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Practice of Piety 54 - A Confession of Sins before the receiving of the Holy Communion.

By Lewis Bayly

      O God and heavenly Father, when I consider the goodness which thou hast ever shewed unto me, and the wickedness which I have committed against Heaven and against thee, I am ashamed of myself, and confusion seems to cover my face as a veil; for which of thy commandments have I not transgressed? O Lord, I stand here guilty of the breach of all thy holy laws. For the love of my heart hath not so entirely cleaved unto thy majesty as to vain and earthly things. I have not feared thy judgments, to deter me from sins, nor trusted to thy promises, to keep me from doubting of my temporal, or from despairing of mine eternal state. I have made the rule of thy divine worship to be what my mind thought fit, not what thy word prescribed; finding my heart more prone to remember my blessed Saviour in a painted picture of man's device, rather than to behold him crucified in his word and sacraments after his own ordinance. Where I should never use thy name (whereat all knees do bow) but with religious reverence, nor any part of thy worship without due preparation and zeal, I have blasphemously abused thy holy name by rash and customary oaths; yea, I have used oaths by thy sacred name, as false covers of my filthy sins; and I have been present at thy service oft-times more for ceremony than conscience, and to please men more than to please thee, my gracious God.

      Where I should sanctify thy Sabbath-day, by being present at the public exercises of the church, and by meditating privately on the word and works of God, by visiting the sick, and relieving my poor brethren; alas! I have thought those holy exercises a burden, because they hindered my vain sports; yea, I have spent many of thy Sabbaths in my own profane pleasures, without being present at any of'thy divine worship.

      Where I should have given all due reverence to my natural, ecclesiastical, and politic parents, I have not shewed that measure of duty and affection to my parents which their care and kindness hath deserved. I have not had thy ministers in such singular love for their work's sake, as I ought; but I have taunted at their zeal, and hated them because they reproved me justly: and I have carried myself contemptuously against thy magistrates and ministers, though I knew that it is thine ordinance that I should be obedient unto them.

      Where I should be slow to wrath, and ready to forgive offences, and not suffer the sun to go down upon my wrath, but to do good for evil, loving my very enemies for thy sake, I, alas! for one sorry word, have burst out into open rage; and harbouring thoughts of mischief in my heart, I have preferred to feed on mine own malice, rather than to eat of thy holy supper.

      Where I should keep my mind from all filthy lusts, and my body from all uncleanness, O Lord, I have defiled both, and made my heart a cage of all impure thoughts, and my mind a very sty of the unclean spirit.

      Where I should have lived in uprightness, giving every man his due, being contented with mine own estate, and living conscionably in my lawful calling; should be ready, according to my ability, to lend and give unto the poor, O Lord, I have, by oppression, extortion, bribes, cavillation, and other indirect dealings, under pretence of my calling and office, robbed and purloined from my fellow-Christians; yea, I have deceived and suffered Christ, where was trusted, many a time, in his poor members, to stand hungry, cold, and naked, at my door, and hungry, cold, and naked, to go away succourless, as he came; and when the leanness of his cheeks pleaded pity, the hardness of my heart would shew no compassion.

      Where I should have made conscience to speak the truth in simplicity, without any falsehood, prudently judging aright, and charitably construing all things in the best part, and should have defended the good name and credit of my neighbour; alas! vile wretch that I am! I have belied and slandered my fellow-brother; and as soon as I heard an ill report, I made my tongue the instrument of the devil, to blazon that abroad to others, before I knew the truth of it myself. I was so far from speaking a good word in defence of his good name, that it tickled my heart in secret to hear one that I envied to be taxed with such a blemish, though I knew that otherwise the graces of God shined in him in abundant measure. I made jests of officious, and advantage of pernicious lies; herein shewing myself a right Cretian, rather than an upright Christian.

