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CHA P. XIV.
ample. Chrift.] PK
Now, my Son, that the Man who refuses
Obedience, rejects the Grace, and excludes himself from the Favour of God ; And, by seeking his own private Advantage inordinately, 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 fuccessfully opposed, when thy Domestick one is first vanquished ; and All quiet within. And Man himself is his own worst 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 Mento Society, and good Government, of all kinds.
And what such mighty Merit is there in this Submillion? What Disparagement can it be thought to Thee, who ait Duit 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 yet condescend to a State of Subjection, and appeared in the very lowelt, most fervile, and despicable Form, for thy fake, who art Nothing? And why, but that so
Thy Pride might have no Pretence to support it, after to 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 hast broken thy own Perverseness, and art in a conftant readiness to comply with every juft Command of all who have Authority over thee.
Till this be done, pursue thy Pallions with remorseless Indignation, and spare them not, till the very last Remains of Pride be absolutely suppresed 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 Hell 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 thips which Men may sometimes of fer to thee. This Wrath of God thou haft Provoked, but I in Mercy spared thee ; I had Compassion on thy Soul, and Ranfomed it from Death by my own Blood. And canst 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 Basbarity, when Providence and Duty call thee toit, which I, thy Matter, thy God, did not grudge to undergo for thy fake, whilst converting in Human Flesh upon Earth.
God's Judgments are to be considered, for our
Disciple.I W Hen thou, Lord, uttereft thy Voice in
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 Fob 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 Holinefs 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 bang
down, and our feeble Knees, that we faint not in this Spi-, ritual Warfare ; and enable those who can do nothing without thee, to conquer all Difficulties through thy Strength.
I know, O Lord, that if any good thing seem to be in me, yet even this deserves my meanest Opinion, and will in no degree justifie my thinking otherwile of my self than a most vile and worthless Wretch. And therefore, when thy angry Justice afticts, me, it is my Duty, with the profoundest Fiumility, to lay my Mouth in the Duft, and meekly submit to thy correcting Hand. For, though I cannot discover all the Reasons of thy Mysterious Judgments, yet this I find no difficulty to discern, that I my self am nothing, and that I proceeded out of nothing. O the dark Abyss ! in which I can find nothing relating to my self but Vanity and Nothing. Where then is the Presumption, where the Pride, the lofty Conceit of my Worth and Virtue ? Whither are all my vain Confidences, and powring Imaginations fled ? Thy Judgments, Lord, have swept them away like a Torrent ; and all are funk in those unsearchable Depths. These shew me to my self, and justifie the Prophet's Rebuke, Shall the Clay exalt it self against the Pot- . xiv:
Jer. xviii. ter, tbat fishioned it ? Behold, as the Clay is in the Hinds of the Porter, fo is every mortal Man in thy Hand, O Lord.
And is i.c poffible for that Soul to swell with Infolence and vain Conceit, which is duly sensible of thy Majesty, and submits to it, with that Lowliness and resigned Submission which thy Truth directs ? No, no, Not all the Voices of Mankind conspiring unanimously in his Praise, can blow him up to fond Conceits of his own Excellence, when once his Hopes and Heart are fixed on God. For he confiders, that all. these are but so many Copies of himself; frail and feeble, 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,
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
own due time exalteth them, who humble themselves under bis mighty Hand.
I Pet. iv.
C + A P. XVI.
With wbat Reserves we ought to Pray.
Chrif. ] L
Cbrift. ET this, my Son, be the Language and
Style of all thy Prayers : Lord, if it, bę rby Pleasure, grant me this Request ; If what I ask conduce to thy Glory, do thor be pleased to give and prosper it ; Lord, of Thou, to whom all Things and their consequences are perfectly known, seest that this will be for my true Advanrage, not only bestow it, but with it Grace to use it to tby Glory : But if thore seeft it may prove hurtful to me, only deny my Petitions, which proceed from Ignorance
and Mistaké ; but remove far from me the very Desire of that, which cannot be obtained withcut my Prejudice.
This laft 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 Respects 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