Daily Reading for September 20 • John Coleridge Patteson and his Companions, Bishop of Melanesia, Martyrs, 1871
It is indeed a great and extraordinary grace of God to have an unwavering faith in the constant presence of his Almighty Spirit; yet the Spirit is present, though our faith may be weak; and his grace is given, though we are most unworthy of it; and the more feeble the instrument, the more evidently is the work, if work there be, seen to proceed from God, who will not suffer our unworthiness to hinder this operation of his Spirit in the hearts of his people.
Christ has said, “If ye love Me, keep My commandments,” and this is his commandment, that we love one another, and this love must be more than affection to our relations, and patriotism to our country; for he has said again, “Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature.” And since the whole map of destiny of the world was unrolled before his spiritual eye when he gave commission to his disciples to evangelize all nations, and since he well knew the opposition that would be raised to this blessed work by the malice of the evil one and the sinfulness of men, since he foresaw that his servants must needs sink and grow faint-hearted in the loneliness of their solitary tasks, since he knew what it must be to dwell among nations wholly given to idolatry and heathenism, without God in the world; therefore he added his blessed promise to cheer and sustain them with the certainty of the final triumph of Light over darkness, “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” He is with us by his Spirit, who is one with him and the Father—“always”—for the Comforter abides with us for ever. His word must stand fast, his prayers must be effectual. He, God and Man, is himself the Dispenser and Ruler of the economy of the world; for “all power is given unto Him in Heaven and in Earth.”
And the power seems to come to us, while we read and meditate on such words as these; but we lose our hold upon them amidst the details of every-day life; and so by continual prayer and frequent communion we need to renew our strength, to confirm our faith in the abiding presence of Christ’s Spirit: —And not by prayer for ourselves only, but by intercessory prayer for each other, by United Prayer for the stability and increase of the Churches, for the extension of Christ’s kingdom throughout the world. He is praying for us, and his Spirit is making intercession for us, and he spreads the power of his prayer over our unworthy petitions, and presents them all efficacious in his Name before his Heavenly Father. Pray therefore, my brethren, daily and fervently for the conversion of these poor islanders lying in darkness and the shadow of death, . . . and pray for me, called too young, as in years so in all else, to an office of which I dare not say that I realize the responsibility; that the Holy Ghost may ever abide with me to comfort and guide me in all doubts and difficulties, and that I may daily increase in God’s Holy Spirit more and more, and may come at length to his everlasting kingdom.
From “The Abiding Comforter: A Sermon Preached in St. Mary’s Church, Auckland, on the Evening of Sunday, 3rd of March, 1861 (being the day of his consecration)” by the late Right Rev. John Coleridge Patteson, D.D.; found at http://anglicanhistory.org/nz/patteson/comforter1861.html