Imatges de pÓgina

such act is an eternal testimony how weak we are, and how mischievous a passion can be. It is a miracle of Providence that, in the midst of all the rudenesses and accidents of the world, a man preserves his eyes, which every thing can extinguish and put out: and it is no less a miracle of grace, that, in the midst of so many dishonourable loves, there are no more horrid tragedies: and so many brútish angers do not produce more cruel sudden murders; and that so much envy does not oftener break out into open hostilities. It is indeed a mighty grace, that .pares the nails of these wild beasts, and makes them more innocent in their effects, than they are in their nature: but still the principle remains; there is in us the same evil nature, and the same unruly passion : and, therefore, as there ought to be continual guards upon them, so there must be continual inquiries made eoncerning them; and every thing is to be examined, lest all be lost upon a sudden,

4. We must not limit our examination to the interval to the last communion, because our first repentances must still proceed, and must never be at an end. For no man was so pardoned at the last communion, but that he is still obliged to beg pardon for those sins, he then repented of. He must always repent, and always pray, and never be at peace with the first sins of his youth; and the sorrows of the first day must be the duty of every day; and that examination must come into this account; and when we inquire after our own state, we must not view the little finger, but the whole man. For, in all the forest, the ape is the handsomest beast, so long as he shows nothing but his hand ; but when the inquiring and envious beasts looked round about them, they quickly espied a foul deformity.

There are, in the state of a man's soul, some good proportions, and some well-days, and some fortunate periods; but he that is contented with beholding them alone, cares more to please himself than to please God, and thinks him to be happy whom man, not whom God, approves. By this way twenty deceptions and impostures may abuse a man. See, therefore, what you are from head to foot, from the beginning to the end, from the first entry to your last progression: and although it be not necessary that we always actually consider all; yet it will be necessary that we always truly

know it all, that our relative duties, and our imperfect actions, and our collateral obligations, and the direct meas sures of the increase of grace, may be justly discerned and understood.

4. He that examines himself and would make right judga ment of his state and of his duty, must not do it by single actions, but by states of life aud habits of religion. If we can say truly that neither prosperity nor adversity, neither cross nor crown, employment nor retirement, public offices nor household cares; do disorder us in our duty to God and our relations, that is, if we safely and wisely passed through, or converse in, any one of these states of life,- it is very likely that things are well with us. But the consideration of single actions will do but little. Some acts of charity and many prayers, and the doing one noble action, or being once or twice very bountiful, or the struggling with one danger, and the speaking for God in one contestation; these are excellent things, and good significations of life, but not always of health and strength, not of a state of grace. Now because, in the holy communion, we are growing up to the measures of the fulness of Christ, we can no otherwise be fitted to it, but by the progressions and increase of a man, that is, by habits of grace and states and permanencies of religion; and therefore our examinations must be accordingly.


Devotions to be used upon the Days of our Examination, rela

tive to that Duty.

The Hymn. The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord's' throne is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eye-lids try, the children of


The Lord trieth the righteous : but the wicked, and him that loveth violence, his soul hateth.

For the righteous Lord loveth righteousness; his countenance doth behold the upright.

The words of the Lord are pure words : ás silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.

Thou hast proved mine heart; thou hast visited me in the night ; thou hast tried me, and shalt find nothing ; I am purposed, that my mouth shall not transgress.

Hold up my goings in thy paths: that my footsteps slide nota:

As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the Lord is tried; he is a buckler to all those that trust in him.

For who is God save the Lord ? and who is our rock save our God?

Judge me, O Lord; for I have walked in mine integrity: but I trust in the Lord; therefore I shall not slide.

Examine me, O Lord, and prove me; try my reins and my

heart: for thy loving-kindness is before mine eyes, and I will walk in thy truth.

I will not sit with vain persons : neither will I go in with dissemblerś.

I hate the congregation of evil doers : and I will not sit with the wicked. ... I will wash my hands in innocency: so'will I compass thine altar, O Lord,

That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all thy wondrous works.

But, as for me, I will walk in my integrity: redeem me and be merciful to me.

