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O Lord, when I plead with thee;" some of thy dispensations have to thy people an appearance of hard things, yet thou givest a banner to them that fear thee, and it shall some way tend to their good; therefore I will silently adore what I cannot yet comprehend: I will be dumb and not open my mouth, because thou, Lord, dost it:* I am sure thy judgments are right, and in faithfulness thou hast afflicted me; it is the Lord, let him do what seemeth him good; good is the word and will of the Lord, shall I receive good at God's hands, and not evil? He is my Sovereign and can do me no wrong, he is my Father and will do me no hurt; I will lay me down at his feet in all, and say, the will of the Lord be done, the cup which my Father gives me to drink shall I not drink it? I will take up my cross and follow Christ. I have deserved more punishment than this, and therefore will accept of this as the punishment of mine iniquity. Lord, scourge here, only spare me hereafter; I choose to suffer affliction with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; though it deprive me of some of my comforts, yet if this rod be for my profit that I may partake of his holiness here and glory hereafter, I am content, yea, thankful, and shall even glory in tribulations; O what a badge of honour it is to bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus!|| Farewell pleasure, welcome pain for my Lord; if my dear Lord will strengthen me by his grace, I will endure any thing according to his pleasure, and for his sake: Lord, here cut, here burn, only spare me for eternity; do what
* Jer. xii. 1. Psal. lx. 3, 4.
Rom. viii. 28. Psal. xxxix. 9.
2 Cor. xii. 9. Gal. vi. 17.
thou pleasest with me; if thou have no delight to communicate to me temporal mercies and spiritual privileges, yet if thou wilt be my God I will say, "here am I, let him do to me as seemeth good unto him.”*
THE FORM OF A PERSON'S DEDICATING HIMSELF AND ALL THAT HE HATH TO THE LORD.
I COME now to the second part of a covenant engagement, which consists in dedication. This is as necessary as the former, that the covenanted soul should make a deed of gift, and by an absolute resignation to God, should voluntarily subscribe himself to be the Lord's, as a bored servant, as a listed soldier, as a married wife, wherein the terms upon record are, "Thou shalt abide for me many days, thou shalt not play the harlot, and thou shalt not be for another man, so will I also be for thee," Hos. iii. 3.
We must dedicate what we are, and all that we have. The dedication of ourselves is twofold: we should dedicate the soul with its faculties, and the body with its members.
I shall briefly advert to these, and so direct covenanting souls in their self-dedication to the Lord, both in general and particularly.
First, then you may thus lay yourselves before the Lord:
Glorious Jehovah, I do this day lift up my hand unto the Lord, the most High God, possessor of heaven and * 2 Sam. xv. 26.
earth, resolving by thy grace to give up myself unto thee, and that I will not take from a thread even to a shoelatchet, of any thing that is thine to myself, or alienate it to any other; my person is thine, and I will be thine; nothing that thou givest me can please me without thyself, and nothing I can give thee can please thee without myself;† thou comest to solicit me, and thou shalt have me, thou art not satisfied so much with my goods, duties, or enjoyments, as with myself. O Lord, I am thine and will be thine, no mortal creature can lay claim to me; I am thine by creation, redemption, and sanctification, and now I devote myself to thee by a voluntary dedication, at this instant, without delay, cordially without dissembling, universally without reserves, and perpetually without revocation. Satan would claim a title to me, because of his long possession-the world, because of its near alliance to me the flesh as being part of myself, but I this day withdraw myself and service from all others, and give up myself to thee; I have destroyed myself, but in thee is my help; vain is the help of man, I cannot help myself, but with thee the fatherless find mercy. || Lord, I am devoted to thy fear, I am this day making a singular vow that my person may be the Lord's; would to God I could be a devoted thing, holy unto the Lord! Thou once didst make me as the clay, poured me out as milk, curdled me like cheese: why, now, Lord, still I am the clay and thou art the potter, I am the work of thy hands, thou hast me upon the wheel:¶ that free grace may frame me a vessel of mercy, filled with the divine supplies of saving grace;
Ps. cxix. 94.
• Gen. xiv. 22, 23. + Non mea sed me.
Jer. xviii. 3.
Hos. xiii. 9.
§ Psal. cxix. 38. ¶ Job x. 9, 10.
work me up for heaven, and make me meet for the inheritance in light; cast me in the mould of gospel doctrine; change me more and more into the image of God, yea, from glory to glory; let me belong to the class of Nethinim, let me be a true Nazarite, devoted to God; that I may give myself to prayer, and be in the fear of the Lord, all the day long; that as Anna of old, I may not depart from his temple, but serve the Lord with fastings and prayers, night and day.* This and all that I am, do I owe to my dear Lord, for I am bought with a price, therefore I am resolved to glorify God in my body and in my spirit, which are God's.t
1. I bring this immortal spark called the soul, this pearl, this jewel, this noblest part of myself, and lay it at thy sacred feet; it is fit it should be thine, for thou art the Father of spirits, the God of the spirits of all flesh. I bring my soul to thee, it is spoiled, deprived of thine image, Lord, repair it, that I may again bear the image of the heavenly; I have defiled it, purify my soul, both by sanctification and justification, that I may be whiter than snow; I have wounded it, heal my soul, for I have sinned against thee; I have weakened it, I bring it to thee, to strengthen me with strength in my soul; yea, I have struck it, dead by sinning, quicken me, O Lord, for thy name's sake, for thy righteousness' sake bring my soul out of prison. || I bring this soul of mine to do homage to its Master, the King of heaven; I will solemnly charge it, saying, my soul, wait thou only upon God, and truly my soul waiteth upon God, and is silent, hushed, and hearken
* Rom. ix. 23. 2 Cor. v. 5. Col. i. 12. Rom vi. 17. 2 Cor. iii. 18. Numb. vi. 2. Psal. cix. 4. Prov. xxiii. 17. Luke ii. 37. Heb. xii. 9. Numb. xvi. 22. cxxxviii. 3. cxliii. 11.
+ 1 Cor. vi. 20.
ing for either a word of command, or an answer of prayer. I will pray with my spirit, and worship God in spirit and in truth; if I praise God, my soul shall magnify the Lord, and my spirit shall rejoice in God my Saviour. In every duty I perform, I will set my heart and my soul to seek the Lord my God.* Upon God will I wait all the day long, and all my days; I will give up my soul to God that it may centre in him, and will say, return unto thy rest, O my soul, it can find no settlement or satisfaction any where else; the Lord is my portion, saith my soul,† God only can satiate the weary soul, and replenish every sorrowful soul; many perplexing thoughts work within me, in the midst of all I will have recourse to God; O that thy comforts might delight my soul! O happy were my tortured soul, if it could get ease in the bosom of my dear Lord! And when this immortal soul must depart out of this shattered aud decaying frame, I will commend my soul and spirit into the hands of God, he will receive it, for he is a faithful Creator, and my gracious Father in Christ. || I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded he is able to keep that which I have committed to him until that day; thus do I daily put my precious soul into the hands of God, Lord, accept it. Amen.§
2. With particular dedication. The believer must devote all the powers and faculties of this precious soul to God, in this manner: Lord, my mind is corrupted and defiled, I put it into thy hands to be cleans
* Psalm lxii. 1, 5. 1 Cor. xiv. 15. John iv. 24. Luke i. 46, 47. 1 Chron. xxii 19.
+ Ps. cxvi. 7. Lam. iii. 24.
Psal. xxxi. 5. xlix. 15. 1 Pet. iv. 19.
Jer. xxxi. 25. Ps. xciv. 19.