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thou hast emptied thyself: I have been rebellious, and thy obedience hath expiated for it. I have been intemperate, and thou hast hungered and thirsted for it: my ungoverned appetite sinned in the forbidden, and thy immense love submitted to hang on the accursed, tree: I wallow in pleasures, and thou art torn with nails: the honey in my mouth is turned to gall in thy stomach : the tempting Eve rejoices with me, the sorrowful Mary suffers and laments with thee. Thus is my wickedness and want of love to God, thus is thy righteousness and inexpressible love to man, manifested in this marvellous dispensation.
And now, my God and king, what reward shall I give, what return can I make for all the benefits thou hast done unto me? Surely it is not in the power of man to find out any requital answerable to such bounty: for how should the narrowness of a finite mind, extend to any thing fit to be compared with infinite compassion? How should a poor creature be capable of any recompense suitable to the mercy of an almighty Creator? And yet, my dearest Saviour, so wonderfully is this matter ordered, that even man, even I, weak and worthless though I be, may find something which thou art pleased to accept in return. O by thy grace may my soul be broken and humbled, and I cru. cify this flesh with its affections and lusts. May I be wrought up to this holy disposition, that I may begin to suffer for, and live to thee; and in some sort to pay back what thou hast endured when dying for me. This is the utmost my condition will admit; and this, though but little in itself, yet when proceeding from the same principle of holy love, thou art graciously pleased to accept, as the
utmost poor mortals can do, in acknowledgment of their great Maker.
I beseech thee, therefore, by thy tender mercies, which have ever been of old, pour such balm into my wounds, as may dispel the venom of my diseases, and restore me to spiritual health and sound
Let me drink of thy heavenly sweetness, and be so ravished with the taste, as ever after to disrelish the sensual delights of the world, to despise its pleasures, and cheerfully encounter the afflictions of this present life; and so to fix my heart on true noble joys, as always to disdain the empty and transitory shadows, of which flesh and blood is so foolishly fond, and so fearful of parting with.
Let me not, I beseech thee, esteem or delight in any thing but thee: let all this whole world can give, without thee, be counted no better than dross and dung: let me hate most irreconcileably whatever displeases thee; and what thou lovest, let me most eagerly desire, and incessantly pursue: let me feel no satisfaction in any joys without thee; nor any reluctancy in the greatest sufferings for thee. Let the mention of thy name, be always a refresh ment, and the remembrance of thy goodness, an inexhaustible spring of comfort to my soul. Let tears be my meat day and night, so I may attain to thy righteousness; and the law of thy mouth always dearer to me than thousands of gold and silver. Let me aim at nothing so much as to do thee service; nor detest and avoid any thing in comparison of sinning against thee. And, for what I have unhappily done of that kind already, I entreat thee, my only refuge and hope, to pardon for thy own mercies' sake. Let my ears be ever open to the voice of thy law, and suffer not my heart to
incline to any evil thing, that I never comply with them that practise wickedness, nor take shelter in trifling pretences to excuse or indulge myself in doing what I ought not. And once more, I beg thee, by thy own unparalleled humility and sufferings, that the foot of pride may not come against me, nor the hand of the ungodly cast me down.
Application of Christ's Death and Sufferings by
Thou seest, my Lord, my God, I have done my utmost to incline thy mercy; I have with a most sincere zeal offered to thee the best, the dearest, the most acceptable thing I have: nay, I have nothing else, no addition to make, since in this one I place my whole trust, and make a present at once of all I value or depend upon. For I have addressed thee by my only advocate, and thy only Son: that one mediator between God and man, that glorious intercessor, by whom I assuredly expect acceptance and forgiveness. I have sent that Word in my behalf to thee, which thou didst heretofore send down from heaven for my sins; I have presented to thee that passion, which thy own Son hath undergone, for the release of the debt to thy justice which my sins have contracted. I believe that thy only Son sent thus into the world, did take upon him my manhood; that in this state he vouchsafed to be bound and buffeted, to be derided and spit upon, to be nailed, and pierced, and crucified. And this nature of mine, after being wrapt up in swaddling clothes, and moistened with infant tears; after the toils of youth, the mortifica. tions of fastings, and watchings, and long journeys; after being furrowed with scourgings, torn upon the cross, numbered among the dead, and at last honoured with a glorious resurrection: this nature of
mine, I most assuredly believe, thy Godhead united to it, hath now exalted to the joys of heaven, and seated at the right hand of thy Majesty on high. This is my confidence; this the reconciliation for my sins; this the atonement thou hast accepted for them.
Remember then, in much mercy, the worth of thy Son, and the condition of thy servant redeemed by him. Look upon the Maker, and despise not the work of his hands. Take the shepherd into thy embraces, and cast not out the stray sheep, which he brings home upon his shoulders. For this is that careful shepherd, who, when his sheep wandered over steep hills, and thorny vales and desolate wildernesses, sought and brought it back with wonderful skill and pains: and when it was faint and just expiring, sustained and carried it, tied it fast to himself by the straitest bands of love, lifted it out of the pit of error and confusion, and with many a kind and tender embrace rejoiced over it, and fetched the poor lost silly creature home, to the ninety and nine which lay safe in his own fold.
See then, my God and King, see the good shepherd bringing to thee the sheep committed to his charge: he undertook to save man by thy appointment, and he hath performed the undertaking so as to restore to thee in himself, pure and spotless, thy once polluted creatures. He brings back in safety that prey, which the wolf and robber had carried off by violence. He brings that servant into thy presence, whom his own guilty conscience had put upon fleeing from thy sight; that the punishment due to his sins might be remitted through his Lord's satisfaction. And the offender, who had nothing to look for, but to be banished for ever into