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PRAYER AND MEDITATION, For one who prepares for Death by repentance and
holiness of life. O GOD, who art the Holy of Holies, and holiness itself, it is sin which brought death into the world, and it is sin alone which renders it terrible unto us. Enable me, therefore, I beseech thee, with strength from above, that I may deprive it betimes of its dreadful arms, its fiery darts, and its mortal poison. Since thou hast prepared for me thine heavenly kingdom from the foundation of the world, grant me grace to employ the residue of this life in purging my conscience from dead works, and in sanctifying my soul and body, that I may be in readiness to enter into that holy abode into which no impure thing can be admitted ; and to see thy glorious face, which, without holiness, no man can behold. 0 "merciful Father, discover to iny soul, by the light of thine Holy Spirit, the deformity of sin, and its dreadful consequences; that I may abhor and detest it as an infernal monster, Satan's image, and a grievous pollution, that hath defaced in our souls thy blessed resemblance. Let me look upon it as a cursed fire, which hath kindled thy wrath, and consumed the world; as an insupportable burden under which the whole creation groans, and of which heaven and earth.complain : as the execrable murderer of our first parents, and of all men since the foundation of the world ; and as the crucifier of the Lord of glory, and the shedder of his precious blood. In short, that I may consider it as our most dangerous enemy, that arms thy vengeance against us, and strives continually to cast us into the abyss of eternal torments. Grant likewise, O Father of mercies, that I may be truly sensible of the beauty of boliness, and the glory that shall crown it; that I may be inflamed with its love, and enbrace it with all my affections; that I may look upon it as the daughter of heaven, as the image of thy beauty, and as a ray of thy glory; as a rich jewel stolen from us by Satan; as the sublime perfection of which thy Son Jesus
Christ is the pattern; and as the principal part of that happiness after which we aspire, and of which thou wilt give us the full enjoyment in thy holy paradise. O God of my salvation! How bitter are the fruits of sin ! Thou art witness to the cruel displeasures I feel, for having served this infamous tyrant so long, and for having sided so much with those carnal lusts which war against the soul. Thou beholdest my sorrow for having made no better use of that life which I received from thy singular bounty, to fear and serve thee, and to obey thy holy and divine commands. What shall I plead in my defence, O Governor of nations! I have sinned against thee, and have done that which is abominable in thy eyes, which are too pure to behold evil; but I repent in dust and ashes. My sins present themselves before me both day and night, and I look upon them with horror. O God from whose sight nothing is hid, thou seest that my greatest grief proceeds from my not being sufficiently grieved, and that my most piercing affliction is because I am not enough afflicted, and because iny repentance is not answerable to the multitude and greatness of my sins. O God, who triest the reins, and searchest all things, thou knowest the nature of my crimes, and what degree of repentance is necessary to obtain pardop. Thou desirest not the death of a sinner, but rather that he should turn from his ways and live. Turn me, O Lord, and I shall be turned. O Almighty God, who bringest water out of the hardest rocks, melt down my heart in tears of repentance, such as may prove acceptable to thee, and worthy to be put in thy bottles.Cleave this heart of stone, and break it in pieces, thắt thy living waters may enter in on every side. But rather take away this evil heart, and give me a new one, fashioned by thy grace, an heart deeply engraved with the rich features of thy likeness, and shining with the pure lustre reflected from thy presence; an heart burning with zeal for thy glory, and inflamed with thy love. O God of mercies! who hast not spared the blood of thine only Son, to wash out the sentence of mine eternal condemnation, grant me, I beseech thee, thy holy spirit, to sanctify me, and make me a new creature, that I may bear the ensigns and marks of thy children ; and that I may shine in the world as a taper lighted by an heavenly fire. Crucify this miserable flesh with all its lusts. Let me live no longer, but let Christ live in me; and graciously vouchsafe, that all the days. I have to come, I may pass
