John Hall (1633-1710): A prayer in time of prosperity

John Hall_Bp_of_Bristol

 

A prayer in time of prosperity by the bishop of Bristol and master of Pembroke College, Oxford, John Hall (1633-1710), to be found at the beginning of his Jacob’s Ladder: Or, The Devout Soul’s Ascension to Heaven (1676), p. 154-157:

Heavenly Father, Lord of plenty, thou who hast created the world by thy power, and continuest thy love in thy providence and protection; to thee do I render thanks for my plenty, and to thee do I offer the service of my store. What I have, is thine; for the earth is thine, and all that therein is; the compass of the world, and they that dwell therein; it is thou only that commandest thy blessing in the store-houses, and in all that thy servants do set their hands unto. Lord make me one of thy faithful servants, that what thou hast sent me, may be a testimony of thy love, and not of thy hatred. Make me always to magnify thee in the time of plenty, and not to be high-minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in thee the living God, who givest me all things richly to enjoy. O suffer me not to treasure up the deceitful riches of this sinful world as thereby forgetting to be rich toward thee, but as from thy bounty I receive these temporal blessings, so in thy mercy make me abound in grace, that always having sufficiency in all things, I may abound to every good work.

In this my prosperity, prepare me for adversity, if it shall please thee at any time to send it unto me, give me a sense of the afflictions of many of thy saints and distressed servants, and enlarge my heart that I may be ready and forward to contribute to their necessities. Make me to shew mercy with cheerfulness, and to possess with thankfulness what thou sendest unto me, that I may neither forget thee in thy poor members, nor deny thee to be the giver. Let me never stop mine ears at the cries of the distressed who beg for relief in the name of thyself. Thou, Christ, who wert rich didst for my sake become poor, that so through thy poverty thou mightiest make me rich; Lord make me as willing to the poor for thy sake, always considering that the vanities of the earth are not worthy to be compared to the glory that shall be revealed. Make me labour for heavenly riches, and for the ornament of the hidden man in the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in thy sight of great price.

Make me, O heavenly Father, rich in thyself, rich unto liberality, rich in good works and in faith: make me to buy of thee gold tried in the fire that I may be rich, and white raiment that I may be clothed, that the shame of my nakedness may not appear. Let me always remember that great account which one day I must render to thee, the Lord of heaven and earth, that so I may serve thee here with my substance in my body, and in my soul with zeal and devotion; and hereafter be received to thine everlasting glory, through the merits of thy Son in thy bosom Jesus Christ, my only Lord and Saviour. Amen.

Anthony Horneck (1641-1697): A prayer for humility

Anthony Horneck

 

Anthony Horneck (1641-1697) was a German-born Reformed divine of the Church of England. He studied under Friedrich Spanheim Jr in Heidelberg before furthering his studies at The Queen’s College, Oxford, under the Reformed professor Thomas Barlow, and served at Queen’s for a time as chaplain. Horneck would go on to become a popular preacher in London and a major role player in the early development of the Society for the Reformation of Manners.

Horneck published a number of works, among which is his The Exercise of Prayer (1685), in which the following prayer for humility is found (p. 16-20):

O thou lofty and holy One, who inhabitest eternity, and dwellest in the high and holy place, with him also that is of an humble spirit! Whither shall I go, but to thee who hast the words of eternal life! How shall I get this humble spirit, but by thy power and influence! Ah! How proud is my heart! How loth am I to submit to thy will! How loth to think ill of myself! How loth to bear injuries! How loth to converse with thy poor members! How loth to be sensible of my errors! How loth to acknowledge a fault! And yet all this while, I believe that thou beholdest the proud afar off, and that nothing is more abominable in thy sight! How apt am I to admire myself! How apt to harbour high conceits of my endowments! How apt to hunt after the praise of men! And what is all this but wind? What is it but smoke, and air, and vanity? How suddenly do these things grow, and how suddenly do they die again! How sensual, how carnal must that soul be, that minds such things! How void of a sense of greater beauties! How little affected, how little touched with the honour that comes from God! How weak in grace! How feeble in religion, that hath not learned yet to leap over such straws!

