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A Prayer made and used by the Lord Chancellor Bacon, with which the Christian student may occasionally excite or refresh his own, and the devotion of others :
O ETERNAL God, and most merciful Father in Christ Jesus, in whom Thou hast made a covenant of grace and mercy with all those that come to Thee in Him : in His name and mediation we humbly prostrate ourselves before the throne of Thy mercy seat, acknowledging that by the breach of all Thy holy laws and commandments, we are become wild olive branches—strangers to thy covenant of grace; we have defaced in ourselves Thy sacred image imprinted in us by creation; we have sinned against heaven and before thee, and are no more worthy to be called Thy children. O admit us into the place even of hired servants. upon us, O Lord, for Thy dear Son Jesus Christ's sake, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life : in Him, O Lord, we appeal from Thy justice to Thy mercy, beseeching Thee in His name, and for His sake only, Thou wilt be graciously pleased freely to pardon and forgive all our sins, and disobedience, whether in thought, word, or deed, committed against Thy Divine Majesty, and for His precious blood-shedding, death, and perfect obedience, free us from the guilt, the stain, the punishment, and dominion of all our sins, and clothe us with His perfect righteousness. Turn our hearts, O Lord, and we shall be turned ; convert us, and we shall be converted. Illuminate the eyes of our minds and understandings with the bright beams of Thy Holy Spirit, that we may daily grow in the saving knowledge of the heavenly mystery of our redemption : sanctify our wills and affections by the same Spirit, the fountain of all grace and goodness ; reduce them to the obedience of Thy most holy will, in the practice of all piety toward Thee, and charity towards all men.
Inflame our hearts with Thy love; cast forth of them what displeases Thee; all infidelity, hardness of heart, profaneness, hypocrisy, contempt of Thy ho word and ordinances ; all uncleanness, and whatsoever advances itself in opposition to Thy holy will. And grant, that henceforth, through Thy grace we may be enabled to lead a godly, holy, sober, and Christian life, in true sincerity and uprightness of heart before Thee. To this end, plant Thy holy fear in our hearts ; grant that it may never depart from before our eyes, but continually guide our feet in Thy paths. Increase our weak faith, that it may bring forth the fruit of unfeigned repentance. By the power of the death of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, may we daily die unto sin; and by the power of His resurrection be daily quickened and raised up to newness of life ; may we be truly born anew, and be effectually made partakers of the first resurrection, so that the second death may never have dominion over us.
Teach us, O Lord, so to number our days that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. Make us ever mindful of our last end, and continually to exercise the knowledge of grace in our hearts, that, finally, we may be translated hence to that kingdom of glory prepared for all those that love and that trust in Thee; then and ever let Thy holy angels pitch their tents around us, and guard and defend us from the malice of Satan, and from all perils both of soul and body.
Pardon all our unthankfulness : make us daily more and more thankful for all Thy mercies and benefits poured down upon us. Let these our humble prayers ascend to the throne of grace, and be granted, not only for these mercies, but for whatsoever else Thy wisdom knows needful for us, and for all those that are in need, misery, and distress, whom Thou, O Lord, hast afflicted in mind, body, or estate. Grant them patience and perseverance in the end, and to the end. And this, O Lord, not for any merits of ours, but for the merits of Thy Son, and our Almighty Saviour Christ Jesus, to whom, with Thee, and the Holy Spirit, be ascribed all glory for ever. Amen.
Lord Bacon also wrote another prayer as follows; he entitled it
THE STUDENTS PRAYER. To God the Father, God the Word, God the Spirit, we pour forth most humble and hearty supplications, that He remembering the calamities of mankind and the pilgrimage of this our life in which we wear out days few and evil, would please to open to us new refreshments out of the fountains of His goodness for the alleviating of our miseries. This also we humbly and earnestly beg, that human things may not prejudice such as are divine; neither that
from the unlocking of the gates of sense, and the kindling of a greater natural light, any thing of incredulity or intellectual night may arise in our minds towards divine mysteries. But rather that by our mind thoroughly cleansed and purged from fancy and vanities, and yet subject, and perfectly given up to the Divine Oracles, there may be given up unto faith, the things that are faith's. Amen.
