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THE PENITENT’S ADDRESS TO GOD HIS FATHER.
[36. A prayer for mercy and help.] O heavenly Father, look, I beseech Thee, upon the everflowing fountain of Thy compassion, which, as a flood of cleansing, a flood precious beyond all price, and full of life, gushed from Thy dearest and only-begotten Son for the cleansing of the world; by the death of Whom Thy goodness has been even pleased to give us life, and also to wash us with His Blood. Nay more; Thou hast consigned Thy dearest Son to men as a shield of Thy good-will a shield wherewith to shelter themselves from Thy wrath; He receiving in Himself the death they fear, He presented as a shield to Thy justice and Thy all-just anger. Nor only so; it pleased Thy mercy that not only should He bear the brunt of Thy wrath, but endure our death as well. ’Twas so indeed; Thy Son, Thine Only-begotten, has alone borne our death.
‘Remember, O Lord, Thy bowels of compassion, 94and Thy mercies that are from the beginning of the world’ (Ps. xxiv. 6), and stretch out Thy hand to Thy creature that stretches forth to Thee. Help the weakness of him that struggles after Thee. Draw me; for Thou knowest that I cannot come to Thee, except Thou, the Father, draw me with the cords of love and desire. Make me a servant acceptable and pleasing unto Thee; for Thou knowest that I cannot please Thee else. Give me, I pray Thee, those holy gifts with which alone to please Thee, Thou that givest good gifts to them that ask Thee. Grant, I pray Thee, that my sole love and sole desire may be Thyself; my sole love and only fear, Thyself. Take me wholly for Thine own, Thou who knowest that to Thee I owe all that I am, all that I have, all that I know, and all my powers. Convert me wholly to Thy praise and glory, I that owe myself wholly to Thy praise. Deliver not, I pray Thee, Thy creature to Thy enemies; keep me for Thyself, whose alone I am entirely; and perfect in every part what Thou hast begun, and confirm what Thou hast wrought.
Hear my prayer, I beseech Thee, Thou who givest and inspirest it even ere I thought to call to Thee. Look upon Thy suppliant, Thou Who when I had a mind to pray didst even then deign to look 95upon me. Not in vain, O Lord of mercy, didst Thou deign to inspire that my prayer, not for nothing didst Thou give it me. Nay, for this very end didst Thou deign to give it, that Thou mightest listen to me; for this didst Thou grant it to me, that I might implore Thee to have mercy on me a sinner. So thus having given me an earnest of Thy mercy, give me the rest. Rescue me, O Lord my God, and snatch me out of the hands of my enemies; for they too are Thine, they are the subjects of Thy almighty power; and they hate no thing of good works in me except what Thou hast given me. There is nothing in me that they hate, but only that I love Thee. And they scheme with all their endeavours, with all their might, with all their craft, to prevent my loving Thee, glorifying Thee, and ever seeking Thee.
Therefore let not the enemies of Thy glory be too strong for me; but let them be the more confounded as they see that I, bent on praising Thee and glorifying Thee, am seeking with all best endeavours that peace and glory of Thine, which they are intent upon diminishing. O Lord, let not, I beseech Thee, their so unholy and execrable design concerning me, nay, against me, be brought to pass; but enlarge Thou my soul, O Lord, for 96telling forth Thy praise and heralding Thy glory, that I may henceforth live altogether according to Thy great glory, and that my whole life may glorify Thee; and do Thou by my example invite and incite many of Thy predestined to glorify Thee. Let the presence of Thy light, and the sweetness of Thy glory, a glory which they can not bear, drive away from me the vile, unclean, and hateful spirits of darkness. O break my chains asunder, and take me out of durance, out of the horrible, black, and gloomy prison, out of the lake of misery and the mire of dregs, out of the abyss of death and darkness; and lead me forth into liberty and Thy marvellous light.
