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

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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.

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William Beveridge (1637-1708): Feeding on Christ in a heavenly and spiritual manner in the Lord’s Supper

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William Beveridge (1637-1708), the bishop of St Asaph and formerly archdeacon of Colchester, wrote about the nature of the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper in his posthumously-published Exposition of the XXXIX Articles of the Church of England (1710). After a lengthy refutation of the Roman Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation, Beveridge arrives at the clause in the Church of England’s Article 28 (Of the Lord’s Supper) which states that:

The body of Christ is given, taken, and eaten in the Supper only after an heavenly and spiritual manner. And the means whereby the Body of Christ is received and eaten in the Supper is faith.

Beveridge’s comments on this clause, quoted below, reflect the clearly Reformed understanding of the Lord’s Supper which the compilers of the Articles intended and articulated. Beveridge was well-known in his day for his wealth of patristic learning, and his discussion is dotted with footnotes extensively citing patristic authorities, which due to their length will not be reproduced below, except where the church father in question is specifically quoted by name in the main text. The excerpt is taken from p. 308-310:

It being so clear a truth, that the bread and wine are not turned into the very body and blood of Christ in the Holy Sacrament, we need not heap up many arguments to prove, that it is only after a spiritual, not after a corporal manner, that the body and blood are received and eaten in the Sacrament. For if the bread be not really changed into the body of Christ, then the body of Christ is not really there present; and if it be not really there present, it is impossible it should be really eaten and received into our bodies as bread is. So that the truth there demonstrated [in the preceding pages, that the elements of bread and wine are not transubstantiated into the actual body and blood of Christ], and the truth here delivered [that the eating and drinking of Christ’s body and blood in the Lord’s Supper is only after a spiritual manner], have so much affinity to one another, that they cannot so well be called two [truths] as one and the same truth. And therefore to the arguments produced in the foregoing discourse, I shall add only these following, and that briefly, to shew that the body and blood of Christ are not eaten after a corporal but a spiritual manner, in the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.

First, therefore it is impossible that the body, which was but of the ordinary bulk with ours, should be sufficient, if eaten after a corporal manner, to feed and satisfy so many millions of millions of souls as have already, and may hereafter eat of it. And secondly, suppose it was not impossible, yet it would be unprofitable for us thus to eat of the body of Christ. For our Saviour himself having preached concerning the eating of his flesh, and drinking of his blood, the Jews and Capernaites taking him (as their followers the Papists do) in a carnal sense, cryed out, How can this man give us his flesh to eat? (John 6:52). And his disciples themselves said, This is an hard saying, who can hear it? (v. 60). Whereupon he explained himself, and told them, It is the Spirit that quickeneth, the flesh profiteth nothing: The words that I speak unto you they are Spirit, and they are life (v. 63). As if he should have said, tho’ I do speak of eating my flesh, I would not have you think that my very flesh profiteth anything, or quickeneth; no, It is the Spirit that quickeneth, the flesh profiteth nothing; and the words I speak unto you are not to be understood in a carnal, but spiritual sense, for they are Spirit and life: plainly shewing that the corporal eating of this body is unprofitable, and that whatsoever he said concerning eating his flesh, and drinking his blood, was still to be understood in an heavenly and spiritual sense. Thirdly, upon this supposition, that the body of Christ is corporally eaten in the Sacrament, it follows that it was corporally broken too, and so that Christ did really break his own body, before the Jews broke it for him; yea, and that Christ received his own body into his own body: For that he received the Sacrament himself, as well as administered it to his disciples is plain, not only from the testimony of the Fathers, but from the words of himself, With desire have I desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer (Luke 22:15) and I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom (Matt. 26:29). So that I cannot see how it can possibly be denyed, that Christ ate of the bread whereof he said, This is my body; and if he ate it, and ate it corporally, that is, ate his very body as we eat bread, then he ate himself, and made one body two, and then crowded them into one again, putting his body into his body, even his whole body into part of his body, his stomach; and so he must be thought not only to have two bodies, but two bodies so as to be one within another; yea, so as to be one eaten and devoured by another; the absurdity of which, and the like assertions, he that hath but half an eye may easily discover. So that it must needs be granted to be in a spiritual manner that this Sacrament was then instituted, and by consequence that it is in a spiritual manner that this Sacrament ought now to be received.