      And lastly, O Lord, where I should have rested fully contented with that portion which thy majesty thought meetest to bestow upon me in this pilgrimage, and rejoiced in another's good as in mine own; alas! my life hath been nothing else but a greedy lusting after this neighbour's house, and that neighbour's land; yea, secretly wishing such a man dead, that I might have his living or office; coveting those things which thou hast bestowed on another, rather than being thankful for that which thou hast given unto myself. Thus I, O Lord, who am a carnal sinner, and sold under sin, have transgressed all thy holy and spiritual commandments, from the first to the last, from the greatest to the least; and here I stand guilty before thy judgment-seat, of all the breaches of all thy laws, and therefore liable to thy curse, and to all the miseries that justice can pour forth upon so cursed a creature. And whither shall I go for deliverance from this misery? Angels blush at my rebellion, and will not help me: men are guilty of the like transgression, and cannot help themselves. Shall I, then, despair with Cain, or make away myself with Judas? No, Lord; for that were but to end the miseries of this life, and to begin the endless torments of hell. I will rather appeal to thy throne of grace, where mercy reigns to pardon abounding sins; and out of the depth of my miseries, I will cry, with David, for the depth of thy mercies. Though thou shouldst kill me with afflictions, yet will I, like Job, put my trust in thee. Though thou shouldst drown me in the sea of thy displeasure, with Jonas, yet will I catch such hold on thy mercy, that I will be taken up dead, clasping her with both my hands. And though thou shouldst cast me into the bowels of hell, as Jonas into the belly of the whale, yet from thence would I cry unto thee, "O God, the Father of heaven, O Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of the world, O Holy Ghost, my sanctifier, three persons, and one eternal God, have mercy upon me, a miserable sinner!" And seeing the goodness of thine own nature first moved thee to send thine only-begotten Son to die for my sins, that by his death I might be reconciled to thy majesty, O reject not now my penitent soul, who being displeased with herself for sin, desireth to return, serve, and please thee in newness of life; and reach from heaven thy helping hand to save me, thy poor servant, who am, like Peter, ready to sink in the sea of my sins and misery. Wash away the multitude of my sins with the merits of that blood which I believe that thou hast so abundantly shed for penitent sinners.

      And now that I am to receive this day the blessed sacrament of thy precious body and blood, O Lord, I beseech thee, let thy Holy Spirit, by thy sacrament, seal unto my soul, that by the merits of thy death and passion, all my sins are so freely and fully remitted and forgiven, that the curses and judgments which my sins have deserved, may never have power either to confound me in this life, or to condemn me in the world which is to come. For my steadfast faith is, that thou hast died for my sins, and risen again for my justification (Rom. iv. 25.) This I believe; O Lord, help my unbelief. Work in me likewise, I beseech thee, an unfeigned repentance, that I may heartily bewail my former sins, and loath them, and serve thee henceforth in newness of life, and greater measure of holy devotion; and let my soul never forget the infinite love of so sweet a Saviour, that hath laid down his life to redeem so vile a sinner. And grant, Lord, that having received these seals and pledges of my communion with thee, thou mayest henceforth so dwell by thy Spirit in me, and I so live by faith in thee, that I may carefully walk all the days of my life in godliness and piety towards thee, and in Christian love and charity towards all my neighbours: that living in thy fear, I may die in thy favour, and after death be made partaker of eternal life, through Jesus Christ, my Lord and only Saviour. Amen.

