thy true religion; that they who do lean only upon the hope of Thy heavenly grace may evermore be defended by Thy mighty power; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord."COL. iii. 16.
THIS passage shows us how the Word of Christ will
work in us, if it dwell in us richly. Mutual admonition is the result. They who communicate saving truths are not necessarily saved; but they who have tasted the cup of salvation will feel ever anxious to communicate saving truth. “A good man, out of the good treasure of his heart, bringeth forth that which is good, and an evil man, out of the evil treasure of his heart, bringeth forth that which is evil.” Singing is the language of joy, but it is not the less the language of instruction. The Gospel of grace most fitly flows from the lips of praise. He who hath made the lark to warble, and the young birds to carol His praises, hath ordained that the “ redeemed of the Lord shall return, and come with singing unto Zion, and everlasting joy shall be upon their head.” Depart ye who would cloud with gloom the high roads to the new Jerusalem. “ Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, ye righteous, and shout for joy, all ye that are true of heart.”
“ The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field.”-MATT. xiii. 24.
HE seed is sown by God, and the seed is the Word
of God. His profit depends upon the return of genuine grain it will bring Him in by harvest. The harvest is coming on apace. Oh ! let me be careful that He may