Thomas Wilson.

Sacra privata : the private meditations, devotions, and prayers of the Right Rev. T. Wilson ... online

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SA©iI Pilflf A.






With a Prefa'ce liy J. H. Newman, B.D., Fellow of Oriel
College, Oxford.


N E W - Y O R K :



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72 Vesey-st., N. Y.






No words are necessary to introduce the
name of Bishop Wilson to the members of that
Church, of which he was in his day, and has
been since, in sacred language, " a burning and
a shining light." Burning indeed and shining,
like the Baptist, in an evil time, he seemed as
if a beacon lighted on his small island, to shew
what his Lord and Saviour could do in spite of
man ; — how He could at will make for Himself
a dwelling-place upon the waves, and a garden
in the barren sea, and, when a nation had fahen
into his enemies' hands, could preach to it even
off its shores, and be nigh at hand, when they



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would fain leave Him " not so much as to set
His foot on." The English soil indeed had its
own witnesses and teachers at the time ; but
none at once so exalted in station and so saintly
in character, so active and so tried in his life-
time, and so influential in his works, as Bishop

Of these works not the least important is that
which is now submitted to the reader entire ; —
those Devotional Exercises, which or the like of
which were the groundwork of whatever name
and influence he has attained in the Church of
God. These Exercises, while edifying on their
own account, are valuable also, as afibrding a
model of what good judges have pronounced to
be the best form in which serious persons may
keep a record of their own spiritual state ; in
that prayers against particular failings, such as
are here found at once suggest to the framer
what his failings are and have been, and yet
are secure, as being prayers, from the various

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dangers to which the direct enlarging upon fail-
in o-s, without the immediate thought of God's
presence, is likely to lead.

J. H. N.

July 5, 1338.







On Devotion and Prayer 1^

Reflections on Private Devotion 1~

The Duties of a Christian 1^

The Duties of a Bishop ; ^^

Prayer 20

Duty, Eflicacy, and Importance of Prayer 21

Prayers througli Jesus Christ, 22

Preparatory Prayer 23

Morning Prayer 23

The Lord's Prayer paraplirased 29



The Bishop's private Prayer 34

Prayer for Relations, Benefactors, &c 36

Prayer for Himself and Labours 36

Prayer for Faith '^^

Prayer against Wavering 41

Prayer against Covetousness 42

Prayer for Charity 42

Prayer for Repentance and Humility 44

The way of a Happy Life 45

Cliristian Perfection 46

Noon Meditations • 48

Prayer for all Mankind 49

I Special Favours ^^

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Extraordinary Deliverances 50

Merciful Visitation and Chastisements 51

Thanksgiving 51

The Lord's Prayer paraphrased, 53

Evening Prayer and Meditations 66

Self-Examination 67

Death, Reflections and Meditations on 69



Prayer on being called to tliis Ministration 70

Marks of a true Pastor 71

Bishops, the duty and greatness of their Ofl^ce 74

Translation of Bishops and Pastors 77

Church Government 81

Mission Intercession 83

Prayer for a Criminal under Sentence of Death 84

Briefs 85

Lord's Supper, Prayers before 86

Upon placing the Alms and Elements on the Altar 86

After the Consecration 87

Confirmation 88

The Effect and Blessing of Confirmation 89

Prayer after Confirmation 92

Exliortation after Imposition of Hands 92

Another Exhortation 94



Prayer for true understanding and fulfilling the Doctrine contained

in the Scriptures 96

Preacher, the true end of Preaching 97

Obscurity of the Scriptures , 102

Sermons 102

Duty of Pastors 106

Ejaculations before reading the Scriptures 107

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Prayer for Diligence and Zeal to drive away all erroneous Doc-
trine contrary to God's Word 110

