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A Prayer for Reformation of Life. INSPIRE my soul, O Lord my God, with a holy desire of thee, my chief, my only good, that I may so earnestly desire, as diligently to seek thee, so successfully seek, as to be happy in finding thee; make me so sensible of that happiness in finding, as most fervently to love thee; so effectually to express that love, as to turn from all my past wickedness, by hating and forsaking my former evil courses, and entering upon a conversation exemplarily pious for the time to come.
Give me, O my God, hearty repentance, an humble and contrite spirit; make my eyes a fountain of tears, and my hands liberal dispensers of alms, and unwearied instruments of good works. Thou art my King; reign absolute in my heart, subdue and expel thence all rebellious passions; quench all the impure burnings of fleshly lusts, and kindle in it the bright fire of thy love.
Thou art my Redeemer, beat down and drive out the spirit of pride, and impart to me, in much mercy, the treasure of thy own unexampled humility and wonderful condescension.
Thou art my Saviour, take from me the rage of anger; and arm me, I beseech thee, with the shield of patience.
Thou art my Creator, root out from me all that rancor and malice whereby my nature is corrupted; and implant in me all that sweetness and
gentleness of temper, which may render me a man made in thy own image, and after the likeness of thy own Divine goodness.
Thou art my most merciful and indulgent Father, O grant thy own child those best of gifts; a firmi and right faith, a stedfast and well-grounded hope, and a never-failing charity.
O my director and governor, turn away from me, I beseech thee, vanity and filthiness of mind, a wandering heart, a scurrilous tongue, and a proud look; preserve me from the venom of slander and detraction, from the itch of curiosity, from the thirst of covetousness, ambition and vain-glory; from the deceits of hypocrisy, the secret poison of flattery; from contempt of the poor, and oppression of the helpless; from the canker of envy, the fever of avarice, and the pestilential disease of blasphemy and profaneness.
Prune away my superfluity of naughtiness, and purge me from all manner of injustice, rashness, and obstinacy; from impatience, blindness of heart, and cruelty of disposition.
Incline me to obey that which is good, and to comply with wholesome advice; enable me to bridle my tongue, and to restrain my hands from wrong and robbery. Suffer me not to insult the poor, to defame the innocent, to despise my inferiors, to treat my servants with severity and scorn, to fail in due affection towards my friends and relations, or in kindness and compassion towards my neighbours and acquaintance.
O my God, thou fountain of mercy, I beg thee, for the sake of the Son of thy love, dispose me to the love and practice of kindness and mercy; that I may have a tender fellow-feeling of my brethren's afflictions; and apply myself cheerfully, to rectify their mistakes, to relieve their miseries, to supply their wants, to comfort their sorrows. Dispose me to assist the oppressed, to right the injured, to sustain the needy, to cherish the dejected, to release them that are indebted to me, to pardon them that have offended me, to love them that hate me, to render good for evil, to despise none, but pay all due respect to every man. Give me grace to imitate those that live well, to avoid and beware of them that do ill; to follow all manner of virtue, and utterly abandon and detest all sort of vice: make me patient in adversity, and moderate in prosperity. Set a watch before my mouth, and keep the door of my lips: wean my affections from things below, and let them be eager and fixed upon heaven and heavenly things.
Thou, Lord, who hast formed me, knowest the work of thy own hands, and yet, because thy creature, I have been bold to ask many and great mercies, though less than, and altogether unworthy of, the least of all thy mercies. I acknowledge, O my God, with shame and sorrow, that not only the gifts and graces I have been imploring all this while, are in no degree my due; but that many and grievous sufferings and judgments are what I have justly deserved at thy hands. But when my soul feels itself sinking under the weight of this melancholy reflection, the publicans, and harlots, and sinners, those wandering and lost sheep, which the good Shepherd sought so carefully, drew back from the very brink of the hellish precipice so seasonably, brought home upon his shoulders so joyfully, and laid in his bosom so affectionately; these raise my drooping spirits, and give new life to my hopes. For thou, my God, hast made all things by thy power, and art wonderful in all thy doings; yet art thou most wonderful, and exceeding glorious in thy works of pity and love. In this sense too, is that most true, which thou speakest of thyself by the mouth of thy servants.' The Lord is good to all, and his tender mercies are over all his works. And what was said of one particular person, we may most truly apply to thy people in general, my mercy will I not take from him. For thou abhorrest, despisest, forsakest no man; but such only, as lost to all sense of their own duty and happiness, do first despise and forsake thee.
Hence it is that thou dost not only, not strike when thou art not angry, but even when thou art most justly so. Thou givest good things liberally, upon the request of those wretches who have provoked thee to anger. O my God, the horn of my salvation, and my refuge, I am sadly sensible that I am one of those miserable wretches; I have provoked thy wrath, and done evil in thy sight; and yet thou holdest thy hand. I have sinned, thou hast suffered: I have offended, and still thou bearest with me. If I repent, thou sparest; if I return, thou receivest me with open arms; nay, even while I delay, thou waitest patiently for my coming back to thee. Thou callest me to thee, when I go astray; thou invitest me while I am deaf to thy gracious calls; thou stayest till I shake off my wicked sloth; and, when thy prodigal child at last bethinks himself, thou meetest and embracest him most gladly. Thou instructest my ignorance, comfortest my sorrows, keepest me from falling, raisest me up when I am fallen, givest when I ask, art found when I seek thee, and openest the door when I knock.
Thus, O God of my salvation, I have nothing to offer in my own excuse; no plea to make, when thou chargest me with folly. There is no refuge for me, but in thy goodness and protection; no place to hide me in from thy all-seeing eye. Thou hast showed me the right way; thou hast taught me how I ought to walk in it; thou hast threatened the torments of hell to affright me from wicked