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put on the true armor of the Spirit; but let none lose hope ! Christ reigns in the very midst of his enemies, and his church is victorious even while the world rejoices over her destruction.
He is the Lord of the church by reason of his rule in the hearts of his own; and they, only, whose hearts he governs are of his people. But he is, in very truth, the king of your heart, you poor sinner, who believe in him and put your trust in him alone. Truly, he is the king of your heart; you are his, and he is yours; do not let the devil persuade you to the contrary. Have faith in the kingly name of Jesus, and trust in the power of his love. Give yourself wholly to him; you can do it by the græce which he bestows; and he will direct your mind and your conduct, protect you, and lead you in the path of righteousness. Serve him willingly, obey him alway, praise his name, extend his kingdom. You are blessed, and shall be a blessing. All things in him, by him, and for him!
In this church year you shall again, with all the saints, experience that he is the same faithful and mighty Savior that he always was. He shall keep you in the state of grace, strengthen your faith, increase your charity, purify your soul in tribulations, and give you victory over the flesh, the world, and the devil. Beware of trusting in your own, or of doubting his strength. You are baptized unto Christ, you hear his voice, you eat his body and blood, you live and breathe in his saving grace and love; he knows you, and he has you in his eye and in his hand day and night. He is meek, and bears with our infirmity; just, and does away with our sin.
Praise be to thee, Lord Jesus, who didst make us thy people! Give us grace to believe in thee with our whole heart, to serve thee in all that we do, and thus to work with all our might for the extension of thy kingdom on earth. Let this year be a blessed one for us, and for all who are thine. This is our most earnest prayer; thou wilt hear it, and thus fulfil thy promises. Amen.*
Jesus shall reign where'er the sun Doth his successive journeys run; His kingdom stretch from shore to shore, Till moons shall wax and wane no more.
Let every creature rise and bring Peculiar honors to our King; Angels descend with songs again, And earth repeat the loud Amen.
2. First Sunday in Advent. II.
Epistle Lesson, Romans 13, 11-14. And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk
* Here the head of the family says a short morning or evening prayer in his own words, and closes with the Lord's Prayer and the Benediction. This is to be done every day. If the stanzas are not sung, they may be read in their proper place before the impromptu petition and the Lord's Prayer.
honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.
It is now high time to awake out of sleep; the Sun of righteousness is risen upon us; Christ is come to us with life out of death. None shall have occasion to say: "I must yet lie, yet sleep; night broods over us, the darkness will not permit me to rise.” No; the glorious day of grace is come; the acceptable year of liberty is here. Christ wakes us, and lets the light of his countenance shine into our eyes. Through the words of the gospel he is in our very midst, lying in the manger, hanging on the cross; eternal mercy, justice, and life proceed from him. In our baptism he is present as the very same Savior that is being baptized in the Jordan, fulfils all righteousness, dies for us, rises for us, and lives for us. In the Holy Supper I receive his very self; he, who is the resurrection and the life, abides in me, and I in him. O ye Christians, will ye sleep, and thus turn this glorious day of life into an awful night of death? God forbid ! However, there is here yet more which should wake us up. Our salvation is now nearer than when we believed. The hours are flying fast, and soon we shall be at the end. Now Christ comes in the means of grace; but soon he shall come in the clouds, in the glory of his Father. How will ye then stand before him, ye sleepy Christians ? Awake, therefore, and be vigilant hereafter! Let this new church year become a new life. Cast off the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light. Arm yourselves, for a fight is to be faced ! Enter into the holiness and love of Jesus Christ, into the lustre and purity of his being! Let the heart be wholly and entirely his! No lukewarmness and sloth, no cowardly shrinking from the fight! Selfdenial and vigilance while the struggle continues; faithfulness to the end! Eyes fixed on the crown of life, and victory through him who loved us !
Wake us, faithful Lord Jesus. Wake them that are spiritually dead, that they may repent. Lord, wake them, that they may not dream themselves into everlasting death. Wake thy believers, and give us zeal, courage, and hopefulness in the fight. Let our sanctification increase, and our progress be manifest in all things. Give us faithfulness unto the end, and give us the crown of life. Amen.
(To be followed by prayer in one's own words, the Lord's Prayer, and the Benediction. Thus every day, without special directions hereafter in the book.)
Assist my soul, too apt to stray, A stricter watch to keep; And should I e'er forget thy way, Restore thy wandering sheep.
Make me to walk in thy commands; 'Tis a delightful road; Nor let my head, or heart, or hands, Offend against iny God.
3. Monday after First Sunday in Advent. Psalm 24. A Psalm of David. The earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein: For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods. Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive the blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation. This is the generation of them that seek him, that seek thy face, O Jacob. Selah. Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory. Selah.
David wrote this psalm for the occasion when the ark of the covenant was removed up on Zion, whereby the King of glory himself went up thither; for the ark and the mercy seat were the throne of the Lord in Israel.
This king of glory is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ, who comes to us full of grace and truth, and enters into Zion, the Christian church, through his holy gospel. He is Lord of all the world; he has dominion over the mighty billows of the deep, and the hosts of heaven obey his commands. The prince of our salvation is the Lord Zebaoth. The gates of the world open themselves to him, and he marches onward with victory over death and hell.
