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CHA P. XIV. Obedience to Superiors ; enforced by Christ's Exam
ample. Chrift.]V Now, my Son, that the Man who refuses
M Obedience, rejects the Grace, and excludes himself from the Favour of God ; And, by seeking his own private Advantageinordinately, breaks the Order, and obstructs the Good of the Publick. Disrespect and Contumacy to Superiors , is an infallible Mark of Rebellious Appetites, and Passions not reduced to the Governance of Reason and Religion, Submission therefore is of great use, for fubduing the Flesh and its Lufts; and a good Preservative against Temptations. For the foreign Enemy will be more successfully opposed, when thy Domestick one is first vanquished ; and All quiet within. And Man himself is his own worft Enemy. Nor are his Circumstances ever more full of Danger, than when the Sensitive raises Insurrections, and would dethrone the Rational Soul. And, in order to this bringing the Inferior Faculties to Reason, an humble Opinion of your self is necessary; For Partiality and Pride are at the bottom of all the Disorders in thy own Breast, and all the Disturbance given by unruly Men to Society, and good Government, of all kinds.
And what such mighty Merit is there in this Submission ? What Disparagement can ic be thought to Thee, who ait Dust and Vileness, when thou remembreft, That I my self, the Almighty Majesty of Heaven, and the Lord of all the Universe; I, who created Thee, and the whole World, out of Noching, did yer condescend to a State of Subjection, and appeared in the very lowest, moit fervile , and despicable Form, for thy fake, who art Nothing? And why, but that so
hy Pride might have no Pretence to support it, after 1o eminent a Pattern of Humility ? Learn then, thou Wretch, to humble thy self; and, like that Earth, of which thou art, be even content to be trampled upon, and trodden under Foot : Lay thy self, like the Streets, to the Feet of Insulting Men who walk over thee, and never rest, till thou haft broken thy own Perverseness, and art in a conftant readiness to comply with every just Command of all who have Authority over thee.
Till this be done, pursue thy Paffions with remorseless Indignation, and spare them not, till the very last Remains of Pride be absolutely suppressed and killed in thy Heart. And, if thou sometimes find ill Usage and Tyrannical Barbarity, yet still consider, thou art but a Man, and ought'st not to complain; nay, rather consider, that thou art a Sinner ; in Justice configned over to Hlell and Eternal Fire ; and let the Anger of an Offencled God, which strictly is thy Portion and Desert, check thy Resentments of the Infolence and Injuries, the Reproachful Treatment, and unjustifiable Hard ships which Men may sometimes offer to thee. This Wrath of God thou haft Provcked, but I in Mercy spared thee ; I had Compassion on thy Soul, and Ranfomed ic from Death by my own Blood. And can't thou think, that no Return is due for fuch Mercy ? Yes, know, that I require thou shouldst be sensible of the astonishing Greatness of my Love, and shew that Sense by Gratitude and Humility ; by a modest and respectful Observance of my Representatives here below; and by not disdaining to suffer any Shame and Contempt, any Injustice and Barbarity, when Providence and Duty call thee to it, which I, thy Maiter, thy God, did not grudge to undergo for thy fake, whilst converling in Fluman Flesh upon Earth.
1. CH A P. XV.
Disciple.] [97 Hen thou, Lord, utterest thy Voice in
V Judgments, my Joints are loosed, my Limbs quake for fear, my very Soul is confounded, and trembles at thy Thunder. In the midst of these
..., Horrors I begin to reflect, that the Heavens Feb xxv. themselves are not pure in thy sight, and that even the Angels thou haft charged with Folly : If then those exalted Intellectual Spirits were not able to stand before thee, and kept not their first Estate, What must become of such a Wretch as I am ? If even the Stars fell from the Firmament, how can Dust and Ashes hope to escape ? They who did eat Angel's Food, degenerated from their Primitive Excellence, and fed on Husks with Swine, how then should a Creature preserve its Innocence, whose very Original is Impure ?