OUTLINES OF THE HISTORY OF DIVINITY,
God has in every age raised up men who have furnished the Church with needful and valuable works, and though some of these have perished, and many are now comparatively useless, yet the writings of some authors of almost every age survive, and may be advantageously consulted by the Christian student. Amid the almost boundless
of theology, without entering into minute details, some outline or hints towards an Epitome of the history of divinity, at particular periods, and in successive ages of the Church, can scarcely fail to be useful. 1
1 For the history of Divinity on a fuller scale, Dupin's Bibliotheca, Cave's Historia Literaria, Walchius' Bibliotheca, and other more recent works may be consulted. For the history of the true Church, see Milner's History continued by Scott, and Weismanni Introductio in Memorabilia Ecclesiastica Historiæ Sacræ. The dif. ficulties of giving a full history of Divinity are obvious, and to the Author wholly insurmountable. It requires, in order to its perfect accomplishment, an extent of reading, a soundness of judgment, and a depth of experience, to an approach to which he makes no pretensions. All that he ventures upon is to offer such remarks as his own studies have furnished or occasioned, in the hope of being serviceable to others even less experienced than himself. And he would submit these remarks with unfeigned humility and deference to those of superior ability, and to whom indeed he continually feels his own inferiority. He is pressed by the difficulty of giving an opinion in any way unfavourable of authors, from whom he has been glad to learn. He does not pretend to give a complete view of the subject. It would require far more time than he can afford, far more knowledge than he has acquired, far more wisdom, and judgment, and piety, than he possesses. Yet his mite, such as it is, he is unwilling to withhold from the treasury of God.
At the very entrance, he would intreat the reader to remember that all the works of men are full of imperfection : that no human being can take a complete view of the whole subject; that every judgment of man must be in some degree defective, and that till the great day when God will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and make manifest the counsels of the heart, no history but that which is inspired, can be without error in some things, and obscurity in others. It is necessary
also to bear in mind, that the too general spirit of party among Christians is most prejudicial to such a design ; especially as it renders it so much the more difficult to decide between opposing writers, and disposes unduly to magnify favourite authors. How painfully in the course of our studies, have we seen in the writers on both sides of a controverted point, that reproach exemplified, ye bite and devour one another ! How needful to watch against our own spirit! Alas! in contending for doctrines, how often do we fail of the professed end of those doctrines, love, kindness, holiness, and humility; and while contending, lose sight of the only scriptural spring of those works, and of the very spirit of those works for which we contend. Each age has been ready to think that it has the exact truth, and every denomination of Christians that its views are in every point defensible and scriptural.
We have shown that the Holy Scriptures are the only standard of Divine Truth; it will be of little profit therefore, to seek that truth in those writers, whether of Greece or Rome, who had not the full benefit of the Sacred Volume. The works of Cicero, on the nature of the gods, shows how little light can be derived from the result of the labours of all preceding philosophers, even when brought before us by such a writer in such a late
age of the heathen world. In this respect that work is a valuable testimony for the Christian student. Though classical literature is a subject out of our province, it may be remarked, that the delightful use made by Leighton and other spiritual minds, of their classical attainments, shows that such attainments give to a holy and diligent mind advantages for enriching and adorning the statements of divine truth. But Usher advises young divines ' not to spend too much time in heathen moral philosophers, for they were much mistaken in many great points of morality and true happiness.' The Holy Scriptures being our standard both as to principles and practice, and the measure and spirit in which they are to be declared, it will be obvious, that those writers who come nearest to them in these respects, are the most valuable. May He who bestows the gift of discerning things that differ, and approving those which are most excellent, enable the Author and his reader to find and follow the more excellent way!
It will be necessary to divide the subject under different heads, or classes of writers. We propose to consider therefore, in distinct sections, the Fathers, the