O Lord Jesus Christ, who at thy first coming didst send thy messenger to prepare thy way before thee; Grant that the ministers and stewards of thy mysteries may likewise so prepare and make ready thy way, by turning the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, that at thy second coming to judge the world we may be found an acceptable people in thy sight, who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Spirit ever, one God, world without end. Amen.
Once again, Blunt’s general structure of the Collect:
- Reason on which the petition is to be founded.
- Benefit hoped for.
- Mention of Christ’s Mediation, or Ascription of praise: or both.)
Here is Samuel Best’s catechism on this prayer. Some of this is sort of CoE inside baseball, but the treatment of “succession” useful: Best attends to the order of the Collects to note the primacy of Holy Scripture as the instrument wielded by the Spirit and his ministers for the purification of the church. It is therefore in the expounding of the Word that the chief function of the ministry is located.
- To what event does this Collect allude?–To the sending of John the Baptist to prepare the way of the Lord.
- Whom does it speak of as preparing the way for His second coming?–The ministers and stewards of His mysteries.
- How are they to prepare it?–By “turning the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just.”
- Does the Epistle [1 Cor. 4.1-5] refer to this as their office?–Yes; they are “ministers of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.”
- Had the Baptist performed a like work of preparation?–Yes.–Mal. iv. 5, 6; Luke i. 17.
- What does the Gospel [Matt. 11.2-10] relate?–The sending of John’s disciples to Jesus.
- What was his object in sending them?–That they might be satisfied He was the Messiah.
- To whom are the ministers of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God to send their disciples?–To Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith.
- To whom does the Epistle refer?–To St. Paul and the Apostles of our Lord. “Let a man so account of us.”
- Did they provide that there should always be a succession of men to execute the work of preparation?–Yes.–Acts i. 8, 21, 22; xiv. 23; 2 Tim. ii. 2.
- In whom has that succession been continued down to our day?–In the bishops, priests, and deacons of the Church.
- What does this Collect teach us as to their office?–They are to make read the way of the Lord, by turning the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just.
- What, then, is the general subject to which our attention is directed?–The office and duties of Christian ministers, and our relation to them.
- On what did the first Sunday in Advent insist?–The necessity of purifying the Church.
- What did the second point out as the means of purifying it?–The Holy Scriptures.
- What further lesson has now been added?–That God has appointed a ministry to preach and explain His Word.–Rom. x. 14, 15.
- Has our Church appointed particular seasons for the ordination of ministers?–Yes; the Sundays following the Ember days. (Canon 31.)
- Do any of these occur at this time?–Yes; the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday next after Dec. 13. (See Table of Fasts before Prayer Book.)
- Does this show the seasonableness of the prayer of the Collect?–Yes, in teaching us to pray for those who are now set apart for the ministry.–2 Tim. ii. 2; Acts xiii. 3; xiv. 23.
- How does the Church provide for this duty?–By appointing two forms of prayer for the Ember days.
- Is this in accordance with the exhortations of the Apostle?–Yes.–2 Cor. i. 11; Eph. vi. 18, 19; Col. iv. 2, 3; 2 Thess. iii. 1.