In a word; apply all that thou readest in holy Scripture, to one of these two heads chiefly; either to confirm thy faith, or to increase thy repentance: for, as sustine et abstine*, bear and forbear, was the epitome of a good philosopher’s life**; so crede et resipisce***, believe and repent, is the whole sum of a true Christian’s profession, One chapter thus read with understanding, and meditated with application, will better feed and comfort thy soul than five read and run over without marking their scope or sense, or making any use of them to thine ownself (ed., Pr. 22:17). If in this manner thou shalt read three chapters every day—one in the morning, another at noon, and the third at night (ed., Pr. 55:17) (reading so many psalms instead of a chapter), thou shall read overall the canonical scriptures in a year, except six chapters, which thou mayest add to the duties of the last day of the year.**** The reading of the Bible in order, will help thee better to understand both the history and scope of the holy Scripture. And as for the Apocrypha, being but penned by man’s spirit, thou mayest read them at thy pleasure; but believe, them so far only as they agree with the canonical Scripture, which is endited by the Holy Ghost.
But it may be thou wilt say, that thy business will not permit thee so much time, as to read every morning a chapter, &c. O man, remember that thy life is but short, and that all this business is but for the use of this short life; but salvation or damnation is everlasting! Rise up, therefore, every morning by so much time the earlier: defraud thy foggy flesh of so much sleep; but rob not thy soul of her food, nor God of his service; and serve the Almighty duly whilst thou hast time and health. Having thus read thy chapter, as thou art about to pray, remember that God is a God of holiness (Exod. xxvi. 36;) whereof he warns us by repeating so often, “Be ye holy, for I am holy.” (Levit. xi. 44; xix. 2; xx. 7.) And when he devoured with a sudden fire Nadab and Abihu, for offering to him incense with strange fire (Lev. x. 2),—like these now a-days, who offer prayers from hearts fraught with the fire of lust and malice,—would give no other reason of his judgment but this, “I will be sanctified in them that come near me.” (Lev. x. 3.) As if he should have said, If I cannot be sanctified by them who are my servants, in serving me with that holiness that they should, I will be sanctified on them, by confounding them with my just judgments, which their lewdness deserves. God cannot abide any wilful uncleanness or sin in them who serve him: “For the Lord thy God walketh in the midst of thy camp to deliver thee, and to give thee thine enemies before thee: therefore the host shall be holy.” (Deut. xxiii. 13, 4.)
Zophar in Job saith, “If thou prepare thine heart, and stretch out thine hand towards God to pray; if iniquity be in thy hand, put it far away, and let no wickedness dwell in thy tabernacle.” (Job xi. 13, 14.) For, as Esai saith, “If there be any uncleanness in our hands” (that is, any sin whereof we have not repented) “though we stretch out our hands unto him, and. make many prayers, the Lord will hide his eyes from us, and will not hear our prayers.” (Isai. i. 15.) Therefore, before thou prayest, let God see that thy heart is sorrowful for thy sin, and that thy mind is resolved (through the assistance of his grace) to amend thy faults. And then, having washed thyself, and adorned thy body with apparel which beseemeth thy calling, and the image of God, which thou bearest, shut thy chamber-door, and kneel down at thy bedside, or some other convenient place; and in reverent manner lifting up thy heart, together with thy hands and eyes, as in the presence of God who seeth the inward intention of thy soul, offer up to God from the altar of a contrite heart, thy prayer, as a morning sacrifice, through the mediation of Christ, in these or the like words:—
Pr. 2:2 So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding;
* sustine (bear, sustain) et (and) abstine (forbear, abstain)
** Epicteti dict., Epictetus was a philosopher in ancient Rome.
*** crede (believe) et (and) resipisce (repent, recover one’s senses, become rational again)
Pr. 22:17 Bow down thine ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply thine heart unto my knowledge.
Ps. 55:17 Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice.
**** In the canonical books of the Old Testament there are 931 chapters: but distributing the 150 Psalms into 60 parts, thou shalt find but 841; which being added to 260, the number of the chapters in the New Testament, will amount to 1101; dividing which by three into 365, the number of the days of the year, there will remain but six, which thou mayest dispose of as is prescribed.
Ps. 89:47 Remember how short my time is: wherefore hast thou made all men in vain? 48 What man is he that liveth, and shall not see death? shall he deliver his soul from the hand of the grave.
Ex. 26:36 And thou shalt make a screen for the door of the Tent, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen, the work of the embroiderer.
Lv. 11:44 For I am the Lord your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy: neither shall ye defile yourselves with any manner of creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. [Earlier text has scrivener’s error of “Levit. XXI:44”.]
Lv. 19:2 Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them, Ye shall be holy; for I Jehovah your God am holy.
Lv. 20:7 Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy; for I am Jehovah your God.
Lv. 10:2 And there came forth fire from before Jehovah, and devoured them, and they died before Jehovah.
Lv. 10:3 Then Moses said unto Aaron, This is it that Jehovah spake, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified. And Aaron held his peace.
Dt. 23:13 and thou shalt have a paddle among thy weapons; and it shall be, when thou sittest down abroad, thou shalt dig therewith, and shalt turn back and cover that which cometh from thee: 14 for Jehovah thy God walketh in the midst of thy camp, to deliver thee, and to give up thine enemies before thee; therefore shall thy camp be holy, that he may not see an unclean thing in thee, and turn away from thee.
Job 11: 13 If thou set thy heart aright, And stretch out thy hands toward him; 14 If iniquity be in thy hand, put it far away, And let not unrighteousness dwell in thy tents.
Is. 1:15 And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you; yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.