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let us endeavour to stir up every grace, which we are to exercise in our conversation; and thrust ourselves forward in zeal of those graces; that we begin to amend our lukewarmness, and repair our sins of omission. For this is a day of sacrifice; and every sacrifice must be consumed by fire; and, therefore, now is the day of improvement, and the proper season for the zeal of duty. And if, upon the solemn day of the soul, we do not take care of omissions, and repair the great and little forgetfulnesses, and omissions of duty, and pass from the infirmities of a man to the affections of a saint, we may, all our lifetime, abide in a state of lukewarmness, disimprovement, and indifference. To this purpose,
6. Compare day with day, week with week, communion with communion, time with time, duty with duty: and see if you can observe any advantage, any ground gotten of a passion; any further degree of the spirit of mortification; any new permanent fires of devotion; for by volatile, sudden, and transient flames, we can never guess steadily: but be sure never to think you are at all improved, unless you observe your defects to be, 1. fewer: 2. or lighter: or, 3. at least, not to be the same, but of another kind and instance, against which you had not made particular provisions formerly; but now, upon this new observation and experience, you must.
7. Upon, or against, a communion day, endeavour to put your soul into that order and state of good things, as if that day you were to die: and consider, that unless you dare die upon that day, if God should call you, there is but little reason you should dare to receive the sacrament of life, or the ministry of death. He that communicates worthily, is justified from sins; and to him death can have no sting, to whom the sacrament brings life and health; and, therefore, let every one that is to communicate, placé himself, by meditation, in the gates of death,-and suppose himself seated before the tribunal of God's judgment, and see whether he 'can reasonably hope, that his sins are pardoned, and cured, and extinguished; and then if you judge righteous judgment, you will soon find what pinches most; what makes you most afraid; what was most criminal, or what is least mortified and so you will learn to make provisions accordingly.
8. If you find any thing yet amiss, or too suspicious, or remaining to evil purposes, the relics of the scattered enemy
after a war, resolve to use some general instrument of piety or repentance, that may, by being useful in all the parts of your life and conversation, meet with every straggling irregularity, and, by perpetuity and assiduous force, clear the coast. 1. Resolve to have the presence of God frequently in your thought. 2. Or endeavour and resolve to bring it to pass, to have so great a dread and reverence of God, that you may be more ashamed, and really troubled and confounded to sin in the presence of God, than in the sight and observation of the best and severest man. 3. Or else resolve to punish thyself with some proportionable affliction of the body or spirit for every irregularity or return of undecency in that instance, in which thou settest thyself to mortify any one especial passion or temptation. Or 4. firmly to purpose in every thing which is not well, not to stay a minute, but to repent instantly of it, severely to condemn it, and to do something at the first opportunity for amends. Or 5. to resolve against an instance of infirmity for some short, sure, and conquerable periods of time: as if you be given to be prating, resolve to be silent, or to speak nothing but what is pertinent for a day; or, for a day, not to be angry; andthen, sometimes, for two days; and so diet your weak soul with little portions of food, till it be able to take in and digest a full meal. Or 6. meditate often, every day, of death, or the day of judgment. By these and the like instruments, it will happen to the remains of sin, as it did to the Egyptians; what is left by the hail, the caterpillar will destroy; and what the caterpillar leaves, the locusts will eat. These instruments will eat the remains of sin, as the poor gather up the gleanings after the carts, in harvest.
9. But if, at any communion, and in the use of these advices, you do not perceive any sensible progression in the spirit of mortification or devotion, then be sure to be ashamed, and to be humbled for thy indisposition and slow progression in the discipline of Christ: and if thou beest humbled truly for thy want of improvement, it is certain thou hast improved. And if you come with fear and trembling, it is very probable, you will come in the spirit of repentance and devotion.
These exercises and measures will not seem many, long,
and tedious, as the rules of art, if we consider that all are not to be used at all times, nor by every person; but are instruments fitted to several necessities, and useful when they can do good, and to be used no longer. For he that uses these, or any the like advices by way of solemnity, and in periodical returns, will still think fit to use them at every communion, as long as he lives; but he that uses them as he should, that is, to effect the work of reformation upon his soul, may lay them all aside, according as his work is done. But if we would, every day, do something of this; if we would, every day, prepare for the day of death, or, which is of a like consideration, for the day of our communion; if we would, every night, examine our passed day; and set our things in order; if we would have a perpetual intercourse and conversation with God; or, which is better than all examinations in the world, if we should actually attend to what we do, and consider every action, and speak so little, that we might consider it; we should find, that, upon the day of our communion, we should have nothing to do, but the third particular, that is, 'The Offices of Prayer and Eucharist,' and to renew our graces by prayer and exercises of devotion.