This is my case, O Lord; I am that weak, that empty soul, and yet unwilling to confess that I am proud, and vain, and lifted up: Pity me, O my God; make me sensible how far I am from the kingdom of God, till humility brings me nearer. Crush whatever proud thoughts and desires thou spyest in me. O put me in mind of my duty, whenever any vain thoughts rise in my soul. Pull down in me all imaginations that exalt themselves against Christ Jesus. O let not my heart be haughty, nor mine eyes lofty; neither let me exercise myself in things too high for me. Give me a sight of mine own vileness. Let me not be cheated with false colours. Let thy greatness overawe my soul. Let the example of my Saviour work upon me. How shall I be his disciple, and think of myself above what I ought to think? Let god arise, and let all my vain conceits of mine own worth be scattered. What am I but a handful of dust! What am I but a beggar, and thy pensioner, and who lives upon thy charity! O let these thoughts subdue my soul. Make me as ambitious of an humble spirit, and lowly mind, as others are of the greatness and admiration of the world.

Humility will make me great and honourable in thy sight. Let that honour content me, let that privilege satisfy my soul. O let a deep sense of my guilt humble me; then shall I with the penitent prodigal be welcome in my Father’s house, and my soul shall live, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Marius d’Assigny (1643-1717): A meditation and prayer for hearing the preached Word in public worship

mariusdassigny

 

Marius d’Assigny (1643-1717) was a Reformed divine of the Church of England. Of French Huguenot heritage, his career included spells as vicar of Cutcombe in Somerset, vicar of Tidmarsh in Berkshire, and rector of St Lawrence Newland in Essex. D’Assigny wrote several works, including The Divine Art of Prayer (1691), of which a sample is given below (p. 237-240):

O eternal Wisdom, what a mercy is this! To instruct and teach us at our doors, to enable, enlighten, inspire and send messengers so near our dwellings, to direct us in the right way of eternal happiness. What a condescension is this, to speak to us in our own language, according to our capacities; by men, whose presence express nothing but meekness and love! Was it not sufficient, O blessed God, that thou shouldest open to us the large book of nature, to inform us of thy will and sacred laws, by so many characters imprinted in every thing that is made? Was it not sufficient for our learning, to shew us thy pleasure in the several leaves of another book of providence, opened to us wide every day of our life! But must thy tender compassion of our natural ignorance, unmindfulness, and wilful corruption, teach us by such plain easie and excellent methods, so full of kindness and love! Must the repetition be so frequent? Must thou so often visit and call upon us to study and meditate upon the divine matters! Certainly our minds are too much wedded to the world, and too much enclined to irregular actions, seeing thou hast judged needful to repeat so often to us our duties, and we want every weeks instruction to withdraw our contemplation from evil and vanity. Should not our diligence answer in some respect thy continual care, O merciful Wisdom, and as frequently meet thee, as we are called upon by these publick summons!

Doubtless the business that we are to mind is of importance, seeing my Creator thinks necessary to interpose his divine authority, and to speak to us himself, though by the tongue of a mortal man. With what reverence and dread ought I to approach the gracious presence of my God, who vouchsafes to speak and instruct me in such a loving manner. His Word and laws should not in reason have the less power and impression upon me, because of his condescension to my weakness and capacity: Should I despise the mercies of my God, that are so great and wonderful, delivered to me in earthen vessels?

O blessed and heavenly Wisdom, I am called away from my temporal affairs to wait upon thee, and hearken to the divine matters that shall be proposed, which relate to my eternal interest. Their excellency requires my attention and diligent enquiry for this supernatural knowledge, which is able to save my soul. Here thou dost reveal unto me what I am, and what I should be, and what I shall be: Here are discovered the admirable mysteries of the holy Trinity and unity of the incarnation and redemption. Here thou dost unbosome thy self to mortal creatures, and shewest the tenderness of thine affection to us: Here I may have a prospect of the unspeakable riches of heaven, and see the glories that are laid up for me in thine eternal sanctuary. These are matters worthy of the angels prying into; these are meditations fit for the heavenly spirits; and shall I neglect or despise them, shall I idle away this precious moment designed for the benefit of mine immortal soul?

My gracious God, cause me to increase in grace, and in the divine knowledge of my redemption, enlighten mine understanding with a clear apprehension of the heavenly truths, sanctifie the outward preaching of thy word, that it may be effectual, and able to work upon my will. Give me an attentive ear, and an obedient heart, willing to submit to, and practise whatsoever thou shalt command. Deliver me from the ill consequences of errors, partiality and prejudice, and make me truly thankful to thee for this great blessing. Remove not thy Gospel from us, but save us from the pernicious plots of the Antichristian heresie. Unite all of us in our worship and Church, that we may study to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. And being all together united now in the church militant, we may be all the more ready and prepared to enter in due time into the church triumphant, into that glorious kingdom of love and peace, where our sanctification shall be compleated, our knowledge perfected, and our employment for ever shall be to celebrate and sing forth thy praises with the chorus of heavenly spirits. Amen.

