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UPON THE GREAT NEGLECT OF THE DUTY OF
W HEN I seriously consider how manifold and great my failings are, when I think of the shortness and uncertainty of life, of the solemniiy of death, of the eternity ofhappiness, of misery after death, and by all these of the necessity, usefulne's and excellency of prayer, I may well wonder that I am ever from my knees.
My life is all sin, and had therefore need to be all sorrow; the greatness and continuance of my fins · have added to the greatness and continuance of my misery, and there is none but thou (O Lord) that can relieve me ; there is no coming to thee but by prayer, and no prayer powerful with thee, but that which is fervent.
- This is that eye of my affection that woundeth the heart of thy compassion; this is that holy viclence that taketh heaven by force, that surpriseth thy mercy, that manicles thy justice, that wreitles · with thy love, and will not let thee go without a
blesing: this is my itrong armour to defend me, my daily food to sustain me, my, my fafe repose to refresh me, my sweet content for ever to delight me.
Blessed Lord, how wonderful is thy desire to man? how graciously dost thou provide for him? how daily art thou mindful of him ? thy words instruct me, thy promises allure me, thy graces suftain me, thy facraments strengthen me, thy visits comfort me, thy embraces ravish me; and as if all this were not yet enough to manifeft thy favor to. wards me, so unspeakable is thy love, so earnest thy desires unto me, that thou hast even given me thyself, to be overcome by me. Lord, thou art all love, when I strive with thee for mercy, I overcome thee by thyself, how great is thy goodness, how tender are thy mercies unto man, for whose
fake thou contendest even with thine own essence ! · Thou hast given thy Son to die for me, and in him thyself to be overcome by me.
Lord, let this teach me to renew my acquain. tance often with thee, to labour, to be powerful in my prayers ; to study to be humble, zealous, earneft, even importunate in my devotions; to let no finful thoughts pass me without a figh, no finful action without holy contrition, no divine favors without devout and thankful acknowledgment: that soul which is truly sensible of the burden of fin, will halten unto that heavenly help that can
give it ease ; and that heart which is once truly inflamed with thy love, will readily instruct the tongue to be zealous in thy praise. Lord let me first seek mine own heart, before I presume to come before thy mercy-seat, lest if I recall it not from the vanities of this life, my very prayers become fin, and so while I expect a blessing, I deserve a curse,
Let no vain excuse, no barren pretence of this life, persuade me to intermit this holy duty, lest carelessness, and coldness in devotion, beget in me a loathing of that course, which by constant practice will become my constant comfort: Lord, make me to consider of the sweetness, of the excellency of this gift, that I may daily labour to improve it to my soul's eternal happiness ; that when I often fall (as I needs must through the weakness of the flesh) thou, O Lord, in mercy mayst restore me through my blessed importunity of spirit.
WITH grief of heart (Lord) I confess that my great negle&t of this holy duty, hath most justly occafioned the great abatement of thy holy spirit in me, and long with-holdings of thine outward blessings from me.
Lord, give me yet an heart to serve thee, and then take from me what thou wilt: I de fire nothing
without thee, for I know a[uredly, that with thee I canot but enjoy all things aeedful for me.
O make me to be wail mine own unworthiness, vry drowfire?s, my dulness, my carelesness, my inuch untowardness in thy service: create in me a ccan heart (O Lord) and renew a right spirit with. in me, that I may praise thee with alacrity and fervency of soul; that I may be daily ravished with contemplation of eternity, and hourly fatisfy my thoughts with apprehension of the sweetness of my present safety, of my future glory.
Lord, make me every day more earnest in this holy duty; O give me such affe&ionate desires; such holy longings, such insatiate appetites, such carnest importunities of heart for heavenly graces, that I may not only beg of thee, but even wrestle with thee for this blessing, although the sinful defies of my corrupt flesh go halting to the grave,
Be merciful unto me (O Lord) for my soul trait. cth in thee, and in the shadow of thy wings will i make my refuge until these calamitics (of sins and iniseries) be overpast.
Lord, hear the voice of my humble petitions when I cry unto thee, when I hold up my hands towards thy mercy seat, fhew thy servant the light of thy countenance, and save me for thy mercy, fake, Pfal. 28. 2. Pfal. 31, 18.
CHAP. XXXI. UPON THE GREAT NEGLECT OF READING THE..
ALAS my foul, how unbefeeming thy' profession; is this thy backwardness to holy duties? how long wilt thoù grovel on this element of earth? how long be cheated with these counterfeit com-. modities, these childishi toys of outward enjoy.. ments? what sweetness canst thou find, in those things which favor of corruption ? what comfort in those joys which are buti vain, vexatious, toilsome, transitory? whose seeming beauties are fuda. denly pafling, never returning: O' let this move thee to delight in that which cannot pass, to remember whence, thou art, and whither thou art going, that thou mayest thereby raise thy thoughts to immortality:
Look upon the beauty of those sacred leaves, and thou wilt loath the falshood of this world's embraces; thou mayest there find the sum of all that was, or is, or is to come, conducing to thy real happiness; there is nature-unbowelled, hell opened, and heaven unveiled; thou mayest there see the creature to be vanity, thyself misery, thy Saviour félicity; thou hast there his counsel to guide thee;