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Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits which forgiveth all thy sin, and healeth all thine infirmities.
Glory be to the Father, &c.
O ETERNAL God, whose perfections are infinite, whose mercies are glorious, whose justice is severe, whose eyes are pure, whose judgments are wise; be pleased to look upon the infirmities of thy servant, and consider my weakness. My spirit is willing, but my flesh is weak; I desire to please thee, but in my endeavours I fail so often, so foolishly, so unreasonably, that I extremely displease myself, and I have too great reason to fear, that thou also art displeased with thy servant. O my God, I know my duty, I resolve to do it; I know my dangers, I stand upon my guard against them; but when they come near, I begin to be pleased, and delighted in the little images of death, and am seized upon by folly, even when with greatest severity I decree against it. Blessed Jesus, pity me, and have mercy upon my infirmities.
O dear God, I humbly beg to be relieved by a mighty grace, for I bear a body of sin and death about me; sin creeps upon me in every thing that I do or suffer. When I do well, I am apt to be proud; when I do amiss, I am sometimes too confident, sometimes affrighted: if I see others do amiss, I either neglect them, or grow too angry; and in the very mortification of my anger, I grow angry and peevish. My duties are imperfect, my repentances little, my passions great, my fancy trifling: the sins of my tongue are infinite, and my omissions are infinite, and my evil thoughts cannot be numbered, and I cannot give an account concerning innumerable portions of my time which were once in my power, but were let slip, and were partly spent in sin, partly thrown away upon trifles and vanity and even of the basest sins, of which in accounts of men I am most innocent, I am guilty before thee, entertaining those sins in little instances, thoughts, desires, and imaginations, which I durst not produce into action and open significations. Blessed Jesus, pity me, and have mercy upon my infirmities.
Teach me, O Lord, to walk before thee in righteousness, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. Give me an obedient will, a loving spirit, an humble understanding, watchfulness over my thoughts, deliberation in all my words and actions, well-tempered passions, and a great prudence, and a great zeal, and a great charity, that I may do my duty wisely, diligently, holily; O let me be humbled in my infirmities, but let me be also safe from my enemies; let me never fall by their violence, nor by my own weakness; let me never be overcome by them, nor yet give myself up to folly and weak principles, to idleness, and secure, careless walking; but give me the strengths of thy Spirit, that I may grow strong upon the ruins of the flesh, growing from grace to grace, till I become a perfect man in Christ Jesus. O let my strength be seen in my weakness; ,and let thy mercy triumph over my infirmities; pitying the condition of my nature, the infancy of grace, the imperfection of my knowledge, the transportation of my passion. Let me never consent to sin, but for ever strive against it, and every day prevail, till it be quite dead in me; that thy servant, living the life of grace, may at last be admitted to that state of glory, where all my infirmities shall be done away, and all tears be dried up, and sin and death shall be no more. Grant this, O most gracious God and Father, for Jesus Christ's sake. Amen.
Our Father, &c.
OF ACTUAL, SINGLE SINS, AND WHAT REPENTANCE IS PROPER TO THEM.
I. THE first part of conversion or repentance, is a quitting of all sinful habits, and abstaining from all criminal actions whatsoever.
Virtus est vitium fugere, et sapientia prima
Hor. Ep. 1. 1. 41.
For unless the Spirit of God rule in our hearts, we are none of Christ's: but he rules not where the works of the flesh are frequently, or maliciously, or voluntarily entertained. All the works of the flesh, and whatsoever leads to them, all that is contrary to the Spirit, and does either grieve or extinguish him, must be rescinded, and utterly taken away. Concerning which, it is necessary that I set down the catalogues, which by Christ and his apostles are left us as lights and watch-towers, to point out the rocks and quicksands where our danger is: and this I shall the rather do, not only because they comprehend many evils which are not observed or feared; some which are commended, and many that are excused; but also because, although they are all marked with the same black character of death, yet there is some difference in the execution of the sentence, and in the degrees of their condemnation, and of the consequent repent
Evil Thoughts; or Discoursings.
2. Διαλογισμοὶ οἱ κακοὶ, ‘evil reasonings. Διαλογισμοὶ adoλεoxíaι, says Hesychius, that is, 'prating;' importune prattling and looseness of tongue, such as is usual with bold boys and young men ; prating much and to no purpose. But our Bibles read it evil thoughts,' or 'surmisings;' for in Scripture it is συνεχὴς μελέτη ; so Suidas observes concerning ἀδολεσχία, and ἀδολεσχήσω, that is, διηνεκῶς μελετήσω, ' to think long and carefully, to dwell in meditation upon a thing:' to which when our blessed Saviour adds κakol, 'evil,' he notes and reproves such kind of morose thinkings and fancying of evil things and it is not unlikely that he means thoughts of uncleanness, or lustful fancies. For διαλέγεσθαι, τὸ συνουσιάζειν, saith Suidas: ἐπὶ τὸ συνουσιάζειν, says Hesychius; it signifies such words as are prologues to wantonness: so diαλέγοιντο γύναιξιν in Aristophanes.