Henry Valentine (d. 1643): A Litany of Thanksgiving

Screenshot 2018-10-21 at 17.22.39

 

Henry Valentine (d. 1643) studied at Christ’s College, Cambridge, before becoming a lecturer at St Dunstan-in-the-West in Fleet Street (pictured), London, under its vicar John Donne, the famous poet and dean of St Paul’s. Valentine published a devotional book titled Private Devotions, which consists of six litanies, one of which is a beautiful litany of thanksgiving. The first part of the litany is structured according to a Reformed ordo salutis, and later on there is thanksgiving for deliverance from the Spanish Armada and the “Popish (gun)powder treason”:

THE LITANY OF THANKSGIVING

For the grace of Election, by which I was chosen according to the good pleasure of thy will

My soule doth magnifie thee O Lord.

For the grace of Creation, by which I was made after thine image in righteousnesse and holiness,

My soule doth magnifie thee O Lord.

For the grace of Redemption, by which I was recovered from the guilt & dominion of sin, from the power of Satan, and the second death,

My soul doth magnifie thee O Lord.

For the grace of Vocation, wrought in me by the inward working of thy Spirit, & the outward ministry of thy holy Word and Sacraments,

My soul doth magnifie thee O Lord.

For the grace of Justification, whereby I am clothed with the righteousness of Christ Jesus

My soul doth magnifie thee O Lord.

For my measure of Sanctification, by which I am made a new Creature

My soul doth magnifie thee O Lord.

For my formation in the womb, my birth, my baptisme, the illumination of my understanding, the correction of my will, and all the spiritual graces received from thee

My soul doth magnifie thee O Lord.

For the liberty of thy Word and Sacraments, for thy sanctuary and solemne assemblies, and for thy gracious presence with us in them

My soul doth magnifie thee O Lord.

For thy constant providence in supplying my necessities, and defending me from dangers

My soul doth magnifie thee O Lord.

For my good parents, my education, my health liberty, and peace, for the comfort of my friends, for my daily bread, and for all thy temporall blessings

My soul doth magnifie thee O Lord.

For thy prevention of evils, subvention in evils, & deliverance from evil

My soul doth magnifie thee O Lord.

For thy patience in forbearing, for thy mercy in forgiving, for thy bounty in giving, even when I sinned against thee with a high hand

My soul doth magnifie thee O Lord.

For my life, and the season given me for repentance & good works, and for thy holy means of grace and salvation

My soul doth magnifie thee O Lord.

For the checks of mine own conscience, for the instruction of thy word, for the motions of thy good Spirit which have either restrained me from sin, or caused me to repent of it

My soul doth magnifie thee O Lord.

For thy fatherly corrections by some spirituall conflicts with Satan, by diseases, or hurts in my body, by griefs of mind, losse of goods, molestation of injuries, discomforts for, or from those to whom naturall, civil, or Christian acquaintance had indeared me

My soul doth magnifie thee O Lord.

For all the holy Patriarchs and Prophets, for the ever blessed Mother of our Lord, for all the holy Apostles and Evangelists, for all the godly Bishops and Pastors of the Church, for all the noble Army of Martyrs, and Confessors, and for all the faithfull that have lived and died in the Lord

My soul doth magnifie thee O Lord.

For the happy translation of all Saints departed in peace, from this vale of tears to the inheritance of the just

My soul doth magnifie thee O Lord.

For thine holy Angels; and the charge which thou hast given them to minister unto us, to pitch their tents about us, to keep us in all our ways, and to convey our souls into Abrahams bosome,

My soul doth magnifie thee O Lord.

For Jesus Christ the author and finisher of our faith, and the fountain and foundation of all these favours; For his conception & birth; For his circumcision and baptism; For his fasting and temptation; For his doctrine and miracles;  For his agony and bloody sweat; For his cross & passion; For his death & burial; For his victorious descension into hell;  For his glorious resurrection and ascension into heaven;  For his sitting at the right hand of God to make intercession always for us; For his sending the holy Ghost to abide with his Church for ever, and for his being with us to the end of the world

My soul doth magnifie thee O Lord.

For thy blessed Spirit the enlightner of my understanding, the sanctifier of my will, the helper of my infirmities, the comforter of my conscience, the pledge and witness of my adoption, and the seal of my salvation

My soul doth magnifie thee O Lord.

For all my personall & particular deliverances; for the religion, peace, plenty, strength, and honour of the State wherein I live; for saving it all times, especially from the Spanish invasion, and the Popish powder treason

My soul doth magnifie thee O Lord.