This, Lord, convinces me, that there is no Holiness but what is derived from thee alone ; no Wisdom without thy Governance ; no Strength a sufficient Defence if thou withdraw thy Gracious Protection; no Continuance nor Abstemiousness effectual, except thou guard it ; no Watchfulness against the Enemy, unless thy wakeful Eyes keep all our Approaches, and repulse the Affaults of the Tempter. If thou cease to support us with thy mighty Hand, the Waves. swallow us up; we sink and perish without thee, and with thee walk upon the Sea in safety : Weak and unstable are our Resolutions, but thy Grace gives Strength and Perseverance , Cold and Timorous are our Hearts, but thou warmeit them with Zeal, and inspirest. them with Courage ; Lift up then, Lord, our Hands that hang
wn, and our feeble Knees, that we faint not in this Spin tual Warfare, and enable those who can do nothing ithout thee, to conquer all Difficulties through thy
trength., Ella, I know, O Lord, that if any good thing seem to be
i me, yet even this deserves my meanest Opinion,
nd will in no degree justifie my thinking otherwise fuif my self than a most vile and worthless Wretch. are iind therefore, when thy angry Justice afticts. me, it s comis my Duty, with the profoundest Fiumility, to lay midiony Mouth in the Duft, and meekly submit to thy corat the recting Hand. For, though I cannot discover all the iph, Reasons of thy Mysterious Judgments, yet this I find e no difficulty to discern, that I my self am nothing and tablichat I proceeded out of nothing. O the dark Abyss ! in 2. Wwhich I can find nothing relating to my self but Vanivendity and Nothing. Where then is the Presumption,
Al where the Pride, the lofty Conceit of my Worth and od, der Virtue ? Whither are all my vain Confidences, and anda towring Imaginations fled? Thy Judgments, Lord, rends have swept them away like a Torrent ; and allare sunk ile in those unsearchable Depths. These shew me to my is not self, and justifie the Prophet's Rebuke, W Shall the Clay exalt it fulf against the Pot
Jer. xviii. al ter, that fishioned it? Behold, as the Clay Sets rotection is in the Hands of the Potter, so is every mortal Man in ne thy Hand, O Lord.
B. And is it possible for that Soul to swell with Infoche lence and vain Conceit, which is duly sensible of thy
Majesty, and submits to it, with that Lowliness and inal resigned Submission which thy Truth directs ? No, no, with's Not all the Voices of Mankind conspiring unaniables mously in his Praise, can blow him up to fond Conambiti ceits of his own Excellence, when once his Hopes and
Heart are fixed on God. For he considers, that all. olen these are but so many Copies of himself; frail and feeby to ble, deceivable and perishing, emptiness and nothing.
That They, as well as their Words, are only Air and Sound, and both will quickly vanish together ; but
God and his Truth remain for evermore. Ifa. xi. Cease therefore from Man, for wherein is be to be accounted of? and endeavour to have Praise of
Him, who refifteth the Proud, but in his! 1 Pet. iv. own due time exalteth them, who bumble. themselves under bis mighty Hand.
CH A P. XVI.
Cbrift. ] T ET this, my Son, be the Language and
I Style of all thy Prayers : Lord, if it, bę tby Pleasure, grant me this Request ; If what I ask conduce to thy Glory, do thou be pleased to give and prosper it ; Lord, if Thou, to whom all Things and their consequences are perfectly known, Seeft that this will be for my true Advanrage, not only bestow it, but with it Grace to ufe it to thy Glory : But if thou seeft it may prove burtful to me, do not only deny my Petitions, which proceed from Ignorance and Mistaké ; but remove far from me the avery Desire of tbat, which cannot be obtained withcut my Prejudice.
This last is a very reasonable and expedient Request; because many Desires, which seem, nor innocent only, but even virtuous and wise, profitable and praise-worthy in a Man's own Eyes, are yet neither inspired by God, nor agreeable to his Will: Nor is it ealie to discern, whe:her one be acted by a good or evil Spirit ; or whether, in the Matter of his Prayers, his own Inclination and private Refpects do not determine him. And many a one, who hath fancied the Impulse of Divine Grace, and persuaded himself, that he hath been directed and acted by it all a