Enlighten me with Thy saving faith; gladden and strengthen me with Thy joyful and never-faltering hope; quicken me with Thy mighty and all-holy love. Subdue and humble me, and guard me with Thy strongest, securest, and most invincible fear. Fill me with wholesome shame from Thy all-lovely and all-glorious Self. And whensoever I present anything before Thine eyes that may offend them, break me, chastise me with pain greater than a woman’s, and medicine me, after Thine own sweet fashion, with most efficacious compunction from Thyself, that I go not out from 97Thy mercy’s presence empty and confounded; but obtain whatsoever by Thy bidding, by Thy gift, by Thy inspiration, I may ask, and whatsoever Thou hast promised unto them that ask. Let me find, O compassionate and merciful Lord, that not in vain do men fly for refuge to Thy mercy; that Thou art very close to all who seek Thee, helping them to find Thee; and that I can never faint or fail so long as I am with Thee, the Fountain of Compassion, O Thou who hast snatched me from the pit, and lavished on me Thou knowest how much, Thou knowest what. Ay, with what uneffort of omnipotence, of wisdom, and of goodness, wherewith Thou saidst and all things were made, with a like uneffort of compassion Thou canst speak, and all my deformities can be corrected and restored to sightliness.
[§ 37. The penitent’s hope in the Divine mercy.] And now, almighty and merciful Father, behold I have enumerated so many and so great Thy benefits which I have received from Thee; I have recounted the ills, so many and so great, which I have repaid Thee for Thy goodness. O wretched I, O thankless I, that for all so many and so great ills await and overhang me, yet appear 98before Thee with a heart obdurate and stolid, and dead and cold; and still am not ashamed. Detected in misdeeds so many and grievous, with no better prospect in the future than a gibbet in hell, still I am neither palsied with fright, nor tortured with grief, nor confounded with shame: no, nor set on fire with love of Thy so gentle and so long-forbearing goodness. What, art Thou waiting, dearest Father, and delaying to look on me and pity me, until, according to the measure of Thy mercy, I shall have become fit to appear in Thy Presence, and present in Thy Presence some thing fit to ask of Thee, and say something fit for Thee to listen to? See, see, it is a corpse that I have brought Thee; a corpse swarming with worms, and three days dead, is what comes to Thee, Thou Giver of life. See, see; what I present to Thy almighty mercy is one blind, to be illuminated; one sick, to be made whole; one involved in, O how many and how great debts, to be set free; stark-naked and poverty-stricken, to be enriched. For easy it is to Thee to enrich a beggar in a moment.
Nor can I otherwise, most clement God, than offer Thee myself, just as I am; show Thee my death and wounds, my nakedness and poverty, 99and my debts, for which I fear the dungeon of everlasting death. Do Thou, then, show me Thine Eyes of mercy; if, indeed, Thou canst be turned and canst forgive, and canst pour upon me of Thy grace and bliss. For turn myself to Thee I can not; I am wounded with too many and too deep wounds; I am borne down by sicknesses and even death, and am become altogether helpless. But do Thou, O merciful Father, convert me, and I shall be converted to Thee. Convert me to Thee, O Lord (Lam. v. 21), and bruise and crush my heart, and implant in me the sensibilities of a quickening grief. For there is no fountain of blessings besides Thee; there is none from whom to receive love and fear, and grief and shame, wherewith to appear in Thy sight and be found worthy of Thy mercy, unless Thou, from the vast reservoir of Thy mercy, pour out grace on me, so all unworthy of Thy grace. O Lord, if Thou give me this, I shall be happy. If Thou vouch safe to chastise my offences and my crimes ac cording to Thy judgment and thy justice, O happy I; not so, if Thou correct me in Thy fury [Jer. x. 24], the fury which in the end overtakes and seizes all who rebel against and dare Thy mercy.
And this, O merciful Father, is Thy judgment 100and Thy justice; even this, that fear, love, shame, and grief work in the hearts of all who truly re pent and return to Thy goodness, that they may gain Thy mercy. Pierce, then, this thief with Thy holy fear, and burn this rebel with the fire of Thy love and charity; pierce, O Lord, this malefactor with life-giving and most wholesome sorrow from Thee; confuse this unblushing sinner with shame from thy glorious Self; nail, nail this miscreant to his cross of penal anguish, and let that anguish conciliate Thy mercy. Make me hunger for Thee with all my heart, and thirst for Thee with all my bowels; make me serve only Thee with all my inward parts, and with all my energies pursue what is well-pleasing in Thy sight. And so to Thee, with Jesus Christ, Thine only-begotten Son and our Lord, and with the Holy Ghost, the Paraclete, Thy most holy Gift, be all honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.101
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