Chapter II. Of our General Preparation to the Worthy Reception of the Blessed Sacrament,
and the Participation of the Mysteries.
Section VI. Devotions to be used upon the Days of our Examination, relative to that Duty.
THE Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord's throne is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eye-lids try, the children of men.
The Lord trieth the righteous: but the wicked, and him that loveth violence, his soul hateth.
For the righteous Lord loveth righteousness; his countenance doth behold the upright.
The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.
Thou hast proved mine heart; thou hast visited me in the night; thou hast tried me, and shall find nothing; I am purposed, that my mouth shall not transgress.
Hold up my goings in thy paths: that my footsteps slide not.
As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the Lord is tried; he is a buckler to all those that trust in him.
For who is God save the Lord? and who is our rock save our God?
Judge me, O Lord; for I have walked in mine integrity: but I trust in the Lord; therefore I shall not slide.
Examine me, O Lord, and prove me; try my reins and my heart: for thy loving-kindness is before mine eyes, and I will walk in thy truth.
I will not sit with vain persons: neither will I go in with dissemblers.
I hate the congregation of evil doers: and I will not sit with the wicked.
I will wash my hands in innocency: so will I compass thine altar, O Lord.
That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all thy wondrous works.
But, as for me, I will walk in my integrity: redeem me arid be merciful to me.
So shall my foot stand in an even place: and, in the congregation, will I bless the Lord. Glory be to the Father, &c. As it was in the beginning, &c.
O ETERNAL and most glorious God, who sittest in heaven, ruling over all things from the beginning; thou dwellest on high, and yet humblest thyself to behold the things that are in heaven and earth. Thou hast searched me, O Lord, and known me; thou understandest my thoughts afar off, and art acquainted with all my ways; for there is not a word in my tongue, but thou, O Lord, knowest it altogether. Be pleased to impart unto thy servant a ray of thy heavenly light, a beam of the sun of righteousness; open mine eyes that I may see the wondrous things of thy law, that I may walk in them all my days. Set all my sins before my face, that I may speedily, and earnestly, and perfectly, repent and forsake them all. Give me a sight of my infirmities, that I may watch against them; discover to me all my evil and weak principles, that I may reform them. And whatsoever is wanting in me towards the understanding of any thing, whereby I may please thee and perfect my duty,--I beg of thee to reveal that also unto me; that my duty may not be undiscerned, and my faith may not be reproved, and my affections may not be perverse, and hardened in their foolish pursuance, and a secret sin may not lie undiscovered and corrupting my soul.
Give me an ingenious and a severe spirit, that whatever judgment of charity I make concerning others, I may give a right judgment concerning my own state and actions, condemning the criminal, censuring the suspicious, suspecting what seems allowable, and watchful even over the best; that I may, in the spirit of repentance and mortification, correct all my irregularities, and reform my errors, and improve the good things which thou hast given me; that endeavouring to approve my actions to my conscience, and my conscience to thy law, I may not be a reprobate, but approved by thee in the great day of examination of all the world, and be reckoned amongst thy elect, the secret ones; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Thy judgments, O Lord God, are declared in thunder and with fear and with dread; thou shakest all my bones, and my soul trembles when I consider that great day, in which thou shalt judge all the world; and that infinite justice, which will not spare the mighty for his greatness, nor the poor for his poverty; and thy unlimited power, which can mightily destroy all them, that will not have thee to reign over them.
O most dreadful Judge, I stand in amazement, when I consider, that the heavens are not pure in thine eyes; and if thou foundest perverseness in thy angels, and didst not spare them, what shall become of me? The stars fell from heaven; and what can I presume, who am but dust and ashes? They whose life hath seemed holy, are fallen into an evil portion; and, after they have eaten the bread of angels, they have been delighted with carob-nuts, with husks and draff of swine.
