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And as now, through the Divine favour, I am returning to the world, and going out again to act my part upon the stage of life, I will endeavour to return to it with this religious sense of things deeply wrought into my mind. I will frequently look back upon, consider and renew these my good purposes; and hope I shall ever be the better for this visitation, and that it will appear by my future conduct that in very faithfulness and mercy God did thus afflict me. Before I was aflicted I went astray, but now I have learnt and will religiously keep his righteous judgments:--but these good sentiinents, I am aware, will soon vanish like the morning cloud, if God by his good Spirit doth not continually assist me. What then shall I do to render them efficacious, permanent, and lasting? I will lay it down as a rule, from which I will in no case depart, every day of my future life to commend myself by prayer to the grace of God, and of our Saviour Jesus Christ.
Though of myself I cannot maintain, nor bring into execution, these my virtuous resolutions, but shall soon fall before temptations if left to my own strength; yet through Christ strengthening me, I can do all things. It is of infinite concernment to me, that I offer up my constant and earnest prayers to heaven. If I continue instant in this duty, and ask help from God; I am assured I shall receive it. But if I fall into a neglect or disuse of daily prayer, I shall certainly soon fall by returning temptations: shall fall back into a worldly and sensual course of life; shall forget the solema vows and purposes I have now made; and so shall be like the man, out of whom the unclean spirit went for a season; but returning, found his old habitation empty, swept, and gurnished, better fitted for his reception : whereupon he goes and takes with him seven other spirits, more wicked than himself, and they enter in, and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first.--I tremble to think if this should prove to be my case. As the only means to prevent it is to make my daily supplications to heaven for help; I again resolve, never to let any future day pass over my heud, without humbly incoking the eternal Sovereign of the world, and recommending myself to his protection and grace.
And now, my soul, having taken ihis view of what thy Almighty restorer justly expects from thee on thy return to a new life, do not content thyself with this single view of it; be advised often to review it. Once every week (every Lord's day if possible) at least for some time, read over and consider these pious sentiments and reflections, that they may not too soon wear away, but may take root in thy heart. And as I cannot better conclude these my meditations, nor begin my new life, I will now cast myself down as before the throne of Divine grace,and offer up my soul in
A SOLE JIN ACT OF DEVOTION,
SELF-DEDICATION TO GOD.
EVERLASTING God; the fountain of life; who fillest, supportest, and quickeneth all things : I bow myself, as in thy presence, and unfeignedly adore thee, as the former of my body, as the father of my spirit, and as the constant preserver and benefactor of both. I confess myself to be under infinite, and every possible obligation to love, and to serve thee, with all the powers of that excellent nature thou hast given me : but in innumerable instances I have greatly abused, and thereby forfeited my life. Father, I
have sinned against heaven, and before thee ; and am no more worthy to live upon the face of thy earth, or to taste the various goodness which is here provided for thy children. The noble or
my body, and powers of my soul, I have too often yielded as instruments of unrighteousness to the service of sin ; most justly therefore might I now have been languishing under sickness, racked by tormenting pains, or cut down by the hand of death : but, adored be thy mercy, thou hast not rewarded me according to my deserts ; that thou still waitest to be gracious; and hast lately interposed by thy kind and Almighty arm to remove my sore disorders, and to rescue me from the grave which was just swallowing me up. I drew near to the shades of death, and unless thy goodness had prevented me, my soul had now dwelt in silence, and gone down amongst the dead. For ever magnified be thy grace, which hath turned my mourning into joy; which said unto me return; which permits me yet to live, yea, to live surrounded with blessings of such various kinds.
What thanks can I render to thine infinite Ma. jesty for this unspeakable favour! I praise, I extol thee, with all my spirit and strength. I adore thee as my life, and the length of my days, the guardian, preserver, and restorer of my frame: and here, as with a prostrate, and most truly grateful soul, I consecrate and give my self absolutely to thee. I most solemnly avouch thee Almighty Jehovah, (as in thine infinite goodness thou hast been pleased to perinit me) for my Father, my portion, my King, and my God. The life which thou gavest me, and hast thus graciously preserved, I most unfeignedly devote to thee: to be regulated by thy laws; spent in thy service; and conducted in thy fear. I renounce every thing
as my happiness in comparison of thy favour; and to please and obey thee, shall be the chief ambition and care, and the governing principle of all my future life.
All my concerns, both of body and soul, I most gratefully resign into thy vise and good hands; rejoicing that thou wilt condescend to manage and direct them for me. I now proinise, through thy help, to be always contented, yea, will endeavour to be always thankful, however thou art pleased to deal either with me or with mine; being assured, that thou knowest what is good for me infinitely better than I can judge for myself. Behold O Lord I am thine! thine by the most sacred and inviolable ties; made by thy power; maintained by thy bounty : guarded by thy Providence; restored by thy favour when going down into the pit; and by the blood of thy dear Son redeemed from the power of eternal darkness and death.—Deal therefore with thy servant as seemeth good in thy sight. Whatever substance, knowledge, influence, time, or any other talent, I now do, or ever shall possess, I most heartily devote it to thine honour and service. Thy will shall be the rule, and thy glory the end of all my future actions; and some part of every day shall be employed in solemnly invoking and praising thy glorious name. Chuse, O Lord God most wise and most merciful, my portion and my lot for me: guide me by thy counsel through all the mazes of the present world, and at last receive me to thy kingdom and glory in the other.
To thee, likewise, holy Jesus, my most gracious Redeemner, the Son of God, and Saviour of the world, I most unfeignedly devote my self, and all that I have. Worthy is the Lamb that was sluin to receive blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, and wisdom, and riches, and strength. I was lost, but thou savedst me: a prisoner of death, but thou diedst, that I might live. I am thine, for thou hast loved me, and washed me from my sins and redeemed me by thy blood : I now therefore, from my soul, absolutely renounce whatever is inconsistent with thy property and claim in me: I sincerely abjure the world and the flesh, as far as they in the least oppose the authority of Christ; whom alone I now avouch as my proprietor and king. I here bow myself before thee, in token of the deepest and sincerest subjection of my body, soul, and spirit to thy government and care. I bind myself as by a solemn oath of allegiance; swearing to be faithful to my Divine master even unto death : tha't his enemies shall be my enemies; his friends, mine; and that my whole life shall be conducted according to the pattern and laws of his gospel.:.
I believe in thee, blessed Jesus, as the Christ of God; as the only Saviour of the world; as the light, the resurrection, and the life of man. I most humbly resign my understanding, my will, and every passion and power of my nature to be sanctified, controuled, and directed by thee.-Take a distressed soul into the arms of thy love, who flies to thee alone for salvation and help : write my name in the book of life : support me under all the troubles; strengthen me for all the conflicts; carry me safe through all the difficulties and dangers of my present state; and at last present me faultless before the presence of God with exceeding triumph and joy.
And forasmuch as by my own strength I am utterly unable to keep the covenant I have now made, and to perform what I have promised, I here also most bumbly dedicate inyself to the Holy and ever-blessed Spirit; my body I most