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our own to be. It will be pleasant to reflect upon it, as done at such and such a time, with such and such circumstances of place and method, which may serve to strike the memory and the conscience. The sense of the vows of God which are upon you, will strengthen you in an hour of temptation; and the recollection may also encourage your humble boldness and freedom in applying to him under the character and relation of your covenant God and Father, as future exigencies may require.
§. 2. Do it therefore, but do it deliberately. Consider
what it is that you are to do: and consider how reasonable it is that it should be done, and done cordially and cheerfully not by constraint, but willingly*: For in this sense, and in every other, God loves a cheerful givert. Now surely there is nothing we should do with greater cheerfulness or more cordial consent, than making such a surrender of ourselves to the Lord; to the God who created us, who brought us into this pleasant and well furnished world, who supported us in our tender infancy, who guarded us in the thoughtless days of childhood and youth, who has hitherto continually helped, sustained, and preserved us. Nothing can be more reasonable than that we should acknowledge him as our rightful owner and our sovereign ruler ; than that we should devote ourselves to him as our most gracious benefactor, and seek him as our supreme felicity. Nothing can be more apparently equitable, than that we, the product of his power, and the price of his Son's blood, should be his, and his for ever. If you see the matter in its just view, it will be the grief of your soul, that you have ever alienated yourself from the blessed God and his service; so far will you be from wishing to continue in that state of alienation another year or another day, you will rejoice to bring back to him his revolted creature; and as you have in times past yielded your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin, you will delight to yield yourselves unto God, as alive from the dead, and to employ your members as instruments of righteousness unto Godt.
§. 3. The surrender will also be as entire, as it is cheerful and immediate. All you are, and all you have, and all you can do, your time, your possessions, your influence over others, will be devoted to him, that for the future it may be employed entirely for him, and to his glory. You will desire to keep back nothing from him; but will seriously judge, that you are
+ 2 Cor ix. 7.
⚫ 1 Pet. v. 2.
Rom. vi. 13.
then in the truest and noblest sense your own, when you are most entirely his. You are also on this great occasion, to resign all that you have to the disposal of his wise and gracious providence; not only owning his power, but consenting to his undoubted right, to do what he pleases with you, and all that he has given you; and declaring a hearty approbation of all that he has done, and of all that he may farther do.
$. 4. Once more, let me remind yon, that this surrender must be perpetual. You must give yourself up to God in such a manner, as never more to pretend to be your own: for the rights of God are, like his nature, eternal and immutable; and with regard to his rational creatures, are the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever.
S. 5. I would farther advise and urge, that this dedication may be made with all possible solemnity. Do it in express words. And perhaps it may be in many cases most expedient, as many pious divines have recommended, to do it in writing. Set your hand and seal to it," that on such a day of such a month and year, and at such a place, on full consideration and serious reflection, you came to this happy resolution, that whatever others might do, you would serve the Lord*.
§. 6. Such an instrument, you may, if you please, draw up for yourself; or if you rather chuse to have it drawn up to your hand, you may find something of this nature below, in which you may easily make such alterations as shall suit your circumstances, where there is any thing peculiar in them. But whatever you use, weigh it well, meditate attentively upon it, that you may not be rash with your mouth to utter any thing before Godt. And when you determine to execute this instrument, let the transaction be attended with some more than ordinary religious retirement. Make it, if you conveniently can, à day of secret fasting and prayer: and when your heart is prepared with a becoming awe of the divine majesty, with an humble confidence in his goodness, and an earnest desire of his favour, then present yourself on your knees before God, and read it over deliberately and solemnly; and when you have signed it, lay it by in some secure place, where you may review it whenever you please; and make it a rule with yourself to review it, if possible, at certain seasons of the year, that you may keep up the remembrance of it.
§. 7. At least take this course, till you see your way clear to the table of the Lord, where you are to renew the same
*Josh. xxiv. 15.
+ Eccl. v. 2.
covenant, and to seal it, with more affecting solemnities. And God grant that you may be enabled to keep it, and in the whole of your conversation to walk according to it! May it be an anchor to your soul in every temptation, and a cordial to it in every affliction! May the recollection of it embolden your addresses to the throne of grace now, and give additional strength to your departing spirit, in a consciousness that it is ascending to your covenant God and Father, and to that gracious Redeemer, whose power and faithfulness will securely keep what you commit to him until that day* !
An Example of Self-Dedication, or a Solemn form of renewing our Covenant with God.
"ETERNAL and unchangeable Jehovah! Thou great Creator of heaven and earth, and adorable Lord of angels and men! I desire, with the deepest humiliation and abasement of soul, to fall down at this time in thine awful presence; and earnestly pray, that thou wilt penetrate my very heart with a suitable sense of thine unutterable and inconceivable glories!