There is no holiness, O God, if thou withdrawest thy hand. No wisdom profits, if thy government does cease. No courage can abide, no chastity can remain pure; no watchfulness keep us safe, unless thou dost continue to strengthen us, to purify us, to make us stand. When thou leavest us, we drown and perish; when thy grace and mercy visit us, we are lifted up and stand upright. We are unstable, and unsecure, unless we be confirmed by thee: but we seek to thee for thy help: and yet depart from the ways of thy commandments.
O how meanly and contemptibly do I deserve to be thought of! how little and inconsiderable is the good which I do! and how vast, how innumerable, how intolerable, are the evils which I have done! I submit, O God, I submit, to the abysses of thy righteous and unsearchable judgment; for I have been searching for a little, some little, good in me; but I find nothing. Much indeed of good I have received; but I have abused it: thou hast given me thy grace; but I have turned it into wantonness: thou hast enabled me to serve thee; but I have served myself; but never but when I was thy enemy: so that, 'in me,' that is, in my flesh, 'dwelleth no good thing.'
I am a deep abyss, O God, of folly and calamity; I have been searching my heart, and can find no good thing; I have been searching, and I cannot find out all the evil. Thou didst create in me a hope of glory, but I have lost my confidence: and men have sometimes spoken good things of me, but I know not where they are: and who shall raise me up, when I fall down before thy face in thy eternal judgment?
I will no more desire, I will no more suffer, I will no more seek, I will no more be moved by, the praises of men; for behold, they speak, but they know nothing: thou art silent, but thou knowest all things, and I increase the number of my sins. What shall I do, O thou preserver of men! I will lay my face in the dust, and confess myself to be nothing.
Pity my shame, O God; bind up my wounds; lift me up from the dust; raise me up from this nothing; and make me something; what thou wilt, what thou wilt delight in. Take away the partition wall, the hinderance, the sin that so easily besets me; and bring me unto Jesus, to my sweetest Saviour Jesus; unite me unto him; and then, although in myself I am nothing, yet in him I shall be what I ought to be, and what thou canst not choose but love. Amen, Amen.
O MOST blessed, most glorious Lord and Saviour Jesus; thou that waterest the furrows of the earth, and refreshest her weariness, and makest it very plenteous, behold, O God, my desert and unfruitful soul; I have already a parched ground, give me a land of rivers of waters; my soul is dry, but not thirsty; it hath no water, nor it desires none; I have been like a dead man to all the desires of heaven. I am earnest and concerned in the things of the world; but very indifferent, or rather not well enduring the severities and excellencies of religion. I have not been greedy of thy word, or longed for thy sacraments. The worst of thy followers came running after thee for loaves, though they cared not for the miracle; but thou offerest me loaves and miracles together, and I have cared for neither. Thou offerest me thyself, and all thy infinite sweetnesses; I have needed even the compulsion of laws to drive me to thee; and then indeed I lost the sweetness of thy presence, and reaped no fruit. These things, O God, are not well; they are infinitely amiss. But thou that providest meat, thou also givest appetite; for the desire and the meat, the necessity and the relief, are all from thee.
Be pleased, therefore, O my dearest Lord, to create in thy servant a great hunger and thirst after the things of thy kingdom and the righteousness of it, all thy holy graces, and all the holy ministries of grace; that I may long for the bread of heaven, thirst after the fountain of salvation, and, as the hart panteth after the brooks of water, so my soul may desire thee, O Lord. O kindle such a holy flame in my soul, that it may consume all that is before me; that it may be meat and drink to me to do thy will.
Grant, O blessed Jesus, that I may omit no opportunity of serving thee, of conversing with thee, of receiving thee; let me not rest in the least and lowest measures of necessity, but pass on to the excellencies of love, and the transportations of an excellent religion, that there may remain in me no appetite for any thing but what thou lovest; that I may have no satisfaction but in a holy conscience, no pleasure but in religion, no joy but in God; and, with sincerity and zeal, heartiness and ingenuity, I may follow after righteousness, and the things that belong unto my peace, until I shall arrive in the land of eternal peace and praises, where thou livest and reignest for ever, world without end. Amen.