"This season of probation": a Hackney Phalanx sermon for Lent IV

From A Course of Sermons, for the Lord's Day throughout the Year, Volume I (1817) by Joseph Holden Pott - associated with the Hackney Phalanx - an extract from a sermon for the Fourth Sunday in Lent. Here Pott demonstrates the ascetic seriousness which could accompany Lent in pre-1833 Anglicanism: a time for "harder passages and severer remedies". His exhortation against "mistaken zeal" was not only wise and prudent Old High pastoral advice: it is also itself suggestive of the presence of an ascetic seriousness that required such pastoral wisdom and prudence.  

... there are Christian graces, of which repentance is one, which take their garb, and suit their aspect, to the present state of man, and adapt themselves to his occasional necessities; but which shall one day give place to qualities and dispositions which are, indeed, essential to the best condition of the reasonable soul and spiritual nature. Thus, patience under grief and sufferings; vigilance amidst surrounding perils; humility and self-denial, arising from a due sense of our own infirmities; resignation, flowing from a constant and entire conviction that we are in the hands of God; these have their turn here, in these days of probation, but they must not be augmented by mistaken zeal. Even here, they must not be allowed to shut out peace, goodwill, contentment, with a rational and free discretion; all which, in their best degrees, shall survive the temporary straits of this course of our pilgrimage, and shall endure for ever ...

The way of truth and reason, is the way of freedom to those who are indeed desirous to pursue it, only let us remember that this freedom, at all times, from all uneasy lamentations and all difficulties, never will be perfect here, where man is never perfect. The harder passages and the severer remedies will therefore find their place in the best course, and will challenge their turn in this day of our common travel, and this season of probation.


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