Who shall ascend into his hill? Who has communion with the Holy One? Answer:—The children of Jacob, the true believers, none others; not such as are Christians in name only, not mere Sunday saints, but only sincere, true, and honest souls. Is it possible that Jesus Christ could be a king for hypocrites and liars, for heartless, cold, unclean men, or for proud, self-satisfied, self-righteous minds? Can such as these be the people of the Holy One? O, that ye would hear! Let none delude himself. But neither let any lose heart who sees his sin with sorrow and pain. The wretched who are willing to be saved receive righteousness from the king of glory himself, and are made pure. He who in sincerity confesses his sin and longs for holiness will in no wise be cast out. It is for such that God has built his Zion, and of such he fashions unto himself his holy and glorious people.
Try me, o God, and examine my heart, and find whether or not I am of the truth. Thou knowest how prone I am to delude myself. Preserve me from this danger, and give me an upright heart. Thou knowest that this is my sincere prayer. Let me in truth be of thy people. Amen.
To him shall endless prayer be made, And endless praises crown his head; His name, like sweet perfume, shall rise With every morning sacrifice.
People and realms of every tongue Dwell on his love with grateful song; And infant voices shall proclaim Their early blessings on his name.
4. Tuesday after First Sunday in Advent. Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law. Amen.
Ephesians 1, 17-23. That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of his power to usward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named not only in this world, but also in that which is to come; and hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.
Our Lord Jesus is greater and more mighty than all the angelic hosts, together with all powers above and below. The spiritual and unseen forces, the hosts of heaven, and the powers of the deep, and the might of death, mock all the wisdom and power of the world; but our Lord Jesus is greater. He vanquished and disarmed, yea even destroyed, death, and seated himself at the right hand of God the Father, a Lord of all things and over all on high and in the deep. But this his kingly power he uses for our salvation, namely in creating and preserving faith in our hearts, and making us partakers of his life. The new birth and the sanctification of a man are effects of this exceeding great power of God in the resurrection of Christ. May his Spirit of wisdom reveal this to us, and open our eyes, that we may know the greatness and the certainty of our salvation. It is the eternal God with his sovereign power who dwells in the Christian church. The power which is greater than that of the creation; the power which vanquished the prince of death; the power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ,--this power it is which the Spirit of God has given within you, Christian believer; and thereby he has turned you from death to life, and preserves you therein. The Spirit and life of Christ is in you; the church is his body, and he its head. "And he must protect, preserve, advance, bless, and glorify himself in his own. He continually relives his life, and reveals all the mysteries of his redemption, in his body, the church. He suffers in its persecuted, troubled, needy and sick members; as the meek, lowly, loving, and obedient one, he sighs and prays in them; in eternal and divine power he continually arises from the dead anew in his church. Blessed be the king, the bridegroom of the church, the prince of life! In him our salvation is not uncertain; he lives, and we shall live.
Lord Jesus, dost thou know me, also, as one of thine? Is my faith in thee a true and living faith? With all who are of my household I earnestly ask of thee this grace unspeakable.-Praise be to the Lord; he has attended to the voice of my supplications. Amen.
The head that once was crowned with thorns Is crowned with glory now; A royal diadem adorns The mighty Victor's brow.
The highest place that heaven affords Is his by sovereign right: The King of kings and Lord of lords, And heaven's eternal Light.
5. Wednesday after First Sunday in Advent.
Lord, give us thy word in our hearts, for we are thine; and do thou save us. Amen.
Psalm 72, 1-8. A Psalm for Solomon. Give the king thy judgments, O God, and thy righteousness unto the king's son. He shall judge thy people with righteousness, and thy poor with judgment. The mountains shall bring peace to the people, and the little hills, by righteousness. He shall judge the poor of the people, he shall save the children of the needy, and shall break in pieces the oppressor. They shall fear thee as long as the sun and moon endure, throughout all generations. He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass; as showers that water the earth. In his days shall the righteous flourish; and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth. He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth.
Solomon is a type of Christ, and his kingdom of peace is a type of the Christian church. In this psalm God's people pray, that the kingdom of Christ may come; and they sing of the splendors of this kingdom, its extension and its eternal duration. Christ is the righteous king who secures justice to the poor and needy, but breaks in pieces the oppressor. Them that love sin and live in unrighteousness he rejects and condemns, but he saves those that submit themselves to the law of God and seek his help against sin. He will surely save the needy who cry to him, and the poor who have none to help them. Admit that God is true in his judgments; acknowledge the justice of the correction administered by his law; but, at the same time, credit him with speaking truth in his gospel, also, concerning the obedience and atonement of the Son of God for you; then are you righteous and enjoy the peace of grace. The Prince of peace acquits you of everything brought to your charge; and you shall live with him, and reign with him. Faith is the one thing on which all depends. It is in faith that Christ is known. Exercise yourself in the faith; do not allow yourself to be led astray by your conceited reason, or by your own views and feelings. As God lives, the man who gives hearty assent to his word is just and accepted in his sight.
The proud children of the world, who resist the purpose and righteousness of God, hope to destroy the dominion of this king; but his throne stands, and he shall sit thereon until the sun and moon are no more. The kingdoms of gold and silver and copper and iron shall pass away, but the kingdom of peace is without end. Neither shall any be able to prevent its extension. Our heavenly Solomon shall have dominion from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth. How good and glorious a truth this is! With holy joy and fear we accept it, and see all kings fall down before him and all nations serve him.
Lord Jesus, give us humble and believing hearts, so that in all our trouble and strife on earth we may taste thy precious peace. God, give the king thy judgments and thy righteousness unto the king's son. Save thy people and bless thine inheritance; provide for them, and exalt them for evermore. Amen.