Disputes, Religious... 114

The Lord's Prayer paraphrased 115



Prayer for grace to resist the Inclinations of Nature, and to be an

example of good works unto others 124

Meditations 125

Failings of good Men 127

Self-Denial 128

Take up the Cross 132

Afflictions 1 34

Crosses, &c. a peculiar favour to Christians 134

Virtues of a Holy Life 136

Temperance, Self-Denial 137

Fasthig necessary 141

Lent, Meditations proper for a Clergyman 142



Prayer for grace to exercise the Discipline of the Church for the

conviction and conversionof the wicked 151

The Importance and necessity of Church Discipline 152

Excommunication 154

Absolution 173

Penance 174

Discipline.. 174

Its sole end the pubhc good 177

Exemption 178

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Prayer 183

Meditations, &c 185

Ember Week. 188

Deacons 188

The True Pastor 189

Apostles, (Envoys) 190

The Duties of a Minister- 191

Fees 196

Ordination, Catechising : 197

Institution 197

Reasons for refusing, 198

A Cluistian Priest 199

Clergy, Faults of the Clergy 200

Lord's Supper 202

Lives of the Clergy 202

Difficulties 204

Preacher, Sermons 204

Necessary Subjects 205

Test of a good Preacher 207

The Blessing of Levi 208



Meditations on the great Duties of Mercy and Charity 209

Upon giving of Alms 217

Tithes the Property of the Ministers of the Gospel, how to be ap-
propriated 217

Alms, a Blessing to ourselves and to the poor 221

Conversation 226

Prayer before Study 229

Sufferings 230

A Thanksgiving on the escape of the Bisliop's Father and two
Brothers from being drowned 234


Daily Form of Thanksgiving, and Confession of God's Glory 237

Providence 240

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Prayer for Birth-Day 241

New- Year's Day. 243

Lord's-Day.- 244

Prayer for all Mankind 244



Prayer and Meditations while in prison and in trouble 248

Business 252

Master, Servant 253



Prayer in time of Trouble 254

Look unto Jesus 258

Suffering, AiHictions, and Chastisements, Marks of God's Love 260

Temptation. 263

Despair, Hope, Resignation, &c 264

In time of War 265



Prayer against Covetousness 268

Fasting. 270

Prayer in time of Trouble 271

Directions under Difficulties .272

In a Lawsuit 273

Prayer for Faith 274



Prayer, Meditations, &c 275

Rules in Conversation 277

Prayer against Sloth 279

Prayer against Anger 280

Prayer to forgive Inj uries 282

Reflections on Slander 283

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Reflections on uncharitableness 283

Reflections on Alms 284

Charity ; or the Love of God and our Neighbour 286

HospitaUty 287



The Pubhcan ; Meditations on liis Penitence 288

Prayer for forgiveness from God, and for a forgiving Temper, vs^ith

Meditations.. 289

Good use of Time 294

In time of great Distractions 295

Christ's Patience, Love, &c 297



What will be the Desires and wishes of every man when Death is

at hand 299

Prayers, Meditations, and ejaculations on this solemn Occasion. .319

The Litany 323

The Support of a Penitent at the Hour of Death 326

Ejaculations, and Meditations on the love of God and of Christ ;

on Penitence, Holiness, Morning, Night, &c 326

Collects, their tendency 336

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True devotion consists in having our hearts
always devoted to God, as the sole Fountain of all
happiness ; and who is ready to hear and help His
otherwise helpless, miserable creatures.
It is to be attained,

1st. By earnest prayer : " He that hungers after
righteousness, will certainly be filled."

2dly. By possessing our hearts with a deep
sense of our own misery, our wants, and danger :
This is the grace of humility.

3dly. By considering God's goodness, power,
and readiness to help us : — This is called faith in

Lastly. By convincing our hearts of the vanity
of every thing else to afford us any real help or
comfort ; — This is to be effected by self-denial.

Dying persons are generally more devout than
others, because they then see their own misery,

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that nothing in this world can help them, and that
God is their only refuge.

We must change our lives, if we desire to change
our hearts. God will liave no regard to the prayers
of those who have none to his commands.

The spirit of God will not dwell in a divided
heart. We cannot feel the pleasures of devotion,
while the world is our delight. Not that all plea-
sures are criminal, but the closer union we have
with the world, the less is our union with God. —
A Christian, therefore, who strives after devotion,
should taste sensual pleasures very sparingly,
should make necessity, not bodily delight, his

In order to dispose our hearts to devotion, the
active life is to be preferred to the contemplative.

To be doing good to mankind, disposes the soul
most powerfully to devotion. And indeed, we are
surrounded with motives to piety and devotion, if
we would but mind them.

