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THE MEDITATION FOR MONDAY EVENING.
Upon the vanities of the world and the goodness of God, in order to a worthy receiving of the most holy sacrament.
He that loveth his life shall lose it: and he that hateth his life in this world, shall keep it unto life eternal. John xi. 25.
1. AWAKE thou, O my soul, from the
sleep of sin; for, behold, life and death are set before thee; choose while thy gracious Lord allows thee time and day, lest the night and darkness overtake thy neglect: choose, but remember thy eternity is concerned, and deliberate ere thou makest thy choice.
2. Survey all the pleasures of the world before thee, and ask if any of them be worth such pains: ask if the vain forbidden things thou lovest, deserve thy affection better than thy Maker? Are they more worthy in them-. selves, or beneficial to thee, that thou mayest justly prefer them before thy Redeemer?. dost thou expect to be at rest, and satisfied by enjoying them, or everlastingly happy by their procurement? Can they protect thee at the hour of death, or plead thy cause at the day of judgment? O no. They only de-. ceive me with a smiling look, which I too often have proved by dear experience.
3. It is heaven alone that yields a true content; it is heaven alone that fills us with eternal delight. Say then, my soul, Take away your flatteries, false world, and leave me free for better thoughts. O infinite goodness! it is thyself alone I choose; thou art my only happiness for ever. I see my portion hereafter depends on my choice here; and my choice here, O Lord, depends on thee.
4. O my dearest Lord, do thou choose me, and guide my uninstructed soul to choose thee. For here we, alas! move slowly in the dark, led on by the argument of things not seen; but did we clearly see what we say we believe, we should soon change the course of our lives.
5. Did we but see the damned in their flames, or hear them cry in the midst of their torments, how should we fear to follow them in their sins, which we know have plunged them into all those miseries! how should we strive against the next temptation, and cast about to avoid the danger by working out our salvation! or,
6. Did we but see the incomparable glories of the saints; or hear the sweet harmonious hymns which they continually sing, how should we study to imitate those holy ways, by which we know they arrived at all their happiness! how should we seek all occasions of improvement, and make it our
business to work out our salvation! did man but seriously consider what he says he believes, he would never live as he doth. Who can doubt but ere long he shall be turned into dust; yet which of us lives as if he thought ever to die?.
7. Pity, O gracious Lord, the frailties of thy servant, and suffer not my blindness to lead me into ruin. Supply my want of sight by a lively faith, and strengthen my faith by thy powerful grace: make me remember it is no trifling thing to gain or lose the kingdom of heaven: make me choose wisely, and pursue my choice, and use as well the means, as like the end. O set thou right the bias of my heart, that in all my motions I may draw off from the world; that I may still incline towards thee, and rest at last in thy holy presence. Thou art my Lord, and I will serve thee in fear; thou art my God, and I will love thee in hope: what will it profit me to gain the whole world, and lose my own soul? or what shall I give in exchange for my soul?
Now repair to the public service of the church; but if you have not that opportunity, then employ your time in reading some part of the NEW WHOLE DUTY OF MAN, as directed on page 8, especially Sunday 17, Sections I. and VII,
A Prayer before examination, with a firm resolution to forsake the vanities of this wicked world.
Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread and drink of that cup. 1 Cor. xi. 28.
ALMIGHTY God, thou searcher of hearts, who seest and knowest all my sins; help me so to search every secret of my heart, that I may leave no sin, if possible, unrepented of. Give me grace so impartially to judge and condemn myself, so humbly to repent and beg pardon, that I may not be condemned, when I shall appear at thy tribunal, in the great and terrible day of the Lord Jesus!
But, alas! after the most strict examination we can make, who can number his iniquities? who can tell how oft he offendeth? cleanse me, therefore, O Lord, I beseech thee, not only from my presumptuous and known sins, but from all my secret and unknown transgressions, for his sake who died for sinners, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
DIRECTIONS FOR SELF-EXAMINATION.
HAVING devoutly prayed for God's assistance, doubt not
but he will vouchsafe it to you. And the better to dispose your heart to the duty of self-examination,
Consider seriously with yourself; that it is appointed for all men once to die, and after death to be called to judgment. That God hath appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness by Jesus Christ. At whose coming all men shall rise again with their bodies, and shall give an
account of their own works; and they that have done good shall go into life everlasting; and they that have done evil, into everlasting fire: for the books shall be opened, and the dead shall be judged out of the things written in those books, according to their works. And then,
Consider how much, how nearly it concerns you to judge yourself before that time, that you be not judged, that is, condemned of the Lord.
But so many and various are the sins of our lives, in thought word, and deed, and omissions against God, our neighbour, and ourselves, that this work will, at best, be confused, except Christians have proper helps to bring their several sins distinctly to remembrance; so that I shall in this form lay before you the several heads of our duty to God, our neighbour, and ourselves, as the most effectual help in this case; that upon each particular head you may examine your past life, and try the present disposition of your heart.
First, When you examine yourself, let it be chiefly about your wilful sins, and sins of commission; and be not over scrupulous either to accuse yourself of sins you never committed, or to reckon up all your infirmities; for that would render your examination endless and impracticable: and though there may be some sins that you may doubt whether you have committed; others you may fear you have forgot; yet be not discouraged: for when you have acted honestly and sincerely, rest satisfied; but what sins you cannot recollect and find out, so as particularly to confess and bewail, you ought to conclude under a general repentance for whatsoever you have done amiss; and to pray that God would cleanse you from your secret faults. Observing, wherever you find yourself innocent, to glorify God, and beg of him to preserve and continue you therein.
Secondly, if you have not wholly neglected, and yet desire particularly to increase in some Christian virtue, lift up your heart to God, for his holy spirit to aid and assist your sincere endeavours to grow in it; for we are not barely to avoid sin, but to grow in grace and goodness.
Thirdly, When you come to any sin you have committed often or deliberately, or against the checks of conscience, or against frequent admonitions, or lastly, against your own special vows and resolutions to the contrary, you must take into the account such aggravating circumstances as increase and heighten the guilt of it, to increase your shame and sorrow, and to show you how greatly we stand in need of God's par◄