And this was the judgment of the Fathers. Macarius saith, (Macar. Aegypt. Hom. 27) “In the Church is offered bread and wine, the antitype of his flesh and blood; and they that partake of the visible bread, do spiritually eat the flesh of Christ.” And St. Augustine (Aug. in Psal. 98. V), “Understand spiritually what I say unto you; you must not eat that body which you see, nor drink that blood which they will shed who crucifie me. I have commended to you a certain Sacrament; being spiritually understood, it will quicken you; though it be necessary it should be celebrated visibly, yet it must be understood invisibly.” For as Elfrick Archbishop of Canterbury saith (Aelfric. epist. ad Wulfsein Episcop. Schyrburniensem), “That bread is Christ’s body, not bodily but spiritually”; and if so, it must needs be eaten spiritually only, not bodily. And it being thus only after a spiritual manner that we receive the body and blood of Christ in the Sacrament, there can be no other means whereby we can receive him but faith. And therefore saith Origen (Origen in Mat. 15) “That food which is sanctified by the Word of God and prayer, as to the material part of it, it goes into the belly, and is cast out into the draught; but as to the prayer which is added to it, it is made profitable by the proportion of faith.” And St. Cyprian (Cyprian. de cena Domini) “Drinking and eating belong to the same reason, whereby as the bodily substance is nourished, and liveth, and remaineth safe, so is the life of the Spirit nourished by this proper food: And what eating is to the flesh, that is faith to the soul; what food is to the body, that is the Word to the spirit, working eternally by a more excellent virtue, what the carnal elements do temporally and finally.” And afterwards (Ibid.), “As oft as we do these things, we do not whet our teeth to bite, but by a sincere faith we break the holy bread and divide it, whilst we distinguish and separate what is divine, and what is human, and joining the things separated together again, we acknowledge one God and one man.”

In St. Augustine we meet with many expressions to this purpose. “How”, saith he, “shall I send up my hand to heaven to lay upon him sitting there? Send thy faith, and thou hast laid hold on him.” (Aug. in Evang. Johan. Tract. 50). And again, “For to believe in him, this is to eat the living Bread; he that believeth in him eateth; he is invisibly fatten’d who is invisibly regenerated.” (Ibid., Tract. 26). And again, “This therefore is to eat the food that doth not perish but endureth to eternal life. Why dost thou prepare thy teeth and belly? Believe and thou hast eaten.”  (Ibid., Tract. 25). So that it is faith whereby we feed upon the body and blood of Christ, and therefore it is not carnally but spiritually that we receive it.

John Edwards (1637-1716) on Christ’s silence before his tribunal

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In a broader discussion on and defence of the doctrine of the imputation of the sins of the elect to Christ on the cross, John Edwards (1637-1716) cites Christ’s behaviour before his tribunal as pointing to and affirming this doctrine, particularly Christ’s silence in the face of the multitude of accusations against him. This excerpt is from his The Doctrin [sic] of Faith and Justification set in a True Light, p. 269-271:

I argue further [for the imputation of our sins to Christ] from Christ’s behaviour, and first from his deportment before his judges: when he was arraign’d and indited, and when the witnesses produced their testimonies against him, he took no notice of their accusations, and never endeavour’d to clear himself of them, but behaved himself like a guilty person.