Τὴν μέν γε πρώτην διαλέγουσαν τὴν ὀπὴν
So that here are forbidden all wanton words, and all morose delighting in venereous thoughts, all rollings and tossing such things in our mind. For even these defile the soul.
u Matt. xv. 19. Mark, vii. 21. 2 Tim. iii. 2-5. Rom. i. 29-32. Lysistrat. 720. Brunck.
Gal. v. 16. 19-21. Eph. iv. 31, &c. v. 3-5. 1 Cor. vi. 9. Rev. xxi. 8. 1 Pet. iv. 3. 15.
"Verborum obscœnitas, si turpitudo rerum adhibeatur, ludus ne libero quidem homine dignus est," said Cicero': "Obscene words are a mockery not worthy of an ingenuous person.”—This is that μωρολογία, or εὐτραπελία, that "foolish talking and jesting," which St. Paul joins to airXpórns, that 'filthiness of communication,' which men make a jest of, but is indeed the basest in the world; the sign of a vile dishonest man: and it particularly noted the talk of mimics and parasites, buffoons and players, whose trade was to make sport, yeλwrоTooì, and they did use to do it with nastiness and filthy talkings; as is to be seen in Aristophanes, and is rarely described and severely reproved in St. Chrysostom in his sixth homily upon St. Matthew. For "per verba dediscitur rerum pudor;" which St. Paul also affirms in the words of Menanderb, Φθείρουσιν ἤθη χρήσθ ̓ ὁμι Xíaɩ kakaì, “Evil words corrupt good manners;" and evil thoughts, being the fountain of evil words, lie under the same prohibition. Under this head is the ὁ προπετὴς, ὁ πρόγλωσoos, 'a talkative rash person,'" ready to speak, slow to hear;" against St. James's rule.
Inventors of Evil Things.
3. Contrivers of all such artifices as minister to vice. Curious inventions for cruelty, for gluttony, for lust; witty methods of drinking, wanton pictures, and the like; which for the likeness of the matter I have subjoined next to the kakoì Siaλoyiouoi, the evil thinkings' or 'surmises' reproved by our blessed Saviour, as these are expressly by St. Paul.
Пλεоvečiai, Covetousness: or,
4. rdinate, unreasonable desires. For the word does not only signify the designing and contrivances of unjust ways, of purchasing, which is not often separated from covetous desires but the very 'studium habendi,' the thirst, or greediness, secret and impatient desires of having abundance: πλεονεξία, ἡ ὑπὲρ τῆς ἐπιθυμίας τοῦ πλείονος βλάβη, ‘the hurt of immoderate lusting or desire;' and is sometimes applied to the matter of uncleanness; but in this catalogue I wholly separate it from this, because this is comprised under other
y Off. 1. 29. 12. Heusinger.
b Cleric. p. 78.
words. Neither will it be hard to discern and to reprove this sin of desires in them that are guilty of it, though they will not think or confess what is, and what is not abundance. For there is not easily to be found a greater testimony of covetousness, than the error concerning the measure of our possessions. He that is not easy to call that abundance, which by good and severe men is thought so, desires more than he should. Τὸ περισσεύειν τι τῇ ζωῇ, when any thing is ‘over and above the needs of our life,' that is too much; and to desire that, is covetousness, saith St. Luke. 'Opārɛ kaì pvλάσσετε ἀπὸ τῆς πλεονεξίας, “Take heed and keep yourselves from covetousness; for our life consisteth not in abundance;" intimating, that to desire more than our life needs, is to desire abundance, and that is covetousness; and that is the root of all evil: that is, all sins and all mischiefs can come from hence.
Divitis hoc vitium est auri, nec bella fuerunt,
There were no wars in those days when men did drink in a treen cup.
5. This is the same that the Latins call' malitia ;' a scurvy, base disposition; aptness to do shrewd turns, to delight in mischiefs and tragedies; a loving to trouble our neighbour, and to do him ill offices; crossness, perverseness and peevishness of action in our intercourse. Πονηρία, ὁ ἐκ παρασκευῆς εἰς τινὰ παρὰ τοῦ πόνος γινόμενος, saith Suidas. ‘Facessere negotium alicui;' to do a man an evil office, or to put him to trouble.' And to this is reducible that which St. Paul calls κakoń0ɛav, 'malignity;' a baseness of nature by which we take things by the wrong handle, and expounding things always in the worst sense. 'Vitiositas' is the Latin word for it, and it seems to be worse than the former, by being a more general principle of mischief. "Malitia certi cujusdam vitii est: vitiositas, omnium," said Cicero: "This is, in a man's nature, a universal depravation of his spirit; that is in manners, and is sooner cured than this."
6. That is, a willingness and aptness to deceive; a studying b Tibull. 1 10.7. Heyn. Wunderlich. p. 119.
e Tuscul. 4. 15. Davis.