So shall my foot stand in an even place : and, in the congregation, will I bless the Lord.

Glory be to the Father, &c.
As it was in the beginning, &c.

[ocr errors]

THE PRAYERS. O eternal and most glorious God, who sittest in heaven, ruling over all things from the beginning; thou dwellest on high, and yet 'humblest thyself to behold the things that are in heaven and earth. Thou hast searched me, O Lord, and known me; thou understandest my thoughts afar off, and art acquainted with all my ways; for there is not a word in my tongue, but thou, O Lord, knowest it altogether. Be pleased to impart unto thy servant a ray of thy heavenly light, a beam of the sun of righteousness; open mine eyes that I may see the wondrous things of thy law, that I may walk in them all my days. Set all my sins before my face,

that I may speedily, and earnestly, and perfectly, repent and forsake them all. Give me a sight of my infirmities, that I may watch against them; discover to me all my evil and weak principles, that I may reform them. And whatsoever is wanting in me towards the understanding of any thing, whereby I may please thee and perfect my duty,—I beg of thee to reveal that also unto me; that my duty may not be andiscerned, and my faith may not be reproved, and 'my affections may not be perverse, and hardened in their foolish pursuance, and a secret sin may not lie undiscovered and corrupting my soul.

II. Give me an ingenious and a severe spirit, that whatever judgment of charity I make concerning others, I may give a right judgment concerning my own state and actions, condemning the criminal, censuring the suspicious, suspecting what seems allowable, and watchful even over the best; that I may, in the spirit of repentance and mortification, correct all my irregularities, and reform my errors, and improve the good things which thou hast given me; that endeavouring to approve my actions to my conscience, and my conscience to thy law, I may not be a reprobate, but approved by thee in the great day of examination of all the world, and be reckoned amongst thy elect, the secret ones; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

A short Form of Humiliation, after our Eramination,

Thy judgments, O Lord God, are declared in thunder, and with fear and with dread; thou shakest all my bones, and my soul trembles when I consider that great day, in which thou shalt judge all the world; and that infinite juga tice, which will not spare the mighty for his greatness, nor the poor for his poverty; and thy unlimited power, which can mightily destroy all them, that will not have thee to reign over them.

II. O most dreadful Judge, I stand in amazement, when I consider, that the heavens are not pure in thine eyes; and if thou foundest perverseness in thy angels, and didst-not spare

them, what shall become of me? The stars fell from heaven and what can I presume, who am but dust and ashes? They whose life hath seemed holy, are fallen into an evil portion; and, after they have eaten the bread of angels, they have been delighted with carob- nuts, with husks and draft of swine.

III. There is no holiness, O God, if thou withdrawest thy hand; no wisdom profits, if thy government does cease. No courage can abide, no chastity can remain pure; no watchfulness keep us safe, unless thou dost continue to strengthen us, to purify us, to make us stand. When thou leavest us, we drown and perish ; when thy grace and mercy visits us, we are lifted up and stand upright. We are unstable, and unsecure, unless we be confirmed by thee : but'we' seek to thee for thy help; and yet depart from the ways of thy commandments.

IV. O how meanly and contemptibly do I deserve to be thought of ! how little and inconsiderable is the good which I do! and how vast, how innumerable, how intolerable, are: the evils which I have done! I submit, O God, I submit to the abysses of thy righteous and unsearchable judgment; for I have been searching for a little, some little, good in me; but I find nothing. Much indeed of good I have received ; but I have abused it: thou hast given me thy grace; but I have turned it into wantonness: thou hast enabled me to serve thee; but I have served myself; but never but when I was thy enemy: so that, 'in me,' that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing.'

V. I am a deep abyss, O God, of folly and calamity; I have: been searching my heart, and can find no good thing ; I have been searching, and I cannot find out all the evil. Thou didst create in me a hope of glory, but I have lost my con-. fidence; and men have sometimes spoken good things of me, but I know not where they are: and who shall raise me up, when I fall down before thy face in thy eternal judgment?

VI. I will no more desire, I will no more suffer, I will no more

« AnteriorContinua »