Here is the Collect for the fourth Sunday in Advent:
O Lord, raise up (we pray thee) thy power, and come among us, and with great might succour us; that whereas, through our sins and wickedness, we are sore let and hindered in running the race that is set before us, thy bountiful grace and mercy may speedily help and deliver us; through the satisfaction of thy Son our Lord, to whom with thee and the Holy Ghost be honour and glory, world without end. Amen.
Once again, the structure of the Collect, though the above varies from the standard template a bit: 1The prayer moves immediately from (1) to (3), and the only “reason” (2) discernible is a negative one (our sin: “whereas…”) rather than one that is founded on divine goodness. 2
- 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 the prayer:
- What do we here pray for?–Help and deliverance through God’s bountiful grace and mercy.
- Does it refer to that deliverance as nigh at hand?–Yes. “Raise up Thy power and come among us, and with great might succour us.”
- Why do we require that succour?–Because, “through our sins and wickedness we are sore let and hindered in running the race that is set before us.”–Rom. vii. 23.
- What is that race?–The life of a Christian.–Heb. xii. 1.
- What reference is there in the Epistle [Phil. 4.4-7] to the subject?–“The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God.”
- What connexion has the Gospel [John 1.19-28] with it?–It directs us to the Saviour and His presence. “There standeth One among you whom ye know not.”
- What is the general subject for consideration proposed to us?–The immediate Advent of our Lord, and our fitting reception of Him.
- What stands in the way of this?–Our sins and wickedness.
- How is this barrier to be removed?–By “God’s bountiful grace and mercy.”–Ps. xl. 13, 17; 2 Cor. xii. 9.
- In what is it that we are to be assisted?–In our Christian course,–the race that is set before us.
- What are we taught to look to for our final triumph?–The satisfaction made by the Son of God, our Lord.–Isa. liii. 4-6, 12; Rom. iii. 24-26.
- To what did the preceding Sundays direct our attention?–The First to the cleansing of the Church of God; the Second to the Scriptures, as the means of purifying it; and the Third to the ministry appointed to expound and apply them.
- What does this Sunday’s service add?–The necessity of God’s grace, without which all these means will be useless.–2 Cor. iii. 5; 1 Cor. xv. 10; 2 Cor. xii. 9; Philip. ii. 13.
E.J. Hutchinson is Assistant Professor of Classics at Hillsdale College.
The Calvinist International is a forum for research, resourcement, and renewal of Christian wisdom.