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Prayers used by him the Day before his Consecration.
MAY 30, 1691, the day before my consecration to the archbishopric, which was on Whitsunday, at St. Mary le-bow, when, on Whitsunday eve, I retired to Edmonton, to spend that day in fasting and prayer, to implore the blessing of Almighty God upon that 201action, and the assistance of his grace and Holy Spirit to be vouchsafed to his sinful and unworthy servant, whom his wise providence, and the importunate desire of their majesties, King William and Queen Mary, the best of princes, (whom God, in great mercy to a most sinful and perverse people, hath by a most signal providence set upon the throne of these kingdoms, and sent, I trust, to be our deliverers and benefactors for many generations yet to come,) have called to the government and conduct of this miserable distracted church in a very difficult and dangerous time.
I began with a short prayer to Almighty God to prepare my heart for the duty of this day, and to assist me in the discharge of it in such a manner as might be acceptable in his sight, through Jesus Christ, my blessed Saviour and Redeemer.
I proceeded next to a thanksgiving to Almighty God for his mercy and goodness to me in the conduct of my whole life, from my first entrance into the world to this day, which was to this effect:”—
Almighty and eternal Lord God, and most mer ciful Father, I prostrate myself before thee this day, in a most humble and thankful acknowledgment of thy great mercy and goodness vouchsafed to me a sinful creature, and thy most unprofitable servant, (not worthy to be called thy son) in the conduct of my whole life, from my first coming into the world to this present day.
And in the first place, I desire to bless thy great and glorious name, that I was born of honest and religious parents, though of a low and obscure condition. “Who am I, O Lord God, or what is my house, that thou hast brought me hitherto?” and hast regarded me according 202 to the estate of a man of high degree, O Lord God!”14141 Chron. xvii. 16, 17.
I bless thee likewise for all the happy circumstances of my birth and education; that I was born in a time and place wherein thy true religion was preached and professed. I bless thee for the great care of my good parents to bring me up in the knowledge and fear of thee, the only true God, and of him whom thou hast sent, Jesus Christ, whom to know is eternal life; and I bless thee, my Lord, for him in whom all the nations of the earth are blessed, whom, in the fulness of time, thou wast pleased to send into the world to be the Saviour and Redeemer of mankind.
I bless thee that thou wast pleased to give my ever-honoured and good father the heart to give me, out of the small estate thou gavest him, so liberal an education, whereby I was put into a capacity to serve thee. Forgive, I beseech thee, O Lord, that I have made no better use of the talents and opportunities wherewith thou hast entrusted me, and accept of that little which by thy grace I have been enabled sincerely to do for thee. I bless thee, O Lord, for the continual and bountiful support of thy Providence, whereby thou hast also enabled me to return to my parents and their children the kindness I received from them, and to be still as a father to them. I bless thee that thou hast so mercifully and so many times preserved me from the great dangers to which my life was exposed; and from temptations which would have been too hard for me, if thy grace had not prevented them, and kept me from falling into them: this, O Lord, I acknowledge as one of the great blessings of my life, for which I desire continually to magnify thy great and glorious name.203
I bless thee, likewise, O Lord, for that measure of health which I have enjoyed, and for my recovery from a great and dangerous sickness; for any happy endowments of mind; for that degree of understanding which thou hast given me; and for preserving it to me, when my dear mother, for so many years of her life, lost the use and enjoyment of it, and might have derived that unhappiness to me her child, if thy merciful goodness had not prevented it. Forgive me, O Lord, that I have made no better use of the faculties which thou hast endowed me withal, for thy glory, and the benefit and advantage of others.
Blessed be thy name, likewise, that thou hast any time of my life, and in any measure, rendered me useful to any good purpose. I acknowledge it to be all from thee; and I desire to return the praise of all to thee, my great and constant Benefactor.
Blessed be God for the favour thou hast given me with men both of low and high condition; and the friends which thou hast raised up for me, to preserve me from the malice of mine enemies, and those who hate me without a cause, and not for any fault of mine towards them. O Lord, thou knowest.
More especially I bless thee, for that great and undeserved favour which I have found in the eyes of our excellent King and Queen. Give me, O Lord, the heart, and, if it be thy will, the opportunity to serve them in some measure to answer their favours to me, and the good opinion they have conceived of me, by rendering me useful and instrumental for the public good of this distracted kingdom and church, in endeavouring to heal and reconcile our unhappy differences, and to reform the disorders that are in 204thy church, and the lives and manners both of the ministers and people.
