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A Prayer before the Sermon.
GREAT and glorious Lord God! the High and Holy One, who inhabitest eternity, and dwellest in that light which is not to be approached: we pray thee to look down from heaven, the habitation of thy holiness and thy glory, upon us vile and sinful creatures. Have mercy upon us, O Lord! and, according to the multitude of thy tender mercies, blot out all our transgressions: and do thou keep it for ever in the purpose and resolution of our hearts, to serve and fear thee for the future, and to keep all thy commandments always, that it may be well with us, and with our children after us. We pray thee, to this end, to write thy law in our hearts, and to put thy fear into our inward parts, that we may never depart from thee.
Grant us the grace of thy Holy Spirit, to become every day better; to reform and amend whatever is amiss in the frame and temper of our minds, or in the course and actions of our lives; to enable us to 197mortify our lusts, to govern our passions, and to order our whole conversation aright; to assist us to all that is good, and to keep us from all evil, and to preserve us to thy heavenly kingdom.
We pray thee to instruct us in all the particulars of our duty, which we owe to thee and men; that we may herein exercise ourselves always to have consciences void of offence both towards God and towards men; that we may love thee the Lord our God with all our hearts, and with all our souls, and with all our strength, and may love our neighbour as ourselves; and whatever we would that men should do unto us, that we may do likewise unto them, And let the grace of God, which hath appeared to all men, and brings salvation, teach us, that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we may live soberly and righteously and godly in this present world; waiting for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify to himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
And we pray thee to make us sensible of our own frailty, of the shortness and uncertainty of this life, and of the eternity of the next; to make us careful so to live, as we shall wish we had done when we come to die: let our loins always be girded about, and our lamps burning, and we ourselves like unto men that wait for their Lord.
We pray thee with us to extend thy goodness to the whole world. Let thy way be known upon earth, and thy saving health among all nations. Pity and relieve the miseries and afflictions of men; especially those in our neighbour nations, who suffer for thy truth and righteousness sake. Support them, 198O Lord! under their sufferings; and in thy due time deliver them out of them. Bless thy church; reform whatsoever thou seest to be amiss in the belief and lives of Christians, and grant that all those who profess thy name, and the holy religion of our blessed Saviour, may live as it becomes the gospel, and may depart from all iniquity.
In a particular manner we pray thee to be gracious to these sinful nations to which we are related; to pardon our great and crying sins; to prevent those judgments which our sins have justly deserved, and to spare us according to thy great mercy. In a more especial manner, we pray thee to pour down thy blessings upon thy servant and our sovereign, ——, by thy grace King of England, Scotland, France, and Ireland, defender of the faith, and in all causes and over all persons in these his dominions supreme governor. Preserve him in his person; make his government a public blessing to these nations; let religion and righteousness flourish under the influences of it, and let there be abundance of peace in his days. Bless him in his royal relations, —— and all the royal family. And thou, who art the wise God, and governest all the affairs of the world, be pleased so to bless and direct all public counsels and affairs amongst us, as that they may tend to the advancement of thy glory, the preservation of religion, and the peace and happiness of these kingdoms. Bless, we pray thee, all ranks and orders of men amongst us, and make them all in their several places and stations useful and serviceable to thy glory and to the public good. Bless those to whom thou hast committed the care of instructing and governing thy church, by what titles soever they are distinguished, archbishops, 199bishops, and all others that minister in holy things, We pray thee to make them faithful to that trust which thou hast committed unto them, and to grant that, by their diligent labours, and prudent carnage, and holy and exemplary lives, they may gain many unto righteousness. Bless the two universities of this land; grant that they may answer the ends of their institution, that religion, and learning, and virtue, may be the glory of those places.
We pray thee to bless us, thine unworthy servants, who at this time are assembled and met together in thy name; to be present in the midst of us, and to assist us in the work and service which we are about; and to grant that those truths which shall be delivered to us out of thy word, may have a due effect and influence upon our hearts and lives: all which we humbly beg of thee for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ, in whose holy name and words, &c. &c.
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