« 前へ次へ »
etences Afflictice Inftru
of Suffering, which is the proper Motive to Patience.
Now the better thou art composed under any Trouble, the more commendable is thy Wisdom, and the larger will be thy Recompence. Nay, not only so, but the easier will be thy Lot too. For Consideration will reconcile thee to it, and Time and Experience make the thing familiar. Nor matters it much who are the immediate Instruments, or from what next Hand thy Afflictions come. For those are very idle Prerences, which Men usually labour to cover their want of Temper withal: “Had this been done by an “ Enemy or a Stranger, I could have born it ; but “ from a Friend, a Relation, one whom I have high“ly obliged, and have a Right to expect better Ulage “ from, what Flesh can brook such Baseness and In“ gratitude: Had I given any just Occafion for that “disparaging Report, it would never have vex'd me,
but to be slandered and abused, without any ground, “ without the least Fault or Provocation of Mine,
methinks 'tis very hard; The thing it felf I could “ away with, but the Person, or the particular Cir"cumstances, put me out of all Patience.” Alas! these are nice and frivolous Distinctions; Such as are altogether foreign and impertinent to the Matter in Hand; and what the Virtue of Patience is no way concern'd in. For this takes Injuries and Affronts by the great, without entring into any particular Examination of their Nature and Quality, and peculiar Aggravations; nor does it at all regard the Person, by whom it is exercised, but considers that Person only, by whom it is to be crowned.
No Man hath yet arrived to a due Perfection in this Grace, who is not content with any kind of Tryal, from any Hand whatsoever. The Differences of Friend or Foe, of Superior, Inferior, or Equal; of a goodnatured and consciencious,or a wicked, perverse, vexaricus Man, arc of no consideration at all; But, let
the Provocation be what it will,and come from whom it will, let it be offered but once, or repeated never so often, 'tis all alike; because in All the over-ruling Hand of God is attended to; and every thing received, as ordained and originally inflicted by him: and what proceeds from him is always good, and sure to turn to account. And, as nothing he appoints, tho' seemingly never fo grievous, shall be to good Mens disadvantage ; so nothing, tho' never so slight and
despicable in it self, when dutifully and decently enbi tertained, shall be passed over unrewarded. Arm thy
self therefore for Combat, and decline no occasion be of Engaging that offers, if thou desire the Glory of
the Conqueft. Without Fighting thy way through, there is no coming at the Crown. And they who refuse to Suffer with Christ, do in effect, and by neceffary consequence refuse to Reign with him. Stand up then bravely to AMictions, and quit thy self like a Man; Repose and Happiness is what thou Coveteft, but these are only to be obtained by Labour :
Victory and Triumph are the things thou aimest at; List But who was ever yer so absurd, as to think of Trisi umphs without Enemies and Hardships, or Conquering without a Battel ?
Disciple. ] I acquiesce, dear Lord, in all thou say'st; nor will I indulge such vain Imaginations. But since, even where the Spirit is most willing, the Flesh is miTerable weak, affist me, I beseech thee, that by thy Power and Strength I may be able to do, what by my own I cannot accomplish, and Nature is averse from so much as attempting. Thou knowest full well, how litele I can bear; how every Shock makes my feeble Heart give ground; Lord, do thou support and confirm me, that Tribulation may appear, not only tolerable, but even desirable, in compliance with thy Will and my Duty. For, what regret foever Humanity may betray in these Cases, when Danger M 4
approaches; In my own better Judgment, which confiders things in the Christian and Spiritual Sense, I am abundantly satisfied, how much the harsher Dispensations of thy Providence conduce to my Soul's Advantage. And, tho' no Chastisement for the present seems joyous but grievous, yet my better Sense, when I think freely, convinces me of thy Wisdom and Mercy, and that it is even good for me to be a:flicted.
CHA P. XXII.
The Infirmities and Miseries of our Present State.
