« AnteriorContinuar »
my heart; make me truly sensible, as of my good received, so of my escaped evils ; and take thou to thyself the glory of them both.
v. Ah, my Lord God, what heats and colds do I feel in my soul! Sometimes I find myself so vigorous in grace, that no thought of doubt dare show itself; and, methinks, I durst challenge my hellish enemies : another while I feel myself so dejected and heartless, as if I had no interest in the God of my salvation, nor ever had received any certain pledges of his favour. What shall I say to this various disposition ? whether, Lord, is it my wretchedness to suffer myself to be robbed of thee, for the time, by temptation ? or, whether is this the course of thy proceedings in the dispensation of thy graces to the sons of men, that thou wilt have the breathings of thy Spirit, as where, so how, and when, thou pleasest ? Surely, O my God, if I did not know thee constant to thine everlasting mercies, I should be utterly disheartened with these sad intervals. Now, when my sense fails me, I make use of my faith, and am no less sure of thee, even when I feel thee not, than when I find the clearest evidences of thy gracious presence. Lord, shine upon me with the light of thy countenance, if it may be, always; but, whenever that is clouded, strengthen thou my faith : so shall I be safe, even when I am comfortless.
O my God, I am justly ashamed to think what favours I have received from thee, and what poor returns I have made to thee. Truly, Lord, I must needs say, thou hast thought nothing, either in earth or in heaven, too good for me; and I, on the other side, have grudged thee that weak and worthless obedience which thou hast required of me. Alas, what pleasure could I have done to thee, who art infinite, if I had sacrificed my whole self to thee, as thou commandest? Thou art, and wilt be, thyself, though the world were not; it is I, I only, that could be a gainer by this happy match, which, in my own wrong, I have unthankfully neglected. I see it is not so much what we have, as how we employ it. Othou, who hast been so bountiful in heaping thy rich mercies upon me, vouchsafe to grant me yet one gift more, give me grace and power to improve all thy gifts to the glory of the Giver; otherwise, it had been better for me to have been poor than ungrateful.
VII. Ah, Lord, what struggling have I with my weak fears! How do I anticipate my evils by distrust! What shall I do when I am old? How shall I be able to endure pain ? How shall I pass through the horrid gates of death? O my God, where is my faith, that I am thus surprised? Had I not thee to uphold and strengthen my soul, well might I tremble and sink under these cares ; but now, that I have the assurance of so strong a Helper, as commands all the powers of heaven, earth, and hell, what a shame is it for me to give so much way to my wretched infidelity, as to punish myself with the expectation of future evils! Oh for the victory that overcomes the world, “even our faith,” 1 John v. 4. “ Thou, O God, art my refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble; therefore will I not fear though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea,” Psa. xlvi. 1, 2.
VIII. Lord, I made account my days should have been an inch, but thou hast made them “ a span long," Psa. xxxix. 6, having drawn out the length of a crazy life beyond the period of my hopes. It is for something, sure, that thou hast thus long respited me from my grave, which looked for me many years ago. Here I am, O my God, attending thy good pleasure; thou knowest best what thou hast to do with me, dispose of me as thou wilt; only make me faithful in all thy services, resolute to trust myself with thee in all events, careful to be approved of thee in all my ways, and crown my decayed age with such fruits as may be pleasing to thee, and available to the good of many. Lastly, let me live to thee, and die in thee.
How often, Lord, have I wondered to see the strange carriage of thine administration of these earthly affairs; and therein to see thy marvellous wisdom, power, goodness, in fetching good out of evil! Alas! we wretched men are apt enough to fetch the worst of evils out of the greatest good, “ turning the grace of thee our God into wantonness,” Jude 4. But, how have I seen thee, of lifeless stones to raise up children to Abraham, of sin. ners to make saints; out of a desperate confusion, to fetch order; out of a bloody war, a happy peace; out of resolutions of revenge, love; out of the rock, waters; out of a persecutor, an apostle! How can I be discouraged with unlikelihoods, when I see thee work by contraries ? It is not for me, O my God, to examine or prejudge thy counsels : take what ways thou wilt, so thou bring me to thine own end; all paths shall be direct, that lead me to blessedness.
x. How many good purposes, O my God, have I taken up, and let fall to the ground again without effect! How teeming hath this barren heart of mine been of false conceptions ! But, especially, when thine hand hath been smart and heavy upon me in mine affliction, how have I tasked myself with duties, and revived my firm resolutions of more strict obedience; which yet, upon the continuance of my better condition, I have slackened! Lord, it is from thee that I purposed well, it is from my own sinful weakness that I failed in my performances; if any good come from me, the will and the deed must be both thine; “The very preparations of the heart” are from thee; and if I have devised my way, it must be thou that directest my steps, Prov. xvi. 1, 9. O God, do thou ripen and perfect all the good motions that thou puttest into my soul; and make my health such as my sickness promised.
XI. Every man, Lord, is unwilling that his name should die; we are all naturally ambitious of being thought on when we are gone; those that have not living monuments to perpetuate them, affect to have dead ones. If Absalom have not a son, he will erect a pillar. Yet when we have done all, time eats us out at last, “ There is no remembrance of the wise more than of the fool for ever; seeing that which now is, in the days to come shall all be forgotten,” Eccles. ii. 16. O God, let
it be my care and ambition, whatever becomes of my memory here below, that my name may be recorded in heaven.
XII. Thy wise providence, O God, has so ordered it, that every man's mind seeks and finds contentment in something; otherwise it could not be (since we must meet with such frequent crosses in the world) but that man's life would be burdensome to him. One takes pleasure in his hawk or hound, another in his horses and furnitures; one in fair buildings, another in pleasant walks and beautiful gardens ; one in travelling abroad, another in enjoying the profits and pleasures of his home; one in a comfortable wife, another in loving and dutiful children: but when all is done, if there be not somewhat else to uphold the heart in the evil day, it must sink. O God, do thou possess my soul of thee, let me place all my felicity in the fruition of thine infinite goodness; so I am sure the worst of the world hath not power to render me other than happy.
XIII. O Lord God, under how opposite aspects do I stand, from the world! How variously am I construed by men! One pities my condition, another praises my patience; one favours me, out of the opinion of some good that he thinks he sees in me; another dislikes me for some imagined evil. What are the eyes or tongues of men to me? If I know not what they say or think of me, what am I the better or worse for them? They can have no influence upon me without my own apprehension. All is in what terms I stand with thee, my God; if thou be pleased to look upon