in the faith of the Son of God, who hath loved me, and hath given himself for me, that he might redeem and cleanse me from all my sins. Be thou the soul of my soul, the light of my understanding, and the director of my life. Reign in me, and possess me in such a manner, that all my affections, words and thoughts, may be sanctified by thy grace, and tend only to thy glory. Let me not only detest all things which I know to be displeasing to thee, but likewise avoid all those in which I am not well assured thou takest pleasure. That I may not only abhor the defilement of vice, but that I may also hate a garment spotted with the least sin, and that I may abstain from all appearance of evil. If the devil, the world, or my own flesh, solicit and entice me to any sin, let me be seized with the awe of thy divine majesty ; let death present itself to my thoughts, and restrain and stop me with an holy fear. Let me remember that I shall be the most miserable of all creatures, if I should die offending thee, and bury myself in my sins; and let me never forget that blessed and holy is he that hnth part in the first resurrection; on such the second death hath no power. Since thy grace, which is saving health to all men, is so clearly revealed to me, grant that, renouncing all impiety and worldly lusts, I may live soberly, righteously and godly in this present life. That I may apply myself continually to whalsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, wltatsoever things are of good report, and in general, to whatsoever things are virtuous and worthy of praise. Aod, above all things, that I may be fervent in charity, and unwearied in good works, seeing thou takest pleasure in such sacrifices, and that charity covers a multitude of sins. O Lord, the task which thou hast set me is long, and my life short, neither know I at what hour thou wilt knock at the door of thine house. O God, whose tender mercies are for ever, set my heart to love thy commands, and then command what thou pleasest. Work in me, with efficacy, both to will and to do of thy good pleasure. Grant me grace to be employed in thy work with so much diligence, fidelity, and earnestness, that I may not be ashamed at thy coming. Give me the lamp of the sanctuary, lighted at the beams of the Sun of Righteousness. Fill my heart with the precious and divine oil of thy spirit, and clothe me with a robe of holiness and light, that I may be ready to follow the Bridegroom into the marriage-chamber, and to sit down together with the patriarchs, the prophets, the apostles, the martyrs, &c. Let me live the life of the saints, and die the death of the righteous, that I may be received among the blessed into thy glorious rest; and that when I breathe forth the last sigh, thy holy Son Jesus may receive and welcome my soul, with a Come, good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord. AMEN.
The sixth remedy against the Fears of Death, is, to rely
upon God's good providence. THERE are some persons so stupid and brutish, that they never bestow a thought upon the great end of their creation, and are not able to give any account wherefore God hath sent them into the world ; carnal and earthly minds, who imagine that they were created merely for themselves, and who live as the brute beasts, only to eat and to drink. Such are those mentioned by St. Paul, whose God is their belly, and whose end is destruction, Phil. iii. 19. But there are also others so wise and virtuous, that they are continually meditating upon the favours they receive from heaven, which they employ to their right and proper use; heavenly minds enlightened from above, who consider with a true christian spirit, that they are not born for themselves, but for their country, their relations and friends, and above all, to serve God and his church. Therefore, they desire to live, in order to glorify their Creator, and advance his kingdom.
This desire, when it is well governed, is certainly very acceptable to God, as a sweet smelling sacrifice. Sucb was David's pathetic wish, in Psalm cxix. Let my soul live, and it shall praise thee. It was the same holy zeal which forced so many bitter tears from king Hezekiah in his dangerous illness, and caused him to intreat so passionately to live yet longer in the world. This wise and religious prince foresaw the dreadful evils, the grievous confusion, and the abominable idolatries that were likely to prevail after his death, in the kingdom of Judah. He was therefore very earnest to glorify God upon earth, and to accomplish the reformation which he had begun. He desired to have children whom he might teach to fear God with all their hearts, and to serve him according to his holy and divine will, that he might cause piety to become hereditary in his royal house. These pious breathings of his soul he manifests in that divine hymn, which he sung unto God after his miraculous recovery. Behold, (saith he) for peace I had great bitterness; but thou hast in love to my soul delivered it from the pit of corruption ; for thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back. For the grave cannot praise thee, death cannot celebrate thee: they that go