When he was brought before the Sanhedrin, whereof Caiaphaswas the chief and president, who provoked him to speak for himself, and with a more than ordinary emotion and concernedness, arose from his seat, and said unto him, Answerest thou nothing? What is it that these witness against thee?(Matt. 26:62). It is expressly recorded that Jesus held his peace(v. 63). And when he was led from Caiaphasto Pontius Pilate, his behaviour was still the same: when he was accused of the chief priests and elders,(who belonged to the Sanhedrin, and had sent in their depositions and accusations which they had taken against Christ, when he appeared before Caiaphas) he answered nothing(Matt. 27:12). And tho’ Pilate(as Caiaphashad done before) blamed him for his silence, and smartly accosted him after this manner, Hearest thou not how many things they witness against thee?(v. 13), yet he was not in the least moved to make any apology for himself, he answered him to never a word(v. 14). And a third time, that is, when he was brought before Herod, ‘tis particularly recorded, that he answered nothing(Luke 23:9).

The reason that is generally assign’d by divines of this profound silence is that our Saviour knew, that the false witnesses wou’d say what they pleased against him, and therefore it was to no purpose to make his defence: and his enemies were resolved to take away his life: and besides, he was willing to lay it down, for this was the design of his coming into the world. But it may easily be answer’d to this, that tho’ Christ knew that his enemies resolv’d to pursue him to death, and to that purpose would produce witnesses to say and swear any thing against him, and tho’ he came to lay down his life for the elect, yet these things were not inconsistent with his pleading for himself, and asserting his innocence in open court, where his silence might be interpreted to be no other than a confession of his guilt, and a confirmation of the truth of all that the witnesses alledged against him.

Wherefore I conceive there was a higher reason of this our Lord’s behaviour: he acted thus to let us know that he bore our sins, that he took upon him our guilt. It is certain that if he had pleased, he could have confuted and baffled his accusers in the face of the court, he could have struck all his witnesses dumb. And indeed the charge that was brought against him was easie to be repell’d, because of its weakness and improbability, and the apparent malice that was discernable in it. So that he had then a just and fair occasion to baffle the suborned witnesses, and to clear his own innocency in the face of the world, especially when his disciples and all that before shewed respect and kindness to him forsook him, and one of them solemnly denied him. Yet he rather chose to be silent, and to suffer both witnesses and judges to insult him: and he did not shew himself concerned at all to defend his innocence, and to reply to the accusations which were brought against him. Yea, and which is very remarkable, tho’ he was free to answer to any otherquestions that were put to him (as we read in the history of his trial) yet as to the crimes alledg’d against him by his accusers, he was pleas’d to answer nothing.

This strange and wonderful silence at such a time I cannot but attribute to the cause before mentioned [i.e. the weight of guilt that was Christ’s by imputation]. Christ having undertaken to appear in our stead, there was to be a mutual exchange of conditions. He answer’d nothing, because we have nothing to answer for ourselves, when accused by the law of God. Tho’ he had no sin of his own, yet he substituted himself in our room, who were guilty of all sins, and accordingly he appeared as guilty, he stood silent when he was accused. Wonder not at it when you remember that he was to be in the likeness of sinful flesh, and was to assume our transgressions, and to be reckon’d a sinner. This carriage of our Lord was foretold by the evangelical prophet (Isa. 53:7) he opened not his mouth, he stood silent before the tribunal. Which is mention’d again in the same verse, to let us know that it is of great significancy and importance: As a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth. Which unexpected and extraordinary behaviour of Christ I cannot resolve into any thing but his susception of our sins upon himself, and his designing by this action to convince us that he was a reputed sinner.

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.

Samuel Hieron (bap. 1572-1617): A pastor’s prayer for himself and his ministry

Modbury

 

The following prayer of a pastor for himself and his ministry is attributed to Samuel Hieron (bap. 1572-1617), fellow of King’s College, Cambridge, and afterwards vicar of Modbury, Devon (parish church of St George, Modbury, pictured):

Holy, O Lord, and honourable is that service, to which it hath been thy gracious pleasure to depute me. The matter I am chiefly to be busied in, is thine own counsel; they be thy oracles, and the seals of righteousness, the dispensation whereof thou hast committed to me. Thou hast made me an overseer of a part of that flock, which thou didst purchase with thine own most precious blood; thou hast called me to be a messenger, and an interpreter, to declare unto men thy righteousness, to watch for their souls, among them to declare thy secrets, and to pray them even in Christ’s stead, to be reconciled unto thee.

