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to turn aside from the holy commandment”. But I would, by divine grace, hope better things of yout. And I make it my hearty prayer for you, my reader, that you may be kept by the mighty power of God, kept as in a garrison, on all sides fortified, in the securest manner, through faith unto salvations.
The Soul alarmed by a Sense of these Difficulties, committing itself to Divine Protection.
“BLESSED God, it is to thine almighty power that I flee. Behold me surrounded with difficulties and dangers, and stretch out thine omnipotent arm to save me; Oh thou that savest by thy right hand them that put their trust in thee, from those that rise up against them|. This day do I solemnly put myself under thy protection: exert thy power in my favour, and permit me to make the shadow of thy wings my refugeşl Let thy grace be sufficient for me, and thy strength be made perfect in my weakness". I dare not say, I will never forsake thee; I will never deny thee; ** but I hope I can truly say, Oh Lord, I would not do it; and that according to my present apprehension and purpose, death would appear to me much less terrible, than in any wilful and deliberate instance to offend thee. Oh root out those corruptions from my heart, which in an hour of pressing temptation might incline me to view things in a different light, and so might betray me into the hands of the enemy Strengthen my faith, O Lord, and encourage my hope Inspire me with an heroic resolution in opposing every thing that lies in my way to heaven; and let me set my face dike a flintff, against all the assaults of earth and hell ' If sinmers entice me, let me not consentit; if they insult me, let me not regard it; if they threaten me, let me not fear! Rather may a holy and ardent, yet prudent and well-governed zeal, take occasion from that malignity of heart which they discover, to attempt their reformation At least, let me never be ashamed to plead thy cause against the most profane deriders of religion Make me to hear joy and gladness in my soul; and I will endeavour to teach transgressors thy ways, that sinners may be converted unto thee!||! Yea, Lord, while my fears continue, though I should apprehend myself condemned, I am condemned so righteously for my own folly, that I would be thine advocate, though against myself.
* 2 Pet ii. 21. +Heb. vi. 9. 1 pet. i. 5. | Psal. xvii. 7. § Psal. lvii. 1. • 2 Cor. xii. 9. ** Mark xiv. 31. ft. Isai. l. 7. If Prov. i. 10. || Psal. li. 8, 13.
"Keep me, O Lord, now, and at all times! Never let me think, whatever age or station I attain, that I am strong enough to maintain the combat without thee! Nor let mc imagine myself, even in this infancy of religion in my soul, so weak, that thou canst not support me! Wherever thou leadest mc, there let me follow; and whatever station thou appointest me, there let me maintain the holy war against all the enemies of my salvation, and rather fall in it than basely abandon it!
"And thou, O glorious Redeemer, the Captain of my sali/ation, the great author and finisher of my faith*, when I am in danger of denying thee, as Peter did, look upon me with that mixture of majesty and tendernessf, which may either secure me from falling, or may speedily recover me to God and my duty again! And teach mc to take occasion, even from my miscarriages, to humble myself more deeply for all that has been amiss, and to redouble my future diligence and caution! Amen!"
The Christian urged to, and assisted in, an express Act of Self-dedication to the Service of God.
The Advantages of such a Surrender are briefly suggested, §. I. Advice for the Manner of doing it; that it be deliberate, cheerful, entire, perpetual; §.2,3,4. And that it be expressed with some affecting Solemnity, §. 5. A written Instrument to be signed and declared before God at some Season of extraordinary Devotion, proposed, §. 6, 7. The chapter concludes with a Specimen of such an Instrument, together with an Abstract of it, to be used with proper and requisite Alterations.
§• 1. XA.S I would hope, that notwithstanding all the views of opposition which do or may arise, yet in consideration of those noble supports and motives which have been mentioned in the two preceding chapters, you are heartily determined for the service of God, I would now urge you to make a solemn surrender of yourself unto it. Do not only form such a purpose in your heart, but expressly declare it in the divine presence. Such solemnity in the manner of doing it, is certainly very reasonable in the nature of things ; and sure it is highly expedient, for binding to the Lord such a treacherous heart, as we know
• Heb. xii. 2. + Luke xxii. 61.
our own to be. It will be pleasant to reflect upon it, as done at such and such a time, with such and such circumstances of place and method, which may serve to strike the memory and the conscience. The sense of the vows of God which are upon you, will strengthen you in an hour of temptation; and the recollection may also encourage your humble boldness and freedom in applying to him under the character and relation of your covenant God and Father, as future exigencies may require.
