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alluring temptations to exercise and to make trial of us, and by which we are liable to be drawn aside to evil, and to fall
from thee; incline us to watch always with our eyes continually lifted up unto thee, from a conviction of our own weakness and danger, and the necessity of thy help to save us from it.
Suffer not the false pleasures and ambitious pursuits of this world, or its fascinating amusements, to extinguish the light of conscience and of thy holy truth within us, or hinder us from listening to it, lest we fall into the fatal condition of those who, having silenced this thine inward monitor by custom of sinning, are become hardened therein beyond recovery.
Preserve us evermore from the vain impious thought of reconciling the hope of thy favour with a continuance in sinful courses; for that no outward rites, or ceremonious attendance on this thy public worship, can atone or compensate before thee for the want of purity, integrity, and kindness.
And although thou, our merciful Creator, wilt not deal rigorously with thine imperfect creatures, so lately taken out of the dust, and we cannot be free from the stain of many infirmities and failures each day that passes ; yet
keep us, O Lord, from all habits of known evil, and from those bold presumptuous acts of sin, which chase away thy good spirit from us, that we may have humble confidence towards thee our God, that we are in thy favour ; and that we shall in the end, and in thy good time, be in the number of those to whom thou hast promised life and happiness for evermore!
Now unto thee, O Father, &c.
February 18, 1787.
2 F 2
MARK xvi. 9.
Now when Jesus was raised up from the dead
early the first day of the week, be appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom be bad cast seven demons.
It was a very extraordinary favour that was shown to the person here mentioned, to be so much distinguished above others; and it seems to me, that it may be an useful employment of our time to consider her character, and the manner in which Jesus made himself known to her, and the conversation he had with her,
Mary Magdalene, as she is called, to distinguish her from the other Maries mentioned in the New Testament, is presumed to have been so named from Magdala, a town of Galilee, where she lived, and where probably her property lay; for she appears to have been a person of some rank and fortune, being spoken
of as one of those women of distinction in company
with some of Christ's kindred, who, when he was in Galilee and travelled about to preach the gospel, followed hinr-(Luke viii. 2, 3.) and ministered to him out of their substance ; i. e. defrayed his expenses, and contributed to his support, as he had nothing of his own; an honourable office, and in which a good mind would be beyond measure happy.
With regard to what is mentioned here of her being one out of whom Jesus had cast seven demons, this refers to the notion of the spirits of dead men being supposed to be concerned in inflicting certain diseases, which violently disturb the human frame, and dwelling in men's bodies; which was the popular belief of the Jews and other nations at that time, though there never was the least degree of foundation for it.
The persons whom they supposed to be thus poŝsessed were such as were afflicted with those diseases which affect the understanding more or less, for a greater or shorter space ; such as the epilepsy, deep melancholy, insanity, and the like. And when the disorder was very violent, they were wont to say that it was owing to seven, or many, demons. A