What man among all the sons of Adam, is worthy of this honour? And who is sufficient for these things? When as, oh most merciful Father, I think upon the weight of that charge which thou hast put upon me, and consider again mine own weakness and insufficiency, who am a man of polluted lips, and even as a child unable to speak the secret of thy Gospel as becometh me; methinks I may well cry out with the prophet, Woe is me, I am even undone; how shall I stand upright under such a burden?

But when I look back into my own conscience, and find there a comfortable witness, that I have not thrust in myself for a pastor, and remember also what is registered in the Word, how thou makest thy power perfect in weakness, and choosest the feeble things of the world for weighty purposes, it is a kind of enlivening to my spirits, and refreshing to my discouraged and drooping thoughts, I am thereby emboldened to press nearer to thy throne of grace.

Oh thou who both callest whom thou pleasest, and makest those able whom thou callest; be merciful unto me (even with the strength and intention of my desires I most humbly pray thee) make my heart a very treasury of saving knowledge, fill it with soundness of judgment and a large measure of spiritual understanding, that my whole drift may be to fulfil that ministry which I have received. Let my lips preserve knowledge, that many may be fed thereby, and give me a door of utterance, that I may open my mouth boldly, as I ought to speak, and both shew thy people their sins, and be able to minister a word in due season to him that is weary.

In my preaching vouchsafe me both diligence and humility. Diligence; that I may still be instant, never fainting in my mind for the small success of my labours, or for those storms which Satan raiseth up against the faithful in dispensing of thy truth: and humility, that I may not seek mine own glory and applause with men, but the bringing in sheaves into thy garner, and the gathering of saints into thy fold. And for this cause teach me to take heed of the affectation of words, and of seeking to abound with the enticing speech of man’s wisdom, choosing rather by the plain evidence of the Spirit to approve myself to men’s consciences in thy sight, than by a vain blast of words to gain an opinion of eloquence and learning before men.

And for the better furtherance of this great work, make me careful to know the state of my flock, and to hearken after their courses, to observe their carriage and opinions, and to find their especial sins, that so my speeches may be as words in season, even like apples of gold in pictures of silver.

Make me wise in judging, skilful in separating the precious from the vile; bold, but yet pitiful and compassionate: in reproving resolute, especially in those things which are fit to be urged; and far from yielding in the smallest things which may strengthen them in evil, and be a stop in their speedy reformation.

Let it be even my whole business to seek that which is lost, and to study how to bring those out of the snares of the Devil which are taken by him at his will.

Make my face strong, and my forehead as the adamant against their faces which shall either scorn or withstand thy truth; let me make ready my back for the smiters, and not hide my face from shame and spitting; no nor to account even of life itself, so that I may finish my course with joy; and the ministry which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the Gospel of thy grace.

Frame me to diligence and painfulness in my private employments, in reading, in study, in meditation and prayer, that I may be a workman not needing to be ashamed, and that men may see how I go on, and profit in my calling.

Let my life be a pattern of holiness to my flock; let there be no fighting betwixt my behavior and my doctrine, but that my very course and carriage, and ordinary speeches may savour of grace, that so I may give no offence, either to those that depend upon me, or to those who desire to have some occasion and matter of reproach.

Make me circumspect in my family, overseeing the ways of my household, knowing how many eyes are upon me and mine; and how soon by Satan’s teaching men will make the worst of every little trespass. And because, oh Lord, the businesses of this world are a great withdrawment, and the pretence of caring for posterity, doth kill the zeal of many, and lead them into doolish and noisome lusts; therefore, I beseech thee, suppress within me all earthly-mindedness; keep me from entangling myself with the affairs of this world; let it be enough for me that I have a nail in the holy place, and a room among the servitours of thy Church.

