From The Christian’s Daily Walk. Headings are not the author’s.
The morning of the fast
Begin the day with prayer, according as I directed you to do every day, but with more than ordinary preparation: with fervency and faith, praying for God’s special grace to enable you to sanctify a fast that day according to the commandment. Then apply yourself to the main work of the day, which has these parts: (a) unfeigned humiliation; (b) reformation, together with reconciliation; and (c) earnest invocation.
Start with humiliation
The soul is humbled, [and] the heart broken and truly afflicted, when a man is become vile in his own eyes, through consciousness of his own unworthiness. And [so a man’s soul is humbled] when his heart is full of grief and anguish through fear of God’s displeasure, with godly sorrow and holy shame in himself, and anger against himself for sin. These affections excited do much afflict the heart.
This deep humiliation is to be wrought, partly by awakening your conscience through a sight of the law and apprehensions of God’s just judgments due to you for the breach of it, which will [should] break your heart, and partly by the gospel, raise your mind to an apprehension and admiration of the love of God to you in Christ, which will melt your heart and cause you the more kindly to grieve and loath yourself for sin. [This humbling will] also entertain hope of mercy, whence will follow reconciliation, reformation, and holy calling upon God by prayer.
To work this humiliation, there must be:
- an examination, to find out your sins;
- an accusation of yourself, with due aggravation of your sins; and
- judging and passing sentence against yourself for sins.
The Law of God is your help
Sin is the transgression of the law and revealed will of God. Wherefore, for the better finding out of your sins, you must set before you God’s holy law, for your light and rule, Psa 119:105. And if you have not learned, or cannot remember the heads of the manifold duties commanded, or vices forbidden, then get some catalogue or table, wherein the same are set down to your hand, which you may read with serious consideration and self-inquiry, fixing your thoughts most upon those particular sins whereof you find yourself most guilty.
(The next post will begin a thorough reflection on the Ten Commandments.)