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The Meditation for Monday Evening.
Upon the vanities of the world, and the goodness of
He that loveth his life shall lose it: and he that hateth.his.
Wake thou, O my foul, from the fleep of in; for, behold, life and death are fet before thee; choose, while thy gracious Lord allows thee time and day, left the night and darkness overtake thy neglect: choofe, but remember thy eternity is concerned, and deliberate ere thou makeft thy choice.
2. Survey all the pleasures of the world before thee, and afk if any of them be worth fuch pains; afk if the vain forbid, den things thou loveft, deferve thy affection better than thy Maker. Are they more worthy in themselves, or beneficial to thee, that thou mayft juftly prefer. them before thy Redeemer? doft thou expect to be at reft, and fatisfied by enjoying them, or everlastingly happy by their procurement? can they protect thee at the hour of death, or plead thy cause at the day of judgment? O no. They only deceive me with a fmiling look, which I too often have proved by dear experience.
3. It is heaven alone that yields a true content; it is heaven alone that fills us with eternal delight. Say then, my foul, take away your flatteries, falfe world, and leave me free for better thoughts. O infinite goodnefs! it is thyfelf alone I choofe; thou art my only happiness for ever. I fee my portion hereafter depends on my choice here; and my choice here, O Lord, depends on thee.
4. O my deareft Lord, do thou choose me, and guide my uninftructed foul to choofe thee. For here we, alas! move flowly in the dark, led on by the argument of things not feen; but did we clearly fee what we fay we believe, we fhould foon change the courfe of our lives.
5. Did we but fee the damned in their flaines, or hear them cry in the midst of their torments, how fhould we fear to follow them in their fins, which we know have plunged them into all thofe miferies! how fhould we ftrive against the next temptation, and caft about to avoid the danger by working out our falvation! or,
6. Did we but fee the incomparable glories of the faints; or hear the fweet harmonious hymns which they continually fing, how fhould we ftudy to imitate thofe holy ways, by which we know
they arrived at all their happiness! how fhould we feek all occafions of improvement, and make it our bufinefs to work out our falvation! did man but seriously confider what he fays he believes, he would never live as he doth. Who can doubt but ere long he fhall be turned into duft; yet which of us lives as if he thought ever to die?
7. Pity, O gracious Lord, the frailties of thy fervant, and fuffer not my blindnefs to lead me into ruin. Supply my want of fight by a lively faith, and ftrengthen my faith by thy powerful grace; make me remember it is no trifling thing to gain or lofe the kingdom of heaven: make me choofe wifely, and purfue my choice, and ufe as well the means, as like the end. O fet thou right the bias of my heart, that in all my motions I may draw off from the world; that I may fill incline towards thee, and reft at laft in thy holy prefence. Thou art my Lord, and I will ferve 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 lofe my own foul? or what shall I give in exchange for my foul?
Now repair to the public service of the church; but if you have not that opportunity, then employ your time in read. ing some part of the NEW WHOLE DUTY OF MAN, as directed on page 8, especially Sunday 17. Section 1. and VII.
A Prayer before examination, with a firm refolution to forfake the vanities of this wicked world.
Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread and drink of that cup. 1 Cor. xi. 28.
Almighty God, thou fearcher of hearts, who feeft and knoweft all my fins; help me fo to fearch every fecret of my heart, that I may leave no fm, if poffible, unrepented of. Give me grace fo impartially to judge and condemn myfelf, to humbly to repent and beg pardon, that I may not be condemned, when I fhall appear at thy tribunal, in the great and terrible day of the Lord Jefus !
But alas! after the most strict examination we can make, who can number his iniquities? who can tell how oft he offendeth cleanfe me therefore, O Lord, I befeech thee, not only from my prefumptuous and known fins, but from all my fecret and unknown tranfgreffions, for his fake who died for finners, Jefus Chrift our Lord. Amen.
Directions for self-examination.
Having devoutly prayed for God's assistance, doubt not but he will vouchsafe it to you. And the better to dispose your heart to the duty of self-examination,
Consider seriously with yourself; that it is appointed for all men once to die, and after sath to be called to judgment.
That God hath appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness by Jesus Christ. At whose coming all men shall 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; and they that have done evil, into everlasting fire: for the books shall be opened, and the dead shall be judged out of the things written in those bocks, according to their works. And then,
Consider how much, how nearly it concerns you to judge yourself before that time, that you be not judged, that is, condemned of the Lord.
But so many and various are the sins of our lives, in thought, word, and deed, and omissions against God, our neighbour, and ourselves, that this work will, at best, be confused, except Christians have proper helps to bring their several sins distinctly to remembrance; so that I shall in this form lay before you the several heads of our duty to God, our neighbour, and ourselves, as the most effectual help in this case; that upon each particular head you may examine your past life, and try the present disposition of your heart.
First, When you examine yourself, let it be chiefly about your wilful sins, and sins of commission; and be not over scrupulous either to accuse yourself of sins you never commit» ted, or to recken up all your infirmities; for that would render your examination endless and impracticable; and though there may be some sins that you may doubt whether you have committed; others you may fear you have forgot; yet be not discouraged for when you have acted honestly and sincerely, rest satisfied; but what sins you cannot recollect and find out, so as particularly to confess 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. Observing wherever you find yourself innocent, to glorify God, and beg of him to preserve and continue you therein.
Secondly, if you have not wholly neglected, and yet desire particularly to increase in some Christian virtue, lift up your heart to God, for his holy spirit to aid and assist your sincere endeavours to grow in it; for we are not barely to acoid sin, but to grow in grace and goodness.
Thirdly, When you come to any sin you have committed often or deliberately, or against the checks of conscience, or against frequent admonitions, or lastly, against your own special cows and resolutions to the contrary, you must take into the account such aggravating circumstances as increase and heighten the guilt of it, to increase your shume and sorrow, and to show you how greatly we stand in need of God's pardon for what is past, and of his assisting grace to preserve