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ness and other afflictions, he expresses in the following meditation, composed soon after the former.
“ O Lord, thou didst bring the wise heathen to the knowledge of thy Son, by the leading of a star: how early didst thou make them partakers of this great blessing ! whose minds having duly improved their natural light, thou didst form by thy blessed Spirit to that degree of saving humility, that they were not offended at the meanness of our Saviour's circumstances. Had not that exceeding great joy, wherewith they were transported, when they saw the star conducting them to the place where our Saviour lay, buried all carnal affections in them, the pride of their heart would have made them flung back, as Naaman did from Elisha, saying, surely we thought to have found some great prince richly attended : and in degpight of the heavenly signal, counted all but a delu-. sion, and have refused to have submitted their reason to so great absurdities : but thou, O Lord, didst not only enlighten their eyes, but touch their hearts, and inflame their spirits with heavenly affections, so that when they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.' Thou, O Lord, hast thought fit to afflict me in divers manners ; in mercy, I trust for the good of my soul, that thou mayest not 'condemn me with the world :' but, O gracious Lord, while I find my soul moved to thee by such chastisements, while I find each of them to have its natural and due effect upon my spirit, while I find my soul humbled by reproaches, my mind drawn off the world, and resigned to thee with humble and contented dependance at losses; while it is thus with me upon
each occasion ; let men contemn and speak evil of me; let the news come of the loss of my estate, or other calamity, I shall rejoice, O my God, with exceeding great joy; because it brings me to the haven where I would be, and to that temper of mind, which is more precious than all things upon earth. Indeed, while afflictions have not this due effect, they are like wandering fires, that lead my soul so much the more astray; but when they have, they are like this blessed star, that conducts me to my Saviour; whom when I find warming my soul with heavenly affections, I cannot but rejoice with exceeding great joy;' with joy, to find my Lord, while I lose the world: with joy to find my heavenly physic work kindly on my soul, and an eternal health springing up in it. O my God, so guide me, so .conduct me, so prepare my soul, and temper my mind, that I may cheerfully follow the motions of thy blessed providence, and yield myself to the mighty workmanship of thy eternal Spirit."
There is another thing which I shall here take notice of, concerning Mr. Bonnell's early and happy progress in piety; which is, that as both at Cambridge and Mr. Freeman's he was a constant communicant, so his self-examinations for the sacrament were strict and severe.
He began very early a most useful practice, which he continued during his whole life; and that was, upon every return of the holy sacrament, to put down in writing those thoughts which at that time most affected and entertained his mind. I have a good number of sacramental meditations composed by him, betwixt the twenty-first and twenty-seventh years of his age: a time of life too commonly given up to sensuality and vanity. But here we see a young man, instead of indulging himself in folly and pleasure, bemoaning and confessing his sins, earnestly praying for grace to resist every temptation, and taking more pains to fit his soul for appearing at the Lord's table, than others at that age usually do to clothe and adorn their bodies. The following confession and prayer, written on Whitsun-Eve, in the twentysixth year of his
age, will sufficiently confirm what I say.
“O my God, I know I am unworthy, and I believe I am much more; I see my sins to be very great; but when thou shalt open mine eyes, (as I humbly entreat thee) I shall see them much greater. I, who had undertaken the highest degree of holiness, find myself not only to have come short of thy righteousness, but to have run too much the other way. It is true, thy merciful providence still raises me up, and sets me in the way of returning to thy favour; nevertheless sins cease not to be such, nor confusion to overspread my soul. It is too much that I, whom thou hast fed with thyself, should do so: but too much that I should again present myself before thee, to have that honour repeated upon me, and I, with all my load of sin, to receive the assurances of being made for ever happy with thee. My soul flies back from this honour in the sense of my great unworthiness; but while methinks I hear thee cry to it, as thou didst to Peter, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part in me,' I dare not refuse: I resolve then to force myself into thy presence with all my blushes and my guilt,
knowing if thou dost not feed me, 'I have no part in thee :' but, Lord, I must come in a dress fitting my condition ; not in a gaudy wedding robe, such as thy happy children triumph in; but in a mourning veil, such as becomes one who is widowed of his innocence. Under this will I shroud myself, with this, will I hide my guilty blushes, while I wait upon thy solemnity. I will creep behind thee, my Saviour, and find out thy feet to wash with my tears; and if I must needs partake of thy feast, it shall be only such crumbs as fall from thy table. I will not pre
. sume to reach my hand to the royal mess, nor serve myself with the glorious assurances of being united to thee for ever, who am such sinful dust and ashes: but for this time it shall be enough and too much for me to find that thou wilt be graciously ready to accept of me upon my repentance and amendment, avoiding all sin, and that there is a way open through the wounds of my Saviour for my admission to thy mercy. Lord, thou art privy to his whole discourse, and judgest the sense of my heart with which it is spoken; O graciously pardon what thou seest amiss in it, more than I can discern, and according to the appearing integrity of it, to the utmost of what I myself can judge, be intreated by me, thy poor servant, to shew good unto me, and to strengthen me in thy ways, according as I (unfeignedly) desire to walk in them.
“ Lord, if such a wretch as I might have leave to expostulate with thee, if dust and ashes might have leave to speak to thy majesty, and a sinner to argue with his God; since such desires to serve thee are agreeable to thy will, and pleasing in thy sight, and
since thou art of power sufficient to preserve those who are thus devoted to the height of their desires; why may not my humble prayers now be heard, that I may be so strengthened with thy grace from this moment, that I may proceed and go forward in all well-doing, from grace to grace, perfecting holiness in thy fear, and being never more guilty of any wilful sin against thee, my God! But thus have I humbly entreated of thy Majesty before, and with the like seeming sincerity, to my own sense, as I now do, yet hast thou thought fit to let me sometimes fall : looking forward, I see still-that my life depends on thy favour; and that I must perish without thy divine upholding. What can I do more, than thus humbly to intreat thy Majesty; what can I do more than fly to thee, who I see hast the custody of all my ways? It is true, I am not to expect that any one prayer should last me for my whole life, or that this petition now, should acquit me from waiting upon thee each day for the same thing in due form: but canst thou refuse any one prayer that is faithfully poured forth before thee, in the name of thy dear Son, for a thing agreeable to thy will ? Hear then this my humble request, O Lord, my God, according as I unfeignedly desire to pour it forth before thee: let me have grace to serve thee; let me be delivered from all sin and occasions of falling; let me have grace to wait upon thee with never-ceasing diligence in well-doing, with humble, constant, and earnest prayer ; let me proceed in holiness, exemplariness, and all Christian graces; make me both inwardly sound in respect of myself, and outwardly influential to all I converse with; that