Matter at Hand

Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.
~ Psalm 51:4

It is a trespass offering: he hath certainly trespassed against the LORD.
~ Leviticus 5:19

Wherefore hast thou despised the commandment of the LORD, to do evil in his sight? thou hast killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and hast taken his wife to be thy wife, and hast slain him with the sword of the children of Ammon. Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house; because thou hast despised me, and hast taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be thy wife.
~ 2 Samuel 12:9-10

For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law.
~ James 2:11

Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.
~ Acts 17:31

But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God;
~ Romans 2:5

And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.
~ Revelation 19:11

A Prayer, by Alexander Henderson.

Prayer. Father, it is our fault and our infirmity, we confess in thy sight, O Lord our God, that we consider not thy ways and thy working; and therefore it is that we think not seriously upon that duty and obligation whilk we owe to thee*, the Lord. Thy ways, O Lord, many of them has been and still are unsearchable, for who is there that has known the mind of the (Lord, or who hath been his counsellor? no created wisdom is able to fathom this depth of thy working, for it is a boundless and bottomless deep. But, Lord, thou has some goings and ways in the world, and especially in thy own house, among thy own children, whilk may be traced and gone into by us, whilk whosoever sees shall see thee, the Lord, to be wonderful in goodness, mercy, patience, yea, in justice, wrath, &c., even in wrath against thy wicked enemies, and in mercy to thy own people. Lord, it has pleased thee to come near unto us, and that very near, and we wonder at it, and we cannot wonder enough, what it is that has moved thee to do so, except it be to magnify the greatness of thy mercy, in shewing of thyself merciful to such a miserable and sinful nation as we are. For where the greatest darkness is,
* Among that man’s (Henderson’s) other good parts that was one, a faculty of grave, good, and zealous prayer according to the matter in hand.” – Baillie i. 128.

there light is best kythed (shewn), and so the wonder is the greater that thou does good to such a unworthy people as we are; and we will take it so from thee, O Lord, to the end that thy mercy may be the more highly magnified and extolled. And therefore, whatsoever is done to us, it is to be ascribed to thy free grace and favour in Christ; for if thou had dealt with us in wrath, we had been consumed long or now: And if we had been consumed, either by thy own immediate hand, or by some judgment, as famine, pest, or sword, as a messenger sent from thee, we behoved all of us to have subscribed that the Lord was most just and righteous in so doing, and confess that we had deserved it all at his hands, for despising of that rich offer of Christ, whilk has been made to us in the gospel, even the richest offer whilk was ever yet made to any people under heaven; and so the contemning of it deserves the greatest judgments. And therefore, from the very inward of our hearts we bless and praise thee, the Lord, for this thy goodness that thou has manifested to us; and yet, for all that, we may be yet snared, if so be that we take not heed to ourselves what we do, for thou has said thou wilt not hold him guiltless that takes thy name in vain. And if so be that we add this taking of thy name in vain, in our covenanting and swearing to thee, to our former sins, certainly we sall then be holden the guiltiest of all people under heaven, and mickle guiltier than we were before; because if we break now, we will be breakers of a very solemn covenant. And therefore, O Lord, give us grace to consider what our duty is now, and to repent and mourn to thee for sin ; that so it may be a guard to us, both from all fear of our enemies, and also to hold thy wrath off us. And because it is faith that assures us of thy mercy, and faith is not in every soul; only those has it, on whom thou bestows it; Lord, we beseech thee to banish this Atheism out of our hearts, and extirpate and pluck up by the roots this infidelity that is so fast planted into us, and plant that holy plant of faith into us; that so we may know that Christ and his righteousness belongs to us; and through him our prayers may ascend to thee, and thy blessings may descend upon us.

And because we have tied ourselves of late to thee, yet in no more than thy word requireth of us, to beautify our profession by a more religious and holy life and conversation, in doing every duty we owe both to God and man, Lord, forgive us that we have not considered of this part of our Covenant with thee; for who is there who has laid their sins to heart more this week than before, or said, What have I done? or who is there who has taken any new pur. poses of amendment? We may well say in general, we repent for sin ; but what particular sins have we mourned for? We may say in general that we shall amend our ways; but what sin have we forsaken more than we did before, or what duties have we begun to do? Lord, it was thou who first made us to enter in covenant with thee, and thou must also put thy fear in our hearts, and cause us to love thee with the whole heart; and it is thou who must both make us willing and able to keep it. And as we have gone far on in our profession, so sanctify thou our hearts to serve thee according to it; and give us grace that hereafter our whole life may be spent and bestowed not for ourselves, nor for the world, but for thy honour and glory, for the good of others, and for the comfort of our own souls. And for this end, Lord, pour out upon us the Spirit of prayer and supplications, both when we are about to pray to thee in private, in public, in our families, or in public in the congregation with thy people; that so we, praying to thee as it becomes us, thou may turn away thy judgments from us, and show us thy mercy and loving-kindness: that as it pleased thee to enter in a covenant with us, and to make us to enter in a covenant with thee, when we were sliding back from thee and were almost gone, so thou may be pleased also to turn away thy judgments from us, and to turn them upon a people who knows not thee. Lord, we apprehend this far, that if so be thou had had a purpose to destroy us, thou would have suffered us still to go on in our backsliding, and so made us a hissing, a reproach, and a mocking-stock to all the world about us; but because thou has been pleased to deal thus graciously with us, we take it for a beginning of great mercy, and we look that it shall be so. And no doubt but shall be. if we will endeavour to go on in the obedience of thy commandments, and to walk in thy ways; and so thou will at last bring us to that rest, purchased to us by the merits of thy Son, To whom, &c.