Sunday, 22 May 2022

Bishop Challoner's Meditations - Rogation Sunday

ON THE DEVOTION OF THE TIME

Consider first, that these days, between this Sunday and the ascension of our Lord, are days of devotion, and are called rogation-days, because they are set aside by the church for solemn prayers and supplications, joined with abstinence and penance, in order to turn away the wrath of God, provoked by our sins; and to remove far from us his scourges of wars, plagues, famines, &c.; to implore his mercy for ourselves, and for all his people; and to beg his blessing upon the fruits of the earth. As the first institution of the devotion of these days was occasioned by a terrible scene of disasters and visible judgments of God upon the people, to which a stop was put by dedicating these three days to prayer and penance; so the success that attended this first essay has encouraged the church to an annual practice of the like devotion ever since. Hence we may learn, with what dispositions of soul we ought to present ourselves before the throne of grace at this time; with what a lively sense of the guilt of our sins, and of the judgments we deserve for them both here and hereafter; with what desire to return to God from our sins, and to offer him the sacrifice of a contrite and humble heart for them, and to join, as it were in a body, at this time, with the whole people of God, in suing in a proper manner for his mercy, with most humble supplication and fervent prayers. See, my soul, if these be thy dispositions.

Consider 2ndly, that although we do not every day feel the heavy hand of divine justice by the experience of public calamities, or other visible judgments, yet if we consider the guilt of so many crying sins, not only of particular persons, but even of whole nations, which are continually calling to God for vengeance, we shall find too much reason to apprehend that the sword of God’s justice is even now hanging over our heads and that the worst of his judgments will quickly fall upon Christendom in general, if not averted by prayer and penance. This consideration ought to determine all Christians in general (even the most innocent, if they have any concern for the public danger, or true charity for the souls of their neighbours,) gladly to embrace so happy an opportunity as this of joining with all the children of God in humiliations and prayer, in order to prevent the thunder of heaven from suddenly breaking over our heads, and hurrying away thousands into the bottomless pit. And as for every particular sinner, now is the most favourable time for him to sue for mercy, because at this time the whole church joins in a particular manner in praying for all sinners. And if he should neglect this opportunity, what may he not justly fear from his repeated treasons; from the wrath of God above, ready to fall upon him; from the mouth of hell below, gaping to devour him; from the devil, to whom he has sold himself; and from that monster, mortal sin, (which is even worse than the devil,) which he always carries about with him? O sinners, neglect not these days of salvation, lest they never return to you any more. Now is your time - hereafter there may be no time for you.

Consider 3rdly, she encouragement we have both in the Epistle and the Gospel of the Rogations, to look for mercy and for all good, both for ourselves and for our neighbours, from humble and fervent prayer. In the epistle (St. James v.) we are taught the great efficacy of continual prayer, with an exhortation to pray for one another, in order to salvation and a declaration of what the reward will be of them that contribute to the salvation of others. In the gospel (St. Luke xi.) we are exhorted by Christ our Lord to a holy importunity and perseverance in prayer; and we are taught by the example of a friend, and of a father, to look for good gifts from our heavenly Father by the means of earnest prayer. O what a friend indeed, what a parent have we in him! or who is like to him in bounty and mercy? Let us then be encouraged by these divine oracles, ‘To go with confidence at this time to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace in seasonable aid.’ Heb. iv. i6.

Conclude to join at this time with the whole church of God in prayer and penance, that thou mayest obtain mercy both for thyself and for thy neighbours. Heaven can never resist a general assault made by the whole people of God by the means of prayer, when joined with a contrite and humble heart.


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