The poor are designed to excite our liberality ;
the miserable, our pity ; the sick, our assistance ;
the ignorant, our instruction ; those that are fallen,
our helping hand. In those that are vain, we see
the vanity of this world. In those that are wicked,
our own frailty. When we see good men reward-
ed, it confirms our hope ; and when evil men are
punished, it excites our fear.

He that would be devout, must beware of in-

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dulging a habit of wandering in prayer. It is a
crime that will grow npon us, and will deprive us
of the blessings we pray for.

Avoid, as much as may be, multiplicity of busi-
ness : neither the innocency, nor the goodness of
the employment, will excuse us, if it possess our
hearts when we are praying to God.

When our Lord bids us to take no thought for
the morrow, he intended to hinder those cares and
fears which are apt to distract our devotions, —
which are the more unreasonable,^ because they
never can change the state of things.

Never be curious to know what passes in the
world, any further than duty obliges you ; it will
only distract the mind when it should be better

Never intermit devotion, if you can help it ; you
will return to your duty, like Samson, when his
locks were cut, weak and indifferent as other peo-
ple of the world.

The oftener w^e renew our intercourse with God,
the greater will be our devotion.

Frequent prayer, as it is an exercise of holy
thoughts, is a most natural remedy against the
power of sin.

Importunity makes no change in God, but it
creates in us such dispositions as God thinks fit to

Make it a law to yourself to meditate before you

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pray ; as also to make certain pauses, to see
whether your heart goes along with your lips.

They whose hearts desire nothing, pray for

Give me, O God, the spirit of true devotion, such
as may give life to all my prayers, so that they may
find acceptance in Thy sight, for Jesus Christ's
sake ! Amen.

N. B. The Meditations and Prayers wliich are proper for the Cler-
gy only, or which were suitable peculiarly to the Author, are printed
between crotchets [ ] for the sake of assisting the private devotions
of the pious reader.






" Thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast
shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret ; and tliy Father^
which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.'*— Matthew vi. 6.

How good is God ! who will not only give us
what we pray for, but will reward us for going to
Him, and laying our wants before Him.

May I always present myself before God —
with a firm faith and hope in his promises and
mercy ; with great reverence to His infinite Ma-
jesty ; with the humility of an offender; and with
a full purpose of keeping all God's commands.

May the thoughts of eternity quicken my devo-
tions ; my wants make me earnest ; my back-
slidings make me persevere ; and may I never
wilfully give way to any distracting thoughts !

May 1 wait with patience, and leave it to Thee,
my God and Father, how and when to grant my
petitions !

He that has learned to pray as he ought, has
got the secret of a holy life.

It is of greater advantage to us than we ima-



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gine, that God does not grant our petitions imme-
diately. We learn by that, that whereimto we
have already attained, it was the gift of God.

The best way to prevent wandering in prayer
is, not to let the mind wander too much at other
times ; but to have God always in our minds in the
whole course of our lives. The end of prayer is
not to inform God, but to give man a sight of his
own misery; to raise his soul towards heaven,
and to put him in mind that there is his Father and
his inheritance.

" Ask, and it shall be given unto you," Matthew
vii. 7. Grant me. Lord, a faith which shall make
me know my wants, that I may ask them with
earnestness and humility, and depend upon Thy
gracious promise.


That man leads a sincere Christian life,

1st. Who endeavours to serve and obey God to
the best of his understanding and power.

2dly. Who strives to please his neighbour to

3dly. Who endeavours to do his duty in that
state of life unto which it has pleased God to call

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Whoever would continue in the practice of
these things unto his life's end, it is necessary
that he should call himself often to an account^
whether he does so or not; constantly pray for
grace to know, and to do his duty ; and preserve
himself in such a teachable temper as to be
always ready to receive the truth, when it is fairly
proposed to him.


(The state of life unto which it has pleased God to call me.)

By the laws of God and the Church, are. To
instruct the people committed to his charge, out
of the holy scriptures ; and to teach, or maintain,
no doctrine but what may be proved from thence.

To exercise himself in those holy scriptures ; to
call upon God for the true understanding of the
same. Monday.

