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for you ;* and therefore you wrong both it and yourselves, when you silence it in your families.
O! how pitiful and scanty are all those things which beset us before, behind, and on every side! The bustling we observe is nothing but the hurrying of ants eagerly engaged in their little labours. The mind must surely have degenerated, and forgotten its original as effectually as if it had drank of the river Lethe, if, extricating itself out of all these mean concerns and designs, as so many snares laid for it, and rising above the whole of this visible world, it does not return to its Father's bosom, where it may contemplate His eternal beauty, where contemplation will inflame love, and love be crowned with the possession of the beloved object. But, in the contemplation of this glorious object, how great caution and moderation of mind is necessary, that, by prying presumptuously into His secret councils or His nature, and rashly breaking into the sanctuary of light, we be not quite involved in darkness ! And, with regard to what the infinite, independent, and necessarily existent Being has thought proper to communicate to us concerning Himself, and we are concerned to know, even that is by no means to be obscured' with curious impertinent questions, nor perplexed with the arrogance of disputation, because, by such means, instead of enlarging our knowledge, we are in the fair way to know nothing at all; but readily to be received by humble faith, and entertained with meek and pious affections. And if, in these notices of Him that are communicated to us, we meet with any thing obscure and hard to be understood, such difficulties would be happily got over, not by perplexed controversies, but by constant and fervent prayer.
"He will come to understand,” says admirably well the famous Bishop of Hippo, Augustine,) “Who knocks by prayer; not he who by quarrelling makes a noise at the gate of truth."
* The First Epistle of Peter ii., 18, 19, 20.
BISHOP JEREMY TAYLOR.
RULES FOR HEARING OR READING THE
WORD OF GOD.
SET apart some portion of thy time, according to the opportunities of thy calling and necessary employment, for the reading of Holy Scripture; and if it be possible, every day read or hear some of it read: you are sure that Book teaches all truth, commands all holiness, and promises all happiness.
2. When it is in your power to choose, accustom yourself to such portions which are most plain and certain duty, and which contain the story of the life and death of our blessed Saviour. Read the Gospels, the Psalms of David, and especially those portions of Scripture which by the wisdom of the Church are appointed to be publicly read upon Sundays and holy days, viz. : the Epistles and Gospels
. In the choice of any other portions you may advise with a spiritual guide, that you may spend your time with most profit.
3. Fail not diligently to attend to the reading of Holy Scriptures upon those days wherein it is most publicly and solemnly read in churches ; for at such times, besides the learning our duty, we obtain a blessing along with it, it becoming to us upon those days a part of the solemn divine worship.
4. When the Word of God is read or preached to you, be sure you
be of a ready heart and mind, free from worldly cares and thoughts, diligent to hear, careful to mark, studious to remember, and desirous to practise all that is commanded, and to live according to it. Do not hear for any other end but to become better in your life, and to be instructed in every good work, and to increase in the love and service of God.
5. Beg of God by prayer that He would give you the spirit of obedience and profit, and that He would, by His Spirit, write the Word in your heart, and that you describe it in your life. To which purpose, serve yourself of some affectionate ejaculation to that purpose, before and after this duty.
O LORD God, which hast left unto us Thy Holy Word to be a lantern unto our feet and a light unto our steps, give unto us all Thy Holy Spirit, that out of the same Word we may learn what is Thy eternal will, and frame our lives in all holy obedience to the same, to Thy honour and glory, and increase of our faith, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen,
“LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION,"
That is, let us not slip out of Thy leash, but hold us fast; give us not up, nor cease to govern us, nor take Thy Spirit from us. For as a hound cannot but follow his game when he seeth it before him, if he be loose; so can we not but fall into sin when occasion is given us, if Thou withdraw Thine hand from us. Lead us not into temptation. Let no temptation fall upon us greater than Thine help in us; but be Thou stronger in us than the temptation Thou sendest, or lettest come upon us. Lead us not into temptations. Father, though we be negligent, yea, and unthankful and disobedient to Thy true prophets, yet let not the devil loose upon us to deceive us with his false prophets, and to harden us in the way in which we gladly walk, as Thou diddest Pharaoh with the false miracles of his sorcerers; as Thine apostle Paul threateneth
A little thread holdeth a strong man, where he gladly is. A little pulling draweth a man, whither he gladly goeth. A little wind driveth a great ship, with the stream.
As a stone cast up into the air can neither go any higher, neither yet there abide, when the power of the hurler ceaseth to drive it; even so, Father, seeing our corrupt nature can but go downward only, and the devil and the world driveth thereto that same way, how can we proceed further in virtue or stand therein, if Thy power cease in us? Lead us not, therefore, O merciful Father, into temptation, nor cease at any time to govern us.
Now, seeing the God of all mercy, which knoweth thine infirmity, commandeth thee to pray in all temptation and adversity, and hath promised to help, if thou trust in Him; what excuse is it to say, when thou hast sinned, I could not stand of myself, when His power was ready to help thee if thou haddest asked ?
PREBENDARY OF ST. PAUL'S, AND MARTYR, 1555.
REMEMBER how many have stood both before God and man as surely as thou dost, and yet have fallen and have been overthrown horribly. Remember how that the children of God have been diligent in prayers always from the beginning, as well in their needs corporal as spiritual. Remember that their prayers have not been in vain, but graciously have they obtained their requests as well for themselves as for others. Remember that God is now the same God, and no less rich in mercy and plentiful to them that truly call upon Him: and therefore in very many places doth He command us to call upon Him: so that except we will heap sin upon sin, we must needs use prayer. His promises are both universal towards all men, and most free without respect of our worthiness, if so be we acknowledge our unworthiness, and make our prayers in the faith and name of Jesus Christ; who is our mediator, and sitteth on the right hand of His Father, praying for us, being the same Christ He hath been in times past, and so will be unto the end of the world, to help all such as come to Him.
Only in thy prayer away with the purpose of sinning, for he that prayeth with a purpose to continue in any sin