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we can never make any considerable Breaches upon it without being alarmed with severe Reproaches. It wings our Prayers with Reverence and Devotion, and increases our Importunity, by impressing a lively Sense of the Neceflity and Importance of those Things we beg of God. It habituates our Minds to fpiritual Objects, and raises them above the perishing Things of this Life. It strengthens our holy Purposes, arms us against Temptations, and infames all the Faculties of our Souls with earnest Desires of attaining and enjoying our chiefest Good.
Q. How ought we to conclude orr Meditation?
4. By begging God to affect our Minds with a constant Sense of our Duty in all the Particulars of it; chiefly that he would enable us to perform those Resolutions we have made of advancing in Piety and Virtue ; that he would not leave us to our selves, but so assist us with his Grace, that what we perceive and know to be our Duty, we may faithfully fulfil all the Days of our Life.
The P R A YER S.
For For. givenela
always more ready to hear than we to pray, and are wont to give more than either we defire or deserve ; pour down upon me the Abundance of thy Mercy, forgiving me those Things whereof my Conscience is afraid, and giving me those good Things which I am not worthy to ask, but through the Merits and Mediation of Jesus Christ thy Son, our Lord. Amen.
For the Comforts of Grace,
ferve to be punished, by the Comfort of thy Grace
such Abftinence during this Season dedica- nence and ted to the Exercise of Repentance, that my Flesh tion. may be subdued to the Spirit, and my Mind left free to approach thee with Ardour and Fervency of Affection. Inure me by Self-denial to bring my Body into Subjection, and to punish all those Excesses I have been guilty of, in the Use of thy Creatures. Let my Retirement from the World make me fee the Vanity and Emptiness of it, and teach me to relish the Pleasures of spiritual Enjoyments. Let me spend those solitary Hours in the improving
my Chriftian Knowledge, and do thou open my Eyes that I may see the wondrous Things of thy Law. Make me heartily to bewail my Sins, and do thou work in me that godly Sorrow not to be repented of. Grant that I may fincerely examine the State of my own Mind, and do thou search and try me, and lead me into the Way everlasting : That perceiving how bitter a Thing it is to depart from the living God, I may no longer continue at a Distance from the Fountain of all Joy and Happiness; but that by confessing and forsaking my Sins, I may be entirely converted unto thce, and that they may be blotted out, when the Times of refreshing shall come from the Presence of the Lord, through Jesus Christ my only Saviour. Amen.
Happiness of a rational Creature, whom to Meditatiknow is eternal Life; fix my Thoughts, my heavenly
Hopes, and my Desires upon Heaven and heavenly Things; let me remember thee upon my Bed, and meditate on thee in the Night-watches. Grant that I may so consider thy
Precepts, I may understand the Measures of my Duty, and govern all my Actions by those Rules thou hast prescribed me; may so apply thy Promises, that I may adore that infinite Goodness, that hath prepared such glorious Rewards for those that love thee, and never forfeit my
Title to them by consenting to any known Iniquity; may so recollect my Infirmities, that I may watch against them; my own Follies, that I may amend them; may so call to Mind thy wonderful Deliverances, both in respect of my Body and of my Soul, that I may be convinced that I am preserved, not by my own Strength, but by thy Almighty Power that thy Name may have the Glory. Make my Heart the Seat of Prayer and holy Meditation; that my Mind, being inured to spiritual Objects, I may despise and contemn this World, and be prepared in the Disposition of my Soul to pass Eternity in contemplating thy glorious Excellencies, through Jesus Christ our Lord; to whom with thee and the Holy Ghost, be all Honour and Glory, World without End. Amen.
Ash-Wednesday, or the first Day of Lent.
Q. WHY doth the Fast of Forty Days, called Lent,
begin on Afh-Wednesday? A. Because the four Days of this Week complete the forly Days, it being never the Custom of the Church to fast on Sundays, whereon we commemorate so great a Blessing as our Saviour's
Resurrection ; the fix Sundays in Lent, being deducted, and these four Days being added, make the Number entire.
Q. Why is the first day of Lent called Ash-Wed. nesday?
A. From the Custom that prevailed in the ancient Church, for Penitents at this Time to express their Humiliation by lying in Sackcloth and Aihes; by the Coarseness of Sackcloth they ranked themfelves, as it were, among the meanest and lowest Condition of Men; by Ashes, and sometimes Earth, cast upon
their Heads, they made themselves lower than the lowest of the Creatures of God, and put themselves in Mind of their Mortality, which would reduce them to Dust and Ashes.
Q. What was the Discipline of the Primitive Church at the Beginning of Lent?
A. That such Persons as stood convicted of notorious Crimes, were put to open Penance. For, according to the ancient Discipline, those who after Baptism fell into any great and notorious Sins, if they were Penitents, were admitted to Penance, and to the Prayers of the Church for their Reconciliation with God. But if they were refractory Sinners, or their Crimes of a deep Dye, they were excommunicated, and not admitted to Reconciliation with the Church; but after a long and tedious Course of Penance, after the most public Testimonies of Sorrow and Repentance, and the greatest Signs of Humiliation that can be imagined. For Tertullian tells us, They lay in Sackcloth and Afbes; they disfigured their Bodies with
a neglected Uncleanness, and deje&ted their Minds with Grief; they used no other Food but what was necessary to keep up Life, and frequently nourished their Prayers with rigorous Fajling ; ibey groaned, they wept to the Lord their God Day and Night; they fell down at the Feet of the Presbyters, they kneeled to the Friends of God, and begged of all
De Penis, Oxon.
their Fellow Christians to pray for them. These Seve rities they willingly submitted to, as Tokens of their Sorrow, and Evidences of their Reformation, and thought themselves happy upon any Terms to be admitted to the Peace of God and the Church.
Q. How were Penitents re-admitted into the
Church? Cypr. E.
A. When they had finished the Time prescribed posle for the undergoing these Severities, if their Repen
tance upon Examination was found to be real, they were re-admitted into the Church by the Imposition of the Hands of the Clergy, the Party to be absolved kneeling before the Bishop, or, in his Abfence, before the Presbyter, who laying his Hand upon his Head, solemnly blessed and absolved him; whereupon he was received with universal Joy, and restored to a Participation of the Holy Sacrament, and to all other Acts of Church Communion.
Q. What Method has the Church of England taken to supply the Want of ancient Discipline at this Time?
A. Till our Spiritual Fathers can be so happy as to succeed in discharging those Obligations they
lie under of restoring to the Church that DisciJoha xx• pline she has a Right to; being founded upon i Cor. v. the express Laws of Christ and his Apostles, suf3:1.4,;, ficiently explained to us by the Practice of the 2 Cor. ii." Primitive and Apostolical Church, very useful to
recover those that have erred from the Truth and
Piety, and absolutely necessary to preserve Religion Titim. 9. in its greatest Purity; till, I say, this blessed Time 3, and 5. shall come, which good Men with for, and bad
Men fear, the Church of England, to supply this Want, sets before her Members the Curses due to all Sin, and puts them in Mind of God's dreadful Tribunal, where the Impenitent shall be most certainly condemned ; thereby endeavouring to bring 8
Mat. xvi. 19. ch. xviii. 17.