Editor's note:

Chris­t­ian Sim­plic­i­ty is not the renun­ci­a­tion of wealth — it is sin­gle­ness of mind on Jesus Christ. It means,” says Richard Fos­ter in Free­dom of Sim­plic­i­ty, being cog­nizant of many issues while hav­ing only one issue at the cen­ter — holy obe­di­ence.” God calls some to take a vow of pover­ty and oth­ers, like Thomas Maclel­lan (18371916), are called to busi­ness. All of us are called to be rich toward God (Luke 12:21).

It is dif­fi­cult to imag­ine any mod­ern twen­ty year old pen­ning a prayer with the depth and pow­er of this one by Thomas Maclel­lan in 1857. This covenant set the foun­da­tion not only for his life but also for the fam­i­ly busi­ness for gen­er­a­tions to come. Thomas, a man of mod­est means but strong faith and dis­ci­pline, invest­ed in the fledg­ling Prov­i­dent Insur­ance Com­pa­ny. The com­pa­ny grew rapid­ly and in 1910 went pub­lic with Thomas serv­ing as pres­i­dent until his death six years lat­er. In 1945, Thomas’ son, Robert, formed the Maclel­lan foun­da­tion which has to date giv­en over $500 mil­lion to char­i­ta­ble causes.

—Brian Morykon

Eter­nal, unchange­able and ever blessed God! Cre­ator of Heav­en and earth, the All in All! I now fall down before Thy throne and pros­trate myself at Thy foot­stool, and earnest­ly pray that Thou wouldst pen­e­trate my heart with a suit­able sense of Thine infi­nite and unut­ter­able glo­ries – When I present myself before Thee, the Holy Majesty of Heav­en, King of Kings, and Lord of Lords; trem­bling may just­ly take hold of me – and that more espe­cial­ly on such an occa­sion as the present when I would desire to enter into a covenant trans­ac­tion with Thee — What am I that I should desire to be one par­ty in a covenant where Thou art the other.

Well may I, a poor sin­ful worm, be con­found­ed even to men­tion such a thing. I acknowl­edge, O Lord, that I have been a great trans­gres­sor. Thou brought­est me into being on this day twen­ty years ago, and Thou has pre­served me and renewed my life day by day ever since, yet I have rebelled against Thee. Dur­ing the whole of that time I have lived with­out Thee in the world. I was ded­i­cat­ed to Thee in bap­tism and about two years ago I con­firmed that act at the Table of the Lord. Still, I con­fess, with grief and shame, I did not depart from all iniquity”.

But, O Lord, Thou art a God that par­don­est iniq­ui­ty and though great is Thy majesty, so also is Thy mer­cy. Through Jesus Christ Thou can descen­d­est to vis­it poor sin­ners, and it is Thy grace that has inclined my heart to this act of ded­i­ca­tion of myself to Thee. I come, there­fore, invit­ed by the name of Thy Son and trust­ing whol­ly in His right­eous­ness and grace. For His sake, do Thou be mer­ci­ful to my unright­eous­ness and my sins and iniq­ui­ties do Thou remem­ber no more. Receive me, I beseech Thee, and make me to desire noth­ing so much as that I may be Thine, who art my right­ful own­er and sov­er­eign Ruler. O God of Heav­en, record it in the book of Thy remem­brances that from hence­forth I am Thine for­ev­er. I renounce all for­mer lords that have had domin­ion over me and con­se­crate all that I am and all that I have, the fac­ul­ties of my mind, the mem­bers of my body, my world­ly pos­ses­sions, my time, and my influ­ence over oth­ers, all to be used entire­ly for Thy glo­ry and res­olute­ly employed in obe­di­ence to Thy com­mands as long as Thou con­tin­uest me in life.

In this course, O blessed God, would I steadi­ly per­se­vere to the very end of my life, earnest­ly pray­ing that every future day of it may sup­ply the defi­cien­cies and cor­rect the irreg­u­lar­i­ties of the for­mer; and that I may, by divine grace, be enabled, not only to hold on in that hap­py way, but dai­ly to grow more active in it. To Thy direc­tion also, I resign myself and all that I have to be dis­posed of by Thee as Thou shalt see fit. To Thee I leave the man­age­ment of all events and desire that Thou enable me to say, with­out reserve, not my will but Thine be done. Know­ing that Thou gov­ernest all things wise­ly and will ever do that which is best for me.

Use me, O Lord, I beseech Thee as an instru­ment for Thy ser­vice. May I bring some avenue of praise to Thee, and of ben­e­fit to the world in which I dwell. From this day for­ward, num­ber me among Thy pecu­liar peo­ple and make me a fel­low cit­i­zen with the Saints and of the house­hold of God. Wash me in the blood of Thy dear Son. Clothe me with His right­eous­ness. Sanc­ti­fy me through­out by the pow­er of Thy Spir­it. Destroy, I beseech Thee, more and more the pow­er of sin in my heart. Trans­form me to the resem­blance of Jesus, whom hence­forth I would acknowl­edge as my Teacher and Sac­ri­fice, my Inter­ces­sor and my Lord. Com­mu­ni­cate, I beseech Thee, to me all need­ful influ­ences of Thy puri­fy­ing, Thy cheer­ing, and Thy com­fort­ing Spir­it. And lift up that light of Thy coun­te­nance upon me which will put the sub­limest joy and glad­ness into my soul.

What more can I say. Let the remem­brance of this solemn act be before mine eyes every day of my life. And, O Lord, I beseech Thee to give me grace where­by I may be enabled to per­form these vows. Give me of Thine own where­with I may serve Thee. O deny me not Thy grace. Make me to remem­ber that the vows of the Lord are upon me and that it is bet­ter not to vow than to vow and not to pay. And, O God, when I have done and borne Thy will upon earth, call me from hence at what time and in what man­ner Thou pleas­est. And grant in my dying moments and in the near prospect of eter­ni­ty I may remem­ber these my engage­ments to Thee and may employ my lat­est breath in Thy ser­vice. And do Thou, O Lord, remem­ber it too. Look down with pity on Thy lan­guish­ing dying child. Place Thine ever­last­ing arms beneath me for my sup­port; put strength and con­fi­dence into my depart­ing spir­it and receive it to the embraces of Thine ever­last­ing love. Receive it to the abodes of them that sleep in Jesus, peace­ful­ly and joy­ful­ly to wait the accom­plish­ment of Thy great promise to all Thy peo­ple, even that of a glo­ri­ous res­ur­rec­tion and of eter­nal hap­pi­ness in Thy Heav­en­ly presence.

And if this should fall into the hands of any of my friends when I am in the dust may they make the engage­ment their own; and do Thou gra­cious­ly admit them to par­take in all the bless­ings of Thy covenant Through Jesus, the great Medi­a­tor of it. May they learn to fear the Lord my God, and with me to put their trust under the shad­ow of His wings, for time and for eter­ni­ty. And may they also learn to adore with me that grace which inclines our hearts to enter into the covenant, and con­de­scends to admit us unto it when so inclined, ascrib­ing with me and with all the nations of the redeemed, to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, that glo­ry, hon­or and praise which is so just­ly due to each divine per­son for the part he bears in this illus­tri­ous work! Amen.

Originally published December 1856

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