Heavenly Father, deepen in us this day contrition for our vileness, as miserable sinners, in Your sight. We cloak not our wretchedness. Our lips are ready to confess—but our hearts are slow to feel, and our feet are reluctant to amend our ways. We bring our hard hearts unto You. Break them by Your Spirit—and then bind them up by Your grace. Wound them to the core—and then pour in the Gospel-balm.
Such is the blindness of our fallen nature—that we cannot see sin’s deformity, except as You are pleased to unmask it. Such is our deadness—that we cannot hate it, except as You shall graciously implant abhorrence. Such is our infirmity—that we cannot flee it, except as Your strength enables. Conscious of all inability, we come to You for light, for help, for strength, for blessing.
We know that sin is the transgression of Your righteous law, and that the commandment is spiritual and exceeding broad. Who can tell then how oft he offends? But sins without number stare us in the face. They are piled as mountain upon mountain. Their height reaches unto the heavens!
But their full extent is open only to Your omniscient eye. The burden of our known transgressions weighs us to the dust. But the burden is light, compared to the mass which the scales of Your justice hold. We see but little, because our light is partial and our sight is dim. How must we appear, as seen of You, before whom the very heavens are not clean! You charge Your holy angels with folly. What must be Your estimate of our polluted souls! Humbled for what we see and feel; fearful for what is known only unto You, we meekly cry, “Pardon all our sins—for Jesus’ sake!”
We bewail too the mighty aggravations of our felt guilt. How good beyond all thought, have You been to us! How vile are our ungrateful returns! All the faculties, so mercifully bestowed upon us, have been used as weapons of revolt against the gracious Giver. As rebels, we have misused the strength which You have supplied, and the weapons which You have prepared. How often have we yielded our members as instruments of iniquity unto iniquity. Our abilities of mind and body have rendered traitorous service to the foul adversary of Your kingdom. Willful ingratitude darkens our whole lives. We sink low in shame. We cry, “God be merciful to us miserable sinners!”
We bewail our cruel folly. We know that the way of transgressors is hard—that evil paths are surely wretched paths—that departure from You, the source of all joy and peace, is downfall into all distress. Still how often without resistance, have we floated down the stream of evil! We confess our madness. Oh! pity us, pardon us, we beg You!
We see the purity and beauty of Your perfect law—the happiness of those in whose hearts it reigns—the calm dignity of the walk to which it calls—yet we daily violate its precepts, and tread them beneath contemptuous feet.
Your loving Spirit strives within us. He warns us in the pages of Your sacred Word. He speaks to us in startling providences. He allures us by His secret whispers. How often do we choose rather the devices and desires of our own hearts! How often do we impiously resist, and vex, and grieve Him! How often do we provoke Him to abandon us forever! Conscience, too, has loudly rebuked, and in our recklessness we have stifled its faithful dictates.
For all these sins we mourn before You, most merciful and longsuffering Father. We smite upon our breasts, as utterly unworthy of the least of Your mighty and unfathomable mercies. Hear now our cry, and work in us by the omnipotence of Your Holy Spirit, more profound and abiding repentance. Give us more and more of that godly grief, which ever fears and trembles, and yet ever trusts and loves—which is ever watchful and prayerful, and yet is ever confident and hopeful. May the remembrance of the sad past—quicken us to walk in entire newness of life. Grant that through the tears of penitence, we may see more clearly the brightness and the glories of the saving Cross.
Oh! blessed Jesus, we flee to You. We cling to You. Our countless iniquities condemn us—but You will wash them all away! Our tears of penitence cannot remove one blot. But Your blood has all cleansing merit. Our prayers can earn no pardon. But Your mercy says, “Your sins which are many—are all forgiven!” The more we loathe ourselves, the more we love You. Our vile demerits—commend Your glorious worth. Lost in ourselves—we live in You. Trusting in You, we shall never be confounded! Hear us, bless us, for Your love’s sake. Amen.
“For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect!” 1 Peter 1:18-19
Blessed Jesus, we kneel before Your cross, humbly praying that, through Your Spirit, power may come forth from it to show us more deeply the heinousness of our sin. We see You laden with our iniquities. What must iniquity be—if there can be no pardon except You shall thus expire! We see the outgoing of the severity of divine wrath. What must that evil be—which thus requires it! In that crown of thorns, in those pierced hands and feet, in those bleeding wounds, in that bruised frame, in that dying cry—we are taught the enormity of our guilt. We know that Your blood to be the blood of God. Its worth is infinite. Its precious value exceeds all thought. Infinite therefore must be the evil—for which it is the only ransom. Exceeding all thought—must be the guilt which requires such price! In Your death—we see the tremendous guilt of our sins. We see it, and we cast ourselves in the lowliest humility before You.
Sin is the malady which so sorely afflicts us. It cleaves to us as our very skin! It is born in our birth. It lives in our lives. It adheres to us when we lie down to die. It follows us as our very shadow! It intermingles in our every thought. When we go forth—it is by our side. When we come in—it still accompanies us. We are tied and bound by its enslaving chain! At Your cross—we are taught how terrible is the evil of sin. We see how unutterable is the wrath which it so righteously deserves. Laden with our mountains of sins, we especially come at this time to You for refuge.
Looking unto You, and striving to estimate more and more the riches of redeeming grace, we loathe and abhor ourselves as fully sin-soiled and polluted. We marvel that the sun consents to give us light—the air to supply breath—the earth to bear our tread—the fruit nourish us—Your creatures to subserve our use. Through us the whole creation groans and travails. Justly might all things, animate and inanimate, rise in abhorrence of us!
How much more do we marvel, precious Jesus—that Your compassionate heart yearned over us—that Your love hastened to our rescue—that You endured all our curse, and all our guilt. We bless You—while we hide our heads in deepest shame!
Gracious Savior, may the sight of Your unutterable sufferings excite in us due detestation of this monster! Oh, forbid it, that we should ever dally with that foe—which brought You to such anguish. Forbid it, that we should fondle in our breasts—that viper which stung You to death! Forbid it that we should lightly regard that sin, which kindled the flames of hell, from which nothing but Your dying love could snatch us! May we hate it with unmitigable hate! May we abhor it with abhorrence—only exceeded by the infinite love with which we desire infinitely to love You, our adorable Savior!
But while we pray that henceforth we may increasingly abominate all evil—we know that without Your grace, that our traitorous heart will look treacherously back. It has deceived us. It has betrayed us. Bind it now, more closely to Yourself. Never allow it to stray.
You are our only Redeemer. You are our only help. Repentance, and strength, and pardon are the free gifts of Your grace. We adore You that You are exalted to be a Prince and a Savior, to give repentance unto Your people and forgiveness of sins. Fill us, we beg You, with godly sorrow—even that sorrow which works repentance to salvation not to be repented of. From the depths of our humiliation we cry aloud to the heights of Your mercy. We call upon You in the full assurance of faith. Having died to deliver us from the punishment of our sins, we trust You by Your life to deliver us from their power.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life!” Psalm 139:23-24
Have mercy on all near and dear to us—on all who intercede for us—on all who ask our intercession. Grant that we may meekly walk together in the lowest valley of humiliation because we are sinners. Grant that we may rejoice together in You as all our hope and all our desire. Grant that we may journey together in much tenderness of conscience, because so prone to evil. Grant that at last we may triumph gloriously as heirs of Your great salvation. Hear us, we earnestly beseech You. Amen.