As for those which belong unto me, let me neither be without care; for that were worse than infidelity, nor yet so taken up, that I should forget my chiefest business; but let me assure myself, that thou wilt be my God, and the God of my seed, and wilt not leave them destitute of earthly blessings, for whom thou hast provided an eternal inheritance. With this hope make me to go on with cheerfulness; doing that whereto thou hast called me, and leaving thee to provide and care for the rest. Thou oh Lord knowest the desires of my soul, thou best understandest what things are fittest for me, in respect of that great calling to which thou hast ordained me, and what I most stand in need of: Supply me I beseech thee out of thy fulness, and crown my labours in the ministry with the conversion of such souls as are ordained unto life; and that for the Son’s sake, who is the chief Shepherd, to whom let my soul and spirit give honour, glory, and praise, now and forever. Amen.

Peter du Moulin (1601-1684): a soliloquy and prayer of thankfulness

Peter du Moulin

 

Peter du Moulin (1601-1684), son of the distinguished French Huguenot theologian Pierre du Moulin (1568-1658), was a Reformed divine of the Church of England, rector of Adisham, Kent, and a prebendary of Canterbury. In an interesting family setup, Peter was a royalist and conformist, while his brother Lewis (1606-1680) was a dissenter and opponent of episcopacy, and another brother, Cyrus (1628-1699), was minister of the Huguenot church in Châteaudun and for a time ministered to the French church in Canterbury.

Peter du Moulin wrote a devotional work titled A Week of Soliloquies and Prayers (first edition 1657), with prayers for each day of the week in preparation for Holy Communion on Sunday. As a sample, seeing that today is Thursday, the soliloquy and prayer for Thursday is reproduced below, with the consistent theme of gratitude to the Lord:

Psalm 116:12. What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits towards me?

Soliloquy.

It is the querulous and ungrateful humour of man to keep an exact reckoning of his afflictions, most of which are but imaginarie, and to murmur against God, but to forget his benefits, and take no notice of them, no not when he fills himself with them. Although there is none so afflicted upon earth, but hath more reason to thank God than to complain, though he had nothing but life and the way open for repentance.

To praise God for his graces is the highest dutie of the Christian, and together his highest felicitie. It is the everlasting imployment of glorious soules in heaven to praise God for his salvation, crying with a loud voice, Salvation belongs to our God which sitteth upon the throne and to the Lamb. To which the armies of angels answer, Amen, blessing and glorie and wisdome and thanksgiving and honour and power and might be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.

Let us now, my soul, joyne with that consort of heavenly praises. Let us anticipate the date of our felicitie, singing our part already in the musique of angels. And what have I else to render unto God for his benefits, but to employ for his praise the gift he made to me of a soul capable and desirous to know him, to love him, and to praise him?

But when I come to think on that numerous universalitie of all Gods benefits upon me, I feel my meditation swallowed up in a bottomless gulf. Nature, providence, and grace call me all three together to admiration and thankfulness.

Nature as the nearest presents me to myself, and shewing me my body made with such divine art and symmetrie, teacheth me to say with David, I will praise the Lord for I am wonderfully made (Ps. 139:14). In that bodie God hath lodged a soul stamped with his own image, endowed with reason, and inabled with intellectual faculties. To comprehend what I owe to God for my bodie only, I should value every piece one by one, and think what I would refuse to part with them. What would I take for one of my arms? Not millions. What for an eye? Not a whole world. What then for both? What for health and life? I must account that I possess as much treasure as I would refuse, rather than be deprived of every one, and of any one of these natural goods; and upon that account I must estimate my obligation, and the greatness of my debt to my great benefactor.

How much then do I owe unto God for my soul, which is the breath and the living image of God, in comparison of which this bodie which we so much value is of no value. To understand my obligation to God for my soul I should know her nature and her work. That knowledge is too wonderful for me. But as darkness teacheth us to value the light, I learn to admire the value of a soul in her right sense, when I see one out of it, a man become a beast. It strikes me with horrour, and makes me exclaim, how much am I indebted to God, for giving and preserving unto me a reasonable soul?