§. 2. Do it therefore, but do it deliberately. Consider what it is that you are to do: and consider how reasonable it is that it should be done, and done cordially and cheerfully not by constraint, but willingly*: Eor in this sense, and in every other, God loves a cheerful giverf. Now surely there is nothing we should do with greater cheerfulness or more cordial consent, than making such a surrender of ourselves to the Lord; to the God who created us, who brought us into this pleasant and well furnished world, who supported us in our tender infancy, who guarded us in the thoughtless days of childhood and youth, who has hitherto continually helped, sustained, and preserved us. Nothing can be more reasonable than that we should acknowledge him as our rightful owner and our sovereign ruler; than that we should devote ourselves to him as our most gracious benefactor, and seek him as our supreme felicity. Nothing can be more apparently equitable, than that we, the product of his power, and the price of his Son's blood, should be his, and his for ever. If you see the matter in its just view, it will be the grief of your soul, that you have ever alienated yourself from the blessed God and his service ; so far will you be from wishing to continue in that state of alienation another year or another day, you will rejoice to bring back to him his revolted creature; and as you have in times past yielded your members as instruments oj unrighteousness unto sin, you will delight to yield yourselves unto God, as alive from the dead, and to employ your members as instruments of righteousness unto God%.
§. 3. The surrender will also be as entire, as it is cheerful and immediate. All you are, and all you have, and all you can do, your time, vour possessions, your influence over others, will be devoted to him, that for the future it may be employed entirely for him, and to his glory. You will desire to keep back nothing from him; but will seriously judge, that you are
•lPct. v.2. t2 Cor ix. 7. J Rom. vi. 13.
then in the truest and noblest sense your own, when you are most entirely his. You are also on this great occasion, to resign all that you have to the disposal of his wise and gracious providence ; not only owning his power, but consenting to his undoubted right, to do what he pleases with you, and all that he has given you ; and declaring a hearty approbation of all that he has done, and of all that he may farther do. §. 4. Once more, let me remind you, that this surrender must be perpetual. You must give yourself up to God in such a manner, as never more to pretend to be your own : for the rights of God are, like his nature, eternal and immutable; and with regard to his rational creatures, are the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever. §. 5. I would farther advise and urge, that this dedication may be made with all possible solemnity. Do it in express. words. And perhaps it may be in many cases most expedient, as many pious divines have recommended, to do it in writing. Set your hand and seal to it, “that on such a day of such a month and year, and at such a place, on full consideration and serious reflection, you came to this happy resolution, that whatever others might do, you would serve the Lord”. §. 6. Such an instrument, you may, if you please, draw up for yourself; or if you rather chuse to have it drawn up to your hand, you may find something of this nature below, in which you may easily make such alterations as shall suit your circumstances, where there is any thing peculiar in them. But whatever you use, weigh it well, meditate attentively upon it, that you may not be rash with your mouth to utter any thing before Godf. And when you determine to execute this instrument, let the transaction be attended with some more than ordinary religious retirement. Make it, if you conveniently can, a day of secret fasting and prayer: and when your heart is prepared with a becoming awe of the divine majesty, with an humble confidence in his goodness, and an earnest desire of his favour, then present yourself on your knees before God, and read it over deliberately and solemnly; and when you have signed it, lay it by in some secure place, where you may review it whenever you please; and make it a rule with yourself to review it, if possible, at certain seasons of the year, that you may keep up the remembrance of it. - §. 7. At least take this course, till you see your way clear to the table of the Lord, where you are to renew the same covenant, and to seal it, with more affecting solemnities. And God grant that you may be enabled to keep it, and in the whole of your conversation to walk according to it! May it be an anchor to your soul in every temptation, and a cordial to it in every affliction! May the recollection of it embolden your addresses to the throne of grace now, and give additional strength to your departing spirit, in a consciousness that it is ascending to your covenant God and Father, and to that gracious Redeemer, whose power and faithfulness will securely keep what you commit to him until that day*!
* Josh. xxiv. 15. + Eccl. v. 2.
An Example of Self-Dedication, or a Solemnform of renewing our Covenant with God.
"ETERNAL and unchangeable Jehovah! Thou great Creator of heaven and earth, and adorable Lord of angels and men ! I desire, with the deepest humiliation and abasement of soul, to fall down at this time in thine awful presence; and earnestly pray, that thou wilt penetrate my very heart with a suitable sense of thine unutterable and inconceivable glories!
"Trembling may justly take hold upon mef, when I a sinful worm presume to lift up my head to thee, presume to appear in thy majestic presence on such an occasion as this. Who ani I, 0 Lord God, or what is my house\? What is my nature or descent, my character and desert, that I should speak of this, and desire that I may be one party in a covenant, where thou, the King of kings and Lord of lords, art the other! I blush, and am confounded, even to mention it before thee. But, O Lord, great as is thy majesty, so also is thy mercy. If thou wilt hold converse with any of thy creatures, thy superlatively exalted nature must stoop, must stoop infinitely low. And I know, that in and through Jesus, the Son of thy love, thou condescendest to visit sinful mortals, and to allow their approach to thee, and their covenantintercourse with thee: nay, I know, that the scheme and plan is thine own, and that thou hast graciously sent to propose it to us ; and none untaught by thee would have been ablo to form it, or inclined to embrace it, even when actually proposed.
"To thee therefore do I now come, invited by the name of thy Son, and trusting in his righteousness and grace. Laying myself at thy feet with shame and confusion of face, and
* 2 Tim. i. 12, f Job xxi. 6. J 2 Sam. vii. 18.