« AnteriorContinuar »
ness; and promised the joys of heaven to encourage my obedience.
And now, O Father of mercies, and God of all comfort, perfect, I beseech thee, these gracious designs upon thy servant; possess me thoroughly with thy fear, that I may not dare to incur thy threatenings; and support me with the joy of thy salvation, that I may be filled with thy love, and cheerfully run the race that leadeth to thy gracious promises. Thou, O Lord, art my strength, my God, my refuge and only deliverer: O be thou pleased to inspire my soul with proper thoughts of thee; teach my tongue fit words to call upon thee acceptably; and enable my hands, and every member, to do the thing that pleaseth thee. I know full well that there is one offering which thy mercy will not reject.
The sacrifices of God are a troubled spirit, a broken and a contrite heart my God will not despise.
Yet even this I cannot give my God, unless he first vouchsafe to give it me. And therefore, O thou Father of lights, from whom every good thing cometh, enrich me, I beseech thec, with this. I ask no other treasure; may I thus find pardon of my sins in the blood of my holy Saviour.
Suffer me not, O thou strength of my soul's health, suffer me not, I beg, to be one of those weak Christians, who for a time believe, and in time of temptation fall a way. But cover thou my head in the day of battle; for thou, thou only, art my hope in the day of trouble, and my safety in the time of danger.
Thus do I come to thee, my light, and my salvation, imploring the blessings of which I stand in need, and declaring the miseries of which I am
afraid. But in the midst of this address, I feel a check from within; my conscience stings, and my heart misgives me; love bids me hope, but sense of sin bids me fear; and dread of thy displeasure damps that zeal with which my heart approaches thee: when I reflect on my own doings, I cannot but despond; when I look up to thy goodness I am full of hope. The kindness of my God invites and draws me forward, the wickedness of my own heart dismays and pulls me back. And all my faults appear in such ghastly shapes before my eyes, as almost hinder a holy confidence, but quite beat down the boldness of presumption.
Lamentation that Prayer is not answered.
Thus is my soul distracted with different pas sions, when I appear before the Divine Majesty. And how, aląs ! should it be otherwise? For with what face can that man entreat a favour, who hath deserved nothing but hatred and indignation ? What rashness is it to ask glory, when punishment only is his due? The malefactor provokes his judge, and, instead of satisfying for his offence, he expects to be honoured with crowns and rewards: he lies under sentence of condemnation, and is it not insolent to sue for a bounty, to which he hath no manner of pretence? A stupid child provokes a most affectionate father, and is it not yet a greater provocation to assume to himself the claim of inheriting, till he have first retracted his undutiful behaviour? This, O my Father, I confess with grief to be my own case ; I ask life, and have deserved death; I have been disloyal to my King, and yet have the confidence to fly to him for protection ; I have despised my Judge, and armed his angry justice against my guilty self, and yet to this very Judge I betake myself for succour. I have stopped my ears against the commands of a father, and yet I take upon me to depend upon him for his paternal affection and care.
To thee, I come; but, oh! how long do I make it before I come? how much precious time do I trifle away in this most important, most necessary affair? My feet, alas! are swift to ruin, but slow in the way that leads to life and safety. I run after sickness, and wounds, and death, and take no care to shun the darts which made those wounds, even when I have felt the smart, and am healed of the sore.
I prevented not those dangers which might have been avoided, and am at last awakened into a sense of them, when they have brought me to the very gates of the grave. I have added to my plagues by multiplying my transgressions, and torn open my old wounds, by relapsing into my former evil courses; and those maladies which the spiritual physician had cured, the frantic patient hath again brought upon himself: the sore, which was skinned over, now breaks out afresh, because inflamed by that repeated folly, which hath forfeited the mercy extended before. I know who hath declared, that when the righteous man turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, all the righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned. And if this righteous man, when he falls into sin, lose all the benefits of his former righteousness, what good can be expected for the ineffectual remorse of that sinner, who commits evil, and repents of it, and then does the same evil again? This is to me a mortifying thought, to me, who have so often returned with the dog to the vomit, and with the sow that was washed, to her wallowing in the mire.
How oft I have offended, it is not in my power to remember: but this I own with a heavy heart, that, in general, I have taught men by my example how to sin, and may have made many wise and skilful in wickedness, who lived before in happy ignorance of it.
But, how deficient soever my own memory may be, yet I have to deal with a just and terrible Judge: one who seals up my iniquities in a bag, and spies out all my ways. And though thou hast holden thy peace, and hast been still, and refrainest thyself a long time, yet I dread to think the day will come, when thou shalt cry like a travailing woman, and destroy and devour the ungodly at