And when from within I look without, what a numberless multitude of benefits of God are crowding about me! The earth that bears me, the aire which I breath, the heaven that shines upon me, the plentie of nature that feeds me, her varietie that delights me, the several creatures that serve me. What readiness, what utilitie, what dutiful attendance of so many good things which God made for me!

And all these goods of nature are managed by his providence for my use. To providence I owe the goodness of my Father, the tenderness of my mother, that loving care whereby I was brought up from the cradle, supported in the infirmitie of mine infancie, and conducted in the simplicitie of my youth. To the provident care of my heavenly Father I owe the sucking, next after my nurse’s milk, of the principles of pietie and honestie, which to me since have been preservatives against those mischiefs which I have seen others run into for want of good breeding. When I see so many persons disfigured with sickness, their limbs broken, their bodie spoiled by sad accidents; others groaning under the lash of ill renown, perhaps wrongfully, some miserable out of want, some out of plentie, some opprest by wicked neighbours, some by their own melancholy, I cannot but think myself well used, notwithstanding all the infirmities within and difficulties without, which I must wrestle with. And I must exalt the bountie of God, who so carefully preserveth my person, my peace, and my reputation.

What private helps did God send me in the publick ruines! What wayes did he open to me where there was no way! How graciously, how miraculously did he make manna fall before me when bread failed, and wrought for me a subsistence out of the hardest natures and businesses, as it were fetching water out of the rock! How loving are his very chastenings, denying me the things that I desired, to give me better than I desired; and sending me the things that I feared, to make them occasions of blessings!

I should never have done numbring the benefits of his providence; but here his grace interrupteth the reckoning ascribing to herself all the blessings both of providence and nature. For it is out of that love before all times in his beloved son, that he feedeth me and furnisheth me with all the goods of nature, and assigneth his angels for my keepers which carry me in their hands.

But what are all these great benefits but small productions of the inestimable treasures of that grace whereby I enter upon all the rights of Gods children? Oh that I could once apprehend what a high grace it is to have God for my father, Christ for my brother, his kingdome for mine inheritance, yea, God himself for my portion forever? How gracious is his redemption! How free is his pardon! How precious is his loving kindeness! What fulness of joy is at his right hand! What eternal pleasures in the contemplation of his face! And in that expectation, how comfortable is the presence of his good Spirit in my heart, giving me eares to hear his word, and a sincere desire to keep it, strengthening me in my troubles, raising me in my falls, wounding my soul with contrition for my sins, and then healing it with faith in his promises! O pretious guest! O blessed company! O Paradise upon earth! O beginning of the kingdome of heaven! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me bless his holie name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits (Ps. 103:1).

Prayer

Most merciful Father, when I compare mine indignitie with the greatness of thy benefits, I feel in my heart a compound of humble repentance and heartie thankfulness. For what am I by nature but a child of wrath, conceived in iniquitie, which original corruption I have since increased with innumerable actual transgressions? And yet, Lord, where sin abounded thy grace hath abounded much more, and thine infinite love hath prevented me when I was thine enemie. Lord who am I, that thou great maker and Soveraign of heaven and earth, possest with infinite glorie, and dwelling in a light not to be approacht unto, wouldest grace me so much as to make me one of thy children, and inrich me with the inheritance of thy kingdome? That thou wouldest give me thy beloved Son for the price of my redemption, which I may present unto thee by faith? That thou wouldest give me thy good Spirit to seal my adoption, and work my regeneration, and say to my soul, soul, I am thy Salvation.

With what wonders of mercy was that salvation purchased for me? Thine only Son in whom thou art well pleased must put on an infirm flesh like unto mine, to make me like unto him by his good Spirit. He must make himself a servant to make me free. He must suffer death to give me life. He must crie, my God my God why hast thou forsaken me, to bring me back to my God whom I had forsaken. He must overcome death to intitle me to his victorie. He must ascend into heaven, and there sit at the right hand of his Father, that I might be blest with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ (Eph. 1:3).

