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III

II

. OF THE IMITATION

OF

Jesus Christ.

0 Book.

: The Third Book Digested into Conferences between CHRIST

and the Soul of his Disciple.

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CH A P. I. The Happiness of such a Conversation. Disciple.] Y Will hear what the Lord God .

will say concerning me. For Pjal.lxxxv.&. blessed is the Soul which hears the Lord

speaking, and feels the transporting Comforts of his Gracious Words. Blessed are the Ears, which, with a greedy Attention, drink in the soft and gentle Whispers of his Spirit; while they cons tinue obftinately deaf to the treacherous Infinuations of this deluding World. And doubly bleixed are They who hear the Sound of Truth, not only in the Qutward Administrations of the Word, but by the Inward and Familiar Communications and Motions of infused Grace. Blessed those Eyes, which are shut to all the Objects of the World and constantly wakeful and open to the Affairs of the Soul, and turned inwardjupon our felvesBlesfed are they whose sharper Sightienters deep, and pierces into the secret and sublime Mysteries of Heavenly Truth ; purged and prepared by Spiritual Meditations, and Daily Exercise of Holy Duties: Blessed indeed are they who disengage themselves from all Worldly Incumbrances, and gain Leisure and Opportunities for attending continually upon God alone.

Consider this, my Soul, and shake off Sensual Desires, which must be first abandoned, before thou canst liften with due Reverence and Attention, to those Things, which the Lord God will speak : And, O!

what comfortable Words are those, I am John xiv Gen. xvii.

i thy Peace, thy Life, thy Salvation, and ex

ceeding great Reward. Come unto me, thou Matth. xi. that art weary and heavy laden, and thou

Jhalt find rest unto thy Soul. Set thy Affe&tis Colos. iii.

ons on Things above, and not on things on 2 Cor. iv.

the Earth. For the Things that are seen are

temporal, but the Things that are not seen are eternal. What are all things here below but dangerous and empty Delusions And what could it profit a Man to gain, though it were all the Creatures, if he be forsaken and cast off by the Creator? In him alone is Pleasure, and Bliss, and Glory; therefore let go those cheating Shadows, and embrace the only substantial Good; bid a final Adieu to the Deceits of the World, and place all thy Love and Endeavours upon thy God; for in his Service and Acceptance thou shalt attain the End of thy Wishes, the Fruit of thy Labours, solid Satisfaction and true Happiness.

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. God is in the small still Voice. Disciple.] Peak, Lord, for thy Servant 1 Sam. iii. 1

beareth. Bebold, I am ihy "PJal. cxix. Servant, and the Son of thy Handmaid; O give me Understanding, that I may learn thy Commandments. In cline my Soul to the Words of thy Mouth, . which drop down as the Rain upon the tender Deut. xxxii. Herb, and liftill gently, like Dew upon the Grass. The Ifraelites indeed befought Moses heretofore, Speak thout unto us, and we will hear, but let not God Speck , to us, left uvé die. But let it not be so done Exod. xx. : unto me, my God. I rather chuse to make !9. Hi my humble Petition in the Prophet Samuel's Forms Speak, 'Lord, for thy Servant heareth. Let not Mófe's nor any of the Prophets be my Instructor, but do thou thy self vouchsafe to teach me by thy self. For thou are the source of all Their Light and Knowledge. They could not uiţer Truth without chy Inspiration and Heavenly Guidance; but Thou art Essential Wisdom and Truth; and canft, without their Ministry, 'communicate thy self effectually to my Soul. • Their Words, alas, are Air and empty Sound, but Thine alone are Spirit and Life. Their Expressions may be proper, their Arguments moving, but unless thou break 'Silence, my Soul will still continue deaf and insensible. They deliver the Words, but thou art the Interpréter, and lettest'me into the true and hidden Sense of their abstruse Oracles. Their Books are sealed, and only Thy, Hand can open and explain them." From Them we receive the Command, but only from Thee the Disposition to Obey, and the whole Power of performing it. They shew theWay,but thou impartest the Strength to walk in it; All They

I 4

can

Can do, is still remote and without us. Thou only entrest into the Soul, and, by a secret Conveyance, putt's

Truth in the Inward Parts. Paul mar i Car. iii.

plant, and Apollo water, but except thou be ola. iv. pleased to give the Increale, the Word will

return unto thee void, and accomplish no part of the End, whereto thou lenteft it. 'The Voice of their Cry pierces our Ears; but the knowing what they in Cry, and the Impression upon our Hearts, is thy peculiar Gift..

Therefore, I cannot but implore again thy Grace and Mercy, and beg, that Moles may not fpeak to me, but Thou, my Lord, my God, the Ônly and Eternal Truth, left' I die; Not by the Terrors of thy thun; dring Voice, but by the effectual Communications of thy Will. For if I be instructed and admonished by the Outward Ministration only, and be not in wardly disposed, and zealoully affected to Obedience, the Advantages of Instruction will but aggravate my Condemnation. For this is the dismal Consequence

** of the Word preached not profiting, when it Heb. iv, is not mixed with Faith in them that bear it, And mixed with Faith thou knowest it cannot be, ex i cept seconded and enforced by the Voice of thy Spi- i fit; except thou incline me to love the Good I know, and enable me faithfully to fulfil the Doctrine I believe. Speak therefore, Lord, I lay again ; To thee thy Ser

yant listens gladly, for Thou baft the Words John iv. of Eternal Life, Speak powerfully to my Soul, and carry thy Saving Truths home to my Confcience and Affections, that thy Words may bring Comfort and Peace, Reformation and Holiness to thy atřentive Servant, and to thy self iminortal Honour and Praisee

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Сн А р. XX. Of the General Disregard to God's Word, and the

Obedience due to it. Chrift. Ince then, my Son, thou so pasfionately de

firest to hear my Voice, Incline now thine Ears to my Words, Words, which well deserve, and will abundantly reward thy most diligent Attention ; For they are sweet and charming, far above all the engaging Arts of Human Eloquence; useful and in structive, beyond the most laboured Systems of Philosophy. The Wisdom of this World could not invent, or order, nor can it comprehend them. The mysterious Truths they declare are too strong for Human

Sense to behold, nor canst thou enter into their $e- crets, till guided by that Light from whence they

flow. My Precepts are pure and spiritual, such as a Carnal and impure Heart can find no Relish in. My every Word, of weight; and spoken, not to entertain the Curious, and tickle itching Ears, but to fubdue the Heart, and command a strict Obedience.' Hear therefore, but hear as becomes thee, with respectful Silence, and entire Submission; with profound and awful Humility; with an earnest Desire to be taught ; and sincere and vigorous Resolutions of doing as thou art raught.

Disciple.] I own the mighty Favour, and heartily acknowledge, with thy Holy Prophet , That Blessed

is the Man whom thou chasteneft, O Lord, and .. Ý teacheft him in thy Law; That thou mayelt Psal. xciv.

give bim Strength in time of Adversity, left he fall away with the Ungodly,

Cbrift.] That Prophet spoke what I inspired, and so did all those Holy Men of old; for they were all of my sending. Nor is my Care at all abated now, tho’

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