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Holy Living

by Jeremy Taylor


CHAPTER II.  [Conclusion]



A Prayer against Sensuality.

O eternal Father, thou that sittest in heaven invested with essential glories and divine perfections, fill my soul with so deep a sense of the excellences of spiritual and heavenly things, that, my affections being weaned from the pleasures of the world and the false allurements of sin, I may, with great severity, and the prudence of a holy discipline and strict desires, with clear resolutions and a free spirit, have my conversations in heaven and heavenly employments; that being, in affections as in my condition, a pilgrim and a stranger here, I may covet after and labour for an abiding city, and at last may enter into and for ever dwell in the celestial Jerusalem, which is the mother of us all, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


For Temperance.

O Almighty God and gracious Father of men and angels, who openest thy hand and fillest all things with plenty, and hast provided for thy servant sufficient to satisfy all my needs; teach me to use thy creatures soberly and temperately, that I may not, with loads of meat or drink, make the temptations of my enemy to prevail upon me, or my spirit unapt for the performance of my duty, or my body healthless, or my affections sensual and unholy. O my God, never suffer that the blessings which thou givest me may either minister to sin or sickness, but to health and holiness and thanksgiving; that in the strength of thy provisions I may cheerfully and actively and diligently serve thee; that I may worthily feast at thy table here, and be accounted worthy, through thy grace, to be admitted to thy table hereafter, at the eternal supper of the Lamb, to sing an hallelujah to God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, for ever and ever. Amen.


For Chastity: to be said especially by Unmarried Persons.

Almighty God, our most holy and eternal Father, who art of pure eyes, and canst behold no uncleanness; let thy gracious and holy Spirit descend upon thy servant, and reprove the spirit of fornication and uncleanness, and cast him out; that my body may be a holy temple, and my soul a sanctuary to entertain the Prince of purities, the holy and eternal Spirit of God. O, let no impure thoughts pollute that tongue which God hath commanded to be an organ of his praises; no unholy and unchaste action rend the veil of that temple where the holy Jesus hath been pleased to enter, and hath chosen for his habitation: but seal up all my senses from all vain objects, and let them be entirely possessed with religion, and fortified with prudence, watchfulness, and mortification; that I, possessing my vessel in holiness, may lay it down with a holy hope, and receive it again in a joyful resurrection, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


A Prayer for the Love of God, to be said by Virgins, and Widows, professed or resolved so to live: and may be used by any one.

Oh holy and purest Jesus, who wert pleased to espouse every holy soul, and join it to thee with a holy union and mysterious instruments of religious society and communications; O, fill my soul with religion, and desires holy as the thoughts of cherubim, passionate beyond the love of women; that I may love thee as much as ever any creature loved thee, even with all my soul and all my faculties, and all the degrees of every faculty; let me know no loves but those of duty and charity, obedience and devotion; that I may for ever run after thee, who art the King of virgins, and with whom whole kingdoms are in love, and for whose sake queens have died, and at whose feet kings with joy have laid their crowns and sceptres. My soul is thing, O dearest Jesus; thou art my Lord, and hast bound up my eyes and heart from all stranger affections; give me for my dowry purity and humility, modesty and devotion, charity and patience, and at last bring me into the bride-chamber to partake of the felicities, and to lie in the bosom of the Bridegroom to eternal ages, O holy and sweetest Saviour Jesus. Amen.


A Prayer to be said by Married Persons in behalf of themselves and each other.

O eternal and gracious Father, who hast consecrated the holy estate of marriage to become mysterious, and to represent the union of Christ and his church, let thy Holy Spirit so guide me in the doing the duties of this state, that it may not become a sin unto me; nor that liberty, which thou hast hallowed by the holy Jesus, become an occasion of licentiousness by my own weakness and sensuality; and do thou forgive all those irregularities and too sensual applications which may have, in any degree, discomposed my spirit and the severity of a Christian. Let me, in all accidents and circumstances, be severe in my duty towards thee, affectionate and dear to my wife, (or husband,) a guide and good example to my family, and in all quietness, sobriety, prudence, and peace, a follower of those holy pairs who have served thee with godliness and a good testimony. And the blessings of the eternal God, blessings of the right hand and of the left, be upon the body and soul of thy servant, my wife, (or husband,) and abide upon her (or him) till the end of a holy and happy life; and grant that both of us may live together for ever in the embraces of the holy and eternal Jesus, our Lord and Saviour. Amen.


A Prayer for the Grace of Humility.

O holy and most gracious Master and Saviour Jesus, who by thy example and by thy precept, by the practice of a whole life and frequent discourses, didst command us to be meek and humble, in imitation of thy incomparable sweetness and great humility, be pleased to give me the grace, as thou hast given me the commandment: enable me to do whatsoever thou commandest, and command whatsoever thou pleasest. O mortify in me all proud thoughts and vain opinions of myself; let me return to thee the acknowledgment and the fruits of all those good things thou hast given me, that, by confessing I am wholly in debt to thee for them, I may not boast myself for what I have received, and for what I am highly accountable; and for what is my own teach me to be ashamed and humbled, it being nothing but sin and misery, weakness and uncleanness. Let me go before my brethren in nothing but in striving to do them honour and thee glory, never to seek my own praise, never to delight in it when it is offered: that, despising myself, I may be accepted by thee in the honours with which thou shalt crown thy humble and despised servants, for Jesus’ sake, in the kingdom of eternal glory. Amen.


Acts of Humility and Modesty by way of Prayer and Meditation.



Lord, I know that my spirit is light and thorny, my body is brutish and exposed to sickness; I am constant to folly, and inconstant in holy purposes. My labours are vain and fruitless; my fortune full of change and trouble, seldom pleasing, never perfect; my wisdom is folly; being ignorant even of the parts and passions of my own body; and what am I, O Lord, before thee, but a miserable person, hugely in debt, not able to pay?



Lord, I am nothing, and I have nothing of myself: I am less than the least of all thy mercies.



What was I before birth? First, nothing, and then uncleanness. What during my childhood? Weakness and folly. What in my youth? Folly still, and passion, lust, and wildness. What in my whole life? A great sinner, a deceived, and an abused person. Lord, pity me; for it is thy goodness that I am kept form confusion and amazement, when I consider the misery and shame of my person, and the defilements of my nature.



Lord, what am I? And, Lord, what art thou? “What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou so regardest him?”



How can man be justified with God? Or how can he be clean that is born of a woman? Behold, even to the moon, and it shineth not; yea, the stars are not pure in his sight. How much less man that is a worm, and the son of man which is a worm! Job, xxxv.4, etc.


A Prayer for a contented Spirit, and the Grace of Moderation and Patience.

O Almighty God, Father and Lord of all the creatures, who hast disposed all things and all chances so as may best glorify thy wisdom, and serve the ends of thy justice, and magnify thy mercy by secret and indiscernible ways, bringing good out of evil; I most humbly beseech thee to give me wisdom from above, that I may adore thee and admire thy ways and footsteps, which are in the great deep and not to be searched out; teach me to submit to thy providence in all things, to be content in all changes of person and conditions, to be temperate in prosperity, and to read my duty in the lines of thy mercy; and in adversity to be meek, patient, and resigned; and to look through the cloud, that I may wait for the consolation of the Lord and the day of redemption; in the meantime doing my duty with an unwearied diligence, and an undisturbed resolution, having no fondness for my hopes in heaven and the rewards of holy living, and being strengthened with the spirit of the inner man, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.



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