To use all faithful diligence in driving away all
doctrines contrary to God's Word, and to en-
courage others so to do. Tuesday.

To deny all ungodliness and worldly lusts, and
to live a sober, righteous, and godly life, so as to
be an example unto others. Wednesday.

To maintain and set forward, as much as may
be, quietness, love, and peace, among all men ;

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and to correct and punish the unruly, criminous,
and disobedient, as far as God's Word, and the
laws of the land, do require and will warrant.

To be faithful in ordaining, sending, or laying
hands upon others. Friday.

To be gentle and merciful, for Christ's sake, to
poor and needy people, and to all strangers desti-
tute of help. Saturday.


Almighty God, give me grace and power faith-
fully to perform these duties of my high calling ;
that I may be found perfect and irreprehensible at
the last day, through Jesus Christ. Amen.]

Prevent, O Lord, the wants of a heart which
knows not even how to lay them open before
Thee : which does not so much as think of doing
it ; and which does too often shut out the light and
consolation of which it stands in need.

It is a rudeness amongst men to ask a favour,
and not stay for an answer. And do we count it
no fault to pray for blessings, and never to think of
them afterwards, — -never to wait for them, never to
give God thanks for them 1

Let us not run over our prayers with an insen-
sible and distracted mind.

Let your prayers be as particular as may be,
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against the sins of your particular state, and for
the graces which you in particular do most stand
in need of. This is the best preservative against
sin : makes us best acquainted with our condition ;
puts us continually in mind of mending what is
amiss ; lets us see what particular graces we most
want, what are most needful for the cure of our
own particular corruption and disorder ; and is the
best trial of our hearts. For example; if I pray
for charity, and for every instance which is neces-
sary to render me truly charitable, I pray for grace
to avoid evil-speaking — to pray for my enemies, —
to do them good, &c. and so of all other sins and

God grant that I may never seek Thy face in
vain !

[" The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous
man availeth much." — James v. 16.

This ought to make me aspire after every pos-
sible degree of holiness, that God may hear my
prayers for my flock, and for such as have desired
my prayers.

" When thou didst pray, I did bring the remem-
brance of your prayers before the Holy One ; and
when thou didst bury the dead, I was with thee."
— Tobit xii. 12.

May the good Spirit of God assist me in the per-
formance of my duty. Fix my attention, excite
my affections, and inflame my devotions, that I

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may attend upon the Lord with pleasure and with-
out distraction.

Let us make prayer familiar to us ; for without
the help of God, we are every hour in danger.

" And Aaron shall bear the names of the chil-
dren of Israel in the breast-plate of judgment upon
his heart, when he goeth in unto the holy place,
for a memorial before the Lord continually." —
Exodus xxviii. 29.

Let Thy merciful ears, O God, be open unto
the prayers of Thy servant for himself, and for the
flock over which the Holy Ghost hath made him
overseer, for the Lord Jesus' sake. Amen.

O Lord, say Amen to our prayers, and grant
that my whole flock may be made partakers of the
blessings we have now prayed for ; and may Thy
blessings be upon them for ever. Amen.

The devil knows, that when w^e have a relish
for prayer, and apply ourselves in good earnest to
it, we are in the way of life ; he therefore strives
by all ways possible to divert us.]

" Lord, teach us to pray." — Luke xi. 1.

Pour upon us the spirit of supplication and

God will deny us nothing that we ask in the
name of His Son.


When we oflfer our prayers through His media-

cy— O

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tion, it is then He that prays, His love that inter-
cedes, His blood that pleads, it is He who obtains
all from His Father.


O holy Spirit of grace ! give us a true sight of
our miseries, and a sincere shame and sorrow
when we make confession of our sins ; a feeling
sense of our need of mercy, and a hope of obtain-
ing pardon, when we beg it for Thy Son's sake.
May we resign our wills to Thee and to Thy good-
ness, when we pray for temporal things ; and
when we pray for spiritual graces, may we hunger
and thirst after righteousness. Give us a real love
for Thy Holy Word, and grace to hear it with at-
tention. May we thankfully close with all the
means of grace and salvation. When we praise
Thee for Thy works of nature and of grace, and
give Thee thanks for Thy mercies, let us do it
with high esteem and gratitude. Cause us to hear
Thy Holy Word with faith and attention, and to
profit by what we hear, that we may return from
Thy church with a blessing.


