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no more ; after, another sin promiseth as much profit as that, and he saith again, I will do this no more ; presently another sin promiseth as much profit as that, and he saith again, I will do this and no more. There goeth strength, and there cometh a wound; so the soul bleedeth to death, and knoweth not her sickness till she be at the last gasp.
Turning to God.
CHRIST not compelling but freely counselling every man to seek a perfect life saith,“ Let him deny himself
, and take up his cross and follow Me." Let us, then, deny ourselves in whatever we have made ourselves by sin, and such as we are made by grace let us continue. If a proud man be converted to Christ and is made humble, he hath denied himself. If a covetous man ceaseth to covet and giveth of his own to relieve the needy, he hath denied himself. If an impure man changeth his life and becometh chaste, he hath denied himself, as St. Gregory saith, He who withstandeth and forsaketh the unreasonable will of the flesh denieth himself. The cross of Christ is taken when we shrink not from contempt for the love of the truth; when man is crucified unto the world, and the world is crucified unto him, and he setteth its joy at nought. It is not enough to bear the cross of a painful life except we follow Christ in His virtues, in meekness, love, and heavenly desire. He taketh the cross who is ready to meet all peril for God; if need be, to die rather than to forsake Christ. And whoso taketh not thus the cross, and followeth not Christ thus, is not worthy to be His disciple. Lord Jesus, turn us to Thee, and we shall be turned! Heal Thou us, and then we shall be verily holy; for without grace and help from
Thee may no man be truly turned or healed.
For they are but scorners who to-day turn to God and to-morrow turn away; who to-day do their penance and to-morrow turn again to their former evils. What is turning to God? Nothing but turning from the world, from sin, and from the fiend. What is turning from God but turning to the changing things of this world, to delight in the creatures, the lusts of the flesh, and the works of the fiend? To be turned from the world is to set at nought its joys, and to suffer meekly all bitterness, slanders, and deceits, for the love of Christ; to leave all occupations unlawful and unprofitable to the soul, so that man's will and thought become dead to the things which the world loveth and worshippeth.
Prayer for the Presence of God.
With white garments of innocency and righteousness, and palms of victory in their hands.
Oh, happy is he that may have but a sight of the immortal and incorruptible inheritance which these Thy people shall enjoy for ever!
Oh, that it please Thee, O Father, as of Thy mercy Thou hast called me into Thy company and communion of Thy saints, so of the same Thy goodness Thou wouldest give me to become likewise affected, that in my heart I might cry as they do, and desire to be with Thee, not simply because of this prison and exile that I am in presently, but rather only because of Thee, and of love to Thee; which love I humbly pray Thee, that art love itself, that Thou wouldest write in my heart, and graciously open Thine ears to the words of my mouth at this present, which I have borrowed out of Thy mouth by Thy servants, saying, “Remember me, O Lord, according to the favour that Thou bearest unto Thy people ; ( visit me with Thy salvation, that I may see the felicity of Thy chosen and rejoice in the gladness of Thy people, and give thanks with Thine inheritance." O give me “The Spirit of wisdom and revelation by the knowledge of Thyself." O"Lighten the eyes of my mind that I may know what the hope is whereunto Thou hast called me, and how rich the glory is of Thine inheritance upon Thy saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of Thy power to Thy people-ward which believe.” O make me “Able to comprehend with Thy saints what is the breadth and length, depth and height” of Thy sweet mercy; that is, that I may know the excellent love of the knowledge of Christ, that I may be fulfilled with all fulness that cometh of Thee. O “Lighten mine eyes, that I sleep not into death ;” but “Send Thy light to me, to lead and bring me into Thy tabernacle,” that I may “ Believe to see the goodness of Thee in the land of the living.” O give me “The Spirit, not of the world, but which is of Thee, that I may know the things that are given to us of God," which are such as “The eye hath not seen, nor the ear hath heard, nor the heart is able to conceive ;” for “ The light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, even as the light of seven days, in Thy blessed kingdom, where and when Thou wilt bind up the wounds of Thy people and heal their plagues." O that I might have some lively sight hereof!
When shall I rejoice of an exchange for the immortal, the undefiled, and the immarcescible [unfading] inheritance whereto Thou hast called me, and dost keep for me in heaven ? When shall I hear the sweet songs of Thy saved people, crying, “Salvation be to Him that sitteth' in the throne of our God, and to the Lamb ?” When shall I, with the elders and the angels, sing and say, “Lauds, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be to Thee our God for ever and ever ?” When shall I be “ Covered with a white robe, and have a palm in my hand, to stand before the throne night and day, to serve Thee in the temple, and to have Thee to dwell in me?" When shall I hear Thy “Great voice saying from heaven, Behold the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be with them their God ?”
O happy were they that now might have a little show of Thine “Holy city, new Jerusalem, descending from heaven, prepared” of the gracious God, "As a bride decked for her husband," which Thou showedst Thy servant, St. John. This should I see if I were with him “ In the spirit ;” but this cannot be so long as I am “In the flesh." that the time were come that I might then “ Put off this tabernacle” in Thy mercy, that I might see this great sight, which is felicity itself! But herein I must do, and will tarry, Thy good pleasure. As I came not hither into this world when I would, but when Thou wouldest, even so, not when I will, but when Thou wilt, take me hence in Thy mercy.
In the mean season, as Thy child conserve and keep me; and further grant to me that, being in this body, yet I may live “ Not in the flesh, but in the spirit,” now and then to have some little true taste of the pleasant dainties of Thy house and sanctuary, that all worldly pleasures may be unpleasant and unsavoury, to my eternal comfort, through Christ our Lord. Amen.
A Meditation of the Presence of God.
THERE is nothing that maketh more to true godliness of life than the persuasion of Thy presence, dear Father, and that nothing is hid from Thee, but all to Thee is open and naked, even the very thoughts, which one day Thou wilt reveal and open, either to our praise or punishment in this life, (as Thou didst David's faults which he did secretly,) or in the life to come, for “ Nothing is so hid that shall not be revealed;" therefore doth the prophet say, “Woe to them that keep secret their thoughts to hide their counsel from the Lord, and do their works in darkness, saying, Who seeth us!”
Grant to me, therefore, dear God, mercy for all my sins, especially my hid and close sins; “Enter not into judgment with me," I humbly beseech Thee; give me to believe truly in Thy Christ, that I never come into judgment for them ; that with David I might so reveal them and confess them unto Thee, that Thou wouldest cover them. And grant, further, that henceforth I always think myself continually conversant before Thee; so that, if I do well, I pass not of the publishing of it as hypocrites do ; if I do or think any evil, I may forthwith know that the same shall not always be hid from men. Grant me that I may always have in mind that day wherein hid works of darkness shall be illumined ; and the sentence of Thy Son, “Nothing is so secret which shall not be revealed.” So, in trouble and wrong I shall find comfort, and otherwise be kept through Thy grace from evil; which do Thou work, I humbly beseech Thee, for Christ's sake. Amen.