Finally, I bless thee for all the favours and blessings of my life both spiritual and temporal, so plentifully bestowed upon me; and above all, for a sincere desire to serve and please thee, my most gracious and merciful God, and to do good to men made after thine image.
Accept, O Lord, this my hearty sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, which I offer up to thy Divine Majesty, through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, my blessed Saviour and Redeemer. Amen, Amen.—
Next I made this humble and penitent confession of my sins, and earnest supplication for the pardon and forgiveness of them:”
I bow myself before thee, most holy and gracious Lord God, in a deep sense of mine own vileness and sinfulness, which render me altogether unworthy of the least of those many favours and blessings where with thou hast been pleased to follow me all the days of my life. I am a sinful man, O Lord, and not worthy to lift up mine eyes to thee?” my God. My whole life hath been little else but a continued course of disobedience, of unthankfulness, and unworthy returns to thee for all thy benefits. I have gone astray from the womb, and have grievously transgressed thy holy laws and commandments, in thought, word, and deed.
I desire now to confess my sins to thee, and with great shame and contrition to bewail and lament them in thy presence. “Father, 1 have sinned against heaven and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son;” so that “if thou be strict to mark iniquity, O Lord, who can stand?” 205Lord, I am vile, what shall I answer thee?” I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”
I confess the folly of my childhood, and the great sins and vanities of my youth, and the many great provocations, which, in the course of my life, I have been often, too often guilty of; the impurities of my heart, and the many evil actions of my life, which thou, O Lord, knowest altogether; and for which I desire to take shame to myself, and to be confounded before thee at the remembrance of them. Lord, they are all in thy sight, and the most secret sins of my life in the light of thy countenance. I am ashamed, O my God, and blush to lift up mine eyes to thee, my God.
I confess likewise before thee, that I have most grievously omitted and neglected my duty to thee, in not making better use of the talents and opportunities of doing good, which thou hast entrusted me withal. I have offended grievously, and been wanting to my duty in a great part of my life; towards those whom thou hast committed to my charge, in not instructing them, and watching over them as I ought, to inform them in the good knowledge of God; and to improve in other knowledge, as was my duty to have done, Lord, forgive this great and heinous sin.
I have offended against thee by anger and impatience upon many occasions; by neglecting to cultivate my mind, and to govern my passions; by uncharitableness and evil speaking; and especially by mispending my precious time, which might have been employed to excellent purposes. Lord, what can I say unto thee for these and innumerable other provocations of my life?” “But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.” Lord, let thy goodness, which I have had such plentiful experience 206of, lead me to repentance not to be repented of.
Have mercy upon me, O Lord, and, according to the multitude of thy tender mercies, blot out all my transgressions, for thy mercy in Jesus Christ, whom thou hast set forth to be propitious by his blood for the sins of the whole world.
I do now, O Lord, in a deep sense of my sinfulness, and a hearty contrition for all my faults of omission and commission which I have been guilty of, humble myself before thee, and earnestly implore thy mercy and forgiveness. I do not only repent of all the evils of my past life, but am now fully resolved by thy grace utterly to forsake them, and break off the practice of them; and do most heartily beg the assistance of thy grace to make good this holy resolution for the remaining part of my life. “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me;” and do thou keep it for ever in the purpose and resolution of my heart, to make good what I have now so solemnly promised to thee; suffer me not to return again to sin and folly; but let thy grace continually preserve me, and enable me to do better; and “let not sin have any more dominion over me, that I should serve it in the lust of it.”
Grant this, O merciful Father, for the sake of my blessed Saviour and Redeemer, who “died for our sins, and rose again for our justification,” and now sitteth at thy right hand to make intercession for sinners: in his name and mediation I offer up this act of repentance, and these my humble supplications for pardon and forgiveness, for thy grace and assistance, concluding all in his comprehensive prayer: “Our Father,” &c.—
Next, a prayer for God’s blessing upon me, and 207 his; and his Holy Spirit to be conferred upon me in the solemn dedication of me the day following to this high and holy office:”
Almighty and most merciful Lord God, “the giver of every good and perfect gift,” and “the Father of lights,” who hast promised, that “if any man lack wisdom,” he shall “ask it of thee, who givest to all liberally, and upbraidest not, and it shall be given him;” I most humbly beseech thee in the solemn action of the day following, wherein I thy servant am to be dedicated and set apart to the service of thee, and thy church, in so high and holy an office, to shed forth upon me, thy most unworthy servant, the gifts and graces of thy Holy Spirit in a plentiful measure.
