Chapter 92

On the Corruption of Nature and the Power of Grace

THE DISCIPLE. O Lord my God, You have created me in Your own image and likeness. Grant me this great grace, so necessary to my salvation, that I may conquer the base elements of my nature, (Rom.7:23) that drag me down into sin and perdition. Within my being I can feel the power of sin contending against the rule of my mind, leading me away an obedient slave to all kinds of sensuality. I cannot resist its onslaughts, unless Your most holy grace is poured glowing into my heart to help me.

I need Your grace in fullest measure, to subdue that nature which always inclines to evil from my youth up.(Gen.8:21) For it fell through Adam the first of men, and was tainted by sin, the penalty of that fault descending upon all mankind. Thus the nature which You created good and upright has now become the very symbol of corruption and weakness, for when left to itself, it leans always towards evil and base things. The little strength that remains is only like a small spark, buried beneath ashes. Yet this same natural reason, though hidden in profound darkness, still retains the power to know good and evil, and to discern truth and falsehood. But it is powerless to do what it knows to be good, neither does it enjoy the full light of truth, nor its former healthy affections.

Thus, 0 Lord my God, it comes about that, while I inwardly delight in Your law, (Rom.7:22) and know Your commands to be good, just, and holy, (Rom. 8:12) both for the condemnation of all evil and the avoiding of sin, yet in my body I serve the law of sin (Rom.8:25) and obey my senses before my reason. Hence, while I indeed possess the will to good, I find myself powerless to follow it.(Rom 8:18) In this way, I make many good resolutions, but, through lack of grace to support my weakness, any small obstacle causes discouragement and failure. Thus, too, I know the way of perfection, and see clearly enough what I ought to do; but I am borne down by the burden of my own corruption, and advance no nearer to perfection.

Lord, how urgently I need Your grace if I am to undertake, carry out and perfect any good work! Without it, I can achieve nothing; but in You and by the power of Your grace, all things are possible. Phil.4:13) 0 true and heavenly grace, without which our own merits are nothing, and our natural gifts of no account! Neither arts nor riches, beauty nor strength, genius nor eloquence have any value in Your eyes, Lord, unless allied to grace. For the gifts of nature are common to good men and bad alike, but grace or love are Your especial gift to those whom You choose, and those who are sealed with this are counted worthy of life everlasting. So excellent is this grace that neither the gift of prophecy, nor the working of miracles, nor any speculation, however sublime, is of any value without it. Indeed, not even faith, or hope, or any other virtue is acceptable to You without _love and grace.

0 most blessed grace, that makes the poor in spirit rich in virtues, and the richly blessed humble in heart! Come, descend on me! Fill me with your comfort,(Ps 40:14) lest my soul faint from weariness and dryness of mind I pray, Lord, that I may find favour in Your sight, for Your grace is sufficient for me,(2Cor.12:9) even if I obtain none of those things that nature desires. However often I am tempted and troubled, I will fear no evil (Ps.23:4) so long as Your grace remains with me.

Your grace is my strength, my counsel, and my help. It is more powerful than all my enemies, and wiser than all the wise. It is the teacher of truth, the instructor of doctrine, the light of the heart, the consoler of affliction. It banishes sorrow, drives away fear, fosters devotion, and moves to contrition. Without grace, I am nothing but a dry tree, a barren stock (Ecclus.6:3) fit only for destruction. Therefore, 0 Lord, let Your grace always lead and follow me, (Collect,Trinity 17) and keep me ever intent on good works, through Your Son Jesus Christ. Amen.

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