« AnteriorContinuar »
It is heaven alone that yields a truecontent; it is heaven alone that fills us with éternal delight. Say then, my soul, take away your flatteries, false world, and leave me free for better thoughts. O infinite goodness! it is thyself alone I chuse; thou art my only happiness for ever. I see my portion hereafter depends on mychoice here; and my choice here, O Lord, depends on thee.
4. O my dearest Lord, do thou chuse me, and guide my uninstructed foul to chuse thee, For, here, we, alas! move flowly in the dark, led on by the argument of things not seen; but did we clearly see what we say we believe, we should foon change the course of our lives.
5.Did webut seethedamnedin their flames, or hearthemcryinthe midstof their torments, how should we fear to follow them in their fins, which we know have plunged them into all those miferies! how should we strive against the next temptation, and cast about to avoid the danger by working out our salvation! or;
6. Did we but fee the incomparable glories of the saints; or hear the sweet harmonious hymns which they continually fing, how hould we study to imitate those holy ways,
by which we know they arrived at all their happiness! how fhould we feek all occafions of improvement, and make it our business to work out our salvation! did man but seriously consider what he says he believes, he would never live as he doth. Who can doubt but e'er long he shall be turned into dust? yet which of us lives as if he thought ever to die?
7. Pity, Ogracious Lord, the frailties of thy servant, and suffer not my blindnefs to lead me into ruin. Supply my want of sight by a lively faith, and strengthen my faith by thy powerful grace: make me remember it is no trifling thing to gain or lose the kingdom of heaven: make me chuse wisely, and pursue my choice, and use as well the means, as like the end. O fetthou right the biass of my heart, that in all my motions I may draw off from the world; that I may still incline towards thee, and rest at last in thy holy presence. Thou art my Lord, and I will serve thee in fear; thou art my God, and I will love thee in hope: what will it profit me to gain the whole world, and lose my own soul? or what shall I give in exchange for my soul?
Now repair to the publick service of the church; but if you bave not that opportunity, then employ your time in reading some part of the New WHOLE DUTY OF MAN, as dire&ed on page 8; especially Sunday 17. Sections I. and VII,
A prayer before examination, with a firm resolution
to forsake the vanities of this wicked world. Let a man examine himfelf, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.
i Cor. xi. 28. Almighty God, thou searcher of hearts,
who me fo to search every secret of my heart, that 1 may leave no fin, if possible, unrepented of. Give me grące fo impartially to judge and condemn myself, fo humbly to repent and beg pardon, that I may not be condemned, when I shall appear at thy tribunal, in the great and terrible day of the Lord Jesus!
But alas! after the most strict examination we can make, who can number his iniquities? who can tell how oft he offendeth ? cleanse me therefore, O Lord, I beseech thee, not only from my presumptuous and known fins, but from all my secret and unknown transgressions, for his fake who died for finners, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Directions for self-examination.
to the duty of self-examination:
Consider seriously with yourself ; that it is appointed for all men once to die, and after death to be called to judgment.
That God hath appointed a day in which be will judge the world in righteousness by Jesus Chrift. At whose coming all men fall rise again with their bodies, and shall give an account of their own works: and
they that have done good, shall go into life everlasting ; anil ibey that bave done erül, into everlaliing fire: for the books thall be opened, and the dead shall be judged out of the things written in those books, according to their works. And then,
Confider how much, how nearly it concerns you to judge yourself before that time, that you be not judged, that is, conlemned of the Lord.
But sa many and various are the fins of our lives, in thought, wird, and deed, and omissions against God, our neighbour, and ourselves, bat this work will, at lejl, be confuifed, except christians have proper helps to bring their several fins distinctly to remembrance; so that I Jall in this form lay before you the several heads of our duty to God, dar neighbour, and ourselves, as the most effectual help in this case ; ab it upon each particular head, you may examine your past life, and try the present diffofition of your heart.
Firit, when you examine yourself, let it be chiesiy about your wilal fins, and sins of commission; and be not over fcrupulous either to accuse yourself of sins you never coinmitted, or to reckon up
your jormities; for that would render your examination endless and impracticable: and though there may be some fins that you may doubt whether you have conmitted; others you may fear you have forgot; yet be not discouraged: for when you have afted honestly and fin. cerely, rell satisfieil; but what fins you cannot recollect and find out, jo as pariicularly to confefs and bewail, you ought to conclude under a general repentance for whatsoever you have done amiss; and to pray that God would cleanse you
from your secret
faults. Obferving where ever you find yourself innocent, to glorify God, and beg of hij io preserve and continue you therein.
Secondly, If you have not avholly negleEted, and yet desire particularly to increase in some chrishan virtue, lift up your heart to God, for his holy Spirit to aid and alift your sincere endeavours to grow in it; for we are not barely to avoid
fin, but to grow in grace and goodness.
Thirdly, When you come to any fin you have committed often, or deliberately, or against the checks of conscience, or against frequent admonitions, or laftly, against your oren special vous avd resolutions to the contrary ; you must take into the account such aggravating circumstances as increase and beighten the guilt of it, to increase your Jhame and fortow, and to thew you how grently weftant'in need of God's pardon for what is paff, and of bis afilling grace to prejerve
end firengthen us in the ways of his laws, and work of his commar dal
Fourthly, Some, where they have found themselves gnilya any head, whether of omitting a duty, or committing a fin, be written down the fins they have been guilty of, or have marked ti in the margin of their book, that thty might be able to mak more exact and particular confession of their several offences bej God, and enter their vows and resolutions the more diflinelly aga them: and this may be farther ujeful; for, by comparing one ti with ancther, you will better difiern the amendment of your life, growth in christian virtue: but this is only advice; for every on left to judge of the usefulness and expediency of this method. /
Fifthly, They that can't quiet their consciences by this examin tion, concerning the lawfulness or unlawfulness of this or that afii or small meet with fcruples and difficulties of any other kind, let th first pray to God to enlighten and establish their mind, and then ha recourse to some learned and pious minister of God's word, abwi remembering to be honest and impartial in this work; between 6 and their cwn consciences; for it is in vain to hope to hide any thoug action, or design, from his all-fecing eye, zuho is the great search and judge of all hearts.
And bere I would for the true penitent's greater satisfaction 1 commend to him the reading of the IVth Section, of the care of foul in the New Whole Duty of Man. Heads for the examination of conscience, upi
those duties wherein GOD's honour, and or own and neighbour's good are concerned.
Search and examine your own consciences, and that i lightly, and after the manner of dissemblers with God; but that ye may come holy and clean to such an heavenly feast, the marriage garment required by God in holy scripture, an be received as worthy partakers of that holy table. The fil exhortation in the communion fervice.
Come now let us reason together, faith the Lord : thoug your fins be as scarlet, they hall be as white as snow; thoug be red like crimson, they fhall be as wool. Ifaiah i. 18.