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himself to witness what I perfectly knew to be wide of truth?
10. Have I not placed my happiness too much in worldly possessions and outward appearances? Have I not felt, on this ground, a spirit of envy against such as I imagined went beyond me? Have I never used any subtle measures to depress them, and by that means to exalt myself? Have I not been discontented with the allotments of a wise and gracious providence, murmuring and repining, instead of being thankful to that source of wisdom and compassion which condescends to choose my inheritance for me? Have I not by fraud, gambling, and other unchristian methods and pretences, become possessed of the wealth of others, or at least attempted it, whether I succeeded or not? Has not the lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life, gained the predominancy in my heart; and have not these things repeatedly betrayed me? Have I not in these and such like things sinned, frequently sinned against God? Have I not daringly provoked him to anger, and does not all within and without me shew me the necessity, the absolute necessity of true and unfeigned repentance, and an interest in him who is the sinner's only hope and refuge, in all his guiltiness, weakness, danger, and distress ?
If on examination you find that you have been guilty of any of the things presented to your view, the next is to enquire whether these offences against God bave been followed by unfeigned repentance. Ask yourself,
Have 1 seriously reflected upon my past misconduct, and the account I must one day give to God for the same ? Has it led me humbly to supplicate the throne of grace for mer. cy, and while I have desired salvation, reformed my life? llave I been contrite, and deeply humbled on account of my vileness before him who has known all my wanderings? Do I feel thankful that I am still spared, and am I now watching against additional transgression? Do I now pay that at. tention to the duties of my station which God and men expect from me? Are my hopes fixed upon the Divine merey in Christ Jesus my Lord, and would I now be saved in that way and to that extent which his word requires ?
If these few questions can be answered in the affirmative, then the return of the soul to the fold of God is begun; and if it persevere, it will soon be admitted into the number of the flock redeemed by his own blood, and in whom he has seen of the travail of his own soul, and is satisfied.
I shall here give a form of confession of sin for the use of those who seriously resolve to devote themselves to God, but who have known little of praying either with or without a form; not condemning the former, but recomiending the latter as the more excellent way. As to that stale objection to extemporary prayer, that it cannot be so spiritual and acceptable to God as a form, because it requires some ingenuity and labour to clothe the thoughts in suitable language, which must divert the mind from him in the same proportion when we approach his throne in prayer, it is scarcely worth our notice. Such as make it must have known but little of communion with God; and you will find, in using the best printed forms, that an attention to the book, the construction of the sentences, the stops, the sentiments perhaps not fully expressing your state and feelings, and other things, will probably be more distracting to your mind, than extemporary prayer in general. However, I know nothing wrong in availing ourselves of help from others, when we require it, and when practice has rendered us more perfect, we can adopt that method which we find the most useful and refreshing.
FORM OF CONFESSION.
O Lord, the great and dreadful God, who art glorious in holiness, faithful to thy word, rich in goodness to them that love and honour thee, but justly angry every day with the wicked and profane; how shall a vile, sinful worm, make mention of thy name, or approach thy throne? My nature is defiled and corrupted by sin; my transgressions great and numerous. I have departed from thy precepts, forsaken thy ordinances, or trilled in them; neglected my duty, and violated thy holy commandments. Thou hast crowned my life with mercy, and in return I have been exceedingly ungrateful. I feel that I am altogether unclean, and my righteousness is as filthy rags. I have been unprofitable, and am altogether unworthy of thy notice, thy favour, or thy protection. And if my imperfect views of myself cause me to make these confessions, how much more must my sinfulness and impurity appear in thine eyes, before whom all things are naked and open, and from whose piercing view nothing can possibly be hid? I have not brought forth fruit to thy glory; but have been a cumberer of the ground, and thou mightest justly have cut me down. I have contrived, committed, spread, and defended iniquity. My motives have not been pure, my connexions not such as thou approvest of, and my attempts to palliate my offences have been displeasing in thy sight. Thy law has 'condemned, and my own conscience accused me; and after all my pretences to piety, my vain and frivolous excuses, and my ill-founded resolutions, accuse and condemn me more and more; aggravating my sin, and increasing my sorrow.