And since, by thine own wise and good providence, and the importunate desire of those whom thou hast set in authority over us, I am called to the government and conduct of this miserably distracted and divided church, in so very difficult and dangerous a time, be pleased, of thine infinite mercy and goodness to thy sinful and most unworthy servant, to afford him the grace and assistance of thy Holy Spirit, to enable him so to discharge the office which thou hast called him to, that thy name may be glorified, and this church, which thou hast committed to his charge, may be edified in faith and holiness, in love, peace, and union, by his diligent and faithful care and endeavours; grant to him such a degree of health, such a vigour of mind, and such a measure of heavenly grace and wisdom, as may fit him to be an useful pastor of thy church. Give me, O Lord, a mind after thine own heart, that I may delight to do thy will, O my God, and let thy law be written in my heart. Give me courage and 208resolution to do my duty, and a heart to spend my self, and to be spent in thy service, and in doing all the good that possibly I can the few remaining days of my pilgrimage here on earth.
I have had great experience of thy great mercy and goodness to help me all my days;1515Psal. xxvii. 9, 11; xviii. 15, 16. “Hide not thy face from me in this needful time, Thou hast been my help; leave me not, nor forsake me, O God of my salvation; teach me thy way, O Lord, and lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies. In thee, O Lord, do I hope; thou wilt hear, O Lord my God; hear me, lest otherwise mine enemies should rejoice over me, and when my foot slippeth, they should magnify themselves against me. Deliver me, O my God, out of the hand of the wicked, out of the hands of unrighteous and cruel men: for thou art my hope, O Lord God, thou hast been my trust from my youth, by thee have I been holden up from the womb; my praise shall be continually of thee. I am as a wonder unto many; but thou art my strong refuge. Cast me not off in the time of old age, for sake me not, when my strength faileth. O God, thou hast taught me from my youth, and hitherto have J declared thy wondrous works: now also when I am old and grey-headed, forsake me not, until I have shewed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to them that are to come.” Hear me, O Lord, for thy mercy’s sake in Jesus Christ, my blessed Saviour and Redeemer. Amen.—
Then I read the prayers in the consecration-office. I concluded with a prayer for the King and Queen, and a short ejaculation:”
O Lord and heavenly Father, high and mighty, of kings, and Lord of lords, the only ruler of 209princes, who dost from thy throne behold all the dwellers upon earth, most heartily I beseech thee with thy favour to behold our most gracious sovereign lord and lady, King William and Queen Mary; endue them with all those graces and virtues which may tit them for that high station wherein thou hast placed them; give them wisdom and understanding to go in and out before this great people, and a heart to seek their good all the days of their lives: and make them great examples of piety and virtue to an evil and degenerate age. Preserve them in their persons, govern their counsels, and prosper their forces by sea and land, and make them victorious over their enemies. Be pleased to take the person of the King into thy particular providence. “Give thy angels charge over him to keep him in all his ways; cover his head in the day of battle,” and crown him with victory and good success. Give courage and resolution to him, and to his armies and fleets, and take away the hearts of his enemies. “Scatter the people that delight in war; shew thyself, thou Judge of the earth, and render a reward to the proud.” Let not iniquity always triumph in the oppression of thy people. “Let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end; but do thou establish the just.”
I beseech thee to bless and strengthen the Queen, to whom thou hast now committed the care and government of these nations. Give her wisdom and resolution for such a time as this. Discover and defeat all the designs of wicked and unreasonable men against the persons of their Majesties, and against our peace and religion, and “turn their counsels into foolishness.” Strike through the loins of those that rise up against that happy government which thy signal 210providence hath established among us. O Lord, bless them both (if it be thy blessed will) with a hopeful issue to sit upon the throne after them, and to be a blessing* to these nations for many generations. This, O Lord, is not impossible with thee. Have a gracious regard, I beseech thee, to the humble condition of the Queen thy servant, and make “her that was barren to sing, and to become a joyful mother of children.” Hear my prayer, O Lord, in this behalf, for thy mercy’s sake in Jesus Christ. Amen.
And now, O Lord, I humbly beseech thee to accept of these my praises and thanksgivings, which I have humbly offered to thy Divine Majesty, of my humiliation and repentance for all the sins of my life, and of my resolution of a better obedience for the future, and to enable me by thy grace to make them good. Hear likewise my prayers and supplications for thy blessing upon the solemn action of the day following, and upon thine unworthy servant who is to be dedicated to thy service; and for them whom thou hast set over us: and for these sinful nations; and all for the sake of “thy dearly be loved Son, in whom thou art well pleased, even Jesus Christ the righteous:””
In whose name and words I conclude my prayers:”
“Our Father,” &c.
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