For all the secret favours which thou hast done for us, for all the mercies which we have received from thee, and are slipt out of our remembrance, and for all the goodness which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee, and love thy coming

My soul doth magnifie thee O Lord.

What shall I render to the Lord for all his benefits towards me?

I will take the cup of salvation and call upon the Name of the Lord (Ps. 116:12).

I will sing of the mercies of the Lord for ever: with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulnesse to all generations (Ps. 89:1).

Let them that fear the Lord, say alwayes, The Lord be praised.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the holy Ghost.

As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.

Amen. Amen.

And that for Jesus Christ his sake, in whose most blessed name and words we conclude these our imperfect prayers, saying as he himself hath taught us:

Our Father which art in heaven, &c.

– Henry Valentine (d. 1643), Private Devotions, Digested into Six Letanies (sic), (13th edition, 1654), p. 56-70.

John Bradford (1510-1555): A Meditation for the Exercise of True Mortification

John Bradford

 

A meditation on mortification and self-denial from the English Reformer and martyr John Bradford (1510-1555):

He that will be ready in weighty matters to deny his own will, and to be obedient to the will of God, the same had need to accustom himself to deny his desires in matters of less weight, and to exercise mortification of his own will in trifles: for, if that our affections by this daily custom be not as it were half slain, surely, surely, when the plunge shall come, we shall find the more to do. If we cannot “watch with Christ one hour,” as he saith to Peter, we undoubtedly can much less go to death with him. Wherefore that in great temptations we may be ready to say with Christ, “Not my will, but thine be done,” in that this commonly cometh not to pass but where the roots of our lusts by thy grace, dear Father, are almost rotten and rooted out by a daily denial of that they desire, I humbly beseech thee, for Christ’s sake, to help me herein.

First pardon me my cherishing and, as it were, watering of mine affections, obeying them in their devices and superfluous desires: wherethrough in that they have taken deep root, and are too lively in me, I secondly do beseech thee to pull them up by the roots out of my heart, and so henceforth to order me, that I may continually accustom myself to weaken the principal root, that the by-roots and branches may lose all their power. Grant me, I beseech thee, that thy grace may daily mortify my concupiscence of pleasant things, that is, of wealth, riches, glory, liberty, favour of men, meats, drinks, apparel, ease, yea, and life itself; that the horror and impatiency of more grievous things may be weakened, and I made more patient in adversity. Whereunto I further do desire and pray thy goodness, dear Father, that thou wilt add this, namely, that I may for ever become obedient and ready to thy good will in all things, heartily, and willingly to serve thee, and do whatsoever may please thee. For doubtless, although we accustom ourselves in the pleasant things of this life to a mortification and denial of ourselves, yet we shall find enough to do when more bitter and weighty crosses come: for, if thy Son our Saviour, ever wont to obey thy good will, prayed so heartily and often, “Not my will, but thy will be done,” (whereby he declareth himself to be very man;) how can it be but we, whose nature is corrupt, not only in nativity, but in the rest of our whole life also, shall find both our hands full, in great and grievous temptations, wholly to resign ourselves unto thee?

Grant therefore, dear Father, for thy Christ’s sake, to me a most miserable wretch, thy grace and holy Spirit to be effectual in me, that daily I may accustom myself to deny my will in more easy and pleasant things in this life; that, when need shall be, I may come with Christ to thee with a resigned will, always steadfastly expecting thy mercy, and in the mean season continually obeying thee with readiness and willingness, doing whatsoever may most please thee, through Christ our Lord, which liveth with thee, &c.

John Bradford (1510-1555), The Writings of John Bradford (1848, Parker Society), p. 190-191.

John Hall (1633-1710): A prayer for Saturday morning

John Hall_Bp_of_Bristol

 

A prayer for Saturday morning, by the bishop of Bristol and master of Pembroke College, Oxford, John Hall (1633-1710), to be found in his Jacob’s Ladder: Or, The Devout Soul’s Ascension to Heaven (1676), p. 30-32:

O merciful Father, for Jesus Christ his sake, I beseech thee, forgive me all my known and secret sins, which in thought, word, or deed, I have committed against thy Divine Majesty; and deliver me from all those judgments which are due unto me for them, and sanctifie my heart with thy Holy Spirit, that I may henceforth lead a more godly, and religious life. And here, O Lord, I praise thy Holy Name, for that thou hast refreshed me this night with moderate sleep and rest: And I beseech thee, to defend me this day from all perils, and dangers of body and soul; and to this end I commend myself, and all my actions, unto thy blessed protection and government, beseeching thee, that whether I live or die, I may live and die to thy glory, and the salvation of my poor soul, which thou hast bought with thy precious blood: Blesse me, O Lord, in my going out, and coming in; and grant, that whatsoever I shall think, speak, or take in hand this day, may tend to the glory of thy Name, the good of others, and the comfort of my own conscience, when I shall come to make up my last accounts before thee. O my God, help thy servant, that I do no evil to any man this day; and let it be thy blessed will, not to suffer the Devil, nor any of his wicked angels, nor any of his evil members, to have power to do me any hurt or violence; but let the eye of thy holy providence watch over me for good, and not for evil; and command thy holy angels to pitch their tents round about me, for my defence and safety in my going out, and coming in, as thou hast promised they shall do about them that fear thy name; Grant this O heavenly Father, for Jesus Christ thy son’s sake, in whose blessed name I give thee glory, and beg at thy hands, all other graces which thou seest to be needful, for me this day and ever, in that prayer which Christ himself hath taught me, saying.

Our Father, &c.

John Reading (1587/8-1667): Praying for the supreme end (God’s glory) and the means necessary to it

St Marys Dover

 

John Reading (1587/8-1667) was a Reformed conforming churchman. He studied at Magdalen Hall, Oxford, graduating BA in 1607 and MA in 1610. After his ordination he ministered in Dover, and became a royal chaplain to King Charles I. In the picture above, St Mary’s Church, where Reading ministered, can be seen with Dover Castle in the background on the left, and the white cliffs of Dover on the right. In 1643 and 1644 Reading took the livings of Chartham and Cheriton, Kent, and was chosen as one of 9 divines to write annotations on the New Testament, in what became commonly known as the Westminster Annotations.

While fervently Reformed in his theological convictions, Reading was at the same time a conformist and Royalist, and, despite agreeing doctrinally with the Puritans, did not support the Parliamentarian cause, instead preaching against rebellion and calling for loyalty to the king. His royalist sympathies would cost him his ecclesiastical livings and, after the discovery of a royalist plot to seize Dover Castle in early 1645, Reading ended up imprisoned in Leeds Castle in Kent, where he wrote A Guide to the Holy City (1651). He was released in 1647, and was restored to his Dover living in 1660, shortly before the Restoration. In fact, on 25 May 1660, when Charles II landed at Dover to reclaim the English throne, Reading presented to the king a large bible with gold clasps, in the name of the corporation of Dover, and made a short speech. After the Restoration he retook his former livings of Chartham and Cheriton, and became a prebendary of Canterbury.

At the beginning of his A Guide to the Holy City (p. 3-4) is found a wonderful prayer rounding off a meditation on “the necessity of a Christian’s aiming at a right end in all his actions”. In typically Reformed manner, Reading identifies God’s glory as the supreme end of all things, and the blessedness of the elect in the fruition (i.e. enjoyment) of God as inseparable but subordinate to this. Reading’s prayer follows the same pattern, in which he prays for this end and the means necessary to it:

Most gratious and most holy Lord God, who dwelling in unaccessible light of Majestie and glory, hast yet been pleased to manifest thy infinite power and unsearchable wisdome in all thy creatures, especially those who thou hast created to thine own image, to praise and glorifie thee in their eternall participation of thy divine blessednesse: Give us true wisdome to consider the end for which thou hast made us, make us truely understand that thy glory is incomparably better then all the creatures, and our salvation then all the world: Lord open our eyes that we sleep not in death: let not the transitory dreames of this present life beguile us: let not the malitious temper so prevaile upon our infirmities, as to cause us securely to run on in the easie way to destruction: but gratious Lord, as thou hast appointed the end, our eternall life, so be pleased to dispose the meanes which may lead us thereto: Thou canst as easily make us holy, as command us to be so: Lord therefore make us such as thou hast commanded us to be: make us faithfull to beleeve in thee, and obedient to serve and please thee, as thou hast in thy great and tender mercy given thy holy word to be a light and true guid unto us, so blessed Lord, give us of the same spirit, by which it was endited, which may lead us into all truth and holinesse, and (these daies of sinne being ended) into that holy and blessed inheritance, which thou hast prepared for all those whom thou hast elected to eternall life and salvation, through JESUS CHRIST our onely Saviour and Redeemer, to whom with thee and the holy Ghost be all honour and glory ascribed in heaven and earth henceforth and for ever, AMEN.