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See Also:
   Practice of Piety 1 - Directing a Christian How to Walk, that He May Please God.
   Practice of Piety 2 - A Plain Description of the Essence and Attributes of God
   Practice of Piety 3 - Meditations of the Misery of a Man Not Reconciled to God in Christ.
   Practice of Piety 4 - Meditations of the Miseries of Man from Infancy to Old Age.
   Practice of Piety 5 - Meditations of the Misery of the Soul in this Life.
   Practice of Piety 6 - Meditations of the Misery of the Body and Soul in Death.
   Practice of Piety 7 - Meditations of the Misery of a Man after Death.
   Practice of Piety 8 - Blessedness of the Regenerate
   Practice of Piety 9 - Meditations of the blessed state of a Regenerate Man in his Death.
   Practice of Piety 10 - Meditations of the blessed state of the Regenerate Man after Death.
   Practice of Piety 11 - Meditations of the blessed state of a Regenerate Man in Heaven.
   Practice of Piety 12 - Of the Prerogatives which the Elect shall enjoy in Heaven.
   Practice of Piety 13 - Of the Effects of those Prerogatives.
   Practice of Piety 14 - Meditations directing a Christian how to apply to himself.
   Practice of Piety 15 - Meditations on the Hindrances which Keep a Sinner from Piety.
   Practice of Piety 16 - How a Private Man Must Begin the Morning with Piety.
   Practice of Piety 17 - Meditations for the Morning.
   Practice of Piety 18 - Brief Directions How to Read the Holy Scriptures Once A Year
   Practice of Piety 19 - A Prayer for the Morning.
   Practice of Piety 20 - Meditations to stir us up to Morning Prayer.
   Practice of Piety 21 - Another short Morning Prayer.
   Practice of Piety 22 - Farther Meditations to stir up to Prayer in the Morning.
   Practice of Piety 23 - A brief Prayer for the Morning.
   Practice of Piety 24 - Meditations Directing a Christian How To Walk All the Day with God
   Practice of Piety 25 - Secondly, for thy Words.
   Practice of Piety 26 - Thirdly, for thy Actions.
   Practice of Piety 27 - Meditations for the Evening.
   Practice of Piety 28 - A Prayer for the Evening.
   Practice of Piety 29 - Another shorter Evening Prayer.
   Practice of Piety 30 - Meditations for Household Piety.
   Practice of Piety 31 - Morning Prayer for a Family.
   Practice of Piety 32 - The Practice of Piety at Meals, and the Manner of Eating.
   Practice of Piety 33 - Grace before Meat.
   Practice of Piety 34 - The Practice of Piety at Evening.
   Practice of Piety 35 - Evening Prayer for a Family.
   Practice of Piety 36 - Meditations of the True Manner of Practising Piety on the Sabbath-Day.
   Practice of Piety 37 - Ten Reasons demonstrating the Commandment of the Sabbath to be moral.
   Practice of Piety 38 - The True Manner of Keeping Holy the Lord's Day.
   Practice of Piety 39 - A Morning Prayer for the Sabbath-day.
   Practice of Piety 40 - Duties in the Holy Assembly.
   Practice of Piety 41 - A private Evening Prayer for the Lord's day.
   Practice of Piety 42 - Of the Practice of Piety in Fasting.
   Practice of Piety 43 - Of the Public Fast.
   Practice of Piety 44 - Of the Practice of Piety in Holy Feasting.
   Practice of Piety 45 - Of Preparation.
   Practice of Piety 46 - Of the Worthiness of the Sacrament.
   Practice of Piety 47 - Of the first End of the Lord's Supper.
   Practice of Piety 48 - Of the second End of the Lord's Supper.
   Practice of Piety 49 - Of the third End of the Lord's Supper.
   Practice of Piety 50 - Of the fourth End of the Lord's Supper.
   Practice of Piety 51 - The fifth End of the Lord's Supper.
   Practice of Piety 52 - The sixth End of the Lord's Supper.
   Practice of Piety 53 - Of the seventh End of the Lord's Supper.
   Practice of Piety 54 - A Confession of Sins before the receiving of the Holy Communion.
   Practice of Piety 55 - Of the Means whereby thou mayest become a worthy Receiver.
   Practice of Piety 56 - Of the Second sort of Duties which a worthy Communicant is to perform
   Practice of Piety 57 - A sweet Soliloquy to be said between the Consecration and Sacrament.
   Practice of Piety 58 - Duties After Communion.
   Practice of Piety 59 - The Practice of Piety in Glorifying God in the Time of Sickness or Death
   Practice of Piety 60 - A Prayer when one begins to be sick.
   Practice of Piety 61 - A Prayer before taking of Medicine.
   Practice of Piety 62 - Meditations for the Sick.
   Practice of Piety 63 - Meditations for One That Is Like to Die.
   Practice of Piety 64 - A Prayer to Be Said of One That Is Like to Die.
   Practice of Piety 65 - Meditations against Despair, or doubting of God's Mercy.
   Practice of Piety 66 - An Admonition to them who come to visit the Sick.
   Practice of Piety 67 - A Prayer to be said for the Sick by them who visit him.
   Practice of Piety 68 - Consolations Against Impatience in Sickness.
   Practice of Piety 69 - Consolations Against the Fear of Death
   Practice of Piety 70 - Seven Sanctified Thoughts and Mournful Sighs of a Sick Man Ready to Die.
   Practice of Piety 71 - Of the Comfortable Assurance of God's Forgiveness of Sins.
   Practice of Piety 72 - Meditations of Martyrdom.
   Practice of Piety 73 - A Divine Colloquy Between the Soul and Her Savior
   Practice of Piety 74 - The Soul's Soliloquy, ravished in contemplation of the Passion of our Lord.


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