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THE PRAYER BEFORE THE SERMON.

O ETERNAL and most glorious God, who sometimes in thy justice dost give the dead bodies of the saints to be meat unto the fowls of the heaven, and the flesh of thy saints unto the beasts of the earth, so that their blood is shed like water, and there is none to bury themi; who sometimes sellest thy people for nought, and dost not increase thy wealth by their price2; and yet never leavest us without that knowledge, that precious in thy sight is the death of thy saints3, enable us, in life and death, seriously to consider the value, the price of a soul. It is precious, O Lord, because thine image is stamped and imprinted upon it; precious, because the blood of thy Son was paid for it; precious, because thy blessed Spirit, the Holy Ghost, works upon it, and tries it by his divers fires; and precious, because it is entered into thy revenue, and made a part of thy treasure. Suffer us not, therefore, O Lord, so to undervalue ourselves, nay, so to impoverish thee, as to give away those souls, thy souls, thy dear and precious souls, for nothing; and all the world is nothing if the soul must be given for it. We know, O Lord, that our rent due to thee is our soul, and the day of our death is the day, and our death-bed the place, where this rent is to be paid. And we know too, that he that hath sold his

Psalm lxxix. 2.

'Psalm xliv. 12.

a Psalm.cxvi. 15.

soul before for unjust gain, or given away his soul before in the society and fellowship of sin, or lent away his soul for a time by a lukewarmness and temporizing, to the dishonour of thy name, to the weakening of thy cause, to the discouraging of thy servants, he comes to that day and to that place, his death and death-bed, without any rent in his hand, without any soul, to this purpose, to surrender it unto thee. Let therefore, O Lord, the same hand which is to receive them then, preserve these souls till then; let that mouth that breathed them into us at first, breathe always upon them whilst they are in us, and suck them into itself when they depart from us. Preserve our souls, O Lord, because they belong to thee, and preserve our bodies because they belong to those souls. Thou alone dost steer our boat through all our voyage, but hast a more especial care of it, a more watchful eye upon it, when it comes to a narrow current or to a dangerous fall of waters. Thou hast a care of the preservation of these bodies, in all the ways of our life; but in the straits of death open thine eyes wider, and enlarge thy providence towards us so far, that no fever in the body may shake the soul, no apoplexy in the body damp or benumb the soul, nor any pain or agony of the body presage future torments to the souL But so make thou our bed in all our sickness, that being used to thy hand, we may be content with any bed of thy making; whether thou be pleased to change our feathers into flocks, by withdrawing the conveniences of this life, or to change our flocks into dust, even the dust of the grave, by withdrawing us out of this life. And though thou divide man and wife, mother and child, friend and friend, by the hand of death, yet stay them that stay, and send them away that go, with this consolation, that though we part at divers days, and by divers ways here, yet we shall all meet at one place and at one day, a day that no night shall determine, the day of the glorious resurrection. Hasten that day, O Lord, for their sakes that beg it at thy hands from under the altar in heaven; hasten it for our sakes, that groan under the manifold incumbrances of these mortal bodies; hasten it for her sake whom we have lately laid down in this thy holy ground; and hasten it for thy Son Christ Jesus' sake, to whom then, and not till then, all things shall be absolutely subdued. Seal to our souls now an assurance of thy gracious purpose towards us in that day, by accepting this day's service at our hands. Accept our humble thanks for all thy benefits, spiritual and temporal, already bestowed upon us, and accept our humble prayers for the continuance and enlargement of them. Continue and enlarge them, O God, upon thine universal church, dispersed, &c.

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