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self, and all sober Christians, that the sinner is a true penitent; that he has forsaken all his evil ways, evil company, evil habits; that he is grown habitually serious, devout and religious,—and that by fasting and prayer, he has, in some good measure, got the mastery of his corrupt nature, and has begun a repentance not to be repented of.
For want of this care and method, many Christians are ruined eternally. They sin, and repent, and sin again, and think all is safe, because they have repented, as they think, and are pardoned.
There are people who are in the same sad case with those that stand excommunicated, though no sentence has passed upon them, namely, such as live in a contempt of the public worship of God. They cannot properly be turned out of the Church, who never come into it, but they keep themselves out of the ark, and consequently must perish.
Excommunication, in the primitive times, was pronounced in the congregation to which the offender belonged. After which, they gave notice to all other Churches ; namely, 'let no temple of God be open to him, let none converse with him,' &c.
2 Sam. xii. 13, 14. “ And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the LORD. And Nathan said, the Lord also hath put away thy sin, thou shalt not die. Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child that is born unto thee shall surely die.” The divine justice punisheth every sin, either in this world or in the next. A sinner's willingness to undergo any punishment which shall be appointed by the minister of God, in order to make proof of, and to establish his repentance, is a sure sign that God has not withdrawn his grace, notwithstanding his sin.
( To be continued.) OXFORD, The Feast of the Annunciation.
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TRACTS FOR THE TIMES.
HOLY DAYS OBSERVED IN THE ENGLISH CHURCH.
The Holy days observed by the Church of England are of two kinds : - Festivals, or days of joy; and Fasts, or days of sorrow.
The FESTIVALS are :
THE NATIVITY OF OUR LORD, commonly called Christmas-day; on which we celebrate that great event, the birth, as man, of the everlasting and Almighty Son of God. (Dec. 25.)
The CIRCUMCISION OF CHRIST. On this day we are taught to remember with joy the transaction which may be called the first act of our Lord's obedience to the law for our sakes; the beginning of that unspotted career of purity and duty, which He mercifully submitted to accomplish for the redemption of sinful man. (Jan. 1.)
THE EPIPHANY, the manifestation, or making known of the new-born Saviour to the Gentiles. · The first individuals, from the nation's who till then had walked in darkness, who bent the knee before Him, were the Wise Men of the East ; when led by a miraculous star, they brought gola, frankincense, and myrrh, as their offerings to Bethlehem. And this event we, in an island which has since, by God's mercy, also caught the bright rays of Christian truth, cannot too joyfully or too thankfully commemorate. (Jan. 6.) : THE PRESENTATION OF CHRIST in the temple, commonly called, the PURIFICATION of St. Mary the Virgin. The event commemorated on this day is the fulfilment of prophecy (Malachi iii. 1.) by our Lord's appearance in the Temple, whither He was brought that His mother might comply with the rite of purification, en
joined by Moses. The examples of the holy Simeon and Anna (Luke ii.) are on this occasion held up for our imitation. Like them we should devoutly rejoice that our earthly career has been blessed by the knowledge of Christ's coming in the flesh ;—that we have been enabled to see that light which was destined to lighten the Gentiles, as well as to be the glory of God's people Israel. (Feb. 2.)
THE ANNUNCIATION, or announcement of the approaching birth of the Saviour by the angel Gabriel, to the Virgin Mary, Luke i. 26. (March 25.)
EASTER DAY, and the days following. On this greatest of all festivals, we celebrate the consummation of our Lord's victory over the powers of darkness. His glorious and triumphant rising from the grave ; an event in which His true followers rejoice as being alike the great confirmation of their Master's truth, and the earnest and proof of their own blissful resurrection in the fulness of God's appointed time.
Easter is kept on different days of the months of March or April, in different years, the time of its celebration depending on that of a full moon, as did the Jewish Passover.
AscENSION DAY, (forty days after Easter,) on which, as the name of the festival implies, we commemorate the ascension of our Lord into heaven, forty days after His resurrection.
WHITSUNDAY, or the Feast of Pentecost, (ten days after Ascension day.) On this day we celebrate the fulfilment of our Lord's parting promise in the descent of the Holy Ghost, in fire, upon His Apostles, to abide with them, and with His Holy Church, even unto the end of the world.
TRINITY SUNDAY, (the Sunday following Whitsunday.), On this day, having commemorated severally the different leading events in our Lord's history, from the annunciation of His birth to the pouring forth of His Spirit, we are led by our Church to contemplate the mystery of our Redemption in one general view; glorifying alike. God the Father, who sent His dearly-beloved Son to save us ; God the Son, who graciously undertook our redemption; and God the Holy GĦost, who mercifully vouchsafes to sanctify us, and all the elect people of God. :
THE CONVERSION OF ST. PAUL
On these days we are instructed to seek encouragement in our Christian warfare, by remembering the triumphant issue of that warfare in the cases of those eminent followers of their LORD, the Apostles, the Evangelists, the Baptist, and the first martyr. In the
bestowed upon them, we behold the most striking illustrations of God's merciful promises of support to His servants; and in striving to confirm our own faith by the example of theirs, we are following the advice of one of themselves-of
not a whit behind the chiefest of them,”-St. Paul. See his Epistle to the Hebrews, chap. xi.
THE HOLY INNOCENTS. On this day we commemorate the infants of Bethlehem, whose blood, shed by Herod, was the first spilt by the enemies of Christianity in opposition to its progress. Mourning this, and all similar events, the Church yet directs our praises to Him, who made infants to glorify Him by their deaths ; and who, while receiving to His mercy these and millions of other infant souls, has declared for the instruction of those more advanced in years, that “ of such” as little children “ is the kingdom of heaven.” (Dec. 28.)
ST. MICHAEL AND ALL Angels. Sept. 29.
We should ever recollect that we, humblest members of Christ's Church militant 1 here on earth, form part and portion of a great society-of what St. Paul calls “the general assembly and church of the first-born," Heb. xii. 23. And to this belong alike those glorious spirits who have never known either sin or sorrow, and those glorified saints, who, having come out of the great tribulations.of earth, have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb, Rey. vii. 14. These two days are therefore set apart, that we may comfort, ourselves, by thinking on the great privilege to which we are invited, of an union with that blessed society; and that the thought may inspire us with additional ardour to run, while yet on earth, the race that is set before us.
The Fasts of the Church of England are,
In the first place, the vigils, or days before the following festivals.
THE NATIVITY OF OUR LORD
These the Church has prescribed to be observed as seasons of fasting, that we may bring our minds into a fitter state for celebrating the more joyful solemnities which succeed them. Those festivals which are not preceded by such fasts either follow immediately other festivals, or occur, for the most part, in what the Church considers seasons of joy; as, for instance, the Circumcision, at Christmas time, and St. Mark's day, between Easter and Whitsuntide, while we are commemorating the glorious events which followed the resurrection. With regard to the feasts of Saints and Apostles, the observation of these fasts tends to revive in our minds the recollection of the troubles and sufferings which
| That is, “ in a state of warfare."