" Choose you this day whom you will serve."— Joshua xxiv. 15.

Whom have I in heaven but Thee, Lord ? and
there is none on earth that I desire besides Thee.

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Thou art my God, and I will thank Thee : Thou
art my God, and I will serve Thee. Be Thou my
only Ruler and Governor.

They that have a convenient place to sleep in,
and they that have the comfort of sleep, have both
great reason to be thankful. And even they that
want these mercies, ought to bless God, if in the
midst of their afflictions He is pleased to refresh
them with the comforts of grace.

Gracious God, continue to me these favours so
long, and in such a measure, as shall most contri-
bute to Thy honour, and my salvation. And in
great mercy support and relieve all that want these

What shall I offer unto the Lord for His mer-
,cies renewed unto me every morning? — "The
sacrifice of God is a troubled spirit ; a broken and
contrite heart God will not despise."*

But most unfit is mine to be to God presented
until I have obtained his pardon, through the me-
rits of the Lord Jesus, for the many sins by which
it hath been defiled.

" I am merciful, saith the Lord, and I will not
keep anger for ever. Only acknowledge thine
iniquity, that thou hast transgressed against the
Lord thy God." — Jeremiah iii. 12.

" I acknowledge my sin unto Thee, O God, and
mine iniquities will I not hide." — Psalm xxxii. 5.

* Psalm li. 17.

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I do therefore implore thy pardon, and plead
Thy gracious promises, with full purpose of heart,
by the assistance of Thy grace, never again to re-
turn to folly.

" The heart is deceitful above all things, and
desperately wicked : who can know it ?" — Jere-
miah xvii. 9.

I cannot answer for my own heart, — ^but there
is no word, O Lord, impossible with Thee ; in
Thee I do put my trust ; let me never be put to

Keep it ever in the heart of Thy servant, " that
it is indeed an evil thing and bitter to offend the

Keep me from presumptuous sins ; that I may
never grieve Thy Holy Spirit, nor provoke Thee to
leave me to myself.

" Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temp-
tation." — Matthew xxvi. 41.

Lord, make me ever mindful of my infirmities
and backslidings, that I may be more watchful,
and more importunate for grace for the time to

"Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary
the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking
whom he may devour." — 1 Peter v. 8.

O Lord, grant that this adversary of our souls
may never find me off my guard, or from under
Thy protection.


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" If any man will come after Me, let him deny
himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me." —
Matthew xvi. 24.

my Saviour ! how long have I professed to
follow Thee, without following the blessed steps
of Thy most holy life, — Thy patience and humi-
lity, — Thy great disregard for the world, its plea-
sures, profits, honours, and all its idols.

O Lord, obtain for me the spirit of mortification
and self-denial, that I may follow Thee, as I hope
to live with Thee for ever. Amen.

" No man can serve two masters. Ye cannot
serve God and mammon." — Matthew vi. 24.

May my fear and love never be divided between
Thee and the world. May I never set up any
thing, O God, in competition with Thee in the
possession of my heart. May I never attempt to
reconcile Thy service with that world which is at
enmity with Thee, my God and Father.

" What shall I do that I may inherit eternal
life ?"— Mark x. 17.

" Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy
heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind ;
and thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."

O that this love of God may be the commanding
principle of my soul ! May I always have this
comfortable proof of his love abiding in me, that I
study to please Him and to keep His command-
ments. And may my love to my neighbour be

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such as He has commanded, that I may forgive,
and give, and love, as becomes a disciple of Jesus
Christ. Amen.

" Fear God, and keep his commandments, for
this is the whole duty of man ;" that is, the hap-
piness of man. — Ecclesiastes xii. 13.

May I, great God, continue in thy fear all the
day long. May I keep thy statutes, and observe
thy laws.

" All things are naked and open unto the eyes
of Him with whom we have to do." — Heb. iv. 13.

Grant that I may always live and act as having
Thee, O God, the constant witness of my conduct,

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Online LibraryThomas WilsonSacra privata : the private meditations, devotions, and prayers of the Right Rev. T. Wilson ... → online text (page 1 of 17)