"Trembling may justly take hold upon met, when I a sinful worm presume to lift up my head to thee, presume to appear in thy majestic presence on such an occasion as this. Who am I, O Lord God, or what is my house? What is my nature or descent, my character and desert, that I should speak of this, and desire that I may be one party in a covenant, where thou, the King of kings and Lord of lords, art the other! I blush, and am confounded, even to mention it before thee. But, O Lord, great as is thy majesty, so also is thy mercy. If thou wilt hold converse with any of thy creatures, thy superlatively exalted nature must stoop, must stoop infinitely low. And I know, that in and through Jesus, the Son of thy love, thou condescendest to visit sinful mortals, and to allow their approach to thee, and their covenantintercourse with thee: nay, I know, that the scheme and plan is thine own, and that thou hast graciously sent to propose it to us; and none untaught by thee would have been able to form it, or inclined to embrace it, even when actually proposed.
"To thee therefore do I now come, invited by the name of thy Son, and trusting in his righteousness and grace. Laying myself at thy feet with shame and confusion of face, and
* 2 Tim. i. 12.
+ Job xxi. 6.
2 Sam. vii. 18.
smiting upon my breast, I say with the humble publican, God be merciful to me a sinner*! I acknowledge, O Lord, that I have been a great transgressor. My sins have reached unto heaven↑, and mine iniquities are lifted up unto the skiest. The irregular propensities of my corrupted and degenerate nature have, in ten thousand aggravated instances, wrought to bring forth fruit unto death§. And if thou shouldst be strict to mark mine offences, I must be silent under a load of guilt, and immediately sink into destruction. But thou hast graciously called me to return unto thee, though I have been a wandering sheep, a prodigal son, a backsliding child ||. Behold therefore, O Lord, I come unto thee. I come, convinced not only of my sin, but of my folly. I come from my very heart ashamed of myself, and with an acknowledgment in the sincerity and humility of my soul, that I have played the fool, and have erred exceedingly¶¶. I am confounded myself at the remembrance of these things: but be thou merciful to my unrighteousness, and do not remember against me my sins and my transgressions** ! Permit me, O Lord, to bring back unto thee those powers and faculties which I have ungratefully and sacrilegiously alienated from thy service; and receive, I beseech thee, thy poor revolted creature, who is now convinced of thy right to him, and desires nothing in the whole world so much, as to be thine!
"Blessed God, it is with the utmost solemnity that I make this surrender of myself unto thee. Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth; I avouch the Lord this day to be my God++; and I avouch and declare myself this day, to be one of his covenantchildren and people. Hear, O thou God of heaven, and record it in the book of thy remembrance‡‡, that henceforth I am thine, entirely thine. I would not merely consecrate unto thee some of my powers, or some of my possessions; or give thee a certain proportion of my services, or all I am capable of for a limited time; but I would be wholly thine, and thine for ever. From this day do I solemnly renounce all the former lords which have had dominion over me§§, every sin and every lust; and bid, in thy name, an eternal defiance to the powers of hell, which have most unjustly usurped the empire over my soul, and to all the corruptions which their fatal temptations have introduced into it. The whole frame of my nature, all the facul
* Luke xviii. 13.
+ Rev. xviii, 5.
Jer. li. 9.
* Heb. viii. 12.
§ Rom. vii. 5.
ties of my mind, and all the members of my body would I present before thee this day, as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God, which I know to be my most reasonable service*. To thee I consecrate all my worldly possessions: in thy service I desire to spend all the remainder of my time upon earth, and beg thou wouldst instruct and influence me, so that, whether my abode here be longer or shorter, every year, and month, every day and hour, may be used in such a manner as shall most effectually promote thine honour, and subserve the schemes of thy wise and gracious providence. And I earnestly pray, that whatever influence thou givest me over others, in any of the superior relations of life in which I may stand, or in consequence of any peculiar regard which may be paid me, thou wouldst give me strength and courage to exert myself to the utmost, for thy glory: resolving not only that I will myself do it, but that all others, so far as I can rationally and properly influence them, shall serve the Lord. In this course, O blessed God, would I steadily persevere to the very end of my life; earnestly praying, that every future day of it may supply the deficiencies, and correct the irregularities of the former; and that I may by divine grace be enabled, not only to hold on in that happy way, but daily to grow more active in it!
"Nor do I only consecrate all that I am, and have, to thy service; but I also most humbly resign, and submit to thine holy and sovereign will, myself, and all that I can call mine. I leave, O Lord, to thy management and direction, all I possess, and all I wish; and set every enjoyment and every interest before thee, to be disposed of as thou pleasest. Continue or remove, what thou hast given me; bestow, or refuse, what I imagine I want, as thou, Lord, shalt see good! And though I dare not say, I will never repine; yet I hope I may venture to say, that I will labour, not only to submit, but to acquiesce; not only to bear what thou doest in thy most afflictive dispensations, but to consent to it, and to praise thee for it; contentedly resolving, in all that thou appointest for me, my will into thine, and looking on myself as nothing, and on thee, O God, as the great eternal all, whose word ought to determine every thing; and whose government ought to be the joy of the whole rational creation.
"Use me, O Lord, I beseech thee, as the instrument of thy glory; and honour me so far, as, either by doing or suffering what thou shalt appoint, to bring some revenue of praise to thee,
*Rom. xii. 1.
Josh. xxiv. 15.