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these Christian heroes underwent on their way to the possession of that happiness and glory which we are, on their festivals invited to contemplate. And upon this principle, probably, it is, that no fast is appointed befo e the feast of St. Michael and all Angels. We have no previous struggles with sin or evil to commemorate in the history of those exalted beings who have never partaken of mortality or of its troubles ; but have, from the beginning, been happy, pure, and holy, in Heaven.
LENT,-Or the season of forty days, excluding Sundays, which precedes Easter. The earlier part of this solemn season is intended to prepare us for the great week of our LORD's passion, with which it concludes. And the space of forty days seems marked out as a proper period for fasting and humiliation by the instances, not only of Moses and Elias, but of One far greater than they, who prepared Himself for the commencement of His ministry by a fast of forty days in the wilderness.
Ash-WEDNESDAY.—The first day of these forty has ever been observed by the Church with peculiar solemnity. On that day, in early times, her ministers maintained the custom, which the Apostles had introduced and enjoined, of putting to open penance and shame notorious offenders against her laws or her authority; thus, according to the direction of Scripture, punishing them in this world, that they might be led to repentance, and that their souls might consequently be saved in the world which is to come.
But those happier, because purer, days of the Church's history have past away. God in His own good time will renew them ; and that He will speedily do so, we are bound to pray. In the meanwhile, the Church calls upon us, upon this day, collectively to humble ourselves before Him whom our sins and our abandonment of this godly discipline have deeply offended ; and to implore His pardon for those transgressions, committed among us, without meeting such rebuke, for which we affirm with our own mouths, His vengeance and curse to be due. In making this acknowledgment, we continue, in the Christian Church, a cere. mony which God Himself ordained for the Jews. See Deut. xxvii. 13--26.
The different days of Passion week : of the week, that is, between the Sunday before Easter and Easter-day-are considered by the Church fasts of such importance as to have Epistles and Gospels appointed to each. The same reasons which should incline us to a reverential observance of Lent in general, apply of course, still more strongly to the week which represents the season of our Saviour's sufferings; and, most strongly of all, to that solemn day which commemorates His death ; and which, in memory of the benefits which we derive from that mysterious event, we call Good Friday,
That we may, indeed, keep in continual remembrance the exceeding love of our Master and only Saviour, thus dying for us, the Church reckons among her other fasts,--
All Fridays in the year, excepting, of course, Christmas-day, should that festival fall on a Friday.
The following days in the year are called EMBER-DAYS.
The Wednesday, Friday,
and Saturday after
The first Sunday in Lent.
These days are ordained to be kept as fasts, because the four Sundays which respectively follow them are the appointed seasons for the ordination by our Bishops of priests and deacons to their sacred offices. St. Paul clearly declares the duty of all Christians to pray for those set in ministerial authority over them. And that fasting was practised by the early Church at the season when such ministers were ordained, we learn from Acts xiii. 3.
The above, with the three days immediately before Ascensionday,-days which, under the name of Rogation days, the Church has from the very earliest times employed in special supplication and prayer,-complete the number of the fasts of our. English Calendar.
A holy season which, though it is observed by some branches of the Church as a strict fast, is not comprised among the fasts of the Church of England, is that of AdveNT ; the season of preparation for celebrating the festival of the Nativity. It begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas, and continues till Christmas Eve.
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TRACTS FOR THE TIMES.
SERMONS ON SAINTS' DAYS.
(No. 3. ST. MARK'S DAY.)
" That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and
carried about with every wind of doctrine."-Ephes. iv. 14.
The Church in her Collect for this day, directs us how to pray for stability in sound doctrine, as a sign, and indispensable requisite, of something better than mere childhood in religion. She would not have Christians to content themselves with a consciousness of faith, however devout, or with a feeling of love, however fervent, but she wishes every man to prove his faith and love ; i. e. to see to it, that he believe the genuine Gospel, and love and adore the true and only Saviour. Daily experience shows that it is very possible for men, and serious men too, forgetting this caution, to think all is right, if only certain pious impressions are produced, sufficient, apparently, to lead the mind upwards, and, at the same time, to enforce the relative duties of life. If that be done, say they, all is done. Why go on to perplex good people with questions of mere doctrinal accuracy? This is a very common way of speaking and thinking just at present: and it finds ready acceptance, especially among
who dislike trouble. For in Christian doctrine, as in other things, it is some trouble to be accurate. Common, however, and acceptable as the notion is, that the temper of faith in the heart is every thing, and the substance of faith in the creed comparatively nothing ; it is a notion at once proved unscriptural and wrong, were it only by this simple consideration ;