Thy Spirit hath strove with me, but I refused to hear his voice. I have disregarded his call, and hardened my heart against his admonitions; and in justice thou mightest take him away from me for ever, refuse me a place among thy children, and banish me from thy presence everlastingly.
I have had access to thy holy word, but have not profited thereby, according to thy purpose. Neither thy invitations, threats, nor promises, have moved me as they ought. } have seen the Saviour's tears without weeping, and beard his groans without a sigh. He shed his blood to gain my love, and yet my heart has been hardened against him and his sacred truth; so dark and gross have been my conceptions of spiritual and eternal things. To me, O Lord, to me belongeth shame and confusion of face. Oh, that an immortal spirit, come from thee, and so soon to return, should act a part so unworthy of its nature, capacities, and high original!
T have spent my time, strength, and influence, in the pursuits of vanity, and empty pleasures; and, foolishly imagining myself a believer in thee, have despised the riches of thy goodness, and added sin to sin. I have thought meanly of thy upright servants; derided their piety, and spoken evil of their principles and actions; while my own self-will and the spirit of the world have blinded me with prejudice, inspired me with intolerance, and exposed me more fully to thy displeasure. Thy long-suffering and compassion have indeed been great towards such a contemptible creature as I am. Oh the never-enough-to-be-reprobated ingratitude which I have discovered towards thee, my merciful God!
No more will 1 dare to bring my poor starved exercises of formal devotion to merit thy regard; or imagine that my cold attention to the ordinary duties of morality can turn aside thy wrath, or wash my polluted nature, and fit me for thy presence. No more will I foolishly attempt to unite the spirit of piety with the spirit of the world, or imagine that I may conform to the one and possess the other. I see thou requirest a right state of heart, discovering itself in holy tempers, and truly virtuous actions; but as I had not the one, I must necessarily have been deficient in the other. My boasting is all stopped. I am quite insolvent. I have nothing to bring to gain thy acceptance. All my righteous. ness is as the fallen withered leaf. It cannot help me, and without thy mercy I am utterly undone. I have no hope in myself. I deserve everlasting exclusion from thy presence, and from the glory of thy power. Yet spare me, O Lord, spare me, and turn me to thyself, that I may live before thee, for the sake of thy beloved Son, who alone is the re. fuge of such guilty worms as I am !
I tremble when I consider my provocations, the severity of thy judgments, and the dangers into which I have run. If thou hadst strictly marked my iniquities, I had long since been numbered with the dead : I had long since been in hell, cut off from hope, and the subject of endless despair. And now, as in the very jaws of destruction, I ask, Can such a brand as I am be plucked from the fire? Can a wretch so guilty and unholy as I am be saved? Can I indeed be forgiven ? Can such sins as mine be blotted from thy remenbrance? Enter not into judgment with me, O Lord! Swear not that I shall never enter thy rest. I cannot bear the devouring fire, I cannot endure the everlasting burnings. Shoot not at me the arrows of thy indignation, lest I be consumed. Thou hast spared, and O continue to spare till I have recovered my strength of soul, before I am called to give an account of myself at thy most just and equitable bar! Break, O break this heart of stone; remove its insensibility, and stop its wanderings ! Help me to grieve for having grieved thee; and let the sorrows of my soul open the sluices of my eyes, that I may weep bitterly for my iniquities. Let me look on him whom I have pierced by my repeated offences, and mourn after a godly sort ; and though my tears can never wash away my sins, yet let them flow till the sprinkling blood shall proclaim pardon to my soul. Thou, Lord, hast made me sensible of my weakness, poverty, and wretchedness. O leave me not till I have seen thy salvation! Pour upon me the Spirit of grace and supplication, though I have perversely rebelled against thee; for to thee, O Lord God, belong mercies and forgivenesses! And let not thy curse be poured out upon me, or thy threatenings be con. firmed against me! I have sinned and done wickedly; but now, O Lord, let thine anger be turned away from me! Hear my prayer, and the voice of my supplications, O Lord, and cause thy face to shine upon me! O my God, incline thine ear and hear ; open thine eyes and behold the desola: tions of my soul; for I do not present my supplications be: fore thee for my righteousness, but for thy great mercies ! O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer riot for Jesu's sake, thine only Son. Amen.'