O Father of mercies, the great, the good, the wonderful, be pleased to adde to these thy mercies one more, even the thankfulness of my heart, answerable, as far as man’s capacitie can reach, to the greatness of the obligation. O that thou wouldest grant me according to the riches of thy glorie to be strengthened with might by thy Spirit in the inner man. That Christ may dwell in my heart by faith, that I being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth and length and depth and height, and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge, that I may be filled with all the fulness of God (Eph. 3:16).

Most gracious God I expect from the riches of thy glorie to be filled in heaven with all thy fulness, by the blessed contemplation of thy face. But even in this present weak condition of mine, be pleased to poure into me some drops of that fulness, enough to fill this small frail vessel with thy love, and a feeling resentment of thy bountie. And as all things about me speak to me of thy love, so let all things help me to be thankful, and to acknowledge and love him that loved me so much in Jesus Christ.

‘Tis true, Lord, that even thine enemies enjoy out of thy bountie the light and heat of the sun, and the fertilitie of the earth, and in thee live and move and have their being. But I enjoy all these benefits with a better title and relish in the very bread which I eate, and in the aire which I breath, thine eternal love in thy beloved Son. For since thou hast elected me in him, and redeemed me by him, it is by him also and for his sake, that thou preservest my bodie and soul which he hath redeemed, and makest me to injoy the promises of the life that now is, and of that which is to come (1 Tim. 4:8).

What shall I render unto thee Lord for all thy benefits towards me? With what fatherly care hast thou fed, preserved, and defended me? What help of thy providence didst thou make me finde in the whole course of my life? With what vigilance and wisdome hast thou made me a way through a thousand dangers that beset me? With what compassion hast thou held me up when I was falling, and guided me when I went astray? How graciously hast thou moved me to repentance by thy word, by thy Spirit, by thy gifts, by thy rods, sometimes pulling me with fear as plucking me out of the fire, sometimes drawing me with love by temporal comforts, and by the sweetness of thy promises? How quick and powerful are the comforts of thy spirit, assuring me of thy reconciliation with me, and giving me a foretaste of eternal life?

Among thy many blessings I reckon it for a mercie, Lord, that thou didst not leave me without discipline, but hast exercised me with thy chastenings to awake my faith, warm my zeal, and make me to have recourse to the shelter of that very hand that smote me. I praise thee for not giving me all my desires in this world, that my heart might be weaned from it. O Soveraign Physician, in thy hand even poisons are remedies; and thou never didst send me affliction but in the end turned into a blessing, by thy wonderful wayes which fetch light out of darkness. Thus Lord, which way soever I look, whether to prosperitie or adversitie, whether to the goods of this world, or those of a better, whether to my desires frustrated, or to thy liberalitie in thy Son which passeth all my desires, I finde myself in all things obliged to glorifie thee.

What then shall I render unto thee for so many benefits? Lord I have nothing but thine. Then all that is thine I will render unto thee. I will consecrate unto thee this body and soul which thou hast made and redeemed, and so carefully preserved. I will employ mine understanding to meditate on thee, my heart to love thee, my mouth to praise thee, all my faculties to obey and please thee. And because my goodness extendeth not to thee, I will endeavour to make it extend to the saints here in the earth (Ps. 16:2) according to the measure of my abilitie; and to feed and cloath my Saviour Jesus in his members, as he hath fed me with the bread of life, and clothed me with the cloak of his righteousness, besides his care of me for the temporal. My God give me holy resolutions which may be attended with holy actions. My God grant that my life may be a continual thanksgiving in affections, in words, and in works. My soul doth magnifie the Lord and my spirit rejoyceth in God my Saviour, for he hath regarded the lowliness of his servant. Unto him that loved us and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glorie and dominion forever. Amen.