Disciple] I Will confess my Unrighteousness unto the Lord, Psal. xxxii. and bewail my Infirmities before him. For every trivial Accident cafts me down, and I am often overwhelin'd with Sorrow, upon Occasions which my Caliver Thoughts abundantly convince me, deserve rather my Contempt, than my serious Concern. Sometimes I fee and condemn my own Folly, and mighty Resolutions I make, how bravely I will behave my self for the time to come ; and, yet upon the next Assault of fome slight Misfortune, this Imaginary Heroe is beaten from his Post, and cannot stand the shock of a very common Difficulty. The poorest and most despicable Things are, I find, capable of becoming great and dangerous Temptations ; And I, who at a distance defy them, yet, when brought to the Tryal, feel, by fad Experience, upon how slippery Ground I stand.
This is indeed the wretched Condition of thy poor unstable Servant: But, Lord, do 'Thou, in much Compassion, look upon my Frailty, for thou knowest it
more perfectly than I my self can. Stretch Plal. lxix. forth thy Hand, and draw me out of these
deep Waters, and out of this Mire of Sin and Weakness, that I sink not in my Gorruption. I cannot easily express the Melancholy Reflections, the Shame and Confusion, the Indignation and fad Perplexity of Heart, which the Consciousness of my own Inability to resist Temptations, and the Inconstancy of my best and most vigorous Purposes create; and, tho' my Will be not always vanquished, nor do I (blessed be God) yield to every wicked Suggestion, yet the repeated Affaults of the Enemy disturb my Quiet, and I am weary of a Life, which consists of perpetual Hazard, and painful Conflicts with my self. The Wretchedness of my Condition is but too manifest ; - I need no other Argument to prove it, than that ea
fie Access evil Thoughts find to my Breast, which, į in despight of all my watchful Care, and most man-: ful Struggles, arę much sooner insinuated, and re1 ceived, than either driven out again, or prevented
from entring. The Look down then, thou Almighty Rock of Israel, į and Lover of Souls, and interpose thy Power and Fi Protection; Give seasonable Succour, and happy Sucli cess to my too fruitless Endeavours. Arm and Guard
me with Strength from above; and suffer not the Old i Man, the corrupt Inclinations of my Flesh, which re
fuses to be entirely subdued and brought to Reason, 1 to usurp the Dominion over my better part. For this
Obstinate Rebel renews its Insurrections daily, and bids me Battel ; calls me to Combats and hazardous Engagements, which must never, never end in perfect Peace and Safety, so long asthis miserable State of Mortality endures. Most milerable indeed; since every Action and Accident of my Life involves me in fresh Dangers; since every step I take is upon Snares and Precipices; since every Time and Place is thick beser with Troubles and Toils, with Treachery and Temptation, and a numerous Host of Enemies ready
leat muring or contains alike. 7 Joy, Povert
thank thee for thy deserved Correction even in the midst of my Trouble ; Or, if thou spare the Rod, and make my Darkness to be Light, I will then thankfully receive the Blessing, and magnifie the Fa. vour which I cannot deserve.
Christ.] This is indeed, my Son, the Difpofition and Deportment befitting the Character of my Faithful Children : And all who profess to walk with me in Piety and Virtue, must bring themselves to a Soul so even, fo resign'd, that Suffering and Joy, Poverty or Riches may be entertain'd alike. The one, without Murmuring or Complaint ; the other, without the least Pride or Change of Temper. For both are equally the Appointment of My Providence, and, as fuch, should be met with Cheerfulness and perfect Content.
Disciple. ] Lord, I am willing to endure, whatever thou art pleafed to lay upon me. And do desire to receive Good and Evil, the Sweets and Bitter, the Comforts and the Crosses of this Life, with the very fame resentments of Mind. Nay, not only to receive, but to be thankful for both, fince both come from thy own Hand, which cannot err in ordaining all my Events. This only I implore, that in ali Changes of Condition, thou would'ft in thy Mercy preserve me from Sin; For, while I keep my Innocence, and continue in thy Love, not Calamity, nor Death, nor Hell it self shall make me afraid. However thou mayest exercise my Patience, or frown upon me at present, yet so long as thou dost not caft me off for ever, nor blot my Name out of thy Book of Life, I am above all Danger; and the utmost Powers and Malice of Fortune, and Enemies and Devils combined together, can never hurt me.