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Love to Christ.
O LORD JESUS CHRIST, who art made unto me of God, redemption, and mercy, and salvation! I praise thee, I bless thee, I render thanks to thee, but thanks that do by no means bear proportion to the inestimable benefits for which they are due; thanks, wretchedly defective in their zeal and devotion, for mercies which ought to warm this frozen heart of mine upon every remembrance of thee: not such as I am sensible I owe, but yet the best my soul can with its utmost efforts reach up to. Thou hope of my heart, and strength of my soul, let thy power supply what my weakness cannot attain to: thy fervent love make up for my lukewarm affection : for though I have not yet been able to love thee so much as I ought, yet, if sincerity can be accepted instead of perfection, my conscience supports me with this testimony, that I desire, however, and wish with all my soul, that I were able to love thee as much as thou deservest.
O Light shed from above into my soul, from whom no secrets are hid! Thou seest my inward parts, and art conscious to all my desires. If any good be there, it is of thy inspiring: if this of loving thee be (nay, because I am sure it is) good, and from thee, enable me to perform that which thou hast made me to desire, and grant that I may love thee to a degree as exalted as thou requirest. I offer to thee thanks and praises ; let not that gift be barren, and produce no worthy fruit in me which thou hast of thy own free grace communicated; but crown and perfect thine own work: and as thy goodness first excited within me holy desires, moved by no deserts of mine, so, I beseech thee, continue the same grace, in granting those desires their just accomplishment: awaken my stupidity, quicken my deadness, and change my cold indifference into a most sensible and fervent zeal; for this is the aim and end of all my prayers, this is the proper effect of all my reflections upon thee and all thy benefits, that the more I converse with thee, and the oftener I remember thee, the more vehemently I may love thee.
It was thy goodness, O Lord, that created me at first: it was thy mercy, that when I was created, cleansed me from the stain of sin: it was thy power which has preserved me by the sanctification of thy Spirit: it was thy clemency, thy bounty, thy long suffering, which, notwithstanding my numberless actual provocations since, hath forborn, sustained, and waited for my amendment. Thou, Lord, hast long expected the return of thy prodigal child; and I, but not, alas! with equal carefulness, wait for the inspiration of thy grace, to work in me repentance and holiness of life. My God, my Maker, thou that sparest me, thoả that sustainest me, I hunger and thirst after thee, I gasp for and pant after thee; and as a darling, but a desolate child debarred of his most indulgent father's presence, weeps and laments incessantly, and thinks of, and longs for nothing but his beloved company, and wears the image of his face perpetually in his heart; so I am moved by the tenderest impressions, and with an eager impatience lament my distance from thee. I often think upon, and am very sensibly affected, though not so sensibly as I wish and ought to be, with thy sorrows and sufferings, thy buffetings and scourges, thy reproaches and revilings, thy wounds and expiring agonies; how thou wert killed and crucified, how thou wert embalmed and buried, and withal, how gloriously thou didst rise again, and how triumphantly ascended up into heaven; and all this for me, sinful man, and for my salvation. These things I believe with a most steadfast faith; and in virtue of that persuasion I bewail the miseries of my pilgrimage and exile from thee: I propose no other comfort to myself, comparable to that of my Lord's return to me, and do most ardently desire, as the sum and source of all my happiness, to see thy beauteous face for ever in thy glory.
Say, my soul, if thou canst, how thou shouldst have been affected, hadst thou seen this Lord in person; seen the King of angels emptying himself of majesty, and condescending to converse with men, that men might be exalted to live and converse with angels; seen thy offended God die, to reconcile vile offenders to himself, and so prevent their everlasting death? O what expressions, what conceptions, what wonder can be great enough for this unparalleled, this amazing love and goodness! But draw a little nearer yet, my soul, and take a more distinct view of this tragical, this astonishing scene. Couldst thou have seen thy dearest Saviour's side pierced with a spear, and would not the same weapon have pierced through thy own heart also ? Couldst thou have stood by and beheld the hands and feet of him that created thee torn with nails, and fastened to the cross, and the blood which redeemed thee gushing out in streams, and not have
sunk thyself, and even expired with grief and hor- .. ror at the sight?
Say then withal, (but that thou canst not say) why thou dost now read, and hear and meditate upon these things, which when seen by the eye of faith, are as certain as if present to that of the body, with so slender impression and concern: why dost not thou drink up the bitter cup of tears, since thy Jesus did for thee drink that of his Father's wrath? Why dost thou not feel a grief too deep to be described, like that of his virgin-mother, when she saw her innocent and only son bound and scourged, tortured and slain before her face; since the relation here too is most close and dear, and, as thy Lord was her's, so art thou the Lord's flesh and bones, a member of that body, whereof. he is the head ?
Had I, with holy Joseph, taken my Lord down from the cross, wrapped him in spices, and laid him in the sepulchre, how happy should I have really esteemed myself, that any grateful respect of mine had contributed to the honour of his interment! What glad astonishment should I have felt, had I been in company with those zealous women who were affrighted with a vision of angels, and heard that comfortable, that reviving message, Fear not ye; ye seek Jesus which was crucified: he is not here, for he is risen. These, dearest Lord, were moving objects, of which thy providence did not think fit to give me a bodily sight, but I behold them all by a distinct and undoubted faith. I see the pledges and memorials of them now in thy blessed sacraments: and though I was not allowed to kiss thy scars, and drop my tears into the print of the spear and nails, yet, as oft as I approach thy
table with deep remorse and due reverence, I there weep over thy crucified body, there contemplate the pangs of thy bitter death, there rejoice in the triumphs of thy resurrection, there receive the effectual representation of all thou hast done and suffered for me; and, by a holy union with thee and all thy members, attain a greater privilege than any conversation with thee in the days of thy flesh could have conferred. Thou art to all intents the same Saviour; and if they that saw thee were blessed, because they believed, yet thy own mouth declared them no less blessed who have not seen, and yet have believed. '
But still the sight of thee, of thy beauties, and thy glory, is the constant desire, the only end, and noble reward of our faith; and in this clouded disconsolate interval, till that can be obtained, my soul finds itself frequently at a loss how to express itself, what to do, whither to bend its course, or where to find its much-loved Lord. My joy is turned into heaviness, and my laughter into mourning, for want of his dear presence. My flesh and my heart faileth, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever. ; -My soul refuseth comfort from any other hand but thine, my joy and treasure; for, whom have I in heaven, but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire besides thee. Thou hast commanded me to seek thy face, and my heart most readily replies, Thy face, Lord, will I seek; O turn not thou thy face from me, nor cast away thy seryant in displeasure.
O most affectionate lover of souls, the poor committeth himself unto thee, and thou art the helper of the fatherless. Omy most faithful guardian, preserve and pity me; I am an orphan destitute of