By Lewis Bayly
At evening, when thou preparest thyself to take thy rest, meditate on these few points:-
1. That seeing thy days are numbered (Psal. xc.; Job xiv. 5), there is one more of thy number spent, and thou art now the nearer to thy end by a day.
2. Sit down a while before thou goest to bed, and consider with thyself what memorable thing thou hast seen, heard, or read that day, more than thou sawest, heardst, or knewest before, and make the best use of them; but especially call to mind what sin thou hast committed that day against God or man, and what good thou hast omitted, and humble thyself for both. If thou findest that thou hast done any goodness, acknowledge it to be God's grace, and give him the glory; and count that day lost wherein thou hast not done some good. Heu perdidi diem!
3. If, by frailty or strong temptation, thou shalt perceive that thou hast committed any grievous sin or fault, presume not to sleep till thou have upon thy knees made a particular reconciliation with God in Christ, both by confessing the fault, and by fervently praying for pardon. Thus making thy score even with Christ every night, thou shalt have the less to account for when thou art to make thy final reckoning before his majesty in the judgment-day.
4. If thou hast fallen out with any in the day, let not the sun go down on thine anger that night (Eph. iv. 26.) If thy conscience tell thee that thou hast wronged him, acknowledge thine offence, and entreat him to forgive thee. If he have wronged thee, offer him reconciliation; and if he will not be reconciled, yet do thou from thy heart forgive him (Matt. v. 23.) But in any case presume not to be thine own revenger, for in so doing thou doest God a double injury-First, in offering to take the sword of justice out of his hand, as though he were not just, having reserved the execution of vengeance to himself (Rom. xii. 19.) Secondly, in usurping authority over his servant, without referring the cause to his hearing and censure, being his and thy Master. Besides, thou art too partial to be a revenger: for if thou be to execute revenge on thyself, thou wilt do it too lightly; if on thy enemy, too heavily. It belongeth, therefore, to God to revenge, to thee to forgive.
And in testimony that thou hast freely forgiven him, pray to God for the forgiveness of his fault and the amendment of his life; and the next time that occasion is offered, and it lies in thy power, do him good, and rejoice in doing it: for he that doth good to his enemies shews himself the child of God (Matt. iii. 39; Rom. xii. 20), and his reward is with God his Father.
5. Use not sleep as a means to satiate the foggy litherness of thy flesh, but as a medicine to refresh thy tired senses and members: sufficient sleep quickens the mind, and revives the body; but immoderate sleep dulls the one, and fattens the other.
6. Remember that many go to bed, and never rise again till they be wakened and raised up by the fearful sound of the last trumpet; but he that sleepeth and wakeneth with prayer, sleepeth and wakeneth with Christ. If, therefore, thou desirest to sleep securely and safely, yield up thyself into the hands of God whilst thou art waking, and so go to bed with a reverence of God's majesty and consideration of thine own misery, which thou mayest imprint in thy heart in some measure by these and the like meditations:
Read a chapter in the same order as was prescribed in the morning; and when thou hast done, kneel down on thy knees at the bedside, or some other convenient place in thy chamber, and lifting up thy heart, thine eyes, and hands, to thy heavenly Father, in the name and mediation of his holy Son Jesus, pray to him, if thou have the gift of prayer-
1. Confessing thy sins, especially those which thou hast committed that day.
2. Craving most earnestly, for Christ's sake, pardon and forgiveness for them.
3. Requesting the assistance of his holy Spirit for amendment of life.
4. In giving thanks for benefits received, especially for thy preservation that day.
5. Praying for rest and protection that night.
6. Remembering the state of the church, the queen, and the royal posterity, our ministers and magistrates, and all our brethren visited or persecuted.
7. Lastly, Commending thyself and all thine to his gracious custody.
All which thou mayest do in these or the like words: