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THE FIRST CHAPTER.
A Confession on bended knees to implore God’s goodness.
O Most gracious Jesus, my Love, Salvation, and Comfort! O most faithful Lover of men, my Maker and Redeemer! Light of my heart, Solace of my spirit, and Medicine of my soul, how much do I owe Thee, O my God! Of what worth hast Thou esteemed me, O my Creator, Who hast formed me out of nothing to Thine own image and likeness? For a price beyond all reckoning hast Thou bought me; with exceeding great labour hast Thou redeemed me; for how many years in long-suffering hast Thou borne with me; while I still persevered in my iniquities 2hast Thou spared me. Many are the good gifts, and great is the loving-kindness, by which Thou hast drawn me, and followed after me; and countless are the times when in Thy mercy, and by Thy divine grace, Thou hast come to my help, although as many times I turned my back upon Thee, nor obeyed Thy holy inspirations,—but neglected Thy most holy will;—nay, when I even gave myself up, instead, to my own corrupt and wicked will.
O most gracious God, how ungrateful have I been for all Thy bountiful gifts, even to this hour! O merciful God, behold I confess, to Thee my manifold and great iniquity. Lord, open Thou my lips, and my mouth shall show forth Thy praise; for, see, Lord, to Thee have I lifted up my soul. O unseen Sanctifier! do Thou purify my spirit, and make ready my heart to praise Thee, and give thanks unto Thee. Enlighten my understanding. Gather all my memory into one point. Kindle my desires. Purify my intention. Purge my affections. Raise up the powers of my soul to Thyself, and water its drought with the dew of Thy heavenly grace. O, most loving God! vouchsafe, now, I beseech Thee, to bow down Thine ears from Thy throne in heaven to me, Thy wretched and sinful creature, and hear my prayers, whereby in lowly fear I knock at the breast of Thy divine grace. Behold! I turn me 3wholly to Thee. Lo! I lift up all the powers of my soul to praise Thee, and bless Thee, and with my whole strength I open my heart unto Thee. Oh! cause this heart of mine, I beseech Thee, to be pierced by the rays of Thy divine love, to be enlightened by the splendours of Thy divine brightness, so that inwardly I may look into the lowest depth of my soul, and may see and acknowledge how far I am from Thee, my God!—that I may behold, too, the faults and vices which keep me from Thy love and service, and make me unworthy to receive into my soul the inpouring of Thy divine grace. For so long a time, O Lord my God, hast Thou embraced and girt me round about with Thy immeasurable gifts, and benefits, and graces, but, above all, with Thine incomprehensible charity, that I cannot hide me from the glow of Thy love, or keep back my spirit from Thy praise. Yea! my heart desireth to praise Thee, and give thanks unto Thee, so far as I am able, with every power of my soul; and my spirit exulteth earnestly in Thy praise, and my soul doth magnify Thee, for over me Thy grace is exceeding great. But who am I, O most high and Almighty Maker, that I should dare to praise Thee? Moreover, how shall I dare to open my mouth, full, as it is, of all uncleanness, and covered with the vile filth of so many 4vices, to tell of Thy power and might? Nay, what can I ever think, or understand, or speak of Thee, Who art immense, invisible, incomprehensible, inscrutable, so as to be able to praise, extol, and magnify Thee, since I am powerless to form any thought of Thee, or take in, or scrutinize Thy Being? Yet, although I, who am but a poor, little, worthless man,—an empty straw,—am not sufficient of myself to praise Thee, O high, and terrible, and incomprehensible Majesty, since neither Thyself nor Thy works can I comprehend; nevertheless, for this very reason ought I to laud and extol Thee, O my God, and give thanks unto Thee; because Thou art so wonderful, and high, and incomprehensible and inscrutable, that neither by understanding, nor keenness of mind, nor reason, can any of Thy creatures reach unto Thee, save only in the way and in the measure that Thou givest them to understand concerning Thee by Thy grace.
For if, of old, profane and heathen men made such loud exultation, and boasted themselves so mightily of their great, and powerful, and immortal gods, in that they were made at great cost, and with cunning art, of gold, and other precious things,—and, indeed, in one sense they were not mortal, for never had they any share in mortal life—how much more just is it that I should exult in Thee, my Almighty 5Lord, Whose power is so exceeding great, that Thou fillest the heavens and the earth with the glory of Thy Majesty; Whose beauty is so exceeding fair, that the sun and the moon and all the elements marvel thereat, while the angelic spirits rejoice beyond all measure in contemplating Thee; Whose strength is so exceeding terrible, that by one look of Thine Thou makest the earth to tremble; Whose might is so exceeding marvellous, that by a word Thou didst bring forth the heavens and the earth, and all creatures are subject to Thy will; Whose riches are so exceeding vast, that whatsoever is contained within the boundary of heaven and earth belongeth to Thee alone, and is ruled by Thee without care or anxiousness; Whose goodness and loving kindness, last of all, are so exceeding tender, that Thy mercy is over all Thy works. For there is not even a little worm, however utterly vile, nor any creature, however abject, that doth not share Thy favour, or which Thou forgettest to uphold, and give it its food in due season.
If, then, from Thy marvellous works, O Almighty and most gracious God, we are able to discover and gather, that Thou art so powerful, and wise, and good, because Thou createst all things of such wonderful workmanship without any labour, and governest them so wisely without any care, 6and upholdest them so tenderly without any lessening of Thy riches;—how powerful, and wise, and good, and admirable, must Thou be in Thyself, since, of a surety, the workman is higher, and nobler, and worthier, than the work of his hands! For with the same ease couldst Thou create, rule, and uphold a thousand heavens and a thousand worlds, as one heaven and one world. How then, O Almighty One, shall I tell of Thy praise, when this is above the understanding of all Thy creatures, even of the spirits in heaven? O most merciful God; I know that Thou standest in no need of any works or praise of ours, since in Thyself Thou ever aboundest in all praise. Simple art Thou in Thyself and perfect God, Whom no creature can add to, or take from by any of its works, nevertheless Thou vouchsafest to be praised by Thy frail and worthless creatures. Therefore, although my praise, O loving God, is far too lukewarm and vile, and unworthy of Thy lofty power, and incomprehensible wisdom, and unutterable goodness; yet do Thou vouchsafe graciously to accept it, and let Thy goodness make up for my weakness. O most tender Lord! although unworthy, it is still my chief duty to praise Thee. For how can I be ungrateful for Thy manifold gifts and benefits? Can I ever cease from praising Thee, when Thou ceasest not to 7do me good? O most merciful Jesus, I would indeed wish to gather together, and heap up in the ark of my heart, all Thy good gifts and all Thy loving-kindness which Thou hast poured out upon me, and to laud Thee and give Thee special thanks for each one of Thy benefits. But who is able, O Lord, to look into or sound the depth of Thy goodness, or to measure the breadth of Thy love? Yet, although this is impossible for all Thy creatures, still may this, the chief work of our salvation, wherein Thy mighty love is chiefly reflected, never depart from my heart!
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