Devotions to be used upon the Morning of the Communion. 1. O BLESSED Lord, our gracious Saviour and Redeemer Jesus, King of kings, and Lord of lords; thou art fairer than the children of men; upon thee the angels look, and behold, · and wonder what am I, O Lord, that thou, who fillest heaven and earth, shouldest descend and desire to dwell with me, who am nothing but folly and infirmity, misery and sin, shame and death?
2. I confess, O God, that when I consider thy greatness, and my nothing, thy purity, and my uncleanness, thy glory and my shame,-I see it to be infinitely unreasonable and
Quisquis amore venit, nescit se ferre laborem:
Ven. Fortunat. lib. iii. epigr. 57.
presumptuous that I should approach to thy sacred presence, and desire to partake of thy sacraments, and to enter into thy grace, and to hope for a part of thy glory. But when I consider thy mercy and thy wisdom, thy bounty, and thy goodness, thy readiness to forgive, and thy desires to impart thyself unto thy servants,-then I am lifted up with hope: then I come with boldness to the throne of grace. Even so, O Lord, because thou hast commanded it, and because thou lovest it should be so.
3. It was never heard, O Lord, from the beginning of the world, that thou didst ever despise him that called upon thee; or forsake any man that abides in thy fear; or that any person who trusted in the Lord, was ever confounded: But if I come to thee, I bring an unworthy person to be united unto thee; if I come not, I shall remain unworthy for ever; if I stay away, I fear to lose thee; if I come, I fear to offend thee, and that will lose thee more, and myself too at last. I know, O God, I know, my sins have separated between me and my God; but thy love and thy passion, thy holiness and thy obedience, hath reconciled us: and though my sins, deter me, yet they make it necessary for me to come; and though thy greatness amazes me, yet it is so full of goodness, that it invites me.
4. O therefore, blessed Saviour, who didst, for our sakes, take upon thee our passions and sensibilities, our weaknesses and our sufferings, who wert hungry after the temptation of the devil, weary and thirsty in thy discourse with the woman of Samaria,-who didst weep over Lazarus,-wert afflicted in the garden,-whipped in the Consistory,-nailed on the cross,-- pierced with a spear,-wrapped in linen,—laid in the grave, and so art become a merciful High Priest, and pitiful to our infirmities; be pleased to receive a weary sinner, an over-burdened conscience, an afflicted, polluted soul, into thy care and conduct, into thy custody and cure. I know, that a thousand years of tears and sorrow, the purity of angels, the love of saints, and the humiliation of the greatest penitent, is not sufficient to make me worthy to dwell with thee, to be united to thy infinity, to be fed with thy body, and refreshed with thy purest blood, to become bone of thy bone, and flesh of thy flesh, and spirit of thy spirit.
5. But what I cannot be of myself, let me be made by
thee; I come to thee, wounded, and bruised, and bleeding; for thou art my physician: arise then with healing in thy wings. I am thirsty and faint; as the hart longeth after the water-brooks, so longeth my soul after thee, O God; thou art the eternal fountain, from whence spring the waters of comfort and salvation; I am hungry, and empty, and weak, and I come running after thee, because thou hast the words of eternal life; O send me not away empty, for I shall faint and die; I cannot live without thee. O let virtue go forth from thee and heal all my sickness; do thou appear to my soul in these mysteries; heal my sores, purify my stains, enlighten my darkness, turn me from all vain imaginations and illusions of the enemy, all perverseness of will, all violence and inordination of passions, sensual desires, and devilish angers, lust and malice, gluttony and pride, the spirit of envy, and the spirit of detraction; let not sin reign in my members, nor the devil lead my will captive, nor the world abuse my understanding, and debauch my conversation.
6. O Jesus, be a Jesus unto me: and let this sacrament be a savour of life,- and thy holy body, the bread of life,—and thy precious blood, the purifier of my sinful life. Grant I may receive these divine mysteries for the amendment of my life and the defensative against my sins; for the increase of virtue, and the perfection of my spirit; grant that I may from thee, thus sacramentally communicated, derive prevailing grace for the amendment of my life; spiritual wisdom, for the discerning the ways of peace; the spirit of love, and the spirit of purity, that in all my life I may walk worthy of thy gracious favours, which thou givest to me unworthy; that I may do all my works in holiness and right intention, that I may resist every temptation, with a never-fainting courage, and a caution never surprised, and a prudence never deceived.
7. Sweetest Saviour, I come to thee upon thy invitation, and thy commandment; I could not come to thee but by thee; O let me never go from thee any more, but enter into my heart; feed me with thy word; sustain me with thy Spirit; refresh me with thy comforts, and let me in this divine mystery receive thee, my dearest Saviour: and be thou my wisdom and my righteousness, my sanctification and redemption. Let me receive this holy nutriment, as the earnest of an eternal inheritance, as a defensative against all spiritual